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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.

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