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

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1. I praise Agni who has three heads and seven rays (or reins) 1, who is without flaw, sitting in the lap of his parents 2 and of whatever moves or is firm, who has filled (with his light) all the lights of Heaven.

2. The big bull has grown up to them 1; the ageless one who from here (from this world) distributes his blessings, the tall has stood up erect. He puts down his feet on the surface of the wide (Earth); his red ones 2 lick the udder (the cloud?).

3. Walking towards their common calf the two well-established 1 milch-cows 2 walk about in different directions. They measure interminable paths; they have invested themselves with all great desires.

4. Wise poets 1 follow his track 2 who in manifold ways protect the ageless one with their hearts. Wishing to acquire him they have searched the river 3. He the Sun 4 became visible to them, to the men 5.

5. He is worthy to be looked for, round about in his race-courses, the noble who is to be magnified 1, the great one 2, in order that the small may live, as he, the all-visible liberal lord, has become a progenitor for those germs in many places.


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

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Verse 1.

Note 1. Sâyana refers the three heads of Agni to the three Savanas, or the three worlds, or the three sacrificial fires. The last explanation seems to be most probable. The seven reins (rays) are, according to Sâyana, the seven metres or the seven flames of Agni. The last explanation is recommended by III, 6, 2 (see below). But it is possible also to think of the seven priests (sapta hotârah).—Comp. II, 5, 2 (see below), and Taitt. Samhitâ I, 5, 3, 2 (to which passage Ludwig refers): saptá te agne samídhah saptá gihvâ´h saptá shayah saptá dhâ´ma priyâ´ni, &c.

Note 2. The parents are Heaven and Earth.

Verse 2.

Note 1. The text has the dual feminine; no doubt Heaven and Earth are meant.

Note 2. The horses or flames of Agni.

Verse 3.

Note 1. On su-méka, comp. the article of Prof. Windisch in Festgruss an Böhtlingk, p. 114.

Note 2. The cows seem to be Night and Dawn; comp. above, I, 95, 1; 96, 5. Night and Dawn are called suméke, I, 113, 3.

Verse 4.

Note 1. The priests.

Note 2. I have translated padám nayanti in the way indicated by Atharva-veda XI, 2, 13. viddhásya padanî´hiva; comp. also Manu VIII, 44. Prof. Max Muller translates, 'Wise poets lead (Agni) to the ageless place, keeping many things in their heart—or, lead the ageless Agni to his place (the sacrifice).'

Note 3. They have tried to find Agni in his proper dwelling, in the water.

Note 4. The Sun is here identified with Agni.

Note 5. On the form nrî´n standing for different cases,

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compare Lanman, Noun-Inflection, 430; Bergaigne, Religion Védique, I, 136, note 1; Pischel, Vedische Studien, I, 42, and Göttinger Gel. Anzeigen, 1890, p. 541 seq.; Hillebrandt, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl. Gesellschaft, XLVIII, 420. Here it seems most natural to take nrî´n, as Pischel has proposed, as standing for the dative plural. Bartholomae (Studien zur indogermanischen Sprachgeschichte, I, 118, comp. p. 48), referring to III, 14, 4, believes that nrî´n (or, more correctly, *nrî´m), both here and there is genitive plural, and that Agni is called 'the sun of men' because men are able to light this sun themselves. To me it seems very doubtful that this is a Vedic idea, and as to the verse III, 14, 4, I believe that nrî´n there is a regular accusative plural: Agni is called there, 'a sun that spreads out men over their dwellings.'

Verse 5.

Note 1. Îlényah. Comp. I, 1, 1, note 2.

Note 2. Agni may be called maháh, 'the great one.' But it seems more natural to read mahé, the ancient pronunciation of which word before a word commencing with a vowel (mahá’) coincided, or nearly coincided, with that of maháh. The translation then would be: 'he who is to be magnified in order that the great and the small may live.'

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