Sarasvati, vāk, rāṣṭrá, Harappa Script

Sarasvati, vāk, rāṣṭrá, Harappa Script

A very ancient text, Rigveda is in chandas metaphors. One metaphor is in RV 10.125 which signifies the River Sarasvati (See map showing river with over 2000 archaeological sites) as vāk recognized in Hindu tradition as feminine divinity of speech and knowledge. Hence, the word rāṣṭrá is used in the feminine gender for the first time in any text, as rāṣṭrī. In this Sukta, which is ātmastuti, soliloquy, vāk calls herself rāṣṭrī. The devatā of the Sukta is ātmā. The word rāṣṭrī is explained: aham rāṣṭrī samgamanī vasūnām, i.e. I am the mover of wealths. One explanation for this metaphor is that the river was the high-water-way for seafaring merchants engaged in Bronze Age trade. On the river many boats navigated, thus making River Sarasvati the mover of wealths. Harappa Script provides evidence of remarkable hieroglyph-hypertexts,1.’rim-of-jar’ and 2. ‘standing person with legs spread’ which are Meluhha rebus representations of 1. karṇika and 2. karṇaka, i.e. scribe-supercargo (a representative of the ship’s owner on board a merchant ship, responsible for overseeing the cargo and its sale) and 2. helmsman/guild-master.

The entire text of the RV sukta RV 10.125 is a detailed exposition on the idea of rāṣṭrá of the Vedic times. The rāṣṭrá is not merely a mover of wealths but also a region endowed with the wealth of waters and skilled persons. Expressed as vāk, ‘speech, knowledge’ rāṣṭrá is the superlative which is larger than all other phenomena such as Agni, Rudra, Varuṇa. Rudra is a metaphor signified as the yupa with caṣāla (which is an octagonal pillar topped by godhuma, wheat chaff which is used in a process to infuse carbon into the metal in a fire-altar, to render soft smelted metal hard and making the hard alloy valuable to produce metal implements). I suggest that the sukta RV 10.125 is the model for the organization of society and guilds in Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization where the guilds constitute the commonwealth, sharing the wealth created among all the members of the samajam, including artisans, and merchants who constituted the guilds or śreṇi governed by śreṇi-dharma.

It is notable that the eponymous rishi of the RV sukta RV 10.125 is vāgāmbhṛṇī, an expression composed of vāk ‘speech’ and ambhas ‘water’, i.e. water-divinity. ambhasअम्भस् [By Uṇ.4.29 आप्-असुन्; or अम्भ् शब्दे असुन्] ‘water’ वाग् [p= 936,3] in comp. for वाच्, ‘speech’. Thus, vāgātman means ‘consisting of words’. Flowing waters of a river become the metaphor for the flow of words in वाच्, ‘speech’. The expression vāgāmbhṛṇī can be explained as Rishika vāk. Again, it should be underscored that the devatā of the Sukta (RV 10.125) is ātmā. आत्मन् [p= 135,1]m. (variously derived fr. अन् , to breathe ; अत् , to move ; वा , to blow ; cf. त्म्/अन्) the breath RV.आत्मन् in the sg. is used as reflexive pronoun for all three persons and all three genders e.g. आत्मानं सा हन्ति , ” she strikes herself “; essence , nature , character , peculiarity (often ifc. e.g. कर्मा*त्मन् , &c ) RV. x , 97 , 11 , &c. Thus, ātmā as devatā of the sukta (RV 10.125) signifies the very essence of वाच्, ‘speech’, i.e. the entire text, samhita of Rigveda. Just as Soma is the ātmā of a yajna, वाच्, ‘speech’ is the essence of the entire text rendered in chandas. Harappa Script which catalogues metalwork trade transactions of wealth created in smithy/forge renders वाच्, ‘speech’ in an alternative rendering, mlecchita vikalpa, alternative signified by mleccha (Meluhha, metalworkers) using hypertexts/hieroglyphs to result in a writing system for speech. The Harappa Script Corpora are a datamine of trade transactions, recording the movement of wealth on samgamanī rāṣṭrī, i.e. rāṣṭrī river who is the mover of wealth, a waterway for seafaring merchants of Meluhha.

Adapting Griffith’s translation, RV 10.125 can be rendered in English translation as follows: cf.

[10-125] HYMN CXXV. Vak. 1. I am the mover of the Vasus (wealths); with the Rudras, with the Adityas and All-Gods I wander. I hold aloft both Varuna and Mitra, Indra and Agni, and the Pair of Asvins. 2 I cherish and sustain high-swelling Soma, and Tvastar I support, Pusan, and Bhaga. I load with wealth the zealous sdcrificer who pours the juice and offers his oblation 3 I am the Rashtra, mover of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship. Thus Gods have stablished me in many places with many homes to enter and abide in. 4 Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them,-each man who sees, brewhes, hears the word outspoken They know it not, but yet they dwell beside me. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it. 5 1, verily, myself announce and utter the word that Gods and men alike shall welcome. I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him a sage, a Rsi, and a Brahman. 6 I bend the bow for Rudra that his arrow may strike and slay the hater of devotion. I rouse and order battle for the people, and I have penetrated Earth and Heaven. 7 On the world’s summit I bring forth the Father: my home is in the waters, in the ocean. Thence I extend o’er all existing creatures, and touch even yonder heaven with my forehead. 8 I breathe a strong breath like the wind and tempest, the while I hold together all existence. Beyond this wide earth and beyond the heavens I have become so mighty in my grandeur.

S. Kalyanaraman

Sarasvati Research Center, December 4, 2016


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