Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1. The strength-begotten immortal never grows tired 1, when he, the Hotri, has become the messenger of Vivasvat 2. He passes through the air on the best paths. In the divine world he invites (the gods) with the sacrificial food.
2. Seizing his own food the undecaying, greedy (Agni) stands on the brushwood wishing to drink. When he has been sprinkled (with ghee), he shines like a racer with his back 1. Thundering he has roared like the ridge of heaven.
3. As soon as 1 the Rudras, the Vasus have made him their Purohita, the immortal sitting down as Hotri, the conqueror of wealth, pressing forward like a chariot among the clans, among the Âyus 2, the god in due course discloses desirable boons.
4. Stirred by the wind he spreads among the brushwood lightly 1,(driven forward) by the sacrificial ladles, with his sickle 2, loudly roaring. When thou, O Agni, thirstily rushest on the wooden sticks like a bull 3, thy course, O never-aging god with fiery waves, becomes black 4.
5. He who has fiery jaws, stirred by the wind, blazes down on the forest 1 as a strong bull (rushes) on the herd. When he proceeds 2 with his stream of light to the imperishable atmosphere, then what is moveable and immoveable (and) the winged (birds) are afraid.
6. The Bhrigus have placed thee among men, who art beautiful like a treasure, who art easy to
invoke for people; thee the Hotri, O Agni, the excellent guest, a delightful friend like Mitra to the divine race!
7. I worship with good cheer Agni the steward 1 of all treasures, whom the seven ladles 2 (of the priests), the worshippers choose as the Hotri, the best sacrificer at the rites, and I pray for treasure 3.
8. Son of strength, great like Mitra, grant to-day flawless protection to us who magnify thee. Agni! guard from distress with strongholds of iron him who praises thee, O offspring of vigour!
9. Be a shelter to him who praises thee, O resplendent one; be protection, generous giver, to the generous. Agni! guard him who praises thee from distress. May he who gives wealth for our prayer, come quickly in the morning 1.
The hymn is ascribed to Nodhas Gautama, who is considered as the Rishi of the whole collection, I, 58–64. This tradition is based on, and confirmed by, several passages of the text: I, 61, 14; 62, 13; 64, 1.
The metre is Gagatî verses 1–5, Trishtubh verses 6–9. None of the verses of this hymn occurs in the other Samhitâs.
Note 1. I believe that Professor Aufrecht (Kuhn's Zeitschrift, XXV, 435) is right in reading nû´ kit sahah-gâ´h amrítah nú tandate. Comp. as to nû´ kit nú, I, 120, 2; VI, 37, 3; VII, 22, 8. Agni is frequently called átandrah dûtáh or similarly. Possibly we might read, instead of nú tandate, ní tandate, though parallel passages for the combination of this root with ní are not known.—Prof. Max
[paragraph continues] Müller's opinion is different. He writes: We say, der Funke schlägt oder fängt. Why should not the Hindu have said that Agni strikes out. That would be vi tundate, Agni schlägt aus im Augenblick. But even ni tundate may have been used in the sense of the spark striking down on the tinder—the atasâs, mentioned in verse 2—which he ignites. I should translate: 'The strength-begotten immortal strikes down or breaks forth (vi) quickly, whenever the Hotri (Agni) becomes the messenger of the sacrificer (?).'
Note 2. I cannot follow Aufrecht in his translation 'zum boten des opfernden.' Comp. on Agni as the messenger of Vivasvat, Bergaigne, Rel. Védique, I, 87; H. O., Religion des Veda, 122, 275.
Note 1. Literally, his back shines like a racer. On this kind of comparison, see Bergaigne, Mélanges Renier, 86; Pischel, Vedische Studien, I, 107.
Note 1. Krânâ´: comp. von Bradke, Dyâus Asura, Ahura Mazdâ und die Asuras, p. 36; Pischel, Vedische Studien, I, 70.
Note 2. Bergaigne, Rel. Védique, I, 59 seq.
Note 1. On vríthâ, see Geldner, Vedische Studien, I, 116; Neisser, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, XIX, 148 seq.
Note 2. The meaning is: with his flames which are sharp like a sickle. Sríni is written here as a paroxytonon; in several other passages it is an oxytonon. Such differences are not quite rare, and there is no reason for taking on this account srínyâ as an instr. plur. fem. of the adjective srínya, 'mit verkürzter Endung' (Geldner, loc. cit.). 'His sickle is the sharp edge of Agni.' M. M.—On guhû´bhih, comp. Pischel, Vedische Studien, II, 111.
Note 3. As to vrishâyáse with the accusative, comp. Gaedicke, 74. RV. X, 44, 4. ûrgáh skambhám … vrishâyase.
Note 4. With the last Pâda comp. IV, 7, 9. krishnám te éma rûsatah puráh bhâ´h.
Note 1. That is, among the fuel.
Note 2. I think that we have here probably—(though, of course, this explanation can be avoided)—an anacoluthon. The poet began with the nominative (abhivrágan), and then he changed the construction and went on as if he had begun with the ablative, taking sthâtúh karátham (comp. Lanman, 422) as the subject instead of Agni.—Patatrínah seems to be nom. pl.; comp. I, 94, 11 (see below).
Note 1. The translation of aratí is only approximative and conjectural.
Note 2. Comp. Pischel, Ved. Studien, II, 113.
Note 3. Comp. III, 54, 3. saparyâ´mi práyasâ yâ´mi rátnam.
Note 1. The last Pâda is the standing conclusion of the Nodhas hymns.