* Rig bhAShya *
Most translators term Vedas as a composition of nomads by poets “drinking” Soma. It’s ridiculous to think our immensely vast and rich culture eroded by such translators. This is a small effort to show how revered each sutra of the Veda is and how much we need a Guru to understand the true meaning of the Vedas. I’ve presented the popular English translations as a reference point to show how much of the mark they are. Interpreting Vedas requires a lot of knowledge; can you decipher a medical report using a dictionary? You need a medical dictionary at least, you need a specialist with experience to understand what the report really means. If you attempt a surgery based on the English dictionary meanings of the medical reports, can you imagine the state of the patient.
अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवं रत्वीजम |
होतारं रत्नधातमम || Rig Veda 1.001.01
aghnimīḷe purohitaṃ yajñasya devaṃ ṛtvījam |
hotāraṃ ratnadhātamam || Rig Veda 1.001.01
* Translation by Griffith in 1896
I Laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,
The hotar, lavishest of wealth.
* Translation by Sa_yan.a and Wilson
1.001.01 I glorify Agni, the high priest of the sacrifice, the divine, the ministrant, who presents the oblation (to the gods), and is the possessor of great wealth. [Agni = purohita, the priest who superintends family rites; or, he is one of the sacred fires in which oblations are first (pura) offered (hita); deva: a god, the bright, shining, radiant; fr. div, to shine; or, one who abides in the sky or heaven (dyusha_na); or, liberal, donor (in the sense of giving); r.tvij = a ministering priest, he is also the hota_ (Aitareya Bra_hman.a 3.14), the priest who presents the oblation or who invokes or summons the deities to the ceremony; fr. hu, to sacrifice; or, fr. hve, to call; ratnadha_tama: lit. holder of jewels; ratna = wealth in general; figurately, reward of religious rites].
You can easily see that the first translation is a word by word translation. Vedas will never reveal their true meaning to people who don’t do Sandhyavandane.
The second translation is slightly better because it references other texts, so immidiately it is clear that only one who has complete grasp of Vedas should even attempt to translate. But even this meaning is highly superficial as we shall see.
Srimadacharya has stated that the Vedas have three meanings. He has illustrated this by writing a commentary on about forty hymns or ‘suktas’ from the Rig veda, starting with ‘AgnimeelE purOhitam’, explaining how this Sukta is primarily a prayer to Lord Vishnu. As in the case of all his works, in this commentary also he has shown that the Vedas uphold the supremacy of Lord Vishnu and the dependence of all the gods (devatas) on Him. Srimadacharya has explained the importance of ‘Rishi, Devata and Chandas” in reciting Vedas. This work should be treated as the guiding principle for interpreting Vedic hymns.
The bashya of SriMadAcharya is presented as follows:
Agni shabdo ayamagra evābhipoojyatām
Aha tam staumy-ashesasya purvameva hitam prabhum.
Rtvin-niyāmakatvena yajñānam-rtvijam sadā.
Dyotanañd-vijayāt-kāntyā stutyā vyavahrter-api.
Gatyā ratyā-ca devākhyam hotr-samastham visesatah.
Agni-samasthena rupena yato agnir-hotr-devatā.
Indiriyāgnisu cārthānām yaddhotā hotr-nāmakah.
Ratidhārakottamatvātsa ratnadhātama iritah.
Each and every word has the main meaning or mukhya-artha as Sri Hari. Even though the above translations as valid, they are superficial.
Agni Meaning 1)Agre evea abhipujyatvatvat agnih – The one who is worshipped first Sri Hari and Agni.
Agni Meaning 2)agre bhava uttamma – Agni also means superior, Sri Hari is superior to everyone, hence called Agni. Agni is superior to those he controls, but Sri Hari is superior to everyone.
Agni Meaning 3)agrya netrtva or pratham pravartakatva – First activator; Bhagwan Vishnu created the sentient and non-sentient creations and was the first activator. Similarly Agni is also the first activator in sentient and non-sentient under the direction of the super controller.
Agni Meaning 4)Attrtva – being the destroyer – Sri Hari destroyes the entire brahmanda at the end of the maha pralaya hence he is called Agni. Fire God Agni who is partaker of ghee (atta) in the sacrifice can also be called Attrtva and hence Agni
Agni Meaning 5)Anga neta and sharira pravartaka – Sri Hari activates all bodies hence he is called Agni, Agni by his presence also activates bodies hence he too is Agni
Agni Meaning 6)Aga-neta – Aga is that which cannot move on it’s own. Sri Hari is sarva tantra svatantra; he is completely independent. Hence this whole brahmanda “Aga” is completely dependent on Sri Hari hence Sri Hari is called Agni
Note: Fire God Agni has some of attributes but in a limited manner. Sri Hari has all these attributes infinitely; and infinite number of attributes. Hence all the mantras have Sri Hari as their mukhya artha.
The remaining words purohitam, yajñasya, devaṃ, ṛtvījam, hotāraṃ and ratnadhātamam all praise Sri Hari’s glory in the main.
Sri Hari is called purohitam as he is the “hita”-conductive to the world since time immemorial.
Sri Hari is called as deva (Effulgence,victory,shine,praiseworthiness,knowledge and bliss)
yagnasya rtvijam – Though Sri Hari is present in all the rtvik’s or brahmins performing sacrifice; it is in hotā that he is present in Agni form. It is this form that is especially praised by Agni Sukta.
So yagnasya rtvijam – mentions that Sri Hari is present in all the hotas and also in the specific form in Agni Sukta.
Sri Jayatirtharu has given an expalination for each meaning and shown the reference of the shastra where the specific meaning has been used.
Some people are of opinion that since Acharya’s RigbhAshya has explanations of only 3 chapters, it is incomplete work. But Sri Jayatheerta in his commentary to the work has cleared this doubt by mentioning “with the explanation given in the first chapters , one should get enough guidance to understand remaining part of Rig-veds, that is the reason why Acharya Madhwa did not give further explanations”.
There is a strong understanding that Sri mAdhavatIrtha – direct disciple of Acharya Madhwa has followed the Acharya’s RigbhAshya and given explanations of all other vEdas. guruguNastavana mentions that shrI rAghavEMdratIrtaru has given explanations for all the three other vedas following the style of RugarthamaMjari which inturn is based on the RigbhAshya and its commentaries. There is a unique commentary by Sri Jayateertaru for Acharya’s Madhwa’s bhAshya and it is saMbhaMdhadIpika. For saMbhaMdhadIpika,TippaNis by bidarihalli srInivAsatIrtharu, vidyAdhIshatIrtharu,his brother kEshavAchArya pAMDuraMgi, kaMbAlu rAmachaMdratIrtharu, satyanAthatIrtharu,ChalAri narasiMhAchAryaru and sumatIMdratIrtharu are available but only tippaNis by satyanAthatIrtharu,ChalAri narasiMhAchAryaru and bidarihalli srInivAsatIrtharu is published
* Reference : Tatvavada English Magazine, June 2010 , “Sri Madhvacharya’s Vedic Insights”
Any mistakes are solely mine.