Syntax (or grammar) and Semantics are the two wings of a language. Syntax gives the set of rules to construct sentences which are legal in the language. Semantics is the study of the meanings of words and phrases. Every legal sentence need not be meaningful. For instance the sentence, 'the mantra-chant smashed a hill' is legally correct, but makes no sense. The Sanskrit of Veda mantras is substantially different from the classical Sanskrit. The grammar of the sanskrit of Veda mantras is relatively simple consisting of short phrases and short sentences having less than 4 or 5 words. In the present book, the author has discussed the semantics of Rig Veda, i.e. how to understand the meaning of Rig Veda mantras.
This book is designed to help the beginners in Vedic studies to understand the meanings of the individual words and the phrases in Veda mantras.
The chapters three to nine deal with the individual words. A beginner needs to become familiar with at least 500 words. Prof. Kashyap refers frequently to the double meaning of words, one is its surface meaning, the other is its deep meaning.
In chapter 10, the author discusses the symbolism of the phrases, the symbolism of events and that of yajna. Because of the double meaning of the words, every phrase has an outward (ordinary) meaning and an inner deeper meaning. The words cow, ghee, horse etc., symbolise psychological powers.
The chapter 11 discusses the word gau in great detail. The author consider all the 115 mantras in which it occurs in the entire first ashtaka (first 121 suktas). The meaning 'Ray of Knowledge' is fixed for it.
In chapter 12, Dr. Kashyap discusses the overall meaning of certain suktas based on all the mantras in them. Detailed answers are given to a number of questions raised by persons who have certain preconceived notions on Veda. For instance, does Rig Veda allow freedom of enquiry? What is the relation between the Upanishad and Veda? Is there mention of the conception of the One (ekam) in Veda?
This book has several appendices. The third appendix deals with simplicity of the grammar of Veda mantras. This appendix also points out that the most of the complexities in the Sanskrit grammar (popularised in books like 'Vedic grammar') are not need for understanding the deeper meaning of Veda mantras.
Table of Contents:
- The Basic Question and Examples
- Message of Rig Veda
- Preliminary Study of Words
- Tree-structure and the 80-20 Rule
- Gods and Demons
- Some General Principles for Meaning Assignment
- Symbolism in the Veda
- Sri Aurobindo's Insights
- Study of all the Mantras with the word gau
- Insights on Some Suktas
About the Author:
Dr. R.L. Kashyap is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana in USA. He had his masters degree form Indian Institute of science, Bangalore and obtained Ph.D. form Harvard University. He is the recipient of many international awards. He has authored more than 350 research papers. He has guided more than 50 Ph.D. Scholars. He has written extensively on Veda. He has given the word-meaning of all the verses from the first 121 suktas of Rig Veda. He has to his credit six major books on the Veda. He is the Honorary Director of Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic culture, Bangalore.