SAMVATSARA IS PRAYED AS BRAHMAN IN MANTRAPUSHPAS
(I-Discourse by N. R. Srinivasan)
Manrtrapushpas are Vedic Mantras. Supreme Principle called Brahman in Veda is prayed as Samvatsara or Kaala or Time (Kaalaaya Namah-MNU). Lord Krishna in Bhagavadgeetaa says that every-thing in the Universe is created by him with the time and also destroyed in time, and so He is Time. Lord Krishna while describing him as Supreme Being to Arjuna in Geetaa says: “Aham eva Akshayah kaalah (10-33).”—I am the endless Time. Akshaya Kaala, the endless time is also called Akaala Purusha or Kaala Niranjana. It is the Time form of Supreme Being.
Every devout Hindu who attends 16-step Pooja ritual in temples is well acquainted with the Vedic Mantrapushpa: “Aapo vai Samvatsarasya Aaayatanam”—Water comes from Samvatsara (Time). In Bhagavadgeeta Lord Krishna Says:”Patram pushpam phalam toeyam yo may bhaktyaa prayachchati tadupahritam asnami” [whosoever offers me a leaf or flower or fruit or little water with devotion I cherish the same]. Hence flower becomes an essential part in Lord’s worship. A spiritual seeker therefore offers spiritual flower symbolically called Mantrapushpa (vedic mantra as flower) to the Supreme Principle through his chosen deity.
We are familiar with the following Mantras of Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad: “Nyaasa ityaahur maneeshinoe brahmaanam brahmaa viswah I katamah swayambhooh prajaapatih samvatsara iti Samvatsaroe asaavaadityoe ya esha aadityoe purushah sa parameshthee brahmaatma ||
Pandits declare that Saranaagati (complete surrender at the feet of the Lord called Nyaasa or Prapatti) is the supreme ever existent means or supreme means of liberation, to attain Brahman; that Brahman who is the Universal Spirit, is supremely blissful, is self-born, is the protector of created beings, is the soul of Time (Samvatsara) and so forth. The Year is the yonder Sun. That Person (Purusha) who is in the Sun is Hiranyagarbha: He is Parameshthin (The protector of the Universe) and Brahmaatman—Supreme Reality that is the innermost Self of all creatures.
The word Samvatsara stands for duration of Time which determines the origin, continuation and disappearance of the objects in the Universe. Time is measured by diurnal movement of the Sun and the seasons which makes the human year. Time is identified with the Sun because we become cognizant of Time by the change brought about in Nature through the influence of the Sun and by the demarcation made by his rising and setting. The Sun is celebrated as Supreme Principle in Vedas and Upanishads as his Vyaahriti (attribute). The Sun is not merely the visible glow in the sky, but the divine manifestation or Person (Purusha) contemplated there in our prayers to Soorya (sun worship). Therefore He is the same as the Supreme in his transcendent and immanent aspects. The word Samvatsara is derived from “samyak Vasanti sarvabhootaani asmin iti samvatsarah”—all entities exist in this and so it is Samvatsara. Taking this meaning Samvatsara is identified with the Sun because it is the Sun that gives light, clouds, rains, and help creatures to live.
Rigveda says: “Ekam sadviprah bahudha vadanti agnim yamam maatarisvaanamaahuh” (The One Pandits call by many names as Agni (Fire God), Yama (God of Death) Maatarisva etc. Another Mantra in Rigveda says: “Tvamagne varunoe jaayace yattvam mitroe bhavaci yatsamiddhah | tve viswe sahasaasputra devaastvamindroe daasushe martyaaya|| [For one Supreme there are many names says this mantra emphatically. The one Fire God (Agni) is called Varuna at the time of birth: Since he is born during the last lap of night he is called Varuna. When Agni is friendly and prosperous he is called Mitra. All gods are present in Agni is evident by the fact all offerings to Gods are made to him. He is present in all creations. When one goes through a cross section of mantras in Rigveda, it is evident that nowhere the word Brahman occurs. All worships are directed towards forces of Nature and to the Time and Season. Hence Time is also an attribute (vyaahriti) on which Brahman is meditated upon as Samvatsara. Year is part of Time. Part can be represented by the whole grammatically. Hence Samvatsara is Brahman.
Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad (MNU) has the following mantra: “Samvatsaroe asaavaadityoe ya esha Purushah | bhootaanaam adhipatir brahmanah saayujyam samaanaatmam aapnoeti” [Samvatsara is verily this Aaditya (Sun).This Purusha is the overlord of all beings. One who meditates upon Him like this attains equality with Brahman and attains his very world]. This implies Brahman is meditated upon as Samvatsara. It includes other types of years also as mentioned in Vedas.
The cycle of sixty years in Hindu calendar is divided into twelve units of five years (12x5=60). The five groups of years which make the yuga are called Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Iduvatsara, Idaavatsara and Idvatsara (Taitaareeya Brahmana III-10-3).
Vedic sages meditated upon Brahman through the medium of scheduled sacrifices called Pravargya, Dasapoornamaasa, Chaaturmaasya, Pasubandha and Ahargana. Ahargana yajna devatas (deities) are mentioned as Samvatsara and Parivatsara in MNU which is meant to include all other groups of years also.
Yet another Mantra of MNU says: “Sarve nimesha jagnire vidyutah purushaadadhi| kalaa muhoortaah kaashthaa ahoeraatraascha | ardhamaasaa maasaa rituvah samvatsaraascha kalpataam|| [From the Purusha of the golden hue all minute fractions of Time, time taken for winking of an eye (nimesha) were born. All classifications of Time, kalaa, muhoorta, kashta, ahoeraatra, fortnights, months, seasons, years are formed of the Nimesha. The nimeshas alone are caused by Brahman and those nimeshas yielded other divisions of time by muiltiplication ending in Samvatsara or Yuga. He is therefore called Yugapurusha or Kaalapurusha (Being of Times). Brahman is therefore meditated upon as Time or Samvatsara, which is the Vyahriti or attribute of Brahman.
Yugadi is a religious function of great spiritual significance. On this day every devout Hindu prays to Supreme Being as Akaala Purusha or Kaala Niranjana or Samvatsara who creates, sustains and dissolves the universe time after time.
“Vidhartaara (ga)m havaamahe vasoeh kuvit vanaati nah| savitaaram nri-chakshasam |”
We invoke the Creator of the Universe who sustains the creation in many ways and who witnesses the thoughts and deeds of men. May he grant us the plenty of excellent wealth! [Savitaara means Savitar the impeller or creator with which name we pray on Sun everyday chanting Gayatri Mantra}
1) N.S. Anantarangacharya, Mahanarayana Upanishad, Bengaluru, India.
2) Swami Vimalananda, Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad, Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai, India.
3) N.S. Anatarangacharya, Rigvedaratna Samputa, Bengaluru, DVK Murtim Publishers, Mysore, India.
4) Sri Ganesha Temple Bhajan Book, Mantra Pushpa, Nashville, TN, USA.
5) N.R.Srinivasan, 16-steps Pooja in Vishnu Temples, Hindu Reflections: <nrsrini.blogspot.com>