Monday 20 January 2020

Durga Suktam - Word to Word Meaning and Commentary

The Durga Suktam comes in the Taittiriiya AraNyakam of the KrsHNa Yajur Veda ( 10-2-1). It is also part of the MahanarayaNa UpanisHat

Video: Durga Suktam recitation by my students, Setapak, Malaysia

Introduction to Vedas 

The entire Universe is reverberating. When there is reverberation, there is sound. In other words, the entire cosmos is simply a manifestation of sound energy. The ancient Vedic sages through penance activated certain centres in their brains which enabled them to download cosmic data directly. They received cosmic truths in the form of sounds that they envisioned and heard. These truths were recited as received and passed on generation after generation.

Various truths downloaded by various Rishis gave rise to the ocean of Vedas. Veda Vyasa later compiled these Vedas and classified them.This is how the 4 Vedas came into existence. Each of these Vedas had many branches. Each branch had 4 components : 

(1) samhita
(2) brahmana
(3) aranyaka
(4) Upanishad

The first two verses of the Durga Suktam are found in the Rig Veda samhita. It is found in the 1st Mandala, 99th Sukta of Rig Veda. The Rishi who downloaded these two verses is Sage Kashyapa Marica. The entire Durga Suktam in the Yajur Veda comes in the araNyakam of Taittiriiya shaakha.


jaatavedase sunavaama somam-araatiiyato nidahaati vedaH

jaata = born
veda = Vedas

Jatavedase refers to One from which the Vedas are born. It refers to Lord Agni.

sunavaama = may we extract juice by pressing.
somam = soma juice.
The soma juice is a Vedic juice prepared by pressing the stalks of the plant. It has a bliss-inducing property

araati-yataha = 
raati = giving
a-raati = not giving
yataha =wherefrom
ni = nija = near and within
dahaati = burn
vedaha = vedas ( eternal knowledge )

Meaning and commentary :

We press out the Soma juice for Jataveda, which is very unyielding. It burns off our ignorance which enlightens us with eternal knowledge.

Soma is equated to the state of Godhood which is full of bliss. Like pressing the plant to extract soma, we ardently invoke Jataveda to experience the state of bliss = godhood. The invocation of this Jataveda, who is verily Agni ( Fire ), burns of all ignorance. When all ignorance is burnt, we get enlightened.

sa naH (f) parshhadati durgaaNi vishvaa naaveva sindhuM duritaa.atyagniH

saha = he
naha = us
parshhat = carry us
ati = extreme
durgaaNi = duhu + gaha = very difficult + to go across
vishva = The Cosmos
naavaa + iva = boat + alike 
sindhum = ocean
durita = duhu + ita = difficult + move across
ati = extreme
agnihi = Lord of Fire

Meaning and commentary :

Agni boats us across the ocean of illusion and suffering which is extremely difficult to cross. Fire is the element that connects us to God. This is why the element of fire is prominently used in many cultures across the globe. Saint Vallalar attained enlightenment when He fixed His gaze on the aarati done in Chidambaram temple. Lord Agni like a boatman, ferries us towards enlightenment.

Pic above: Ramalinga Swamigal, also referred to as Vallalar, attained enlightenment through fire. He attained this when his gaze got fixed upon the mangala deeparadhana offered in Chidambaram temple.

Even today, followers of Ramalinga Swamigal refer to fire as eternal power.

taam-agnivarNaaM tapasaa jvalantiiM vairochaniiM 
karma-phaleshhu jushhTaam

taam = that ( feminine )
agni-varNam = fire-coloured
tapasaa = by tapas ( intense sadhana which is fiery) 
jvalantiim = shines
vairochaniiM = shining through various manifestations
karma-phaleshhu = by the means of karma-phalas ( fruits of action )
jushhTaam = to be pleased

Meaning and Commentary :

To Her, Who is the very colour of Fire, who blazes with Tapas ( penance ), Who shines in various manifestations is the One to be pleased through the fruits of our actions.

Tapas comes from the root 'tapta' which means 'heat'. It is the very manifestation of fire. Tapas ( penance ) is intensity. Intensity is the very form of Agni. The fruits that bear as a result of our tapas manifest in many dimensions which unlocks many doors through which infinite grace pours upon us. With divine grace being abundant, enlightenment is just a stone away.

durgaaM devii(gm) sharaNamahaM
prapadye sutarasi tarase namaH

durgaaM deviiM = 
durga : duhu + gaha ( very difficult + to go )

Durga is often referred to as 'One who is difficult to approach'
deviiM = feminine version of Deva. Deva comes from the root 'div' which means to shine. Literally = One who shines. This is how we get 'Durga devii'.

sharaNam = shelter
aham = I
pra-padye = by falling at Her feet
su-tarasi = 
su : sushhThu = excellent
tarasi = swimmer
sutarasi = excellent swimmer

tarase = to the swimmer
namaha = 
na : not
maha : me
namaha means 'not me'.The word namaha dissolves our identity.It affirms that we are not the mind or body,but pure consciousness.When we say namaha and invoke the deity,we establish in the state godhood.

Meaning and commentary :

Durga Devii, I take refuge by falling at your feet. As an excellent swimmer, ferry me across the ocean of illusion towards enlightenment.

We empty ourselves by the utterance of namaha ( not me ). As an empty cup, we invoke Mother Durga with complete surrender on Her feet. Empty and open, we now enable Her to gush towards us. She, being an excellent swimmer, so as to speak, shall effortlessly boat us across the ocean illusion.

The ocean of illusion is the materialistic world we live in. We experience ourselves as individual waves. We cognise ourselves as individuals comprising the body and mind. Mother Durga ferries us across this ocean and presents the truth - that we are verily the ocean itself! We are atma! We are God. You are God. I am God. I am God. Everyone is God. Everything is consciousness. I am not the body nor the mind. I am consciousness. This is the state of enlightenment.

agne tvaM paarayaa navyo asmaan-
svastibhirati durgaaNi vishvaa

agne = Agni
tvam = you
paarayaa = take across to the other shore
navyaha = worthy of praise
asmaan = us
svastibhihi = excellent way
ati = extreme
durgaaNi = duhu + gaha : very difficult + to approach
vishvaa = everything

Meaning and commentary : 

O Agni! You are worthy of praise! Take us, in the most excellent way across the word of illusion which is very difficult to cross

This is why Agni is revered in our culture. Agni is the deity Who can link us to the divine dimension. Our ancients who realised this, gifted us the science of aarati, yajna, agnihotra etc

Pic: The primary form of worship in Zoroastrianism is that of Fire

puush-cha pR^ithvii bahulaa 
na urvii bhavaa tokaaya 
tanayaaya shamyoH

puuhu = puri = this city or body
cha = and
pR^ithvii = earth
bahuula = abundance 
naha = us
urvii = vast
bhavaa = become
tokaaya = for our children
tanayaaya = their children
shamyoho = happiness 

Meaning and commentary :

Also, spread your vast auspiciousness over Mother Earth so that She becomes abundantly fertile and fills Her children with happiness

Vedas are recited in a yajna. The auspicious items offered to Agni in the yajna produce a copious amount of smoke which carries the vibrations produced from Veda recitation. These smoke disperse and travel vastly. They carry forth the vibrations everywhere. Further, the smoke rises high and mixes with the rainclouds. The water droplets in the clouds are energised by these vibrations. During a downpour, these energised raindrops purify the land. The auspicious rainwater nourishes the corps which are consumed by people. In a nutshell, the potency of the Veda is directly embedded in every being ( children of Mother Earth ) through the power of Agni who is the driving force of a yajna.

vishvaani no durgahaa jaatavedaH
sindhunna-naavaa duritaa.atiparshhi

vishvaani = everything
naha = us
durgaha = destroyer of difficulties
jaata-vedaha = from whom the Vedas are born
sindhum = ocean
naha = us
naavaa = by boat
duritaa = duhu + ita : difficult to go across
ati = extremely
parshhi = to protect 

Meaning and commentary :

O Jataveda ! You are the destroyer of difficulties. Like a boat that protects us from the ocean of illusion, you take us across it towards enlightenment.

agne atrivan manasaa gR^iNaano.asmaakaM
bodhyavitaa tanuunaam

agne = agni
atri-vat = just like the rishi Atri
manasaa = with the mind
gR^iNaha = mentally repeating
asmaakam = our
bodhi = wisdom
avitaa = who protects
tanuunaam = our self / being

Meaning and commentary : 

O Agni, protect our being. Make us wise, mindful and aware just like Sage Atri

Sage Atri constantly recited mantras. Likewise, when we become mindful and attain oneness with the Vedas ( which are in the form of mantras ), we are safeguarded by Agni.

pR^itanaa jita(gm) sahamaanam-
ugramagni(gm) huvema

pR^itanaa = battalion 
jitam = winner
sahamaanam = conquering and victorious
ugram = ferocious
agnim = agni
huvema = havaamahe = we remember and call upon
paramaat = of the highest degree
sadhasthaat = from the assembly

Meaning and commentary :

We invoke and call upon Agni, who is all-conquering and victorious, who is the winner of battalions, who is ferocious from the highest degree of assembly.

sa naH (f) parshhadati durgaaNi

saha = he 
naha = us
parshhat = floats and carries us across
ati = extreme
durgaaNi= difficulties

vishvaa kshaamad-devo ati duritaa.atyagniH

vishvaa = everything
kshhaamat = temporary ( bound to perish )
devaha = deva ( from root 'div' which means to shine.Deva = One who shines )
ati = extreme
durita = difficult to cross
ati = extreme
agnihi = agni

Meaning and commentary :

He ( Agni ) keeps us afloat and carries us across the extremely difficult to cross the ocean of illusion which is temporary ( not real ) ,towards enlightenment.

*The verses of Durga Suktam constantly emphasise Agni who brings us towards enlightenment*

It is Agni who keeps us afloat from illusion ( deviation from the cognition that we are verily atma = god ). It is Agni who carries us away from this unreal world ( which is constantly changing - not permanent. The only permanent entity is atma - consciousness ). It is Agni who enables us to get enlightened.

pratnoshhi kamiiDyo adhvareshhu
sanaach-cha hotaa navyash-cha satsi

pratnoshhi = pratanoshhi = to expand and spread
kam = bliss
iiDyaha = by our invocations
adhvareshhu = in the adhvaraha ( yajna - Vedic ritual of sacrifice )
sanaat = ancient
cha = and
hota = the priests of yajna ( person who does the sacrifice )
navyaha = new
cha = and 
satsi = siidasi = sit

Meaning and commentary : 

O Agni, sit in our fire sacrifice ( yajnas ) and expand the bliss generated by the ancient yajna conducted by the new sacrificers ( The Vedas represented by the Yajna are as ancient as the Sun and as fresh as Sunrise )

Agni is the driving force of a yajna. As explained earlier, Agni enables the potency of the Vedas to be expanded throughout the planet. The very experience of the Vedas is bliss. Bliss is the state of godhood.

svaaJNchaa.agne tanuvaM piprayasvaasmabhyaM
cha saubhagam-aayajasva

svaam = your own
cha = and
agne = Agni
tanuvam = body
piprayasva = to satiate and quench thirst
asmabhyam = ours
cha = and 
sau + bhagam = good fortune
aa + yajasva = to make it happen

Meaning and commentary : 

O Agni! Quench your own thirst and ours too. Thus do we invoke you and attain good fortune.

Agni in a yajna is 'quenched' by the offering of herbs and other auspicious oblations. As Agni's thirst to burn is 'quenched' in a yajna, so is ours. When we conduct yajna-s and put offerings into the fire, we are blessed with good fortune.

When we pour one can of ghee into the Yajna, the world begets 100 cans of ghee. A yajna is an elaborate technology through which we communicate with the deities directly. Whatever we offer into the fire is directly delivered to the specific deity.

gobhirjusshTam-ayuoj nishhiktaM
tavendra vishhNor-anusancharema

gobhihi = with cattle
jushhTam = joined
a-yujaha = not joined
ni-shhiktam = flooded
tava = your
indraha = Indra ( mastery over senses )
vishhNoho = all pervasive
anu-sancharema = may we follow

Meaning and commentary : 

With mastery over the senses, we become unattached to the illusionary world. May we follow you ( Agni ) to establish ourselves in the state of all-pervasiveness.

Indra is the master of senses. Indra denotes the state in which mastery over the senses is attained. Vishnu refers to 'that which is all pervasive'. Atma is all pervasive. The state of enlightenment is all-pervasiveness. We realise that we are the same consciousness that presides everything.

So, by attaining mastery over the senses, we get led by Agni towards the state of enlightenment, in which we experience all-pervasiveness. In short , Indra to Vishnu through Agni.

naakasya pR^ishhThamabhi
saM-vasaano vaishhNaviiM
loka iha maadayantaam

naakasya = highest heaven
pR^ishhTham = on the top
abhi = all pervading
sam-vasaanaha = all-pervasive
vaishhNaviim = of vishhNu ( all pervasiveness )
loka = world
iha = here
maadayantam = may delight

Meaning and commentary :

Vaishnavism ( all pervasive state in feminine form ) Who resides in the topmost heaven. Delight us by completing us in this world

The state of all-pervasiveness is of the highest heaven ( ultimate state of bliss ). We can experience the highest heaven in this loka itself by establishing ourselves in the state of enlightenment.

OM kaatyaayanaaya vidmahe
kanyakumari dhiimahi
tanno durgiH (f) prachodayaat

kaatyaayanaya = of kaatyaayani 
vidmahe = to know
kanya-kumaari = maiden virgin
dhiimahi = meditate upon
tat = that
naha = us
durgihi = difficult to reach
pra-codayaat = to enlighten us

Meaning and commentary :

May we know kaatyaayani. We meditate upon the primordial shakti. May such a durgihi enlighten us.

This is the Gayatri for Mother Durga. We first recognise Mother Kaatyaayani. We then meditate on Her. Meditation on Mother Durga will ultimately lead us to enlightenment. 

OM shaantiH shaantiH shaantiH

Peace,peace,peace - Peace to the body,mind and soul.

Video: Durga Suktam by my student Shravanthi and Me 

The significance of Fire,revelations by Swami Sathya Sai Baba :

Consciousness is Power. It is the subtlest energy. All energy is fire or force.

Meditation, when it is deep and profound generates tremendous fire. Even deep thought generates tremendous fire in the body. Every exercise of thought, every type of energisation of consciousness, generates fire. Fire is one of many forms - both visible and invisible. The fire generated by intensive thought is not visible, but you can feel it. The forehead of the person is very warm, the face becomes bright. Who gave the brightness to the face? Fire 

Bhagavan Shri Sathya Baba

Fire is the basis of all brightness. The significant Sanskrit word is Tejas. Effulgence.In an effulgent face, the eyes are luminous.

From where does this luminosity energy? From fire. Fire is the basis of that luminosity

Bhagavan Shri Sathya Baba

Fire ( Agni ) is the charioteer for a sacrifice as He brings the Gods, in his chariot to the place of sacrifice. Offerings are made to the Gods in the ceremonial flames. Agni conveys the offerings to the Gods to whom they are dedicated. Agni is the closest friend of man, for without fire he can scarce hold on to life. The principle of Fire is at the basis of human activity - both inside the body and outside

Bhagavan Shri Sathya Baba

The supreme shakti manifests herself in the form of Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvati.

Durga grants us energy - physical, mental and spiritual.

Lakshmi bestows on us wealth of many kinds - not just money but intellectual wealth, the wealth of character, and other forms of wealth. Even health is a kind of wealth. She grants untold riches to us.

And Sarasvati bestows on us intelligence, the capacity for intellectual enquiry and the power of discrimination.

The Navaraatri festival is celebrated in order to proclaim to the world the power of the Goddesses. One's own mother is the combination of all these Divine beings. She provides us energy,wealth and intelligence. She constantly desires our advancement in life.

During Navaraatri festival, for the purpose of eradicating one's demonic tendencies, the deities are worshiped with kumkum 

- Bhagavan Shri Sathya Baba

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