Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1. For him who sits on the Vedi (i. e. on the sacrificial bed), whose foundations are pleasant, for the brilliant Agni bring forward 1 a receptacle 2, which is to him like a drink. Clothe 1 the bright one in prayer as in a garment, him whose chariot is light, whose colour is bright, the destroyer of darkness.
2. He who has a twofold birth 1, presses on towards the threefold food 2; what he has eaten grows again after a year 3. With the mouth and the tongue of the one he (shows himself as) the noble, manly one; with the other (mouth) the stubborn (Agni) wipes off the trees 4.
3. Both his mothers 1, dwelling together, immersed in darkness, and affrighted, proceed towards the young child who stretches forward his tongue, who sparkling moves about thirstily, whom men should attach to themselves, who agitates (the world), the increaser of his father 2.
4. Thy speedy (teams) 1 that strive to break loose for the benefit of the man who acts as men do, the swift ones, drawing black furrows-thy quick (horses), striving apart, the agile, swift runners, incited by the wind, are yoked.
5. When he stroking his wide course proceeds panting, thundering, roaring, then those sparkling (rays) of his fly about wildly, displaying wondrous darkness, a large sight 1.
6. When he bends down over the brown (plants) 1 like a busy (servant), he roars and approaches his
wives like a bull. Displaying his power he adorns his bodies with beauty; like a terrible beast, difficult to seize, he shakes his horns.
7. He clasps (the plants, &c.) that have been laid together and have been laid out 1. Knowing them, while they know him, and being their own (friend or lover) he lies on them. They grow again and attain godhead. They produce together another shape of the parents 2.
8. The long-haired virgins 1 have embraced him. Having died they stand upright again for him (Agni) the living one (or, for him the Âyu). Delivering them of old age he proceeds roaring, procreating another vital spirit, an indestructible life.
9. Licking everywhere the upper garment of the mother 1, he spreads himself over the space with his mightily devouring warriors, giving strength to everything that has feet, licking and licking. The reddish white one 2 follows her ways 3.
10. Shine, O Agni, among our liberal lords, for thou art a mightily breathing bull, a friend of the house. Throwing down the (mothers) of the young child 1 thou hast shone, (a protector of thy friends) like a coat of mail in battles, hurrying around.
11. May this well-composed (prayer), O Agni, be more welcome to thee than a badly-composed one—more welcome than even a welcome prayer. With the bright light of thy body win thou treasures for us.
12. Grant us, Agni, for our chariot and for our house a ship which has its own rudders and which has feet 1, which may save our strong men and our liberal lords and our people, and which may be a shelter for us.
13. Approve, O Agni, our hymn alone. May Heaven and Earth and the Rivers, delightful by their own nature 1, going their way 2, (choose for us) bliss in cows and crops, long days; may the red (Dawns) choose food for us as a choice boon.
The Rishi is Dîrghatamas Aukathya, the metre Gagatî; the two last verses are Trishtubh (comp. above the note on the metre of I, 94); the tenth verse, which is considered as either Gagatî or Trishtubh, begins with one Gagatî Pâda which is followed by three Pâdas in Trishtubh.—No verse occurs in the other Samhitâs.
Note 1. Prá bharâ (Padap. prá bhara) and vâsayâ (Padap. vâsaya) may be 1st person.
Note 2. Possibly the 'womb' or 'receptacle' (yóni) here means ghrita or the like, for it is said of Agni that 'his womb is ghrita' (II, 3, 11), and he is called ghritáyonih. This receptacle 'is to him like a drink,' because he consumes the ghrita by which he is surrounded.
Note 1. The terrestrial and the celestial birth. Comp. Bergaigne, I, 28 seq.
Note 2. Bergaigne (I, 29) translates: '… s’élance trois fois sur la nourriture,' which he explains as referring to 'the three sacrifices of the morning, the midday, and the evening.' But tri-vrít clearly is an epithet of ánnam, not an adverb. The explanation of Sâyana, who understands the threefold food as sacrificial butter, sacrificial cakes (purodâsa), and Soma, may be correct.
Note 3. On the locative samvatsaré, comp. Delbrück, Altindische Syntax, p. 117.
Note 4. The last words evidently refer to Agni's tongue, i. e. his flames, wiping off as it were the firewood. But it is not clear what the tongue of the other one is. Sâyana thinks of the sacrificial spoon conceived as the tongue of the officiating priest: which is very artificial, but perhaps not too artificial for a verse like this.
Note 1. The 'two mothers' of Agni may be the two worlds (comp. Bergaigne, I, 238) or the two kindling-sticks. -Ubhâ´ (masc.) instead of ubhé is to be remarked.
Note 2. Agni increases the wealth of the worshipper who has lighted the fire and may thus be considered as Agni's father. Comp. Satapatha Brâhmana XII, 5, 2, 15. Or the father may be Heaven; on Agni as imparting strength to Heaven, see I, 164, 51.
Note 1. The verse begins with feminines; the gûvah (comp. I, 134, 1), literally the quick ones, seem to be something like the niyútah of Agni. Then follow masculines; the horses of Agni are male (comp. Bergaigne, I, 143).
Note 1. Comp. bhû´ri várpah kárikrat, III, 58, 9.
Note 1. The brown ones, according to Sâyana, are the plants. They are called brown (babhru) also in X, 97, 1. 'Are they the dry leaves in which the spark is caught?' M. M.
Note 1. Prof. Max Müller translates samstírah vishtírah, '(the flames) that are together and apart.'
Note 2. The parents seem to be Heaven and Earth, as Sâyana explains.—Possibly pitróh depends on sákâ (comp.
pitróh sákâ, II, 17, 7; IV, 5, 10), being with their parents they produce a new shape.' Prof. Max Müller translates: 'They produce together a different shape of their parents.'
Note 1. Should not the plants again be referred to? 'I think it refers to the gvâlâs, the flames that are hidden under the ashes and are lighted again.' M. M.
Note 1. The mother is the Earth whose surface Agni licks.
Note 2. I believe the Dawn is alluded to whom the Vedic poets represent now as preceding Agni, now as following him. See Bergaigne, II, pp. 14, 15.
Note 3. For vartanî´r áha of the Samhitâpâtha the Padapâtha has vartaníh áha; comp. Rig-veda Prâtisâkhya, Sûtra 259. Vartanî´h of course is correct. Comp. X, 172, I. gâ´vah sakanta vartaním.
Note 1. The mothers of the young child are very probably the mothers of Agni represented as a young child. They may be the Waters which Agni leaves resting on the surface of the earth while he himself rises to heaven. Or the mothers may be the woods or plants which he burns and thus throws them down as it were.
Note 1. 'Which has feet in its own rudders,' M. M. That the ship has feet seems to mean only that it has the faculty of moving forward freely and quickly, and not that any real beings having feet are designated by this comparison. The ship that carries the worshippers across all dangers, is the protection and help which Agni grants, or the sacrifice which he helps to perform.
Note 1. Comp. Geldner, Vedische Studien, I, 275.
Note 2. Yántah seems to be corrupt; one or two syllables are wanting. Something like yâtáyantah (IX, 39, 2) or vardháyantah, or, as Prof. Max Müller proposes, vyántah would do. He translates: 'May Heaven and Earth and the Rivers … accepting (vyántah) sacrifices of milk and corn choose for us, and may the Dawns choose for us food as a boon for many days.'—Cf. Lanman, pp. 510, 539.