Brhaspati in The Vedas and The Puranas (1978)


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About the Book

The present work is the first ever attempt on a very important Vedic and Pauranic deity i.e. Brhaspati. The Word can be called a fulfilment of a small part of a very vast and expensive work on a thorough study of Vedic mythology. Brhaspati as he is generally believed to be is not merely the preceptor of Gods; instead, he imbibes in himself so many other mythological aspects. This makes his personality comprehensive and the study of such a varied personality is exactly what the present work has undertaken to do. Brhaspati’s various aspects such as the lord of speech, god of rain, god of fire, Sun God, supreme Brahman, Protector of the sacrifice, Brahman Priest, his connection with magical incantations, Brahmanic power, presiding over Tisya constellation Devaguru, his association with other gods, legends and stories and astronomical and astrological concept have all been discussed at length in the present work. The author has reached some very important conclusions after making a thorough analysis and study of various aspects of Brhaspati as depicted in the four Samhitas Brahmana works and eighteen Puranas which no doubt will further the interest of Vedic studies.


About the Author

Dr. (Mrs.) Saraswati Bali (b. 1943—Hyderabad (Sind), B.A. Hons. (Sanskrit) M.A. (Sanskrit), from University of Delhi, throughout first division, Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Delhi. During the course of her Ph.D. research she was selected by the U.G.C. for the award of Junior fellowship. She hails from and belongs to a family of Sanskritists of reputation, Daughter of a great lover of Sanskrit; Mrs. Bali is the grand-daughter-in-law of Pundit Chandramani Shastri and daughter-in-law of Pundit Chandra Kant Bali, both great scholars in the field of Sanskrit and Indology.



It gives me immense pleasure to introduce this interesting scholarly work “Brhaspati in the Vedas and the Puranas” by Mrs. Saraswati Bali. This work was originally prepared as a doctoral thesis, on the basis of which the University of Delhi awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to Mrs. Bali.

Brhaspati, also a bit less frequently called as Brahmanaspati, is a unique deity of Vedic patheon in the sense that He is purely of Indian origin. His physical characteristics, priestly position, various attributes, inherent nature to protect. His worshippers from all obstacles, impediments, difficulties and calamities and extraordinary power to bestow immense fortune and prosperity on them when pleased and gratified, have already been well studied by scores of eminent European and Indian Vedic scholars during last two centuries. In the beginning of 19th century; Professors Langlosis, Max. Muller, A.A. Macdonell and H.H. Wilson considered Brhaspati as an aspect of Agni, while Kaegi and Oldenberg took him as a priestly abstraction of Indra. Some scholars placed Him as a compromising link between Brahmana and Ksatriya, as He is associated in a number of Rgvedic passages with Indra, the War God. Obviously thus, the study of Brhaspati did not remain completely neglected from the modern Indologists.

What the present study explores is the fuller detail of the gradual development of the concept of Brhaspati through the four Vedas First, and then through the Brahmanas. It has been became clarity pointed out, how the Lord of prayers, by and by became Vacaspati—the lord of eloquence and wisdom and how Brhaspati became associated with speech and intellect in later Vedic period. Mrs. Bali has further studied the concept of Brhaspati in the Puranas, wherein what strikes most in the astronomical and astrological concept of Brhaspati. I however wish that the learned author had explored the Pauranic concept of Brhaspati more elaborately. The account of Brhaspati as given in the present treatise after the Vedas and the puranas is authentic and a welcome one. I should like to congratulate Mrs. Saraswati Bali for this scholarly contribution, which, I hope, will be warmly received and appreciated both by specialists and general readers alike who are interested in Vedic studies.



I was indeed fortunate to learn Sanskrit in my childhood from my respected grand-father, Pandit Lacchiram Saraswat, and my father Shri Bhairavadult Saraswat. I also got the opportunity of learning Sanskrit in my school days. During my undergraduate and post-graduate study at the University of Delhi I studied Sanskrit literature a bit more thoroughly. At this stage I got the opportunity of critically going through a good number of the suktas of the Rgveda Samhita. This study, in student life, created in my mind a new line of thought regarding the concept of the Indian mythology.

It was really an experience to get acquainted with the new concept of gods in the Rgveda which was materially different from the concept which had traditionally been working in my mind, or, for that matter, which traditionally works in the mind of any Indian student. The Rgvedic gods like Visnu, Rudra, Agni, Indra or Brhaspati etc. Did not at all appear to be the same as an Indian student is made to know them through the Pauranic legends and stories and through different religious festivals and ceremonies. On the other hand, they appeared to be quite different. Though containing myself in the limitations of an examine, I tried to study more about the Vedic gods and found that this field requires a thorough and detailed investigation.

This created in my mind a keen desire to study the character of Vedic gods and how their personality has developed through the ages. I, therefore, immediately availed of the first opportunity of studying Vedic mythology, when Dr. R.V. Joshi, Head of the Deptt. Of Sanskrit, University of Delhi, suggested me to work on ‘Brhaspati in the Vedas and the Puranas’ for the degree of Ph.D. The present book is a fulfilment of only a small part of a very expansive work on a thorough study of Vedic mythology which could be undertaken by a team of scholars.

There could be an opinion that the concept of Brhaspati is quite clear and thoroughly elaborated in the Puranas. There is no doubt that some of the features of Brhaspati are now well-known. He is the presiding deity of a planet; his astrological significance is quite clear; he is the preceptor of the heavenly beings; he is the Lord of wisdom and so on and so forth. As a matter of fact, all these epithets and characteristic peculiarities of Brhaspati, which are elaborated in the Puranas in detail, are so popular in the Indian tradition that the very name of Brhaspati immediately presses upon these of his qualities in our mind. The reality, on the other hand, is that Brhaspati did not immediately acquire all such epithets as described above as soon as his idea took birth in the enlightened mind of the Vedic seer. The Puranic peculiarities of Brhaspati silently and vaguely originated in the Rgveda Samhita gradually developed in the Brahmanas and were finally made precise and elaborate by the colourful authors of the vast Puranic literature. It is both interesting and informative, from the Indian mythological point of view, to witness Brhaspati evolving his personality in the ancient religious literature of India.

Before giving, a brief outline of my work, I would like to put forth very briefly the views expressed by some scholars about Brhaspati, Macdonell, Max Muller, Roth, Weber, Hillebradndt etc. Consider severally Brhaspati as an aspect of Agni, a direct impersonation of the power of devotion, a priestly abstraction of Indra, a lord of planets and a personification of moon. According to Ragozin, Brhaspati is called pathikrt, i.e. the path preparer or the bridge-maker.

The views expressed by the above-mentioned scholars, however, appear to be inconclusive and general. At the most, they collectivel cover only a few aspects of Brhaspati. There arises, therefore, the need of a more wide-ranging, comparative, historical and critical study of Brhaspati in order to achieve some cohesive idea about his overall personality.

A noteworthy point in this connection is that the Vedic gods are closely related to each other, so much so that some of them are always named together; they act together, and are involved by the worshippers. Brhaspati always forms company with Indra, though he is described with other gods also. This trend in the Vedic hymns conveys some deep sense, which is to be brought out, a critical study of Brhaspati in comparison with other gods.

In the post-Vedic period, Brhaspati acquires a different form. He is the preceptor of gods and is called gispati or vaacaspati on account of his eloquence and wisdom. Brhaspati becomes a more prominent god in post-Vedic literature. As a divine Brahman priest, he seems to be the prototype of Brahma, the chief of the Hindu Triad. Hence there is the need of a comparative study of the Vedic Brhaspati and the Pauranic Brhaspati.

Till this day, scholars have studied, to some extent, only the mythological and allegorical aspects of Brhaspati. But Brhaspati is an important graham amongst field also. Brhaspati is an important graham (planet) amongst navagrahas. It is said to be very auspicious when it occupies a central position.

The religion in India includes in itself philosophy. Brhaspati, therefore, can also be studied philosophically. He is the lord of speech (Vak), bratyah vacah patih. Vak is also sabdabrahman. The root brh Brhaspati and Brahman is common. If Brhaspati presides over the sphere of Vak and Vak is sabdabrahman, this may mean that Brhaspati can be placed in the position of Brahman. This can possibly be proved by a critical study of the mantras connected with Brhaspati and by a comparison of Brhaspati and Brahman.

Thus the above points indicate the necessity of a thorough and critical study of Brhaspati in the Vedas and the Puranas. I have, as far as possible, tried to depict the development of the comprehensive personality of Brhaspati in the Vedas and the Puranas in the present work.

In the first chapter, I have given a short and general note on the Samhita, the Brahmans and the Puranas, propounded my overall thought about the concept of Brhaspati in these books, discussed the views of the ancient and the modern scholars about this god and put forth my own findings about the concept of Brhaspati as presented in this book. Last of all, I have given various etymologies of the words Brhaspati and Brahamanaspati and established the identity between Brhaspati and Brahamanaspati.



From times immemorial the Vedas, the sacred books of the Hindus, have been a perennial source of inspiration and enlightenment for the Indian People. They have exerted a formative influence on the making of a cohesive Hindu culture through the ages. The impact of the loftiness and the sublimit of the Thoughts of the Vedas on almost all the aspects of social and literary activities of this country is an evidence of the facts as to how far the Vedas have influenced our society. Even in the present age, the significance of the study of the Vedas is recognised by the scholars of the world. Apart from the fact that the study of the Vedas is of pivotal value in conducting fruitful researchers in religion and mythology, social science and philosophy, as also in the history and the philosophy of India, their thought still offers a source of inspiration to many in literary and socio-political fields. The dominant influence of the Vedas on our religion and social life, ethics and morals, thoughts and customs, can be witnessed even in present age. The Vedas are our best guide for knowing the remotest past of this country for which no other record is available to us.

The word Veda, meaning knowledge, is used in the sense of the Samhitas and the Brahmanas in a particular Sanskrit tradition of ritualists. Apastamba, in his Sutras, has observed that both, the mantras and the books called the Brahmanas are together called the Veda. Accordingly, Sayana, the great commentator on the Vedas, also reiterates that the term Veda includes the Mantra as well as the Brahmana. By the word mantra are implied the four Samhitas and the word Brahmana signifies the entire Brahmana literature. Thus the Vedas consist of the four Samhitas namely the Rgveda Samhita, the Yajurveda Samhita, the Samaveda Samhita and the Atharvaveda Samhita; and also their exegetical books called the Brahmanas. Our study of ‘Brhaspati in the Vedas’ is therefore, based on the material available in the Samhitas and the Brahmanas. In addition to this, the book includes the study of Brhaspati in the Puranas.

Of the four Samhitas, the Rgveda Samhita is regarded as the oldest literary monument of India and serves as the foundation of the most ancient edifice of the entire Sanskrit literature. The general characteristics of the hymns of the Rgveda is the eulogy of Gods who have been invoked again and again by the worshippers for the attainment of the abundance of worldly pleasures like food, the cattle, Victory in the battle-field and so on. Though, a large number of the hymns of the Rgveda give expression to the worldly desires of their composers, it is, however, not to be understood that the Rgveda is merely a book of prayers by the materialist worshippers. On the contrary, a great number of the Rgveda hymns are philosophic and contemplative in nature wherein we come across the sages speculating upon the mystery of life and death, the world and the entire Universe. Moreover, many hymns are purely secular in contents and furnish us with valuable information about contemporary socio-political life.

The Yajurveda is available in two forms i.e. the sukla Yajurveda and the Krsna Yajurveda. The subject matter of this Veda pertains to sacrificial rituals and is different from that of the Rgveda. Various rituals and sacrifices such as the Darsapurnamasa, the Somayaga, the Asvamedha, the Purusamedha, the Sarvamedha, the Pitrmedha, the Rajasuya, the Vajapeya etc. Are all said to have been elaborately dealt with in this Veda.

The Samaveda does not appear to be an independent Veda in itself. With the exception of seventy-five verses, the rest of the mantras of the Samaveda are mere repetitions of those found in the Rgveda. Therefore, a study of this Veda as an independent point to be referred to about this Veda is that it is regarded to have been composed for Udgatr priest who was to chant the samans at the sacrificial ceremonies.



Foreword v
Preface vi
Chapters I : Introduction 1
Chapters II : Brhaspati in the Rgveda 10
Sources of the study 10; Various aspects of  
Brhaspati 11; Physical features of Brhaspati 12;  
Lord of Ganas 13; Brhaspati and other gods 15;  
Protector of Worshippers 16; Brhaspati confers  
Happiness , food and prosperity 17 ; Leader on  
to the right path 19; The First lord of speech 20 ;  
God of rain 29; Fire- aspect of Brhaspati as Brahman  
and as Supreme Brahman 57.  
Chapter III : Brhaspati in the Yajurveda 62
Part I : Brhaspati in the Sukla Yajurveda 62; Giver  
of wordly objects 62; Giver of Victory 64; Protector  
of the sacrifice 66; Brhaspati as Brahman priest 67;  
Brhaspati in some other Rituals 70 ; Lord of speech  
72 ; Brhaspati occupies highest direction 74; Brhaspati  
Position amongst gods 76.  
Pat II : Brhaspati in the Krsna Yajurveda 78; Elevator  
or Inspirer of souls 78 ; confers Happiness and other  
Desired Objects 80; Giver of Splendour 83; Protector  
of the Sacrifice 85; Brhaspati instigates speech 88;  
Brhaspati is the holy Power of Gods 92 ; Brhaspati,  
Lord of Highest Direction 96; Brhaspati is the Supreme  
Among Gods 97.  
Chapter IV: Brhaspati in the Samaveda 100
Chapter V : Brhaspati in the Atharvaveda 102
Giver of Wealth and other Objects 103; some other  
Aspects of Brhaspati as found in the Av. 108; Brhaspati  
in the Magical Incantations of the Atharvaveda 111 ;  
Brhaspati as the Creator or Prajapati 116 ;  
Chapter VI : Brhaspati in the Brahmanas 124
The Ritualistic Concept of Brhaspati 124; Brhaspati as  
Protector of the World and the Giver of Desired  
Objects 129 ; Brhaspati, the Helper of Indra 130 ;  
Brhaspati, the Lord of Speech 133; Brhaspati as  
Brahmanic Power 136; Brhaspati as the Priest of Gods  
143 ; Brhaspati as the Deity, presiding over the Tisya  
Constellation 149 ; Brhaspati's Position Amongest  
Gods 150 ; Brhaspati as Supreme Brahman 156.  
Chapter VII : Brhaspati in the Puranas 158
The Family Background of Brhaspati 159; The Story  
of Tara's rape 164; Indra and Brhaspati 167; Brhaspati  
as the Lord of Speech 174; Imparter of Philosophical,  
Ethical and Religious Knowledge 176; Various Places,  
Tirthas, Religious acts connected with Brhaspati 178;  
The Astronomical and Astrological Concept of  
Brhaspati 180.  
Conclusions 193
Bibliography 197
Index 201

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