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The first six hymns
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All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me. Besides, although I have not written any formal commentary on each stanza, I have added my own notes when a more detailed explanation is needed. My explanatory notes are clickable, i.e. click on the number to quickly reach my explanation and click on the arrow icon to return to the exact position where you were reading.
। अथ प्रथमं मण्डलम्।
। अथ प्रथमोऽष्टकः।
प्रथमोऽध्यायः॥ वर्गाः १-३७
सूक्तम् १ -मण्डलम् १ अनुक्रमणी १-
ऋषिर्मधुच्छन्दा वैश्वामित्रः - छन्दो गायत्री - देवता अग्निः
ॐ अ॒ग्निमी॑ळे पु॒रोहि॑तं य॒ज्ञस्य॑ दे॒वमृत्विज॑म्। होता॑रं रत्न॒धात॑मम्॥१॥
अ॒ग्निः पूर्वे॑भि॒रृषि॑भि॒रीड्यो॒ नूत॑नैरु॒त। स दे॒वाँ एह व॑क्षति॥२॥
अ॒ग्निना॑ र॒यिम॑श्नव॒त्पोष॑मे॒व दि॒वेदि॑वे। य॒शसं॑ वी॒रव॑त्तमम्॥३॥
अग्ने॒ यं य॒ज्ञम॑ध्व॒रं वि॒श्वत॑: परि॒भूरसि॑। स इद्दे॒वेषु॑ गच्छति॥४॥
अ॒ग्निर्होता॑ क॒विक्र॑तुः स॒त्यश्चि॒त्रश्र॑वस्तमः। दे॒वो दे॒वेभि॒रा ग॑मत्॥५॥
यद॒ङ्ग द॒शुषे॒ त्वमग्ने॑ भ॒द्रं क॑रि॒ष्यसि॑। तवेत्तत्स॒त्यम॑ङ्गिरः॥६॥
उप॑ त्वाग्ने दि॒वेदि॑वे॒ दोषा॑वस्तर्धि॒या व॒यम्। नमो॒ भर॑न्त॒ एम॑सि॥७॥
राज॑न्तमध्व॒राणां॑ गो॒पामृ॒तस्य॒ दीदि॑विम्। वर्ध॑मानं स्वे दमे॑॥८॥
स न॑: पि॒तेव॑ सू॒नवेऽग्ने॑ सूपाय॒नो भ॑व। सच॑स्वा नः स्व॒स्तये॑॥९॥
| Atha prathamaṁ maṇḍalam |
| Atha prathamo'ṣṭakaḥ |
Prathamo'dhyāyaḥ|| Vargāḥ 1-37
Sūktam 1 -Maṇḍalam 1 Anukramaṇī 1-
Ṛṣirmadhucchandā vaiśvāmitraḥ - Chando gāyatrī - Devatā agniḥ
Om̐ a̱gnimī̍ḻe pu̱rohi̍taṁ ya̱jñasya̍ de̱vamṛtvija̍m| Hotā̍raṁ ratna̱dhāta̍mam||1||
A̱gniḥ pūrve̍bhi̱rṛṣi̍bhi̱rīḍyo̱ nūta̍nairu̱ta| Sa de̱vām̐ eha va̍kṣati||2||
A̱gninā̍ ra̱yima̍śnava̱tpoṣa̍me̱va di̱vedi̍ve| Ya̱śasaṁ̍ vī̱rava̍ttamam||3||
Agne̱ yaṁ ya̱jñama̍dhva̱raṁ vi̱śvata̍ḥ pari̱bhūrasi̍| Sa idde̱veṣu̍ gacchati||4||
A̱gnirhotā̍ ka̱vikra̍tuḥ sa̱tyaści̱traśra̍vastamaḥ| De̱vo de̱vebhi̱rā ga̍mat||5||
Yada̱ṅga da̱śuṣe̱ tvamagne̍ bha̱draṁ ka̍ri̱ṣyasi̍| Tavettatsa̱tyama̍ṅgiraḥ||6||
Upa̍ tvāgne di̱vedi̍ve̱ doṣā̍vastardhi̱yā va̱yam| Namo̱ bhara̍nta̱ ema̍si||7||
Rāja̍ntamadhva̱rāṇāṁ̍ go̱pāmṛ̱tasya̱ dīdi̍vim| Vardha̍mānaṁ sve dame̍||8||
Sa na̍ḥ pi̱teva̍ sū̱nave'gne̍ sūpāya̱no bha̍va| Saca̍svā naḥ sva̱staye̍||9||
The compilation of The Veda of Praise
| And now the first Book begins |
| And now the first set of eight lessons begins |
First lesson || Groups 1-37
Hymn 1 -Book 1 Index 1-
Om̐ (om̐) - I praise (īḻe) Agni, the god of fire (agnim), (who is) the family priest (purohitam), the divine (devam) priest (ṛtvijam) of the yajña or ritual of worship (yajñasya)4 , (as well as the priest known as) Hotā (hotārām)5 , (and who) distributes great riches (ratna-dhātamam)||1||
The god of fire (agniḥ) (is) worthy of being praised and solicited (īḍyaḥ) by (both) the former (pūrvebhiḥ) Seers (ṛṣibhiḥ) and (uta) the present ones (nūtanaiḥ). Let him bring (saḥ... vakṣati) the gods (devām̐) here (ā iha)!||2||
Through the god of fire (agninā), may (one) obtain (aśnavat)6 possessions (rayim) (and) prosperity (poṣam) day by day (dive-dive) indeed (eva)! (Also, may one gain) beauty and glory (yaśasam) (along with) the greatest wealth consisting of (heroic) sons (vīravat-tamam)7 !||3||
Oh god of fire (agne), that (saḥ) (ritual of) worship (yajñam) (or) sacrifice (adhvaram) you enclose or pervade (paribhūḥ asi) from all sides (viśvatas), certainly (id) goes (gacchati) to the gods (deveṣu)||4||
(Let) Agni (agniḥ), the god (of fire) (devaḥ), the real (satyaḥ) Hotā priest (hotā)8 of wise (kavi) intelligence (kratuḥ), whose fame is most wonderful (citra-śravas-tama), come here (ā gamat) together with the gods (devebhiḥ)!||5||
Oh god of fire (agne), no doubt (aṅga) whatever (yad) prosperity and welfare (bhadram) you (tvam) will (intend to) bestow --lit. "you will cause"-- (kariṣyasi) upon the one who honors and serves the gods (dashuṣe), oh Aṅgirās (aṅgiraḥ)9 , that (intention) (tad) of yours (tava) (comes) true (satyam)10 indeed (id)||6||
Oh god of fire (agne), illuminer (vastar) of the dark (doṣā), we (vayam) come (emasi) near (upa)11 you (tvā) day by day (dive-dive), bringing (bharantaḥ) salutation(s) (namas) by means of prayer and understanding (dhiyā)12 !||7||
(We come near you) who rule (rājantam) over the sacrifices (adhvarāṇām), who are the shining (dīdivim) guardian (gopām) of the divine law and settled order (ṛtasya), (and who) grow and increase (vardhamānam) in your own (sve) house (dame)13 ||8||
Oh god of fire (agne), be (saḥ... bhava) easily accessible (sūpāyanaḥ) to us (nas) as (iva) a father (pitā) to (his) son (sūnave), (and) accompany (sacasvā) us (nas) so that (we can) obtain well-being and success (svastaye)14 !||9||
1 "Madhucchandā Vaiśvāmitraḥ" is written, without any Sandhi or combination: "Madhucchandās Vaiśvāmitraḥ". The great sage Viśvāmitra had 101 children. His 51st son bears the name of Madhucchandās, the Ṛṣi or Seer who is the author, or rather the one who "saw" the first Sūkta or Hymn of Ṛgvedasaṁhitā. In other words, the first Sūkta was revealed to him. The word "Vaiśvāmitraḥ" means "related to Viśvāmitra". In this case, it should be interpreted as "son of Viśvāmitra", of course. Again, the word "Ṛṣi" also means "sage, etc.", but the term "seer" is much more adequate, I think, because the ṛṣi-s are not really the authors of all these Vedic hymns, but the ones whom they were revealed. They saw the hymns, and for this reason they are called the "Seers". Of course, if you translate the term as "sage, etc." is right too, but "seer" is more exact in my humble opinion. My affirmation has some etymological support as well, because the term "ṛṣi" is "possibly" derived from the root "ṛṣ", which would be an obsolete form for the current root "dṛś" (to see).
2 "Gāyatrī" is a meter consisting of 24 syllables "generally" arranged in a triplet of 8 syllables each. However, it seems that was "unequally" arranged in a duet of 16 and 8 syllables, respectively. In other words, 16 syllables up to the short pause (|) and 8 syllables from this one (|) up to the long pause (||). I said "it seems" because that is not so. There are really three lines containing 8 syllables each. A short pause (|) does not indicates indefectibly that this is the end of a pada or verse. Look at the original arrangement of, for example, the third stanza:
Do you understand me now? But, this arrangement, even though completely original and correct, occupies three lines. If you consider that not only the Sanskrit portion but also the transliteration in IAST will occupy thrice more space, you will agree with me that the solution lies in writing all in one line for the sake of making the text more compact. Look:
Agninā rayimaśnavatpoṣameva divedive| Yaśasaṁ vīravattamam||3||
This is easily understood at first glance by any Sanskrit scholar examining the stanzas, but most students may experience confusion. That is why, I took the trouble to write this lengthy note to dissipate all possible doubts. Of course, I was talking about meters regulated by "syllables", but there is another category regulated by "mātrā-s"... oh my God, it would be better for you not to know anything about it, for now at least... Sanskrit meter may become another Sanskrit headache, which is not so serious as the "Verb" syndrome (See Verbs documents for more information about the "Verb" syndrome, hehe), but a headache anyway.
3 The devatā is the deity worshipped or praised or simply dealt with in a particular hymn. In this case, Agni, the god of fire, is the object of praise and solicitation during this ceremony or ritual of worship carried out by the priests. Agni is not only fire as you would normally think of it, let alone a kind of idol called "the god of fire"... no. He is that which is possessed of the quality of heat and color in all orders of life. He is the physical fire as well as the fire of knowledge and the colors in all objects you can see, the power of seeing, etc. Also, remember that there is no polytheism in Veda-s because every "deity" is considered as an aspect of the Supreme Being, who is "One without a second" (Advitīya). The subject is much deeper indeed and it would deserve a full commentary, while these are mere explanatory notes. Anyhow, try to understand what I said, please, or you will not understand the full purport of the "devatā-s" or deities in Ṛgveda or any other Vedic book.
4 Note that the word "yajña" is nowadays generally translated as "sacrifice" or "sacrificial act", but in ancient times it mainly meant "worship" or even "praise, prayer, etc.". That is why, I translated it so, and added "ritual of" for the sake of making the term even clearer.
5 The Hotā priest is mainly in charge of offering the oblations to the fire during the ritual of worship. He also invoke the gods and thus he is often known as the "invoker". He does not do that alone, but he has three assistants called Maitrāvaruṇa, Acchāvāka and Grāvastut, respectively. In short, four priests are in charge of the oblations in a strictly Vedic yajña or ritual of worship.
6 This is the Subjunctive Mood 3rd person sing. from the root "aś" (to gain, obtain, etc.). Note that Vedic Subjunctive may have various senses according to the context: exhortation, present, future, hypothesis, etc. Thus, "aśnavat" might be translated as "let (oneself) obtain!", "may (one) obtain", "(one) obtains", "(one) will obtain", "hopefully (one) will obtain", etc. However, I must use my knowledge about Sanskrit along with the common sense in order to choose the proper meaning. Here I chose "may (one) obtain", but in the stanza 2, I preferred to translate "vakṣati" (Subjunctive 3rd person sing. from the root "vah") as "let him bring!" instead of "may he bring", "he brings", "he will bring", "hopefully he will bring", etc. Got my point? If you got it, remember my previous statements in the future. Anyway, I will try to dissipate any confusion regarding Subjunctive and the like (e.g. Infinitive, Imperative, etc.) when necessary.
7 In Ṛgveda, "vīravat" means "wealth consisting of men or sons". I chose to translate "wealth consisting of sons", but both translations are valid. Additionally, I added "heroic" in parentheses to the phrase because another meaning of the word "vīra" is "hero". The suffix "tama" implies "the greatest".
9 Aṅgirās is one of the various names of Agni, in this case. In turn, one of the Vedic Seers whom Ṛgveda was revealed bears that very name too. He is as well considered the personification of Agni, the god of fire.
11 "Upa... emasi" may also be translated "we come to", but I preferred the meaning "we come near " as "upa" denotes specially "nearness". Also, one would expect the ending "mas" instead of "masi" here, but Ṛgveda has often its own exclusive kinds of terminations. Besides, "emasi" is really "ā-īmasi". Hence the translation "we come" and not "we go" (īmasi), as the particle "ā" there reverses the sense of the root "ī" (to go).
12 The word "dhī" means many things: prayer, thought, understanding, wisdom, etc. I chose to include two meanings in the translation: "prayer" and "understanding", in the sense that it is not a mechanical prayer but one filled with understanding of its innermost purport. Granted, the translations "thought" or "wisdom" are also valid.
13 "Ṛtasya" is the Genitive sing. derived from "ṛta". The latter means both "divine law" (the one who keeps the universe working) and "settled order", such as the regular ceremony of performing the ritual of worship daily. There are many more implications, of course. Again, it is obvious that Agni, taken as the usual fire in a sacrifice, grows or increases as the oblations are poured into it (e.g. clarified butter or ghṛta). The house or abode of Agni is the receptacle on the sacrificial altar.
14 The word "sa" is really the pronoun "saḥ" (he) with its Visarga (ḥ) dropped by the 10th Rule of Consonant Sandhi. Nonetheless, that rule is not always valid in Ṛgveda (e.g. when Visarga is before "p" or "t"... be warned then). Here this pronoun is taken as denoting emphasis and connected with the verb "bhava" (be), Imperative 2nd person singular. That is why I added the exclamation point at the end. Some authors take this "saḥ" as denoting "thus" in a rhetorical sense. On the other hand, one "normally" would expect: "sacasva" [Imperative 2nd person sign., Ātmanepada (Middle Voice), of the root "sac" --to accompany--] and not "sacasvā", but Ṛgveda has very often its own ways to conjugate verbs. Keep this in mind, please. The root "sac" has multiple meanings (to be associated, abide, accompany, adhere, help, etc.). Here I took the meaning: "to accompany". In turn, "nas" is taken in accusative case. Finally, "svastaye" (for well-being and success) is the dative case of "svasti" (well-being, success, etc.). Therefore, the translation would read: "accompany us for our well-being and success", though I preferred to polish the phrase even more: "accompany us so that we can obtain well-being and success", as you can see above. However, one might also take "sac" in the sense of "to help" and "nas" in the dative case. The verb "sac", when connected with two words declined in dative ("nas" and "svastaye", in this case) means "to help anyone to anything". As a result, another valid translation would be: "help us obtain well-being and success". Read the Declension documents for more information about cases (accusative, dative and so forth). OK, enough of all these grammatical subtleties.
सूक्तम् २ -मण्डलम् १ अनुक्रमणी १-
ऋषिर्मधुच्छन्दा वैश्वामित्रः - छन्दो गायत्री - देवता वायुः १-३ इन्द्रवायू ४-६ मित्रावरुणौ ७-९
वाय॒वा या॑हि दर्शते॒मे सोमा॒ अर॑ङ्कृताः। तेषां॑ पाहि श्रु॒धी हव॑म्॥१॥
वाय॑ उ॒क्थेभि॑र्जरन्ते॒ त्वामच्छा॑ जरि॒तार॑:। सु॒तसो॑मा अह॒र्विद॑:॥२॥
वायो॒ तव॑ प्रपृञ्च॒ती धेना॑ जिगाति दा॒शुषे॑। उ॒रू॒ची सोम॑पीतये॥३॥
इन्द्र॑वायू इ॒मे सू॒ता उप॒ प्रयो॑भि॒रा ग॑तम्। इन्द॑वो वामु॒शन्ति॒ हि॥४॥
वाय॒विन्द्र॑श्च चेतथः सु॒तानां॑ वाजिनीवसू। तावा या॑त॒मुप॑ द्र॒वत्॥५॥
वाय॒विन्द्र॑श्च सुन्व॒त आ या॑त॒मुप॑ निष्कृ॒तम्। म॒क्ष्वि त्था धि॒या न॑रा॥६॥
मि॒त्रं हु॑वे पू॒तद॑क्षं॒ वरु॑णं च रि॒शाद॑सम्। धियं॑ घृ॒ताचीं॒ साध॑न्ता॥७॥
ऋ॒तेन॑ मित्रावरुणावृतावृधावृतस्पृशा। क्रतुं॑ बृहन्त॑माशाथे॥८॥
क॒वी नो॑ मि॒त्रावरु॑णा तुविजा॒ता उ॑रु॒क्षया॑। दक्षं॑ दधाते अ॒पस॑म्॥९॥
Sūktam 2 -Maṇḍalam 1 Anukramaṇī 1-
Ṛṣirmadhucchandā vaiśvāmitraḥ - Chando gāyatrī - Devatā vāyuḥ 1-3 indravāyū 4-6 mitrāvaruṇau 7-9
Vāya̱vā yā̍hi darśate̱me somā̱ ara̍ṅkṛtāḥ| Teṣāṁ̍ pāhi śru̱dhī hava̍m||1||
Vāya̍ u̱kthebhi̍rjarante̱ tvāmacchā̍ jari̱tāra̍ḥ| Su̱taso̍mā aha̱rvida̍ḥ||2||
Vāyo̱ tava̍ prapṛñca̱tī dhenā̍ jigāti dā̱śuṣe̍| U̱rū̱cī soma̍pītaye||3||
Indra̍vāyū i̱me sū̱tā upa̱ prayo̍bhi̱rā ga̍tam| Inda̍vo vāmu̱śanti̱ hi||4||
Vāya̱vindra̍śca cetathaḥ su̱tānāṁ̍ vājinīvasū| Tāvā yā̍ta̱mupa̍ dra̱vat||5||
Vāya̱vindra̍śca sunva̱ta ā yā̍ta̱mupa̍ niṣkṛ̱tam| Ma̱kṣvi 1̱̍ tthā dhi̱yā na̍rā||6||*
Mi̱traṁ hu̍ve pū̱tada̍kṣaṁ̱ varu̍ṇaṁ ca ri̱śāda̍sam| Dhiyaṁ̍ ghṛ̱tācīṁ̱ sādha̍ntā||7||
Ṛ̱tena̍ mitrāvaruṇāvṛtāvṛdhāvṛtaspṛśā| Kratuṁ̍ bṛhanta̍māśāthe||8||
Ka̱vī no̍ mi̱trāvaru̍ṇā tuvijā̱tā u̍ru̱kṣayā̍| Dakṣaṁ̍ dadhāte a̱pasa̍m||9||
* Well, what is that underlined 1 with a vertical line on top of it? It denotes a Kampasvarita. The "common" Vedic accents are three: Udātta, Anudātta and Svarita. In Ṛgveda, Udātta is unmarked, Anudātta is partially marked (i.e. not all Anudātta-s are marked really) in the form of a underline, and Svarita is marked. But Svarita is divided into two general categories: dependent and independent. In turn, the latter (independent Svarita) may be subdivided into more subcategories... oh my God! Well, the Svarita known as Kampa, "simply" (this is a joke, obviously) arises when an independent Svarita is immediately followed by another equally independent one or a Udātta accent.
If you are a scholar in Vedic Sanskrit, you will say, "Oh yes". And if you are not... do not worry because this topic is really complex and cannot be fully explained and understood via a mere explanatory note. Non-scholar people just should know that the notation is used when the vowel is "short" ("i" in this particular case) and if it is long. The term "Kampa" literally means "tremulous or thrilling pronunciation", i.e. a tremulous Svarita. In the translation, the Vedic accentuation is not relevant in most contexts (but in some contexts it is... keep this in mind), and the phrase: "ma̱kṣvi 1̱̍ tthā" is taken as "makṣvitthā" (makṣū + itthā). Do not panic folks, then! Anyway, now non-scholar people can understand why I began teaching Classic or Postvedic Sanskrit in the first place on this website, hehe, which is, for example, devoid of written accents.
Hymn 2 -Book 1 Index 1-
Oh beautiful (darśata) Vāyu, god of the wind (vāyo), come near (ā yāhi) these (ime) libations of Soma (somāḥ)4 (which we have) prepared (for you) (araṅkritāḥ) (and) drink (pāhi) them (teṣām)! Listen (śrudhī) to (our) invocation (havam)5 !||1||
Oh god of the wind (vāyo), the invokers (jaritāraḥ) (or) knowers (vidaḥ) of the (proper) sacrificial day (ahar), who have extracted the Soma and offered a libation of it (to you) (sutasomāḥ)6 , address (jarante) you (tvām acchā)7 by means of recited verses of praise (ukthebhiḥ)8 !||2||
Oh god of the wind (vāyo), your (tava) speech (dhenā)9 , the instrument (you use) to come in contact (prapṛñcatī)10 , goes (jigāti) toward one who honors and serves the gods (dāśuṣe)11 ! (In fact,) it --i.e. your speech-- (may be) far-reaching (urūcī) (just) for the sake of drinking (pītaye) Soma (soma)12 !||3||
Oh Indra and Vāyu (indravāyū), come (ā gatam) with dainties (prayobhiḥ)13 near (upa) these two (ime) libations of Soma (sutau)! Verily (hi), the drops of Soma (indavaḥ) long for (uśanti)14 you both (vām)!||4||
Oh Vāyu (vāyo), as well as (ca) Indra (indraḥ), who are rich in horses (vājinī-vasū)15 , (the two) are aware (cetathaḥ) of the libations of Soma (sutānām) (we are offering)! Let you both come near (ā yātam upa) those two (libations) (tau)16 quickly (dravat)!||5||
Oh Vāyu (vāyo), as well as (ca) Indra (indraḥ), let you both come near (ā yātam upa) the place appointed (niṣkṛtam) by the offerer of the Soma (sunvataḥ)! Oh heroes (narā), (come) soon (makṣū) (and) willingly (itthā dhiyā)17 !||6||
I invoke (huve)18 Mitra (mitram), whose strength of will (dakṣam)19 (is) pure (pūta), and (ca) Varuṇa (varuṇam), destroyer and devourer of enemies (riśādasam). (These two gods) accomplish or complete (sādhantā) (any) prayer (dhiyam) abounding (acīm) in clarified butter (ghṛta)20 ||7||
Oh Mitra (mitrā) (and) Varuṇa (varaṇau), who increase (vṛdhau) Truth (ṛtā) (and) are connected (spṛśā) with pious works of worship (ṛta), both of you, a long time ago, obtained (āśāthe)21 great (bṛhantam) intelligence and enlightenment (kratum) through the divine law and settled order (ṛteṇa)22 !||8||
Oh wise (kavī) Mitra (mitrā) (and) Varuṇa (varuṇā), of powerful nature (tuvi-jātā) (and) spacious abodes (uru-kṣayā), both of you render (dadhāte) our (nas) sacrificial act (apasam) strong (dakṣam)23 !||9||
1 This devatā or deity is generally associated with Indra. He is also said to share the same chariot as Indra. Anyhow, this deity is not so important as Indra himself. He has emerged from the breath of Puruṣa, the Primordial Person from whom the entire universe has arisen. Puruṣa will be described in the Book 10, Hymn 90 (which is often known as Puruṣasūkta or Hymn in honor of Puruṣa). In the human being he is the vital energy or Prāṇa. Well, this topic is too long for a mere explanatory note. Ah, a last thing: the numbers 1-3 indicate that Vāyu will be the object of praise in the stanzas 1 to 3. The same thing is true to the rest of deities.
2 Indra and Vāyu are generally associated with each other. They are said to share the same chariot drawn by many celestial horses. Still, Indra is most important in the hierarchy, at least in that one you find in Ṛgveda. Indra is usually considered the god of thunderbolt but as well he is the personification of the spiritual warrior who has attained his goal. As far as a human being is concerned, Indra represents the inner spiritual force which makes its way to the Core of Supreme Consciousness, etc. In fact, you might have to write an entire big volume only to describe what Indra means. The stanzas 4 to 6 speak of those two deities, Indra and Vāyu.
3 Except for the hymn 59 of the Book 3 of Ṛgveda, Mitra is always addressed in association with Varuṇa. Mitra stands for the force that calls men to activity and sustains earth and sky. Besides, he watches the activities of those very men. He is also very often identified with Savitā or Vivifier (i.e. the Sun). However, according to some authors, Savitā is the name for the Sun before its rising at dawn, while Sūrya is the one for the Sun from its rising till its setting. So, for the time being, let us say that Mitra is identified with the Sun "plainly" for the sake of simplicity. Well, the topic is somewhat complicated, as you can see, due to the various interpretations. On the other hand, Varuṇa is one of the most important deities in Ṛgveda. He is considered the monarch of the world, being the sun his eye with which he watches humankind. Even though he is usually associated with rains, he encompasses all forces of nature indeed: rivers, ocean, wind, sun, etc. This has been a very brief description of these two deities, obviously. The stanzas 7 to 9 deal with them both, the controllers of earth and sky.
4 "Soma" is a juice prepared from "Somā" (a sacred plant). The priests in a yajña or ritual of worship prepare libations (i.e. a drink or beverage in simple English) with that juice and they are offered to the gods so that they can drink them. As most gods are very addicted to drink Soma, the priests seek to attract their attention and please them in this way, got the point?
5 "Śrudhī" (listen!) is a rare form of Imperative 2nd Person sing. from the root "śru" (to listen, hear, etc.) occurring in Ṛgveda. One normally would expect "śṛṇu" or "śṛṇuṣva", but Ṛgveda has its own particularities. This a clear example of a grammatical obstacle a translator may stumble upon if his knowledge of Vedic Sanskrit is not good enough, as most grammars do not explain these differences. If the word were "śrudhi", a translator might infer the presence of an imperative conjugation there because some types of verbs use "hi" as the ending for the 2nd Person sing., Parasmaipada, Imperative Mood. However, with that long "i", the term "śrudhī" really looks like a mere noun ending in "ī". Obviously, that said translator consults the dictionary and finds no noun like that. Good Ṛgvedic joke, rookie translator! Guess what?: that translator is me! Ah, a last thing!, "hava" does not mean here "oblation or sacrifice" as usual, but "invocation or calling", and the accent is placed on the first "a" as follows: "hava".
6 "Sutá" does not mean "son" (i.e. "suta"), but "pressed, extracted", from the root "su" (to press, extract). It also means "a (Soma) libation". Therefore, "sutasomāḥ" should be taken as a Bahuvrīhi compound (See Compounds section) in the sense of: "those who extract the Soma (i.e. the juice from the plant) and offer a libation of it".
7 "Acchā" is an "avyaya" or "indeclinable" (i.e. it cannot be declined as if it were, for example, a mere noun -See Declension section for more information about declining nouns, adjectives, etc.-) occurring in Veda-s. It mainly means "to, toward". So, "tvām acchā" means "to you" or "toward you". With "tvām" alone, there would have been enough to indicate "to you" or "toward you", but the author had to meet the meter requirements, in my opinion. Keep this in mind in the future.
8 "Ukthebhiḥ" means "by means of uktha-s". Uktha-s are recited verses of praise. Note that they are "recited", and not sung (as in Sāmaveda) or muttered (as in Yajurveda). Consequently, Ṛgveda (Ṛk-veda) is a Veda to be recited because the word "ṛk" derives from "ṛc", which, apart from "praise", means "a verse", and specially one that is recited. Thus, if you join both meanings together, a better translation of "ṛc" would be: "a verse recited in praise (of a deity)". Anyhow, I preferred to translate "Ṛgveda" in the title as "Veda of Praise" for the sake of simplicity. If I had written: "Veda consisting of verses recited in praise of deities", the title would have been more exact perhaps, but too long, wouldn't it?
10 Some authors translate "prapṛñcatī" as "approving". Thus "prapṛñcatī dhenā" would be an "approving speech" as Vāyu seems to always say "I will drink" when offered Soma. However, I could not find any connection between "prapṛñcatī" and "approving" yet. While I do not discard it as a probable translation based on something which is unknown to me at present, I preferred to translate the term as: "the instrument (which is used) to come in contact", because "prapṛñcatī" is a present participle, feminine in gender, which derives from the verb "prapṛc" (to come in contact). In turn, this verb is derived from the root "pṛc" (to mix, fill, give lavishly, increase, bring into contact, etc.).
11 "Dāśuṣe" is the Dative case from "dāśvas" (one who honors and serves the gods). So, Vāyu's speech is simply the instrument he uses to come in contact with him who honors and serves the gods. On the other hand, in Ṛgveda, the best way to do that is by offering Soma to the gods. In other words, Vāyu's speech goes toward that priest who offers a libation of Soma to him.
12 This sentence affirms that Vāyu's speech does not go "only" toward one person who offers Soma to him at a particular moment, but toward anyone doing the same thing everywhere. Hence it is far-reaching. Besides, this affirmation shows that Vāyu is extremely addicted to drink libations of Soma.
15 This is because "they" ("who" refers to them both, and not only to Indra) drive chariots (or share one) drawn by many horses. Another possible translation is "who drive swift mares", as "vājinī" is "a mare". This is a common epithet of many gods.
16 "Tau" means "to those two" (i.e. to those two libations or sutá-s), Accusative case, masculine in gender, Dual number, of "tad" (that). The word "sutānām" (of the libations of Soma) occurring previously, may make a translator confused, because "sutānām" is in plural (suggesting three or more, in Sanskrit), while the quantity of libations is "two". You would have expected "sutayoḥ" (of the two libations of Soma) instead of "sutānām". "Tau" cannot be "those two (gods)" (Nominative case, masc., dual), because "ā yātam upa" is in 2nd Person dual, Parasmaipada, Imperative Mood, i.e. "let you both come near!" and not "let them both come near" (ā yātām upa) --Note as "yātam" changed to "yātām"--. Therefore, if the phrase was "tau ā yātām upa", it would be quite adequate to consider "tau" as "those two (gods)" and translate all in this way: "let them both come near!" or else "let those two (gods) come near!" (got it?), but this is not the case as the phrase reads: "tau ā yātam upa". For that reason, "tau" cannot refer to the gods, but to the two libations to which they are asked to come close. Anyway, as I said above, the term "sutānām" (of the libations de Soma --three or more--) may distract a translator and force him to make a mistake. He should pay attention to the former stanza, in which "the two libations" are referred to in order to translate the sentence properly.
In turn, "ā" denotes "here", and at the same time reverses the sense of the imperative "yātam" (let you both go!). Thus, "ā yātam" means "let you both come here!". Finally, the particle "upa" means "near". In short, the whole expression is: "let you both come here!" or "let you both come near!" and so on. I had to chose the second option in this context, of course.
17 "Narā" is the Vocative case, dual number, of "nṛ" (man, hero, etc.). I preferred "hero", because to express: "Oh men" does not look formal, in my opinion, as far as addressing divinities such as Vāyu and Indra is concerned. In turn, "itthā" might be translated as "thus" or also "really, indeed, such, etc.", but in Ṛgveda it is usually associated with the adjective "dhī" (intelligence, wisdom, thought, understanding, prayer, etc.). Anyway, when they are joined together, and "dhī" is in Instrumental case, singular number (i.e. "dhiyā"), the result is not "thus by thought" or anything like that. No, it should be translated as "willingly". According to some authors, the literal meaning of "itthā dhiyā" is: "such is (your) will".
19 The term "dakṣa" has many other meanings, of course: vigor, energy, mental power, talent, disposition, etc. Hence the compound "pūta-dakṣa" might also, at least theoretically, be translated as "pure-minded" by playing with the meanings.
20 Clarified butter is generally poured as an oblation into the fire in a sacrifice. At any rate, some authors take "ghṛtācī" in the sense of "shedding (acī) water (ghṛta)", as even Nirukta dictionary (the celebrated Yāska's commentary on the Nighaṇṭu-s or Vedic Glossary) points out that the term "ghṛta" may also be understood as "water". In turn, according to the same authors, the word "dhī" (normally "prayer", in this context) amounts to "act". Thus, the phrase "dhiyaṁ ghṛtācīṁ sādhantā" would mean "(These two gods) accomplish (sādhantā) the act (dhiyam) of shedding (acīm) water (ghṛta)". This interpretation is more symbolic than my rather literal translation of the text, but it cannot be denied that Varuṇa is very often associated with rains.
21 This relatively monstrous conjugation, hehe, is, in my humble opinion, the reduplicative Perfect Tense (remote past, hence I added "a long time ago" to the translation), 2nd Person dual, Ātmanepada, from the root "aś" (to obtain, gain, etc.). Of course, you would have expected "ānaśāthe", but Ṛgveda has its own conjugations very often. For example, the 3rd Person sing., Ātmanepada, in Perfect Tense should be in Classic Sanskrit: "ānaśe" (he/she/it obtained -a long time ago-). Well, you expect that the Vedic form is different... and yes, it is different. Look: "ānaṁśa"... but there are these two too, "ānāśa" and "āśa". Three exclusive ways to write the same conjugation (he/she/it obtained -a long time ago-). Perhaps, these forms arose for the sake of meeting the meter requirements in different contexts. Therefore, since I do not have charts with all possible conjugations of all verbs in all Persons and numbers, specially the Vedic ones, I had to infere that "āśāthe" is in Perfect Tense, specially due to the termination and other particularities. It might also be a rare aoristic form of Subjunctive Mood (you will not want to know anything about this, trust me, hehe), which also indicates "past tense" but in a different manner... still, I doubt it. Anyway, if you are conversant with Vedic Sanskrit and want to hand me additional information about this type of conjugation, feel free to send me a message.
Perfect Tense is pretty generally not used in Classic Sanskrit... thank God! I studied it, but as I mostly do not use it in my translations of Postvedic scriptures, had to re-study it because Ṛgveda does use it. You will not believe how terribly complicated may be to conjugate roots in Perfect Tense, specially because, though there are a group of standard rules, the exceptions are many. Let alone, Aorist Tense (indefinite past, which also stopped being used in Postvedic writings practically) and its seven varieties, another "delicious candy" surely getting in my way later on. To study Perfect and Aorist Tenses is like to swallow one hundred hard-boiled eggs, one after the other in one session, specially when studied from grammars only intended for scholars (my only way at present to go deep into these abstruse subjects, unfortunately, as I am not a scholar) like those I use very often, which are monumental treatises about how to be antididactical and boring at all costs. They contain no jokes to alleviate a little the poor scholar (or a simple victim like me) studying the rule number 70,000,001 and, of course, the respective exceptions which are about 140,000,002, i.e. the double... plus some exclusive forms too, just in case the amount of things to study and remember was not enough. I think that jokes should be used abundantly while teaching or learning Sanskrit, because the process looks many times like a real joke, specially if you have to go deep into the ancient Sanskrit, with its Perfect and Aorist Tenses. Rest assured that if you are a true scholar, you will hate being one after reading my dear grammars.
Anyhow, the information there is vital for a Sanskrit teacher like me. Besides, every cloud has a silver lining, inasmuch as it was the existence of those antididactical grammars I have what pushed me to publish a Sanskrit site on the Web and share this knowledge with you in a more didactical and funny way, I think. In my opinion, a higher grammar should not be synonymous with an antididactical and boring one, such as those I have read so far. Of course, I have not read all of them.
At present (December 2004), I have not taught you Perfect and Aorist Tenses in depth, but I promise that I will reduce the quantity of hard-boiled eggs you will have to swallow to... say... twenty, hehe.
22 Since the words "ṛta" (divine law, settled order, truth, water, sacrifice, etc.) and "kratu" (intelligence, wisdom, sacrifice, offering, etc.) are rich in meanings, some authors translate the stanza differently. As a mere example, if you use the translation "water" for "ṛta" in "ṛtaspṛśā", the meaning would be "oh, both of you who touch water". If I keep thus "playing" with the different translations, the amount of possible interpretations would be really long to include all that in a mere explanatory note (though I am afraid that these notes are beginning to look like quite a encyclopedia, aren't they?... it seems that I will have to stop using the pretext "because it is a mere explanatory note", hehe). This clearly shows that there is no "fixed" translation of Ṛgveda, at least of some of their stanzas, because the amount of meanings and connotations is really large. Besides, many words may be used in a symbolic form too, which increases the quantity of possible interpretations. In any case, I have to give "one" translation of every stanza and generally I choose the most adequate one in my humble opinion, while I use these explanatory notes to add alternative translations or interpretations.
23 There is another valid translation here, by using the multiple meanings of the enclitic particle "nas", the conjugation "dadhāte" (2nd Person dual, Ātmanepada, Present Tense), which is derived from the root "dhā" (to make, render, bestow, place, support, etc.) and the noun "dakṣa". Normal accusative, dative and genitive forms of the pronoun "asmad" (the basic one from which arise the nominatives "aham" --I--, "āvām" --both of us-- and "vayam" --we--, along with the remaining cases -See Declension for more information-) in "plural" number are as follows: "asmān" (to us, upon us), "asmabhyam" (for us) and "asmākam" (our, ours or of ours), respectively.
Well, in sentences where only one verb is operating (like the present one in this stanza), you may replace all those forms (asmān, asmabhyam and asmākam) with "nas". Granted, there are more rules governing over the use of enclitic particles such as "nas", but I am sure you will not want to know them for now, hehe... oh my God! Getting back to my explanation: the point is that "nas" may mean either "to us, upon us" or "for us" or "our, ours, of ours". Now, I may also take the root "dhā" as "only" meaning "to support" and "to bestow" in this particular context. In turn, "dakṣa" has several meanings (skillful, strong, clever, strength of will, energy, etc.)... I will take this one: "strength of will" here. Now, I am going to play with these nice grammatical toys. Pay attention:
"Both of you support (dadhāte) our (nas) sacrificial act (apasam)
(and) bestow (dadhāte) strength of will (dakṣam) upon us (nas)"
Ah, well done! Note how I used "nas" and "dadhāte" in two different ways within the same phrase. This is valid in Sanskrit and there is no doubt about it. Therefore, rest assured that this interpretation of the final part of the stanza is "also" consistent.
to be continued
This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.
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