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

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1. Being well lighted, O Agni, bring us hither the gods to the man rich in sacrificial food, O Hotri, purifier, and perform the sacrifice.

2. Tanûnapât 1! make our sacrifice rich in honey and convey it to-day to the gods, O sage, that they may feast.

3. I invoke here at this sacrifice Narâsamsa 1, the beloved one, the honey-tongued preparer of the sacrificial food.

4. O magnified 1 Agni! Conduct the gods hither in an easy-moving chariot. Thou art the Hotri instituted by Manus 2.

5. Strew, O thoughtful men, in due order 1 the sacrificial grass, the back (or surface) of which is sprinkled with butter, on which the appearance of immortality 2 (is seen).

6. May the divine gates open, the increasers of Rita, which do not stick together, that to-day, that now the sacrifice may proceed.

7. I invoke here at this sacrifice Night and Dawn, the beautifully adorned goddesses, that they may sit down on this our sacrificial grass.

8. I invoke these two divine Hotri1, the sages with beautiful tongues. May they perform this sacrifice for us.

9. Ilâ ('Nourishment'), Sarasvatî, and Mahî ('the great one') 1, the three comfort-giving goddesses, they who do not fail, shall sit down on the sacrificial grass.

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10. I invoke hither the foremost, all-shaped Tvashtri to come hither; may he be ours alone.

11. O tree 1, let the sacrificial food go, O god, to the gods. May the giver's splendour be foremost.

12. Offer ye the sacrifice with the word Svâhâ to Indra in the sacrificer's house. Thereto I invoke the gods.


The hymn is ascribed, as the whole collection to which it belongs, to Medhâtithi Kânva (see the note on the preceding hymn). Its metre is Gâyatrî. Verses 1–4 = SV. II, 697–700. Verse 9 = RV. V, 5, 8. Verse 10 = TS. III, 1, 11, 1; TB. III, 5, 12, 1; MS. IV, 13, 10.

The hymn belongs to the class of Âprî hymns, which were classed by the ancient arrangers of the Samhitâ among the Agni hymns. The Âprî hymns, consisting of eleven or twelve verses, were destined for the Prayâga offerings of the animal sacrifice (comp. H. O., Zeitschrift der D. Morg. Gesellschaft, XLII, 243 seq.). They were addressed, verse by verse in regular order, partly to Agni, partly to different spirits or deified objects connected with the sacrifice, such as the sacrificial grass, the divine gates through which the gods had to pass on their way to the sacrifice, &c. The second verse was addressed by some of the Rishi families to Tanûnapât by some to Narâsamsa; in some of the hymns we find two verses instead of one (so that the total number of verses becomes twelve instead of eleven) addressed the one to Tanûnapât, the other to Narâsamsa. Bergaigne (Recherches sur l’histoire de la Liturgie Védique, p. 14) conjectures that some of the Rishi families had only seven Prayâgas. This opinion is based on the identical appearance of four verses (8–11) in the Âprî hymns of the Visvâmitras (III, 4) and of the Vasishthas (VII, 2), and on the diversity of metres used in two other Âprî hymns, IX, 5 and II, 3. To me this conjecture, though very ingenious, does not seem convincing.

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With the text of the Âprî hymns should be compared the corresponding Praishas of the Maitrâvaruna priest, i. e. the orders by which this priest directed the Hotri to pronounce the Prayâga invocations. The text of these Praishas is given Taitt. Brâhm. III, 6, 2.

Comp. on the character and the historical and ritual position of the Âprî hymns, Max Müller, Hist. Anc. Sansc. Literature, p. 403 seq.; Roth, Nirukta, notes, p. 121 seq.; Weber, Indische Studien, X, 89 seq.; Ludwig V, 315 seq.; Hillebrandt, Das Altindische Neu- und Vollmondsopfer, 94 seq.; Schwab, Das Altindische Thieropfer, 90 seq.; Bergaigne, Recherches sur l’histoire de la Liturgie Védique, 13 seq.

Verse 1.

Note 1. Comp. Delbrück, Syntactische Forschungen, I, 97.

Verses 2, 3.

Note 1. Does Tanûnapât, lit. 'son of the body,' mean, as Roth and Grassmann believed, 'son of his own self' (comp. I, 12, 6. agnínâ agníh sám idhyate, 'by Agni Agni is kindled'), or is the meaning 'le propre fils' (Bergaigne, Rel. Védique II, 100)? Narâsamsa, which is nearly identical with the Avestic Nairyôsaṅha, means 'the song of men,' or 'praised by men' (Bergaigne, l. l. I, 305; M. M.’s note on VII, 46, 4). In III, 29, 11 it is said of Agni: He is called Tanûnapât as the foetus of the Asura; he becomes Narâsamsa when he is born.' Of course an expression like this is by no means sufficient to prove that the sacrificial gods Tanûnapât and Narâsamsa, as invoked in the Âprî hymns, are nothing but forms of Agni. Expressions which are constantly repeated in the Âprî verses show that the work of Tanûnapât, and likewise that of Narâsamsa, consisted in spreading ghrita or 'honey' over the sacrifice.

Verse 4.

Note 1. 'Magnified' is îlitáh; comp. the note on I, 1, 1. The third, or if both Tanûnapât and Narâsamsa are invoked, the fourth verse of the Âprî hymns is regularly addressed to Agni with this epithet îlita.

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Note 2. Manurhita, 'instituted by Manus,' not 'by men.' See Bergaigne, Religion Védique, I, 6, 5 seq.

Verse 5.

Note 1. On ânushák, comp. Pischel, Vedische Studien, II, 125.

Note 2. The last Pâda is translated by Grassmann, 'wo der unsterbliche sich zeigt' (comp. Bergaigne, R.V. I, 194, note 1); by Ludwig, 'auf dem man das unsterbliche sieht.' To me it seems impossible to decide, so as to leave no doubt, whether amtasya is masculine or neuter. Comp. also Atharva-veda V, 4, 3; 28, 7; XIX, 39, 6–8, in which passages the phrase amtasya kákshanam recurs.

Verse 8.

Note 1. The two divine Hotris are mentioned in the Rig-veda only in the eighth (or seventh) verse of the Âprîsûktas and besides in two passages, X, 65, 10; 66, 13, which do not throw any light on the nature of these sacrificial gods. They are called gâtavedasâ VII, 2, 7, purohitau X, 70, 7, bhishagâ Vâg. Samh. XXVIII, 7. As regards the duality of these divine counterparts of the human Hotri priest, possibly the 'two Hotris' should be understood as the Hotri and the Maitrâvaruna; the latter was the constant companion and assistant of the former in the Vedic animal sacrifice. Comp. Schwab, Altindisches Thieropfer, 96, 114, 117, &c.; H. O., Religion des Veda, 391.

Comp. on the two divine Hotris also Bergaigne, R.V. I, 233 seq.

Verse 9.

Note 1. On Ilâ, see H. O., Religion des Veda, pp. 72, 326.—With regard to Mahî Bergaigne (Rel. Védique, I, 322) has pronounced the opinion that 'Bhâratî et Mahî, qui, tantôt se remplacent, tantôt se juxtaposent tout en paraissant ne compter que pour une, se confondent aux yeux des rishis.' But Pischel (Ved. Studien, II, 84 seq.) has shown that the eminent French scholar was wrong, and that really Mahî ('the great one') is independent of Bhâratî. Pischel's

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own opinion that Mahî is a name of the goddess Dhishanâ, does not seem to me to be established by sufficient reasons.—On the meaning of these three goddesses Prof. Max Müller writes: 'I should not fix on Nourishment as the true meaning of Ilâ. Originally those three goddesses seem to be local: Ilâ, the land or daughter of Manu, the Sarasvatî, and another river here called Mahî.'

Verse 11.

Note 1. To me it seems evident that the tree, or, to translate more literally, the lord of the forest (vanaspati) invoked in this Âprî verse can only be the sacrificial post (yûpa) to which the victim was tied before it was killed. The yûpa is called vanaspati in the Rig-veda (III, 8, t. 3. 6. ii) as well as in the more modern Vedic texts (for inst., Taitt. Samh. I, 3, 6, 1).—In the Âprî hymn, IX, 5 (verse 10), the vanaspati is called sahasravalsa: with this should be compared III, 8, 11 (addressed to the yûpa): vánaspate satávalsah ví roha sahásravalsâh ví vayám ruhema, 'O lord of the forest, rise with a hundred offshoots; may we rise with a thousand offshoots!'—In the Âprî hymn, X, 70 (verse 10), the rope (rasanâ) is mentioned by which the vanaspati should tie the victim; comp. with this expression the statements of the ritual texts as to the rasanâ with which the victim is tied to the yûpa; Schwab, Das Altindische Thieropfer, 8r. Comp. also especially Taittirîya Brâhmana III, 6, 11, 3.—In the Âprî hymns the vanaspati is frequently invoked to let loose the victim; in connection therewith mention is made of the sacrificial butcher (samitri), see II, 3, 10; III, 4, 10; X, 110, 10, and comp. Vâg. Samhitâ XXI, 21; XXVIII, 10. The meaning of these expressions becomes clear at once, if we explain the vanaspati as the sacrificial post. When they are going to kill the victim, they loosen it from the post; the post, therefore, can be said to let it loose. Then the butcher (samitri) leads the victim away. See the materials collected by Schwab, Thieropfer, p. 100 seq., and comp. also H. O., Religion des Veda, 257.

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