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Riddles from Rig Veda

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vikrama

Active member
For those who are interested in solving riddles, Rig Veda presents a gold mine. I propose to give here some of them, one at a time.


Well, here is the first riddle.

Agni is frequently called 'Apam Napat' in the Vedas. Literally it means, the grandson of the waters.
The riddle is - why is he called so?

There is no fixed answer. You can use your imagination to provide as many number of answers as you can. But be logical. Please do not bring in mythology. Rely on common sense.
 

mskmoorthy

Well-known member
My naive attempt to answer this profound riddle:

Possible answer: Fire is a third element among the five basic elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether or void)

Natural gas/oil comes from Water which is a fuel to Agni. Agni is quoted both as a son as well as a grandson of Water.

Ref: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/2039/19/19_chapter 4.5.pdf

A related Scientific Question:

A question was posed by Alan Alda to scientists/others to define what a flame (one form of agni?) and explain the process. A winner was announced recently. Here isa video of his explanation

What is a flame - challenge reply (winning) video
What is a Flame on Vimeo
 

mahakavi

Active member
Just a wild wild guess, okay?
Water feeds the forest and flourishes it.
Forest promotes wild fire with the right environment.
Hence fire is the grandson of water.
 

Brahmanyan

Well-known member
Fire of Lightning born in the cloud is called "Apam Napat" in Zend Avasta, the holy book of Zoroastrian Religion. Perhaps the same reason will hold good for the use of word in Rig Veda also.

Brahmanyan,
Bangalore.
 

renuka

Well-known member
For those who are interested in solving riddles, Rig Veda presents a gold mine. I propose to give here some of them, one at a time.


Well, here is the first riddle.

Agni is frequently called 'Apam Napat' in the Vedas. Literally it means, the grandson of the waters.
The riddle is - why is he called so?

There is no fixed answer. You can use your imagination to provide as many number of answers as you can. But be logical. Please do not bring in mythology. Rely on common sense.


If we go by the sequence in which the Panca Bhutas were created..Akasha--Vayu---Aap--Agni(Tej)--Prithvi.

So going by that sequence Water arises from Fire..but in that case it should be Son of Waters and not Grandson of Waters cos in Vedic Sanskrit Napat means grandson.

So why is it called Grandson of Waters?

In the Vedas,Apam Napat is sometimes linked with a flash of fire in the sky what we call lightning.

So lets try to think..see we have clouds(water vapour..hence Apam)---then Lightning(which appears like fire in the sky but not yet burning)...only when lightning strikes something fire emerges.

Lets retrace the sequence

Clouds(Water Vapour/Apam)
Lightning in the sky
Lightning strikes something and fire starts(Agni)

So Lightning is Son of Water.
Agni is Son of Lightning and Grandson of Water!

So basically the word Agni=Apam Napat was describing the formation of fire when lightning strikes the earth.

LightningAndFire.jpg



Just to add..Agni is also known as Son of Waters if we are referring to the sequence of the Pancha Bhuta...Akasha--Vayu---Aap--Agni(Tej)--Prithvi.

There is a line in the Rigveda that goes..

The grandson of the waters has descended to this earth in the form of a different fire.(RV. 2. 35.13)

So I guess the form of a different fire could be referring to the fire formed when lightning strikes the earth.

So may be that's why sometimes we see the words Son of Waters and Grandson of Waters used to describe Agni.
 
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mahakavi

Active member
Fire of Lightning born in the cloud is called "Apam Napat" in Zend Avasta, the holy book of Zoroastrian Religion. Perhaps the same reason will hold good for the use of word in Rig Veda also.

Brahmanyan,
Bangalore.

Let me see if I get the logic right. Water is the father/mother of cloud. Cloud generates lightning. Hence lightning is the son of cloud and grandson of water. Lightning itself is not fire. Lightning produces fire (when it strikes an object). Thus lightning is the progenitor of fire (father of fire). So by extension fire is the great-grandson of water. Isn't it?
(Water---> cloud--->lightning---->fire)

By the way shouldn't "naptA" mean great grandson?
VyAsam vasishTa naphtAram saktE pautram akalmasham, parAsarAt majam vande Suka tAtam... (Vishnu Sahasranam slokham #3)
 
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renuka

Well-known member
By the way shouldn't "naptA" mean great grandson?

dear sir,

napAt नपात् means Grandson and this usage is usually restricted to the Vedas.

(taken from Vaman Apte Sanskrit Dictionary)



On the other hand the word naptA नप्ता is used in most chants meaning greatgrandson most of the times.
It is also at times used to mean grandson.
 
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biswa

New member
So? What is the real answer to the riddle? Or is there an answer to the riddle? How would we even know?
 

renuka

Well-known member
So? What is the real answer to the riddle? Or is there an answer to the riddle? How would we even know?

Dear Biswa,

I will ask you a question related to Agni.
I don't know if you see Tamil Movies but the answer to this is only found in the Ajith Kumar movie Paramasivan.

Who is AGNI PUTRAN(Son of Fire)?

Go find the answer.

I hope other members can also answer this question.
 

renuka

Well-known member
So? What is the real answer to the riddle? Or is there an answer to the riddle? How would we even know?


Dear Biswa,

You remember sometimes in Biblical stories when someone questions too much of doubts the word of God he/she is struck by Lightning?

0511-1008-0523-0038_Cartoon_of_a_Man_Being_Struck_by_Lightening_clipart_image.jpg
 

mahakavi

Active member
>>You remember sometimes in Biblical stories when someone questions too much of doubts the word of God he/she is struck by Lightning?<<

That is an empty threat for sure. When Moses went to the mountains after leaving Egypt he wanted to teach a lesson to his wayward followers. So he grew a long gray beard and scribbled in Hebrew on two stone tablets and he produced it to his followers. They were all scared and ever since the ten commandments have stayed put although most people these days flout them. So go ahead and ask all the questions you want. Install lightning conductors in your house and stay inside!
 

renuka

Well-known member
Let me see if I get the logic right. Water is the father/mother of cloud. Cloud generates lightning. Hence lightning is the son of cloud and grandson of water. Lightning itself is not fire. Lightning produces fire (when it strikes an object). Thus lightning is the progenitor of fire (father of fire). So by extension fire is the great-grandson of water. Isn't it?
(Water---> cloud--->lightning---->fire)

If we go by molecular structure, Clouds and Water in liquid form are made up of H2O only so I would not want to say Water is progenitor of Clouds in the technical sense.

Lightning is in the form of atmospheric electrical discharge.

Fire is defined as... Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reactionproducts.(wikipedia)


Therefore there are 3 states:

H2O
Atmospheric Electrical Discharge
Fire


Going by that Fire is Grandson of Water.
 
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mahakavi

Active member
>>If we go by molecular structure, Clouds and Water in liquid form are made up of H2O only so I would not want to say Water is progenitor of Clouds in the technical sense.<<

Let us say we boil water in the kitchen. It evaporates right? Would you call that a cloud? The chemical composition of clouds has been analyzed and it contains a number of chemicals in addition to dust. The look of the bales of cotton that we see when we fly over them is made up of more than water molecules. One further example is acid generated as an industrial pollutant. Heard of acid rain? Even before the industrial pollution clouds were more than water molecules. For example the water that vaporizes from sea surface to form clouds has sodium and chloride ions trapped among the water molecules. Based on that water can be called the progenitor of clouds since water is the major component but the cloud is not just water alone. The electrical discharge cannot occur in vacuum. There are ions trapped among clouds which get neutralized causing the lightning.

Conclusion: Clouds are made from water. So fire is the great-grandson of water. QED!
 

renuka

Well-known member
>>If we go by molecular structure, Clouds and Water in liquid form are made up of H2O only so I would not want to say Water is progenitor of Clouds in the technical sense.<<

Let us say we boil water in the kitchen. It evaporates right? Would you call that a cloud? The chemical composition of clouds has been analyzed and it contains a number of chemicals in addition to dust. The look of the bales of cotton that we see when we fly over them is made up of more than water molecules. One further example is acid generated as an industrial pollutant. Heard of acid rain? Even before the industrial pollution clouds were more than water molecules. For example the water that vaporizes from sea surface to form clouds has sodium and chloride ions trapped among the water molecules. Based on that water can be called the progenitor of clouds since water is the major component but the cloud is not just water alone. The electrical discharge cannot occur in vacuum. There are ions trapped among clouds which get neutralized causing the lightning.

Conclusion: Clouds are made from water. So fire is the great-grandson of water. QED!

I still feel that we should still accept clouds as H20 and hence clouds=water.

Ok in that case for fire to combust we need oxygen too.

So that will add another generation too isn't it?

If going by your understanding that Water--clouds..lightning...fire.

Why are you excluding Oxygen for combustion?

so in that case it would be Water---Clouds--Lightning---Oxygen(Vayu)---Fire..

Then it would be great great grandson!! the list will go on and on.

So I feel accepting the fact that Clouds=Water we can decode the riddle cos Napat means Grandson and not greatgrandson in Vedic Sanskrit.
 
Agni is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire[SUP][/SUP] and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day, and also immortal.
 
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vikrama

vikrama

Active member
Almost all have hit the the right answer. Out of the replies posted, two answers emerge.

1water generates cloud. so cloud is the child of water. lightning is produced in the cloud. So lightning is the grandson of water. We need not elaborate that lightning produces fire and so the fire is son of lightning. In the Vedas, lightning itself is considered Agni.

2 The other answer is - water produces plants and dried plants (sometimes even green) produce fire. So fire is the third generation of water. This is the view of Sayana.

Napat is great grandson in classical Sanskrit but in Vedic Sanskrit it usually means grandson. Sometimes it is also taken to mean son as shown in the next riddle.

Smt. Renuka got the sequence of elements wrong; It should be Akasha, Vayu, Agni, apas, prithvi. Then agni becomes the father of apas. Nowhere is Agni mentioned father of water.

thank you all for the active participation. Now over to the next riddle. This is also about Agni.

Agni is called Oorjo napat (ऊर्जो नपात्). Oorja means strength. napat here means (as per Sayana) son. So it means son of strength. There is another expression for Agni, Sahasah soonu.(सहसः सूनु) This also means son of strength. Sahasa and oorja are synonyms. soonu means son.

The question is - how can Agni be called the son of strength?
 
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renuka

Well-known member
Almost all have hit the the right answer. Out of the replies posted, two answers merge.

1water generates cloud. so cloud is the child of water. lightning is produced in the cloud. So lightning is the grandson of water. We need not elaborate that lightning produces fire and so the fire is son of lightning. In the Vedas, lightning itself is considered Agni.

2 The other answer is - water produces plants and dried plants (sometimes even green) produce fire. So fire is the third generation of water. This is the view of Sayana.

Napat is great grandson in classical Sanskrit but in Vedic Sanskrit it usually means grandson. Sometimes it is also taken to mean son as shown in the next riddle.

Smt. Renuka got the sequence of elements wrong; It should be Akasha, Vayu, Agni, apas, prithvi. Then agni becomes the father of apas. Nowhere is Agni mentioned father of water.

thank you all for the active participation. Now over to the next riddle. This is also about Agni.

Agni is called Oorjo napat (ऊर्जो नपात्). Oorja means strength. napat here means (as per Sayana) son. So it means son of strength. There is another expression for Agni, Sahasah soonu.(सहसः सूनु) This also means son of strength. Sahasa and oorja are synonyms. soonu means son.

The question is - how can Agni be called the son of strength?

Thank you for pointing out my mistake..I must have mixed up the sequence of the Pancha Bhutas.
Sorry for that.
 

renuka

Well-known member
Going by the definition of Fire by Wikipedia:

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.(wikipedia)

Can it be becos Fire is produced by combustion and combustion itself is a strength?

Another explanation could be that fire in vedic rights are produced by rubbing together two pieces of wood and also fire needs to be fed for it to continue burning..hence strength/effort is needed to produce and to maintain fire.
 
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vikrama

vikrama

Active member
....
Can it be becos Fire is produced by combustion and combustion itself is a strength?

Another explanation could be that fire in vedic rights are produced by rubbing together two pieces of wood and also fire needs to be fed for it to continue burning..hence strength/effort is needed to produce and to maintain fire.

I do not think that the guess that combustion is a strength is sufficient enough to justify the nomenclature of son of strength.

Nor do I think that rubbing of two Arani sticks requires great strength to justify that.

My guess is that when a fire breaks, especially wild fire, no one can oppose it. One has to wait for it to subside, on its own. So Agni deserves the appellation because of its superior strength.

There is another angle to it. Agni is not only physical fire. It also denotes the mental power which drives man to action. Aurobindo calls it divine will (or we may call it will power). When will power dominates and drives you to action, there is nothing to oppose it (one is not deterred by impediments) and this is strong enough to get the works completed. So agni is called the son (embodiment) of strength.

Expecting more answers.

Next riddle will appear tomorrow.
 

renuka

Well-known member
May I know if you don't mind where you get the answers from?
Cos all of us are sort of guessing using some logic too but how are we to know if we are right or wrong.
 

renuka

Well-known member
I do not think that the guess that combustion is a strength is sufficient enough to justify the nomenclature of son of strength.

Nor do I think that rubbing of two Arani sticks requires great strength to justify that.

My guess is that when a fire breaks, especially wild fire, no one can oppose it. One has to wait for it to subside, on its own. So Agni deserves the appellation because of its superior strength.

There is another angle to it. Agni is not only physical fire. It also denotes the mental power which drives man to action.

Expecting more answers.

Next riddle will appear tomorrow.


Dear sir,

I thought Agni is related to the organ of speech and hence the terminology fiery speech.
Never knew it was related to mind.
This is new to me..keep it going.
 

renuka

Well-known member
BTW if you go by the logic that no one can put out a forest fire..that shows the strength of Agni and it should be Agni=Strength and not son of strength..don't you think so?
 
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vikrama

vikrama

Active member
BTW if you go by the logic that no one can put out a forest fire..that shows the strength of Agni and it should be Agni=Strength and not son of strength..don't you think so?
Perhaps the rishi had in mind the adage வல்லவனுக்கு வல்லவன் வையகத்தில் உண்டு. At times a torrential rain could put out the forest fire. Perhaps that refrained him from calling it with a superlative epithet.

Or he could have thought, தாய் எட்டடி பாய்ந்தால் குட்டி பதினாறடி பாயும். Agni is stronger than strength itself.

We could guess anyway we like.
 
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vikrama

vikrama

Active member
The third riddle is also about Agni and it is very simple.

Why is Agni called 'Apam GarbaH'? (the embryo of water)
 
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vikrama

vikrama

Active member
May I know if you don't mind where you get the answers from?
Cos all of us are sort of guessing using some logic too but how are we to know if we are right or wrong.
Like everyone of us here I give only my guesses. I do not claim that they are the right ones. As I said previously, there are no fixed answers and everyone is free to make his/her own interpretation. The only advantage I have is that I read the entire Rig Veda once with two different commentaries and also with Aurobindo's point of view at the back of my mind. Wherever they clashed, I drew my own conclusions. I may have to read it at least 9 more times to say anything definitely.

There could be some people here who have studied in more depth and only they could tell the correct answer. I want those to participate and guide us.
 
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