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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Asya Vamasya Sukta - 12

Mantra 29: This and subsequent hymns make it clear that Dirghatamas is explaining the origin of this earth and various forms of life in it. But the symbolism eludes me.

This hymn says that “he who had covered the cow sneezes to expel her. She is mooing from her station with rain (the clouds). She has created the mortals with her mental power. Shining as lightning, she has stripped the veil.”

Does the  “he who had enveloped the cow” stand for the Primordial One (later Brahman or Prajapati)? And does the cow stands for life? And sneezing refers to His breathing life into the “cow”? Does it also stand as an answer to the insolvable puzzle, namely the gender of the first human? If the first human was male, how did the female come about? If the first human was female, how did the male come about?

The cow (Aditi) , the first female whose life was breathed into her by the Primordial, then made the others. She made them by her mental power (chittibhih), may mean that just like Prajapati she desired to have off-springs. Or, it may mean that Aditi made mortals with mental powers.  And the symbol cow can also stand for the clouds and rain and that is why the rishi says that she was mooing from the clouds (thunder) and the lightening discharged the rain from the clouds.

It may also mean that the cow stands for light which dispels the darkness of the “cloud” and of ignorance.

Really, I do not know.   

Mantra 30: The ideas from the previous hymn on the origin of life flow into this one clearly. It says: “That which has breath (anat), fast movements (turagathu) and stirring of the mind (ejat) is established firmly in the midst of the abode. The immortal  move with the mortal by the self-generated power. (Or, the living move with the power of the immortal?). The mortal and immortal are born of the same womb (sayonih).”

This seems to define life as one with breath, movements and a mind. It also says, in essence, that life and death are part and parcel of life. There is a suggestion of continuity with the dead which may explain the later development of rituals to please the ancestors (pitru).

Mantra 31: “ I have seen the cowherd (gopa), who is steady, and who comes and goes along determined pathways. Invested with brilliance/splendor, he travels within the worlds (plural, bhuvaneshu) in all directions.”

The rishi seems to be clearly talking about the sun with its brightness and his rhythmic appearances every morning. In the Nighantu (Vedic dictionary), the word “gow” is given several meanings. One is “cow”; and another is “ray”. Therefore, the sun with his rays becomes the cowherd, who takes his cattle for grazing every morning and brings them back in the evening. The poet is referring to the rhythm, natural order, which is the rta of the Vedas.

One interpreter considers the word cowherd to mean Prana and gives interesting explanation. Sounds too far-fetched to me.

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