Vedā: Dīrghatamas

The unparallel Maharśi (Sage) Dīrghatamas

“Dīrghatamas the son of Mamatā hath come to the length of days in the tenth age of humankind. He is the Brahman of the waters as they strive to reach their end and aim: their charioteer is he.”

(RV 1.158.6)

“Let not thy dear soul burn you as you come, let not the hatchet linger in your body.
Let not the greedy clumsy immolator, missing the joints, mangle your limbs unduly.
No, here you die not, you are not injured: by easy paths unto the divinities you go.
Both Bays, both spotted mares are now your fellows, and to the ass’s pole is yoked the horse.”

(Dirghatamas Aucathya, “Ashvamedha”)

There are 1028 hymns in Rigveda, all composed in various poetic metres and on various topics. But, of them, 24 poems from the First Mandala can be exclusively separated from the rest of the poems by just recitation and inspection – such is the uniqueness the great sage Dirghatamas has carved out in his magical words. Of all the poems in Rigveda, Dirghatamas poems have a specific mystic and puzzling nature that echoes in all his poems, right from RV 1.140 to his riddle of riddles, RV 1.164.

Dirghatamas literally means “perpetual darkness”. He was born to Ucitha or Ucitha’s lineage (as in Rigveda) and MamatA. As the son of MamatA, he was known as mAmateya, as Ucitha’s offspring, he is called “Aucathya”, which is his second name. Mahabharata associates Dirghatamas with blindness, and there is a tradition that he gained vision (inner vision?) through seeing Vedic poems addressed to Agni. The story is almost attested in Rigveda in an indirect manner.

Dirghatamas many a time speaks of blind people and their situation. He also lauds Agni in various forms and uses Agni as a symbol of all divinities, almost in the same manner as the Vedic Sun or Indra, and explicitly tells in RV 1.164, the much-quoted lines: “One exists, poets speak of it differently”. As a blind person, he should have been bullied by the other “poets”, whom he bashes in the puns of 1.164. He makes the riddles in the 1.164 correspond to his own story and tells us how he, gaining the perception, transcended beyond mere vision. The poet tells paining in a riddle :

“Though they are truly women, they are told of as men to me; One who has eyes sees it; the blind man cannot differentiate;

But he the poet, indeed perceives them, he has grown beyond his father”

The riddle though is about the Krittika constellation, six women, and associated symbolism, the poet really means it a pun to imply his life story. In the poem RV 1.164, Dirghatamas gets the whole of his power put (leaving all us dumb still now; none has decoded that hymn properly yet) in the last poem, and asserts : “A poet will understand that”.

Dirghatamas says himself to be blessed by that supreme Agni (and hence Savita / Indra) in his vision. Truly, he surpasses every other poet in the mysticism and poetic tricks.

The unique things of Dirghatamas are that he is one of the few sages to frame a full hymn to Vishnu alone, in Rigveda. He is the first one to explicitly tell of the single Reality being called differently by poets. He is the first poet in Rigveda to openly bash a ritual – he is the only poem that mentions about Ashvamedha in Rigveda. He is the first poet in Rigveda to clearly use maximum implicit astronomical realms in his poetry; his poems have the deepest level of meanings, in all realms, right from grammatical, literary, astronomical, spiritual, mythological to the ritualistic realms.

Some of his famous lines and phrases include: “ekam sad viprAH bahudhA vadanti” (One exists, Sages talk of it differently), the phrase “biting the earth” (during cremation, the soil is also burnt), the first full “description of Vishnu’s deeds”, and several others such as:

“This sacrifice is the center of the world,
This altar is earth’s extremest limit,
The soma is the horse’s seed,
Brahman is the highest realm where speech exists”

“Dyaus is my Father, my begetter: kinship is here. This great earth is my kin and Mother.
Between the wide-spread world-halves is the birth-place: the Father laid the Daughter’s germ within it.”

(Riddle standing for sun)

“By means of sacrifice the Divinities sacrificed the sacrifice: these were the first rules.
These Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there the Sādhyas, ancient divinities, dwell.”

(Also said at the last of Purusha sukta)

And most importantly the much deep one :

“Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship, in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge.
One of the twain eats the sweet Fig fruit; the other eating not just beholds only.”

(One of the references in this is to the spiritual self and physical ego of the person in the tree of knowledge, may also stand for the spiritual mind and physical mind or even moon is waxing and waning form… lots of symbols.)

The most popular Indo European solar riddles also appear in his poems in Rigveda. Those riddles are certainly the inspiration for Nahusha-Yudhishthira dialogue in the later Mahabharata.

His lines “gaurImimAya salilAni takSatyekapadI….” are also used in Navagraha suktam, for “soma”.

Dirghatamas also is noted for saving Indians by saying in 1.162 that the horse of his time has 34 ribs. 😛 Thanks to Dirghatamas, the OIT is saved.. 😛

On the whole, Dirghatamas and his real inspired vision had a very great deal in shaping Indian philosophy. His commendable knowledge in spirituality, and his extreme talent in poetry and his inspired gift of vision stand unparalleled even this day. No doubt why he is confident that none other than a wise poet can even hope to interpret his poems. To date, none has been able to fully decode his poems; at least the asya vaamasya poem (RV 1.164). Even his Ashvamedha poem is one of a kind – perhaps the first pun that is a satire of a ritual. His poems on Rbhus are another masterpiece. Even his metaphor poem on the horse sun is much exquisite and unparalleled in its beauty.

Yes, God did not just make the wooden sticks pile over him, or make him bite the earth. He still lives through his words and will continue his immortal life, as he himself tells :

“How on the Gāyatrī metre the Gāyatrī lines were based, how from the Triṣṭup metre they fashioned the Triṣṭup lines forth,
How on the Jagatī metre was based the Jagatī lines,—they who know this have won themselves immortal life.”

Which verses of the Rig Veda are attributed to him

Rigveda 1.140 – 1.164 are his poems.

In poems like 1.158, he mentions his name as well, but it is even not necessary since his style is well known. RV 1.162 contains that reference. Yes, the number in Rigveda is wrong if the horse is the supposed “Aryan horse” – ferus Caballus. This suggests that either people of Rigveda still had no contact with the actual horse (only a vague idea) or that the Indo European horse was not the AShva of Indo Aryan civilization. Either of this means that Aryans of Rigveda were independent of the horse culture, and thus the IAMT drastically collapses here.

Does the number match that of the onager, the wild ass of kutch? That would be almost conclusive evidence for the fact that the vedic people were native to the saptasindhu?

That is also what I am also trying for a year to know. I don’t know where I can get reliable info on that. I googled the whole thing, still, the number of ribs of onager is not clearly mentioned in any.

The thing is that the Ass / Onager could have been the Ashva, and only in later ages did horses from Central Asia (and the customs of horse sacrifice, horse chariot burial etc.) reached India. Moreover, the question of the whole Indo European horses is itself a serious one – For in many languages, the word for ass closely resembles an older form of horse word. Moreover, the word “caballus” for horse also notes that “ekwos” is not the only word for Indo European horse. In Rigveda itself, we find different names attested for the horse/bearing animals.

Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan