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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Vāc literally means ‘speech’.

Vāc or Vāk, also known as Ambhṛṇī, is one of the Vedic women-sages to whom the Devīsukta[1] was revealed. Vāc or vāk as speech has been described in the Vedic literature in various ways. They can be delineated as belows:

  • The Śaṭapatha Brāhmana[2] divides speech into four kinds:
  1. Of human beings
  2. Of animals
  3. Of birds
  4. Of small creeping things

The Taittirīya Samhitā[3] says that Indra made the articulate speech. It also refers to three musical instruments such as:[4]

  1. Tuṇava - flute
  2. Vīṇā - lute
  3. Dundubhi - kettle-drum

Coming to the human speech, that of the Kuru-Pāñcālas was considered very good and fit to be learnt by others.[5][6] The asuras were known for their barbarian speech[7] and hence had to be avoided. Sometimes speech is categorized as:

  1. Daivī - divine
  2. Mānuṣī - human

For instance, Om is daivī whereas tathā is mānuṣī.[8] A brāhmaṇa is said to know both. Probably this categorization refers to the language used in Vedic rituals and in daily life with regards to the evolution of speech from the subtle to the gross stages. Vāc is one of the names of the goddess Sarasvatī.


  1. Ṛgveda 10.125
  2. Śaṭapatha Brāhmana
  3. Taittirīya Samhitā
  4. Taittirīya Samhitā
  5. Śaṭapatha Brāhmana
  6. Kausitaki Brāhmana 7.6
  7. Śaṭapatha Brāhmana,24
  8. Kāthaka Samhitā 14.5
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore