Thoughts on my approach to the Rig Veda
My verses are not intended in any way to be read as actual scholarly translations of the Rig Veda. Rather they are ‘inspired’ by this ancient Sanskrit text. My efforts in writing here are more of a transposition, a metamorphosis – perhaps you may say that I am transmogrifying the verses. However this process can be described, it is my sincere heartfelt concentrated level best to reach the deeper layers of their inner meaning.
All the translations of any verse are remarkably – one might say astonishingly different. Here is my method:
Using Shyam Ghosh’s “Rigveda for the Layman, A Critical Survey of One Hundered Hymns of the Rigveda” [Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi], I write out one verse a day first in the Devanagari, then the transliteration, and Mr. Ghosh’s very useful listing of word definitions in English.
I then look up the words in the Sanskrit dictionaries and Sanskrit etymological dictionaries [listed separately]. Each word has multiple definitions and implied layers of meaning.
Then I compare various translations from the different sources [see Rig Veda book list]. Occasionally I am able to find as many as four translations, other times I am not so fortunate.
Then I look for word groupings. Some of the words are intentionally written together as one word, a grouping, which implies to me that their meaning is intended by the author to be connected, bonded.
Then I wait. And I wait in the morning silence. The act of inscribing the Sanskrit in its beautiful Devanagari script and the longing search for the true meaning is for me a form of meditation, an offering to the God-within me.
I write various phrase groupings, and then rearrange them rewriting them again and again. Then slowly, suddenly I feel the meaning emerging in my heart-mind and I believe I have a sense of what the seer was saying 1000s of years before. When it all feels right at last, I write that down.
I do one verse a day. My method is similar to writing poetry. I am experiencing very beautiful states of consciousness, perhaps corresponding with previous cycles of time. I assiduously endeavor to remain connected, somehow in contact with the consciousness of the Seer, his or her intended meaning, and not depart from what I am receiving absorbing as the essential message. It’s all about an intensely concentrated focus, seeing within the eye-of-the-mind.
Of course, I know very well that no Sanskrit scholar may agree with these, my ‘inspired’ verses. I freely confess that I am self-taught and only into my very modest third year of studying Sanskrit.
In India they say it takes 18 years to master this language, which to me is the beauty of perfection itself. I was born in 1945 and I doubt that I have 18 years of life left, so I am proceeding on my own in my own way to understand the inscrutable mysterious vast treasure that is the Rig Veda, which is said to be the source of all the other Sanskrit texts and therefore the source of the most sublime and wondrous understanding of mankind’s purpose and place in this labyrinthine universe.
So, you Sanskrit scholars and Indians of the wonderfully varied and diverse Hindu traditions – I ask for your forgiveness. Look into my heart and see for yourself if there is any mischief in my writings here. I have only the deepest reverence for the teachings in the Sanskrit texts, and I believe my website is hard evidence of my feelings of devotion for the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, the Shiva Sutras, and many many other jewels of India’s supernal wisdom.
And if by chance you find a line or two in my humble efforts here uplifting and inspiring, then I will be very pleased – for Sanskrit and the Sanskrit texts have given me more than I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of in my life, a life spent in wanderings, searching for truth, and finally Home. I hope it is contagious!
God Bless us all. We Meet in the Heart.
V. Susan Ferguson
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