Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 114



1. Two (sisters) of different shapes wander along, pursuing a good aim. The one and the other suckles the calf 1. With the one (the calf) is golden, moving according to its wont 2. With the other it is seen clear, full of fine splendour.

2. The ten unwearied 1 young women 2 have brought forth this widely-spread germ of Tvashtri 3. Him, the sharp-faced (Agni) who is endowed with his own splendour, the shining one, they 4 carry around among men.

3. They celebrate his three births: one in the sea, one in heaven, one in the waters 1. In the eastern region 2 he commanding determines the seasons of the dwellers on earth by his present power 3.

4. Who among you has understood this hidden (god)? 1 The calf has by itself given birth to its mothers 2. The germ of many (mothers), the great seer, moving by his own strength, comes forward from the lap of the active ones 3.

1. The fair (child Agni) grows up visibly in them in his own glory, standing erect in the lap of the down-streaming (waters). Both (Heaven and Earth) fled away in fear of (the son of) Tvashtri 2, when he was born, but turning back they caress the lion.

6. They caress him both, like two kind women; like lowing cows they have approached him in their own way. He has become the lord of all

p. 115

powers 1, he whom they anoint with sacrificial gifts from the right side 2.

7. He raises his arms again and again like Savitri 1. He the terrible pressing on ranges both wings 2 (of his army). He raises up his bright vesture from himself alone 3. He gives new garments to his mothers.

8. He assumes his fierce appearance which is above (i. e. the lightning?), being united with the cows 1, the waters in his seat. The prayer purifies the bottom of the seer (?) 2. This was the meeting among the gods 3.

9. The wide space encompasses thy base, the resplendent foundation 1 of the buffalo. Agni! Being kindled protect us with all thy undeceivable guardians who are endowed with their own splendour.

10. On the dry ground he produces a stream 1, a course, a flood. With his bright floods he reaches the earth. Whatever is old he receives into his belly. He moves about within the young sprouting grass 2.

11. Thus, O Agni, being strengthened by fuel, shine thou to us with wealth-giving shine, O purifier, for the sake of glory. May Mitra and Varuna grant us this, may Aditi, Sindhu, the Earth, and the Sky!


The same Rishi. The metre is Trishtubh.—Verse 1 = VS. XXXIII, 5; TB. II, 7, 12, 2. Verse 2 = TB. II, 8, 7, 4. Verse 5 = TB. II, 8, 7, 4; MS. IV, 14, 8.

Verse 1.

Note 1. The two females are evidently Night and Dawn

p. 116

[paragraph continues] (comp. below, 96, 5). The calf is Agni whose bright appearance by night is contrasted here with his paler splendour by day (comp. below, 127, 5). The explanation of Professor Hillebrandt (Vedische Mythologie, I, 331) that 'das von ihnen wechselnd gesäugte Kalb der bald als Sonne bald als Mond erscheinende Lichtgott, d. h. Agni ist,' does not seem convincing to me.

Note 2. I cannot follow Hillebrandt (loc. cit. 335) in translating svadhâ´vân 'an Labung reich.'

Verse 2.

Note 1. On feminine nominatives in -âsah like átandrâsah, see Lanman, Noun-Inflection, 362.

Note 2. The ten young women are the fingers which produce the fire by the attrition of woods.

Note 3. On Tvashtri as the father of Agni, see Hillebrandt, Vedische Mythologie, I, 522 seq.; Bergaigne, Rel. Véd., III, 47 seq.

Note 4. Hillebrandt (loc. cit.) takes the ten fingers as the subject of pári nayanti, which does not seem probable.

Verse 3.

Note 1. It is surprising that Agni's birth in the sea and his birth in the waters are distinguished. The poet's meaning is not quite clear. Prof. Max Müller thinks of the rising sun and the lightning in the clouds. Comp. H. O., Religion des Veda, 107.

Note 2. We ought to read pradísam; comp. IV, 29, 3; IX. IX. 111, 3.

Note 3. Comp. X, 85, 18, where it is said of the moon that she 'is born again, determining the seasons.' Thus it is possible that the poet understands here Agni as dwelling in the moon as light. Comp. on this identification Bergaigne, I, 159, and Hillebrandt, Ved. Mythologie, I, 330 seq. But this interpretation of our passage is by no means certain.

Verse 4.

Note 1. Possibly we should correct káh idám vah ninyám; comp. VII, 56, 4; 61, 5. The translation would be: 'Who

p. 117

among you has understood this secret?'—the secret that a calf should give birth to cows.

Note 2. In my opinion the mothers are the waters; the calf is Agni. The meaning must be, consequently, that, as Agni is born from the waters thus the waters are born from Agni. Agni—we may try to interpret the poet's meaning—sends his smoke to the sky. The smoke is charged to clouds; the clouds send forth water. Exactly the same meaning seems to be expressed in I, 164, 51. Comp. also Manu III, 76. agnau prâstâhutih samyag âdityam upatishthate, âdityâg gâyate vrishtir vrishter annam tatah pragâh.—Prof. Max Müller observes: 'The mothers are day and night, or heaven and earth. The calf, the son, Agni, being born of the night gives birth to the day, and beings born of the day (in the evening) gives birth to the night. Or it may be that Agni, light, makes Dyaus and Prithivî to be visible.'—Prof. Hillebrandt's interpretation of our verse is quite different; see Vedische Mythologie, I, 33.5.

Note 3. I. e. the fire is born from the waters.

Verse 5.

Note 1. Comp. Hillebrandt, Ved. Myth., I, 371, 523.

Note 2. I. e. the son of Tvashtri (see above. verse 2) considered as identical with his father. Comp. Bergaigne, III, 47, and see also Aufrecht, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, I, 356.

Verse 6.

Note 1. On dáksha and its relation to krátu, comp. Geldner, Vedische Studien, I, 267.

Note 2. The poet seems to play upon words; 'power' is dáksha, 'from the right side' dakshinatáh (i. e. approaching respectfully, dakshinîkritya).

Verse 7.

Note 1. Comp. Bergaigne, Rel. Véd., III, 46.

Note 2. Observe the dual form síkau ending in -au, not in -â. Comp. Lanman, Noun-Inflection, 576. Prof. Max

p. 118

[paragraph continues] Müller translates here: He the terrible tries and stretches out the hems of his sleeves.' This may indeed be the meaning of sik.

Note 3. See Geldner, Vedische Studien, II, 189.

Verse 8.

Note 1. The cows of course are intended for the sacrificial food coming from the cow, such as milk and butter.

Note 2. The two nominatives, kavíh and dhî´h, can scarcely be right. The subject seems to be the prayer which cleanses, as it were, Agni, and thus augments his splendour (comp. IV, 15, 6; VIII, 103, 7). Possibly we should read kavéh budhnám. Comp., however, IX, 47, 4. svayám kavíh vidhartári víprâya rátnam ikkhati yádi marmrigyáte dhíyah. In this difficult verse so much is clear that the seer (kavíh) is subject, and that he is stated to purify the prayers.

Note 3. The meaning seems to be that at the sacrificial fire all gods assemble.

Verse 9.

Note 1. On dhâ´man, comp. M. M., vol. xxxii, p. 383 seq.—Prof. Max Müller proposes the following translation: 'Thy wide effulgence goes round the firmament, the firm seat of the strong one (buffalo).'

Verse 10.

Note 1. Ludwig takes srótah as a locative. But it is very improbable that we should have here a survival of the ancient locatives of stems in -s without a case-ending (Joh. Schmidt, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, XXVII, 306; Brugmann, Grundriss der vergl. Grammatik, vol. ii, p. 611). In Ludwig's opinion 'it follows from the corresponding gâtum ûrmim that srotas stands for srotasi as dhanvan for dhanvani.' But this is not convincing.

Note 2. On Agni as inhabiting the sprouting grass, comp. III, 5, 8; VII, 9, 3. 'I believe this refers to the blades of grass used as tinder to catch the sparks of fire.' M. M.

Next: I, 96