--> Skip to main content

Jnana Suktam – A Hymn In Rig Veda On The Supreme Being

Jnana Suktam is the 71st hymn in the tenth section of Rig Veda Samhita. It is a difficult composition, with words that have ambiguous meanings.

According to Brihad Devata, its devata (deity) is jnanam. Acharya Sayana has explained it as “knowledge of Supreme Brahman”. The subject of the sukta is obviously jnanam (knowledge), which reveals to man the reality of his being and the way to merge into the Supreme Reality. Since knowledge is expressed through vak (speech), a portion of this hymn deals with the concept of speech.

Jnana Suktam consists of eleven verses. Its seventh verse discusses the power of human beings to absorb knowledge. The mantra states: “Friends possessing eyes, possessing ears, were yet unequal in mental apprehension, some seemed like pools reaching to the mouth, others reaching to the loins, others like pools in which one can bathe (10.71.908.7). Interpreting this, Sayana says: “They may be equal in the knowledge of sense organs, but unequal in mental knowledge.” The last verse describes the duties of the four chief rtvij (priests) of Vedas – reciting the verses of Rig Veda (rk) is the duty of the hota priest; chanting of the Gayatri (the saman) in the sakvari meter, that of the udgata priest; performing the ritual is the work of the Brahmin priest; and deciding the quantities of materials to be offered in yajna is to be done by the adhvaryu priest.