Goddess Vak — Queen of Heaven, Mother of Speech…

Rig Veda is the oldest of Hindu scriptures dated between 1700 and 1100 B.C. Here is a description of the goddess Vak (an aspect of Saraswati) as contained in the Rig Veda. Vak or Vac is pronounced with a long ‘a’ as the ‘a’ in the word ‘shark.’

Described in the Rig Veda, goddess Vak is one of the earliest identified divinities in the Hindu pantheon. She is the powerful and creative personification of ritual speech, the basis of cosmic-ritual order. Her name means “speech.”

‘She reveals herself through speech and is typically characterized by the various attributes and uses of speech. She is speech, and the mysteries and miracles of speech express her peculiar, numinous nature.’[1]

Artist: Poonam Mistry

Artist: Poonam Mistry

She is the great flood of Ritam or truth and she inspires the seekers’ fire to reach truth in all its forms. She enables one to perceive, understand, and then express in words the true nature of things. The goddess makes it possible for rishis – the learned seers and sages – to hear, grasp, and reveal the truths of existence, to devise, and create the hymns and rituals that express the reality of their visions. She bestows vision to the seers. She gives wisdom to the wise.

Vac is called the heavenly queen, the Queen of the gods (Rig Veda 8.89) – she overflows with sweetness (5.73.3) and gifts vital power to the creation (3.53.15). She gives us the amazing riches of language and thought. The harbinger of light and strength, she gives sustenance to all, in the heavenly and earthly realm. She is the Mother, who has given birth to things through naming them. She also is the giver of friends. She helps one establish oneself in the community of ‘friends’ through the beautiful gift of language to connect with others. The more benevolent she is on someone, the person will have better gift of speech and expression, inspiring more people to connect to her/him as friends (10.71).[2]

On one level, Mother Vak is sacred speech including the hymns and ritual chants. On another level she is also ordinary speech among ordinary people. She is far more than speech and includes the power of perceiving, grasping the nature of things, naming them, and expressing the perception with coherence and form. Her nature is subtle, eternal, imperishable, and above all incomprehensible.[3] Even though she helps us to comprehend all, she herself remains incomprehensible to our intelligence. She does not reveal herself totally to us. Finally, she is not only human speech; Vak Devi (goddess) also personifies the sounds of nature (including the ones from animate and inanimate sources) with which human speech is connected. She bestows sounds with meaning, from the sound of water to that of human speech.

[1] David R. Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (University of California Press, 1988) page 11

[2] Same as above, page 12

[3] Russill Paul, The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant (New World Library, 2004) page 70


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