Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1. Thou, O Agni, (who art) the first Aṅgiras Rishi, hast become as god the kind friend of the gods. After thy law the sages, active in their wisdom 1, were born, the Maruts with brilliant spears.
2. Thou, O Agni, the first, highest Aṅgiras, a sage, administerest the law of the gods, mighty for the whole world, wise, the son of the two mothers 1, reposing everywhere for (the use of) the living 2.
3. Thou, O Agni, as the first, shalt become 1 manifest to Mâtarisvan, through thy high wisdom, to Vivasvat. The two worlds trembled at (thy) election as Hotri. Thou hast sustained the burthen; thou, O Vasu, hast sacrificed to the great (gods) 2.
4. Thou, O Agni, hast caused the sky to roar 1 for Manu, for the well-doing Purûravas, being thyself a greater well-doer. When thou art loosened by power (?) 2 from thy parents, they led thee hither before and afterwards again.
5. Thou, O Agni, the bull, the augmenter of prosperity, art to be praised by the sacrificer who raises the spoon, who knows all about the offering 1 and (the sacrifice performed with) the word Vashat. Thou (god) of unique vigour art the first to invite 2 the clans.
6. Thou, O Agni, leadest forward the man who follows crooked ways 1, in thy company at the sacrifice 2, O god dwelling among all tribes, who in the strife of heroes, in the decisive moment for the
obtainment of the prize 3, even with few companions killest many foes in the battle 4.
7. Thou, O Agni, keepest that mortal 1 in the highest immortality, in glory day by day, (thou) who being thirsty thyself 2 givest happiness to both races (gods and men), and joy to the rich.
8. Thou, O Agni, praised by us, help the glorious singer to gain prizes. May we accomplish our work with the help of the young active (Agni). O Heaven and Earth! Bless us together with the gods.
9. Thou, O Agni, in the lap of thy parents, a god among gods, O blameless one, always watchful, be the body's creator and guardian to the singer. Thou, O beautiful one, pourest forth all wealth.
10. Thou, O Agni, art our guardian, thou art our father. Thou art the giver of strength; we are thy kinsmen. Hundredfold, thousandfold treasures come together in thee, who art rich in heroes, the guardian of the law, O undeceivable one.
11. Thee, O Agni, the gods have made for the living as the first living 1, the clan-lord of the Nahusha 2. They have made (the goddess) Ilâ the teacher of men (manusha), when a son of my father is born 3.
12. Thou, O Agni, protect with thy guardians, O god, our liberal givers and ourselves, O venerable one! Thou art the protector of kith and kin 1 and of the cows, unremittingly watching over thy law.
13 1. Thou, O Agni, art kindled four-eyed, as the closest guardian for the sacrificer who is without (even) a quiver 2. Thou acceptest in thy mind the hymn even of the poor 3 who has made offerings 4, that he may prosper without danger.
14. Thou, O Agni, gainest 1 for the widely-renowned
worshipper that property which is desirable and excellent. Thou art called the guardian and father even of the weak 2; thou instructest the simple, thou, the greatest sage, the quarters of the world 3.
15. Thou, O Agni, protectest on every side like well-stitched armour the man who gives sacrificial fees. He who puts sweet food (before the priests), who makes them comfortable in his dwelling, who kills living (victims), he (will reside) high in heaven 1.
16. Forgive, O Agni, this our fault (?) 1, (look graciously at) this way which we have wandered from afar. Thou art the companion, the guardian, the father of those who offer Soma; thou art the quick one 2 who makes the mortals Rishis 3.
17. As thou didst for Manus, O Agni, for Aṅgiras, O Aṅgiras, for Yayâti on thy (priestly) seat, as for the ancients, O brilliant one, come hither, conduct hither the host of the gods, seat them on the sacrificial grass, and sacrifice to the beloved (host).
18. Be magnified, O Agni, through this spell which we have made for thee with our skill or with our knowledge. And lead us forward to better things. Let us be united with thy favour, which bestows strength.
The Rishi of the hymn is Hiranyastûpa Âṅgirasa. To him tradition ascribes the authorship of the collection I, 31–35, probably because in X, 149, 5 the poet invokes Savitri, 'as Hiranyastûpa the Âṅgirasa has called thee, O Savitri.' Vedic theologians of course tried to find out where this invocation of Hiranyastûpa to Savitri was preserved, and the hymn, I, 35, seemed to agree best with the conditions
of the case (comp. Zeitschrift der D. Morg. Ges. XLII, 230). By this and many similar cases it is made probable that at the time when the Anukramanî was composed, all real knowledge as to authors to whom the collections of the first Mandala belong, was lost.
The metre is Gagatî; only the verses 8, 16, 18 are Trishtubh. Verse 1 = VS. 34, 12. Verse 8 = MS. IV, 11, 1. Verse 12 = VS. 34, 13. With verse 16 comp. AV. III, 15, 4.
Note 1. Vidmanâ´pasah seems to be nom. plur., not gen. sing. Comp. I, 111, 1. tákshan rátham … vidmanâ´pasah, 'they (the Ribhus), active in their wisdom, have wrought the chariot.'
Note 1. As to dvimâtâ´ sayúh, comp. III, 55, 6 (sayúh parástât ádha nú dvimâtâ´); Pischel, Vedische Studien, II, 50.—On Agni's two mothers and his double birth see Bergaigne, Religion Védique, II, 52.
Note 2. By 'living' I have translated âyú. See on this word, Bergaigne, Rel. Véd., I, 59 seq.
Note 1. Probably Bergaigne (Rel. Véd. I, 55, note 2) is right in conjecturing bhavah for bhava. In this case we should have to translate: 'Thou as the first hast become manifest to Mâtarisvan.'
Note 2. I believe that to maháh we have to supply devâ´n; see II, 37, 6; III, 7, 9; VI, 16, 2; 48, 4, &c. 'Can it not be an adverb? See vol. xxxii, p. 307; Lanman, p. 501,' M. M.
Note 1. Comp. V, 58, 6. let Dyu (sky) roar down, the bull of the dawn. V, 59. 8. may Dyaus Aditi (the unbounded) roar for our feast.
Note 2. The translation of svâtra is purely conjectural. It rests on the supposition that the word is related to sûsuve, savas, &c. (thus Grassmann). Boehtlingk-Roth connect it with svad, which is phonetically impossible; they give the meaning 'schmackhaft,' and paraphrase our passage: das mit einer Lockspeise (z. B. mit einem Spahn) von den Reibhölzern abgenommene Feuer kann man hin and her tragen. Ludwig: mit Geprassel. I do not see how this translation would fit for a number of the passages in which the word occurs.
Note 1. With the third Pâda compare VI, 1, 9. yáh â´hutim pári véda námobhih.
Note 2. Avívâsasi cannot belong to the relative clause. The accent must be changed accordingly.
Note 1. It is very curious to find here Agni as the protector of the vriginavartani, the man who follows crooked ways. Ludwig tries to explain the passage by understanding the vidatha, in which Agni is here said to protect the sinner, as an asylum, but we have no reason to believe that the word could have this meaning. See the next note.
Note 2. On the derivation and meaning of vidátha various opinions have been pronounced in the last years, which have been collected by Prof. Max Müller in his note on V, 59, 2 (vol. xxxii p. 349 seq.; see also Bartholomae, Studien zur indogermanischen Sprachgeschichte, I, 41). Without trying to discuss here all different theories, I immediately proceed to state my own opinion, though I am far from claiming certainty for it. It will, however, I believe, solve the difficulties tolerably well. I propose to derive vidátha from vi-dhâ; the dh was changed into d by the same 'Hauchdissimilationsgesetz' (Brugmann, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik, vol. i, p. 355 seq.), according to which Arian *bháudhati was changed into Sanskrit
bódhati. No one will doubt that the operation of this 'Hauchdissimilationsgesetz' could be annihilated by opposite forces, but it must be admitted that the forms with 'Hauchdissimilation' could also remain intact. The verb vi-dhâ means 'to distribute, to arrange, to ordain;' thus the original meaning of vidátha must be, like the meaning of vidhâ´na, 'distribution, disposition, ordinance.' In V, 3, 6 we read vidátheshu áhnâm: this phrase receives its explanation by VII, 66, 11. ví yé dadhúh sarádam mâ´sam â´t áhah; ahorâtrâ´ni vidádhat, X, 190, 2; mâsâ´m vidhâ´nam, X, 1.38, 6; ritû´n … ví dadhau, I, 95, 3. We may call attention also to VI, 51, 2. véda yáh trî´ni vidáthâni eshâm devâ´nâm gánma, 'he who knows their threefold division, the birth of the gods;' VI, 8, 1. prá nú vokam vidáthâ gâtávedasah, 'I will proclaim the ordinances of Gâtavedas.' Within the sphere of the Vedic poets’ thoughts, the most prominent example of something most artificially 'víhita' was the sacrifice (comp. ví yé dadhúh … yagñám, VII, 66, 11; sámsâti ukthám yágate ví û dhâh, IV, 6, 11; [the moon] bhâgám devébhyah ví dadhâti â-yán, X, 85, 19; and the following very significant passage: yagñásya tvâ vidáthâ prikkham átra káti hótârah ritusáh yaganti, Vâg. Samh. XXIII, 57). Thus yagñá and vidátha, 'sacrifice' and 'ordinance,' became nearly synonymous (comp. III, 3, 3, &c.). It would be superfluous to quote the whole number of passages which show this, but I believe that an attentive reader will discern at least in some of them the traces of the original meaning of vidátha; see, for instance, II, 1, 4; III, 28, 4.—Finally vidátha seems to mean 'the act of disposing of any business' or the like; this meaning appears, I believe, in passages like the well-known phrase, brihát vadema vidáthe suvî´râh (comp. suvî´râsah vidátham â´ vadema): 'may we with valiant men mightily raise our voice at the determining (of ordinances, &c.).' Thus the words vidátha and sabhâ´ approach each other in their meaning; a person influential in council is called both vidathỹa and sabhéya (see Boehtlingk-Roth, s. v. vidathỹa).
Note 3. The exact meaning of paritakmya is not quite
free from doubt. Comp. Bartholomae, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, XV, 203, note 1.
Note 4. Prof. Max Müller translates this verse: 'Thou savest the man who has gone the wrong way in the thick of the battle, thou who art quick at the sacrifice; thou who in the strife of heroes, when the prize (or the booty) is surrounded (beset on all sides), killest,' &c.
Note 1. The phrase begins as if a relative clause were to follow attached to the words 'that mortal.' But, instead of this, afterwards a relative clause follows referring to 'thou, O Agni.'
Note 2. Roth (Ueber gewisse Kürzungen des Wortendes, p. 4) and Bartholomae (Kuhn's Zeitschrift, XXIX, 559) think that a dative (like tâtrishânâ´ya) is required; Agni gives comfort to both thirsty races, gods and men. Roth takes tâtrishâná[h] for an abbreviation of tâtrishânâ´ya; Bartholomae conjectures tâtrishâ´ya. It would be more easy to change the form into a dative with the ending -â (= -ai); comp. Kluge, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, XXV, 309 Pischel-Geldner, I, 61; Aufrecht, Festgruss an Böhtlingk, I; J. Schmidt, Pluralbildungen, 234. But why not leave the nominative? Agni, being thirsty himself, quenches the thirst of other beings. Comp. J. Schmidt, Pluralbildungen, 309.
Note 1. Âyúm âyáve. See verse 2, note 2.
Note 2. The names Nahus, Nahusha have much the same value as Manus, Manusha. But it seems that not all the Aryan tribes, but only a certain part of them, were considered as descendants of Nahus. Comp. Bergaigne, Rel. Védique, II, 324.
Note 3. The last words are very obscure. Mamaka occurs only in one other passage, belonging to the same collection of hymns, I, 34, 6: there the Asvins are invoked to bestow blessings on 'my son' (mámakâya sûnáve). 'When a son of my father is born' may mean 'When I am
born,' or 'When a new issue is born within our tribe:' then—thus we may possibly supply—the goddess Ilâ, the teacher of mankind, will be the new-born child's teacher also. Another possible explanation would be to take Mamaka as a proper name. Or Prof. Max Müller may be right, who writes: 'Could not pitúh yát putráh mámakasya gâ´yate refer to Agni, who, in III, 29, 3, was called ilâyâh putrah. Her father and husband (Manu) is also the father of mankind, therefore of the poet who says: Whenever the son of my father is born, they made Ilâ (his mother) the teacher of man.'
Note 1. Trâtâ´ tokásya tánaye seems to be nothing else but trâtâ´ tokásya tánayasya, which would have had one syllable too much.
Note 1. Comp. on this verse, Pischel, I, 216 seq.
Note 2. Agni is to protect the man who has no quiver, and cannot, therefore, protect himself. The four eyes of the divine guardian seem to signify that he can look in all directions, and perhaps also that he has the power of seeing invisible bad demons. The watchdogs of Yama also are four-eyed, X, 14, 10. 11; comp. H. O., Religion des Veda, 474, note 4. Comp. nishaṅgin, Rig-veda III, 30, 15; V, 57, 2; X, 103, 3.
Note 3. On kîrí, comp. Pischel loc. cit.
Note 4. Râtáhavyah means either a man who has made offerings, or a god to whom offerings are made. That it stands here in the first sense is shown with great probability by VIII, 103, 13, where the kîríh râtáhavyah svadhvaráh is described, the man who, though poor, makes offerings and is a good sacrificer. But if we are right in our translation of râtáhavyah, the verb vanóshi cannot belong to the relative clause; I propose to read vanoshi without accent. The way in which Pischel tries to explain the accent of vanóshi, by taking the words kîréh kit mántram mánasâ as a parenthesis, is too artificial.
Note 1. I think that we should here, as in verse 13, read vanoshi without accent.
Note 2. This must be at least the approximate meaning of âdhra. 'For âdhrasya one expects radhrasya,' M. M.
Note 3. I think that the quarters of the world have nothing to do here, but that instead of prá dísah we should read (with Ludwig) pradísah. A similar mistake regarding the word pradis occurs several times in the text of the Rig-veda. I propose to translate the corrected text: 'Thou instructest the simple, well knowing the (divine) commandments.' Comp. vayúnâni vidvâ´n, dûtỹâni vidvâ´n, &c.
Note 1. 'Der ist des himels ebenbild' (Ludwig). But this word upamâ´ is, as far as we can see, not very ancient. I take upamâ´, with Boehtlingk-Roth, as an adverbial instrumental like dakshinâ´, madhyâ´, &c. Prof. Max Müller translates 'close or near to heaven.'
Note 1. Saráni designates in the Atharva-veda VI, 43, 3 a fault or defect, the exact nature of which cannot be determined. Boehtlingk-Roth propose Widerspänstigkeit, Hartnäckigkeit; Max Müller. Abweg, Fehltritt.
Note 2. On bhrimi, comp. M. M.’s note on II, 34, 1.
Note 3. Comp. III, 43, 5. kuvít mâ ríshim papivâ´msam sutásya (supply kárase), 'Wilt thou make me a Rishi after I have drunk Soma?'