Viswanath R Swamy

Vedic Mantras

Vedic Mantras


There are many possible approaches to the Veda. The hymns of the Litany are a record of the multiple experience 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 Journey of these hymnodists 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 seers who could see beyond time and space. They speak more of the spiritual ascent of man towards the world of undying Light and the part played by the various Gods assisting him on the way opening closed Doors on new horizons breaking down obstructions with their shining weapons.

The selection of the mantrās in this volume is made from this spiritual angle. They show in what way the Gods of the Veda participate in the life of man what is the nature of their interchange and what is the Law of their operations. The century of mantrās in the following pages delineate the sunlit Path laid out for the aspirant and the precise way in which he calls upon the Deities for their aid. The effort that he has put in the impediments he meets on the way and the capital role played by the Gods in their respective spheres becomes clear step by step. The brief annotations that follow the text translations (by Sri Aurobindo) are intended to help in understanding the full import of these inspired utterances. The concepts are profound the language ancient. An attempt is made to present the thought in terms of the modern mind relating it to the psychological and spiritual needs of the present day man. It is hoped that this series will prove useful to all those who seek to improve their quality of life elevate their aspirations and add a new spiritual dimension to their existence.

(RV 5.69.3)

prātar- devīm-aditim johavīmi madhyandina uditā sūryasya,

In the dawn I call to the divine Mother Infinite, in the mid-day when the sun is risen high.

Aditi is the Mother of All, the Mother of the Gods, the Mother of all Creation. She is the Infinite Consciousness taking form for the manifestation of the Divine. Lost in the separative divisions of this world in Ignorance based upon Inconscience, man seeks liberation into higher states leading to Oneness, Infinitude and unimpaired Consciousness. For this purpose he invokes the very embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness at the source of all creation. But this call is to be incessant, active all the time: the voice of aspiration must be affirmed again and again, at dawn, in the morning, at noon–at all the significant junctures in the diurnal revolutions of Time.

(RV 1.24.15)

athā vayam-āditya vrate tava-anāgaso aditaye syāma,

May we abide in the law of thy workings, O Son of Aditi, and be blameless before the Mother infinite. 

It is not enough to call the Divine Mother of All for deliverance from Ignorance and the Falsehood of division. One must also work one’s way out from the inferior state in which one is imprisoned. And that can only be done by conforming in one’s movements—thought, speech and action—to the Law of Truth, the Law that is set at work in this universe by the Divine Ruler. To persistently reject all that is contrary to this Law and affirm its workings in one’s daily life is the rule for the seeker. Only by following this injunction can he stand guiltless and pure before the Mother Divine when she reveals herself in her might and glory.


(RV 1.1.5)

agnir hotā kavikratuĥ satya chitra shravas tamaĥ,  devo devebhir ā gamat.

Agni, the summoner, the Seer-Will, True and most full of richly varied listenings, may he come, a God with the Gods.

Agni is the flame of aspiration in man, a mounting impulsion to rise out of his limited humanity and grow into unfettered divinity. Leading all the faculties of man, he calls the higher Powers to come and aid. He is the undeflectable seeing Will of Truth which knows its way. Power of Truth that he is, all that he does and effects is true. He carries the rich inspirations of Truth from beyond and communicates them to him in whom he is set awake. He is the Immortal in mortals, God in the human; he brings other gods too to the sessions of self-offering and new-birth of man.

Agni - Durga

(RV 1.99.1)

jātavedase sunavāma somam, arātīyato ni dahāti vedaĥ,

sa naĥ parşhad ati durgāņi vishwā nāveva sindhum duritāty-agniĥ

We press Soma to the knower of all Birth, to him who consumes the knowledge of the enemy;

Let Agni carry us across all obstructions like a boat over the river.

Agni is the seer, knower of all. It lies in his power to render us all help as a result of his foreknowledge. Knowledge is a most priceless possession of man and without it he is rudderless in the sea of life. And Agni deprives the enemy of this indispensable possession. To him, says the rishi, let us offer our choicest gift, the very sap of life, the distilled juice of Ananda, the Soma, so that pleased, he would transport us over all the eddies and whirls, tides and waves of obstruction and misfortune that beset life. "Like a boat across the waters", is a favourite image of the ancients. It is repeated in the Upanishads, it also finds mention in the Tantric texts.

(RV 1.77.3)

sa hi kratuĥ sa maryaĥ sa sadhur mitro na bhūd-adbhutasya rathīĥ,

For he is the Will, he is the strength, he is the achiever, even as Mitra he becomes the charioteer of the Supreme.

Agni is the Divine Will at work in the cosmos as also in the individual for onward progress; his is the strength that withstands all strains and shocks of opposition and battle from the adversaries. It is Agni who destroys the negative elements, builds up the positive and shapes life in the growing image of the divine perfection that is the goal. Once the purification is effected and the foundation of higher life firmly laid, Agni reveals himself to be the Godhead of Love and Harmony who ushers in the Divine Ruler for His reign of Truth, Power and Bliss.

One must needs have an unshakable will for progress, an unyielding strength to withstand opposition and persist, an untiring capacity to strive for perfection and an opening to the workings of universal Harmony and Love before one can embody the supreme Consciousness.


Rişhi: Parāshara    (RV 1.71.10)

nabho na rūpam jarimā mināti purā tasyā abhishaster adhīhi,

As a mist dims a form, age diminishes us; before that hurt falls upon us, arrive.

Men are apt to take things for granted. Day after day life is allowed to have its course; one does not really live but is lived by the circumstances, by forces and events. In the meantime time flies. The body ages. The life-force ebbs. Mental faculties like thinking, memory, precision, begin to lose their spring. The soul within is denied an effective instrumentation to fulfill itself. Before this stage arrives and age begins to tell on oneself one must wake up, keep alert and exercise one's deeper Will to keep in harness, to make most of the life-span given. For this purpose the aid of Agni, the Divine Will, its Force of effectuation, is invoked. With this Force of Will to back up and to lead, human aspiration to progress is quickened, exertion for perfection and achievement is made meaningful and felicitous.


( RV 5.26.5)

...āgne ... devairā satsi barhişhi

O Flame, sit with the gods on the seat of the soul's fullness.

Whether man is aware of it or not, his life is a constant flow to the Gods of universe, to the divinities above him. His energies of body, life and mind stream towards these greater powers and in turn receive nourishment and strength from them. When man is awake to this phenomenon in himself and participates consciously in this interchange, it becomes a sacrifice, a self-giving. And this sacrifice is the appointed means for the growth of man into godhead, for the manifestation of God in humanity.

In this sacred session, the heart-seat of the soul, is the altar, vedi, the being of man is the sacrificer, yajamana, all movements of life are the oblations, ahuti, and the mounting flame of aspiration for the Divine is the Fire, Agni, in which all is cast for transmutation and acceptance by the supreme Godhead.

God Agni, the Deity who presides over the material fire is invoked as the summoner of the Gods, to come with them and take seat on the altar of the plenitude of the powers of the consecrated soul.

(RV 1.170.4)

aram kŗņvantu vedim sam agnim indhatām puraĥ, tatra amŗtasya chetanam ....

Let them make ready the altar, Let them set Agni in blaze in front; It is there, the awaking of the consciousness to Immortality.

Once the inner altar is made ready by cleansing it of the impurities of thought, emotion, egoism and inertia, Agni, the Divine Force in the individual, is to be installed on it as the leader of the journey of sacrifice. It is this flaming Force that initially receives into its mouth the mixed offerings of the seeker, burns up their dross, purifies them and makes them over to the Gods of whom it is the summoner. Agni is the Divine Priest who initiates and conducts the sacrifice of the human seeker to the supreme Godhead, the great rite of interchange in which mortal man awakes to his true nature of immortality. His consciousness frees itself from its lower involvement and rises into the realm of the unbound sprit. The mortal ascends to the Immortal, the Immortal descends into the mortal.


(RV 4.45.3)

ā vartinim madhunā jinvathas patho dŗtim vahethe madhumantham ashvinā,

With thy honey you gladden the movements and its paths; Full of honey, O Ashvins, is the skin that you bear.

Ashvins are the Lords of Bliss. They bring with them the Delight of the superconscient planes of Truth and seek the Soma, the delight of life on earth from man. Wherever they go they engage in this double movement of seeking the honey of Soma and pouring the honey of Divine Bliss. With this honey of joy they sweeten all the activities of man, lighten and gladden his labours upward. Their stock of honey is never exhausted; their container is always full.

(RV 4.45.6)

īyate vishvān anu svadhayā chetathas pathaĥ,

By force of Nature's self-arranging you move consciously along all paths.

They first manifest on the heights of the purified mind. But they do not confine themselves to these summits alone. As man proceeds in his work of integration, harmonising the activities of different parts of his being, as his many-sided nature falls into a soul-pattern, the Ashvins move into these regions pouring their exhilarating currents of Bliss. They extend themselves wider and wider, leaving no tract outside their attention.