Ritwik (Rtwk) : The modern fashionable name for male children
During the last couple of years, I had met with a few young friends and relatives, who have named their sons “Ritwik”. I asked them how and why they have chosen that name. Their uniform reply was that they found it on the internet, it looked new, and meant “scholarly”. Following the dictum of the Taitriya Upanishad, I accepted their reply but wanted them to probe a little deeper. This article is an enabler for the same.
Four types of priests function in many of the big yagas or homas.
- Hotr: His duty is to recite the Rik (Rk) mantras in the sacrifice. He is the representative of the Rig Veda. He has three assistants: Maitravaruna, Acchavakaa and Grihavastut.
- Adhvaryu: belongs to the Yajur Veda, and is given the responsibility of Agni Karya or Fire sacrifice. He prepares things for the oblation and pours them into the fire by reciting Yajur Veda mantras. He also has three assistants called Pratiprasnata, Potaa and Neshtaa.
- Udgatr: belongs to the Sama Veda and sings the sama hymns. He too has three assistants called Prastotr, Pratihartr and Subrahmanya.
- Brahman; He is supposed to belong to the Atharavana Veda and know all the other three Vedas and is the superintendent of the yaga or homa. His three assistants are Brahmanacchaamsi, Aagnidhra and Potr.
According to Aitareya Brahmana, the Brahman priest is the physician of the yaga. If there is any defect in reciting from any of the Vedas, he rectifies the defect by performing the appropriate homa from the concerned veda.
These sixteen priests are called by the general name of Ritwik (rtwk).
While the general name has gotten the fancy of the modern young generation, I presume it may take some more time before the other names attract attention by the persons belonging to the respective Vedas. It may also give them some identity of the Vedas which they are supposed to follow.
While I am happy that the name Ritwik is becoming popular, I am a little surprised and perplexed why certain other names have not yet gained currency. For example, on Guru Purnima day, the Acharyas of the mutts performing Sanatana dharma and following Adwaita philosophy pay respect to three generations of gurus: called Krishna Panchagam, Vyasa Panchagam and Acharya Panchagam.
Lord Krishna is considered as the first teacher and he gave the responsibility to four of his assistants (Manasika putras) named Sanatkumara, Sanaka, Sanandana and Sanatsujata. The next in order was Vyasa who divided the Vedas into four and gave the responsibilities to four Rishis: Samantu, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Pailar to propagate. The Adwaita philosopher Adi Sankara is third in the group of gurus and he further created a regional mutt in the four corners of India, each with the responsibility of propagating one of these four Vedas and the acharyas were Sureswara (Sringeri). Hastamalaka (dwaraka), Padmapada (Puri) and Todaka (Jyotir mutt).
While the three names Krishna, Vyasa (Vyas is a family name in the North of India) and Sankara are common, it is surprising why other illustrious disciples of each one of them are not yet lucky.
Again, take the example of the Viswedevas. We invoke the Viswedevas in our daily sandhyavandanam. In sraddha, out of the two Brahmins, one is invoked to represent the Viswedeva (the gods of the universe). Who are they? They are commonly ten: namely Vasu, Satya,. Kratu, Daksha, Kaala, Kaama, Dhriti, Kuru, Pururavas and Maadrava. Along with these, Rochaka, Dhvani and others are also sometimes mentioned (only Pururava and Aadraka are mentioned in the sraddha ceremony). I do not know how many decades it will take for these names to be recalled. Or are they disappearing because even in rituals like Sandhya or Naandhi or Sraddham, we invoke them by the generic name “Viswedeva” and do not invoke them individually because there are too many? Ritwik and Viswedeva seem to be having the same generic position . Ritwik is slightly luckier because the name has been at least rejuvenated lately. Viswedevah does not sound so nice!