An intuitive translation of Rig Veda I.164.17 by V. Susan Ferguson


Rig Veda I.164.17

Leading beyond, extreme pleasing,

on the farther side of far distant space,

exceeding ancient past and future,

there beyond the constellation Capricorn,

in successive time, striding, a footstep,

the mark, the trace, vestige abode

of offspring manifested.

Bearing carrying the stars,

perhaps at once, sometimes

now and then, She

desiring our welfare, halved,

dividing, forming other parts,

the supreme Seven.

In what place, where,

what has become of her yielding,

procreating, begetting fortune.

Surely there is no limit, no boundary,

no end to the number, hosts and multitudes.



The Woven Universe

The essence of the ‘goddess’ as Matrix, Shakti-Maya, Prakriti emerged for me in all Her radiant sublime Beauty in this verse. Instead of ray-cows giving birth, I felt I was uncovering the vast unending spectrum of frequency wave-forms, rivers of subtle energies weaving and coagulating in confluences that give birth to all form. Here are some further insights into my interpretative translation:


Leading beyond,

[Our efforts to comprehend the cosmos will lead us beyond ordinary five-sense perception.]

extreme pleasing,

[This universe is the emanation, the arrangement and fruit of the One’s Desire, Kama. The Sanskrit texts say that no man can overwhelm this Kama that is all-powerful because it is God’s Desire. The creative manifesting principle, Prakriti, the ‘goddess’ is the very essence, the effusion and activating fragrance of the One’s Desire, Kama. As such, She is extremely pleasing, lovely, enchanting, captivating and seductive in Her beauty, grace and power, Shakti-Maya]

on the farther side of far distant space,

[The poet Rishi Dirghatamas is here creating the idea of realms ‘beyond’ for his readers.]

exceeding ancient past and future,

[Thus beyond ‘successive’ Time.]

there beyond the constellation Capricorn,

[The Sanskrit word ‘enA’ is also defined as Capricorn. As one who has studied astrology since I was in my 20s, the idea that the Rishis would point to a constellation far beyond this earth to convey realms beyond the ordinary of mankind seems perfect.]

in successive time, striding, a footstep,

[The Rishi Dirghatamas mentions ‘successive’ time as opposed to the timeless, beyond time and thus eternal imperishable (akshara). Therefore we are made aware of his knowledge of primordial metaphysical cosmology. In the ancient Sanskrit texts, the tradition of Vishnu, meaning the ‘all-pervading’ creating the universe in ‘three steps’ as the dwarf is found in the Rig Veda I.22.16-18 here quoted from the R.L Kashyap translation:

RVI.22.16-18: May the gods manifest their power in us from that place where Vishnu strode, the seven stations or planes of the Earth. This (all-pervading) Vishnu strode; thrice he placed his foot. In the dust of his feet was all firmly established (thus the birth of the universe). Vishnu, the unassailable and the guardian, strode superbly the three steps. He upholds the law (Dharma) from here.]

the mark, the trace, vestige abode

[In the west we say ‘I follow in your footsteps’ to indicate someone who we respect, who has made a mark in thought, word and their deeds. Such a metaphorical footstep leaves a vestige, creating that trace for us to emulate, an abode dwell in.]

of offspring manifested.

[So the multitude of marks, footsteps of the goddess, Prakriti, Shakti-Maya, become the abode of Her manifested and vastly arrayed offspring.]

Bearing carrying the stars,

[Every being is born under their own unique confluence of planets in the heavenly constellations. Yes, I mean astrology in its highest, most abstract and esoteric sense. The meeting and interactions of vast constellations are in fact the source of our individual blueprint, the map of our current data-collecting vehicle generated in the moment of any birth, yours and mine. We are holographic wave-forms woven in stellar energies. In our current cycle of time, no one on this earth knows the source or how the ancient art and science astrology came into being.]

perhaps at once, sometimes

now and then, She

[These two lines convey the idea the Prakriti, Shakti-Maya is beyond Time and even unpredictable in Her power.]

desiring our welfare, halved,

dividing, forming other parts,

[Like any mother, the goddess loves Her children, in this case Her children are the universe and everything within; therefore She desires our welfare. In India, the goddess Lakshmi, who is the personification of a metaphysical principle, is said to rule Fortune, luck, and wealth. Lakshmi is the wife of the all-pervading Vishnu. When we need good fortune, Lakshmi is the lady to turn to.]

the supreme Seven.

[Intuitively, I felt that this supreme Seven refers to the seven chakras, each of which is correlated to a slice of the universal spectrum of wave-forms. When we achieve greater self-mastery, the seven chakras activate and allow us to access the entire universe.

R.L. Kashyap has this to say about these supreme Seven, which he terms the Seven Stations: “According to the Rig Veda, Universal existence is arranged in seven planes or stations consisting of the lower three, made of matter (or Earth), midregion and Heavens, the upper three, made of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss; and the fourth (middle) plane called as ‘svar’ which links to two triples.” (R.L. Kashyap; Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala – 1, Part One, Suktas 1-50; page 131-2).

On the highest level, what R.L. Kashyap has said above and my intuition about the seven chakras is identical, the same, meaning one is a reflection of the other.]

In what place, where,

what has become of Her yielding,

procreating, begetting fortune?

[The Rishi is declaring that Her ubiquitous presence will remain unknowable to us — and simultaneously his unending desire to reach her essence.]

Surely there is no limit, no boundary,

no end to the number, hosts and multitudes.

[I think this one speaks for itself.]



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R.L. Kashyap from Semantics of Rig Veda:

"The Sanskrit of Rig Veda is substantially different from the classical Sanskrit of Kalidasa or even the Sanskrit of the Mahabharata. In Rig Veda, the sandhi rules are not enforced with any rigidity; the meanings attached to nouns are flexible... Many words widely used in Rig Veda...find no place in classical Sanskrit. ... The current meanings of popular words such as... gau (or go) (the animal cow) do not seem to be valid in many occurences in Veda.

"The earliest study of the words in Veda is found in the book 'Nirukta' due to Yaska...1000 BCE or earlier. ... He [Yaska] observes that 'grammar alone will not be of help in understanding the Veda'. ...a mantra may have three meanings...."



These are my usual notes with Shyam Ghosh's definitions.


Further word definitions:

avah – av = to favour, promote, satisfy, refresh; to offer; to lead to bring to; to be pleased with, like accept favourably.

parena – far distant remote in space, beyond, on the farther side of, extreme

para – ancient, past, later, future, ; more than, exceeding, superior or inferior to, ; best, highest, supreme,

enA – here, there; in this manner, thus; then, at that time; black antelope, deer; Capricorn; gazelle.

para enA =  beyond ere; there; beyond

avarena – below; following, in succeeding time

padA – a step, pace, stride; a footstep, trace, vestige, mark; abode, home, position.

vatsam – offspring, manifested; calf

bibhrati – bearing, carrying (√bhri)

gauh - [explained above]

ut - aparticle of doubt or deliberation

asthAt – at once, (staying).

sA – she

kadrIcI – [kadru=a brown Soma vessel]; √kad – to confound; kad = now & then; in no manner; sometimes.

kam – desiring

svit – luck, welfare

ardha – half, halved, forming half; one part, the other part, forming half; dividing.


agAt – [aga = not going; name of a mountain, tree, snake, sun, number seven]

kva – where?, in what place?, whither?; how is it with? What has become of?

svit – [svita = luck welfare]

sUte –  procreate; produce, bear, yield, beget, bring forth; [sUt = an imitative sound]

nahi – surely not, by no means, not at all, for not.

yUthe -  yUtha = multitude, number, host, herd, flock

antah – limit, boundary, end; in the end, at last, in the inside.



Sanskrit Dictionary


THE ROOTS, VERB-FORMS and PRIMARY DERIVATIVES of the SANSKRIT LANGUAGE, (A Supplement to His Sanskrit Grammar, 1879), by William Dwight Whitney; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Delhi, 1963 - 2006.

A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy, Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, John Grimes; Indica Books, 2009.

Sanskrit-English Dictionary, M. Monier-Williams; Two volumes, Recomposed and improved edition; Indica Books and Parimal Publications, New Delhi, 2008.

RIG VEDA SAMHITA: Mandala – 1 (Part Three), Suktas 122-191, (Text in Devanagari, Translation and Notes), by R.L. Kashyap; Saksi, Published in collaboration with ASR, Melkote; Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore, India, 2009.

Semantics of Rig Veda, by R.L. Kashyap; Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore, India, 2006.









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