The Complete Rig Veda - R.L.Kashyap

The Complete Rig Veda - R.L.Kashyap

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About the Author

Dr. R. L. Kashyap is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana in USA. He had his Master's degree from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and obtained Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the recipient of many International awards. In 2003 he has received Vedanga Vidvan award instituted by Maharshi Sandipani Vedavidya Pratishthan (Ujjain), an autonomous body of HRD, Govt. of India and 'Jnana Keerti' award instituted by Harsha Kriya Foundation, Bangalore.

He has authored more than 350 research articles of which 220 are published in scholarly journals and the rest were presented at conferences. He has guided over 50 doctoral students.

He has written extensively on veda. Some of his widely read books on Veda are: 'Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Samhita' (3 Volumes),' Rig Veda Samhita - (12 volumes) 'Why Read Rig Veda', 'Rudra mantras', 'Essentials of Rig Veda', 'Essentials of Yajur Veda', 'Essentials of Sarna Veda', 'Essentials of Atharva Veda', 'Work Enjoyment & Progress'.

He is the Honorary Director of Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore.



I am indeed happy to pen this 'Foreword' to the Rig Veda Samhita: First Mandala (Part One), published by SAKSI.

Many of you all know that Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture (SAKSI) is primarily engaged (among other objectives) in disseminating the Vedic (traditional) knowledge to the common man for harmonizing both the spiritual and worldly aspects of life in a humble way. As of now the number of their publications has crossed 130.

The important aspect to be noted here is that the target reader is the common man and-not the well-read scholar. Further the institution has drawn inspiration from the great spiritual savants and scholars like Sri Aurobindo, Sri Kapali Sastry and the like, all of whom were the strong advocates of enabling the most as the most of the hour.

We, at the Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, (which is also engaged in similar tasks and has to its credit of over 75 publications) take pride in associating with the noble task of SAKSI through our contribution in the form of printing the research/translation works of the Professor Emeritus Vedanga Vidwan Dr. R. L. Kashyap related to different 'Samhitas' of Rig & Yajur Vedas in English & Kannada to begin with.

This book contains the text and translation and notes on all the mantra-s in the first fifty sukta-s of the First Mandala of Rig Veda Samhita. These 599 mantra-s introduce the main topics in the entire Rig Veda. The basis of Kashyap's work is the well known Bhashya in Samskrt on these 50 sukta-s with the title, Siddhanjana, by Sri T. V. Kapali Sastry. I am sure this publication will be well received by the readers who have inclination to join the great spiritual movement individually and collectively.

For the kind information of the readers of the series, we wish to inform that it is our joint endeavour that all the 10 Mandalas will be released one by one. There are several interesting essays in this book dealing with the symbolism of the Gods, Yajfia and the overview of Rig Veda based on the ideas of Sri Aurobindo.


Foreword to the Preliminary edition

There was without doubt a good reason for Dr. Kashyap to have planned this publication. While books a.ti Vedas are flooding the market, wisdom in most of these books is conspicuous by its absence. The discernable approach in them is mainly intellectual, savoured generously by critical and analytical tendencies. They treat the Vedas as merely literary pieces or as little more than aids to reconstruct a bygone age; the language has been studied, the narration has been pressed for historical or cultural information, and the religious or philosophical overtones have been noted. But the most distinguishing feature of the Vedas has largely been missed: the Vedas by their very intent are coded documents of mystic visions. The one modern authority that emphasized this aspect of Vedic study was Sri Aurobindo: and the one saintly scholar who commented in Sanskrit on the Veda-s, inspired by Sri Aurobindo, is T.V. Kapali Sastry. Dr. Kashyap has here undertaken to present to the English- knowing world the approach of Sri Aurobindo and Kapali Sastry, which is not only characteristically Indian but in close conformity with the visions of the seers themselves.

The present publication has been planned meticulously. It presents the first esbtek» of Rig Veda Samhita for which Kapali Sastry prepared his excellent commentary known as 'Siddhetiien« '. After an elaborate, erudite and insightful introduction, individual mantra-s have been taken up: the text has been given in the original (with svara-markings), the words have been separately translated in English, and a running translation of the entire mantra based on Kapali Sastry's Sanskrit commentary has been appended. The significance of special words used in the mantra is also indicated. But the most useful guide to the reader here is the title which prefaces the running translation of each mantra. Short, cryptic and appropriate, the title suggests the general import, the hidden meaning and the essential spirit. The book therefore is a valuable contribution towards understanding the Vedic wisdom aright. It may not be improper here to recall briefly the esoteric framework in which Kapali Sastry's commentary becomes relevant, for this is the principal justification for the present publication. The appended essay entitled, "Spiritual Interpretation of the Veda: an Introduction" is based on the Sanskrit work of T.V. Kapali Sastry entitled bhiimika to his commentary siddhfiiijana. I have also expressed the key ideas in the form of thirty Sanskrit aphorisms Vedagiidiirthabodha siitriil).i using Kapali Sastry's own words. An English translation of three aphorisms is also included in this essay. It remains for me to express once again my sincere appreciation for the present publication, planned and prepared by Dr. R.L. Kashyap, and which will greatly benefit the earnest students and the discerning scholars and which aims to reveal the mystic teaching of the Veda as discovered by Sri Aurobindo in the words of Kapali Sastry.



This book contains the translations of all the 727 mantra-s of the fifth Mandala of Rig Veda along with brief explanations. As in our earlier SAKSI publications, the focus is on spiritual/psychological meaning of the mantra-s in the framework of Sri Aurobindo's thought. The primary aim of our translation is to make the meaning of the mantra-s accessible to all lovers of Veda from all walks of life who are not necessarily experts in English literature.

In the available books on Rig Veda, the translation of a mantra or verse is given as a single sentence with 40 to 50 words; sometimes the sentence may be divided into two parts with a semicolon. Most of the modern English prose readers are used to sentences with a word-count of 15 to 20. Long sentences are clearly a great barrier for the beginners in the Veda, since most of the readers have no idea about the depth of the vedic thought.

In this book, we have taken a major step in increasing the ease of readability, without ignoring the vedic tradition. Every mantra of the Rig Veda is in one of several metres (chhandas), the most popular being the Trishtup. Nearly forty percent of all Rig Veda mantras are in this metre. This metre has 44 syllables (ak$hara-s) and the associated verse (mantra) is divided into 4 parts, each having 11 akshara-s. A mantra is a divine revealation received by a rishi who expressed it in a metrical form with four parts (pada or feet) almost independent of one another a~ for as meaning is 'concerned. In the ancient days, it was not uncommon for a person ta chant the mantra, pada by pada and recapitulate the meaning of each pada as it was being recited. For verses in shorter metres like Gayatri with 24 syllables, there are only 3 pada, each of 8 akshara-s.

Thus in this book, the text of each mantra in Samskrt is given in the Devanagari script in three or four parts, each part corresponding to a pada, using the pada-pathaof mantra wherever necessary. The translation of each mantra is given in 4 separate lines, each numbered with 1,2, etc. Thus each line of the translation has only six to twelve words making it easily readable.

The shorter sentences clearly help us to focus on their meaning. Many of the lines indicate wisdom needed in the spiritual practice. These gems are easily lost in the summary translations of the mantra-s produced in the earlier times.

To illustrate the differences between the four-part translation expressing the psychological point of view and the summary translation of each verse by Wilson (or Griffith), we give two examples. We give only the translations, which are in the Section V.

Mantra (5.66.1)
Wilson's translation:
Man, endowed with intelligence, (adores) the two deities, the performers of good deeds, the destroyers of foes; offer (oblations) to the adorable accepter of (sacrificial) food, to Varuna, whose form is water.

Our translation:
O mortal who wakes to knowledge (chikitana) (1), call the two godheads who are perfect in will (sukratu) and destroyers of your enemy (2),

Direct your thoughts to Varuna of whom Truth is the form (3).

(Direct your thoughts) to the great Delight (4).

In our translation, the essence of the mantra is clear. It is meditation. The mantra implies that since they (Mitra and Varuna) are perfect in will, they have the power of giving the will-power to the human seeker. We translate kratu everywhere as 'will' unlike Sayana or Wilson who give a dozen meanings for it in the translations of different mantra-s.

Note that the clear instruction in the lines 3 and 4 of our translation have escaped the attention of Wilson. It/is true that if one reads the translation of Wilson, one feels that Veda is pedestrian, devoid of wisdom. But the fault lies in the translation, not in the original text.

We will give another example.

Mantra (5.66.2)
Wilson's translation:
In as much as you two are possessed of irresistible and asura-subduing strength, therefore has holy sacrifice has been established among men as the sun (has been placed) in the sky.

Our translation:
When they (Mitra and Varuna) manifest their entire mightiness (2), and their undistorted force (1),

then shall the humanity become as if the workings of these gods (3).

It is as if the visible heaven of light were founded (in the humanity) (4).

The translation of Wilson is vague, to say the least. There appears to be no connection between the two halves of the sentence; the analogy of the Sun and sacrifice is again vague. The words, "sveme' and rta' are arbitrarily translated by him as 'Sun' and 'holy sacrifice: For rta occurring in other places, he assigns twenty other meanings following-Sayana. For details see Purani [21].

In contrast our translation is coherent. We translate svarna as the 'visible heaven of light', svar having the meaning of heaven. The word in parenthesis 'humanity' in line 4 is not inserted arbitrarily. In line 3, humanity (manusham) is explicitly mentioned. Clearly it is implicit in line 4 also. In Sri Aurobindo's translation, rte has the fixed meaning of Right, the Truth-in-movement in all its thousand and more occurrences in the Veda.

Unlike Sayana Acharya, we do not resort to Puranic legends to explain the mantra-so We just give two examples of Sukta 5.2 and 5.61 to show that the connection between the Sukta-s and the associated legends is tenuous.


The Uniqueness of this book

This book is designed to satisfy the needs and curiosities of a variety of readers, not limited to academics or scholars. It .responds to a strong need felt by many lovers of Veda for a translation of Rig Veda which focuses on the psychological/ spiritual messages contained in it. In particular the translation of a mantra refers to mantra-s elsewhere having a similar message echoing the saying, 'Rig Veda reveals its own secrets'.

The English translation is accessible to one who may not know Sanskrit at all. The innovation in this third edition is to recognize that every Veda mantra in Sanskrit can be divided into 3 or 4 parts known as pada-s; usually each pada has its own well-defined share of the meaning of the mantra. What is done in this edition is to number the pada-s in each mantra and give the separate translation of each pada separately. Moreover the translation of each pada is done so that it takes no more than one line of the page. Thus the translation of each mantra has a sort of poetic structure with three or four lines, without any rhyme. The text of the mantra in devanagari script is displayed in its numbered parts. An interested person can connect the Sanskrit text and translation, since each pada has four or five words or less, and one can figure out to see the meaning of the various words in the pada.

In the earlier editions, the pada structure was not recognized, and the word by word meaning was given.

This book has several essays which introduce the contents of Rig Veda to the beginner, but is of great help to the proficient also.

The essay (v) has been an eye-opener to many persons. Rig Veda was regarded as a book of rituals by some so-called traditional scholars who read the Veda casually. Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao's essay (v) highlights the reasons for regarding Rig Veda as a preeminently spiritual document or revelation. The next essay (vi) gives 30 aphorisms which crisply state the secrets in the Veda. In framing the Samskrta aphorisms, S.K.R. is using the language used by T.V. Kapali Sastry in his Siddhanjana, mentioned below in the essay (xv). The aphorisms in Samskrta are given in the appendix 2 at the end of the book.

The essay (vii) gives a brief overview of Rig Veda clarifying the roles of devata and metre. Essay (x) details the role of rishi-s and those occurring in this book. Essays (xi)and (xii) give an overview of the prinicpal gods orcosmic powers of Rig Veda, as delineated by Sri Aurobindo and Kapali Sastry. For a serious understanding of Rig Veda as a book of psychological and spiritual wisdom a minimal understanding of the powers of Gods is absolutely necessary. Needless to say that these Gods should not be confused with their namesakes in the Purana books. Essays (xiii-xiv) discuss briefly the some keywords in Rig Veda.

The format of the book is designed to be user-friendly. Every sukta is assigned a title. Every mantra is assigned a title to reflect its content. All the titles of sukta-s are given in essay (viii).

For many verses, there is a section entitled, "Details", which gives more information on the meaning of some of the phrases in the translation, comparison with other translations and the reason for assigning the particular meanings to words in the verse.

Regarding the methodology of assigning the meanings of words, we refer to the book, 'Semantics of Rig Veda' (SAKSI).

The list in essay (ix) groups the sukta-s, by deity. Thus a reader who is interested in Agni can go directly to the relevant sukta-s. Moreover at the end of each Sukta, we give the pathway to the next Sukta of the same deity.

In this book we have used certain English words omitted in today's abridged dictionaries. For instance consider the word, 'summon', i.e., 'to call a person'. The person who summons is summoner; however this word is absent in today's dictionaries. Similar words used are chanter (one who chants), showerer (one who showers gifts) etc.

This book has 597 mantra-s of the Mandala One. The work on the remaining 1409 mantra -s of Mandala is in two books, 'Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala One (part two)' and 'Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala One (part three).'


Vedic Wisdom

Vedic Wisdom The hymns or mantras of the Veda are records of the multiple experiences of the seers and Rishis of the early ages and they touch upon the life of man and Gods at several points of their convergence. In the vision and the .journey of these inspired poets, the universe is a cosmos governed by a Law of Truth, executed by the Gods who are the divine functionaries in charge of this manifestation of the Supreme One. The hymns speak of the material prosperity of the society, the dynamic adventures of the heroes, the mental development of the seers who could see beyond time and space. They speak more of the systematic spiritual ascent ofthe man towards the world of all-sided perfection, climbing step by step. The mantras reveal the part played by the various Gods assisting him on the way, opening closed doors on new horizons and breaking down the obstructions with their shining occult weapons.

The Present edition has translation of all the 841 mantras in the 104 Suktas of the seventh Mandala of Rig Veda Samhita. Its focus is on the knowledge of the various deities, both individually and as a collective. One of its Suktas, the so-called peace Sukta (7.35) invokes the peace and well-being for all of us. This Mandala describes the power of 26 deities in some detail having at least one Sukta for each deity. This feature makes this Mandala somewhat special and also highly useful. This Mandala has several mantras indicating some details of social life.

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