Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1 1. I magnify 2 Agni, the Purohita, the divine ministrant of the sacrifice, the Hotri priest, the greatest bestower of treasures.
2. Agni, worthy to be magnified by the ancient Rishis and by the present ones—may he conduct the gods hither.
3. May one obtain through Agni wealth and welfare day by day, which may bring glory and high bliss of valiant offspring.
4. Agni, whatever sacrifice and worship 1 thou encompassest on every side, that indeed goes to the gods.
5. May Agni the thoughtful Hotri, he who is true and most splendidly renowned, may the god come hither with the gods.
6. Whatever good thou wilt do to thy worshipper, O Agni, that (work) verily is thine, O Aṅgiras
7. Thee, O Agni, we approach day by day, O (god) who shinest in the darkness 1; with our prayer, bringing adoration to thee—
8. Who art the king of all worship, the guardian of Rita, the shining one, increasing in thy own house.
9. Thus, O Agni, be easy of access to us, as a father is to his son. Stay with us for our happiness.
The hymn is ascribed to Madhukkhandas Vaisvâmitra, and may possibly belong to an author of the Visvâmitra family. See my Prolegomena, p. 261. Metre, Gâyatrî. The hymn has been translated and commented upon by M. M., Physical Religion, pp. 170–173.
Verse 1 = TS. IV, 3, 13, 3; MS. IV, 10, 5. Verse 3 = TS. III, 1, 11, 1; IV, 3, 13, 5; MS. IV, 10, 4 (IV, 14, 16). Verse 4 = TS. IV, 1, 11, 1; MS. IV, 10, 3. Verse 7 = SV. I, 14. Verses 7–9 = VS. III, 22–24; TS. I, 5, 6, 2; MS. I, 5, 3.
Note 1. This verse being the first verse of the Rig-veda as we now possess it, seems already to have occupied the same position in the time of the author of the hymns X, 20–26. For, after a short benediction, the opening words of this collection of hymns are also agním île, 'I magnify Agni.' Comp. my Prolegomena, p. 231.
Note 2. The verb which I translate by 'magnify'—being well aware that it is impossible to do full justice to its meaning by such a translation—is îd. There seems to me no doubt that this verb is etymologically connected with the substantives ísh, 'food,' íd, ídâ, írâ (not with the root yag of which Brugmann, Indogermanische Forschungen I, 171, thinks). We need not ask here whether the connection between îd and ísh is effected by a 'Wurzeldeterminativ' (root-determinative) d—in this case we should have here îd for izhd, comp. nîda for nizhda, pîd for pizhd, &c.; see Brugmann's Grundriss, vol. i, 591—or whether îd is a reduplicated present of id (of the type described by Brugmann, Grundriss, vol. ii, p. 854; comp. î´rte, &c.). The original meaning of î´de at all events seems to be 'I give sap or nourishment.' Now in the Vedic poetry and ritual, the idea of sap or nourishment is especially connected with the different products coming from the cow, milk and
butter. The footsteps of the goddess Idâ drip with butter. The words 'agnim îde' seem to me, consequently, originally to convey the idea of celebrating Agni by pouring sacrificial butter into the fire. There is a number of passages in the Rig-veda which, in my opinion, show clear traces of this original meaning of the verb. Thus we read X, 53, 2. yágâmahai yagñíyân hánta devâ´n î´làmahai î´dyân â´gyena, 'let us sacrifice (yag) to the gods to whom sacrifice is due; let us magnify (îd) with butter those to whom magnifying is due.' V, 14, 3. tám hí sásvantah î´late srukâ´ devám ghritaskútâ agním havyâ´ya vólhave, 'for all people magnify this god Agni with the butter-dripping sacrificial spoon that he may carry the sacrificial food.' V, 28, I. devâ´n î´lânâ havíshâ ghritâ´kî, 'magnifying the gods with sacrificial food, (the spoon) filled with butter.' Comp. also I, 84, 18; VI, 70, 4; VIII, 74, 6; X, 118, 3. Then, by a gradual development, we find the verb îd or the noun îlenya connected with such instrumentals as girâ´ or gîrbhíh, 'to magnify by songs,' or stómaih 'by praises,' námasâ by 'adoration,' and the like. The Rig-vedic texts, however, show us very clearly that even in such phrases the original meaning of îd was not quite forgotten. For the word is not used indifferently of any praise offered to any god whatever. No god of the Vedic Pantheon is praised so frequently and so highly by the poets of the Rig-veda as Indra. Yet, with very few exceptions, the word îd is avoided in connection with this god. The whole ninth Mandala contains nothing but praises of Soma Pavamâna. Yet the word Id occurs, in the whole of this Mandala, in two passages only (5, 3; 66, 1) of which one is contained in an Âprî verse transferring artificially to Soma such qualifications as belong originally to Agni. On the other hand, in the invocations addressed to Agni, this verb and its derivatives are most frequently used. We may conclude that the idea of celebration, as conveyed by these words, had a connotation which qualified them for the employment with regard to Agni, the god nourished by offerings of butter, much better than for being addressed to Indra, the drinker of the Soma juice, or to the god Soma himself.
Last comes, I believe, the meaning of îd as contained in a very small number of passages such as VII, 91, 2. índravâyû sustutíh vâm iyânâ´ mârdîkám îtte suvitám ka návyam, 'Indra and Vâyu! Our beautiful praise, approaching you, asks you for mercy and for new welfare.' Here the construction of îd is such as if in English the phrase, 'men magnify the gods for obtaining mercy,' could be expressed in the words 'men magnify the gods mercy.'
I conclude by quoting the more important recent literature referring to îd: Prof. Max Müller's note on V, 60, 1 (S. B. E. vol. xxxii, p. 354); Physical Religion, p. 170; Bezzenberger, Nachrichten von der Göttinger Gesellsch. d. Wissensch. 1878, p. 264; Bechtel, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, X, 286; Bartholomae, ibid. XII, 91; Arische Forschungen, II, 78; Indogermanische Forschungen, III, 28, note 1; Brugmann, Indogermanische Forschungen, I, 171; K. F. Johansson, Indogermanische Forschungen, II, 47. Comp. also Bartholomae, Arische Forschungen, I, 21; III, 52, and Joh. Schmidt, Kuhn's Zeitschrift, XXXII, 389.
Note 1. 'Worship' is a very inadequate translation of adhvara, which is nearly a synonym of yagña, by the side of which it frequently stands. Possibly in the designation of the sacrifice as yagña the stress was laid on the element of prayer, praises, and adoration; in the designation as adhvara on the actual work which was chiefly done by the Adhvaryu.—Prof. Max Müller writes: 'I accept the native explanation a-dhvara, without a flaw, perfect, whole, holy. Adhvara is generally an opus operatum; hence adhvaryu, the operating priest.' Comp. Physical Religion, p. 171. Bury's derivation of adhvara from madhu (m̥dhu-ara, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, VII, 339) is much more ingenious than convincing.
Note 1. I have translated dóshâvastar as a vocative which, as is rendered very probable by the accent, was also the opinion of the diaskeuasts of the Samhitâ text.
[paragraph continues] The author of the sacrificial formula which is given in Âsval. Sraut. III, 12, 4 and Sâṅkh. Grihy. V, 5, 4, evidently understood the word in the same way; there Agni is invoked as doshâvastar and as prâtarvastar, as shining in the darkness of evening and as shining in the morning. That this may indeed be the true meaning of the word is shown by Rig-veda III, 49, 4, where Indra is called kshapâ´m vastâ´ 'the illuminator of the nights' (kshapâ´m is gen. plur., not as Bartholomae, Bezzenberger's Beiträge, XV, 208, takes it, loc. sing.). The very frequent passages, however, in which case-forms of doshâ´ stand in opposition to words meaning 'dawn' or 'morning'—which words in most cases are derived from the root vas—strongly favour the opinion of Gaedicke (Der Accusativ im Veda, 177, note 3) and K. F. Johansson (Bezzenberger's Beiträge, XIV, 163), who give to dóshâvastar the meaning 'in the darkness and in the morning.' This translation very well suits all Rig-veda passages in which the word occurs. If this opinion is accepted, doshâvastar very probably ought to be written and accented as two independent words, doshâ´ vástar. See M. M., Physical Religion, p. 173.