Vedic Hymns, Part I (SBE32), by Max Müller, , at sacred-texts.com
1. When you thus from afar cast forwards your measure 1, like a blast of fire, through whose wisdom is it, through whose design 2? To whom do you go, to whom, ye shakers (of the earth)?
2. May your weapons be firm to attack, strong also to withstand. May yours be the more glorious power, nor that of the deceitful mortal.
3. When you overthrow what is firm, O ye men, and whirl about what is heavy, you pass 1 through the trees of the earth, through the clefts of the rocks 2.
4. No real foe of yours is known in heaven, nor on earth, ye devourers of foes! May power be yours, together with your race 1! O Rudras, can it be defied 2?
5. They make the rocks tremble, they tear asunder the kings of the forest 1. Come on, Maruts, like madmen, ye gods, with your whole tribe.
6. You have harnessed the spotted deer to your chariots, a red one draws as leader 1; even the earth listened 2 at your approach, and men were frightened.
7. O Rudras, we quickly desire your help for our race. Come now to us with help, as of yore; thus now for the sake of the frightened Kanva 1.
8. Whatever fiend, roused by you or roused by men, attacks us, deprive him of power, of strength, and of your favours 1.
9. For you, chasing and wise Maruts, have wholly
protected 1 Kanva. Come to us, Maruts, with your whole favours, as lightnings 2 (go in quest of) the rain.
10. Bounteous givers, you carry whole strength, whole power, ye shakers (of the world). Send, O Maruts, against the wrathful enemy of the poets an enemy, like an arrow 1.
This hymn is ascribed to Kanva, the son of Ghora. The metre varies between Brihatî and Satobrihatî, the odd verses being composed in the former, the even verses in the latter metre. Each couple of such verses is called a Bârhata Pragâtha. The Brihatî consists of 8 + 8 + 12 + 8, the Satobrihatî of 12+ 8 + 12+ 8 syllables. No verse of this hymn occurs in SV., VS., AV.; verse 5 = TB. II, 4, 4, 3.
Note 1. Mâ´na, which I translate by measure, is explained by Sâyana as meaning strength. Wilson: 'When you direct your awful vigour downwards from afar, as light (descends from heaven).' Benfey: 'Wenn ihr aus weiter Ferne so wie Strahlen schleudert euren Stolz (das worauf ihr stolz seid: euren Blitz).' Langlois: 'Lorsque vous lancez votre souffle puissant.' I doubt whether mâ´na is ever used in the Rig-veda in the sense of pride, which no doubt it has, as a masculine, in later Sanskrit: cf. Halâyudha, ed. Aufrecht, iv, 37. Mâ´na, as a masculine, means frequently a poet in the Rig-veda, viz. a measurer, a thinker or maker; as a neuter it means a measure, or what is measured or made. Thus V, 85, 5, we read:
mâ´nena-iva tasthi-vâ´n antárikshe ví yáh mamé prithivî´m sû´ryena.
He (Varuna) who standing in the welkin has measured the earth with the sun, as with a measure.
In this passage, as well as in ours, we must take measure, not in the abstract sense, but as a measuring line, which is cast forward to measure the distance of an object,—a simile, perfectly applicable to the Maruts, who seem with their weapons to strike the trees and mountains when they them, selves are still far off. Another explanation might be given, if mâ´na could be taken in the sense of measure, i. e. shape or form, but this is doubtful.
Note 2. Várpas, which has generally been translated by body or form, is here explained by praise. Benfey puts Werk (i. e. Gesang, Gebet); Langlois, maison. Várpas, which, without much reason, has been compared to Latin corpus, must here be taken in a more general sense. Thus VI, 44, 14, asyá máde purú várpâmsi vidvâ´n, is applied to Indra as knowing many schemes, many thoughts, many things, when he is inspired by the Soma-juice; see I, 19, 5.
Note 1. Benfey takes ví yâthana in a causative sense, you destroy, you cause the trees to go asunder. But even without assigning to yâ a causative meaning, to go through, to pierce, would convey the idea of destruction. In some passages, however, vi-yâ is certainly used in the simple sense of passing through, without involving the idea of destruction:
VIII, 73, 13. ráthah viyâ´ti ródasî (íti).
Your chariot which passes through or between heaven and earth.
In other passages the mere passing across implies conquest and destruction:
I, 116, 20. vi-bhindúnâ … ráthena vi párvatân … ayâtam.
On your dissevering chariot you went across, or, you rent, the mountains (the clouds).
In other passages, however, a causative meaning seems equally, and even more applicable:
VIII, 7, 23. ví vritrám parva-sáh yayuh vi párvatân.
They passed through Vritra piecemeal, they passed through the mountains (the clouds); or, they destroyed Vritra, cutting him to pieces, they destroyed the clouds.
Likewise I, 86, 10. ví yâta vísvam atrínam.
Walk athwart every evil spirit, or destroy every evil spirit! See before, I, 19, 7; 37, 7.
We must scan vĭ ȳâ̆thănă vănĭnah prĭth̄ivy̆â̄h.
Note 2. It might seem preferable to translate â´sâh párvatânâm by the spaces of the clouds, for párvata means clouds in many places. Yet here, and still more clearly in verse 5, where párvata occurs again, the object of the poet
is to show the strength of the Maruts. In that case the mere shaking or bursting of the clouds would sound very tame by the side of the shaking and breaking of the forest trees. Vedic poets do not shrink from the conception that the Maruts shake even mountains, and Indra is even said to have cut off the mountain tops: IV. 19, 4. áva abhinat kakúbhah párvatânâm. In the later literature, too, the same idea occurs: Mahâbh. Vana-parva, ver. 10974, dyauh svit patati kim bhûmir dîryate parvato nu kim, does the sky fall? is the earth torn asunder, or the mountain?
Note 1. Sâyana was evidently without an authoritative explanation of tánâ yugâ´. He tries to explain it by 'through the union of you may strength to resist be quickly extended.' Wilson: 'May your collective strength be quickly exerted.' Benfey takes tánâ as adverb and leaves out yugâ´: 'Zu allen Zeiten, O Furchtbare!—sei im Nu zu überwält’gen euch die Macht.' Yugâ´, an instrumental, if used together with another instrumental, becomes in the Veda a mere preposition: cf. VII, 43, 5; 95, 4. râyâ´ yugâ´; X, 83, 3. tápasâ yugâ´; X, 102, 12. vádhrinâ yugâ´; VII, 32, 20. púram-dhyâ yugâ´; VI, 56, 2. sákhyâ yugâ´; VIII, 68, 9. tvâ´ yugâ´. As to the meaning of tán, see B. R. s. v., where tán in our passage is explained as continuation. The offspring or race of the Maruts is mentioned again in the next verse.
Note 2. I take nú kit â-dhríshe as an abrupt interrogative sentence, viz. Can it be defied? Can it be resisted? See V, 87, 2:
tát vah marutah ná â-dhríshe sávah.
Your strength, O Maruts, is not to be defied.
Note 1. Large trees of the forest are called the kings or lords of the forest. Instead of pró ârata, the Taitt. Br. II, 4, 4, 2, reads pró varata, which Sâyana explains by pro, prakarshena, avârata dhâvata.
Note 1. Práshti is explained by Sâyana as a sort of yoke in the middle, when three horses or other animals are harnessed to a car; róhita as a kind of red deer. Hence Wilson remarks that the sense may be, 'The red deer yoked between them aids to drag the car.' But he adds that the construction of the original is obscure, and apparently rude and ungrammatical. Benfey translates, 'Sie führt ein flammenrothes Joch,' and remarks against Wilson that Sâyana's definition of práshti as yoke is right, but that of róhita as deer, wrong. If Sâyana's authority is to be invoked at all, one might appeal from Sâyana in this place to Sâyana VIII, 7, 28, where práshti is explained by him either by quick or by pramukhe yugyamânah, harnessed in front. The verse is
yát eshâm píshatîh ráthe práshtih váhati róhitah.
When the red leader draws or leads their spotted deer in the chariot.
VI, 47, 24. práshtih is explained as tripada âdhârah; tadvad vahantîti prashtayoऽsvâh. In I, 100, 17, práshtibhih, as applied to men, means friends or supporters, or, as Sâyana explains, pârsvasthair anyair rishibhih.
Ludwig (IV, ad 25, 8) adds some useful information. He quotes from the comm. on Taitt. S. I, 7, 8; vâmadakshinayor asvayor madhya îshâdvayam prasârya tayor madhye saptyâkhyagâtiviseshopetam asvam yuñgyât. The right horse is said to be the arvâ, the left vâgî, the middle saptih. Lâtyâyana II, 7, 23, calls the two side-horses prashtî. According to Sâyana (Taitt. S. I, 7, 8, p. 1024) prashti means originally a tripod for holding a pot (see above), and afterwards a chariot with three horses. In that case we should have to translate, the red chariot moves along.
Note 2. Aufrecht derives asrot from sru, to shake, without necessity, however; see Muir's Sanskrit Texts, IV, p. 494.
Ludwig also remarks that asrot might be translated by the earth trembled or vibrated. Similar passages occur RV. I, 127, 3. vîlú kit yásya sám-ritau srúvat vánâ-iva yát sthirám, at whose approach even what is firm and strong
will shake, like the forests. Roth translates, the earth yielded, got out of your way.
Note 1. Kanva, the author of the hymn.
Note 1. The abhva, fiend, or, as Benfey translates it very happily, Ungethüm, may have been sent by the Maruts themselves, or by some mortal. With reference to yushméshita it is said afterwards that the Maruts are to withdraw their help from him. I have adopted Wilson's and Ludwig's interpretation of vi yuyota, with the instrumental.
Note 1. The verb dadá is the second pers. plur. of the perfect of da, and is used here in the sense of to keep, to protect, as is well shown by B. and R. s. v. da 4, base dad. Sâyana did not understand the word, and took it for an irregular imperative; yet he assigned to the verb the proper sense of to keep, instead of to give. Hence Wilson: 'Uphold the sacrificer Kanva.' Benfey, less correctly, 'Den Kanva gabt ihr,' as if Kanva had been the highest gift of the Maruts.
Note 2. The simile, as lightnings go to the rain, is not very telling. It may have been suggested by the idea that the lightnings run about to find the rain, or the tertium comparationis may simply be the quickness of lightning. Wilson: 'As the lightnings bring the rain.' Benfey: '(So schnell) gleichwie der Blitz zum Regen kömmt.' Lightning precedes the rain, and may therefore be represented as looking about for the rain. Ludwig proposes some bold conjectures. He would change kánvam to ranvam, and take the words from asâmibhih to ganta as a parenthesis. He translates: 'For nothing imperfect, you highly to be revered Maruts, no, something delightful you gave—(with perfect aids, Maruts, come to us)—as lightnings give rain.'
Note 1. Wilson: 'Let loose your anger.' Sâyana: 'Let loose a murderer who hates.'
Pari-manyú, which occurs but once in the Rig-veda, corresponds as nearly as possible to the Greek περίθυμος. Manyú, like θυμός, means courage, spirit, anger; and in the compound parimanyú, as in περίθυμος, the preposition pári seems to strengthen the simple notion of the word. That pári is used in that sense in later Sanskrit is well known; for instance, in parilaghu, perlevis, parikshâma, withered away: see Pott, Etymologische Forschungen, second edition, vol. i, p. 487. How pári, originally meaning round about, came to mean excessive, is difficult to explain with certainty. It may have been, because what surrounds exceeds, but it may also have been because what is done all around a thing is done thoroughly. See Curtius, Grundzüge, fifth edition, p. 274. Thus we find in the Veda, VIII, 75, 9, pári-dveshas, lit. one who hates all around, then a great hater:
mâ´ nah … pári-dveshasah amhatíh, ûrmíh ná nâ´vam â´ vadhît.
May the grasp of the violent hater strike us not, as the wave strikes a ship.
Again, pari-sprídh means literally one who strives round about, then an eager enemy, a rival (fem.):
IX, 53, 1. nudásva yâ´h pari-sprídhah.
Drive away those who are rivals.
Pari-krosá means originally one who shouts at one from every side, who abuses one roundly, then an angry reviler. This word, though not mentioned in B. R.’s Dictionary, occurs in
I, 29, 7. sárvam pari-krosám gahi.
Kill every reviler!
The same idea which is here expressed by pari-krosá, is in other places expressed by pari-ráp, lit. one who shouts round about, who defies on every side, a calumniator, an enemy, one who 'be-rattles.'
II, 23, 3. â´ vi-bâ´dhya pari-rápah.
Having struck down the enemies.
II, 23, 14. ví pari-rápah ardaya.
Destroy the enemies.
In the same way as the words meaning to hate, to
oppose, to attack, are strengthened by this preposition, which conveys the idea of round about, we also find words expressive of love strengthened by the same preposition. Thus from prîtáh, loved, we have pári-prîtah, lit. loved all round, then loved very much: I, 190, 6. pári-prîtah ná mitráh; cf. X, 27, 12. We also find IX, 72, 1. pari-príyah, those who love fully or all around, which may mean great lovers, or surrounding friends.
In all these cases the intensifying power of pári arises from representing the action of the verb as taking place on every side, thoroughly, excessively; but in other cases, mentioned by Professor Pott, particularly where this preposition is joined to a noun which implies some definite limit, its magnifying power is no doubt due to the fact that what is around, is outside, and therefore beyond. Thus in Greek περίμετρος expresses the same idea as ὑπέρμετρος (loc. cit. p. 488), but I doubt whether pári ever occurs in that sense in Sanskrit compounds.