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Friday, March 27, 2020

Asya Vamasya Sukta - 10


Mantra 23:              Before explaining hymn 23, a word about meter or chandas in Sanskrit poetry. The fact that several meters were existent at the time of Dirghatamas says that the language was already well-developed. It also appears to me (many scholars have pointed this out) that rishis who “heard” the Rg Veda used the meters of the hymns as metaphors for linking the mortal with the immortal, the world with the heavens. In several places they have talked about speech (vac) as divine (Saraswathi) and compared words to rays of the sun.

According to one source, there are 27 different types of meters, some of them with sub-types. The three most commonly used meters in the Vedas are gayatri, trishtup and jagati. Gayatri has 8 syllables in each of three “feet” (lines). Thrishtup has 11 syllables in each of four feet. Jagati has 12 syllables in each of four feet.

Now to Hymn 23. “Gayatra (the mortal) is supported on the gayatra (immortal); traishtupba (the mortal) is supported by traishtuba (the immortal) and jagati (the mortal) by jagati (the immortal). They who know this have won immortal life.”

This verse is very clear about linking the visible universe to the invisible support of the universe. What do those three meters stand for? Do they stand for bhu, bhuvah, svah (earth, heaven and antariksha or the intermediate); or matter, life and mind; or the three states of wakefulness, dream state and deep sleep state; or agni, vayu and apah (fire, air and water)?


Mantra 24: It is clearer now that Dirghatamas is talking about various meters of the hymns and how they are constructed . He is, therefore, talking about Vac (words or speech) as is seen in the final part of this hymn.

“ He measures the arka with gayatri mantra; measures the Sama with arka; and vak with traishtuba. He measures the vaka with vakas of two feet or four feet. And measures the seven meters (vani) with alphabets (akshara).”

Arka is said to be one section (or kind of recitation)of Sama Veda. There are elaborate explanations of the word vak as representing the five elements (pancha bhuta) and gayatri prana etc. I am not sure and I do not understand. Therefore, I stay with what seems to be easily evident reference to the Vedic meters. The seven meters, sapta vani mentioned probably stands for the seven most common  meters used in the Rg Veda. They are gayatri, ushni, anushtup, bruhati, pankti, trishtub and jagati.


Mantra 25: This hymn refers to gayatri and jagati meters, sama (refers to chanting, singing or Sama Veda) and rathatntara. I have read somewhere, (forgot the source) that rathantara refers to mantras that simulate sound during a chariot race.

The hymn says that he (the rishi) established flood or rain (varuna) above (sky or heaven) using Jagati meter and the sun (surya) in the rathantara saman. Gayatri with its three sticks is full of majesty and vigor.


This seems to refer to Varuna (flood above) and Surya. The three sticks of gayatri stands both for its three lines and also for probably Varuna (could be Indra), Surya (could be agni) and Indra.

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