Composition of water in Rig Veda by Pt. Gurudatta

Rig Veda in Composition of water

Composition of Water

मित्रं हुवे पूतदक्षं वरुणां च रिषाद्सम् 

धियं घृताचीं साधन्ता || ऋ०|१|२|७||

The word rig signifies the expression of the nature, properties and actions and re-actions produced by substances. Hence, the name has been applied to Rig Veda, as its functions to describe the physical. Chemical and active properties of all material substances as well as the psychological properties of all things comes the practical application of that knowledge, for all knowledge has some end, that end being usefulness to man. Hence, Yajur Veda comes next to Rig Veda, the meaning of Yajur being application. It is upon his double principle of liberal and professional education study of the Aryas, the Vedas, into Rig and Yajur, is based.

Let us not mock at the position taken by the Aryas with respect to the nature of the Vedas, for, there are reasons enough to justify this position. Not being a novel position at all position that is maintained even according to the Hindu systems of mythology which are but gross and corrupt distortions of Vedic sense and meaning. The broad and universal distinction of all training into professional and liberal has been altogether lost sight of in the Puranic mythology, and like everything else has been contracted into a narrow, superstitious sphere of shallow thought. The Vedas, instead of being regarded as universal text-books of liberal and professional sciences, are now regarded as simply codes of religious thought. Religion, instead of being grasped as the guiding principle of all active propensities of human nature, is regarded as an equivalent of certain creeds and dogmas. So with the Rig and Yajur Vedas. Yet, even in this distorted remnant of Aryan thought and wisdom, the puranic mythology, the division of the Vedas into Rig and Yajur, the liberal and the professional, is faithfully preserved. The rig, now, implies a collection of hymns and songs in praise and description of various gods and goddesses; whereas Yajur, now stands for the mantras recited in the ritual, the active parts of religious ceremonies. This is the view taken by the so-called scholars of the day.

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Let us not, however, altogether forget the original distinction. There is much in it to recommend itself. The mantra at the top, which has been taken from second Sukta of Rig Veda, is cited here as a sample to justify the view entertained by the Aryas with respect to the Rig Veda. This mantra describes the process or steps whereby the well-known of liquids, water, can be formed by the combination of two other substances. The word sadhanta is in the dual number indication that it is two elementary bodies which combine to form water. What two elementary substances, according to this mantra, are, is not a matter of least importance to determine. The words used to indicate those two substances are mitra and varuna.

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The first liberal meaning of mitra is measurer. The name is given to a substance that stands, as it were, as measure or as a standard substance. It is the measurer of density, or of value, otherwise known as quanti-valence. The other meaning of mitra is associate. Now in this mantra, mitra is describe, as an associate of varuna. It will be shown how varuna indicated oxygen gas. Now it is well known that hydrogen is not only the lightest element known, nor is it only monovalent, but that it has strong affinity for oxygen; hence it is that it is described as an associate of varuna. Many other analogies in the properties of mitra and hydrogen go to suggest that what is in the Vedic terms styled as mitra, is in fact identical with hydrogen. Mitra, for instance, occurs as synonymous with udana, in many parts of Vedas, udana is well characterized by its lightness or by its power to lift up.

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The Second element with which we are concerned is varuna. Varuna is the substance that is acceptanble to all. It is the element that every living being needs to live. Its well known property is rishadha, i.e., it eats away or rusts all the base metals, it burns all the bones, etc; and physiologically purifies the blood by oxidizing it, and thereby keeping the frame alive it is by these properties that varuna is in general distinguished; but it is especially characterized here as rishadha. No one can fail to perceive that the substance thus distinctly characterized is oxygen gas.

Another word used in the mantra is puta-daksham. Puta is pure, free impurities. Daksha means energy. Puta-daksham is a substance, pure, possessed of kinetic energy. Who that is acquainted with the kinetic theory of gases, cannot see in puta-daksha the properties of a gas highly heated?

The meaning of the mantra taken as a whole is this;- Let one who is desirous to form water by the combination of two substances take pure hydrogen gas highly haeated, and, oxygen gas possessed of the property rishadha, and let him combine them to form water.

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It would, no doubt, sound strange that long before Cavendish performed his experiment on the composition of water, or long before oxygen and phlogiston were known to the philosophers of the west, the true philosophy of the composition of water was recorded in the Vedas and perhaps understood by many philosophers of the east.

Let not any of our readers imagine that the interpretation of the Vedic mantra given above is purely an imaginary production of the brain of the  writer. The above interpretation is, in fact, based upon some already existing commentaries of the Vedas, and there is enough either in ancient commentaries or in that of Swami Dayananda to suggest this and similar interpretations of all mantras.

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