The Ke?in were long-haired ascetic wanderers with mystical powers described in the Ke?in Hymn (RV 10, 136) of the Rigveda (an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns). The Ke?in ("long-haired one") are described as homeless, traveling with the wind, clad only in dust or yellow tatters, and being equally at home in the physical and the spiritual worlds. They are on friendly terms with the natural elements, the gods, enlightened beings, wild beasts, and all people. The Ke?in Hymn also relates that the Ke?in drink from the same magic cup as Rudra, which is poisonous to mortals.
Y?ska (c. 500 BCE) offered several etymological meanings to Ke?in, including the sun or the sun God Surya. S?yana (c. 14th century ACE) supported that view, followed by some early European Sanskrit scholars, including H. H. Wilson and M. Bloomfield.Hermann Oldenberg took the view that the Ke?in Hymn described the "orgiastic practices of the old Vedic times" and the "drunken rapture" of the Ke?in.
The hymn shows the conception that by a life of sanctity the Muni can attain to the fellowship of the deities of the air, the Vayu, the Rudras, the Apsarases, and the Gandharvas; and, furnished like them with wonderful powers, can travel along with them on their course.
He with the long loose locks supports Agni, and moisture, heaven, and earth:
He is all sky to look upon: he with long hair is called this light.
The Munis, girdled with the wind, wear garments soiled of yellow hue.
They, following the wind's swift course go where the Gods have gone before.
Transported with our Munihood we have pressed on into the winds:
You therefore, mortal men. behold our natural bodies and no more.
The Muni, made associate in the holy work of every God,
Looking upon all varied forms flies through the region of the air.
The Steed of V?ta, V?yu's friend, the Muni, by the Gods impelled,
In both the oceans hath his home, in eastern and in western sea.
Treading the path of sylvan beasts, Gandharvas, and Apsarases,
He with long locks, who knows the wish, is a sweet most delightful friend
V?yu hath churned for him: for him he poundeth things most hard to bend,
When he with long loose locks hath drunk, with Rudra, water from the cup.
Carrying within oneself fire and poison, heaven and earth, ranging from enthusiasm and creativity to depression and agony, from the heights of spritual bliss to the heaviness of earth-bound labor. This is true of man in general and the [Vedic] Ke?in in particular, but the latter has mastered and transformed these contrary forces and is a visible embodiment of accomplished spirituality. He is said to be light and enlightenment itself. The Ke?in does not live a normal life of convention. His hair and beard grow longer, he spends long periods of time in absorption, musing and meditating and therefore he is called "sage" (muni). They wear clothes made of yellow rags fluttering in the wind, or perhaps more likely, they go naked, clad only in the yellow dust of the Indian soil. But their personalities are not bound to earth, for they follow the path of the mysterious wind when the gods enter them. He is someone lost in thoughts: he is miles away.-- Karel Werner (1977), "Yoga and the ?g Veda: An Interpretation of the Ke?in Hymn"
The Yogis of Vedic times left little evidence of their existence, practices and achievements. And such evidence as has survived in the Vedas is scanty and indirect. Nevertheless, the existence of accomplished Yogis in Vedic times cannot be doubted.
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