Agni, Agni in navel, Agni Mandala, Atman and Brahman, Brahman, Chakral Interpretation, ignorance, Immanent God, Light, Manipura, Meditation, monism, monotheism, Muladhara, nectar of immortality, polytheism, Reality, Sahasrara, Spiritualism, Supreme Reality, Tat Tvam Asi, Thou art That, Transcendental God, Truth, Vishnu
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 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.
“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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
[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