Dr. R.L. Kashyap is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indian in USA. He had his Master’s degree from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and obtained Ph. D from Harvard University. He is the recipient of many International awards. Recently he has received ‘Vedanga Vidvan’ award instituted by Maharshi Sandipani Vedavidya Pratishthan (Ujjain), and autonomous body of HRD, Govt. of India and ‘Jnana Keerti’ award instituted by Harsha Kriya Foundations, Bangalore.
He has authored more than 350 research articles of which 220 are published in scholarly journals and the rest were presented at conferences. He has guided above 50 doctoral students.
He has written extensively on Veda. Some of his widely read books on Veda are : ‘Why Read Rig Veda’. ‘Secrets of Atharva Veda’, ‘Essentials of Yajur Veda’, ‘Work, Enjoyment & Progress’ Divinizing Life’ etc.
He is the Honorary Director & Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore.
Sarasvati or Sarasvati is described or mentioned in 72 mantra-verses of Rig Veda Samhita, some of which are repeated in Yajur Veda. This book is the first one to discuss in detail 62 of the 72 mantras to Sarasvati in RV.
A river of that name flowing in North India in Rig Vedic times has now disappeared; however the mantras deal primarily with the goddess of inspiration and this was recognised by the rishis even though the commoners of that age, like the moderns, believed that Sarasvati described in Veda was a river or utmost a river goddess, whatever it may mean.
We will pose here some popular question and give our answers in the next several sections. The first question is, “what is inspiration, why is it needed?” The more aggressive ones declare, “inspiration is needed only by poets and writers; it is irrelevant for others”. It is this attitude of judging an issue without even bothering to get its essentials that is preventing many persons from deriving the benefit of Veda mantras. The attitude of these persons is similar to those who have no interest in the topic of well-ness or health till sickness hits them. The section 2 clarifies the nature of inspiration and its importance for all persons detailing it through some anecdotes from the world of engineering and science. Section 2 also deals with the development of inspiration.
Question of the second group state, “we have read in the translations of Rig Veda by eminent Western Indologists like Willson that Sarasvati is a physical reiver which reises in the Himalayas; here and there she may be described as dealing with prose and poetry. You state that she represents the power of inspiration. What is your basis? Why should we believe you instead of the earlier mentioned eminent scholars.” The answers are in Sections 3 and 4. In section 3 we give a glimpse of the foundation of the Vedic interpretation according to Sri Aurobindo. The first principle is that we should focus only the mantras of Rig Veda Samhita and not introduce passages from Purana or Ramayana, which are thousands of years later and not give ten or twenty meanings to the same word as Sayanacharya does to force ritualistic meaning he wants. In the fourth Section we detail many epithets for Sarasvati from the Veda such as awakening the consciousness, the thoughts, etc. All these epithets are consistent with the labelling of Sarasvati as the goddess of inspiration, only a few epithets are consistent with Sarasvati as a physical river.
The questions of the third group state, “There are many stotras of Sarasvati in Purana and Ramayana. There is also the Mahasarasvati stotra in the Durga Saptashati. What is the difference between them and Veda mantra? Why are Veda mantras regarded as more powerful? The answer is in Section 5.
In the Sections 7,8 and 9 we give the annotated translations of 62 mantras, divided into 3 categories. The first group contains all the 40 mantras specifically dedicated to Sarasvati. This group includes the three complete Suktas.
In the Rig Veda there are several suktas called Apri Suktas in which there is one mantra, IIa and Mahi or Bharati. These mantras are given in Section 8.
In Section 9, we give the translations of 15 mantras, each of which is jointly dedicated to Sarasvati and other gods such as Agni, Indra, Soma. This Section includes the mantras which refer to rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu etc.
In section 10, we give a brief description of Usha, the Goddess of spiritual dawn. In the Appendix, we discuss the symbolism of seven rivers occurring in the Veda and their relation to the physical rivers in Punjab and Sindh.
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