Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1. They are born for retirement 1. Out of the cover he 2 has shone forth, being a cover himself. In the lap of the mother he looks about 3.
2. Causing him to discern (the pious and the impious?), they have sacrificed. With unwinking eyes they protect his manly power. They have penetrated into the firm stronghold 1.
3. The people of Svaitreya 1, his clans, have thriven brilliantly. Brihaduktha with a golden ornament at his neck, is eager for the race as if by this honey-drink 2.
4. Like the dear milk of love 1—(a thing) unrelated with two (things) related 2—like the gharma vessel with booty in its belly—undeceived, the deceiver of all 3.
5. Sporting, O beam of light, appear to us, joined with the ash, with the wind. May those well sharpened … of his, standing on …, be sharp like… 1.
The Rishi is Vavri Âtreya (cf. verse 1. prá vavréh vavríh kiketa). The metre is Gâyatrî in verses 1, 2, Anushtubh in verses 3, 4, Virâdrûpâ in verse 5.—No verse occurs in the other Samhitâs.
This Sûkta seems to be anything rather than an ordinary Agni hymn. It may be a collection of verses belonging to an Âkhyâna, or of verses serving another purpose which we can scarcely hope to discover. In several parts of this
[paragraph continues] Sûkta I must content myself with translating the words without being able to elucidate the poet's meaning.
Note 1. I translate the noun avasthâ´ in accordance with the Vedic meaning of the verb ava-sthâ. Possibly it means the secret parts, cf. avastha, AV. VII, 90, 3 (B.-R.). Ludwig translates: 'Ein zustand erzeugt einen andern,' and paraphrases, 'Nur zustände und formen, gestalten lernen wir kennen, das wesen des gottes bleibt uns verborgen.' This seems too modern. Prof. Max Müller proposes: 'The remnants (afterbirth) have been brought forth. Skin has shone forth from skin.'—On the question who are the beings 'born for retirement,' I do not venture any conjecture.
Note 2. Is Agni meant?
Note 3. Cf. X, 5, 1. (Agníh) asmát hridáh bhû´riganmâ ví kashte.
Note 1. The meaning seems to be that the worshippers (possibly the first worshippers, the Aṅgiras), by discovering Agni and by worshipping him, have conquered the hostile strongholds.
Note 1. Svaitreya is mentioned as a victorious hero also in I, 33, 14.
Note 2. Does this phrase allude to the rite of offering, at the Vâgapeya sacrifice, to the horses that were going to run the sacred race, a naivâra karu? In the Mantras connected with this rite the words occur: 'Drink of this honey-drink' (asyá mádhvah pibata). See Rig-veda VII, 38, 8; Taittirîya Samhitâ I, 7, 8, 2; Weber, Ueber den Vâgapeya, p. 30.
Note 1. The retas?
Note 2. Does this refer to an offering or the like, composed of two substances related among each other (such as
milk and butter), and a third substance unrelated (such as rice)? Of course all this is absolutely uncertain.
Note 3. Is this Agni?
Note 1. The meaning of dhrishág, vakshî´, vakshanesthâ´ is unknown.—On the first hemistich of this verse, compare Pischel Vedische Studien, II, 54.