Eight Directions and the Discovery of other Intermediate Directions
A hint into more specific observations from deep antiquity
So, by now we have read how Atharva Veda has defined directions, very precisely, in the dwelling (read here).
The word Vāstu has once appeared in Rgveda. We have dikpālas in a Vāstu- Dwelling. I came across a verse on Magic Square while studying Sanskrit text (Lilāvati), which shows the names of the deities of all the directions. They are given below.
इन्द्र: वायु: यम: च एव नैरृतः मध्यम: तथा ।
ईशान: च कुबेर: च अग्नि: वरुण: एव च ॥
indra: vāyu: yama: ca eva nairṛtaḥ madhyama: tathā ।
īśāna: ca kubera: ca agni: varuṇa: eva ca ॥
यम: च एव =3
मध्यम: तथा ।=5
ईशान: च =6
कुबेर: च =7
वरुण: एव च ॥=9
I religiously light the earthen lamps in these directions with the wick in that same direction. Lighting only these much earthen lamps are more than enough on the auspicious days including Diwali. This has grown as a theory within me as I am growing older. Probably, we should become usefully minimalistic to lessen the burdens on ever vegetating Bhu-devi. Now lets move towards the facts.
We see the evolution of Atharvavedic directions into more specific directions as increments in Dikpālas, the guardian deities of different directions. The directions that Lilāvati illustrated are in accordance to the climatology to be deployed in a dwelling in a specific way.
The question arises, when did the Vedic tradition evolved into more specific directions. For that question we get a hint in Atharva Veda itself.
Atharva Veda 15.5.1 gives a very clear idea that they were noting more specific directions, probably the size of the dwellings were increasing. It also shows the phase of evolution within the text.
Bhava the Archer, a deliverer, delivers him from the intermediate space of the eastern region(NE)...They made Sarva the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the southern region(SE)…They made Pasupati the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the western region(SW)…They made the Awful God, the Archer, his deliverer from the intermediate space of the northern region(NW)…They made Rudra the Archer his deliverer from the intermediate space of the region of the nadir etc….They made Mahādeva his deliverer from the intermediate space of the region of the zenith.
I find Zenith and Nadir intermediate directions very interesting. One of the earlier blogs showed that the single deity is called upon to bless all the directions. Atharva Veda 15.5 suggests that all the names taken are later found in Shiva Sahastranāmastrotam from MBH. The Lilāvati shloka gives list of specific deities which consists of many specific Rg vedic deities like Indra, Vayu, Yama, Agni, and Varuna. Actual compounds such as N-E, S-W appears in ŚB 2.10 as prāg-udāk-prāyaṇa with more clarity. अन्तर — दिशा; antara — diśā, or अन्तरा — दिक् ; antarā dik [Vājasaneyisaṃhitā 24, 26.] f. an intermediate region or quarter of the compass (cf.अन्तरा-दिश् and अन्तर्-देश.) (Lexicon) are also found.
So, we note that even the names of directions and their deities have evolved in time and space. Again, I would repeat that this didn’t happen with the magic wand in hand within a moment. They themselves show their primitive nature.