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Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg [1897], at

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1. The loving (women) have (amorously) excited 1 their lover, as wives of the same nest (house) their own husband. The sisters have delighted in the dark and in the red (goddess) 2, as the cows in the brightly shining dawn.

2. Our fathers, the Aṅgiras 1, have broken even the strong fortresses by their hymns, the rock by their shouting. They have opened to us the path of the great heaven; they have obtained day and sun and the shine of the dawn 2.

3. They founded the Rita; they set into motion the thought of it 1. Thus then the widely-spread (prayers) 2 of the poor 3 which seek to obtain (wealth), which are free from thirst 4, the active, approach 5 the tribe of the gods 6, strengthening them by offering them delight.

4. When Mâtarisvan had produced him by attrition, he, the reddish, the noble one, who was brought to many places 1, has come to every house. Then the Bhrigu-like 2 has undertaken the messengership 3 (for the mortal) as for a mightier king, being attached to him.

5. When he had created sap to the great father Heaven, the knowing one stealthily approached the speckled (cows). The archer fiercely shot an arrow at him. The god turned his impetuous power against his daughter 1.

6. Augment, O Agni, twofold the strength of

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the man who worships 1 thee in his house, or offers adoration to the loving one 2 day by day. May he whom thou incitest be united with riches 3.

7. Every nourishment goes towards Agni 1, as the seven young 2 rivers (flow) into the ocean. Our strength does not shine from kinsmen 3. Do thou therefore who knowest this, procure among the gods kindness for us.

1. When the sharp splendour 2 reached the lord of men to incite him 3, the bright sperm poured down from Heaven (or, from the god Dyaus) 4, Agni produced 5 and furthered the blameless, young, well-wishing host 6.

9. He who traverses the paths quickly 1 like thought, the Sun alone rules over wealth altogether. (There are) the two kings Mitra and Varuna with graceful hands 2, who watch over the beloved ambrosia 3 in the cows.

10. Do not forget, O Agni, who art a sage possessed of knowledge 1, our paternal friendship. Old age impairs the appearance (of men) as a cloud (covers the sun or the sky). Before this curse (attains us), think thou (of us) 2.


The same Rishi. Metre, Trishtubh.

Though the hymns 71–73 are not composed in the Virâg metre like the preceding hymns, it is shown by 'manifold evidence that they had the same origin. Verse 8 = VS. XXXIII, 11; TS. I, 3, 14, 6; MS. IV, 14, 15.

Verse 1.

Note 1. Comp. Geldner, Vedische Studien, II, 134.

Note 2. if the text is correct, the 'sisters' may either

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be the ten fingers which generate Agni by attrition (III, 29, 13; IV, 6, 8), or the streams of water among which Agni grows up, or streams of Ghrita or the like (comp. II, 5, 5 see below). Why these sisters are said to delight in the dark and in the bright goddess, the Night and the Dawn, remains doubtful.

But I think there are reasons which strongly recommend a correction of the text. In III, 55, II we read syâ´vî ka … árushî ka svásârau, 'the two sisters, the dark one and the red one.' Is it not probable that in our passage also it is the sisters who are described as dark and red? The dark goddess and the red goddess of course are Night and Dawn, and Night and Dawn, as is well known, are sisters in Vedic poetry. And furthermore the 'sisters' are described in our verse as amorously exciting the god Agni: for it cannot well be doubted that the svásârah of the third Pâda are identical with the usatî´h of the first: similarly it is said in 70, 7—in a hymn belonging to the same collection with out Sûkta—that the Nights and Dawns augment Agni's greatness; in other passages Agni is represented as beloved by the Dawn, or as suckled by Night and Dawn (Bergaigne, Religion Védique, II, 14. 15). The 'sisters' then are stated in our verse to delight (agushran), probably in Agni: now we read in II, 2, 2. abhí tvâ náktîh ushásah vavâsire ágne vatsám ná svásareshu dhenávah, 'The Nights and Dawns, Agni, have lowed at thee as the milch-cows in their stalls at their calves;' comp. Bergaigne, II, 15. Thus everything is clear, if we take the usatî´h and the svásârah for the bright and dark goddesses, i. e. for the Dawns and Nights. The correction of the text to which this interpretation leads, is svásârah syâ´vîh árushîh agushran, 'the dark and the red sisters have delighted (in Agni).' It is easy to understand that the corruption of the text was occasioned by the simile of the fourth Pâda. The words ushásam ná gâ´vah seemed to demand a parallel nominative and a parallel accusative in the third Pâda. The nominative was svásârah, but there was no accusative. Thus probably arose the reading syâ´vîm árushîm.

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Verse 2.

Note 1. On the Aṅgiras as the fathers of the priestly tribes, see H. O., Religion des Veda, 278.

Note 2. The phrase ushásah ketúh occurs several times in the Rig-veda. I think that ketúm usrâ´h means exactly the same; it has been shown by Kaegi, Festgruss an Boehtlingk, p. 49, and by Bartholomae, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, XV, 185, that a genitive sing. usrâ´h existed.

Verse 3.

Note 1. Ludwig refers asya to the sacrificer, Bollensen to Agni, and so does Sâyana. I believe that asya should be explained as ritásya; the phrase ritásya dhîtí is frequently used, comp. IV, 23, 8; IX, 76, 4; 97, 34; 111, 2. See also Ludwig's note on III, 31, 1 (vol. v, p. 65).—Prof. Max Müller refers rita to Agni. 'One might translate it by righteous: They established the righteous (Agni), they moved his mind (made him attend?).'

Note 2. The substantive (of feminine gender) which is to be supplied to didhishṽah, átrishyantîh, &c., seems to me to be gírah or the like. Aryáh stands frequently together with gírah.—Prof. Max Müller writes: 'Could not ari be a feminine like karshani and vis; see before, I, 70, I. We should then translate, and then the people emulous, widely spread, never flagging [the stones also are called atrishitâh atrishnagah, X, 94, 11], and active go towards the gods.'

Note 3. See above, 70, 1, note 1.

Note 4. Are the prayers called 'free from thirst' because they are accompanied by libations of Ghrita, Soma, &c.?

Note 5. I believe that devâ´n gánma depends both on ákkhâ and on vardháyantîh.

Note 6. Devâ´n, or rather devâ´m, is gen. plur.; see above, 70, 6, with note 1.

Verse 4.

Note 1. The place in which víbhritah stands would seen to show that it is an epithet of Mâtarisvan, and so it is understood by Ludwig and by Bergaigne (Rel. Véd. I, 54).

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[paragraph continues] But it is Agni himself, not Mâtarisvan, who is very frequently mentioned as víbhrita or the like. As we read here, víbhritah … grihé-grihe, it is said in V, II, 4. agním nárah ví bharante grihé-grihe, 'the men carry Agni hither and thither, to every house;' comp. I, 70, 10; III, 55, 4; X, 1, 2; 45, 2; 80, 4. Thus I believe the poet means to say that Mâtarisvan first kindled Agni, in one place of course, and that Agni then was brought to many places, to all human dwellings. I think that the text indeed can be understood in this way, if we suppose that the author, for the sake of the metre, allowed himself a hyperbaton or synchysis.

We must not omit to mention that the first Pâda of I, 148, 1 is nearly identical with our passage: máthît yát îm vishtáh mâtarísvâ. This Pâda is deficient by one syllable. If we were to read víbhritah, as in our passage, this would lead indeed to the conclusion that there is no hyperbaton in our verse—for the verse, I, 148, 1, could not be explained in that way—but that víbhritah refers to Mâtarisvan. I think, however, that it is more than doubtful that the verse, I, 148, 1, really ought to be corrected in this way; whatever may have been the original form of that verse, it is quite possible, and even probable, that it differed from our passage just in that one word.

Note 2. The exact meaning of Bhgavâna is doubtful. It is, of course, derived from Bhgu as vásavâna, tákavâna, from vásu, táku. Agni is called Bhgavâna also in IV, 7, 4. Comp. Bergaigne, I, 54.

Note 3. With the words â´ dûtỹam vivâya comp. IV, 9, 6. véshi ít u asya dûtỹam.

Verse 5.

Note 1. This difficult verse evidently treats of the incest which the father Dyaus has committed with his daughter. Compare on this subject Bergaigne, Rel. Véd. II, 109 seq. Agni seems to be represented here as stimulating the desire of the father; the 'sap' (rása) probably is the sperm, comp. I, 105, 2.

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In the second Pâda, Agni, having done, as it seems, some mischief, goes away to the speckled cows.' We cannot say who these speckled cows were; they evidently are identical with those mentioned in another passage treating of the same story, X, 61, S.—Bergaigne paraphrases the second Pâda of our verse, wrongly in my opinion, 'Agni sort furtivement de cette fille, de cette vache, prisanî´.'

The archer who shoots at Agni (third Pâda) is not better known to us than the speckled cows. Bergaigne's opinion, 'que cet archer n’est autre que le père lui-même,' is not very convincing.

Verse 6.

Note 1. The traditional reading vibhâ´ti ('he who shines for thee in his house') gives no satisfactory sense. I propose to read vidhâ´ti. Cf. I, 120, 1. kathâ´ vidhâti ápraketâh.

Note 2. I have some doubts as to the correctness of usatáh (Samhitâpâtha, usató) ánu dyû´n. Usát, of course, is an epithet not of the days, but of Agni. But then we expect the dative. Correcting the text (usaté) is all the easier, because before a following vowel the dative and the genitive were, in the original pronunciation, identical (usatáánu; see my Prolegomena, 447 sqq.); the spellings of the Samhitâpâtha, usató ánu and usaté ánu, belong to the inventions of Vedic grammarians.

Note 3. Literally, May he whom thou incitest drive on the same chariot with riches. Comp. such expressions as rathî´h râyáh and the like.

Verse 7.

Note 1. Comp. IV, 44, 2. yuvóh vápuh abhí pkshah sakante; VII, 90, 5.

Note 2. Comp. I, 26, 10, note 1.

Note 3. Ludwig: nicht unter unsern freunden ward auszfündig gemacht die kraftspeise. Grassmann: nicht bei Verwandten ward uns Nahrung sichtbar. Wilson: Our food is not partaken of by our kinsmen. Griffith: Not by our brethren was our food discovered.—Ludwig and Grassmann translate as if the text had gâmíshu. What the

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instrumental means is shown, I believe, for instance, by IV, 14, 2. ví sû´ryah rasmíbhih kékitânah, 'the sun shining with his rays.' Thus in our passage the poet seems to me to say, 'We have no strong kinsmen who might add lustre to our strength. Agni, procure thou strength to us.' Comp. X, 23, 7. vidmá hí te prámatim deva gâmivát, 'for we know, O god, thy providing care like that of a kinsman.'—Prof. Max Müller proposes the translation: 'Our wealth is not known by our kinsmen, i. e. we cannot support them as we ought.'

Verse 8.

Note 1. The poet returns here to the myth of which he had spoken in verse 5. Should the order of the verses be changed?—On our verse, compare Geldner, Ved. Studien, II, 34.

Note 2. Tégas seems to be here a synonym of rétas, as in the later language.

Note 3. Is the lord of men Agni? See the third Pâda.—Ishé I consider, with Geldner, as an infinitive.

Note 4. My translation rests on the supposition that dyaûh is to he corrected into dyóh; thus the ablative is obtained, of which the word abhî´ke is usually accompanied (comp. Lanman, 433; Collitz, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, X, 15). If we leave the reading dyaúh, this nominative will be the subject of the verb â´nat. Then tégah must be accusative dependent on â´nat, and we can scarcely avoid making nripátim to depend on the infinitive ishé. This is the way which Geldner has followed in interpreting this passage. But I cannot consider this separation of nripátim from the verb â´nat very probable.

Note 5. The exact meaning of ganayat seems to be here, 'he caused them to be born.' Comp. Satapatha Brâhmana I, 7, 4, 4. yathâ tad devâ retah prâganayan (comp. Aitareya Brâhmana III, 34; see also Rig-veda X, 61, 7).

Note 6. This may be the host of the seven Rishis. Comp. III, 31, 1–5; IV, 1, 12 seq. (?). Or the Maruts are alluded to (comp. below, 72, 4), though that seems to me less probable.

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Verse 9.

Note 1. Literally, in one day. But sadyáh has already in the Rig-veda the secondary meaning 'immediately, quickly.'

Note 2. Comp. III, 56, 7. râ´gânâ mitrâ´-várunâ supânî´.

Note 3. See below, 72, 6.

Verse 10.

Note 1. Comp. VII, 18, 2: there the words abhí vidúh kavíh sán are identical with our text.

Note 2. Of the second hemistich Prof. Collitz has treated in Bezzenberger's Beiträge, X, 15, note. He paraphrases the meaning in the following way: 'Der Sinn des ganzen Verses ist: unsere Freundschaft mit dir, Agni, stammt aus alter Zeit. Nun sagt man zwar "im Alter ändert sich das Aussehn wie das der Wolke." Aber stehe du uns bei vor diesem Fluche.' I do not believe that this interpretation, though very ingenious, gives the real meaning of the Vedic poet.—Comp. I, 179, I. minâ´ti sríyam garimâ´ tanû´nâm.

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