Vāc (Sanskrit: वाच्, vāc) is the Sanskrit word for "speech", from a verbal root vac- "speak, tell, utter". Vāc is the stem form of the word, which is the dictionary form in Sanskrit. In English, the word is often referred to as vāk, the nominative singular form, which would be the dictionary form in accordance with English grammatical conventions.
Vāk is also a Vedic goddess, a personified form of speech. She enters into the inspired poets and visionaries, gives expression and energy to those she loves, she is called the "mother of the Vedas" and consort of Indra in Aitareya Aranyaka. Elsewhere, such as in the Padma Purana, she is stated to be the wife of Vision (Kashyapa), the mother of Emotions, and the friend of Musicians (Gandharva).
In the early Rigveda (books 2 to 7), vāc- refers to cosmic sound, envisioned as feminine. Vac as the earliest sounds is mentioned in Rigvedic thought in RV 10.71.1–4, as the source of language, words some hear but don't understand, as follows:
- "When men, Brhaspati!, giving names to objects, sent out Vak's first and earliest utterances
- All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection."
- "Where, like men cleansing corn-flour in a cribble, the wise in spirit have created language,
- Friends see and recognize the marks of friendship: their speech retains the blessed sign imprinted."
- "With sacrifice the trace of Vak they followed, and found her harbouring within the Rsis.
- They brought her, dealt her forth in many places: seven singers make her tones resound in concert."
- "One man hath ne'er seen Vak, and yet he seeth: one man hath hearing but hath never heard her.
- But to another hath she shown her beauty as a fond well-dressed woman to her husband."
Vak also speaks, and is described as a goddess, in RV 8.100:
- "When, uttering words which no one comprehended, Vak, Queen of Gods, the Gladdener, was seated,
- The heaven's four regions drew forth drink and vigour: now whither hath her noblest portion vanished?"
- "The Deities generated Vak the Goddess, and animals of every figure speak her.
- May she, the Gladdener, yielding food and vigour, the Milch-cow Vak, approach us meetly lauded."
RV 1.164.45 uses the word Vac in the sense of speech, as follows:
- "Speech hath been measured out in four divisions, the Brahmans who have understanding know them.
- Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division."
- Definition of Vāc
- The Myths and Gods of India, Alain Daniélou, pages 260-261
- David Kinsley (1987). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 55, 222. ISBN 978-81-208-0394-7.