Faith

Interpreting Vedic mantras

During weddings, a yoke is placed on the bride’s head. The mantra recited is a reference to the story of Apala, who had a skin disease. She prayed to Indra, who got rid of her disease. The mantra says Apala glowed like the Sun, when she was cured. A woman is compared to the cool Moon, not the glaring sun. So why the equation to the Sun? Here a reference to Andal’s ‘kadirmadiyam pol mugathaan’, would be useful, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. She says Krishna was like ‘kadir’ the burning rays of the Sun as far as the Kauravas were concerned. But to the Pandavas, He was pleasant like the Moon. There is also a story in the Adi Parva of Mahabharata, about two brothers — Sunda and Upasunda. They had a boon, that none could kill them. The only way for them to die would be if they killed each other. Armed with this boon, they created havoc everywhere. So finally, Brahma sent a beautiful woman called Tilottama to get the brothers to fight each other. The two brothers fell in love with her, and fought over her and killed each other. When Tilottama went back to Brahma, he blessed her and said she would glow like the Sun, and that none could look at her with wrong intentions. Now back to the Vedic mantra. Apala glowing like the Sun, is to indicate that none would be able to have wrong thoughts about her, for such would be the fierceness of her glow. So, obviously, the prayer through this marriage mantra, is for the bride to be protected from lustful eyes. She will be affectionate and pleasant to behold, as far as her husband is concerned, but for others, she will be akin to the Sun. Vedic mantras are not easily explained. That is why Ramanujacharya said that one cannot attempt to explain them without reference to Itihasas and Puranas.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 5:58:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/interpreting-vedic-mantras/article33956608.ece

Next Story