Vâc means “word” and “song,” as well as being the name of an early Vedic goddess. Vâc refers to both speech and speech-consciousness. Vâc enters into the seers (rishis). A Rigvedic hymn to Vâc stated that all actions and powers were grounded in speech.
It was the primordial energy out of which all existence originated and in which it subsisted. At the same time it claimed that Vâc extended beyond the heavens and the earth. This was an example of an associative process that the hymnists were using what were called bandhus (links)—a logic that connected processes with divinities.
Speech was recognized as the first expression of truth. The sage Dirghatamas proclaimed, “From her [Vâc] flows the oceans; through her the four regions exist; from her the ground [akshara] of the Veda flows; on her the entire universe stands.” Then he stated that only the manifested forms of speech can be known; the deepest levels remain hidden.
He further added that prayer is the highest heaven in which speech dwells. Through prayer—the fundamental mode of speech-consciousness—the individual mind tried to resonate with the cosmic mind in Vedic hymns. The yâjña (sacrificial) performances were based on the psychology of speech-consciousness.
Through the liturgical, performative knowledge of sacrificial celebration, the limitations of ordinary existence and the grounding of human existence in the more fundamental levels of consciousness were recognized and experienced. In the Brâhmanas Vâc was equated with Sarasvatî, the goddess of wisdom and the arts. In the Upanishads Vâc was created from the self (atman).
However, the tendency to pull down the gods and goddesses reigned in the Purânas, and her reputation was besmirched. As Vâc-Sarasvatî, she was the mind-daughter of Brahmâ. So the Matsya and S´iva Purânas implicated her in the sin of incest with her father, Brahmâ. Virâtrûpa Agni (Brahmâ’s son as half a male) mated with his sister Vâc, and their offspring became the year.
In S´aivite cosmology, S´iva manifested the cosmos in five stages: joy (ânanda), knowledge (vijñâna), thought (mana), life-breath (prâna), and physical life (bhûta). Bhûta divided into speech (vâc) and food (anna). Thus, Vâc was subordinated to S´iva as the true creator, and speech became just one of the principles involved in the origin of the universe.