Sanskrit: First words recorded on a gramophone disk were from the Rig Veda – WHN


“Oh Agni, You who gleam in the darkness, to You we come day by day, with devotion and bearing homage. So be of easy access to us, Agni, as a father to his son, abide with us for our well being.” – Rig Veda

Thomas Edison HMV had once published a pamphlet giving the history of gramophone record. Gramophone was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in the 19th century. Edison, who had invented many other gadgets like electric light and the motion picture camera, had become a legend even in his own time.

When he invented the gramophone record, which could record human voice for posterity, he wanted to record the voice of an eminent scholar on his first piece. For that he chose Prof. Max Muller of  England, another great personality of the 19th century. He wrote to Max Muller saying, “I want to meet you and record your voice. When should I come?” Max Muller who had great respect for Edison asked him to come on a suitable time when most of the scholars of the Europe would be gathering in England .

Friedrich Max Muller by Lock & WhitfieldAccordingly Edison took a ship and went to  England. He was introduced to the audience. All cheered  Edison’s presence. Later at the request of Edison, Max Muller came on the stage and spoke in front of the instrument. Then Edison went back to his laboratory and by afternoon came back with a disc. He played the gramophone disc from his instrument. The audience was thrilled to hear the voice of Max Muller from the instrument. They were glad that voices of great persons like Max Muller could be stored for the benefit of posterity.

After several rounds of applause and congratulations to Thomas Edison, Max Muller came to the stage and addressed the scholars and asked them, “You heard my original voice in the morning. Then you heard the same voice coming out from this instrument in the afternoon. Do you understand what I said in the morning or what you heard in the afternoon?”.

The audience fell silent because they could not understand the language in which Max Muller had spoken. It was ‘Greek and Latin’ to them as they say. But had it been Greek or Latin, they would have definitely understood because they were from various parts of  Europe. It was in a language which the European scholars had never heard.

Max Muller then explained what he had spoken. He said that the language he spoke was Sanskrit and it was the first sloka of Rig Veda, which says “Agni Meele Purohitam”. This was the first recorded public version on the gramophone plate.

अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवं रत्वीजम |
होतारं रत्नधातमम || Rig Veda 1.001.01

aghnimīḷe purohitaṃ yajñasya devaṃ ṛtvījam |
hotāraṃ ratnadhātamam || Rig Veda 1.001.01

Why did Max Muller choose this? Addressing the audience he said, “Vedas are the oldest text of the human race. And ‘Agni Meele Purohitam’ is the first verse of Rig Veda. In the most primordial time, when the people did not know how even to cover their bodies and lived by hunting and housed in caves, Indians had attained high civilization and they gave the world universal philosophies in the form of the Vedas”

When “Agni Meele Purohitam” was replayed the entire audience stood up in silence as a mark of respect for the ancient Hindu sages.

The verse means

“Oh Agni, You who gleam in the darkness, to You we come day by day, with devotion and bearing homage. So be of easy access to us, Agni, as a father to his son, abide with us for our well being.”World Hindu News, 29 April 2014

Victor V Disc Phonograph (Gramophone) ca. 1907

8 Responses


    The fox news article is in complete contradiction to the one published on the site.


  2. Thank you very much for the reference!


  3. anyone having doubt may please check this link,
    It is authentic and proof enough of the authenticity of the Article.

    [Quote below from The Life and Letters of the Right Honourable Friedrich Max Muller, Volume 1, The Bell Telephone, Pages 50-51]

    Max Muller Phonograph Record


  4. Remove this article which doesnt have any proof. This article is doing rounds in whatsapp, gullible public sharing d fake news.


  5. Dude.. U nailed it man.. Jus came across this article and I wasn’t really convinced.. bt then, ur reply made my day… ur work is much better than this article.


  6. Despite the fact that this makes good reading, there are anomalies here, Sir. Being a highly esteemed blog site and one which a lot of readers imbibe and educate themselves with, me included, would appreciate more research put in before publishing.


  7. The article above is copied from the World Hindu News website which states in its piece that the content is taken from a HMV (His Master’s Voice) “pamphlet giving the history of gramophone record.” We have reproduced the article as it is in good faith.

    This article concerns the first public display of Edison’s phonograph after he had adopted the disk to replace the original cylinder. That he would ask Max Muller to make the first statement on the record disk is quite plausible. There are too many genuine details in this story to simply discard it as fabricated. Rather the sequence of events in the evolution of Edison’s phonograph have not been made clear.

    Wikipedia’s article for Phonograph says in part: “The phonograph, also called gramophone (from the Greek: γράμμα, gramma, “letter” and φωνή, phōnē, “voice”) or record player, is a device introduced in 1877 for the recording and reproduction of sound recordings. The recordings played on such a device consist of waveforms that are engraved onto a rotating cylinder or disc. As the recorded surface rotates, a playback stylus traces the waveforms and vibrates to reproduce the recorded sound waves.

    “The phonograph was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison’s phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound. His phonograph originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder, and could both record and reproduce sounds. Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory made several improvements in the 1880s, including the use of wax-coated cardboard cylinders, and a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a “zig zag” pattern across the record.

    “In the 1890s, Emile Berliner initiated the transition from phonograph cylinders to flat discs with a spiral groove running from the periphery to near the center. Other improvements were made throughout the years, including modifications to the turntable and its drive system, the stylus or needle, and the sound and equalization systems.”

    Thank you for pointing out the apparent anomalies in the article.


  8. I used to enjoy your posting, but one is far from the truth. I do not know where you did your research. The message is certainly an e roomy and is circulating in the internet.

    Look at the improbabilities in this story. After inventing Gramophone Edison will he not try it at home country itself? Will Max Muller an European himself address fellow European downgrading them?

    To measure the quality of the recording one has to compare the original with the reproduction. An audience of general public can do that only when they understand the words that were spoken. If that is not understood by the peole how can on ewill do that?.

    Gramaphone was not invented by Edison. Edison called his device as phonograph. Graham Bell later invented graphophone. It was in 1887 Emile Berliner invented the so called gramaphone. Edison recorded on cylinders. Berliner recorded on flat disc.

    Since the mail is about Edison and his invention we will revert back to the story of Edison. As per the information available Edison made the first recording of human voice as he recited “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” He called it ‘Phonograph or Speaking Machine’ and patented it 1878 .

    Thomas Edison and the First Phonograph
    August 12, 1877

    Edison was trying to improve the telegraph transmitter when he noticed that the movement of the paper tape through the machine produced a noise resembling spoken words when played at a high speed. Experimenting with a stylus (hard-pointed instrument like a large needle) on a tinfoil cylinder, Edison spoke into the machine. Do you know the first words ever recorded?

    To Edison’s surprise, the cylinder recorded his message, “Mary had a little lamb.” People had a hard time believing his discovery at first, but soon doubt turned into awe as Edison became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” after the name of the city in New Jersey where he did his work. Sound recording was rapidly becoming an American industry.


    Early recordings by Thomas Edison

    Mary Had a Little Lamb ( MP3 | Real Audio)
    Performed by Thomas Alva Edison
    1927 re-enactment of the first sound recording in 1877.
    “The first words I spoke in the original phonograph. A little piece of practical poetry. Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”

    Speaking to Mr. Blaine ( MP3 | Real Audio)
    Performed by Thomas Alva Edison
    This is the earliest known recording of Thomas Edison’s voice (1888).
    As per the information available Edison made the first recording of human voice as he recited “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” He called it ‘Phonograph or Speaking Machine’ and patented it 1878 .

    The following news appeared quite recently when Smithsonian National Museum released to public.Quite interesting.
    Original Wax Record of 1881 Played First Time
    S. D. Man Co-Inventor
    from the San Diego Union, October 28, 1937

    Washington, Oct. 27 (A.P.) – The first wax recording ever made of a human voice turned out today to be a quotation form Shakespeare – and a bit of humor. The man responsible for the historic message, which for 56 years has been locked in a vault of the Smithsonian Institution here, probably was Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. Bell with two associates worked out the wax record method of capturing sound.

    Here are the first sounds he had recorded” “T-r-a — t-r-a — There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy — t-r-a. I am a graphophone and my mother was a phonograph.”
    The words were heard from the graphophone at the Smithsonian Institution this afternoon for the first time since 1881. Only one of the machine’s three inventors, Charles Sumner Tainter, is living and he was unable to come here from his San Diego, Calif. home for the ceremony.

    He is 84 years old and it was his desire that the graphophone be brought out of storage and placed on exhibition during his life time. Tainter, Alexander Graham Bell and a cousin, Chichester Bell, packed their machine away in the Smithsonian in 1881, as soon as they had completed it, so they would have no trouble in obtaining patents should any question arise as to when it was invented. Thomas Edison had already made recordings on tin foil plates, which were too fragile to be of commercial value, and Smithsonian officials said the Bell group may have believed Edison also was working on a wax process. The officials added that the humorous quotation linking the graphophone with the phonograph was undoubtedly an acknowledgement on Bell’s part of Edison’s early work in voice recording. Edison had called his tin foil mechanism a phonograph.

    The Bells and Tainter agreed the box deposited in the Smithsonian should not be opened except by agreement of two of them. They obtained patents without having to produce their first model, and the box went unopened. Subsequently both of the Bells died. Mrs. Gilbert Grosvernor of Washington, wife of the president of the National Geographic society, and Mrs. David Fairchild of Coconut Grove, Fla., agreed to Tainter’s request that the box be opened and they and other members of the Bell family, including a great grandson, Alexander Graham Bell Grosvenor, were present. Mrs. Fairchild said she did not recognize the recorded voice as that of her father but she believed he composed the message. “It’s the sort of thing father would have said,” she explained. “He was fond of quoting Shakespeare and he would have liked the little joke about the graphophone that came at the end.”

    Source: Tainter Papers, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D. C.

    It is true that Max Muller did recite Agnimile prohitam to the recording company but not his voice were the first one ever recorded. His voice was recorded for Bell. One can read this incident in the book Life and letters of Max Muller, Life and Letters of Fred Max Muller, page 50

    One more very important news to disprove the theory mentioned in the essay. Edison never travelled to Europe.


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