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Vedic Hymns, Part I (SBE32), by Max Müller, [1891], at

With regard to the interpretation of certain words and sentences too, it may happen that explanations which have taxed the ingenuity of some scholars to the utmost, seem to others so self-evident that they would hardly think of quoting anybody's name in support of them, to say nothing of the endless and useless work it would entail, were we obliged always to find out who was the first to propose this or that interpretation. It is impossible here to lay down general rules:—each scholar must be guided by his own sense of justice to others and by self-respect. Let us take one instance. From the first time that I read the fourth hymn of the Rig-veda, I translated the fifth and sixth verses:

utá bruvantu nah nídahh anyátah kit arata,
  dádhânâh índre ít dúvah,
utá nah su-bhágân aríh vokéyuh dasma krishtáyah,
  syâ´ma ít índrasya sármani.

1. Whether our enemies say, 'Move away elsewhere, you who offer worship to Indra only,'—

2. Or whether, O mighty one, all people call us blessed: may we always remain in the keeping of Indra.

About the general sense of this passage I imagined there could be no doubt, although one word in it, viz. aríh, required an explanation. Yet the variety of interpretations proposed by different scholars is extraordinary. First, if we look to Sâyana, he translates:

1. May our priests praise Indra! O enemies, go away from this place, and also from another place! Our priests (may praise Indra), they who are always performing worship for Indra.

2. O destroyer of enemies! may the enemy call us possessed of wealth; how much more, friendly people! May we be in the happiness of Indra!

Professor Wilson did not follow Sâyana closely, but translated:

1. Let our ministers, earnestly performing his worship,

p. xl

exclaim: Depart, ye revilers, from hence and every other place (where he is adored).

2. Destroyer of foes, let our, enemies say we are prosperous: let men (congratulate us). May we ever abide in the felicity (derived from the favour) of Indra.

Langlois translated:

1. Que (ces amis), en fêtant Indra, puissent dire: Vous, qui êtes nos adversaires, retirez-vous loin d’ici.

2. Que nos ennemis nous appellent des hommes fortunés, placés que nous sommes sous la protection d’Indra. Stevenson translated:

1. Let all men again join in praising Indra. Avaunt ye profane scoffers, remove from hence, and from every other place, while we perform the rites of Indra.

2. O foe-destroyer, (through thy favour) even our enemies speak peaceably to us, the possessors of wealth; what wonder then if other men do so. Let us ever enjoy the happiness which springs from Indra's blessing.

Professor Benfey translated:

1. And let the scoffers say, They are rejected by every one else, therefore they celebrate Indra alone.

2. And may the enemy and the country proclaim us as happy, O destroyer, if we are only in Indra's keeping a.

Professor Roth, s.v. anyátah, took this word rightly in the sense of 'to a different place,' and must therefore have taken that sentence 'move away elsewhere' in the same sense in which I take it. Later, however, s.v. ar, he corrected himself, and proposed to translate the same words by 'you neglect something else.'

Professor Bollensen (Orient und Occident, vol. ii, p. 462),

p. xli

adopting to a certain extent the second rendering of Professor Roth in preference to that of Professor Benfey, endeavoured to show that the 'something else which is neglected,' is not something indefinite, but the worship of all the other gods, except Indra.

It might, no doubt, be said that every one of these translations contains something that is right, though mixed up with a great deal that is wrong; but to attempt for every verse of the Veda to quote and to criticise every previous translation, would be an invidious and useless task. In the case just quoted, it might seem right to state that Professor Bollensen was the first to see that aríh should be joined with krishtáyah, and that he therefore proposed to alter it to arîh, as a nom. plur. But on referring to Rosen, I find that, to a certain extent, he had anticipated Professor Bollensen's remark, for though, in his cautious way, he abstained from altering the text, yet he remarked: Possitne aríh pluralis esse, contracta terminatione, pro arayah?


After these preliminary remarks I have to say a few Plan of the work.words on the general plan of my translation.

I do not attempt as yet a translation of the whole of the Rig-veda, and I therefore considered myself at liberty to group the hymns according to the deities to which they are addressed. By this process, I believe, a great advantage is gained. We see at one glance all that has been said of a certain god, and we gain a more complete insight into his nature and character. Something of the same kind had been attempted by the original collectors of the ten books, for it can hardly be by accident that each of them begins with hymns addressed to Agni, and that these are followed by hymns addressed to Indra. The only exception to this rule is the eighth Mandala, for the ninth being devoted to one deity, to Soma, can hardly be accounted an exception. But if we take the Rig-veda as a whole, we find hymns, addressed to the same deities, not only scattered about in different books, but not even grouped together when they occur in one and the same book. Here, as we lose nothing by giving up the old arrangement, we

p. xlii

are surely at liberty, for our own purposes, to put together such hymns as have a common object, and to place before the reader as much material as possible for an exhaustive study of each individual deity.

I give for each hymn the Sanskrit original a in what is known as the Pada text, i. e. the text in which all words (pada) stand by themselves, as they do in Greek or Latin, without being joined together according to the rules of Sandhi. The text in which the words are thus joined, as they are in all other Sanskrit texts, is called the Samhitâ text. Whether the Pada or the Samhitâ text be the more ancient, may seem difficult to settle. As far as I can judge, they seem to me, in their present form, the product of the same period of Vedic scholarship. The Prâtisâkhyas, it is true, start from the Pada text, take it, as it were, for granted, and devote their rules to the explanation of those changes which that text undergoes in being changed into the Samhitâ text. But, on the other hand, the Pada text in some cases clearly presupposes the Samhitâ text. It leaves out passages which are repeated more than once, while the Samhitâ text always repeats these passages; it abstains from dividing the termination of the locative plural su, whenever in the Samhitâ text, i. e. according to the rules of Sandhi, it becomes shu; hence nadîshu, agishu, but ap-su; and it gives short vowels instead of the long ones of the Samhitâ, even in cases where the long vowels are justified by the rules of the Vedic language. It is certain, in fact, that neither the Pada nor the Samhitâ text, as we now possess them, represents the original text of the Veda. Both show clear traces of scholastic influences. But if we try to restore the original form of the Vedic hymns, we shall certainly arrive at some kind of Pada text rather than at a Samhitâ text; nay, even in their present form, the original metre and rhythm of the ancient hymns of the Rishis are far more perceptible when the words are divided, than when we join them together throughout according to the rules of Sandhi. Lastly, for practical purposes, the Pada text is far superior to the Samhitâ text in which the final

p. xliii

and initial letters, that is, the most important letters of words, are constantly disguised, and liable therefore to different interpretations. Although in some passages we may differ from the interpretation adopted by the Pada text, and although certain Vedic words have, no doubt, been wrongly analysed and divided by Sâkalya, yet such cases are comparatively few, and where they occur, they are interesting as carrying us back to the earliest attempts of Vedic scholarship. In the vast majority of cases the divided text, with a few such rules as we have to observe in reading Latin, nay, even in reading Pâli verses, brings us certainly much nearer to the original utterance of the ancient Rishis than the amalgamated text.

The critical principles by which I have been guided in editing for the first time the text of the Rig-veda, require Principles of criticism.a few words of explanation, as they have lately been challenged on grounds which, I think, rest on a complete misapprehension of my previous statements on this subject.

As far as we are able to judge at present, we can hardly speak of various readings in the Vedic hymns, in the usual sense of that word. Various readings to be gathered from a collation of different MSS., now accessible to us, there are none. After collating a considerable number of MSS., I have succeeded, I believe, in fixing on three representative MSS., as described in the preface to the first volume of my edition of the Rig-veda. Even these MSS. are not free from blunders,—for what MS. is?—but these blunders have no claim to the title of various readings. They are lapsus calami, and no more; and, what is important, they have not become traditional a.

p. xliv

The text, as deduced from the best MSS. of the Samhitâ text, can be controlled by four independent checks. The first is, of course, a collation of the best MSS. of the Samhitâ text.

The second check to be applied to the Samhitâ text is a comparison with the Pada text, of which, again, I possessed at least one excellent MS., and several more modern copies.

The third check was a comparison of this text with Sâyana's commentary, or rather with the text which is presupposed by that commentary. In the few cases where the Pada text seemed to differ from the Samhitâ text, a note was added to that effect, in the various readings of my edition; and the same was done, at least in all important cases, where Sâyana clearly followed a text at variance with our own.

The fourth check was a comparison of any doubtful passage with the numerous passages quoted in the Prâtisâkhya.

These were the principles by which I was guided in the critical restoration of the text of the Rig-veda, and I believe I may say that the text as printed by me is more correct than any MS. now accessible, more trustworthy than the text followed by Sâyana, and in all important points identically the same with that text which the authors of the

p. xlv

[paragraph continues] Prâtisâkhya followed in their critical researches in the fifth or sixth century before our era. I believe that starting from that date our text of the Veda is better authenticated, and supported by a more perfect apparatus criticus, than the text of any Greek or Latin author, and I do not think that diplomatic criticism can ever go beyond what has been achieved in the constitution of the text of the Vedic hymns.


xl:a I add Grassmann's and Ludwig's renderings:


Mag spottend sagen unser Feind:
Kein Andrer kümmert sich um sie;
Drum feiern Indra sie allein.'
Und glücklich mögen, Mächtiger!
Die Freundesstämme nennen uns,
Nur wenn wir sind in Indra's Schutz.

Ludwig: Mögen unsere tadler sagen: sogar noch anderes entgeht euch (dabei), wenn ihr dienst dem Indra tut.

Oder möge uns glückselige nennen der fromme, so nennen, o wundertäter, die (fünf) völker, in Indra’s schutze mögen wir sein.

xlii:a This is left out in the second edition.

xliii:a Thus X, 101, 2, one of the Pada MSS. (P 2) reads distinctly yagñám prá krinuta sakhâyah, but all the other MSS. have nayata, and there can be little doubt that it was the frequent repetition of the verb kri in this verse which led the writer to substitute krinuta for nayata. No other MS., as far as I am aware, repeats this blunder. In IX, 86, 34, the writer of the same MS. puts ragasi instead of dhâvasi, because his eye was caught by râgâ in the preceding line. X, 16, 5, the same MS. reads sám gakkhasva instead of gakkhatâm, which is supported by S 1, S 2, P 1, while S 3 has a peculiar and more important reading, gakkhatât. X, 67, 6, the same MS. P 2 has ví kakartha instead of ví kakarta.

A number of various readings which have been gleaned from Pandit Târânâtha's p. xliv Tulâdânâdipaddhati (see Trübner's American and Oriental Literary Record, July 31, 1868) belong to the same class. They may be due either to the copyists of the MSS. which Pandit Târânâtha used while compiling his work, or they may by accident have crept into his own MS. Anyhow, not one of them is supported either by the best MSS. accessible in Europe, or by any passage in the Prâtisâkhya.







instead of

devayuh b.






arkate b.





yadî sabandhavah

yaddîptabandhavah b.






anuptam b.






stuvânâsa b.






pravrinvato b.






samyukta b.






no yâm b.






sûryam b.





sîda ni

sîdati b.

xliii:b As printed by Pandit Târânâtha.

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