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Meaning of Veda Mantras

Yaska Acharya, the one credited with the publication of Niruktha (etymology) of the Veda Mantras, was the first person around 2000 BCE to suggest that the Veda Mantras have multiple meanings. Sri Ananda Tirtha, later known as Madhvacharya, stated in the 13th century CE that the Veda Mantras have 3 meanings, the adhibouthic (or external meanings or direct meanings), the adhidaivic (pertaining to the devatas to whom the Mantras are addressed) and adhyatmic (spiritual or the inner or subtle meanings). He translated the first 40 suktas of Rig Veda with all 3 meanings. Sayana Acharya who was the Prime Minister of the Vijayanagar Empire assembled about 100 scholars of Veda and Sanskrit and published for the first time the word by word meanings of all Veda Mantras in the 14th century in his work, Vedartha Prakasha. This work is considered as a seminal contribution to Vedic understanding at that time and even today. Sayana Acharya provided only the direct or external meanings of the Veda Mantras even though he also mentioned that Veda Mantras have 'adhyathmic' or spiritual meanings as well. Sayana had studied under Vidya Tirtha of Sringeri Mutt and is considered as a Ritualist, one devoted to the performance of yajnas. It is thus understandable that Sayana's emphasis was on the external or direct or adhibouthic meanings of the Veda Mantras suited for the conduct of external yajnas. Jaimini had earlier propounded the Purva Mimasa Sutras. According to Jaimini and Purva Mimasakas like Kumarila Bhatta and Sabari Swamin, the correct chanting of the Veda Mantras with swaras and proper intonation alone is needed to produce the 'phala' of the yajna. All the Mutts and the Veda Patashalas under the Mutts teaching the Vedas follow the Purva Mimamsa and Sayans Acharya's external meanings.

Sri Aurobindo, the great Yogin, first by direct vision and later by study of the Veda Mantras propounded in early 20th century CE that the Veda Mantras have spiritual and psychological meanings. Prof. R. L. Kashyap, Honorary Director of SAKSHI Trust, Bengaluru, has translated all the Veda Mantras at the end of the 20th century CE and beginning of early 21st century CE with spiritual and psychological meanings as propounded by Sri Aurobindo in over 30 volumes. He has also published many books and booklets explaining the adhyathmic meanings of the Veda Mantras.

Thus as of the early 21st century CE we now have available the full 3 levels of meanings of Veda Mantras originally explained by our Rishis to their disciples of which the spiritual meanings were lost at the end of the Vedic period leaving us only with the external or direct meanings of the Veda Mantras until recently.
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