By Swami Harshananda
The suktas from the Ṛgveda are widely used in the Vedic sacrifices, either as prayers or as mantras for the performance of appropriate rituals. One such sukta used in Paśubandha sacrifices is the Hiranyagarbha Sukta. Though it is used as a part of Vedic ritual, this sukta has a profound philosophical import.
As per Aitareya Brāhmana
Depending on an anecdote in the Aitareya Brāhmana, Sāyaṇa (14th century), the well-known commentator of the Vedas, interprets the word ‘ka’ as a name of Prajāpati (one of the aspects of God) the creator of the world. According to another interpretation, ‘ka’ means ‘bliss’. Hence the sentence would mean, ‘We offer the oblations unto God, the creator, who is bliss-personified.’
A brief summary of the sukta can be given as follows:
- Hiraṇyagarbha alone existed in the beginning.
- He created the world and was its supreme monarch.
- He was responsible for supporting heaven and earth.
- He gave strength to all the living beings including the gods, who have been obeying his commands.
- The Himālayas, the oceans and the rivers are reflecting his glory.
- Due to him the Earth and heaven have been firmly established in their places. The sun and the rain-bearing clouds are performing their duties regularly.
- The primeval waters existed before creation and Prajāpati or Hiraṇyagarbha was its witness.
- The next verse is a prayer to him so that he does not trouble the votaries.
- He is only capable of creating the world and prays to him for granting or fulfilling the desires of the devotes who are offering this prayer.
This sukta has ten ṛks or stanza each of which ends with the words, ‘kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema.’ The word ‘ka’ and its dative case, ‘kasmai,’ is repeated in every stanza. It has posed a problem of interpretation. The simplest meanings are, ‘who’ and ‘to whom’. However, this direct meaning does not grammatically allow proper syntactical connection. Hence the commentators have struggled to give other interpretations.
- Aitareya Brāhmana 12.21
- He is the God, the creator, in whom the whole world existed in a seed-form like a golden egg.
- Ṛgveda 10.121
- Taittiriya Samhitā 4.1.8
- Paippalāda Samhitā 4.2
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore