Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rig Veda - 1.1.1

Mandala 1 / Suktam 1/ Shloka 1

अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम् । होतारं रत्नधातमम् ॥१॥

agnimIle purohitaM yaj~nasya devamR^itvijam | hotAraM ratnadhAtamam ||1||
agním īḷe
puróhitaṃ yajñásya
devám r̥tvíjam hótāraṃ ratnadhā́tamam

agnim Ile - Agni, I adore
The ḷ in later days changed to D, thus ळे --> ईडे from root इड्

पुरोहितं / purohitaM is derived from the two roots पुर् (pur) and हि (hi)

पुर् = door, gate, entrance, front
हि = throw down, place, stand

पुरोहितं = one who stands at the front/ one who guards the entrance

यज्ञस्य = of yajna from यज्ञ from the root यज् from य from य्
य् -> strength/ tenderness applied to action/ motion
-> firm and steady expression and application
यज् -> swiftness, decisiveness, brilliance, mastery
यज्ञ -> One who has mastery/ Master or God in a certain sense
यज् - Also means to worship, adore, honor, consecrate, hallow, offer
यज्ञ - Might therefore also mean  one who is worthy of adoration, honor - thus again, Master or God in some sense

पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य - (one who is) standing in front of the Master

देवमृत्विजम् = देवम् , ऋत् , विजम्

विजम् from विज् - shaking, moving with a quick darting motion, therefore vibrating
Thus ऋत् + विजम्  => One who is vibrating with Truth, or Knower
होतारं (fighter/ warrior) from होतृ (from हु (attack) from ह् (aggression) via Sri Aurobindo's working notes)
Or hotRRi may mean a celebrant as per traditional rendering. But this begs the question, why should Agni be a celebrant or priest? Does it make sense at all? No, and I'll explain why it does not make sense.

Traditionally, हु means to offer/ present/ sprinkle/ throw
hotRRi would then mean one who throws or sprinkles. And this would only make sense if we assume that when fire is burnt (using wood) shoots sparks and ash into air.
रत् (brilliance) from र् (movement)
अध giving

I adore Agni, who stands in front of the Master (God), who is Divine, knower of Truth, a brilliant warrior. 

The imagery is that of a seer standing in front of a fire. The Fire (Agni) goes upwards towards the sky, is violent and sprinkles ash and dust in its vicinity, and is the gate-keeper of  God (Yajna) in heaven. Agni is bright, brilliant, active and a medium of communication of the Seer with God above. Thus Agni is "yajnasya puro-hota" or one who is in front of God.


  1. Replies
    1. Words sometimes originally mean one thing and with time and usage, over thousands of years begin to be used differently and hence connotations change.
      And so it is a whole subject of study where people go study etymology.
      For example, the word Psychology comes from the Greek words, Psyche - which means the "self", and Logia is "the study". Therefor Psychology literally meant Reflecting upon one's own nature and actions, so that actions could be changed. But today Psychology has become a Subject in books rather than self reflection. Words are always susceptible to change with time, because they are made by Humans for Humans.