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

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1. Shining Agni has awoke over against the Dawns, the priest who traces the footsteps of the sages 1. With his broad stream of light kindled by the pious, the carrier (of the gods) has opened the two doors of darkness.

2. Agni has grown strong by praises, by the speeches of the praisers, by hymns, the adorable one. Loving many aspects of Rita the messenger has shone up at the bursting forth of the Dawn.

3. Agni has been established among the tribes of men, the son of the waters, Mitra 1, acting in the right way. The delightful, worshipful one has reached the top; the priest has become one who should be invoked by prayers.

4. Agni becomes Mitra 1, when he has been kindled; he the Hotri (Agni becomes) Mitra; he, Gâtavedas, (becomes) Varuna. The quick Adhvaryu, the domestic (god, Agni, becomes) Mitra, the Mitra (i. e. friend or ally) of the rivers and of the mountains.

5. He observes the deceiver's dear summit 1, the footstep of the bird 1; the vigorous one 2 observes the course of the Sun. Agni observes at his (?) navel the seven-headed (song?) 3; tall (Agni) observes the enjoyment of the gods.

6. The Ribhu 1 has created for himself a good name worthy of being magnified, he, the god who knows all laws. The skin of the herbs 2, the bird's footstep 3 rich in ghee: Agni watches (all) that, never failing.

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7. Agni has approached the place 1 rich in ghee (the altar), with broad passages, (the place) longing (for him), longing (himself). He the resplendent, bright, tall purifier has made his two parents 2 new again and again.

8. As soon as born he has grown by the grass 1, when the sprouting (grass-)blades strengthen him with ghee. Like waters beautiful on their precipitous path, Agni, being in the lap of his parents, has escaped into wide space.

9. Receiving praise the vigorous one 1 has shone forth with his fuel, on heaven's summit, on the earth's navel. May Agni worthy of being magnified, (being) Mitra and Mâtarisvan, the messenger, carry hither the gods that they may receive our sacrifice.

10. The tall one has, by (receiving) fuel, upheld the firmament, Agni, becoming the highest of lights, when Mâtarisvan for the sake of the Bhrigus 1 kindled the carrier of oblations, (Agni) who dwelt in secret.

11 = III, 1, 23.


The same Rishi and metre.—No verse occurs in the other Samhitâs.

Verse 1.

Note 1. On pada-vî´, comp. Pischel, Vedische Studien, I, 299.

Verse 3.

Note 1. Mitra has here and in verse 4 two meanings: it is the name of the god Mitra, with whom Agni is identified (Bergaigne, Religion Védique, III, 134 seq.), and it means also 'friend' or 'ally' (comp. H. O., Religion des Veda, 186, note 1). See von Bradke, Dyâus Asura, p. 13.

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Verse 4.

Note 1. See verse 3, note 1.

Verse 5.

Note 1. All this is very enigmatical. In the parallel passage, IV, 5, 8, we have, instead of ripáh ágram, the reading rupáh ágram, which is confirmed by verse 7 of the same hymn (ágre rupáh) and by X, 13, 3 (páñka padâ´ni rupáh ánu aroham); in support of the reading ripáh, on the other side, the verse, X, 79, 3 (ripáh upásthe antáh), may be quoted. The meaning of rúp is unknown; ríp means 'deceit' and 'deceiver:' but what is the summit of the deceiver? Bergaigne (Religion Védique, II, 77 seq.) has tried to solve the riddle, but it is really hopeless.—The meaning of the following words, padámh, is not quite so obscure; there is at least some probability that the bird is Agni himself (cf. below, III, 7, 7), or possibly the sun. The latter explanation is advocated by Prof. Max Müller, who writes: 'May it not be a description of sunrise? priyam ripah agram I do not understand; but padam veh is the place of the bird, as in I, 130, 3. veh na garbham, the nest of the bird or of the sun. This nest is covered by a stone, is in fact the vraga, which has to be opened to let out the light of day. It is also the yoni or the altar. Ripah agram may possibly be the summit of the Pani or of Vritra, X, 79, 3.'

Note 2. See above, I, 36, 1, note 2.

Note 3. Saptá-sîrshan ('seven-headed') occurs again in two other passages of the Rig-veda (VIII, 51, 4, and X, 67, 1); in both it is an epithet of words which signify 'hymn' or 'prayer' (arká, dhî´). Possibly a similar word should be supplied here. But why are the prayers called 'seven-headed?' Does this refer to unknown technicalities of the Vedic liturgy? Does it stand in connection with the seven tones of the scale, with the expression saptá dhîtáyah, with the number of the seven Hotris? 'Celui qui a sept têtes est sans doute un personnage équivalent à lui seul au

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groupe des sept prêtres,' says Bergaigne (II, 145), which is very ingenious, but should not be given as a doubtless fact.—Prof. Max Müller observes that saptasîrshan may be, like saptâsya, the vraga of Pani, opened by Agni, IV, 51, 4, and that Brihaspati is called saptâsya, IV, 50, 4, and saptagu, X, 47, 6.

Verse 6.

Note 1. Agni is here called Ribhu in his quality as a skilful artisan. See Bergaigne, Religion Védique, II, 408.

Note 2. There seems to be no doubt that sasá (comp. sasyá) means 'herb' or possibly 'grain' in X, 79, 3; the text there has sasám ná pakvám; comp. I, 66, 2. yávah ná pakváh. The same meaning is quite admissible in I, 51, 3; V, 21, 4; VIII, 72, 3; though these passages are too uncertain for deciding anything. I cannot find any reason for believing that we have here and in IV, 5, 7; 7, 7 (see below), another word derived from the root sas, and meaning 'the sleeper.' At all events I neither pretend to know what mysteries are hidden under the 'skin of the herbs,' nor what stories may have happened to the 'peau du dormeur' (Bergaigne, II, 78 seq.).

Note 3. See verse 5, note 1.

Verse 7.

Note 1. Yónim, literally 'womb.'

Note 2. Probably Heaven and Earth.

Verse 8.

Note 1. Prof. Max Müller refers this to the grass of the barhis, or the tender blades in which the spark is caught and kept alive by ghee.

Verse 9.

Note 1. Comp. above, I, 36, 1, note 2.

Verse 10.

Note 1. I have adopted, though I do not believe it certain, Grassmann's opinion on the meaning of pári in this connection. Comp. H. O., Religion des Veda, 123, note 4.

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