Top of the Ticket, David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, September 9th 2016 (left);
"The Cow with 84 Deities", c. 1912, Ravi Varma Press (right)
In the American 2016 presidential race Trump has earned the reputation of a Bully and a Bull in a China Shop. After the first presidential debate, Clinton has also been portrayed as a matador opposite to Trump as a raging and charging Bull. In late July Fareed Zakaria flat-out called Trump a Bullshit Artist while being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Meanwhile the president of the Phillipines called Clinton a Mad Cow; and for a short while Trump flew aerial banner ads in Ocean City, Maryland which read ‘Stop Mad Cow Disease ... Stop Hillary’. Trump's 'Nasty Woman' insult to Clinton in presidential debate #3 can be seen as just another variation of the 'Mad Cow' theme.
Throughout this election cycle I have been researching and writing about the symbolism of the Bull and the Cow in the Rig Veda. I did not start this research as a result of the election, it has just naturally coincided. I’ve been increasingly intrigued that these core Vedic symbols have shown up in the 2016 election, wherein for the first time in American history, a man and a woman are running against each other as the major candidates of our bipolar party system.
In the Rig Veda the Bull and the Cow are of course not pitted against each other but rather symbolize the divine couple divine Purusha and Prakriti … the Male and Female, Father and Mother, Hero and Heroine, Energy and Matter or Spirit and Nature. The Vedic Seers or sages understood that these two opposites are eternally united or yoked which is the true essence of yoga and the true essence of the word ‘religion’ meaning ‘to re-join’. The Sanskrit word Go simultaneously means Cow and Light. Together the Bull and Cow represent the Light of Truth-consciousness, the consciousness of the Whole, versus the fragmented consciousness which divides Spirit and Matter which the Rishis of the Vedas associated with tearers, hoarders and coverers of Truth. For the Rishis’ the Male principle – considered to be One hero called by many names – eternally dwells within, upholds, ‘fertilizes’ and is born within the Infinite Mother of creation.
He is the Bull, ukṣan, a word which like its synonym vṛṣan, means diffusing, generating, impregnating, the father of abundance, the Bull, the Male; it is he who fertilises Force of consciousness, Nature, the Cow, and produces and bears in his stream of abundance the worlds.
– Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, CWSA, Volume 15, p. 357
The Bull is the Purusha, soul or conscious being; the Cow is the Prakriti, the power of consciousness. – Ibid., p. 539
[The] Bull of the world … enjoys and fertilises all the energies of force and all the trooping herds of the thought. – Ibid., p. 347
The energies of force and herds are the Feminine Shakti ‒ the Cow, the Matrix and all her forms, including but not limited to forms of thought. The divine relationship or union between the Bull and Cow may seem primitive to our modern minds but in truth this symbolism represents a highly advanced consciousness of Unity which has been lost in the mind of mankind in conjunction with the formation and rise of our world’s exclusivist religions. With this loss inevitably comes the plight of our current civilization on the brink of self-destruction.
According to the Rishis, when the true Male or Divine Purusha of our world is absent from or ‘unborn in’ our consciousness, the material field (the Cow or Divine Mother) is subject to all manner of abuse, degradation, and subjugation by ignorant tearers, hoarders, misers, stealers, coverers … and we can now add grabbers to this miserable list. Basically, this state of affairs amounts to fragmentation and discord because the all-uniting ‘Light’ or ‘Law of the Land’ has been tossed aside, forgotten or has simply gone missing in our world. In terms of Greek mythology this situation amounts to the Rape of Demeter’s daughter Persephone by Hades the God of the Underworld. The good news of the Rig Veda is that this fragmented and self-destructive consciousness, that we can validly call a ‘rape culture’, is merely a stage of development in our evolutionary journey – a stage to be lived through and out grown on the way to higher vistas of life. According to Sri Aurobindo we are currently living in the transitional time wherein we begin the difficult work of sloughing off the old consciousness of this past dark age/stage and make way for a higher civilization built on an entirely new foundation, a foundation of unity consciousness wherein the Divine Feminine is fully united with the illumined or Divine Male.
In my mind, Trump emerges on the world scene as a flaming and inflammatory rogue Bull/Bully solely as a call for those of us who are appalled by his foolish behavior and by his nomination as the Republican candidate for president of the United States of America, to get on with this work, to up our game and to dispense with the old un-illumined patriarchal consciousness and to move ahead with all due haste and to progressively leave such dangerous ignorance behind in our tracks. Clinton’s role, as I see it, as the Cow of this equation is to advance the equality, education and fair treatment of women in the world. She occurs to me as a symbol of the Divine Feminine rising in our world, ready to tear down old, outdated structures and belief systems and to help establish a higher ‘Law of the Land’ and with it a higher standard of Manhood.
One of the many names of the real Male of the Rig Veda is Mitra or Maitreya, translated as the Friend. Sometimes he’s a Ram, sometimes, a Lion, a Bull, a Stallion, an Elephant, a Peacock … sometimes he’s referred to as a flame or as the pillar of the world. In essence he is the soul abiding in vessels or forms, sometimes referred to as a calf of the cow, sometimes characterized as the Divine Builder or Architect. He is also referred to as a lamb.
The two mothers in whom is the Truth, in whom is the mage-wisdom, they have put him firm in his place and make him grow. Men found in him the navel-centre of all that is moving and stable and they weave by the mind the weft of the seer. ...
A pillar of the supreme being in its abode, he stands at the starting-out of the ways, in the upholding laws….
– Rig Veda, 10.4.3,6, tr, R.T.H. Griffith
He is also referred to as the Hidden or unborn One, who eventually in the measured course of our evolutionary journey is born forth as the Triple One from his two Divine Mothers [two Cows] – the Cosmos and Earth. The hero, depicted as a Child victorious upon his birth into the world, is said to be the Father reborn as the Son. From this ancient Vedic story – which was an oral tradition before it was first transcribed some 5,000 years ago – all our world’s ideas of the divine trinity and the divine hero-savior have come, though the real understanding of this birth story been entirely and disastrously misunderstood and distorted in our modern-day religions. In short, in the course of Time, the hero-soul is reborn and re-establishes the unity consciousness. This is consciousness of the unity of the Divine Pair – Bull and Cow, Spirit and Matter, etc., which is also expanded by the Rishis to the unity of the Divine Trinity wherein the Divine Purusha has two Wives or Mothers – the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.
[T]he two Mothers of the accomplishing god became vast and harmonised. “Borne by them, O child of Force, thou didst blaze out holding thy bright and rapturous embodiments; out flow the streams of the sweetness, the clarity, where the Bull of the abundance has grown by the Wisdom.
Rig Veda 3.1.6-7, tr. Si Auobindo, The Secret of the Veda, CWSA, Volume 15, pp. 115
The victory or birth of this ‘Bull of abundance’ via the Cow of Plenty (Kamadhenu) – who is also called Aditi the Mother of Light and Mother of the Gods – is the defeat of the divisive consciousness which holds the world in its miserly grasp. The Divine Mother is not always characterized as docile Cow in Indian tradition. She is often described as Durga and Kali who defeats the forces of division and re-establishes the true union of the quintessential couple of Spirit and Matter. Clearly this female heroine, who is depicted riding a lion, carrying weapons, sticking her tongue out and making horrible faces, slaying demons as well as wearing skulls around her neck, would undoubtedly be characterized as a very ‘Nasty Woman’ by those of whom she exposes and deposes.
Director of Aeon Centre of Cosmology Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea), whose recent passing and cremation coincided with the celebration and completion of India’s 2016 Durga festival, wrote extensively about Durga’s victory over the separative consciousness as well as the birth and victory of the Purusha. In her many books she demonstrated how this mythology is playing itself out in our modern world and that it is one and the same victory for the entire world. She also convincingly laid out how the separation of Spirit and Matter [the Bull and the Cow] in our consciousness has resulted in the extreme exclusivism and fundamentalism which has dominated our world play for at least two millennia. Her research and findings vividly illuminate the global problem and the solution and should be of great use to those who wish accelerate the dismantling of the long-standing status quo of the patriarchal ignorance that it is time for us to outgrow. There is much for us to learn and much for us to unlearn as we move forward. In this spirit, I will conclude this post with from Patrizia’s book, The New Way – a study in the rise and establishment of a gnostic society, Volume 3 which quickly seizes upon and illuminates the roots of our world’s current predicament:
The seed of exclusiveness is found in the Old Testament. That seed is the direct result of the mental development which is described in this scripture, for mind, when placed at the summit of evolution, can only give birth to division, to a thoroughly separative consciousness.
This aspect of the mental consciousness … is of interest here inasmuch as it is the most prominent feature of the karmic debt of the Middle Eastern races. The exclusiveness of the mental consciousness – and the consequent war with the vital strain* which arose as a natural outcome of its thirst for supremacy – reflects the limitation of mind in the perception of Truth. Starting with the Jews we see this limitation present; and it was passed on to all the races and their subsequent religions that followed the emergence of Judaism. The first evidence of this limitation in perception was the abolishment of idol worship and the insistence that there should be worship of only one God.
We see here the rejection of the Mother, and it is interesting to note that at about the same time this development began in the Middle East, India was also embarking upon a road that would take her in a similar direction. Not that the Mother Principle suffered the same destiny of obliteration as in the Middle East, for she still survived in India even with this new emphasis. Rather in India the development manifested as a rejection of the cosmos and stress laid on the Ultimate Brahman. The Mother was seen as an inferior poise. And finally this imposition resulted in a loss of the keys of knowledge regarding material creation, the Divine Maya of the Vedic period. Form was soon to be considered in all Indian paths as ‘Maya’, as illusion; and ultimately salvation was relegated solely to a Beyond.
This was also felt in the Middle East where at approximately the same time idol worship – and evident appreciation and acceptance of Form and the multiplicity of creation associated with the feminine principle – was prohibited. The Mother was cast out of the high place she had held in the perception of reality and with this the means to render life purposeful and meaningful in this material creation were lost. This ultimately brought the Middle Eastern manifestation to the inevitable conclusion of a ‘crucified Son’. The culmination of the process here described was Islam, with its most emphatic emphasis on formlessness.
The central point of the three religions which the Middle East has furnished the world is stress on worship of One God. Yet the nature of the one power each religion places on its altar of sacrifice is not fully appreciated. Each believe his image to be absolute. In consequence, due to the divisiveness and harshness of the mental-vital consciousness, separated from any higher light, the three religions in the area have been at constant war with each other over the centuries.
With the passage of time an increasing hardening of consciousness has set in, reaching a peak in this millennium in the form of an enthusiastic outburst of fundamentalism. But rather than having attained the sphere of the One, the Absolute, these manifestations are the offshoots of powers many times removed from their original Source. The presence of exclusivism, with its accompanying stringent dogma, is a clear indication of the real nature of the powers these religions place in the seat of the highest. They each worship an aspect of the Supreme Reality, yet disregard for the Divine Mother and the real condition of her Play – which involves powers of Dark and Light – has resulted in an erroneous vision of reality. In consequence we have in that area three religions, each intolerant of one another and of other religious expression; and at the same time, each insists that their God is the One God and that all else is blasphemy. At least it is in this form that they have reached us today and are practiced, regardless of what their scriptures may say to the contrary or irrespective of isolated pockets within these bodies – Sufism for one – which give evidence of a highly sophisticated and mature religious consciousness. In Judaism this may include the ancient precepts found in the Cabala.
Reason and the modern scientific temper have imposed a certain surface tolerance on all religious bodies, but this is only a superficial coating; just beneath the outer veneer one can find the rigidity of a consciousness that believes its way is the only way, its savior the One, its Prophet the only prophet of God. In fact, these are all simply powers of the Absolute, which came into being as crystallised separate energies after passage from the Unmanifest to the Manifest. And rejection of the Divine Mother, who can furnish us with the key to understand the manifestation of the multiple in the light of Truth, of the Divine Maya, has made it impossible for the followers of many religions to understand the true nature of the powers they worship. Yet the resultant rigidity and intolerance that has evolved in each religion is proof of the limitation of the powers claimed to be exclusive and ultimate. And the religion that has given rise to this for the Occident, in both Christianity and Islam, is Judaism. Hence it is necessary to understand its role in the economy of the evolution, for it is obviously a decisive one in the passage from beneath the subjugation of Mind to a higher, more luminous poise. [pp. 38-40]
… Cain and Abel represent the two powerful but separate strains or planes of the human kingdom: the vital and the mental. Over the ages the war between these two poises has become more and more acute, as well as more clearly defined. Moreover, we find that since the time has come for a new way to manifest, this acute division has now become focused in the very area indicated in the Bible. In the Middle East the two strains of primordial human nature stand in rigid opposition, and in such a manner that the future of the entire Earth appears at times to hinge on the outcome of their conflict.
Originally the vital strain was the way of the warrior. It knew only power and force; thus when it grasped a descending seed of the divine truth, because of its condition of darkness, the result of a legitimate limitation, its immediate reaction was to force this truth upon others. This aspect of its nature became easily visible in the rise of Islam. Indeed, such was the zeal of those early powerful warriors of Islam that they nearly managed to conquer the whole of the known world in the name of the Prophet. Whosoever opposed them was overcome, and on this basis a barrier in consciousness was erected and the most prominent feature of the distortion of truth by the vital domination manifested in the intolerance which to some extent characterizes Islamic culture. [p. 45]
One of Patrizia’s last notes to her students indicated that if Trump were elected ‘it would be a sign that America would be called upon to rid the world of the menace of terrorism.’ She did not think Clinton would be able to do the needful in that regard. I sincerely hope that a Clinton administration will be able to meaningfully rise to the call of making the world a safer place, and I’m all for aggressive action against murderous religious fanatics (or any violent crimes against humanity for that matter); but I think in the end terrorism will have to be conquered simultaneously via a ground up approach, from people across the world quickly educating themselves and pulling their heads out of their respective religions to see the much more beautiful picture of what we are together, as One divine whole, capable of incredible abundance, creativity and love. The idea of religious tolerance is a sad sad goal when knowledge or Gnosis of the whole is possible.
Author's Note: I am currently working on a book that will I hope will help people better understand and appreciate the symbolism of the Rig Veda which pervades Indian culture, as well as to better understand the role Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Patrizia have played in the realization and restoration of Vedic mythology over the past 144 years. Through the lives and yoga of these three, one comes to see, that the Vedic myth is a real story and a real victory of consciousness wherein doors of perception to a higher world – the Swar-realm of the Rishis – are discovered, opened by the force of truth-consciousness.