From the Jacket
Directing his view towards the whole universe holistically, amazingly, the Rgvedic man – as
this study shows – was awakened to the cosmic Law and Order (Rta); he saw how nothing:
nature, environment, or the universe itself, was ever static; and how the orderly Energy was
at the root of all changes and movements. Instinctively, he not only bowed down to the
'Order' that reigns supreme, but also tried to attune himself, his behaviour, and his
everyday activity to the eternal laws of the universe. Which, says the author, he recognized
as his dharma.
A sequel to her earlier, well-received title: Ecological Readings in the Veda, Dr.
Marta Vannucci's this book sets out fresh, insightful analyses the Vedic writings to
highlight the ancient rsis' perceptions of the Universe, the ancient rsis' perceptions of
the Universe, Nature, and cause-effect relationships; and how, millennia ago, these sages
came to revere, even adore, Nature in its different manifestations and, wittingly or
unwittingly, evolve an environmentally friendly culture. In support of her findings, the
author also analyses a few selected hymns from the Rgveda, using a biological key to
'decode' these songs. Additionally, she also explores some important aspects of two Vedic
gods: Indra and Varuna, who respectively represent the 'material' and 'immaterial'
Highly relevant appendices apart, the book includes a comprehensive glossary of
Sanskrit/non-English words and numerous bibliographic references.
About the Author
Marta Vannucci, a Brazilian citizen, born in Italy in 1921, is a globally distinguished
biological oceanographer, with a versatile mind. An erstwhile UNESCO's Senior Expert (Marine
Sciences) and Director of its Regional Office in Delhi, she has held a number of
high-ranking academic/advisory/administrative positions at national and international
A resident of India since 1970, Dr. Vannucci is Vice-President of the International
Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, Japan and a member of several learned societies including
the Academy of Sciences of Brazil. She is honoured with the Grand Cross of the 'Order of
Merit in Science', of Brazil. Besides intensive eight years studies of Latin, she knows
almost all Latin derived languages, English, German, Sanskrit and Hindi.
When I was writing the book Ecological Readings in the Veda I was very worried because I
feared that I would be unworthy of the task. While I still feel that I am very far from the
lofty heights, I am grateful to the Gods and to the many learned persons and scholars who
encourage me to continue along the arduous path of learning from the Vedic lore. The
passionate urge to understand that is peculiar to Man, as I wrote at that time, pushed me
deeper and deeper along this path of studies, trying to absorb as much insight into Vedic
wisdom as my personal limitations would allow.
Part I of the present book is vastly based on my earlier book 'Ecological Readings
in the Veda' and reflects my endeavour to express in simple terms what reason shows to be
the understanding that the rsis had of the universe. The eagerness to attain to the Absolute
Truth caused the ancient sages to express in poetical metres the result of their
observations of nature, of their studies of the relations of causes and effects, of the
empirical and experimental science that they practised for survival, for better living and
for war. In their search for the Absolute Truth, the Vedic and pre-Vedic sages uncovered
particular truths, which are each and every one part of the Absolute Truth. The unveiling of
Rta proceeded step by step; each step translated into norms and regulations for everyday
each step translated into norms and regulations for everyday healthy living; each one was
then represented, reconstructed and lived over again through rituals. Clearly the Vedic
sages had a notion of the fundamental pairs of opposites that keep the system going, such as
Lord Agni and common fire. They perceived that matter and energy are the two interchangeable
and interdependent extremes of a continuum and that Agni sublimates matter into energy, that
solar energy and water create matter in mother Earth and in what grows from her. They
realized that the life principle being undefinable, Hope, Bhaga, or the urge to go on
living, is indelibly lined to Life and the sources of life were identified, hence the pair
Savitr-Bhaga. The ancient sages also saw the continuum time/space, but that aspect of Vedic
wisdom I have not dared approach.
The mental torment grew after the book was published and felt more and more
belittled by my audacity; I am fully aware that I was not entirely successful in expressing
clearly enough my 'readings'. The wealth of knowledge expressed in concise and often cryptic
form by the ancients is not tolerant of simple interpretation and explanation.
One of the serious omissions of that book is the absence of a discussion of what I
consider to be one of the significant differences between Western and Eastern philosophies.
I the West Nature, the environment, the universe were considered to be static in time. The
word evolution did not exist and when it was first used in relation to evolving nature, it
was anathemized. Nature was taken to be immutable since first created by God, the Infinitum
Ens (the Infinite Being) and the idea is present already in the Aristotelic principles of
classic Greek philosophy that bridled all creative thinking, from cosmogony to theatrical
presentations. Judaic, Christian, Islamic philosophies willfully disregarded the obvious
changes over time and the evolution of everything in the universe. One of the great merits I
see in Vedic and Vedic-derived philosophies, and other oriental philosophies, is the
recognition that nothing is ever static, everywhere in the universe. Hence the impermanence
of everything, as the Epicurean philosophers of Democritus' school knew well.
Due to these reasons I revised the first text and selected a few hymns that support
the above and that have remained living. Guides for mankind over the centuries. These show
both the impermanence and continuous change of everything, the need for mutual adjustment of
the components of the system and at the same time show that the basic laws of physics,
chemistry, physico-chemistry, movements of the astral bodies, remain unchanged over infinite
time and space, at least as man could detect them without powerful instruments. They further
show that the interaction of the parts of the very complex time/space continuum inevitably
causes changes and evolution of the constituent parts.
Part I of the present book contains much of the earlier text, revised and enlarged.
The general conclusion is that the formulation of dharma is based on fundamental ethical
laws of nature to which all living beings as well as man are subject. Further, because of
his intrinsic nature and his position in the community, nobody can escape his dharma, though
ecological constraints influence his behaviour and karma. Any deviation from one's dharma is
an aberration that carries with it dire consequences for the offender.
Part II is the analysis of three hymns and discusses some aspect of two important
personalities that offer much support to the concepts expressed above. The hymn to the
'Manduka' (the Frogs), RV, VII; 103, describes the seasonal cycles, the role of Visnu as
Preserver and the corresponding rituals to ensure man's participation in the cosmic drama in
tune with Rta, the Law and Order of the Universe. The hymn for the wedding of Surya, the
sun's daughter, RV, X; 85, focuses on the biological and social role of marriage and woman,
valid even for present-day changing lifestyl