The Four Levels of the Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” –John 1:1, The Bible

Vak or vac means “speech” and refers to the Eternal Word. In Eastern metaphysics, the creation of the Universe is often described in connection with the unfolding of the archetypal sound. In Yoga Kundalini Upanishad (3:18ff), it states that vocalized sound must be dissolved in reverse order until the Supreme Reality, beyond all sound, is realized.

There are four levels of the Word, going from extremely subtle to gross sound. These levels correspond to the development of the entire Cosmos.

The Four Levels of Vak are:

  1. Para vak: “The supreme word,” the Logos. It is sound in its transcendental, supreme aspect as the source of all creation. It is the fully unmanifest level of language and is a synonym for the Supreme.Shabda Brahman is the term used for the Absolute expressed as transcendental sound. It is the Ultimate Reality in the form of vibrations, of which human words are only a rough representation. In this state, both thoughts and words are one and are unexpressed.
  2. Pashyanti vak: “That which sees” or “that which witnesses.” It is the finest relative level of vak, where there is no distinction between word and meaning. At this level, there is no temporal sequence. It is the seed of all thoughts, speech, and actions.
  3. Madhyama vak: “The one in the middle between the subtle and gross manifested sounds.” It refers to shabda (sound in its whispered or inaudible form), situated in the middle between pashyanti (subtle sound) and vaikhari (gross, manifested sound). It is the sound phenomenon that exists in between the formation of a thought (as an idea, feeling, or image) and its expression on the material level as speech or action.
  4. Vaikhari vak: Gross physical sound, the most external, profane, and differentiated level of language.

May Your Life Confirm Your Words

Abba Zosimas, a Christian mystic, expressed the power of words in this way: “What power is contained in the words of the saints! Truly, whatever they said, they spoke out of experience and truth, as the sacred Antony also says. Their words were powerful because they spoke of what they practiced; as one of the sages put it: May your life confirm your words!”

Vak, The Goddess of Speech

Personified, Vak is the Goddess of divine speech, as mentioned in the Rig Veda (the oldest of the scriptures known as the Vedas).

Learn more about the power of the Word in the Hridaya Yoga Retreat: Module 1 Intensive.