Vedic Hymns, Part I (SBE32), by Max Müller, , at sacred-texts.com
1. Come hither, Maruts, on your chariots charged with lightning, resounding with beautiful songs 1, stored with spears, and winged with horses! Fly 3 to us like birds, with your best food 2, you mighty ones!
2. They come gloriously on their red, or, it may be, on their tawny horses which hasten their chariots. He who holds the axe 1 is brilliant like gold;—with the tire 2 of the chariot they have struck the earth.
3. On your bodies there are daggers for beauty; may they stir up our minds 1 as they stir up the forests. For yourselves, O well-born Maruts, the vigorous (among you) shake 2 the stone (for distilling Soma).
4. Days went round you and came back 1, O hawks, back to this prayer, and to this sacred rite; the Gotamas making prayer with songs, pushed up the lid of the well (the cloud) for to drink.
5. No such hymn 1 was ever known as this which Gotama sounded for you, O Maruts, when he saw you on golden wheels, wild boars 2 rushing about with iron tusks.
6. This comforting speech rushes sounding towards you, like the speech of a suppliant: it rushed freely from our hands as our speeches are wont to do.
This hymn is ascribed to Gotama, the son of Rahûgana. The metre varies. Verses 1 and 6 are put down as Prastâra-paṅkti, i. e. as 12 + 12 + 8 + 8. By merely counting the syllables, and dissolving semivowels, it is just possible to get twenty-four syllables in the first line of verses 1 and 6. The old metricians must have scanned verse 1:
[paragraph continues] Again verse 6:
[paragraph continues] But the general character of these lines shows that they were intended for hendecasyllabics, each ending in a bacchius, though even then they are not free from irregularities. The first verse would scan:
[paragraph continues] And verse 6:
[paragraph continues] Our only difficulty would be the termination bhih of rishtimat-bhih. I cannot adopt Professor Kuhn's suggestion to drop the Visarga of bhih and change i into y (Beiträge, vol. iv, p. 198), for this would be a license without any parallel. It is different with sah, originally sa, or with feminines in ih, where parallel forms in î are intelligible. The simplest correction would be to read răthēbhīh yâ̄ta ̄͡rishtĭ-māntah ̄͡asvă-pārnaih. One might urge in support of this reading that in all other passages where rishtimat occurs, it refers to the Maruts themselves, and never to their chariots. Yet the difficulty remains, how could so simple a reading have been replaced by a more difficult one?
In the two Gâyatrî pâdas which follow I feel equally reluctant to alter. I therefore scan
taking the dactyl of paptata as representing a spondee, and admitting the exceptionàl bacchius instead of the amphimacer at the end of the line.
The last line of verse 6 should be scanned:
There are two other verses in this hymn where the metre is difficult. In the last pâda of verse 5 we have seven syllables instead of eleven. Again, I say, it would be most easy to insert one of the many tetrasyllabic epithets of the Maruts. But this would have been equally easy for the collectors of the Veda. Now the authors of the Anukramanîs distinctly state that this fifth verse is virâdrûpâ, i. e. that one of its pâdas consists of eight syllables. How they would have made eight syllables out of vi-dhâvatah varâhûn does not appear, but at all events they knew that last pâda to be imperfect. The rhythm does not suffer by this omission, as long as we scan vĭ-dhâ̄vătāh vărâ̄hû̄n.
Lastly, there is the third pâda of the second verse, rukmah na kitrah svadhiti-vân. It would not be possible to get eleven syllables out of this, unless we admitted vyûha not only in sv̆ădhĭtĭvâ̄n or sv̆ădhĭtî̄-vâ̄n, but also in kĭtrăh̄. Kuhn (Beiträge, vol. iv, p. 192) proposes to scan rukmaü na kitarah svadhitivân. Nothing would be easier than to insert eshâm after kitrah, but the question occurs again, how could eshâm be lost, or why, if by some accident it had been lost, was not so obvious a correction made by Saunaka and Kâtyâyana?
No verse of this hymn occurs in SV., VS., AV., TS., TB.
Note 1. Alluding to the music of the Maruts, and not to the splendour of the lightning which is mentioned before. See Wolf, Beiträge zur Deutschen Mythologie, vol. ii, p. 137. 'Das Ross and den Wagen des Gottes begleitet munterer Hörnerschall, entweder stösst er selbst ins Horn,
oder sein Gefolge. Oft vernimmt man auch eine liebliche Musik, der keine auf Erden gleich kommt (Müllenhof, 582). Das wird das Pfeifen and Heulen des Sturmes sein, nur in idealisirter Art.' Ibid. p. 158.
Note 2. Várshishtha, which is generally explained as the superlative of vriddha, old (Pân. VI, 4, 157), has in most passages of the Rig-veda the more general meaning of strong or excellent: VI, 47, 9. ísham â´ vakshi ishâ´m várshishthâm; III, 13, 7 (vásu); III, 26, 8 (rátna); III, 16, 3 (raí); IV, 31, 15; VIII, 46, 24 (srávah); IV, 22, 9 (nrimná); V, 67, 1 (kshatrá); VI, 45, 31 (mûrdhán). In some passages, however, it may be taken in the sense of oldest (I, 37, 6; V, 7, 1), though by no means necessarily. Várshishtha is derived in reality from vríshan, in the sense of strong, excellent. See note to I, 85, 12, page 144.
Note 3. Paptata, the second person plural of the imperative of what is commonly, though without much reason, called the aorist of the causative of pat. It is curiously like the Greek πίπτετε, but it has the meaning of flying rather than falling; see Curtius, Grundzüge, p. 190. Two other forms formed on the same principle occur in the Rig-veda, paptah and paptan:
II, 31, 1. prá yát váyah ná páptan.
That they may fly to us like birds.
VI, 63, 6. prá vâm váyah—ánu paptan.
May your birds fly after you.
X, 95, 15. púrûravah mâ´ mrithâh mâ´ prá paptah.
Purûravas, do not die, do not go away!
Note 1. Though svadhiti-vân does not occur again, it can only mean he who holds the axe, or, it may be, the sword or the thunderbolt, the latter particularly, if Indra is here intended. Svadhiti signifies axe:
III, 2, 10. svá-dhitim ná tégase.
They adorned Agni like an axe to shine or to cut.
The svádhiti is used by the butcher, I, 162, 9; 18; 20; and by the wood-cutter or carpenter, III, 8, 6; 11; X, 89, 7, &c. Roth (s. v.) takes svadhiti as meaning also a tree,
possibly the oak, and he translates svadhitivân in our passage by a chariot made of the wood of the Svadhiti tree. In RV. IX, 96, 6, svádhitir vánânâm may well mean 'the strong axe among woods,' the axe being naturally made of the strongest wood. In V, 32, 10, a devî´ svádhitih is mentioned, possibly the lightning, the companion of Indra and the Maruts.
Note 2. The tire of the chariot of the Maruts is frequently mentioned. It was considered not only as an essential part of their chariot, but likewise as useful for crushing the enemy:
V, 52, 9. utá pavyâ´ ráthânâm ádrim bhindanti ógasâ.
They cut the mountain (cloud) with the tire of their chariots.
I, 166, 10. pavíshu kshurâ´h ádhi.
On their tires are sharp edges.
In V, 31, 5, tires are mentioned without horses and chariot, which were turned by Indra against the Dasyus (I, 64, 11). I doubt, however, whether in India or elsewhere the tires or the wheels of chariots were ever used as weapons of attack, as detached from the chariot; (see M. M., On Pavîrava, in Beiträge zur Vergleichenden Sprachforschung, vol. iii, p. 447.) If we translate the figurative language of the Vedic poets into matter-of-fact terms, the tires of the chariots of the Maruts may be rendered by thunderbolts; yet by the poets of the Veda, as by the ancient people of Germany, thunder was really supposed to be the noise of the chariot of a god, and it was but a continuation of the same belief that the sharp wheels of that chariot were supposed to cut and crush the clouds; (see M. M., loc. cit., p. 444.)
Note 1. That the vâ´sîs are small weapons, knives or daggers, we saw before, p. 71. Sâyana here explains vâ´sî by a weapon commonly called âra, or an awl. In X, 101, 10, vâ´sîs are mentioned, made of stone, asman-máyî.
The difficulty begins with the second half. Medhâ´, as here written in the Pada text, could only be a plural of
a neuter medhá, but such a neuter does nowhere exist in the Veda. We only find the masculine médha, sacrifice, which is out of the question here, on account of its accent. Hence the passage III, 58, 2, ûrdhvâ´h bhavanti pitárâ-iva médhâh, is of no assistance, unless we alter the accent. The feminine medhâ´ means will, thought, prayer: I, 18, 6; II, 34, 7; IV, 33, 10; V, 27, 4; 42, 13; VII, 104, 6; VIII, 6, 10; 52, 9; IX, 9, 9; 26, 3; 32, 6; 65, 16; 107, 25; X, 91, 8. The construction does not allow us to take medhâ´ as a Vedic instrumental instead of medháyâ, nor does such a form occur anywhere else in the Rig-veda. Nothing remains, I believe, but to have recourse to conjecture, and the addition of a single Visarga in the Pada would remove all difficulty. In the next line, if tuvi-dyumnâ´sah be the subject, it would signify the priests. This, however, is again without any warrant from the Rig-veda, where tuvi-dyumná is always used as an epithet of gods. I therefore take it as referring to the Maruts, as an adjective in the nominative, following the vocatives marutah su-gâtâh. The conception that the Maruts stir up the forests is not of unfrequent occurrence in the Rig-veda cf. I, 171, 3. That ûrdhvá is used of the mind, in the sense of roused, may be seen in I, 119, 2; 134, I; 144, 1; VII, 64, 4. The idea in the poet's mind seems to have been that the thunderbolts of the Maruts rouse up men to prayer as they stir the tops of the forest trees. Ludwig takes medha, masc., in the sense of lance, comparing it with Icelandic meidhr, but the two words cannot well be the same. Possibly vana may be meant for lances: 'May they raise our minds, like lances;' see note to I, 171, 3.
Note 2. On dhan in the sense of to agitate, see B. and R. s. v. The shaking of the stone may be the shaking of the stone for distilling the heavenly Soma or the rain; but adri may also be meant for the thunderbolt. I now take tuvidyumna for an adjective referring to the Maruts, because it is a divine rather than a human epithet. Still, the passage is doubtful.
Note 1. The first question is, which is the subject, áhâni
or grídhrâh? If grídhrâh were the subject, then we should have to translate it by the eager poets, and take áhâni in the sense of visvâ ahâni. The sense then might be: 'Day by day did the eager poets sing around you this prayer.' There would be several objections, however, to this rendering. First, grídhrâh, though metaphorically applicable to poets, never occurs again as signifying poets or priests. One passage only could be quoted in support, IX, 97, 57, kaváyah ná grídhrâh (not gridhrâ´h), like greedy poets. But even here, if indeed the translation is right, the adjective is explained by kaví, and does not stand by itself. Secondly, áhâni by itself is never used adverbially in the sense of day after day. The only similar passage that might be quoted is III, 34, 10, and that is very doubtful. To take áhâni as a totally different word, viz. as á + hâni, without ceasing, without wearying, would be too bold in the present state of Vedic interpretation. If then we take áhâni as the subject, grídhrâh would have to be taken as a vocative, and intended for the Maruts. Now, it is perfectly true, that by itself grídhra, hawk, does not occur again as a name of the Maruts, but syená, hawk, and particularly a strong hawk (IX, 96, 6), is not only a common simile applied to the Maruts, but is actually used as one of their names:
VII, 56, 3. abhí sva-pû´bhih mitháh vapanta vâ´ta-svanasah syenâ´h aspridhran.
They plucked each other with their beaks (?), the hawks, rushing like the wind, strove together.
Aguh might be the aorist of gai, to sing, or of gâ, to go:
I, 174, 8. sánâ tâ´ te indra návyâh â´ aguh.
New poets, O Indra, sang these thy old deeds.
III, 56, 2. gâ´vah â´ aguh.
The cows approached.
If then the sense of the first line is, 'Days went and came back to you,' the next question is whether we are to extend the construction to the next words, imâ´m dhíyam vârkâryâ´m ka devî´m, or whether these words are to be joined to krinvántah, like bráhma. The meaning of
vârkâryâ´ is, of course, unknown. Sâyana's interpretation as 'what is to be made by means of water' is merely etymological, and does not help us much. It is true that the object of the hymn, which is addressed to the Maruts, is rain, and that literally vârkâryâ´ might be explained as 'that the effect of which is rain.' But this is far too artificial a word for Vedic poets. Possibly there was some other word that had become unintelligible and which, by a slight change, was turned into vârkâryâ´, in order to give the meaning of rain-producing. It might have been karkârya, glorious, or the song of a poet called Vârkara, or, as Ludwig suggests, Vrikâri. The most likely supposition is that vârkâryâ´ was the name given to some famous hymn, some pæan or song of triumph belonging to the Gotamas, possibly to some verses of the very hymn before us. In this case the epithet devî´ would be quite appropriate, for it is frequently used for a sacred or sacrificial song: IV, 43, 2: devî´m su-stutím; III, i 8, 3. imâ´m dhíyam sata-séyâya devî´m. See, however, the note to verse 6.
The purport of the whole line would then be that many days have gone for the Maruts as well as for the famous hymn once addressed to them by Gotama, or, in other words, that the Gotamas have long been devoted to the Maruts, an idea frequently recurring in the hymns of the Veda, and, in our case, carried on in the next verse, where it is said that the present hymn is like one that Gotama composed when he saw the Maruts or spoke of them as wild boars with iron tusks. The pushing up the lid of the well for to drink, means that they obtained rain from the cloud, which is here, as before, represented as a covered well.
See another explanation in Haug, Über die ursprüngliche Bedeutung des Wortes Brahma, 1868, p. 5.
Note 1. Yógana commonly means a chariot:
VI, 62, 6. arenû-bhih yóganebhih bhugántâ.
You who possess dustless chariots.
VIII, 72, 6. ásva-vat yóganam brihát.
The great chariot with horses.
It then became the name for a distance to be accomplished without unharnessing the horses, just as the Latin jugum, a yoke, then a juger of land, 'quod uno jugo boum uno die exarari posset,' Pliny XVIII, 3, 3, 9.
In our passage, however, yógana means a hymn, lit. a composition, which is clearly its meaning in
VIII, 90, 3. bráhma te indra girvanah kriyánte ánatidbhutâ, imâ´ gushasva hari-asva yóganâ índra yâ´ te ámanmahi.
Unequalled prayers are made for thee, praiseworthy Indra; accept these hymns which we have devised for thee, O Indra with bright horses!
Note 2. Varâ´hu has here the same meaning as varâhá, wild boar (VIII, 77, 10; X, 28, 4). It occurs once more, I, 121, 11, as applied to Vritra, who is also called varâhá, I, 61, 7; X, 99, 6. In X, 67, 7, vrísha-bhih varâ´haih (with the accent on the penultimate) is intended for the Maruts a. Except in this passage, varâha has the accent on the last syllable. In IX, 97, 7, varâhá is applied to Soma.
This last verse is almost unintelligible to me. I give, however, the various attempts that have been made to explain it.
Wilson: This is that praise, Maruts, which, suited (to your merits), glorifies every one of you. The speech of the priest has now glorified you, without difficulty, with sacred verses, since (you have placed) food in our hands.
Benfey: Dies Lied—Maruts!—das hinter euch emporstrebt, es klingt zurück gleich eines Beters Stimme. Mühlos schuf solche Lieder er, entsprechend eurer Arme Kraft. (Note: Der zum Himmel schallende Lobgesang findet seinen Widerhall (wirklich, 'bebt zurück') in dem Sturmgeheul
der Maruts, welches mit dem Geheul des Betenden verglichen wird.)
Ludwig: Dises lied, o Marut, euch unterstützend (aufnemend) als eines priesters braust euch entgegen, nachbrausen hat es gemacht ohne mühe in (die) der nähe die göttliche weise (ihrer) arme.
My own translation is to a great extent conjectural. It seems to me from verse 3, that the poet offers both a hymn of praise and a libation of Soma. Possibly vârkâryâ in verse 4 might be taken in the sense of Soma-juice, and be derived from valkala, which in later Sanskrit means the bark of trees. In that case verse 5 would again refer to the hymn of Gotama, and verse 6 to the libation which is to accompany it. Anu-bhartrî´ does not occur again, but it can only mean what supports or refreshes, and therefore would be applicable to a libation of Soma which supports the gods. The verb stobhati would well express the rushing sound of the Soma, as in I, 168, 8, it expresses the rushing noise of the waters against the fellies of the chariots. The next line adds little beyond stating that this libation of Soma rushes forth freely from the hands, the gabhastis being specially mentioned in other passages where the crushing of the Soma-plant is described:
IX, 71, 3. ádri-bhih sutáh pavate gábhastyoh.
The Soma squeezed by the stones runs from the hands.
The translation would then be: O Maruts, this comforting draught (of Soma) rushes towards you, like the speech of a suppliant; it rushed freely from our hands, as our draughts (of Soma) are wont to do.
On svadhâ´, see p. 32.
177:a See Genthe, Die Windgottheiten, 186 1, p.14; Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, p. 689. Grimm mentions eburðrung (boar-throng) as a name of Orion, the star that betokens storm.