Vāk or Vāc (stem vāc-, nominative vāk) is the Sanskrit word for "speech", "voice", "talk", or "language", from a verbal root vac- "speak, tell, utter".
Personified, Vāk is a goddess; most frequently she is identified with Bharati or Sarasvati, the goddess of speech. In the Veda she is also represented as created by Prajapati and married to him; in other places she is called the mother of the Vedas and wife of Indra.
In the early Rigveda (books 2 to 7), vāc- refers to the voice, in particularly the voice of the priest raised in sacrifice. She is personified only RV 8 and RV 10, in RV 10.125.5 speaking in the first person (trans. Griffith),
The intimate connection of speech, sacrifice and creation in (late) Rigvedic thought is expressed in RV 10.71.1-4:
- 1. bŕhaspate prathamáṃ vācó ágraṃ / yát praírata nāmadhéyaṃ dádhānāḥ
- yád eṣāṃ śréṣṭhaṃ yád ariprám âsīt / preṇâ tád eṣāṃ níhitaṃ gúhāvíḥ
- 2. sáktum iva títa'unā punánto / yátra dhîrā mánasā vâcam ákrata
- yátrā sákhāyaḥ sakhyâni jānate / bhadraíṣāṃ lakṣmîr níhitâdhi vācí
- 3. yajñéna vācáḥ padavîyam āyan / tâm ánv avindann ŕṣiṣu práviṣṭām
- tâm ābhŕtyā vy àdadhuḥ purutrâ / tâṃ saptá rebhâ abhí sáṃ navante
- 4. utá tvaḥ páśyan ná dadarśa vâcam / utá tvaḥ śṛṇván ná śṛṇoty enām
- utó tvasmai tanvàṃ ví sasre / jāyéva pátya uśatî suvâsāḥ
- "When men, Brhaspati!, giving names to objects, sent out Vak's first and earliest utterances
- All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection."
- "Where, like men cleansing corn-flour in a cribble, the wise in spirit have created language,
- Friends see and recognize the marks of friendship: their speech retains the blessed sign imprinted."
- "With sacrifice the trace of Vak they followed, and found her harbouring within the Rsis.
- They brought her, dealt her forth in many places: seven singers make her tones resound in concert."
- "One man hath ne'er seen Vak, and yet he seeth: one man hath hearing but hath never heard her.
- But to another hath she shown her beauty as a fond well-dressed woman to her husband."
Vak also speaks, and is described as a goddess, in RV 8.100:
- 10. yád vâg vádanty avicetanâni / râṣṭrī devânāṃ niṣasâda mandrâ
- cátasra ûrjaṃ duduhe páyāṃsi / kvà svid asyāḥ paramáṃ jagāma
- 11. devîṃ vâcam ajanayanta devâs / tâṃ viśvárūpāḥ paśávo vadanti
- sâ no mandréṣam ûrjaṃ dúhānā / dhenúr vâg asmân úpa súṣṭutaítu
- "When, uttering words which no one comprehended, Vak, Queen of Gods, the Gladdener, was seated,
- The heaven's four regions drew forth drink and vigour: now whither hath her noblest portion vanished?"
- "The Deities generated Vak the Goddess, and animals of every figure speak her.
- May she, the Gladdener, yielding food and vigour, the Milch-cow Vak, approach us meetly lauded."
RV 1.164.45 has:
- catvâri vâk párimitā padâni / tâni vidur brāhmaṇâ yé manīṣíṇaḥ
- gúhā trîṇi níhitā néṅgayanti / turîyaṃ vācó manuṣyā̀ vadanti
- "Speech hath been measured out in four divisions, the Brahmans who have understanding know them.
- Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division."
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0500510881) by Anna Dhallapiccola
- Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 8120803795) by David Kinsley
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