Vēda References in Basavaṇṇa’s Vaĉanas Linga Raju Plainview, NY
Basavaṇṇa was very well versed in the Vēdas. At Kūḍala Saṅgama, Basavaṇṇa studied Vēdas and other sacred religious material under a learned scholar Īśānya Guru. In order to ascertain what exactly Basavaṇṇa says about the Vēdas, some of his vaĉanas that have already been translated into English by scholars were reviewed. One of Basavaṇṇa’s vaĉanas stating ‘Dēvanobba nāmahalavu’ meaning ‘One God, many names’ seems to have been taken directly from Ṛgvēda, maṇḍala I, sūkta 164, verse 46 which says ‘They call Him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and He is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān, To what is One, sages give many a name, they call It Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan’. There is another vaĉana of Basavaṇṇa that is taken verbatim from Ṛgvēda X.81.3. This sūkta # 81 of Ṛgvēda is titled Viśvakarmā which means ‘maker of the universe’. The first part of the verse 3 is as follows. ‘Viśvataśĉakṣu viśvatōmukhō viśvatōbāhuruta viśvataspāt …’ The corresponding Kannaḍa vaĉana of Basavaṇṇa is transliterated as follows: ‘ettetta nōḍidaḍatta nīnē dēvā; sakala vistārada rūhu nīnē dēvā; viśvataśĉakṣu nīnē dēvā; viśvatōmukha nīnē dēvā; viśvatōbāhu nīnē dēvā; viśvataspāda nīnē dēvā Kūḍalasaṅgamadēvā’. The vaĉana starts with ‘wherever we look you (God) are there’. And the words taken verbatim have the same meaning in Sanskrit and Kannaḍa: Having eyes everywhere, having face everywhere, having arms everywhere, and having feet everywhere. In the Śūnyasaṁpādane chapter called ‘Prabhudēva’s Apotheosis’, Basavaṇṇa sings as he waves the propitiatory lamp on the occasion. It starts with ‘Jaya jaya Śrī Mahādēva’ sung three times; it means ‘Hail hail to the glorious Great God’. Then the song has these mystic words taken from the Vēdas – ‘Ōṁ bhūḥ ōṁ bhuvaḥ…bhargō dēvasya dhīmahi - śaraṇeṁbudenna manavu’. Taittirīya Upaniṣad I.5.1 says - Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Suvaḥ are the three celebrated mystical utterances. What is called Bhūḥ stands for this world, the fire, the sacred verses called Ṛks (of Ṛgvēda), and the air that is breathed-in (Prāṇaḥ). What is denoted as Bhuvaḥ stands for the intermediate space between heaven and earth, the air, the Sāman chants (of Sāmavēda), and the air that is breathed-out (Apānaḥ). What is noted as Suvaḥ stands for heaven, the sun, the sacrificial formulae called Yajus (of Yajurvēda), and the vital airs that sustains life when the breath is arrested (Vyānaḥ). These mystic words are also in many other Upaniṣads such as Ĉhāndōgya Upaniṣad II.23.2 and Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad VI.4.25. The mystic words ‘bhargō dēvasya dhīmahi’ are part of the famous Gāyatrī Mantra which is the celebrated verse of the Vēdas (Ṛgvēda III.61.10; Yajurvēda III.35; Sāmavēda 658,662). These words have been translated as ‘may we attain God’s glory’. The full Gāyatrī Mantra is something like this ‘Let us contemplate the beautiful splendor of God Savitur, that he may inspire our visions’. Vaĉana number 8 on page 23 of ‘Thus Spake Basava. Published by Basava Samithi, Bangalore, India 1965’ is as follows.