Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the two Asvins, and also the Maruts; behold many marvels never seen before.
After the initial play of colors, a proper spiritual trip moves quickly into more cosmic realms, although visual effects may persist throughout. Here we begin to encounter demigods, who are the personification of natural principles. Decoding what the names stand for reveals that they are, among other things, stages of a psychedelic experience.
Verse 6 presents an extremely compressed outline of the early stages of a trip. There is immersion in white light (Adityas); unity with the elements of the world (Vasus); mental distress (Rudras) occasioned by the yawning gulf between the psychedelic state of mind and familiar reality; insight into truth and the meaning of life, especially of one’s own destiny (Asvins); and finally, appreciation of the divinity of all beings (symbolized by the Maruts).
Here Krishna is at last revealing to Arjuna what he only briefly described before. Earlier he taught that he was the essential core of the Adityas, the “cosmically brilliant lights” (as well as of the Vasus, Rudras, and Maruts), but now actual suns are rising in the firmament of Arjuna’s consciousness, one after the other.
The intense white or clear light of the “suns” causes all separate objects and thoughts to melt together into a state of unity. Whatever intellectual ideas about oneness were held before, now oneness is an undeniable fact, a berry in the palm of Arjuna’s hand. The certitude induced by an experience like this is overwhelming, palpable, pulverizing of all doubts.
A trip doesn’t build up to “seeing the light” gradually; there is a short period of the play of colors and then almost immediately the shining oneness bursts through. The trajectory of a good trip is like fireworks, which shoot up as rockets to explode in the sky and then slowly dissolve and settle back to earth.
In this heightened state of awareness there is additional synesthesia where the elements (Vasus) become tangible. In an exalted mind-set the yogi “becomes one” with the water of a stream or the flame of a fire, for instance: the mind is captivated so completely by what it perceives that the sense of being a detached observer is temporarily erased. It is not uncommon to even feel at one with nature in its entirety, which is a supremely uplifting sensation.
The Rudras, or “tragic storms,” can likewise appear during a trip. There is often a period of intense shake-up as the false underpinnings of one’s mental orientation are swept away in a flood of new insights. Many times a psychedelic journeyer will experience their whole body, their conceptions, their relationships to people around them, or even the entire world dissolving into nothingness. It can be a dreadfully terrifying deconstruction, but if done on the platform of a stable mind-set it allows the inner suns to shine more brightly than ever. When much of what was previously imagined about reality turns out to be false, its dissolution is a blessing in disguise. The worst pain comes from trying to hold on to ideas that are being stripped of all sense. The harder we try to cling to them, the more pain we cause ourselves. As the Buddhists advise, just let the intense energy pass through you. If you don’t resist you cannot get hurt.
The twin Asvins are offspring of the sun and considered the physicians of the gods. One is Satya, meaning truth, validity, or actuality. On a good trip the first profundity is a sense of absolute conviction. Doubt evanesces like fog before a brilliant sunrise. Ordinary states of mind can be comparatively trivial or at least partial and dubious, but the enlightened state is indelibly real through and through. It is inexplicably self-ratifying. In it, the very aliveness of reality is so uplifting and beautiful that you cannot help laughing out loud with relief and delight. Being restored to truth is possibly the most rehabilitating balm there is. The truth attained during a profound experience is not based on the recognition of specific things, which may be highly embroidered during a trip but emerges from an inner certitude grounded at a deeper level than sense perceptions.
The other Asvin is Dasra, which means accomplishing wonderful deeds or giving marvelous aid. Further into a trip saturated in truth, there is often a period of insight about the meaning of one’s life, including impediments and unrealized potentials. Many of the life transforming effects of soma ingestion happen at this stage.
It is little wonder that these two demigods are considered “physicians,” because they heal many deep-seated wounds of the psyche instantly and almost painlessly. Knowing who you are and where you are going has to be the most important insight anyone can have for finding their way through life.
The Maruts are the shining ones, the divine sparks. After the instructive phase of the trip, the yogi can see how every separate item of the universe glows with its own inner radiance, its own inimitable value. The new awareness gained is applied to each aspect of the environment in turn, and each becomes exalted, transformed from darkness to light, from stagnation to vivacity.
All these marvels are “never seen before” because they spring from the unique mind of each viewer. There are no Rudras and the other demigods anywhere in the “real” world; they stand for aspects of consciousness. While what they represent may occur in a generally similar way in most people, their precise display will be tailored to each person’s individual makeup.
The bliss of the Absolute has often been described as ever-new joy. It can never become stale or redundant, because it is never the same. As in surfing, each wave breaks but once, and no matter how similar it is to past waves, it must be ridden wholly in the present or the surfer will wipe out.