First Syllable, First Verse…
The first syllable of the Rig Veda, “Ak,” could be seen as containing the whole Rig Veda within itself. It represents the collapse of the continuum of flow of infinite wholeness to its own point. The “A” sound represents flow or continuum, and the “k” sound represents the stop, or collapse of the flow. This sound is actually the process of the infinite whole of consciousness collapsing to its point values. The line however continues …
अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवं रत्वीजम | होतारं रत्नधातमम ||
aghnimīḷe purohitaṃ yajñasya devaṃ ṛtvījam |
hotāraṃ ratnadhātamam ||
Griffith translates it as :
I Laud Agni,
The chosen Priest,
God, minister of sacrifice,
The Hotar, lavisher of wealth.
The traslation above is purely “Adhiyajñika“, in accord with Sayana’s commentary of 14th Century AD. It interprets the Vedic rik at ritual level, in terms of performance of works accompanying its utterance.
This however entirely misses the Ādhyātmika sense that the mantra includes at the spiritual and psychological level — in terms of being individual and universal, commonly signified with use of terms such as God, Heaven, etc.
And, lastly, there is always the Ādhidaivika, naturalistic or cosmological sense the reader or hearer obtains, pertaining to phenomenal creation and its laws observed in nature.
The unstrung Adhyatmika sense of the First Verse of Rig Veda, as included in the syllables, is furnished herebelow :
Agnim [Arc : to illuminate + Nī : to lead]
Īle [Īḍ : to praise, to glorify]
Purohitaṃ [Pṝ : full, complete, first
+ Hu : to sacrifice, to conduct]
Yajñasya [Yaj : to exalt, to offer]
Devam [Div(u) : to shine with power]
Ṛtvijaṃ [Ṛ : to guide rightly, to steer
+ Vij : to arouse, to strengthen]
Hotāraṃ [(1) Hve : to call;
(2) Hu : to sacrifice, conduct]
Ratna [Ram : to be or make content, to please]
Dhātamaṃ [(1) Dhā: to put, to order, to set in place;
(2) Dhṛ: to hold, to sustain]
Left unstrung, the sense which arises with utterance of the syllables, alongwith their signified meaning, would fill the heart and intellect in accord with one’s own age, exposure and acquired sagacity, leaving the individual with his own nebulous experience overall. It would clarify with practice, as the mind would string the parts up and comprehend their second order phonelogical and etymological origins.
One such Adhyatmika translation would perhaps read thus :
Let us Praise the Prime Illuminator
Who lights up all and enlightens;
The Supreme who offers all
Whose exalted act
At first offered all in creation;
Who gloriously shines of own power
Who vests strength in each to arise;
Who rightly guides and steers all
With the call to our being
To be, to be blissful and content;
And sets us each to order
In our own respective place.
The material or naturalistic is not attempted here for want of context.
In line with the spiritual sense offered above, the first syllable of the Rig Veda is elaborated and commented on in the first 24 richa (verses), which are further elaborated in the corresponding 24 pada (phrases) of the next eight richa, giving 192 meaning of the syllable Ak or [Arc]. These all emerge from the 24 sandhi(gaps) of the first richa. From the 192 gaps between the 192 akshara (syllables) of richa 2-9, emerge the 192 suktas of the First Mandala of the Rig Veda.
The 192 sandhi between the 192 suktas of the first Mandala give rise to the 192 suktas of the Tenth Mandala, a circular structure that precisely fills the gaps of the First Mandala. Similarly, the gaps between the nine richas of the first sukta are elaborated in Mandala 2-9 of Rig Veda, unfolding the total Rig Veda with all its ten Mandalas.
The whole of the Rig Veda has therefore a marvelous and intricately interwoven structure that is beyond the capacity of the human mind to create. It was not created, but cognised by the seers of ancient India. This is part of the reason that seers recognise the tradition and agree that the Veda and the Vedic literature is “eternal” or uncreated.