We are now in a position to interpret the different meanings of the letters (vowels) of the Sanskrt alphabet.
a - Name of Vishnu: The explanation is obvious "a" is the first vowel of the alphabet, and represents the first energy of life, the energy of the Heart, having Buddhi for its first manifestation. From this we conclude that Vishnu, the god of Buddhi, also represents Heart-energy. In this connection it has already been pointed out that the Buddhi or Vedanta system of thought may be examined in relation to (1) Heart-energy, (2) Buddhi, (3) Mind and the Mind is analogous to the Heart in many respects.
A - Name of Siva; grandfather: A, being a lengthened and more obvious from of A, represents the same energy in its more manifest aspect. The more obvious form of the first or Heart-energy is either Buddhi or Mind, for the latter is akin to the Heart in several ways. Hence the meaning Siva, who, as has already been pointed out, represents Mind energy. From this it follows that though Siva represents the Mind, he is also associated with Buddhi; and it has been observed that the Mind or Yoga system of thought may be examined in relation to (1) Buddhi, (2) Mind itself, and (3) Ether.
The meaning, grandfather, would appear to be a secondary one, being derived from the idea of Siva as supreme creator or grandfather of the universe.
i - Name of Kamadeva; to go; walk; arise from; reach: It has been remarked that the vowel I, being the second vowel of the alphabet, should refer to the second manifest energy, and that is Mind. It has also been pointed out that Kama or Desire is characteristic of the Mind.
Accordingly, I is the name of Kamadeva the lord of Desire, the "primal seed of the Mind". It may be of interest to note that Kamadeva is also the name of both Vishnu and Siva; and this will indicate the relation of Heart-energy to Mind in the case of Vishnu, and further point to Siva as representing Mind-energy.
As the Mind-energy is closely connected with Ether into which it is immediately transformed, and as the chief characteristic of Ether is motion, I also means "to walk, go, etc." the other meanings of I would appear to be secondary.
I - Name of Kandarpa or Kamadeva: Other meanings of I are the same as those of i.
I, being the lengthened or more obvious form of I, would represent the same energies as the latter, but in a more obvious manner. Hence the explanation of the meanings of I is the same as in connection with I.
u - Name of Siva; of Brahman; to call; roar, bellow: As has already been pointed out, this vowel refers to Purushic Ether; and its meanings may easily be associated with Brahman, in connection with whom we get the conception of Brahmanda or the Egg or Ovum of Brahma; and the form of an Egg is, as already pointed out, related to Ether. From this we conclude that Brahma is associated with the system of thought connected with Ether, viz., the Sankhya system and all that it implies.
Siva also may easily be associated with Ether. In this connection it should be borne in mind that each system of thought, Vedanta, Yoga, and Sankhya, may be considered from three points of view; and the meanings of the vowels or consonants connected with these systems must bear on all that the systems are associated with.
The other meanings of U are obviously connected with Sound, which, as already explained, is characteristic of Ether (Purushic as well as Prakrtic).
U - Name of Siva; an interjection of calling to; helping; protecting; weaving; sewing: The explanation of Siva is the same as in the case of U, whose more obvious form this vowel is. So is the meaning, "calling to", implying sound. Other meanings would appear to be secondary, describing perhaps the character of Ether as a "protector" of life, and also indicating its motion, as weaving, sewing, etc.
R - An interjection of calling, laughter, etc, heaven (Ether, Space); to go, reach, pierce: It has already been pointed out that R refers to Prakrtic Ether; and all the meanings of this vowel can be explained in the light of Ether; for Ether is the source of sound (calling, laughter, etc.); it is Space itself; and it implies motion (to go, reach, etc.).
Ri - Mother of the gods, of the demons, going, motion. Other meanings are the same as of Ri: Ri is a lengthened and, therefore, a more obvious form of R, and would represent Prakrtic Ether. Its meaning as "mother of gods and demons" is interesting, as indicating that the idea of both gods and demons is derived from an examination of Prakrti, for Prakrtic Ether represents Prakrti.
It is easy enough to understand the idea of going or motion, as connected with Ether which is characterised by motion. It has already been pointed out that Purushic Ether is characterised by elliptical and Prakrtic Ether by wave motion; the one being limited in space, and the other accompanied by change of place.
Lr - The Earth; a mountain; the mother of gods; female Nature (Prakrti): In our explanation of the vowels Lr refers to Air; and Air is conceived as Prakrti, firstly because of its association with Prana, or Breath (for, Prana. is sometimes conceived as Purushic and sometimes as Prakrtic, even as the Heart-energy is); secondly, because the element Air is associated with all actions, and actions are related to Prakrti, and the very word Prakrti (Pra, kr, ti or iti) implies action; and thirdly, because all that is produced in Ether is made manifest in Air. Hence all the attributes of Ether may easily be associated with Air, and the former is conceived as Prakrti, as has already been explained. Accordingly, Lr (Air) signifies Prakrti or female Nature, and is conceived as the mother of gods. Indeed, the meaning might easily have been "mother of gods as well as demons" as in the case of Ri; and we shall see that in its lengthened form, Lr, we get this meaning.
It might appear to be difficult to explain the meaning Earth; but our planet Earth often represents Prakrti, and, as we shall see later, the very idea of Prthvi (which signifies our planet Earth) is that of Prakrti or female Nature. It has already been observed that our Earth is conceived as consisting of all the five elements, etc.
The same observations apply to the meaning Mountain. As we shall see, Parvata or Mountain stands for Ether or Prakrti, from which we get Parvata or "daughter of the Mountain", the consort of Mahadeva; and the union of the two symbolizes and union of the Supreme Purusha or Mind with Ether.
Lri - Siva; mother of the Cow of Plenty; mother of Danavas (Demons); mother; Divine Female; female Nature (Prakrti): All meanings of Lri, except that of Siva, are similar to those of its shorter form, Lr; and the explanation is the same.
The meaning, Siva, is not difficult to reconcile with the idea of Air or Breath, or Prana, which, as the energy of the Heart or Mind (to which the Heart is akin), may be conceived as identified with Siva.
E - Name of Vishnu; (as a combination of a and I) to come near.: In our scheme of thought E stands for Fire, which is associated with the Sun or Buddhi, the first manifest form of Heart-energy or Vishnu. The other meaning is secondary.
Ai - Name of Siva: The difference between E and Ai (its elongated form) is analogous to that between a and A; and we have seen that the one is the name of Vishnu and the other of Siva in both cases; and for the same reason.
O - Name of Brahma: According to our system of thought, O refers to Water or Prakrti. We have already seen that Brahma is associated with the idea of the Universal Ovum (Brahmanda), which again is related to Ether, often identified with Prakrti. As water also represents Prakrti, the name of Brahma: may appropriately be associated with it.
Au - Name of Ananta or Sesa (Serpent); sound: Au, according to our system of thought, represents a more obvious form of Water or Prakrti; and since it means the Great Serpent, it implies that the Serpent is identified with Prakrti. The other meaning appears to be secondary, Prakrti being identified with Ether which is characterised by sound.
Idea of the Supreme Purusha in Terms of Vowels: We have seen that a number of vowels refer to the Supreme Purusha, Vishnu, Siva, and Brahma; and as the former represent Purushic and Prakrtic energies of life, we should be able to get some idea of the character of the Supreme Purusha, as understood by the ancients, from them.
We see that Vishnu is represented by A and E; the one representing Buddhi, and the other Fire; and both the energies are Purushic. From this we may conclude that the idea of Vishnu is purely Purushic, and Prakrti is conceived as created out of him.
Further, we find that Siva is represented by A, I, U, U, Lri, and Ai; and A refers to Buddhi, I to Mind, U and U to Purushic Ether, Lri to Air, and Ai to Fire; of these A, U, U and Ai are Purushic and the rest Prakrtic. Accordingly, the idea of Siva is partly Purushic and partly Prakrtic; that is, he combines the characteristics of both Purusha and Prakrti. In other words, according to the Siva idea, creation takes place by means of the union of Purusha and Prakrti; while according to the Vishnu idea Purusha alone creates, and Prakrti herself is created out of him.
Again, we see that Brahma is represented by U and O; the former referring to Purushic Ether, and the latter to Water; the first being Purushic and the second Prakrtic. From this we conclude that the idea of Brahma, like that of Siva, signifies the union of Purusha and Prakrti in the creation of life. But there is a difference between the idea of Siva and that of Brahma. We notice that the Brahma idea is limited to the elements, Ether and Water; while the Siva idea comprehends Buddhi as well. Accordingly the Brahma idea is limited to the creative energy of the elements, from Ether downwards while the Siva idea conceives of Buddhi as the highest creative energy of life. We might remember that the Siva idea refers also to the creative energy of the Mind; and this is seen in the meaning of I as Kamadeva or the god of desire, a name of Siva.
If our reasoning is correct, the three great energies of life are represented by the three great gods Vishnu as purely Purushic, with Buddhi for his first manifest energy, according to whose conception there is only one Purusha without a second, and he alone creates the universe; (2) Siva, both Purushic and Prakrtic, with Mind for his first manifest energy, according to whom both Purusha and Prakrti unite to create the universe; and (3) Brahma, both Purushic and Prakrtic, with Ether for his first manifest energy, according to whom also, both Purusha and Prakrti unite to create the universe. The last theory came, in later times, to be associated with the name of Buddha.