Vedic Hymns, Part II (SBE46), by Hermann Oldenberg , at sacred-texts.com
1. The young mother carries in secret the boy confined 1; she does not yield him to the father. People do not see before them his fading 2 face laid down with the Arâti 3.
2. Who is that boy, O young woman, whom thou, the Peshî 1, carriest? It is the queen who has borne him. Through many autumns the fruit of the womb has increased. I saw him born when his mother gave birth to him.
3. I saw him the gold-toothed, brilliant-coloured preparing his weapons far from his dwelling-place 1. After I have offered to him the ambrosia cleared (from all impure mixture) 2—what may the Indra-less, the hymnless do to me?
4. I saw him, the highly shining (Agni), walking far from his dwelling-place, like (a bull) together with the herd 1. Those (women) have not held him, for he has been born. The young women become grey 2.
5. Who have separated my young bull from the cows that 1 had no cow-herd, not even a stranger? May those who have held him, let him loose. May he, the knowing one, lead the cattle towards us.
6. Him, the king of dwellings (?) 1, the dwelling-place of people, the Arâtis have laid down 2 among men. May the spells of Atri loose him. May the reproachers become reproachable (themselves).
7. Thou hast loosed the bound Sunahsepa from
the thousand sacrificial posts; for he toiled (worshipping thee). Thus, O Agni, loose from us the fetters, O knowing Hotri, sitting down here.
8 1. For thou hast gone away 2 from me, because thou wert angry; (this) the protector of the laws of the gods 3 has told me. (But) Indra, the knowing one, has looked after thee. Instructed by him, O Agni, I have come hither.
9. Agni shines with mighty light; he makes all things visible by his greatness. He conquers godless, wicked wiles. He sharpens his two horns in order to pierce the Rakshas.
10. And may the roarings of Agni mount up to the sky, with sharp weapons in order to kill the Rakshas. In his rapture his flames break down (everything); the godless hindrances do not hold him back.
11. This song of praise, O strong-born (Agni), I, the priest, have fashioned for thee, as a skilful workman (builds) a chariot 1. If thou acceptest that (praise), O god Agni, may we conquer thereby waters together with the sun.
12. May the bull 1 with mighty neck, grown strong, with no foe to resist him, get together the niggard's wealth. Thus the immortal (gods) have spoken to this Agni: may he grant protection to the man who has spread the Barhis; may he grant protection to the man who brings offerings.
The Rishi of verses I, 3–8, 10–12, is Kumâra Âtreya, or Vrisa Gâna; or both are the Rishis of these verses. Of the verses 2 and 9 Vrisa alone is the Rishi. The metre is
[paragraph continues] Trishtubh (verse 12, Sakvarî).—Verse 9 = AV. VIII, 3, 24. Verses 9, 10 = TS. I, 2, 14, 7. Verse 11 = TB. II, 4, 7, 4.
A part of this hymn is very obscure. I do not think, as does Prof. Geldner (Festgruss an Roth, 192), that the story of the Sâtyâyanakam (see Sâyana's commentary, and compare Pañkavimsa Brâhmana XIII 3, 12), of the Purohita Vrisa, who drives with the king on the royal chariot and kills a boy, throws any real light on the difficult points of the hymn. Nor does it seem to me that, as is the opinion of Prof. Hillebrandt (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, XXXIII, 248 seq.), the first six verses, which Hillebrandt considers as an independent hymn, contain a description of how the fire which they try to produce by the attrition of the Aranis, does not appear. In my opinion the hymn—which is really one hymn as the tradition gives it—is a prayer of a person who suffers, who feels himself bound by the fetters of distress (verse 7) and persecuted by the power of Rakshas (verses 9, 10). Agni, formerly resplendent, has decayed and has forsaken him: may Agni be restored to his former might (verse 6), and may we ourselves be released from all distress (verse 7, &c.). Possibly the hymn is connected with the rite of Punarâdheya, where the sacrificial fire which has brought no luck to the sacrificer, is extinguished, and after an interval a new fire is established (H. O., Religion des Veda, p. 353). There may of course be other special points, beyond the reach of our conjectures, which, if known, would elucidate several of the obscure allusions so frequent in the first verses of the hymn.
Note 1. The boy very probably is Agni.—With the words sámubdham gúhâ bibharti, cf. I, 158, 5. súsamubdham ava-ádhuh.
Note 2. Not without hesitation I translate minát as if it were the middle minânám. Possibly the word means: 'which violates (the ordinances),' i. e. which does not shine and bring luck to men as it usually does. Ná seems, as it
usually does (cf. Delbrück, Altindische Syntax, p. 543), to belong to the whole clause, and not to mina.
Note 3. Böhtlingk-Roth and Grassmann conjecture aratnáu; Hillebrandt, arâtáu; Geldner (Festgruss an Roth, 192), árâtau. Geldner seems to be right (cf. verse 6), though it will scarcely be possible to determine what concrete being was here thought of. Geldner says, 'Gemeint ist die Pisâkikâ, welche die Gluth des Feuers entführt hat;' but, as has already been observed, I do not think that this traditional story on the meaning of our hymn is of any real value.
Note 1. The meaning of Peshî is unknown. The word seems anyhow to describe the wrong mother as low or contemptible. Agni is degraded by sojourning with her, while his proper nature is glorious, for he is the queen's son.
Note 1. Agni has forsaken his proper dwelling.
Note 2. On vipríkvat, cf. Taitt. Samhitâ III, 1, 6, 2. yunágmi tisráh vipríkah sû´ryasya te; Vâg. Samhitâ IX, 4. sampríkau sthah sám mâ bhadréna priṅktam; vipríkau sthah ví mâ pâpmánâ priṅktam. Vi-prik seems to mean, consequently, 'to free something from an admixture,' and amrítam vipríkvat seems to be ambrosia in which dwells the power of getting free from bad admixtures. Thus in the passage quoted from the Taitt. Samhitâ the Sun is referred to as thrice cleared from all impure elements. It is quite uncertain whether the expression used here refers or not to the myth of the churning of the ocean (Geldner, loc. cit.), and I do not think that we should translate amrítam vipríkvat, as Geldner does, 'das was sich als Nektar ausscheidet.'
Note 1. I read with Böhtlingk-Roth sumádyûtham.
Note 2. The young women seem to be hostile beings of
the same kind as the young woman mentioned in verse 2. They try to seize Agni, but he has been born already; his fiery, unassailable nature has been formed. I do not pretend to know what it means that then those female foes become grey with age. 'I think they are the Dawns who hold Agni in the dark; but when he escapes and is actually born, they, the Dawns, become grey.' M. M.
Note 1. The relative pronoun yéshâm seems to refer both to the bull (maryakám) and to the cows (góbhih). The bull probably is Agni who has been separated from the cows, i. e. the oblations, prayers, &c. (?) 'Possibly the bull Agni, the rising sun, has been separated from the cows, the clouds or dawns.' M. M.
Note 1. Vasâ´m râ´gânam. I cannot follow the interpretation of Pischel, Vedische Studien, I, 210.
Note 2. Or ní daduh, 'they have bound him'? Cf. áva srigantu in the third Pâda, and níditam in verse 7.
Note 1. The whole verse is nearly identical with X, 32, 6.
Note 2. I consider aíyeh (cf. Bartholomae, Arische Forschungen, II, 72, 76; Studien zur Indogermanischen Sprachgeschichte, I, 21) as 2nd sing. pluperfect of the root i.
Note 3. Varuna?
Note 1. With the second Pâda compare I, 130, 6; V, 29, 15.
Note 1. The bull of course is Agni.