is called the goddess of the Rig Veda. Vedic poets speak of bright apparition or of a bright goddess of a natural vision or a visible deity. Usha’s symbolism outshines the physical dawn.
Usha is also called Ahana and Dyotana meaning the ‘illumine.’ The Rig Veda describes Usha in various ways: Yuvati – eternally youthful; Shukravasah – robed with light; Subhage – blissful one, rich in joy; Sumangali – most auspicious; Devati bartim – manifests the advents of Gods; Shreshtatama – Most excellent.
Usha’s transition from Devi, the ‘bright’ to Devi the goddess, is easy; the daughter of sky so readily assumes the same personality which is given to the sky. Usha, Dawn, is famous as the goddess who destroys darkness: Rigveda 10.75.2. Usha and Nakta both the Goddesses are symbols of day and night. Both Goddesses give inspiration to the good deeds present in a human being.
Usha is the daughter of Dyaus and sister of Agni. Like her brother, Indra, whose triple birth in the sea and in the clouds, Usha is revered as the friend of humankind and the link between heaven and earth. Sometimes Ushas is said to be sister to the Adityas, sometimes wife of Surya, the supreme Truth-Light: RV 7.75.5. Her vahana is similar to that of Surya, a shining chariot drawn by seven ruddy cows. Usha is also mentioned along the twin-deities Ashvins in many hymns as their beloved. Ashwins are gods, the donors of health to the sick.
Goddess Usha is said to be clothed in crimson robes and veiled with gold. She was likened to a gentle bride or to a wife whose beauties seem greater every morning when her husband beholds her. She is eternally young and gives the breath of life to all living beings, waking sleepers from their seeming death. She sends men on their tasks. She arouses birds from their nests. She is impartial as she brings reasons of wealth to the great and humble. Usha gives honour to all their dwellings. However she brings age to mortals.
MORNING: Dawn is praised in the Rigveda in many ways, but mainly in the form of the Goddess taking away darkness. It is also praised as the one who wakes up the one who is sleeping, the well-wisher of mankind, destroyer of the enemies, one who gives wealth etc.
DAWN: In the mortal world darkness is a symbol of sadness and hopelessness. The dawn destroys darkness and brings happiness, prosperity, inspiration and light in life. When man comes into this mortal world he experiences grief, pain, hopelessness, destruction and gets unhappy because of it. He is coveted to get rid of it. The wait on dawn means like waiting for happiness, inspiration and cheerfulness.
How does dawn emerge? By the truth in their thoughts, they brought to birth the Dawn: Rig Veda 7.76.4. The
seeker has to open himself systematically to the reign of Truth, rejecting the rule of falsehood. His mind and its activity of thinking must be filled with the movements of truth. Truth in though, truth in feeling, truth in speech, must become normal to his life. It is only then that the Dawn consent to manifest and open the gates of Heaven. Just as the physical dawn and day do not last long, alternating with the night, similarly the dawn of divine consciousness in man does not last long. It is followed by the ordinary consciousness, appropriately termed ‘Nakta’ or night.
USHA-NAKTA: Goddess Usha is often with Goddess Nakta. Her sister, Nakta means night. Nakta is the same as the deity Ratri also meaning night. Thus the combined Rig Vedic phrase ‘Nakta-Ushas’ or ‘Ushanakta’ –
the pairing first appears in Rig Veda 1.13.7. Dawn and Night, we seek with desire Two mighty mothers of the Truth with their front to us, who increase our beings space: Rig Veda 5.5.6. Also ‘Common, unending is the path of the sisters, guided by the Sun alternatively, they travel; Well-lighted, different in hues, common minded, Night and Dawn do not clash.’ – Rig Veda 1.113.3.
Naktas and Ratris stand for ordinary consciousness which is open to all sorts of forces and influences. This includes the darkness of ‘tamas.’ Enveloping darkness haunt inertia and the forces of darkness are like demons, rakshasas and pichachas. These run away when Usha, the divine consciousness arrives. Symbolically it puts
pressure on us towards the higher goals. Usha makes her appearance, signifying the onset of divine consciousness and she brings the other Gods and their powers. She literally opens the doors in our inner being and allows the divine light to flood within. The opening of the doors of the inner being spiritually has been popularized by the later Tantrik literature.
The two sisters do not conflict with each other: RV 1.13.7. They are mighty mothers of Truth: RV 5.5.6. Usha, is the daughter of Aditi, the mighty mother of undivided consciousness; Nakta is associated with Diti, the mother of divided consciousness. And their path is unending: RV 1.113.2. Nakta is characterized by darkness whereas Usha is associated with the rosy color of the rising Sun and the multifarious colors thereafter: RV 1.113.3. Thus it is Usha that dispels thick darkness by spreading her radiant lustre everywhere.
So when the dawn dawns the world and brings with it happiness, inspiration and cheerfulness in the same way when the Yogis meditate they experience inspiration and cheerfulness in their soul. The knowledge of soul is like the dawn. The dawn spreads brightness in this world to remove the inertia caused by the night, in the same way the dawn enters the soul to inspire it, to awaken it and take it on the path of knowledge.
Dawn is considered as the best time for the Yogis to meditate. At this time the connection of mind is the best which is not so at any other day timings. The Yogis mind is stable at dawn. If one practices mediation at dawn all the grief and trouble in his life will vanish just like the darkness is destroyed by the coming of the dawn. Yajna, the morning vedic ritual is performed only adter the onset of physical dawn. One has no need to pray for dawn as it is readily there and the actions of the Gods are undeviating of the alternations of physical night and physical dawn: RV 1.124.2 and dawn prepares and brings fresh revelation of knowledge at each advent: RV 1.92.6. Both night and day prepare the yajamana for the manifestation of the various powers of God in him.
TRUTH: Usha is born from Truth: RV 4.51.7. Rta means Truth. Satya signifies that which the eternal, the suoreme, existence in its own from sat. Rtam signifies that which is evident or perceptible, manifested out of the satyam, what has come to be in accordance with satya or that which represents satya. Rta is the Truth in manifestation. Usha is the guardian of this rta: RV 1.113.12. She moves according to the path of Truth and she does not limit her regions: RV 1.124.3. RV 5.80.1: Of a luminous movement, vast with the Truth, Supreme in the Truth, bringing with her svar.
Dawn born in heaven opens out things by the Truth; she comes manifesting the greatness: RV 7.75.1. She is the Goddess who awakes the seat of Truth: RV 4.51.5. Usha and Nakta are mothers of Truth: RV 5.5.6. Dawn, true in her being with the Gods who are true; vast with gods who are vast: RV 7.75.1. As ‘sunrtanam netri’ is she the impeller of happy truths and as ‘sunrtai rayanti’ she is the impeller of true and happy worlds: RV 1.113.4. She carries us to the supramental home of Truth. Thus Usha, the goddess of illumination first activates the inner being of Jiva to come forward and she prepares the path for all the Sun’s powers to pervade the inner being.
Usha is not simply physical dawn; she is the Goddess of Spiritual Consciousness signifying the dawn of divine consciousness in the individual aspirant. Dawn is the physical symbol of this divinity. The coming of divine consciousness indicates the existence of the higher world of bliss and perfection. This is beyond the pale of ordinary consciousness. By Usha’s dawn the consciousness of the human aspirant is widened. The narrowness of outlook characteristic of our ordinary human condition is washed away, as it were, like the tropicak rain that washes away all the dirt in the streets. We are less prone to be critical of other people, less prone to magnify the limitations of people around us. We have more faith in the ability of the divine to bring greater harmony and progress among all of us, and in our collaboration with the divine. Thus Usha is not the physical dawn. However to see and enjoy the ordinary dawn, no special capacity is required. Only the eyesight is enough. Rig Veda 1.30.20: O Usha, deathless one, which mortal is fit to enjoy thee? O luminous one, whom does thou attain? The phrase implies that only rare persons have the good fortune of having the experience of Usha.
Usha creates a separate world and appropriate conditions for each individual. But man gets up take grab the opportunities of enjoyment and physical wealth or heroism without being aware of the help provided by Usha. However she moves in slowly to extend their vision that humans are only instruments. The yogi knows the both Usha and Dawn bring happiness. He is aware of the Isha Upanishdic dictums that knowledge and ignorance must be known together. He knows it as both in one – the knowledge and ignorance, by ignorance crosses beyond death and by knowledge enjoys immortality.
Usha and Nakta are progressions according to the rule of a divine action to bring boons of Ananda; the blessings of all the divine existence. Usha is ancient and eternal; the Dawn of Light was from the beginning but in her arrival Usha is ever young and fresh to the soul that welcomes her.
Divine Dawn comes thus to the soul with the light of her knowledge, prajnana, confronting all the worlds as field of that knowledge, - all provinces, that is to say, of our universal being, - mind, vitality, physical consciousness. Foundation of the Truth, is the foundation of the Dawns. They are the descent upon mortal nature of the light of that immortal Truth, rtam jyotih. The Lord of Truth is the sole Lord of things. He is Varuņa, soul of vastness and
purity; he is Mitra, source of love and light and harmony. His creative Wisdom is unlimited in its scope. Usha shines as the light of immortal existence as Suntrah, she invokes in man the powers of Truth and Joy.
Hara Hara Mahadeva. (draft Gods and Goddesses)
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi