Prathama Suktham

It took me many weeks to complete translating just one line of the Vedas and 9 months to translate the first Suktham.

Of the many possible interpretations of this line, I have chosen the scientific one. Some people have interpreted the Vedas as nature worship and others as spiritual guides. I think it was a scientific text also. I think that the Jain-Buddhist influence on Hinduism completely rejected the science of the Vedas and borrowed only the spiritual concepts. I think the colonial ruler interpretations saw only the nature and rejected the spiritual content. I think both groups rejected the physics in the Vedas.

In the Tripurantaka incident of the SivaPurana, it is said that the people of the Tripura Gopuram, neglected the Vedas and therfore the science of what supported the Tripura Gopura under the influence of a Jina-style Philosophy and therefore they were vulnerable to Siva’s arrow.

Vishnu has on many occasions Saved the Vedas and handed it over to the next generation after the floods or Pralayas. The Vedas contained the knowledge that the new settlements would require.

The thought that occurs to me is that the philosophies which turned us away from our Vedas, turned us away from our science and technology and slowed us down.

Rg Veda Prathama SukthamRg Veda Prathama Suktham 

First Listen to the mantras here. Then read the translations of the mantras and click on each of the translations given below for a word to word explanation, so that you will understand how I got the final meaning of each mantra.

The collection of spoken (or Solar) knowledge

Now the first circle.

The first (division) which is made of 8 parts.

That which is to be studied first. The first  of the enclosures. (1-38). The first small speech. Words are that are well spoken (1 -3).

(1) The first  that is well said. The seer of this suktha of 9 archas (mantras) is the descendant of Viswamitra, Madhucchanda. The luminary is energyThe metre is Gayathri.

Harih Om.

(1): I contemplate that luminary, mobile energy (Agni), who conforms to the laws of physics, who is beneficial to the human settlement and who is the giver of what is precious.

(2) : Agni was contemplated by the rishis of the past and the present. He, of his desire, illuminates the luminaries.

(3) In the day, water  is pervaded by Agni (energy), to nourish (it) only., it with the best fame and valour.

(4) That worship which is non-injuring,  which encloses energy from all sides, certainly reaches the luminaries.

(5) Energy is mobile, enlightened (kavi) and powerful. A luminary who comes with the luminaries. The best (tama) among the bright (citra) and heard of (srava). (This could have a connnection with astronomy that I am not aware of)

(6) Oh Agni! You will protect, that (person) who strives for this anga (division or part of the Vedas). That (person) is truly your son (Angira).

(7) O Energy! Come Near!  Be (In This) way! We, who are in a state of darkness, bear salutations to you with our mind.

(8 and 9) O Energy! As a father to a son,  Energise this lentil-root soup (by entering into it), for the welfare of us friends, who in our house (have made), radiant, non-injuring yajnas, which enhance the brightness of the heavens (residence of the luminaries), which gaurd the nectar of immortality.

Harih Om!

Please say or think Harih Om! before you start.

Or you can say Harih A -U-M.

Hari is the one who rescued the Vedas. Hari is the one who chases away troubles. Hari is green.

To Hindus today, Hari is the name of Vishnu, who rescues the Vedas at the time of the Mahapralaya and hands them over to the new creation.. and AUM is a sound representation of the Absolute Reality.

Some people meditate on the AUM by repeating it over and over again.

We will use it once to invoke the Absolute Reality.

Atha Prathama Mandala

Atha : Now

Prathama : the first

Mandala : Circle, globe, round, bunch.

Now the first circle or globe or bunch.

Prathama Ashtakah

Prathama : The first

Ashtakah : That which has 8 parts.

The first (division) which is made of 8 parts.

Prathama Adhyayah:

That which is to be studied first. (Adhyayah is frequently translated as chapter. But adhyayanam means study. Ahdhyayah means that which is to be studied, or thought about deeply. An Adhyapakah is one who makes you study. Even the word Upadhyaya which means teacher is based on this word adhyaya.)

1 Vargah: The first Varga

(Class or Division) The word Varna also means class or division. (In its verb form the root Vr means to cover or enclose)

Prathama Anuvakah: The first section. (Vak – means speech. Anu – is a prefix that makes something small. Anuvakah means little speech, or small section).

Sukthani: Su – uktha: Well – Said : That which is said well. This has been translated by others as hymns, which is not right. We have the suktha kusumavali which means collection of flowers of sukthas – and here the sukthas are proverbs – not hymns. So for us sukthani (sukthas) are (words) that are well spoken.

Prathama Suktham: The first  that is well said.

Asya navarchasya sukthasya rshih vaishvamitro madhucchandah :

Vaisvamitroh : of the descendent of Viswamitra,

Madhucchandah: One of the the sweet or pleasant chandas (metre). It  can also mean that Madhucchandah is a descendant of Viswamitra).

Rshih: Rishi (seer, sage). ()

Asya navarchasya sukthasya rshih vaishvamitro madhucchandah: The seer of this  suktha of 9 archas (mantras) is Madhucchanda, the descendant of Viswamitra.


Agnih Devata:

Devata means luminary, the one who is bright. The root of the word is related to light. Diva is lamp, Diva is day, Divi is heaven. Even in English the word divine meaning Godly has its root in the word light. (Some others have translated Devata as angel or demi-god etc., but that does not apply to the Vedic Context, it was an attempt to reach the Vedas through a different religion which has the concept of angels).

In modern Indian languages and in modern sanskrit, Agni means fire, literally.

In Vedas and Upanishads, Agni is not only the fire that burns wood, but also the fire of the digestive juices, the fire of lightning, the fire in the sun and so forth. The nearest english word that strikes me at this point is energy.

Gayathri Chandah

Gayathri Chandah: An instruction telling us which chandas (or metre) to sing the prathama suktha in.

This is generally considered an instruction telling us which chandas (or metre) to sing it in. The word chanda also means pleasing and alluring and can also mean desire or longing. The best way to know what a metre is, is to listen to it. Listen to the Prathama Suktham in Gayatri chandas at this link. It will also help you with the pronounciation.

In present times, Gayathri Devi is worshipped as a goddess who is the essence of all the vedas and who will protect those who sing the Savitr Gayathri Mantram. The word gayathra is translated as song: that which is sung. It is possible that the gayathri chandas was considered a singing chandas.

Agnim Ile

Agnim Ile : (I) implore or praise Agni.

Puro-hitam: the benefactor of the Pura (a place where people live like a town or a city).

Yajnasya Devam: The luminary of the worship.

Rthvijam: The rthvik : the one who possesses the qualities of Rtham. Rtham can mean the physical law (physics) or the social law – rightness.  The word rtham has often been loosely translated into English as truth. In modern Sanskrit Anrtham means falsehood. In modern english we have rythym and right, which are similar sounding words. In modern Indian languages Rtu – Ruthu – Rithu – means season. That which arrives rythmically. So Anrtham may have come from the sense that some thing that is not right, that is out of place, out of rythym and therefore false. All luminaries (as in celestial bodies) preserve the quality of timeliness or rythym. Fire has many associations with truth. Sita Devi took the Agni pariksha to show that she was true.

So let us translate rtvijam as the one who possesses the quality of rightness or trueness. (Interestingly note t-ruth sounds like ruth and untruth sounds like anruth).

Hotaram: the one who goes, carries or transports, pours offering.

Agnihotram as understood today: “A person, who wishes to perform Agnihotram and other Srouta rites must first acquire the sacrificial fire.  The rituals starting from Agnihotram should be performed with oblations to the three distinct altars having different fires namely, the Garhapatya, Aahavaniya and the Dakshina. The acquisition of these fires and instituting them in one’s house are done through a ritual called Adhana (Agnyadhana, Agnyadheya), during initiation.” from

Ratna Dhatamam : I was stuck on this phrase for a long time. Rathna in modern sanskrit is an precious gem and Dhata is the one who gives. So this can be transalated in one way as ‘the bestower of gems’. Is there a deeper meaning? Rathna can also mean the best in a category (eg Bharata Rathna) and Dhata is a name of one of the Adityas.

Possible Translations of this sentence:

  1. I praise the  luminary of all worship, the transporter, the lawful, ( the truthful, the right)  the Energy that bestows the precious gems.
  2. I worship that luminary, the moving flame, who is just and is the bestower of what is precious.
  3. I contemplate that luminary, mobile energy, who conforms to the laws of physics, who beneficial to the human settlement and who is the giver of what is precious.

Agnih Purvebhih Rishibhih Idyah

Agnih Purvebhih Rishibhih Idyah : Agni was contemplated even by the Rishis of the past.

Nutanaih Uta: And by the new rishis.

Sah:  He

Eha : desiring (coming near?)

Devam : Luminaries, Devas

Vakshati : Strengthens, illuminates

He, of his desire, illuminates the luminaries.

Agnina Rayim Asnavat Posham Eva Dive Dive

Agnina: By Agni.

Rayim : Water, something that flows.  (Vedic Synonyms for Vacha and Udaka)

Asnavat : is pervaded.

Posham : To nourish, thrive, prosper.

Eva : Only (emphasis)

Dive Dive : (in) Day (Learning Vedic Sanskrit : Kasyapa’s Nighantu – Yaska Niruktha : 3)

In the day, water  is pervaded by Agni (energy), to nourish (it) only.

I give the vedic sanskrit words with modern english meanings in brackets so we can see how the words have changed in meaning.Synonyms for ahna (day) : dyuh, bhAnu (sun), ghrNA (anger), divedive (daily)

yasasa viravattamam

Yasasa : In fame

Virou: In valour

Uttamam : The best

Agne yam yagnyam adhvaram visvatah paribhurasi

Agne : In Agni

yam yagnyam: that worship,

adhvaram : non-injuring, worship called adhvara, sky, air

Visvatah : Viswa – universe, everything, from all sides

Paribhurasi: paribhuh asi : is pervaded or enclosed.

Sa : that

Id : certainly

Deveshu : among the luminaries

Gacchati : goes.

That certainly goes to the Devas.

Agnih Hota Kavi Kratuh

Kavi : means one who is gifted with insight, enlightened, sage, seer, thinker, wise man, poet.

Kratu : means power and might. (Indra is frequently described as SataKratu. This is interpreted by some to mean that he performed 100 Kratus (yajnas). Prof P.L. Bhargava says that this means that he is 100 times as mighty.)

Agnih means energy.

Hota means the carrier, the mobile one

Satyah : Truth, existence, an attribute of Sat, that which is.

Citrasravah : Chitra – wonderful, strange, coloured, bright or Chitra star. Sravah – ear, fame, renown.

Sravana is also the name of the month and the name of the nakshatram between Uttarashada and Dhanishta.

Tamah : Darkness, Inertness, Inertia

Devah: A luminary

Devebhih Aagamat: Comes Among the Devas, luminaries.

Yat Angat aas’ushe tvam Agne bhadram karishyasi Tavet tat satyam angirah

Agne = = He! Agne =  O Energy! (Sambodhana Prathama Vibhakthi)

Tvam Bhadram Karishyasi = You will do good

yat  etat  Angirah – if this son

Satyam = Truly, Aasushe – strives

Tava Angat = This division, mandala of yours

Oh Agni! You will protect, that (person) who strives for this anga (division or part of the Vedas). That person is truly your son (Angira).

Upa tvagne divedive doshavasthar dhiya vayam namo bharanta emasi

Upa = near, to

Tu – however, but

emasi = ema + asi

ema = way, course   asi = (you) are.

Agne = O Energy!

O Energy! Come Near! This way

Diva = Day, sky, heaven  Dive – in the day, Dive Dive = everyday

dhi = mind, dhiya = by mind

vayam = we

namo = namah = salutations

Bhru,  Bhara =  bear, support, maintain

ema = way, course asi = (you) are.

Doshavastah = dosha + avastah = flaw, darkness + state

We, who are in a state of darkness, bear salutations to you in our mind.

O Energy! Come Near!  Be (In This) way! We, who are in a state of darkness, bear salutations to you with our mind.

Rajantham Adhvaranam Gopamrutasya Didivim Vardhamanam Sve Dame |Sah nah pita sunave Agne Supayanah Bhava sachasvah nah svastaye

Rajantham = of those that are radiant, Adhvaranam = non-injuring yajnas,  Gopamrutasya = Gopa + amrutasya = Krishna/cowherd/gaurdian + of the nectar, DiDivim = heaven, shining, bright, name brhaspati (jupiter), boiled rice, food Vardhamanam = of those that flourish, prosper or grow, Sve Dame = in control/home of self

Of the Radiant Yajnas that are non-injuring, which gaurd the nectar of immortality, which increase the brightness of the heavens,with your control/in our home.

Agne = O Energy, Bhava = be, nah = us, Sah = he, pita sunave = as a  father to a son,

Supayanah = Supa + Ayanah = A lentil soup with roots (like sambar) + coming, arrival,

sacasvah nah= us (who are) friends/connected/ together,  svastaye = in/for  a good state

Oh Energy, Be as a father to a son, and arrive in this lentil-root soup, for the welfare of of us friends.



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