A Multilayered Hymn – 3


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A Multilayered Hymn – First Sukta of Rigveda – 3

We repeat the second and third mantra for the sake of continuity.

Mantras and Translations : 2-9

अग्निः पूर्वे-भिर्-ऋषि-भिर्-ईड्-यो नूत-नैर्-उत | स देवाँ एह वक्षति || (1.001.2)

अग्नि-ना रयिम्-अश्-न-वत्-पोष-मा-इव दिवेदिवे  | यश-सं वीर्-अव्-अत्-तम्-अम् || (1.001.3)

अग्ना-इ यं यज्ञं-अध्वरं विश्व-तः परिभू-र-सि  | स इद्-देव-इषु गच्छति || (1.001.4)

अग्नि-होता कवि-क्रतुः सती– अश्–चित्र– श्रवस्-तमः | देवो देवा-इ-भिर्-आ गम्-अत् || (1.001.5)

यद्-अङ्ग दाशु-ष-इ त्वं अग्ना-इ भद्रं करिष्यसि | तवा-इद्-तत्-सत्यम्-अङ्गिरः || (1.001.6)

उप त्व-अग्ना-इ दिवेदिवे दोषावस्तर्-धिया वयम् | नमो भर्-अन्त एम-सि || (1.001.7)

राज्-अन्तं-अध्व-रा-ण-अम् गोपा-अमृत-स्य दीदिविम् | वर्धमानं स्वा-इ दमे || (1.001.8)

स नः पिता-इव सून-वा-इ अग्ना-इ सूपाय-नो भव | सच-स्वा नः स्वस्-तय्-ए  || (1.001.9)

Agni it was, before men became Rshis, whom men implored for Union. This was commended with certainty (for attaining) God/Siva/Vishnu; gods; (for those) desirous to grow or become powerful or to accumulate (wealth). (1.001.2)

(With) Agni in nabhi (chakra):  (one) wealth enjoys, prosperity is possessed of, authority increases as it were, day by day.                 For fame or wealth, meditation, to be powerful, animate and obtain, become immovable (and) fix oneself. (1.001.3)

Agni arises from restraint which is a yagna uninterrupted;  For crossing Vishnu, meditate on the fire or heat to bind. To God (Siva, Vishnu) assuredly as a divine arrow attain. 1.001.4

Agni and Hota have an enlightened purpose: Reality pervading, bright, loudly praised, most desired;  God or Supreme Spirit or Brahman, which gods arise from, for man (to go) towards, approach to bind. 1.001.5 – 1

Agni and Hota have an enlightened purpose: Truth whose experience is wonderful or manifold, loudly praised, most desired; God, Supreme Spirit or Brahman, which gods arise from, for man (to go) towards, approach to bind. 1.001.5 – 2

When indeed sacrificing for Final emancipation to obtain, to Agni (inner) go to, Siva direct towards . You indeed are That. (This is the) Truth. Angiras (acc. To). 1.001.6

Towards you Agni, we go daily, “Illuminer of dark” to meditate upon; Adoration for bestowing to essence a way to bind. 1.001.7

Direct into interior journey, bestowing knowledge/ascertainment to convince oneself, to Light, the nectar of immortality,  Supreme Spirit, Agni (the shining one). Vishnu is one’s own self to return is home. 1.001.8

Siva (Sahasrara) is to Ganesha (Muladhara) father as it were  brought forth indeed to return, Agni to attain is not expedient to Siva (Sahasrara); (For) Worshpper of self or soul, a hint, Manipura guarded by Vishnu.1.001.9


There is an obvious continuity and narrowing in focus in the spiritual objectives, mentioned in the second lines of the five mantras.

Continuity and Narrowing Focus in Spiritual Objectives

Mantra 2 said that union with Agni was commended to reach God (S,V) or gods (स देवाँ), among other things. Thereby including in worship, that of many gods.

Mantra 3 mentioned only meditation as a spiritual objective (सं).

Mantra 4 narrows the focus to God, which could also be Siva or Vishnu, since the word स is used in स इद्-देव-इषु गच्छति. This mantra inclines to monotheism.

Mantra 5 brings the impersonal and immanent dimension of God into view, referring to it as Reality or Truth (सती = सत्) which is pervasive (अश्). The next line indicates that this impersonal dimension is in someway linked to the concept of a monotheistic, personal God, for which the word देवो (देवः) is used. The many gods are said to arise from Him in order to turn man towards Him, and bind man to Him. Although other variants of translation are not provided here, this Truth or Reality can also be identified with Paramashiva or Vishnu in alternative translations.

Mantra 6 is remarkable in identifying the essential unity of Atman and Brahman. It encapsules this in the term तवा-इद्-तत् (तवेत्तत्), meaning: Thou indeed are That. It is enclosed in the bigger term: तवा-इद्-तत्-सत्यम्-अङ्गिरः (तवेत्तत्सत्यमङ्गिरः), which means: Thou indeed are That, is the Truth, according to Angiras. तवेत्तत् is a clear anticipation of the more popular तत् त्वं असि of the Chandogya Upanishad.

Thus, Mantra 6 further narrows the spiritual objective to the realisation of the essential unity of Atman and Brahman.  

Mantra 7 identifies this Truth or Reality as the essence, concluding with: Adoration for bestowing to essence a way to bind (नमो भर्-अन्त एम-सि).

Mantra 8 identifies this objective as Sri Vishnu, saying; Vishnu is one’s own self to return is home (वर्धमानं स्वा-इ दमे). The word used for Sri Vishnu here is वर्धमानं, which means “One who multiplies in form of the universe”.[i] Since the universe is nothing but multiplied form of Sri Vishnu, and one’s self is part of the universe, Sri Vishnu is also one’s own self. To return to Him, is to return home.

Mantra 9 puts the question of realisation of Truth, God, Reality, etc., in Saivite terms. It says: Siva (Sahasrara) is to Ganesha (Muladhara) father as it were  brought forth indeed to return (स नः पिता-इव सून-वा-इ).  Ganesha is the presiding deity of Muladhara, which corresponds to the region of earth.[ii] One recalls the story that Sri Ganesha was fashioned out of earthly materials by Parvati Mata. This makes Lord Siva father as it were, of Sri Ganesa. The mantra says, that Sri Ganesa was brought forth or born only to return (to the father) (सून-वा-इ). This seems to allude to the view that 1) liberation is the intended goal of all jivas 2) this is to be attained by the kundalini travelling from muladhara (ganesha or नः) to Siva (भव).

Continuity in Theme

Mantra 2 says that men approached Agni for Union (अग्निः पूर्वे-भिर्-ऋषि-भिर्-ईड्-यो).

Mantra 3 refers to the several benefits that flow from Agni in the navel (अग्नि-ना).

Mantra 1.001.4

Mantra 4 says: Agni arises from restraint which is a yagna uninterrupted;  For crossing Vishnu, meditate on the fire or heat to bind.  

Thus, the inner fire arises from the unbroken yagna of restraint (यं यज्ञं-अध्वरं)  . The word used for restraint is यं. That यं or restraint[iii] is a personal sacrifice is an ancient idea which is reflected in later thought as well: For instance, “self-sacrifice means to be a living sacrifice, dedicating everything to the divine purpose.”[iv]  It is also said: “Man, in truth, is himself a sacrifice” (Chandogya Upanishad 3.16.1).[v]

What is the nature of this restraint? विश्व-तः which in this translation is taken to mean “crossing Vishnu” (विश्व being a name of Vishnu), can also mean universal virtue, or virtue according to Vishnu, which could point to sadharana dharma or sanatana dharma, respectively.

What is “crossing Vishnu” ? Vishnu is the presiding deity of Manipura chakra. It would appear, as is shown also by 1.001.6 and 1.001.9, chakras are elliptically referred to by their presiding deities or other characteristics.[vi] Thus, “crossing Vishnu” would mean, crossing the Manipura Chakra and rising above the solar plexus.

The means suggested is to meditate on the fire in the Agni mandala, “to bind” (परिभू-र-सि). The last seems to be an allusion to binding the self consciousness to the rising Kundalini.

Why should one cross the Manipura ? This is explained the next three mantras.

Mantra 1.001.5

“Agni and Hota have an enlightened purpose: Reality or Truth pervading, bright, loudly praised, most desired;  God or Supreme Spirit or Brahman”

Thus, the objective of crossing Manipura, is to attain to Reality or Truth which is pervasive: सती-अश्, God, supreme Spirit or Brahman (देवो or देवः). Apart from stressing the impersonal, immanent dimension of existent Reality or Truth, as well as God in his Personal, Transcendental aspect, this mantra is important in suggest that the many gods arise from God, in order to turn man towards Him. Thus, polytheism is subsumed under Monotheism and Monism. The relation between the latter two is however left open.

Mantra 1.001.6

This mantra further identifies the nature of this Truth or सत्यम्, in the words of sage Angiras. “Thou indeed are That, is the Truth, according to Angiras” (तवा-इद्-तत्-सत्यम्-अङ्गिरः) concludes the mantra.

How does one reach this truth ?

The first line of the Mantra explains: When indeed sacrificing for Final emancipation to obtain, thou Agni (inner) go to (यद्-अङ्ग दाशु-ष-इ त्वं अग्ना-इ). From mantra 1.001.4, it is clear that one is being directed to meditate on the Agni Mandala.

The mantra further adds: भद्रं करिष्यसि. भद्रं  also means Siva. Thus, this means: Siva direct towards. That is while meditating on the Agni Mandala, one is being advised to direct the consciousness towards Siva. Siva is the presiding deity of the Sahasrara. As mentioned earlier, chakras are often elliptically referred to by their presiding deity. Thus, the meditator is being advised to direct his consciousness upwards towards the Sahasrara. Doing this is expected to subserve the objective of final emancipation.

The second line clarifies the nature of final emancipation. It is said to lie in the realisation: “Thou indeed are That, is the Truth, according to Angiras” (तवा-इद्-तत्-सत्यम्-अङ्गिरः) concludes the mantra.

Mantra 1.001.7

This says: “Towards you Agni, we go daily, “Illuminer of dark” to meditate upon; Adoration for bestowing to essence a way to bind.”

This Mantra describes the movement to final emancipation as illuminating. Hence Agni in the navel, the object of meditation, is described as “Illuminer of dark” (दोषावस्तर्). Daily meditation is advised. Finally Agni is saluted for providing a way to the essence: नमो भर्-अन्त एम-सि.

The essential identity of Mantras 7 and 6, may be shown by the following considerations:

i) Essence is the element of Sahasrara: “The element of the Sahasrāra Chakra is ĀDI TATTVA or ĪSHVARA TATTVA . It is the source of creation, the pure light and one reality – God…. In the Cosmos there are diverse manifestations of this one Tattva … the pure essence.”  As Paramatma, “it is the Universal, Supreme Self, the “Light of Life”. [vii]

“It (Sahasrara) is the seat of Lord Shiva. …. Shakti is located in the Mūlādhāra Chakra and Shiva in the Sahasrāra Chakra….”[viii]

ii) Spiritual darkness is the distance between Shiva and Shakti. Thus: “…we experience the distance between them as a dark zone of unclarity and ignorance.”[ix]

This moral or spiritual ignorance is characterised by ‘not knowing”. “The trench that separates Shiva and Shakti (otherwise known as Purusha and Prakriti – consciousness and nature) is “not-knowing”, and the consequence of “not-knowing” are emotions full of suffering, such as loneliness, sadness, bitterness, fear, doubt, etc., that accompany us through life.”[x]

iii) The way to the essence: Meditation on Agni (External or Internal, at Manipura) causes the consciousness of the Jivatma to rise. One may recall that the previous Mantra (1.001.6) directed the listener to direct it towards Siva (भद्रं करिष्यसि). “When the consciousness of the Jīvātmā reaches Ādi Shiva in the Sahasrāra Chakra and merges with it, it is illuminated and freed from any shackles and limitations. Just as night gives way to sunrise, the darkness of ignorance fades with the opening of the Sahasrāra Chakra.”[xi]

Mantra 1.001.8

The mantra describes the spiritual quest of man in the following word addressed to Agni: Direct into interior journey, bestowing knowledge/ascertainment to convince oneself, to Light, the nectar of immortality,  Supreme Spirit, Agni (the shining one) (राज्-अन्तं-अध्व-रा-ण-अम् गोपा-अमृत-स्य दीदिविम्).

 No elaboration is needed. One may refer to the discussion of the relation between essence and the chakral journey in the previous mantra.

Mantra 1.001.9

This mantra can be translated to say: Siva (Sahasrara) is to Ganesha (Muladhara) father as it were  brought forth indeed to return, Agni to attain is not expedient to Siva (Sahasrara); (For) Worshpper of self or soul, a hint, Manipura guarded by Vishnu.

One can appreciate the allusion to the relation between Ganesa and Siva, and the movement of Kundalini from the muladhara to sahasrara. This has been discussed in the previous section entitled Continuity and Narrowing Focus in Spiritual Objectives.

The mantra adds: अग्ना-इ सूपाय-नो भव which may be translated as : Agni to attain to expedient-not Siva. This is somewhat puzzling, because in previous mantras, meditation on agni in the navel seemed to be stressed as a method for the kundalini to reach Sahasrara. One meaning of expedient is a means to an end.

1)  One possibility is that this means that Agni in the navel is not merely an expedient[xii] or a means to reach Siva. It has intrinsic value. Its presiding deity is Sri Vishnu, who is the sustaining force of the universe. The second line seems to stress this. It says: For worshippers of the self or soul, a hint (सच-स्वा नः), Manipura is guarded by Vishnu (स्वस्-तय्-ए).  Manipura is referred to as स्वस्. [xiii] Vishnu is referred to by the word ए.

2) A second possibility is that when one is afflicted by doshas, it may not be in one’s own interest[xiv] to unite with Siva in the Sahasrara. In order to prevent this, Sri Vishnu guards स्वस् or the Manipura. Sri Vishnu as the presiding deity may be expected to guard the chakra. Alternatively this may be an allusion to the Vishnu Granthi which is said to block the flow of consciousness above Manipura. Thus, it is said:

“Vishnu granthi: Blocking the flow from the third chakra at the navel, manipura, upward to the fourth chakra, anahata, the heart;…” [xv].  The Vishnu granthi is said variously to lie above Manipura or at the two chakras Manipura and Anahata.[xvi]


[i] Vishnu Sahasranama, RK Mission.

[ii] “Ganesa is the Devata of this Chakra. …. This Chakra corresponds with Bhu Loka or Bhu-Mandal, physical plane (region of earth).” Kundalini Yoga, Xth Edn., Swami Sivananda, DLS,

[iii] It also has meanings of control, and subdue. Presumably, from this root, the words yama  and niyama popular in  popular in Yoga books came. The ‘restraint’ or ‘control’ being referred to is presumably of the self.

[v] This idea also found its way into Christianity. Thus:” I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,which is your spiritual worship.” 4.Christianity. Romans 12.1 (http://www.unification.net/ws/theme124.htm)

[vi] For instance, अग्नि-ना fire in the navel स्वस् or स्वर् can also be taken to be a reference to the Manipura chakra instead of the broader Agni mandala. The only reason for such an elliptical allusion may be that परोक्षप्रिया एव हि देवाः 2 | (1.3.14, AB), i.e., gods are fond of cryptic statements.

[viii] ibid

[ix] ibid

[x] ibid

[xi] ibid

[xii] One meaning of expedient is a means to an end.

[xiii] This Chakra corresponds to Svah or Svarga Loka and to Solar Plexus in the physical body. Kundalini Yoga, Swami Shivananda, Xth edn., DLS.

[xiv] Another meaning of expedient is “serving to promote your interest”.

[xv] Kundalini Rising.htm

[xvi] There is one granthi per two cakras. … Manipura and anahata associate with Vishnu granthi. Yoga Sastra – Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia.htm


A Multilayered Hymn – 2


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Chakral Interpretation of the First Hymn of Rigveda

Each of the nine mantras of the first Hymn can be translated in many ways, sometimes as high as a dozen, all plausible. It seems that these multiple meanings are intended, for the gods are fond of hidden meanings. Thus, it is said: परोक्षप्रिया एव हि देवाः 2 | (1.3.14, AB).[i]

In spite of multiplicity of meanings of each mantra, some of the translatons seem to run through like a single running thread. One such thread relates to the chakra interpretation of Agni, i.e. as inner fire. Agni can be said to reside in the navel, which is called the region of fire, Agni Tattva or Agni Mandala. Kundalini is said to reside in the Muladhara. When it is activated, it is experienced as intense heat or inner fire. This is how it is felt as it moves from one chakra to the next. (Swami Sivananda).[ii] Inner fire or Agni, in this sense, represents the source of the spiritual progress of one wishing to submerge his self in Siva at sahasrara.

Prana is of different qualities. The lower chakras use a different quality of prana, than higher chakras. The quality of pranic energy that is used in lower chakras, below the solar plexus, is usually not suitable for the chakras above the solar plexus, and can cause ailments.[iii] The Agni Mandala serves to transform and purify the upward flowing energy from the muladhara. Any contamination of the profane in the lower order energy of the lower chakras is transformed and purified in this mandala, and only the pure form is allowed to move upward. Thus the agni mandala both unites and separate the profane and the divine.

We shall link together the translations of different mantras as they relate to this inner fire. The first two mantras are merely introductory, and the esoteric chakra references commence explicitly from the third mantra.

First three mantras

अग्निं-ईळे पुरोहितं यज्ञ-स्य देव-मृत्-विज्-अम् |  होता-रं रत्न-धा-तमम् ||  (1.001.1)

अग्निः पूर्वे-भिर्-ऋषि-भिर्-ईड्-यो नूत-नैर्-उत | स देवाँ एह वक्षति || (1.001.2)

अग्नि-ना रयिम्-अश्-न-वत्-पोष-मा-इव दिवेदिवे  | यश-सं वीर्-अव्-अत्-तम्-अम् || (1.001.3)

Agni praise I, entrusted of yagna is he, the god (who) removes fear to connect oneself with. Hota is delighted as (such) wealth (he) has so as to make one faint away.

Agni it was, before men became Rshis, whom men implored for Union. This was commended with certainty (for attaining) God/Siva/Vishnu; gods; (for those) desirous to grow or become powerful or to accumulate (wealth).

(With) Agni in nabhi (chakra):  (one) wealth enjoys, prosperity is possessed of, authority increases as it were, day by day.                 For fame or wealth, meditation, to be powerful, animate and obtain, become immovable (and) fix oneself.


Since the third mantra provides the key, we move backward from it in interpreting.


(With) Agni in nabhi (chakra):  (one) wealth enjoys, prosperity is possessed of, authority increases as it were, day by day.                 For fame or wealth, meditation, to be powerful, animate and obtain, become immovable (and) fix oneself.

अग्नि-ना means Agni in navel or nabhi. This are is also called the Agni mandala.[iv] Some accounts include only the Manipura Chakra in this. According to Pranic healing, there are four chakras in this region: Nabhi, Spleen (front and back), and Manipura (solar plexus). The last is called the energy clearing house, controlling body heat, while the spleen chakras act as entry points for prana. The navel chakra controls the intestines.[v] In this sense, it is appropriate to speak of the Agni Mandala as a whole containing four chakras that would be covered by the term fire in the navel. For this reason, the terminology used in Rigveda: “Fire in navel” seems to be inclusive on purpose, as it covers functions of all the four chakras.

The mantra says that to animate and obtain the benefits from the chakras in the region, one must become immobile and fix oneself (तम्-अम्). This implies fixing concentration on the region, after assuming a stationary posture.

The benefits mentioned are those that are said to accrue from the Manipura Chakra. These include, meditation, fame, wealth and personal power. This corresponds to existing beliefs about the functions of the Manipura Chakra.

According to Satchakranirupana or The Serpent Power (trans. Arthur Avalon), “Physically, Manipura governs digestion, mentally it governs personal power,[vi] emotionally it governs expansiveness, and spiritually, all matters of growth.”[vii] Regarding spiritual growth, in some traditions, Kundalini shakti has to be activated by focusing on or fixing on the Manipura Chakra.[viii] For this reason, the Manipura Chakra is important for meditation. Others point out that: Manipura chakra is concerned with the drive for fame, wealth and power.[ix]


Agni it was, before men became Rshis, whom men implored for Union. This was commended with certainty (for attaining) God/Siva/Vishnu; gods; (for those) desirous to grow or become powerful or to accumulate (wealth).

The interpretation of the third mantra, throws new light on the second mantra. The Agni referred to therein can be interpreted as fire in the navel or Agni Mandala.  

The second mantra says that before man became Rshi, he approached Agni for Union or Yoga. We may recall that Rshi were sages who saw the mantras of Vedas (मन्त्रदृष्ट). Swami Sivananda casts the following light on this matter.

According to him, vedas form the sound-manifestation of Ishvara. This has four divisions, the highest of which is Para finding expression only in Prana. The second division is Pasyanti which manifests in the mind. Interestingly, however, its seat is the Manipura Chakra. Yogis who meditate on this chakra, can experience the “Pasyanti state of a word which has colour and form, which is common for all languages…”[x] Hence they are called seers of mantras.

Thus, it becomes clear, why man sought union with Agni in the Agni Mandala, before he became a Rshi.

The second line talks of the spiritual benefits of activating the Manipura Chakra. One can attain to God (Siva, Vishnu) or the gods. The word used for God is स, which can mean God, Siva or Vishnu. The use of the word with multiple meanings seems to be deliberate in order to include all varieties of belief about a Supreme Personal God. It also allows for attaining to other gods. Thus, polytheistic beliefs are also allowed for.

The mantra says that these divinities can be approached by those desirous of (एह) वक्षति. This remarkable word which is rooted in वक्ष्, has three meanings: to grow, accumulation, to be powerful. All meanings apply. Growth, presumably refers to spiritual growth. Accumulation is that of wealth. Power could mean social power or personal power – both are affected by the activation of the Manipura chakra.


Agni praise I, entrusted of yagna is he, the god (who) removes fear to connect oneself with. Hota is delighted as (such) wealth (he) has so as to make one faint away.

The import of the first mantra now becomes clear. The hota or recite of Rigveda is delighted because he is possessed of such esoteric knowledge as will make one faint away.

The yagna which is being referred to is a personal sacrifice, consisting of unbroken restraint. This is made clear by the fourth mantra, and we will shall elaborate on this in the next post. Here we recall the words of Sri Aurobindo: “We find in the Gita the word yajna, sacrifice, used in a symbolic sense for all action, whether internal or external, that is consecrated to the gods or to the Supreme. Was such symbolic use of the word born of a later philosophical intellectuality, or was it inherent in the Vedic idea of sacrifice? I found that in the Veda itself there were hymns in which the idea of the yagna or of the victim is openly symbolical, others in which the veil is quite transparent.”[xi]

Why is Agni entrusted of this yagna, and why is he praised as a god who removes “fear to connect oneself with”?

Agni, it is said owing to a softening of a curse of Sage Bhrigu, purifies all that passes through it.[xii] It has already been pointed out that the chakras below the solar plexus use a different quality of prana than chakras above the solar plexus, and that this quality of energy is not suitable for the higher chakras, and can cause ailments. Agni mandala contains chakras, that purify the prana that passes from the lower chakras to the higher, thereby reducing the fear of ailments. Also, the higher chakras, especially the sahasrara and ajna chakras receive divine pranic energy. Mixing of the profane forms of pranic energy which are used in lower chakras with this divine energy received by higher chakras, can have very damaging psychological consequences. This is the reason for the fear of contaminating the divine with the profane. Agni, residing in the Agni mandala, purifies the pranic energy that flows upwards, and therefore removes the fear of the pious of connecting with the divine.

According to some authorities, the manipura chakra itself has purifying properties. Thus, “The benefit of meditation on this chakra comes from its purifying qualities.” [xiii]  It is said that according to the Agni Purana, before beginning the worship of Sri Vishnu, a devotee should meditate on his navel in order to remove all impurities.[xiv]

Thus, it seems plausible to praise Agni as the god who removes the fear to connect oneself (with divinity).

This, and the benefits that flow from meditating on fire in the navel, make clear, why Agni is entrusted of the internal yagna of personal sacrifice.


[i] For the gods appear to be fond of cryptic epithets; yea, the gods appear to be fond of cryptic epithets. (Swami Nikhilananda, http://sanatan.intnet.mu/ cryptic: of an obscure nature, having puzzling terseness, having a secret or hidden meaning (AED)

[ii] Also: “When Kundalini is at one Chakra, intense heat is felt there and when it leaves that centre for another Chakra, the former Chakra becomes very cold and appears lifeless.” Kundalini Yoga, Xth Edn. DLS.

[iii] E.g ailments can be caused by substantial amount of red prana in the ajna and throat chakras. P. 29, Advanced Pranic Healing, Master Choa Kok Sui, World Pranic Healing Foundation, India.

[iv] Kundalini Yoga, 10th Edn, Swami Sivananda, DLS.

[v] P. 22-3, The Ancient Science and Art of Pranic Healing, Master Choa Kok Sui, Yoga Vidya Pranic Healing Series.

[vi] For the Chinese, navel transforms essence, or jing, into qi energy. And Qi is frequently translated as “natural energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. Qigong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra

[viii] According to many traditions, including Kundalini Yoga, the third chakra is the actual place of awakening the kundalini energy. http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/index.php/kundalini-yoga-and-the-chakras-manipura-navel-chakra/

[ix] the identification with ego and the quest for power, which is the concern of the third chakra: manipura.

This force can manifest itself as the quest for worldly success through the acquisition of wealth or fame, or by trying to control others or the environment. http://www.jivamuktiyoga.com/teachings/focus-of-the-month/p/chakras-0

[x] “The Vedas form the sound-manifestation of Ishvara. That sound has four divisions,—Para which finds manifestation only in Prana, Pasyanti which finds manifestation in the mind, Madhyama which finds manifestation in the Indriyas, and Vaikhari which finds manifestation in articulate expression. … The seat of Pasyanti is the navel or the Manipura Chakra. Yogins who have subtle inner vision can experience the Pasyanti state of a word which has colour and form, which is common for all languages and which has the vibrating homogeneity of sound.” Kundalini Yoga, Xth Edn., Swami Sivananda, DLS.

[xi] P. 41, Secret of the Vedas, Sri Aurobindo.

[xii] A woman named Pulomā was betrothed to a demon; Bhrigu, seeing her beauty, married her according to Vedic rites, and carried her off secretly. The demon, by the aid of Agni, discovered the bride’s hiding-place, and took her away to his home. For rendering the demon this assistance, Bhrigu, cursing Agni, said, “From this day, you shall eat everything.” Agni asked Bhrigu why he had cursed him, seeing that by speaking the truth he had simply done his duty; and reminded him that “when a person is asked a question, and intentionally speaks what is false, he, with seven preceding and seven succeeding generations, is cast into hell; and that he who withholds information is equally guilty.” He goes on to say, “I, too, can curse, but respecting Brāhmans restrain my anger. I am really the mouth of the gods and ancestors. When ghī is offered to them, they partake of it through me as their mouth; how then can I be said to eat everything?” Bhrigu hearing this consented to modify his curse, by saying that, “as the Sun by his light and heat purifies all nature, so Agni should purify all that passed through him.” http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/hmvp/hmvp38.htm

[xiv] In order to worship the lord one should wash his head, rinse his mouth, control his speech and should sit in the posture of a Swastik or in Padmasana with his face directed towards the east. Then he should meditate in the middle of his navel and purify all the impurities of his body. While worshipping Lord Vishnu it is absolutely necessary that he burns down all impurities that are present in his body. http://www.indianetzone.com/45/vishnu_worship.htm

A Multilayered Hymn – First Sukta of Rigveda


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The first sookta of Rigveda is a delight. Not only do many mantras have multiple meanings, apparently all valid, but the different mantras appear to tie in with each other, at some level or other. The internal coherence of the Sookta is striking.

The first striking thing about the construction of the Mantras is that they are extremely parsimonious in two ways. First, every sound seems to matter, and usually, one deals with terms made up of several words. Second, the language seems to be telegraphic, with the listener free to put in the prepositions and link up the words, etc.

Second, it appears that existing translation seems to have neglected references to Union or yoga and meditation in the Rigveda. For instance, these words do not occur at all in Griffith’s translation of the ten volumes of Rigveda. The sole exception is the use of ‘meditations’ in one mantra, which has the meaning of musings rather than meditation. Thus, spirituality is largely neglected in the existing approach.

Third, one word भिरु, which often occurs as भिर्, and which has been translated as man by MW, is mostly neglected, or reduced to भिः etc. This is one of the reasons for the deviation of the present translations from conventional ones.

Multiple meanings of words, terms, phrases and mantras, seem to be intentional and deliberate. This seems to be done to allow for a variety of practices, beliefs and interpretations, which are all thereby sanctioned, or at least not denied by Rigveda.

The first sookta is strikingly multi-layered. Later sooktas do not seem to have the same ability to cover a wide range of translations. This is may be a secondary reason for which Vyasa Maharishi put this hymn as the first hymn in Rigveda. The primary reason, of course, is the pre-eminence and importance of Agni, which the hymn brings out.

The following posts, will examine, one by one, each of the nine mantras of the first hymn of Rigveda.

Meditation and Right Actions: Implications for Individuals and Society


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Meditation and Right Actions: Implications for Individuals and Society

Sarvam Gurukrupa

The logic of a free society points to a society of saints. For a free society to operate successfully:  Individuals without controls should act righteously. Righteous action is a result of enjoyment of a rich inner life.  Meditation and good action foster a rich inner life A by-product of a rich inner life is god-seeking. The fate of the god-seeking is divine, worthy of worship or adoration. That is, sainthood. All this is revealed in Rigveda.


In a philosophical verse, the sage traces the role of good actions and meditation for social behaviour. The verse reads:

अधारयन्त वह्नयोSभजन्त सुकृत्यया | भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम् ||(1.020.8)[1]

Those unsupported by guides/controls (अ-धार-यन्त) must be propelled by wisdom (वह्-नयो); those not enjoying an inner life (अ-भज्-अन्त) must be propelled by good action and meditation (सुकृत्य-या). Fate of the god-seeking, it is divine/adorable/worthy of worship (भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम्).


This verse is rich with advice. The Sanskrit word for a ruler is यन्तृ which also means, guiding controlling and directing. We interpret यन्त occurring in this verse to mean ‘guide, control’


The verse can be divided into three phrases. The three phrases are: अधारयन्त वह्नयो; अभजन्त सुकृत्यया; and भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम्. The discussion of the verse is divided into five parts, because the three phrases are connected with some missing links that will be suggested in this discussion.

  1. अधारयन्त वह्नयो (वह्-नयो): Those who do not have external guides or controls (अ-धार-यन्त), must be propelled by wisdom (वह्-नयो). The word for wisdom used here is  नयः. This means among other things, righteous conduct, virtue, foresight, statesmanship, justice, equity. This phrase applies to rulers as well as individuals:
    1. A ruler without a guide, (advisor or theory which shows the way) must be propelled by statesmanship, justice, equity and foresight.
    2. An individual free from external controls (rules, or rulers) must be propelled by righteous conduct, virtue and foresight.

Although the phrase has both meanings (1a and 1b), the remaining  part of the verse seems to favour individuals.

  1. For individuals to act righteously and virtuously even when they are free from external controls, they should enjoy a rich inner life. The Sanskrit word that denotes “enjoyment” is भज्, and the word denoting the “interior or inner” is अन्त. The second phrase refers to the enjoyment of the interior: भज्-अन्त.
  2. अभजन्त सुकृत्यया : Those not enjoying inner life (अ-भज्-अन्त) must be propelled by good action and meditation (सुकृत्य-या). This is presumably because a rich inner life is fostered by good action and meditation.

That meditation fosters an inner life is self evident, since meditation takes on to the inside of the being. What about good actions?

It can argued with reference to some verses from Bhagavad Gita that good actions also foster a rich inner life (see appendix for details). In short the argument is: Good action fosters Satva guna. Satva guna fosters inner happiness and knowledge. Inner happiness and knowledge constitute a rich inner life.

  1. Meditation and accumulation of Satva guna have another implication. It leads to god seeking. The relevant Sanskrit words are देव-इषः, or देवेषु. What does god-seeking lead to? The last phrase addresses this question.
  2. भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम् :  The fate of the god-seeking, is ‘divine, worthy of worship or adoration’ (यज्ञियम्). This suggests that those who seek God move towards sainthood. This is divine, worthy of worship and adoration.

This verse seems to suggest that the logic of a free society, (i.e., a society without external rulers and rules) leads to a society of saints. The explicit and implicit links in the chain of the argument are as follows:

For a free society to operate successfully:

Individuals without controls should act righteously (explicit). Righteous action is a result of enjoyment of a rich inner life (implicit). Those not enjoying a rich inner life should engage in meditation and good action (explicit). Meditation and good action generate Satva guna, Satva guna fosters inner happiness and knowledge (implicit, see appendix for details). Happiness and knowledge foster a rich inner life (implicit). Accumulation of Satva guna also leads to God seeking (implicit). The fate of the god seeking is divine, worthy of worship or adoration (explicit). That is, sainthood.

Thus the logic of free society leads to a society of saints.


Argument: That good action fosters a rich inner life. Chain: Good action fosters Satva, Satva fosters inner happiness and knowledge.

The Gita says: कर्म-णः सुकृत-स्य-अहुः सात्विकं निर्मलं फलम् | (14.16)

Word meaning:  Action- ascertainment (कर्म-णः) good action is pervading (सुकृत-स्य-अहुः) Sattvika (सात्विकं) pure (निर्मलं) fruit (फलम्)

That is:  Action – determination of nature: good action is pervading with Satvika guna, its fruit is pure.

Thus, good action results in a strengthening of Sattvika Guna. What are the effects of Satva guna on inner life?

In another verse, the Gita says:

… सत्वं … सुख-सङ्ग-इन बध्-नाति ज्ञान-सङ्ग-इन च-अनघ ||  (14.6)

Word meaning:  Satva (सत्वं) happiness association master (सुख-सङ्ग-इन) binds not much (बध्-नाति) knowledge association master (ज्ञान-सङ्ग-इन) also sinless (च-अनघ)

That is:  Satva guna gives mastery in relation to happiness which does not bind too much, and, mastery in relation to knowledge which is also sinless.

What is happiness that does not bind too much? It is happiness that does not depend too much on external and sensual inputs. The latter are not denied, but are not overmuch required. That means the happiness must have an inner source. Thus, the dominance of satva gives inner happiness as well.

Inner happiness and knowledge establish and enrich the interior or inner life of an individual, enabling him to enjoy it. For this reason, such individuals act righteously and virtuously even without external controls.

[1] अ-धार  – यन्त वह् – न्यो – अभज् – अन्त सुकृत्य – या | भागं देव – इषु यज्ञियम् ||

Unsupported (अ-धार) guide/control (यन्त, यन्तृ = guiding, controlling) propel (वह्) wisdom (नयः) not-enjoy (अ-भज्) interior (अन्त) a correct action (सुकृत्य) meditation (या) | Fate (भागं) god (देव) seeking (इष: = इषु) divine/adorable/worthy of worship (यज्ञिय = यज्ञियम्)

Meditation, Devi, Upanishadic Knowledge in Rigveda


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Conventional western and westernized wisdom wrongly regard Rigveda as being merely a collection of prayers to nature-gods for material benefits. My translation suggests that the Rigveda is shot through with concern for Union or Yoga with the divine. It deals with different aspects of meditation. There are references to self-realisation or liberation, and sometimes to moksha. Of course, these words are not used in their modern form. This may be the reason why these references are missed out in existing translations.

In this post, I am discussing one verse in the 23rd hymn of Rigveda, which refers to meditation, Devi and also reveals Upanishadic knowledge. As part of the discussion, I will also bring in references to verses 1.010.01 and 1.007.02, which seem to confirm the correctness of my translation.

The verse under discussion refers to meditation as सं, and to Devi as ग्ना (= ग्ने) and जया. The verse reads:

सं माग्ने वर्चसा सृज सं प्रजया समायुषा | विद्युमे अस्य देवा इन्द्रो विद्यात्सह ऋषिभिः ||(1.023.24)[1]

The verse has four parts that bear a close look.

   1.     सं माग्ने वर्चसा सृज : Meditation (सं) on goddess of knowledge (मा-ग्ने) creates brilliance (वर्चसा सृज). The goddess is referred to as ग्ना, and knowledge as मा. Meditating on her creates brilliance.

   2.    सं प्रजया समायुषा  : Meditation on Durga (सं प्र-जया) bestows a perfect duration of life (सम्-आयुषा). Durga is referred to here as जया. This can only mean a reference to her puranic exploits in defeating asuras.

It can be noted that meditation on Devi yields benefit in the world of duality, in the form of brilliance, and a perfect duration of life. In other verses, there seem to be references to the sanction required from Devi to pass to a world of non-duality.

The first line of the verse seems to relate to the world of duality, which is a world of delusion. The second line of the verse takes up the plane of non-duality in which one sheds delusions.

  3.   विद्युमे अस्य देवा : In the light of ‘I’ is God (विद्यु-मे अस्य देवा). The word used for self is मे . Macdonell translates this word to mean ‘aham’ or ‘I’. This translation reveals that this phrase: विद्युमे अस्य देवा  gives the essence of Upanishadic knowledge. It says that in the light of self, we can see the supreme spirit or divinity. This same thing is emphasized by Bhagwan Satya Sai Baba: “Liberation is attained when the Soul shines in its own divinity”.[2]

  4.   इन्द्रो विद्यात्सह ऋषिभिः : With the state of spiritual knowledge upheld or promoted by Indra, vanquishes (इन्द्रो विद्यात्-सह) Rishi the delusion (ऋषि – भिः). इन्द्रो is interpreted here as being an abbreviation of इन्द्रोत, which means “upheld or promoted by Indra”. विद्यात् is taken as an abbreviation of विद्यात्व, which mean state or idea of विद्या, which in turn means spiritual knowledge.

The statement इन्द्रो विद्यात्सह ऋषिभिः has two aspects.

First, it implies that the effort to illuminate ‘I’ (विद्यु-मे) is based on the state of spiritual knowledge promoted by Indra (इन्द्रो विद्यात्). Thus, Indra promoted the spiritual knowledge of Yoga. This is in line with the statements of Vaisvamitra which said that Indra had promoted yoga (इन्द्र इद्धयो,[3] इन्द्रो वज्री हिरण्ययः,[4] 1.007.2). It also confirms the verse of Vaisvamitra that says that: ब्रह्माणस्त्वा शतक्रत उद्वंशमिव येमिरे, i.e. he had acquired the breath of Brahman riding on the backbone as it were of Indra, and established and acquired Union or yoga (1.010.01).

Second, the full phrase says : इन्द्रो विद्यात्-सह ऋषि – भिः. That is with the state of spiritual knowledge promoted by Indra, vanquishes Rishi delusion. The vanquishing of delusion is called liberation or self realization: Bhagvan Satya Sai Baba says:.. Liberation is the condition of one who has shed delusion.[5] Hence the use of the word Rishi (ऋषि) in this phrase, to denote one who has shed delusion or attained liberation.

Putting 3 and 4 together, the second line of the verse:

विद्युमे अस्य देवा इन्द्रो विद्यात्सह ऋषिभिः

Is a full statement of the Upanishadic Truth. It says: In the light of self shines divinity, with the spiritual knowledge upheld or promoted by Indra, the Rishi vanquishes delusion.

[1] सं मा – ग्ने वर्चसा सृज सं प्र – जया सम् – आयुषा | विद्यु – मे अस्य देवा इन्द्रो विद्यात् – सह ऋषि – भिः ||

Meditation (सं) knowledge (मा) goddess (ग्ना = न्ने) brilliance (वर्चस् = वर्चसा) creates (सृज् = सृज) meditation (सं) on (प्र) Durga (जया) complete/perfect (सम्) duration of life (आयुष = आयुषा) | to illuminate (विद्यु = विद्युत्) I or aham (मे) is (अस्य) God (देवः = देवा) upheld or promoted by Indra (इन्द्रो = इन्द्रोत) state of spiritual knowledge (विद्यात् = विद्यात्व) vanquishing (सह) Rishi (ऋषि) delusion (भः = भिः) 

[2] July 4, 2013, http://www.saibabaofindia.com, Thought For The Day As Written At Prasanthi Nilayam Today

[3] Kindled yoga.

[4] upheld or promoted by Indra is the thunderbolt of golden yoga.

[5] July 4, 2013, http://www.saibabaofindia.com, Thought For The Day As Written At Prasanthi Nilayam Today

On Harmony – The Last Hymn of Rigveda


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Harmony – The Last Hymn of Rigveda

The last hymn of Rigveda (X.191) is dedicated to the god producing harmony: संज्ञान देवता. It has four verses.

सं used as prefix means together, completeness, or beauty according to Apte. Together, these three ideas mean Harmony. संज्ञान, the devata to whom three of the four verses are dedicated, also means, producing harmony AitBr. Hence, these three verses have to be interpreted as relating to harmony.

Even the first verse which is dedicated to Agni, uses the imagery of fire to deliver the message of harmony.

Verse 1

The first verse reads:

संसमिद्युवसे वृषन्नग्ने विश्वान्यर्य आ | इळस्पदे समिध्यसे स नो वसून्या भर || (X.191.1)[1]

Free Translation:

Together wood combines to make residence (संसमिद्युवसे), mighty fire (वृषन्नग्ने) (similarly let) everyone (effort, interests) be united in the master/lord somewhat (विश्वान्यर्य आ). Just as Agni’s characteristic (इळस्पदे) is flame to heat (समिध्यसे), knowledge, prosperity, and radiance should deliver (स नो वसून्या) and support (भर).


The first line emphasizes the idea of combination of social units. It begins by pointing out that together sticks of wood make a residence or a mighty fire. Likewise, everyone should be “in” the master/lord, somewhat. Presumably, the sage means that the interests and efforts of everyone should be somewhat reflected in the master or lord. This engenders harmony in society or in a household.

The second line says: Just as Agni’s marks are flame and heat, knowledge’s marks are prosperity and radiance, which it should deliver and support. Thus, the sage likens knowledge to Agni, and likens prosperity and radiance produced by knowledge to the heat and flame characteristic of Agni. Harmonious Knowledge which combines insights into the external and internal worlds, creates harmony between prosperity and radiance.

Verse 2

The second verse reads:

सं गच्छध्वं सं वदध्वं सं वो मनासि जानताम् | देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे संजानाना उपासते || (X.191.2)[2]

Free translation:

NOTE : सं means knowledge or meditation when used separately. When used as a prefix, it means together, completeness, etc.

Meditation is a resort to a path (सं गच्छध्वं); Meditation is for evaluating the means (सं वदध्वं), meditation binds auspiciousness and devotion in the wise, verily (सं वो मनासि जानताम्).

Give to the gods their portion as it was in olden times (देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे) and attach oneself to the universal God, or even to breath indeed (संजानाना उपासते).


Meditation generates inner harmony in life and intellect.

The first line deals with it. It says: meditation is the way, meditation helps find the means. In order to meditate, man has to follow some rules of behaviour and travel along a certain path. Hence, it is the way. Meditation also develops the ability to find the spiritual resources that one needs. Hence, it evaluates the means.

Moreover meditation binds three aspects of the personality, namely: auspiciousness, devotion and wisdom.

Thereby it produces spiritual harmony in man.

When the hymn was composed, there seems to have been the possibility of disharmony in religious quests, due to a possible neglect of traditional gods, in the search of a Universal God, or attachment to yogic practices like breath control or pranayama. The second line of verse addresses this and says:  give to the gods their due as it was in the olden times, and then attach oneself to the Universal God or even to yogic exercises like breath control.

This helps to produce harmony in spiritual – religious matters.

Verse 3

Verse 3 of the sookta reads:

समानो मन्त्रः समितिः समानी समानं मनः सह चित्तमेषाम् |   समानं मन्त्रमभि मन्त्रये वः समानेन वो हविषा जुहोमि || (X.191.3)[3]

Free translation:

Just like (समानं) an assembly is united by a advice of friends (समानो मन्त्रः समितिः समानी), so is a mind in which intellect and desire act in concert (मनः सह चित्तमेषाम्).

Similarly (समानं), for the sake of consecrating with sacred texts or to connect oneself (with divinity)(मन्त्रमभि), we have to reflect on the three fold knowledge (मन्त्रये), and addressing honoured gods, make an oblation of reverence and offer it to fire (वः समानेन वो हविषा जुहोमि), i.e., knowledge and worship must go hand in hand.


This verse addresses harmony in personality and spiritual matters.

The mind is likened to an assembly, and the mind is unified by intellect and desire acting in concert, advising each other as friends. In other words, in a personality in which intellect and desire are friends, advising each other, acting in concert, the mind is unified.

A harmonious personality in which intellect and desire act in tandem has an integral mind.

Similarly, Knowledge and bhakti (or worship) must go hand in hand. Thus, the second line says, if we want to consecrate with sacred texts, or if we want to connect ourselves with the divine, we must reflect on the threefold knowledge on the one hand, and on the other hand, address the numerous gods, and offer oblations of reverence to them in fire.

This too creates harmony between jnana and bhakti.

Verse 4

समानी व आकूतिः समाना हृदयानि वः | समानमस्तु वो मनो यथा वः सुसहासति || (X.191.4)[4]

Free Translation

To assemble power (समानी व), intentions should be constant indeed (आकूतिः समाना), while the heart should be steeped in auspiciousness (हृदयानि वः).

Let it be virtuous (समानमस्तु). Reverence and thought suitably reconciled (वो मनो यथा वः), help the unreality of existence to be easily borne (सुसहासति).


This verse talks of the effect of harmony in personality – of harmony between resolve and spirituality;  and harmony between bhakti and jnana.

It is well known that a firm mind and strong heart make for effective action. The first line of the verse says that if intentions are unchanging while the heart is filled with auspiciousness, action becomes powerful. Thus powerful action is born of firm resolve and a spiritual heart. This line links spirituality to social practice.

The second line says that if reverence and thought, i.e., bhakti and jnana are suitably reconciled, it helps to bear easily the unreality of existence. It adds that let the combination be in service of virtue. This will be so, if the thought (manas) is virtuous. This line also binds spirituality and social practice.

[1] सं – समिद् – यु – वसे वृषन् – अग्ने विश्वा – नि – अर्य आ | इळस् – पदे समिध् – यसे स नो वसू – न्या भर || 

Together (सं) wood (समिद् = समिध्) combine (यु) residence (वस = वसे) mighty (वृषन्) fire (अग्नि = अग्ने) everyone (विश्वः = विश्वा) in (नि) lord (अर्य) somewhat (आ) |  Agni (इळस्) characteristic (पद = पदे) flame (समिध्) to heat (यस् = यसे) knowledge (स) prosperity (नः) radiance (वसु = वसू) deliver (न्य = न्या) supporting (भर)

[2] सं गच्छ् – अध्वं सं वद् – अध्वं सं वो मना – सि जानत् – आम् | देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे संज – अनः – अना उपासते ||   Meditation (सं) resort to (गच्छ्) way (अध्वं) Meditation (सं) to adjudge (वद्) means (अध्वं) meditation (सं) auspiciousness (वः = वो) devotion (मना) bind (सि) wise (जानत् = ज्ना) verily (आम्) | Gods (देव = देवा) portion (भागं) as it was (यथा) olden times (पूर्व = पूर्वे) universal creator (संज) breath (अनः) indeed (अना) attach oneself to (उपास् = उपासते)

[3] समानो मन्त्रः समितिः समानी समानं मनः सह चित्तम् – एषाम् | समानं मन्त्र् – अम् – अभि मन् – त्रये वः समान – इन वो हविषा जु – होमि || 

Friend (समानः = समानो) advice (मन्त्रः) assembly (समिति) unite (समानी) like (समानं) mind (मनस् = मनः) in concert (सह) intellect (चित्तं) desire (एषां) |

Like (समानं) to consecrate with sacred texts (मन्त्र्) to connect oneself (अम्) for the sake of (अभि) reflect upon (मन्) threefold knowledge or knowledge of three Vedas (त्रय) addressing (वः) honoured (समान)  lords (इन) reverence (वः = वो) make an oblation of (हविष् = हविषा) to go (जु) fire (होमि)

[4] समानी व आकूतिः समाना हृदयानि वः | समानमस्तु वो मनो यथा वः सुसहासति ||

To assemble (समानी) powerful (व) intention (आकूतिः) constant (सम) indeed (अना) heart (हृदयः) in (नि) auspiciousness (वः) | Virtuous (समानं) let it be (अस्तु) reverence (वः = वो) thought (मनस् = मनो) suitably (यथा) reconciliation (वः) easy to be suffered (सुसह) unreal (असत् = असति)

Ideal Wife and Role in Rigveda


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Ideal Wife and Role: Description and Prayer for in Rigveda

In a set of three brilliant verses, sage Kaanva prays to Agni for a wife and describes the ideal characteristics of a wife as well as her spiritual and material role in life.

A preamble : सोमपीतये

Before turning to the verses, let us recall the meaning of the term सोमपीतये. In a seminal verse in the very second hymn of Rigveda, Vaisvamitra uses this catch term. In this verse, he advises all to turn pious before their time on earth approaches to an end.

वायो तव प्रपृञ्चती धेना जिगाति दाशुषे | उरूची सोमपीतये || (1.002.3)[1]

Revere Union Thou (वायो), turn pious (दाशुषे) before getting caught in the swiftly moving river (प्रपृञ्चती धेना जिगाति)[2] (of time/samsara). As on earth (उरूची) draws to an end (सो) time (मः), one must increase (पी) protection (तयः).

This preamble is necessary because सोमपीतये is hereafter used as catch phrase for turning pious before death approaches. In case of Indra, it is used as a double entendre, since it also mean drinking soma.

Ideal Wife

Praying for an ideal wife, sage Kaanva says:

अग्ने पत्नीरिहावह देवानामुशतीरुप | त्वष्टारं सोमपीतये || (1.022.9)[3]

Agni (I) implore to bring home a wife (पत्नीरिहावह),  like wives of gods having beautiful form (देवानामुशतीरुप); Formed in mind suitably (त्वष्टारं) so that before time finishes on earth (I) increase protection (सोमपीतये).

Bring me home a wife, Agni, pleads the sage. She must be beautiful in form (“like wives of gods having beautiful form), as well as favour piety in mind (“formed in mind suitably”), so that the husband can turn pious before his time on earth runs out.

The sage further adds that the wife must favour speech, i.e. must be well spoken as well as bless him with good speech.

आ ग्ना अग्न इहावसे होत्रां यविष्ठ भारतीम् | वरूत्रीं धिषणां वह || (1.022.10)[4]

Also the divine woman Agni bring hither favouring speech (आ ग्ना अग्न इहावसे होत्रां), very young (यविष्ठ) descendant of Bharata (भारतीम्); Guardian goddess (वरूत्रीं), understanding (धिषणां) supporting (वह).

Here the sage likens the ideal wife to a divine woman, well spoken (“favouring speech”).  She must be very young, and a descendant of Bharata. She must be a guardian goddess. She must be understanding and supporting.

Role of Wife

In the next verse, the sage describes the spiritual and material role of an actual wife.

अभि नो देवीरवसा महः शर्मणा नृपत्नीः | अच्छिन्नपत्राः सचन्ताम् || (1.022.11)[5]

For the sake of (अभि) prosperity (नो), Devi’s protection (देवीरवसा), abundance (महः), sheltering (शर्मणा) and guiding men is Wife (नृपत्नीः); Inseparable, bestowing rise/fall (अच्छिन्नपत्राः), obedient/love/serve/follow/aid till death comes upon (सचन्ताम्).

To repeat, a wife is there for the sake of one’s prosperity and for Devi’s protection. She is there to provide abundance and shelter. The wife guides men (नृपत्नीः). She is inseparable and the cause of men’s rise or fall. Very poignantly he adds that she loves or is obedient, or follows, or aids, or serves the husband till death. The word सच् has five meanings all of which fit the context.


The sage description of the ideal wife and her role bear summarizing.

She must be beautiful and pious (1.022.9). She must be divinely well spoken, very young, a descendant of Bharata. She must be a guardian goddess, understanding and supporting the husband (1.022.10)

Describing the role of an actual wife, he says, that she is there for the sake of one’s prosperity. She provides Devi’s protection. She provides abundance and shelter. She even guides men, for she is inseparable, and the cause of men’s rise or fall. She loves/serves/follows/obeys/aids the husband till death (1.022.11)


[1] Reverence Union (वा-यः) thou (तव) before coming in contact (प्र-पृञ्ज् = प्रपृञ्चती) with river (धेना) going swiftly (जिगत्नु = जिगाति) worship emancipation (दाशु-षः = दाशुषे) | Earth (उरूचि) finish time increase protection (सो-म-पी-तयः = सोमपीतये)

[2] before coming in contact (प्र-पृञ्ज् = प्रपृञ्चती) with river (धेना) going swiftly (जिगत्नु = जिगाति)

[3] अग्ने पत्नी – रिह् – आवह देवानाम् – उशती – रुप | त्वष्ट – अरं सो – म – पी – तये ||

Agni (अग्ने) wife (पत्नी) implore (रिह्) to bring home (आवह्) wives of gods (देवानाम्) beautiful (उशत् = उशती) form (रुप) | Formed in mind (तष्ट = तवष्ट) suitably  (अरम्) finish (सो) time (मः) increase (पी) protection (तय = तये)

[4] आ ग्ना अग्न इह – अवसे होत्रां यविष्ठ भारतीम् | वरूत्रीं धिषणां वह ||

Also (आ) divine woman (ग्ना) Agni (अग्न) hither (इह) favour (अवस् = अवसे) speech (होत्रां) very young (यविष्ठ) descendant of Bharata (भारतीम्) | Guardian goddess (वरूत्रीं) understanding (धिषणां) supporting (वह)

[5] अभि नो देवीर् – अवसा महः शर्मणा नृ – पत्नीः | अच्छिन्न – पत्राः सच् – अन्त – अम् ||

For the sake of (अभि) prosperity (नो) goddess (देवीर्) protection (अवस् = अवसा) abundance (मह) sheltering (शर्मण्य = शर्मणा) guiding men (नृ) wife (पत्नी) | inseparable (अच्छिन्न) fall down/soar (पत्) bestow (राः) to be obedient/love/serve/follow/aid (सच्) death (अन्त) come upon (अम्)

God as Director in Rigveda


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God as Director in Rigveda

There are several verses in Rigveda that refer to the Director or (यन्ति, यन्तृ, यन्त).

Sage Vaisvamitra begins the tenth hymn with an exhilarating appeal to himself, in which he links up the threefold knowledge, Realisation, knowledge of Brahman and Union in a stirring verse.

He calls upon himself to sing of the Director (गायन्ति[1] त्वा) implying that the world is a play director by the One. Then he continues: (sing) the song of the threefold knowledge (गायत्रिणो).[2] This song of threefold knowledge, he says shines ‘before the flash of lightning bright’(अर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः).[3].

Sage Medatithi Kaanva, in another verse also refers to a Director who plays behind the scene. The attitude one must have toward him should be one of reverence and fear. This invigorates and produces auspiciousness. This is stated in the following:

प्र वो भ्रियन्त इन्दवो मत्सरा मादयिष्णवः | द्रप्सा मध्वश्चमूषदः  || (1.014.4)[4]

Before the Director, (I have) reverence and fear (प्र वो भ्रियन्त); invigorating, causing auspiciousness (इन्दवो); from me cascades delight (मत्सरा) wishing knowledge and auspiciousness (मादयिष्णवः); (Pray) gift a drop of nectar for the mouse also, to experience (द्रप्सा मध्वश्चमूषदः).

Sensing the blessings of the Director, the sage says that delight cascades through him, and he is induced to desire knowledge and auspiciousness. Touchingly he asks for a drop of this nectar for the mouse (himself) to experience.

Devi is to be approached for Union with the One or ‘Director’, as he is called frequently. Thus:

विश्रयन्तामृतावृधो द्वारो देवीरसश्चितः |  अद्या नूनं च यष्टवे || (1.013.6)[5]

To find repose in the Director, Eternal, Friend (विश्रयन्तामृतावृधो), Devi is the medium inexhaustible (द्वारो देवीरसश्चितः); To this day, therefore, she is also to be worshipped (यष्टवे).

One verse says that yoga has its swings determined by the Director, and therefore one should practice secrecy.

य इङ्ख्यन्ति पर्वतान्तिरः समुद्रमर्णवम् |([6]

The ups and downs of Yoga are in the hands of the Director (य इङ्ख्यन्ति); therefore worship secretly (पर्वतान्तिरः) like a sea full of water (समुद्रमर्णवम्).

[1] Sing (गा) Director (यन्तृ = यन्ति)(गा-यन्तृ = गायन्ति)

[2] song  (गायः) three (त्रि) knowledge (णः = णो)

[3] shine (अर्च्) before (अन्ति) flash of lighting (अर्क = अर्कं) bright (अर्किन् = अर्किणः)(अर्च्-अन्ति-अर्कम्-अर्किन् = अर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः)

[4] प्र वो भ्रि – यन्त इन् – द् – वो मत् – सरा माद – इष् – ण – वः | द्रप्सा मधु – अश् – च – मूष – दः  ||

Before (प्र) reverence (वः = वो) fear (भ्र = भ्रि) Director (यन्त) to invigorate (इन्) causing (द) auspiciousness (वः) from me (मत्) cascade (सर) delight (माद) wishing (इष्) knowledge (ण) auspiciousness (वः) | A drop (द्रप्सा) nectar (मधु) experience (अश्) also (च) mouse (मूष) gift (दः)

[5] विश्र – यन्त – अमृता – वृधो द्वारो देवीर् – असश्चितः |  अद्या नूनं च यष्टवे ||

To repose (विश्रम् = विश्र) Director (यन्त = यन्तृ) eternal (अमृत) friend (वृधो) medium (द्वारो) Devi (देवीर्) inexhaustible (असश्चत् = असश्चतः) | To this day (अद्य = अद्या) therefore (नूनं) also (च) to be worshipped (यष्टव्य = यष्टवे)

[6] इङ्ख्यन्ति पर्व – अत – अन् – तिरः समुद्रम् – अर्णवम् |

Yoga (यः) ups and downs (इङ्ख्) Director (यन्तृ = यन्ति) to fill (पर्व्) therefore (अतस् = अत) worship (अन्) secretly (तिरस् = तिरः) sea (समुद्रम्) full of water (अर्णवम्) |

Yoga and Good Conduct in Rigveda


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Yoga and Good Conduct in Rigveda

Yoga and good conduct are interdependent, according to Rigveda.

An aspirant has to have good behaviour. Vaisvamitra says:

उत ब्रुवन्तु नो निदो निरन्यतश्चिदारत | ([1]

And by calling oneself guardian (ब्रुवन्तु) (of one’s body), not censuring anyone (नो निदो), keeping aloof, attain to gentle intellect (निरन्यतश्चिदारत). Thus, the objective is to develop a kindly or gentle temperament. For this, the advice is to keep aloof, avoid criticising others, and treating one’s own body as a guardian.

Then the sage adds:

दधाना इन्द्र इद्दुवः || (1.004.5)[2]

Give this as an offering to Indra.

Thus, righteous behaviour is not enough. It must be offered to the gods to make man fit for yoga.

On the other hand, yoga itself has the ability to uproot bad tendencies. Thus, sage Kaanva says:

यो अग्निं देववीतये हविष्माँ आविवासति | तस्मै पावक मृळय || (1.012.9)[3]

Yoga through Agni (यो अग्निं) to fit to be worshipped Visnu (देववीतये) offered as oblation (हविष्माँ), uproots as it were evil (आविवासति). Therefore (तस्मै) the good conduct (पावक) and compassion (मृळय) (of the yogi) (तस्मै पावक मृळय. Thus, by offering the fruits of yoga through Agni to Visnu (veetaya), eradicates evil tendencies. That is why we find good conduct and compassion in yogis, says the sage.


[1] उत ब्रुवअन्तु नो निदो निर् – अन्यत् – अश् – चित् – आरत |

And (उत) calling oneself guardian (ब्रुव-अन्तु) not (नो) censuring (निद = निदो) free from another (निर्-अन्यत्) attain to (अश्) intellect (चित्) gentle (आरत)

[2] दध – अना इन्द्र इद् – दुवः ||   

Give this (दध-अना = दधाना) Indra (इन्द्र) an offering/honour (इद्-दुवस् = इद्दुवः)

[3] यो अग्निं देव – वीतये हविष्माँ आव – इव – असति | तस्मै पावक मृळय ||

Yoga (यः = यो) Agni (अग्निं) fit to be worshipped (देव) Veetaya (Visnu) (वीतयः = वीतये) offering an oblation (हविष्मत् = हविष्माँ) uprooted (आव = आव्) as it were (इव) evil (असत् = असति) | Therefore (तस्मै = तस्मात्) good conduct (पावक) compassion (मृडय = मृळय)


Hymns of Vaisvamitra – First ten verses of Rigveda


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The Hymns of Vaisvamitra – Rigveda

Disclaimer: An authentic translation of Rigveda would take a realized soul. I am merely riding on the shoulders of the Sanskrit dictionaries of Apte, Macdonell, and Monier Williams, that are now available online. Whatever the success in translation is entirely due to God’s grace. The errors are all mine.

Madhuchchanda Vaisvamitra was the son of Visvamitra, the great Rishi. From his hymns, ten were chosen to be the first ten of the 1026 hymns of Rigveda, by Vyasa Maharishi. This is their importance. Seven of the hymns are dedicated to Indra, while the first three deal with Agni and other deities. This essay brings out salient features of his hymns. The original is cited in text, the padapatham along with word by word meaning is given in footnotes.

The first thing to be noted is that although a hymn is dedicated to a deity, it often deals with a wide range of topics, some connected with the deity, others not, while some verses are acutely personal. For instance in the verse 8 of hymn 8 dedicated to Indra, the sage says:

एवा ह्यस्य सूनृता विरप्शी गोमती मही | पक्का शाखा न दाशुषे || (1.008.8)[1]

For your gratification (I am reporting) an event: (I heard) an excellent song as the copious Gomati waters flowed; it was from a tribal offshoot not from the pious.

Clearly, the hymn has nothing to do with Indra. Usually, however, the matters dealt with are connected with holiness, and are not as secular as the above hymn. This pattern of apparently extraneous matters entering a hymn is revealed in the first Hymn itself which is formally dedicated to Agni.

Importance of Rigveda: Praise, Truth, Self-realisation, Emancipation

In the very first verse of Rigveda, after referring to the importance of Agni, the sage Vaisvamitra says:

होतारं रत्नधातमम्,[2] (

The recitation of the prayers of Rigveda, holds such wealth as to make one faint. What is this wealth that the prayers of Rigveda hold?

In the fifth verse of this hymn, the sage says:

अग्निहोता कविक्रतुः सत्यश्चित्रश्रवस्तमः. ([3]

 Agni! The recital of Rigveda inspires sages to experience truth and the most desirable wonderful glory [truth (सत्य) experience (अश्) wonderful (चित्र) glory (श्रवस्) most wished for (तमः)].

Thus it seems that the purpose of the recital of Rigveda is to actually experience truth. What is the nature of this truth? In a later hymn, this is revealed to be knowledge of the self, or experiencing the soul within. This line reads:

इन्द्र स्तोममिमं मम कृष्वा युजश्चिदन्तरम ([4]

This eulogy is my furrow to Indra, as well as to concentrate my attention upon experiencing the soul within.

That the eulogies had a dual purpose is also revealed by a line in the verse of Sage Medathithi Kaanva, where he talks of a hidden meaning of the eulogies:

इमं स्तोमं जुषस्व नः || ([5]

The hidden meaning (नः) of these eulogies (इमं स्तोमं) is to go to final emancipation of self (जुषस्व).

These verses reveals that the eulogies of Rigveda had a dual purpose. They did praise gods, but their recital enabled the experience of truth (सत्य) (1.001.5). And the nature of this truth is that of experiencing the soul within (1.010.9). The term in which this idea occurs is  युजश्चिदन्तरम i.e. to concentrate my attention upon/unite (युज्) experience (अश्) soul (चित्) within (अन्तरम्). In contemporary language, this is called self realisation The word युज् has another meaning which makes sense in the context: to unite. So the term could also meant to unite (the words) with the inner experience of the soul (1.010.9). Both interpretations imply self-realisation. Sage Kaanva adds that the hidden object was to go for final emancipation (

Threefold Knowledge, Realisation, Brahman,  and Union

Another verse reveals strikingly the relation between knowledge, realisation, Brahman, Union and Indra. The verse reads:

गायन्ति त्वा गायत्रिणो अर्चन्ति अर्कम् अर्किणः[6] | ब्रह्माणस्त्वा शतक्रत उद्वंशमिव येमिरे || (1.010.1)[7]

Sing of the Director thou, the song of the threefold knowledge, shines before the flash of lightning bright; Thou art in possession of the breath of Brahman; on the backbone of Shatakratu (Indra), as it were, you having acquired established union.

The poet here is addressing himself. He calls upon himself to sing of the ‘Director’ (गायन्ति त्वा) implying that the world is a play directed by the One. Then he continues: (sing) the song of the threefold knowledge (गायत्रिणो).[8] This song of threefold knowledge, he says shines ‘before the flash of lightning bright’(अर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः)[9] . What is this flash of lightning before which shines the threefold knowledge?

The next line clarifies:  Thou art in possession of the breath of Brahman (ब्रह्माणस्त्वा)[10]. Thus, the poet possesses the ‘breath of Brahman’ which is like a flash of lightning, that lays bare and illuminates the threefold knowledge. Many yogis have referred to the flash of light that accompanies the experience of self-realisation. Vaisvamitra connects this flash to the three fold knowledge and the breath of Brahman.

How did he get this breath of Brahman?  The second line continues: “on the backbone of Indra (शतक्रत) , as it were, you having acquired established union (उद्वंशमिव येमिरे). This says two things. First it suggests that it is Union denoted by ये that has helped the sage to acquire the breath of Brahman. The second, that it is on the backbone of Indra that this achievement rests. We will revert to this in our discussion of Indra.

The union referred to in the verse is known contemporaneously as Yoga, is presumably union of individual soul with the divine. It is remarkable that the sage describes the song of threefold knowledge (गायत्रिणो) as shining before the flash of lightning, suggestive of self-realisation (अर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः), and confirms it by the next line, where he describes himself as possessing the breath of Brahman (ब्रह्माणस्त्वा).

This is the truth with which Rigveda is concerned.

Apart from the recital at the ‘homa’, there seems to have been an effort to spread the knowledge of this inner truth by bards singing it in samaveda style (गि), going to the houses of individual men. Thus, the sage says:

वसोरिन्द्र वसुपतिं गीर्भिगृणन्त ऋग्मियम् | होम गन्तारमूतये || (1.009.9)[11]

Rich lord, lord of wealth: for a singer (of samaveda) to go to a man to grant inner knowledge is praiseworthy; Homa is a way suited for protection.

This verse suggests that singing the Rigveda served the purpose of transmitting or granting inner knowledge or ‘knowledge interior’ (गृणन्त). In contrast, homa ceremonies were for ensuring protection.

[1] एवा हि अस्य सूनृता विरप्शी गोमती मही | पक्का शाखा न दाशुषे ||

Word meaning:  Merely (एवा) to gratify (हि) happen (अस्य) An excellent song (सूनृता) copious (विरप्श = विरप्शी) Gomati (गोमती) waters (मही) | tribal (पक्कश = पक्का) branch (शाखा) not (न) pious (दाशुषे)

[2] होतारं रत्न धा तमम् :  Reciting prayers of Rigveda (होतृ = होतारं) wealth (रत्न ) holds (धा) so as to faint away (तमम्)

[3] अग्नि होता कवि क्रतुः सत्य – अश् – चित्र – श्रवस् – तमः    :  Agni (अग्नि) reciting rigveda (होता) sage (कवि) inspiration (क्रतुः) truth (सत्य) experience (अश्) wonderful (चित्र) glory (श्रवस्) most wished for (तमः)

[4] इन्द्र स्तोमं इमं मम कृष् – वा युज् अश् चित् अन्तरम  : Indra (इन्द्र) eulogy this (स्तोमं-इमं = स्तोममिमं) my (मम) furrow (कृष्) as well as (वा) (कृष्-वा = कृष्वा) to concentrate my attention upon (युज्) experience (अश्) soul (चित्) within (अन्तरम्)

[5] इमं स्तोमं जु – ष – स्व नः ||

This (इमं) eulogy (स्तोमं) to go (जु) final emancipation (षः) self (स्व) hidden meaning (नः)

[6] We have broken down this long word for the benefit of the reader. It actually is :  गायत्रिणोSर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः

[7] गा यन्ति त्वा गायत्रि णो अर्च् अन्ति अर्कम् अर्किणः | ब्रह्म अण् अस् त्वा शतक्रत उद् वंशम् इव ये मि रे ||

Sing (गा) Director (यन्तृ = यन्ति) thou (त्वा) song  (गायः) three (त्रि) knowledge (णः = णो) shine (अर्च्) before (अन्ति) flash of lightning (अर्क = अर्कं) bright (अर्किन् = अर्किणः) |  Brahman (ब्रह्म) breath (अण्)  in possession of (अस्) thou (वा) performer of hundred sacrifices (Indra) (शतक्रतु = शतक्रत) on (उद्) backbone (वंशम्) as it were (इव)) Union (यः = ये) establish (मि) having acquired (रः = रे)

[8] song  (गायः) three (त्रि) knowledge (णः = णो)

[9] shine (अर्च्) before (अन्ति) flash of lighting (अर्क = अर्कं) bright (अर्किन् = अर्किणः)(अर्च्-अन्ति-अर्कम्-अर्किन् = अर्चन्त्यर्कमर्किणः)

[10] Brahman (ब्रह्म) breath (अण्)  in possession of (अस्) thou (वा) (ब्रह्म-अण्-अस्-त्वा = ब्रह्माणस्त्वा)

[11] वसुर् इन्द्र वसुपतिं गि इर् भिर् गृ अन्त ऋग्मियम् | होम गन्त अरम् ऊतय ||

Rich  (वसुर्) lord (इन्द्र)  lord of wealth (वसुपतिं) singer of samaveda (गि) to go (इर्) man (भिर्) grant (गृ) knowledge (ण) interior (अन्त) praiseworthy (ऋग्मिय = ऋग्मियम्) | Homa (होम) a way (गन्त = गन्तु) suitable (अरम्) protection (ऊति = ऊतये)