The general impression is that Veda hymns, teeming with praise for the divine, contain power within them to invoke any God they may so will. May as well be. Once in every while, though, one stumbles upon something different. For example, a poemthe that contains the shreds of oscillating conscience shorn off an addict in a rehab.
Oh, don’t jump out of your chairs – yet. I do not claim that they had rehabilitation centers matching the ones existing today. However, once you let go of initial disbelief, you will see the glimpses of all: the awareness of a gambler that the morbid attraction to gambling is a fruit of his hunger to get high on the sight of rolling dice, his knowledge that he has abandoned his unblemished wife (no blame game here), his awareness of all the ensuing evils – strangers fondling his wife, social ostracization, his guilt, envy, and finally, his utterly hopeless submission to the dices, taking a vow that he (the gambler) will never covet wealth. That is a signature consciousness of a decision that he commits to the vice knowingly, in full awareness of consequences.
You see no hand of the unconscious, though Psychological insight, clear as daylight is written all over it.
In the end, the gambler also resolves that he will give up gambling, and take up farming – from consciousness to consciousness, just the hemisphere changes.
And changes how. Another story suggests that the seer of this sukta was himself this addict he talks about (explains the clear narration of a gambler’s perspective). He was ‘taken away’ – incarcerated? You can taste his pain of rejection when you read his words – it is his own people who are asking that the gambler be taken away. If he stops gambling, his friends go away. See the oscillation and ‘stuckness’??
However, it is this person who was accepted as a Rishi, and he also became a Purohita of a king. Now piece the jig-saw. The missing pieces are not really missing. One may infer (debatably?) that a fallen person got accepted and promoted to the apex of a social pyramid.
Psychotherapy and psychology may not include poetry. But poetry is potent enough to remain a moving poetry while containing guilt, anguish, insight, reflection, observation, and knowledge of the truth. Cut and dry it as psychology, psychotherapy or more, as you like it – or, as you can chew it.
See the Mandala 10, Sukta 34 of Rigveda. It contains 14 verses. This Sukta or a poem, also known as the “gambler’s lament”, is by Kavaṣa Ailūṣa.
The brief translation of the verses is as follows:
The wobbling [dice] born on tall trees in windy places, rolling on the dice-board, give intoxicating pleasure to my heart. The dice from the Vibhīdaka tree, the one that keeps [gamblers] awake, delights me, like the drink of soma from the Mujavat mountain. (1)
She [my wife] neither got angry nor felt ashamed of me [on the contrary], she was cordial towards my friends and towards me. For the sake of addiction to dice, I have abandoned my devoted wife! (2)
The mother-in-law hates [the gambler], the wife keeps him away, and the destitute does not find a comforting friend. I do not find any happiness for a gambler, like the value of an old and worn-out horse. (3)
Others fondle the wife of the one whose wealth the powerful dice has coveted. The father, mother, and brothers say of him, “We don’t know him, bind him and take him away!” (4)
When I resolve that I will not play with these (dice), then I am abandoned by my departing friends. And the tawny (dice) that are thrown down (on the board) make a rattling sound, I go towards the place where they are thrown, like a paramour (drawn to the meeting place with her lover). (5)
His body glowing, the gambler enquiring (about the gambling den), goes to it, thinking “I will win”. On the casting of the moves by his adversary, the dice stoke his desire. (6)
Dice are indeed goads that torment and destroy, and cause remorse and agony. For the winning gambler, they are like sons who keep sucking wealth (from a wealthy father), and for the loser, they, covered with honey destroy him again. (i.e. his wealth and his reputation). (7)
Their group of fifty-three cavort (on the board), like the god Savitṛ, true to his word. They do not bow down even to the anger of the infuriated, even the king bows down to them! (8)
They roll downwards and spring upwards, without hands they overpower the one with hands! Though being cold to touch, cast on the board, they are glowing charcoals that burn the heart! (9)
The abandoned wife of the aimlessly wandering gambler is tormented and so is the mother. Indebted and fearful, desiring wealth (by any means), he approaches the homes of others by night (to steal). (10)
The gambler burns with envy on seeing a woman, another’s wife and his well-established dwelling. He yokes the tawny horses in the morning and the sinner sinks down (exhausted) when the fire dies out. (11)
(O dice)! Whoever is the commander-in-chief of your hordes, the king, the foremost of your tribe, I bow to him with ten fingers (i.e. joined palms) facing east, and I will not covet wealth – this I say truthfully. (12)
O gambler! Do not play with dice, engage in farming, enjoy the wealth gained thereby, considering it to be sufficient! There (in farming) are the cattle, there is your wife (i.e. you will find happiness in them), that is what the Lord Savitṛ has told me. (12)
(O dice!) Make us your friend, soothe us, do not deal with us using unbearable ferocity! May your fury rest in our enemy and may another (i.e our enemy) fall into the grip of the tawny (dice). (14)
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