·         Reading between the Lines…

·         Ex post facto

·         Numbers through Symbolism

·         Encryption Capability

·         Encoding & Encryption

·         Encrypted Science in Rig-veda

·         Conclusion

·         References

Reading between the Lines… 

Why is encryption required in scriptures?

Look at this set of three telegrams apparently in regard to travel arrangements:

Next judiciary council meeting can now be arranged. Confirm convenient date as space must be requested. -Boris

Advise probable travel plans. Your sister’s plane arrived late but landed safely. Lost Passport and money. She will be placed in first class Swiss hotel Will settle account later   -Boris

Your sister will try American embassy to obtain temporary transport. No info available yet on new visa Swiss make Russians seem saints. Will ship sister to you. -Boris

Let us now see how the telegrams would be read by the intended recipient. If every fourth word alone were to be read, it would give the intended message.

Next judiciary council meeting can now be arranged, Confirm convenient date as space must berequested. -Boris

Advise probable travel plans. Your sister’s plane arrived late but landed safely. Lost Passport and money. She will be placed in first class Swiss hotel. Will settle account later. -Boris

Your sister will try American embassy to obtain temporary transport. No info available yet on new visa, Swiss make Russians seem saints. Will ship sister to you. -Boris

This is a simple good case of encryption.

• The document (telegram) is accessible to all.

• The document per se makes some sense.

• In the hands of a ‘competent’ recipient, the text delivers its true intent.

The purpose of this encryption is to deliver a confidential message through a public medium.

Ex post facto


Let us go back a thousand years and look at another example.

The name sequence is Venkatesha-ashtottara-shata-namavali, containing a series of names in praise of Lord Venkatesha, the deity of Tirumala. If one of these names were to be missed the hymn will fall short of the magic number 108.

There is no storyline/meaning which could ensure the utterance of these names in the sequence in which these had been composed. There is a desire on the part of the composer that the hymn is recited as composed.

When the first letters of the names in the hymn are assembled, 4 Slokas in Anushtup-chandas come into being. If a name or any sequence were to be missed or changed, this code would show up the flaw, like the check digit used in coding by software professionals. The purpose of this coding is to ensure the integrity of the work.

Let us now look at encodings involving interplay of alphabets and numbers.


Gopibhagya madhuvrata srngisodadhisandhiga I

Khalajivitakhatava galahalarasandhara II

Meaning – Oh (Krishna,) the fortune of the Gopis, the destroyer of the demon Madhu, protector of cattle, the one who ventured the ocean-depths, destroyer of evildoers, one with plough on the shoulder and the bearer of nectar, may (you) protect (us).

This is a Shloka in praise of Lord Krishna.

That is it and nothing more unless you have heard of the protocol called Katapayadi-sankhya. Under Katapayaadi-sankhya, alphabets have numerical values ascribed to them. For E.g., Ka, ta, pa, ya mean 1. With this key you can read the same Sloka; out go the alphabets and in come the numbers. The ‘translation’, if you can call it so, is: 3.1415926535897932384626433832792.

You don’t have to be a mathematical genius or Sanskrit scholar to recognize the number. It is the value of pi correct to 31 digits. With an understanding of the encryption tools of Sanskrit you will seem like both.

The purpose of this encryption is to recall a number with a large number of digits effortlessly.

Numbers through Symbolism

Numbers are assigned not only for consonants but also for certain words. The deciphering pre-supposes knowledge of Indian literature including mythology, philosophy and natural phenomena and conventions.

Earth, moon                                = 1

Yugala (twins)                             = 2

Rama, Agni, Shiva’s eyes             = 3

Yuga                                            = 4

Seasons, Gunas (policies of king),

Rasas (tastes), enemies (internal) = 6

Rishi, Mountains                             = 7

Vasus, Gaja                                   = 8

Manus                                          = 14

Tithis                                            = 15

The following list taken from the colophons of various works is a classic example of the same:

Ramagnigunadharaprame sakahayane    1633

Kalarsirasabhumitame                              1676

Vasuvasudhacalavasundhara                   1718

Rasadrimanau                                           1476

Encryption Capability

There is a recent work (17th century AD) of the name Sri-raghava-yadaveeyam. The name is intriguing and is coded very methodically. Raghava refers to the one born in Raghu-kula viz., Rama, the protagonist of the epicRamayana; Yadava refers to the one born in the Yadhu-kula viz., Krishna, the protagonist of the other epicMahabharata.

The 30 Slokas in the work tell the story of Rama, evidently very briefly, justifying the first part of the name. Again, there is an interesting story why the second part is called Yadaveeyam. These Slokas, if read in the reverse, letter by letter, narrate an episode from the life of Lord Krishna – of bringing the Parijata tree from the heavens to the earth.

This interesting though brief work

·         Shows the verbal ingenuity of the composer Arasanipalai Venkitacharya and also

·         Proves the encryption capability of the Sanskrit language.

Encoding & Encryption

The cases cited thus far have some common features. There is play of letters/words in the texts. All the texts have an additional message beyond the apparent meaning. The motive could be to hide (in the case of telegrams to the Russian spy) or to display (the composer’s smartness) as in the case of Raghava-yadaveeyam. When the intention is to conceal the second meaning, it is referred to as encryption. The difference between encoding and encryption is really one of objective and not method.

Encryption is a feature of ancient literature. Ancient India placed a lot of emphasis on knowledge reaching only those who could be trusted with the knowledge and not all. Ideas are often conveyed covertly and not overtly in ancient texts. The language and the literary style had more than enough capability to achieve this end.

There are some works, for example, the Sri-vidya literature, which are commonly understood as encrypted. Bhaskararaya (1690 – 1785) defying accepted practices of his time wrote a commentary on Lalita-sahastranama, unlocking some of its hidden thoughts.

Encrypted Science in Rig-veda

How far back does this practice of encryption go? At least one-man – Dr. Subhash Kak, a scientist, historian and Indologist felt strongly that there is encrypted truth in the oldest of all literary works – the Rig-Veda, backed his instincts and dwelt on the issue. His work has unveiled the knowledge of astronomy of the Vedic civilization that lay hidden in the Samhita part of the Rig-Veda. Let us look at this now.

Vedas are the earliest extant literary work of the mankind. There are four Vedas. Rig, Yajur, Sama, andAtharva. Each of the Vedas is in four parts.

•       Samhita

•       Brahmana

•       Aranyaka and

•       Upanishad.

The Samhita part of Rig-Veda contains

·         Riks (verses with intonation) in praise of various gods and goddesses which are used in rituals and·         Some instructions on conducting ritual sacrifices.

How do you bundle astronomical knowledge in a set of verses?

Vedavyasa has arranged the Riks in the Samhita into ten books.

Book:           I    II  III  IV  V   VI  VII  VIII   IX   X
No. of Riks: 191 43 62 58  87 75  104   92  114 191 1017

The arrangement embodies several messages. We will look at just one of them. The number of Riks in the 10 books (as arranged by Vedavyasa) in combination, indicates the number of days taken by the 5 planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn to orbit around the Sun measured

– Relative to the Earth (Synodic period)

– Relative to the Stars (Sidereal period)

The Synodic periods of these 5 planets are reflected in the arrangement of Riks into 10 books as shown below:

S.No Planet Book Number Number of Riks in the books Days
Ancient Current
1 Mercury III+IV 62+58 120 115.88
2 Venus I+V+IX+X 191+87+114+191 583 583.92
3 Mars I + V + VII + VIII + IX + X 191+87+104+92+114+191 779 779.94
4 Jupiter II+III+ V + VIII+IX 43+62+87+92+114 398 398.99
5 Saturn II+IV + V + VI+IX 43+58+87+75+114 377 378.09

The Sidereal periods have also been made to reflect in the arrangement as shown below:

S.No   Planet Book   Number Number of Riks in the books         Days
Ancient Current
1 Mercury Vx1 87×1 87 87.97
2 Venus IV+VI+VIII 58+75+92 225 224.70
3 Mars 3X+IX 191×3+114 687 686.98
4 Jupiter IVxVI . 58×75 4350 4,332.60
5 Saturn VIIxVII 104×104 10816 10,759.30

All the values correspond with the correct number with the exception of the number of days that Mercury takes to orbit the planet measured with reference to the earth.

Is this exercise attributing to Vedavyasa an encryption that he did not even attempt? It is unlikely for the following reasons.

l. The Rig-Vedic Indians were familiar with these five planets.

  1. These five planets along with the sun and the moon provide the names for the 7 days of the week.
l. Mercury Budha Wednesday
2. Venus Shukra Friday
3. Mars Angaraka/ Mangala Tuesday
4. Jupiter Guru Thursday
5. Saturn Shani Saturday

ii.        These planets also figure prominently in the Puranic lore. Guru and Shukra are the preceptors of the Devas and Asuras respectively.

iii.        The names of the planets suggest that the Vedic Indians knew enough about the size, and orbital movements of the planets as illustrated below:

·         Jupiter is the largest amongst the planets. It has a diameter of 88,736 miles compared with other planets like Mercury – 3032 miles, Venus – 7519 miles, Earth – 7926 miles. The word for Jupiter in Sanskrit is Guru, the big one.

·         Saturn’s orbit around the sun is 29.5 earth years (10767.5 days). It is the slowest compared with the pace of the other planets like Mercury – 88 days, Venus – 225 days, Earth – 365 days. ‘Shanaih charathi iti Shanaishchara’ the one that move slowly is Shanaishchara (Saturn).

2.   Getting 10 connected values (the orbital days of these specific 5 planets) out of a set of 20 numbers, by coincidence, is extremely improbable. The odds are 2.87 X 10-7.

3.   One number – Synodic days of Mercury – is off the right value by 5 days. Mercury amongst the 5 planets considered is the most difficult to observe from Earth. The bug, as it were, validates the package.

Therefore, we conclude that this is a case of conscious encryption.

The next question is whether, by this exercise, we are attributing to the Rig-Vedic Indians a knowledge that they did not possess.

The Knowledge is in the arrangement of the Riks into books and not in the Riks themselves. Therefore, it might be fair to conclude that this encryption reflects the knowledge that was available when Vedavyasa organizedRig-veda-samhita into 10 books.


Three valuable lessons emerge from this exercise of decoding the arrangement of Rig-veda-samhita into 10 books:

•       The Indians in Vedavyasa’s times (3000 BCE) knew astronomy.

•       Patently religious ancient texts also embody secular truths.

•       Encryption is practiced and therefore every ancient text has to be studied for the gems hidden therein.

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