A note on interpreting  the word aapah as referring to Brahman might make Mantra Pushpam more meaningful.

In a posting dated 20th Oct. 2002 (reproduced below) in the Bhakti-List , Sri K. Sreekrishna Tatachar has suggested that understanding the word apAm as referring to the Lord (Brahman) might make MP more meaningful:

The meaning of the popular and uplifting Mantrapushpam from aruNa prashna of KYV araNyakam has always baffled me.  I have pondered over different books and talked to different  shrOtrIyAs, but unfortunately never got a satisfactory answer.  Finally, I resolved it for myself. If we translate apAm of yOpAm (yaH + aPam) as the Lord (Brahman) it makes lot of sense.

(Note: Sri Sadagopan in his MP commentary has implied this meaning for aPam
In fact, one of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam books also suggests LORD for apAm).

The best of anything or anyone is considered as flowering of a civilization. 
Thus, yopAm pushpam veda  pushpavAn prajAvAn bavathi  can be paraphrased as:  
one who realizes the pushpam (greatness, blessing or blossoming)  of  the Lord,
becomes pushpavAn (Great, blessed)  or blossoms.

yOpAmAyathanam veda aayathanavAn bavathi 

One who realizes the sustaining power of the Lord becomes sustained.
(Compare the Christian belief: If you realize Jesus died for your sins, you are saved).

Rest of MP also becomes readily very meaningful, because rain, Moon, years, fire, Sun 
are all outpourings (extension) of parabrahman.

We can very well see the water-lord comnnection in appa for father,  as well as Ap is respectful way of addressing people in the Hindi language, embodiment of water thIrtha rUparu for elders (in Kannada), thI-rtha sthalam for holy places.

K. Sreekrishna Tatachar

Commentary by Shriman Oppiliappan V. Sadagopan


Dear Members of the Prapatti Group,

Here is a quick introduction to the Mantra Pushpam (MP), which is part of the Surya Namaskara Prasnam section of The Taittiriya Aranyakam. This Prasnam (Vedic Lesson) as I indicated in an earlier posting is also known as Arunopanishad by Sri Vidya Worshippers.

There are 32 Anuvakas (Sections) in the Surya Namaskara Prasnam. The number of Panchasats (Individual Mantras) in this Prasnam add up to 130. The eight Anuvaka is a prelude to the Mantra Pushpam that is housed in the 22nd Anuvakam.

The Anuvakams preceding the eighth deal with the measures of time. The eigth Anuvakam starts off by stating that all of the units of "Time" enter into "water" which in turn enters into Agni, which ultimately merges with the energy of Surya. Eight forms of Agnis are then described.

In the 22nd anuvaka dealing with mantra pushpam, "water" is recognized as the most fundamental of "elements". The relationship between "water" and moon, agni, surya, vayu and stars is described and saluted. At the end of this anuvaka, the reciter visualizes the entire world as floating in the immensity of "water".the mantra pushpam riks are linked with the mosrt sacred aruna ketukam ritual.

There are 12 panchasata(individual mantra/riks) in the 22nd anuvakam. I will attempt to translate these mantras later.

Veda purushaaya nama:

 INTRODUCTION - 16 Oct 96 Fourth day of navarathri--1996

It gives me great pleasure to attempt a translation of the majestic and marvelous mantras of Mantra Pushpam. The effort to translate this extraordinary conception of the centrality of "Aapaa: " is equivalent to describing the wind-blown fragrance of a divine flower. May this meager attempt be blessed by the Veda Purushan invoked by the Rks of Purusha,NarayaNa and VishNu Sookthams !

An introduction to Manra Pushpam was covered in the earlier posting (May 14, 1996). Sri Vijay Srinivasan kindlly recovered that for me and forwarded it.For the sake of continuity, I will summarize what I referred to in that posting and add a few more points here to serve as a prelude to the observations onnthe individual rks of Mantra Pushpam..

 The mantras of Mantra Pushpam are part of the Surya Namaskara Prasnam (SNP) of the Taittiriya Aaranyakam. There are 32 anuvaakaas (sections) in Surya Namaskara Prasnam. The eighth anuvaakam is a prelude to the concepts enshrined in the text of Mantra Pushpam that we find as the twenty second anuvaakam of SNP. The twenty ninth anuvaakam of Maha NarayanOpanishad of KrishNa Yajur Vedam is another excellent reference to the subject matter of Mantra Pushpam.

The anuvaakams preceding the eighth of SNP deal with the measures of TIME. The eighth anuvaakam starts off by staing that all of the units of TIME enter in to WATER, which in turn enters into AGNI, which ultimately merges with the energy of Surya Murthy at whose center is Sriman Narayana. The eight forms of Agni merging as one with Surya Murthy is also covered in this anuvaakam.

The 22nd anuvaakam celebrated in Bhagavad AarAdhanam daily deals with WATER as the most fundamental of " ELEMENTS ". The relationship between WATER and MOON, AGNI, SURYA, VAYU, STARS and TIME are described and celebrated here. The Mantra Drishtaa visulaizes the entire world as floating in the immensity of WATER. The Mantra Pushpa Rks are linked with the most sacred AruNa Kehukam rites. There are 12 panchasats (individual mantrAs) in this anuvAkam.

Mahaa NaarayaNOpanishad : Twenty Ninth Anuvaakam

The above anuvaakam summarizes the thoughts that are elaborated in the Mantra Pushpam. Hence we will study this anuvaakam first. The text of the AnuvAkam is as follows :

aapOHO vaa idhagum sarvam viswaa bhuthaanyApa: prANaa
vaa aapa: pasava aapOannamApOamrutamApa; samradApO
viradApa: svarAdApaschandhAgum syApO jyothigumshApO
yajugumshyApa: satyamApa: sarvA devathA aapO bhur bhuva: suvarApa Om II

Swami Vimalanndha's excellent translation following that of SayanA and BhattabhAskara is provided below :

"Verily all this is water. All the created beings are water.the vital breaths in the body are water. Quadrupeds are water. Edible crops are water. Ambrosia is water. Samraat is water. Viraat is water. Svaraat is water. The metres are water. The luminaries are water. Vedic formulas are water. Truth is water. All deities are water. The three worlds denoted by bhuh : bhuvaha: and suvaha : are water. The source of all these is the supreme denoted by the syllable om."

Swami Vimalanda points out here that the Para Brahman is eulogized as WATER (aapa:). He is resplendent and multifaceted effulgence is referred to in this rk as Samraat (perpetually shining), Viraat (manifoldly shining) and Svaraat (self-luminous) according to Bhattabhaskara.

Sayana intreprets Saamrat as "SuthrAtmA HiraNyagarbha:", Viraat as the "BrahmANda dEha Purusha :" visualized by the Purusha Sooktham.. Svaraat is intreprepreted by Sayana as " avyAkruthAbhimAni Iswara: ". Sayana concludes with a reference to the revelatory statement of this rk as " apAm mula KaaraNam PraNava Prathipadhyam Brahmaiva ". The source of all these (described in this rk such as vital breaths, the three worlds et al.,) is the Supreme, denoted by the syllable OM.
This then is an apt introduction to the thoughts elaborated in the Mantra Pushpam rks.

Sequel to Mantra Pushpam: the 7th anuvAkam of SNP

Part 3 -   19 Oct 96


In the previous section associated with MahAnarAyNOPanishad, we were instructed that the source of the water principle is the syllable OM denoting the self luminous Purusha. Another passage of MahAnArayaNOpanishad explains further how Parama Purusha created the Water and for what purpose and how water serves as the central principle. That portion of the Upanishad is as follows :

Ardha maasaa maasaam ruthava:
samvatsarasccha kalpanthaam i
sa aapa: pradhudeh ubeh imeh
anthariksham atho suv a: ii

Here the ancient Vedic teaching pertaining to the Parama Purusha being the source and support of all the principles and objects of the Universe is revealed. This passage states that the Smallest unit of time (NImisha/time taken to wink one's eyes) to the largest (Samvatsara /an Year) were born from this self luminous Purusha. None of the units of time are thus permanent or independent. Then the Upanishad goes on to state that He milked water (Aapa:) and the other two -viz., the firmament(Anthariksham) and the heaven (suva:). The purpose of His milking these triad implies that they were generated by the Purusha for "the sustenance and enjoyment of the transmigrating souls through the agency of time on the earth and in the firmament and in heaven."

With the introduction provided by the above mantram of the upanishad, we can now focus on the 8th anuvaakam of the Surya Namaskara Prasnam (SNP) serving as a sequel to the Mantra Pushpam passages housed in the 22nd Anuvaakam of the SNP. The relevant passage of the 8th anuvaakam starts off asking the following questions :

Where does this cloud enter and rest? Where does the assembly of time known as the year(Samvarsaram) reach laya? Where does the day find its resting place? O Lord ! what about the night? Where do the months, pakshas(half months), muhurthaas and Nimeshaas seek as the place of merging? Where do the sources of water go, when the ponds and rivers dry up? What is the power principle behind these phenomena? Now the Upanishad answers the above questions and states that time and its units enter the water principle. Latter in turn enter and merge with the Lord known as Surya NaarayaNan. That powerful and universal controller absorbs the water and the time that is embedded in it and in the next cycle generates them again. This revelation provides the sequel to the relationships described in detail by the different manthraas of the Mantra Pushpam that we use every day in Bhagavad AarAdhanams.

Twenty second anuvaakam & mantra pushpam

The recitation of the Mantra Pushpam has a majestic and sonorous effect that is almost mesmerizing. There are 12 mantras in the Mantra Pushpam housed in the 22nd Anuvaakam.. The first set includes the panchaasats (individual mantrams) 78 to 84. The second set covers the two panchaasats from 85 to 86. The second section is connected to the yagam known as AaruNa Kethuka sayanam (AKS). The third and final section consists of three mantras from 87 to 89and is also associated with the AKS. We shall attempt to understand the meanings of the three sections.

The mantras of the first section (Rks 78-84) instruct us that Water is the aadhaaram (base or supporting principle) and Aadheyam (containing principle) for all units of time and created beings as well as vital breaths, edible crops, truth and Vedic meters as indicated by the twenty ninth anuvaakam of Maha NarayaNOpanishad. These Rks declare that the person who meditates on Jalam or Aapa: as Sarva Devathaa Svarupam is bound to gain all auspicious fruits. Such a decalration finds its echo in the Sandhyaa Vandana Mantram starting with :

" Aapohishtaa mayoh bhuvasthaa na urjeh dhadhatana --- aapoh janayathaa cha na: "

(Meaning): " O waters, verily You are bliss-conferring. being such, grant us food, and great and beautiful insight (of the Supreme Truth). Further make us in this very life participants of that joy of Yours, which is most auspicious, just like fond mothers (who nurse their darlings with nourishment). May we attain to that satisfactory abode of Yours, which You are pleased to grant us. Generate for us also the waters of life and pleasures on earth (during our sojourn here)."

The aboveTaittiriy Samhita rk captures the spirit of the elevation of Aapa: as the Sarva Deva Svarupa principle known as Jalaabhimaani Devathaa. For the Jnanis, water is not the thirst quenching and body cleansing element, but has divinity implicit in it. 

Mantra Pushpam -- Part 4 - 20 Oct 96



yOapAm pushpam veda I
pushpavAn prajAvAn pasumAn bavathi I
chandramA vaa apAm pushpam I
pushpavAn prajAvAn pasumAn bavathi I
ya yevam veda I yOpAmAyathanam veda I
aayathanavAn bavathi I
agnirvaa apaamaayathanam I
aayathanavAn bavathi I
yOagnerAyathanam veda II

Here the two-way relationship between the Moon and Waters (Aapa:) is explored. The mantram states : " One who understands the nature of the flower of the waters becomes blessed with flowers, good progeny, abundunant cows and cattle. Moon is indeed the flower of waters (Chandramaa vaa apAm pushpam). "

Here the reference is to the birth of the Moon, when the "waters" of the milky ocean were churned by BhagavAn. The moon rose like a lotus flower from those waters. Hence the Moon's originating place, abode, base is the waters. Therefore Aapa: is the Aayathanam (the abode) for the Moon. Water has another relationship to the Moon. It arises from the cool rays of the Moon. Hence, the Moon serves as the Aayathanam for the waters. The Rk therefore declares " ChandramA vaa ApaamAyathanamI aapO vai Chandramasa Aayathanam ". Thus Water is the Aadharam and Aadheyam for the Moon.

The relationship between the Moon, Heavens, firmament and waters and their directing force PraNava svarupi, the Supreme Purusha of Purusha Suktham has been alluded to in the earlier section. Many other Vedic passages dwell on this important relationship. For example, Yajur Veda manthram (XXIII--59& 60) asks a question on this subject The question is :

"Who knoweth the paramount Lord of this World? Who knoweth the heaven, the earth and the wide space between them? Who knoweth the creator of the mighty Sun? Who knoweth the Moon, and whence she was generated?

The answer in the next mantram is :

Vedhahamasya bhuvanasya naabhim veda
dhyaavaa pruthvee anthariksham
veda suryasya bruhatho janithramatho
veda chandramasam yatojaa:

" O Questioner ! I know the paramount Lord of this World. I know the Heaven, the earth and the wide space between them. I know the efficient and physical cause of the mighty Sun. I know the Moon and her creator."

In another mantram (Yajur Vedam VII-- 16), the relationship between the Moon and the waters, the subject of the first panchasat of Mantra Pushpam is hinted. Veda Purusha declares " -- I fix in its orbit, in the midst of spacious regions, this beautiful Moon that covers the luninous stars, and is linked with the Sun and the Waters that it attracts.---".

Two Samans from Sama Veda pay homage to the interdependence between the Purusha and the created entities such as Water, Air, Agni, Sun, Earth, Heaven and firmament.The firsyt is from Aranya KhAnda (Decade V-3). This is the famous mantram :

Chitram devaanaamudhagaadhaneekam
chakshurmitrasya vrunasyaagneh -i
aapraa dhyaavaa pruthvee antharikshagum
surya aatmaa jagathastasthushasccha -ii

"God is wonderful and powerful amongst all the forces of nature and learned persons. He is the manifestor of air, water and fire. He pervades the Sun, Earth and atmosphere. He is the creator and sustainer of all that moveth and moveth not." The realtion between Aapa:, Agni, Vaayu, Sun, Moon, Stars and Time and Purusha, the subject matter of the mantrams of Mantra Pushpam, is covered here.

Yet another (Uttaraarchika) Saman talks specifically about the relationship between Aapa: and the blessings arising from the true understanding of the Sarva Devatha Svarupam of the waters. That Saman is the 1839th Saman:

Tasmaa aram gamaama voh yasya kshayaaya
jinvatha i aapoh janayathaa cha na : ii

" O Waters, for the removal of which impurity ye impel us, for the removal of the same we speedily go unto ye. Give us children, who mkae the right use of water." The suggestion is that those, who use the water correctly and understand its significance would become " PushpavAn, PrajAvAn and PasumAn."

One verse from Atharva Veda (Anuvaka 5- hymn XX!-2) refers to the relation between the Agni and water and states : " All fires that are in Water (Vadavaanalam in the Ocean, lightning in Clouds, digestive fire found in humans, ripening fire found in herbs and plants) -- may all these fires be put to proper use ".

The realtion between Agni and Water is the topic of the first mantram of Mantra Pushpam
Agnirvaa apaam aayathanam I
aayathanavaan bavathi I
yOagneraayathanam veda I
In the order of creation, Upanishad states "Agneraapa: ".
Agni is thus the receptacle of Jalam. From Jalam, the fire under the ocean (Vadavaagni) is produced. Hence as in the case of Chandran, Agni also has a dual relation (Aadharam and Aadheyam).

In a similar vein, Vayu, Surya, Stars, Rain and Time have the dual relationship to Aapa:.
"Kaalaa Apsu Nivasanteh I Aapaa Suryeh Samaahitaa: I

The all encompassing nature of Aapa: in the spirit of Maha Narayana Upanishad Vakhyam
(AapOvaa Idagum Sarvam, Sarva Bhoothaanyaapa: -- Bhur bhuva suvaraapa OM),
the 84th panchasat visualizes the entire Universe as a gigantic ship floating on the immensity of Water. An Upaasaka, who understands the world as a ship moving steadily in the gigantic waters is recognized by the 84th panchasat as a Sthitha Prajnan. He understands the cosmic relationship between the Water as a sarva Devathaa svarupi entering into Purusha.

Part 5 -

Navarathri season : vijaya dasami day


In the previous Panchasats (78 --84), the Adhaara/Aadheya Relationship of Water to the Moon, Agni, Vaayu, Sun, Constellations, Time/Year and Rain were pointed out. The concluding 86 th Panchasat pays homage to a person of steadfast mind (Sthitha Prajnaa described in Srimad Bhagavat Gita), who is able through meditation to concieve the entire world in the form of a giant ship consecrated and floating in the immensity of all pervasive water. This Panchasat is as follows :

aayathanavaan bavathi i samvatsaro vaa
apaayathanam i aayathanavaan bavathi i ya:
samvatsarasyaayathanam veda : i aayathanavaan
bavathi i aapo vai samvatsarasyaayathanam i
aayathanavaan bavathi i ya yevam veda i yo
apsunaavam prathishtithaam veda I pratyeva Thistathi I

This mantram recognizes the evolved soul, who fully understands the cosmic relationship of all that has been created in the way that Purusha Suktham describes and the central relatonship of Water to the World and the Lord's creations.

The 85th and the 86th Panchasats take off from this lofty conception. They describe the mantras associated with the performance of the Yajnam known as AaruNa Kethuka Sayanam. The blessings that one receives from the performance of that yajnam is Surya Saayujyam.The meaning of these mantras are : These worlds are rooted in Water. That is well known and pointed out by these mantras. The essence (rasam) of Water is shining is manifested as white effulgence in the orbit of the Sun. I collect the essence of the essence of the waters and offer it unto you in sacred vessels. Therefore, the world is the distilled essence of essences of waters. That essence of essence is established in Surya Mandalam.

The word Rasam has a rich and powerful meaning in the Vedic context. The translation as essence is a minimal description. This mantra is recited In Soma Yaga, when Soma Rasam is offered to the Devas for attaining the boon of Surya Saayujyam.

The 86 th mantram deals with the observances of te Yajnas like Agni Hothram, Darsa PurNa MAsam and Chaathurmaasya, where AaruNa Kethuka Sayanam is an essential part. The 86 th mantram describes the steps for performing this yajna in the proper way.

The last three mantras of the 22nd Anuvaakam of SNP deal with the Yajnas and Krathus that include AaruNa kethuka Sayana Agni and the presence or absence of Yupa Sthampam in these sacrificial rites. They mention that the descendants of the sage Chaandilya inquired about the fruits of AKS. The detailed correlation between the worship of different Agnis associated with different Yajnaas is included. For example, the one who worships the agni known as Saavithram would have the fruit of the Saakshaatkaaram of Surya Bhagavan. Vaayu appears before one, who worships the Agni known as Naachiketam.

The anuvaakam concludes with the revelation that one who worships the Aruna kethuaka Agni will be blessed with all auspicousness in this and the other worlds. "Mithunavaan Bavathi " is the actual words used by the last panchaasat. The reason for these abundant blessings is given as the comprehension that Jalam is united inextricably with Agni.

Thus ends the majestic Mantra Pushpa Anuvaakam.

Veda Purushaaya Nama:

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan