Vedic Hymns, Part I (SBE32), by Max Müller, , at sacred-texts.com
1. Offer ye these songs to Rudra whose bow is strong, whose arrows are swift, the self-dependent 1 god, the unconquered conqueror, the intelligent, whose weapons are sharp—may he hear us!
2. For, being the lord 1, he looks after what is born on earth; being the universal ruler, he looks after what is born in heaven. Protecting us, come to our protecting doors, be without illness among our people, O Rudra!
3. May that thunderbolt of thine, which, sent from heaven, traverses the earth, pass us by! A thousand medicines are thine, O thou who art freely accessible 1; do not hurt us in our kith and kin!
4. Do not strike us, O Rudra, do not forsake us! May we not be in thy way when thou rushest forth furiously. Let us have our altar and a good report among men 1—protect us always with your favours!
Ascribed to Vasishtha. Verse 1 occurs TB. II, 8, 6, 8. Metre, 1-3 Gagatî; 4 Trishtubh.
Note 1. The TB. has svadhâ´mne for svadhâ´vne, mîdkúshe for vedháse, and srinotana for srinotu nah. The commentator explains both svadhâmne = svakîyasthânayuktâya, and svadhâvne = svadhâsabdavâkyenânnena yuktâya vâ. On vedhas, see Bartholomae, K. Z. XXVII, 361; Ludwig, Z. D. M. G. XL, 716.
Note 1. Geldner translates kshayena by 'from his high seat.' The meaning of kshaya in this place seems defined by the parallel expression sâ´mrâgyena.
Note 1. Svapivâta has been variously translated. Grassmann gives Vielbegehrter; Ludwig, des windhauch in schlaf versenkt; Roth, wohl verstehend, denkend; Geldner, freundlicher; Muir, thou who art easy of access, which seems to me the right rendering; cf. sûpâyana. It is derived from api + vat, which occurs six times in the Rig-veda. As a simple verb it means 'to go near, to attend,' as a causative, the same, or 'to bring near.' Thus, VII; 3, 10. ápi krátum su-kétasam vatema, may we obtain wisdom, full of good thoughts. VII, 60, 6. ápi krátum su-kétasam vátantah, (the gods) obtaining wisdom, full of good thoughts (for their worshippers). X, 20, 1 (X, 25, 1). bhadrám nah ápi vâtaya mánah, let us obtain a good mind. I, 128, 2. tám yagña-sâ´dham ápi vâtayâmasi, we go near to, or we bring near Agni, the performer of the sacrifice. I, 165, 13. mánmâni—api-vâtáyantah, bringing the prayers near, or attending to the prayers. X, 13, 5. pitré putrâ´sah ápi avîvatan ritám, the sons brought the sacrifice to the father.
Api-vâta would then mean approach, or in a more
spiritual sense, attention, regard, and su-apivâta would mean either of easy approach, opposed to durdharsha, or full of kind attention and regard. See Muir, ST. IV, p. 314. note. Bergaigne, III, 306, does not help us much, though he points out where the difficulty lies.
The following are the Zend passages in which api-vat occurs, with some notes sent me by Dr. Stein: Apivatahê, Y. 9, 27, 2. p. sg. med. c. Gen. 'Hom, du verstehst dich auf rechte Preissprüche' d. h. kannst sie würdigen;' apivatâitê daênayâo mâzdayaçnôis, V. 9, 2, 47, 'vertraut mit dem Gesetz; daênâ´m zarazca dâṭ apaêca aotât, yt. 9, 26: 'wer das Gesetz lernt und in dasselbe eindringt;' verezyôtûca frâcâ vatôyôtû, Y. 35, 6, 'das richtig erkannte führe er aus und theile es mit;' Y. 44, 18 scheint apivaiti 1. p. sg. med. in der Bedeutung: 'in Erfahrung gebracht haben;' die Stelle ist indess sehr dunkel.
Note 1. Â´ nah bhaga barhíshi gîvasamsé seems a very simple sentence. It has been translated without any misgivings by Grassmann, Ludwig, Geldner and Kaegi and others.
Grassmann translates: 'Lass lange lebend uns die Streu noch schmücken.'
Ludwig: 'Gib uns anteil an dem barhis als verheiszung des lebens.'
Kaegi and Geldner (or Roth): 'Verstatt uns Theil an Opfer und an Herrschaft.'
Bergaigne often points to such translations with scorn, but after he has written several pages on the words in question, here on gîvasamsa, he is indeed very positive that it means 'formule qui donne la vie' (I, p. 306), but what such a 'formule' is, and how this meaning fits the whole sentence, he does not tell us.
Let us begin with what is clear. Â´ bhaga nah with locative, means 'appoint us to something,' i. e. 'give us something.' Thus I, 121, 15. â´ nah bhaga góshu, means 'divide us, distribute us, appoint us to cows,' i. e. 'give us cows as our share.' The same expression is used when
instead of cows or riches, the gods are asked to give long life, glory, or sinlessness. Thus we read, I, 104, 6. sáh tvám nah indra sû´rye sáh apsú anâgâstvé â´ bhaga gîvasamsé, that is,' Indra, allow us to share and rejoice in the sun, in water, in sinlessness and praise of men.' X, 45, 10. â´ tám bhaga sausravaséshu, 'give him, let him share in, good renown.'
When we are once familiar with this phraseology, we cannot doubt that in our passage also we have to translate, let us have our barhis, our homely altar, and good report among men.'
Another word narâsamsa had originally the same meaning as gîvasamsa, but it was chiefly used as a name of Agni. He was called Narâsamsa, i. e. Männerlob, or dyóh sámsa, Himmelslob, as a German poet was once called Frauenlob, not only because he praised women, but because he was praised by women. As we can say, God is my song, the Vedic Rishis might call any god the samsa, i. e. the praise or song of men, of the fathers, or of the gods. So far from agreeing with Bergaigne, 'on comprendrait moins bien qu’une locution dont le sens propre aurait été "éloge mortel" e.ût désigné celui qui est loué par le mortel,' nothing is easier and better confirmed by other languages, while the invocation of 'une formule sacrée' is almost unintelligible. If in a later hymn Indra is called gyéshthah mántrah, in X, 50, 4, I should translate, 'thou art the oldest or the best song,' that is, 'the theme of the oldest song,' but not thou art a magic formula. There is no necessity therefore for taking narâsamsa as a possessive compound, possessed of the praise of men, nor must we forget that in words which become almost proper names the accent is by no means always a safe guide.