The delightful urvaSi
Utter the word urvaSi and the popular imagination soars up to the court of Indra, the King of the Gods in the Heaven. And there can one see the exquisitely sensuous Apsara urvaSi. Surprisingly, there is mention of urvaSi in RigVeda, but is She the Apsara that we all have come to identify?
From "Essentials of Rig Veda" by Dr.R.L.Kashyap: So much has been written about Her not only in the Puranas, but also in literature, one hardly notices the fact of her vedic origin.The Brahmanas, YAska and SAyana, all have committed mistake of applying the Puranic legends to Veda. That is to say, they all try to read the developed legend into the original hymns. This is reversal of the true process for understanding them. The Vedic hymns must explain the Puranic legends and not vice versa. [Let us consider a couple of examples of references to urvaSi:]
1.In 2.27.4, the seer prays for "Abhayam Jyotih" (fearless light) in "urvaSi."
2.In 5.41.19, "urvaSi" occurs in both the lines of the Rik (mantras of Rig Veda are called Riks). Here she raises the chant [of the seers] and covers with her light, the offering of the sacrifice.There is no idea of the nymph of the heaven, or even of the water-spirit here.In all ... references [found in Rig Veda regarding urvaSi], the etymological sense "uru" + "aSi" is dominant. "uru" is 'wide', and "aSi" is 'to enjoy'.
The name so formed can convey "wideness" of either light or delight.Beyond the heaven of the mind (dyuloka) , we find in the Veda several intermediate planes between Mind and Rtam-- the supermind, [the supertruth]. There is Brhat diva, "the great heaven"-- and there are the trIni Rochana, "the three shining realms". Of all these realms..., Indra is the Lord.
The [Veda suktas point to the fact that] "great heaven" [governed by Indra] has the "wide enjoyment", urvaSi. This original Vedic symbolism seems to have given rise to the Puranic legend in which urvaSi figures as a celestial nymph, a power in the hands of Indra.
[Hence, from] the references to urvaSi in Rig Veda... it is clear... that the word "urvaSi" is not used ... to indicate a person of that name. It indicates 'wide enjoyment' or 'infinite delight'. It is only when one has found the 'fearless light' that one can be established in 'the wide enjoyment' [of the 'great heaven']. posted by Gandaragolaka at 7:47 PM Kedar Location:Bangalore, India Saturday, July 22, 2006