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Atharva Veda In English: Complete Text

Translated By Bibek Debroy And Dipavali Debroy

When compared to the other three Vedas, Atharva Veda stands out as being in a class of its own. The other three Vedas focus on gods, nature, and the supernatural, whereas Atharva Veda is more worldly. It aspires to find answers to the issues that plague the average person and the world at large.

atharva veda

It covers topics like living long and healthy, avoiding sadness, preventing illness, defeating the enemy, etc. Learn more about the sacred scripture Atharva Veda by reading this full English translation of the sacred text.

Related: Complete Yajur Veda In English Translation

Introduction

The word veda literally means knowledge. The root word is vid, meaning to know. The Vedas are thus texts that provide knowledge. You may be aware that they are held to be most sacred.

There are four Vedas, known as the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda. Many years ago, the Vedas were referred to as trayi, meaning three. There must have been some point of time when there were only three Vedas. These are acknowledged to have been the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda. The Atharva Veda is believed to have been a later addition to the sacred canon.

Each of the Vedas has two parts, a samhita and the brahmanas. The samhita part consists of mantras or incantations. These were hymns that were used in sacrifices. But without commentaries these mantras are difficult to interpret. This is what the brahmanas set out to do. They explain the hymns and indicate how these are to be used in sacrifices. The brahmanas also have detailed descriptions of sacrifices and how they are to be conducted. The samhitas and the brahmanas are often known as karma kanda, that is, the part of the Vedas that deals with rituals.

In addition, Vedic literature also includes jnana kanda. This is the part that deals with supreme knowledge. Included in jnana kanda are the aranyakas and the upanishads. These are identified with various Vedas.

There is thus both a narrow and a broad definition of a Veda. The narrow definition would take the word Veda to mean the samhita alone. The broad definition would include, in addition, associated brahmanas, aranyakas and upanishads. By the word Veda, we mean the samhita alone. That is, when we are retelling the Atharva Veda, we are retelling the Atharva Veda Samhita.

When were the Vedas composed and who composed them? Strictly speaking, there is no answer to these questions. The Vedas were revealed, they were shrutis. They were not composed. They were communicated by the Supreme godhead or the divine essence (brahman) to the ancient seers (rishis). These rishis did not compose the Vedas, but merely obtained this divine knowledge through their extraordinary powers. In this sense, the Vedas are apourusheya. Their authorship cannot be ascribed to any human author.

Just as it is impossible to determine who composed the Vedas, it is also impossible to determine when they were composed. Widely different dates have been suggested by scholars. Tilak suggested a date of around 6000 B.C., while Jacobi’s date was around 4500 B.C. Most scholars would agree that the Vedas were compiled sometime between 4000 B.C. and 1000 B.C. and that it is impossible to narrow down the range further. The earliest of the Vedas is clearly the Rig Veda. This reached a stage of final compilation between 1000 B.C and 900 B.C.

The Atharva Veda Samhita

It is important to understand that there were four classes of priests who were required at any sacrifice (yajna). The first class consisted of the officiating priests or acolytes (hotri). They invoked the gods by reciting the mantras, prepared the sacrificial ground and the altar, and poured out the libations. The hymns of the Rig Veda are for this class of priests. The second class of priests consisted of the choristers (udgatri). These were the ones who chanted the sacred hymns and the hymns of the Sama Veda are for this class of priests. The third class of priests consisted of the reciters (adhvaryu). While they carried out sacrificial rites, they chanted sacred texts and the hymns of the Yajur Veda are for this class of priests. The fourth doss of priests consisted of brahmana overseers. They supervised the sacrifice and the hymns of the Atharva Veda are for this class of priests.

The Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda obtain their names from the nature of their contents. The name of the Atharva Veda is obtained differently. In the Rig Veda, there are references to a person named Atharvan. He is said to have been the first person to obtain fire by rubbing two pieces of stick together. He could also vanquish evil demons through his miraculous powers. There were two other ancient families named the Angirasa and the Bhrigus. The Atharva Veda was first revealed to Atharvan, the Angirasa and the Bhrigus. The text obtains its name from Atharvan. The Atharva Veda is also known as the Brahma Veda. This is because the hymns of the text were meant for the brahmana overseers.

Unlike the other Vedas, in addition to prayers, the Atharva Veda contains charms and spells. It is almost as if the Atharva Veda used to be recited to counteract evil influences during the course of a sacrifice.

There are twenty books or kandas in the Atharva Veda. In the first thirteen kandas, the hymns are not arranged according to what they contain. There is a heterogeneous mix of prayers, charms, spells, benedictions and invocations. Kanda fourteen is concerned with marriages, kanda fifteen with wandering mendicants, kandas sixteen and seventeen with conjuring and kanda eighteen with funeral rites. Kanda nineteen is a mixed bag of hymns, while kanda twenty is primarily culled from the Rig Veda and consists of hymns addressed to Indra. A hymn can contain more than one verse. Although not arranged according to contents, the first seven kandas do have some arrangement in terms of the number of verses the hymns contain. The hymns of kanda one have four verses, and those of kanda two have five. Those of kanda three have six, those of kanda four seven. Those of kanda five have eight to eighteen verses, those of kanda six have three, and those of kanda seven have one to eleven verses. In subsequent kandas, there are hymns extending upto eighty verses.

The distribution of hymns (suktas) and verses (mantras) according to kandas is as follows:

kandas
kandas

The entire Atharva Veda thus consists of around 750 hymns and around 6000 verses.

The Gods of the Vedas

The Vedas cannot really be appreciated without some sort of an understanding of the gods mentioned in the Vedas. The gods of the Vedas were different in nature and character from the gods that one encounters in the epics or in the sacred texts known as the Puranas.

The three major gods of the Vedas were Agni, Indra or Vayu and Surya. Agni ruled over the earth (prithivi), Indra or Vayu ruled over the atmosphere (antariksha) and Surya ruled over heaven (dyuloka). All other gods were regarded as manifestations of these three gods. For example, all gods on earth were identified with Agni, all gods in the atmosphere with Indra or Vayu, and all gods in heaven with Surya. This at least was the version given by Yaska, a commentator on the Vedas who lived around 800

B.C. There were two other points of view as well. One was that all the various gods were manifestations of the same unified supreme godhead. This monotheistic point of view can be found particularly in the Upanishads. An alternative point of view subscribed to polytheism. It was that the various gods could not be identified, but were distinct.

Even within the Vedas, the number of gods varies from place to place. In some places, there are only three gods, one ruling over the earth, the second over the atmosphere and the third over heaven. The earth, the atmosphere and heaven were known as lokas (regions), there being three lokas. In some places, the Vedas state that there were 11 gods for each loka,

so that there were 33 gods in all. In some cases, there are references to 3339 gods. When it came to the age of the Puranas, the number of gods increased to thirty- three crores.

Many scholars have suggested that the gods of the Vedas are nature gods. That is, forces of nature came to be ascribed with divine qualities and transformed into divinities. To some extent, this is indeed true. But the forces of nature have been so humanised that their original elemental form is sometimes impossible to detect. This is known as anthropomorphism. Besides, there are also abstract deities with whom no forces of nature can readily be identified.

It is also important to realise that the gods of the Vedas cannot easily be compartmentalised into pantheons of monotheism or polytheism. What is more commonly found is kathenotheism. That is, there is more than one god. But whenever a hymn is addressed to a particular god, that god comes to be ascribed with all the divine qualities. In the course of the hymn, the god in question is regarded as the supreme godhead and all the other gods come to be regarded as his manifestations.

The gods of the Vedas can now be catalogued under three different headings-gods of heaven (dyuloka), gods of the atmosphere (antariksha), and gods of the earth (prithivi).

The chief gods of heaven are Dyouspita, Mitra/ Varuna, Surya/Savita/Pusha, Vishnu, the two Ashvinis, Usha and Chandrama. Dyouspita is regarded as the father of the universe, prithivi being regarded as the mother. Dyouspita and the earth are together addressed as Dyavaprithivi. Dyouspita seems to have been a personification of the sky. The gods Mitra and Varuna are almost invariably addressed in unison. Mitra seems to have been identified with the day and Varuna with the night. Mitra is also identified with Surya. In the period of the epics and the Puranas, Varuna came to be regarded as the lord of the oceans. But this was not the case at the time of the Vedas. Surya is the sun-god and Savita is a manifestation of Surya at specific points of time. Vishnu is a minor god in the Vedas and there are indications that Vishnu was also regarded as a manifestation of Surya. The two Ashvinis are physicians of the gods; they share a common wife named Usha (the dawn). In the Vedas, the Ashvinis are closely associated with Surya. They may very well have been stars

(nakshatra) identified with the morning and the evening. Another name for the two Ashvinis is Nasatya. Usha is the goddess of the dawn. She is also addressed as Dakshina (sacrificial fee). It was at the time of dawn that priests began sacrifices and received their fees. Chandrama is a minor god, the moon-god. He is closely identified with the god Soma.

The chief gods of the atmosphere are Indra, Aja Ekapada, Matarishvan/Vayu/Vata, Parjanya, Rudra and the Maruts. Indra is the most powerful of all the gods. He killed the demon Vritra and is accordingly addressed as Vritraha. Purandara is another of his names. Aja Ekapada is a minor god and is probably a manifestation of either Agni or Surya. Matarishvan, Vayu and Vata are all gods of the wind. Parjanya has a close relationship with them and is a personification of the clouds. Parjanya thus rules over herbs and rains. The Rudra of the Vedas is not the Rudra of the Puranas. In the Vedas, Rudra is a god of the wind. Alternatively, he is identified with Agni. The Maruts are also wind-gods and are regarded as the offspring of Rudra. The number of the Maruts is not unambiguously given. In some places, the number seems to be 180. In other places, there seem to be 21 Maruts. The Maruts are close companions of Indra.

The chief gods of the earth are Agni, Brihaspati/ Brahmanaspati, Soma and Sarasvati. Agni is the main god of the earth, he is the fire-god. There are three different types of fire – ahavaniya, dakshinagni and garhapatya. Ahavaniya agni is used to offer oblations to the gods, dakshinagni is used to make offerings to the ancestors, and garhapatya agni is the fire that continually burns in any household. In the age of the Vedas, fire was ignited by rubbing two pieces of stick (arani) together. These are known as uttararani and adhararani. It is not entirely clear whether Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati is indeed a god. He seems to have been more like a chief priest. He is often regarded as the lord of all hymns. It was only in a later period that Brihaspati came to be identified with a nakshatra. Soma is really a herb, although he is also identified with Chandrama. In the Vedas, Sarasvati is not the goddess of learning. She is a river, also known as Bharati.

Let us now see what the hymns of the Atharva Veda have to say. Since the Atharva Veda is fairly long, we will have to be selective. We cannot be exhaustive.

Kanda One Prayer For Increasing One’s Learning

Vachaspati, the lord of speech, adopts various forms and pervades the three-times-seven objects that can be found everywhere. Vachaspati will grant me the strength that can be found in these objects. O Vachaspati! Come before us with your divine intelligence. O lord of all objects! Please me. May the knowledge vest with pie. A bow that is properly strung at the two ends attains its object (of killing the enemies). May I be as well strung as a bow. May Vachaspati be bound by these words. May the knowledge vest with me. The lord of speech has been summoned. May he invite us to share in the knowledge. May we never be parted from the knowledge.

(What does the expression three-times-seven objects mean? Attempts have been made to interpret this in a philosophical sense. But more simply, three- times-seven only indicates an indefinite number.)

Prayer For Obtaining Victory

We know that Parjanya is the lord of the arrow and that he is the lord of the bow. Parjanya is the one who nourishes us. The earth (prithvi) is Parjanya’s mother. She is well-versed in all the arts. We know that well.

O mother earth! We are your sons. May we thrive. Make our bodies as firm and strong as rocks. May we be charitable. May we be free from hatred, and may all our enemies be banished.

O Indra! A cow that is tethered to a tree strains at the rope and advances towards her calf. O Indra! May our arrows advance as forcefully. The space between heaven and earth is full of energy. May the arrow that I have shot hang between heaven and earth (in the air). May its energy preserve it from ailment and disease.

Prayer For Recovery From Illness

We know that an arrow has five powerful fathers. They are Parjanya, Mitra, Vanina, Chandra and Surya. May the energies of these five gods enter your body and make you well. May the earth pour long life into you. May all illness be purged from your body.

Prayer For Obtaining Blessings From Water

The water of a river is like a sister and a mother to one who performs a sacrifice. The river winds its own path. The water is so pure that it seems to

be mixed with milk and honey. The rays of the sun purify the water of the river and the sun is always present in it. It is the water that enables us to perform a sacrifice. Our cows drink water from the river. We offer oblations to the water and sing its praise. The water is like a heavenly drink (amrita). In it is the medicine for all illnesses. The divine qualities of pure water make our cows and steeds strong.

O water! You bring us happiness. You increase our strength and bring us health and wealth. Water is full of the juices that increase our welfare. Bring us welfare and nourish us the way a mother nourishes her children. O water! You are the one who satisfies, may you bring us completeness. Make us thrive. Grant us the happiness that we desire. You are the one who nourishes all living beings.

May divine water bring us happiness. May divine water grant our wishes and bring us peace. The god Soma has told us that in water can be found medicines and herbs. He has also told us that Agni is the one who will ensure our welfare. O water! Grant us medicines. Protect our bodies so that we may be able to see the sun for many years. May the water of deserts bring us happiness. May the water from lakes and ponds bring us happiness. May the water from wells bring us happiness. May the water from rain bring us happiness.

Prayer For Spreading Righteousness

O Agni! Bring the kimidins and yatudhanas here (for their destruction). You are the god who destroys all the dasyus. You are the one who lives in the best of places and you are the lord of all learning. You are the one who controls our senses. O Agni! Accept the clarified butter that has been offered and destroy the evil ones. May the kimidins and the yatudhanas weep in misery. O Agni! These oblations have been offered to you and Indra. May Agni accept them first and may the strong Indra accept them after that. Let the yatudhanas come and say that they are present (so that they may be destroyed). O Agni! You are the learned one. Let us witness your valour. You are the one who guides us along the righteous path. Let the evil yatudhanas become acquainted with our wishes. Let them come here and be slaughtered. O Agni! Begin your task of destruction, we have created you for that purpose. O Agni! You will be our messenger and will

carry our message of destruction to the yatudhanas. Tie up the yatudhanas

and bring them here. Indra will behead them then.

(The kimidins were evil spirits. The name is derived from the fact that they wandered around saying “kim idanim” meaning “what now?”, or “kim idam” meaning “what is this?” The yatudhanas were evil spirits, demons or sorcerers. The word dasyu has now come to mean a dacoit. But in the age of the Vedas, it signified a class of powerful and superhuman beings or malignant spirits opposed to gods and men.)

This sacrifice will bring the yatudhanas here like a river brings with it foam. May the sinners, men or women, come here and confess. Let us welcome the sinners who come. O Brihaspati! Keep the sinners under restraint. O Agni and Soma! Observe them carefully. O gods who are the drinkers of the soma juice! Go to the children of the yatudhanas and show them the righteous path. May both the eyes of a sinner fall from his head. O Agni! You are the learned one. You know well the evil ones and their progeny who dwell in caves. Impart wisdom to them and relieve their misery.

Prayer For the Granting of Wishes

May all the gods, the Vasus, Indra, Pusha, Varuna, Mitra and Agni bring this man riches. May the Adityas and the Vishvadevas bring this man energy. O gods! May this man have power over light and fire, gold and the sun. May his enemies be vanquished and may he be blessed with happiness. O learned ones! Offerings of milk and other object are made to Indra for the sake of learning. O Agni! May this man be blessed with that learning. May he be the best of his race. O Agni! Make his sacrifices successful and grant him energy and riches. Purify his mind and shower down happiness on him.

Prayer For the Pardoning of Sins

Varuna is the supreme godhead. He is the one who created the gods. Varuna’s wishes are like truth itself. I use the power of my learning to free this sinner from the supreme godhead’s wrath. O Varuna! I bow down before your anger. O god! I know well the various sins that mankind falls prey to. This man has sought refuge with you and will live for a hundred years. This is the message that I will announce in a thousand assemblies. O man! Many are the lies you have uttered. I obtain Varuna’s pardon for all these sins. I free you from the wrath of the supreme godhead who is like an immense ocean. O brave one! You can announce this wonderful news to other members of your tribe.

Prayer for Destroying Enemies

May enemies who try to pierce us with their weapons not be able to reach us. May the enemies who try to attack us from the four directions not be able to reach us. O Indra! May the shower of arrows not be able to reach us. May arrows which have already been shot, not be able to reach us. May arrows which have not yet been shot (but will be), not be able to reach us. These are the divine words which will destroy our enemies. Enemies who are related to us and those who are not related will be destroyed. All enemies, be they of superior, equal or inferior races, will be destroyed. O Rudra! Vanquish with your arrows those who attack us and try to make us their slaves. Vanquish those who bear open enmity. And vanquish also those whose enmity is implicit. May those who hate us not be able to cause us harm. All the gods will help to destroy our enemies. These divine words will be our armour.

There are many more prayers in the same vein in kanda one. There are prayers for solving urinary problems, easing childbirth, curing breathing problems and disorders of the blood, keeping away thieves, ensuring the welfare of the subjects, increasing the prosperity of the kingdom, lengthening life expectancy and preventing leprosy and disorders of the heart. Even though we have skipped these, you will have obtained a general idea of the first kanda. Let us therefore move on to kanda two.

Kanda Two The Supreme Godhead

The entire universe is merged in the identity of the supreme godhead. But the supreme godhead can be visualised only in the innermost recesses of the heart and it is there that a true devotee sees him. It is the supreme godhead who milked the life force and gave birth to all objects. Men who observe religious rites know of this manifestation of the supreme godhead, and praise him.

He is in the innermost recesses of the heart; he is like a heavenly drink (amrita). It is only the truly learned who can describe the nature of the supreme godhead. The creator’s three feet are in the innermost recesses of the heart and one who realises this is learned.

The supreme godhead is our father. He is the one who gave us birth. He is our brother. He is the omniscient one who knows all the worlds that constitute the universe. It is he who gave all the gods their names. It is into the paramatman (the divine soul) that the entire universe merges.

I have roamed all over heaven and earth. Having become acquainted with all objects, I have realised that the paramatman alone is the truth. I worship him. As speech originates with the speaker, so the universe originates with the paramatman. He is the preserver and the nourishes. He is Agni.

The gods are the drinkers of amrita. Yet, they too seek refuge with the supreme godhead. The paramatman alone is truth. This knowledge is as sacred as the sacred thread. I have roamed around the world and realised this.

(The creator’s three feet refer to his three acts of creation, preservation and destruction.)

The paramatman alone is the lord of the universe. He is the one who nurtures the world. He is the only one in the universe who deserves to be worshipped. O divine god! I merge into you through my prayers. I bow down in obeisance before you. You are the one who resides in heaven.

He alone is the lord of the universe. He alone is the nurturer. He is the source of all happiness. He alone is the one who must be served. The paramatman is in heaven, but he is worshipped on earth. The sun is like his skin and it is he who permeates the sun’s body. The paramatman is the one who removes all impediments. He is the one to be worshipped.

The presence of the paramatman can be detected in the pure life force. It is in this life force that the nurturer of all objects can be found. He is also in the atmosphere and, from there, he descends into our midst. This is the sacred wisdom that has been imparted to me.

You will see the paramatman in the radiance of the stars (nakshatra) and in the strokes of lightning during a monsoon. He is the creator. I worship him. O goddesses who rule over the life force! I worship you because you are the supreme godhead’s manifestations.

O apsarasl You inspire us, remove our woes, satisfy our desires and rule over our minds. I worship you as manifestations of the paramatman.

(The word apsara signifies a dancer of heaven. But in this context, apsaras connote the goddesses who preside over the life force.)

Prayer For Healing

The herbs grew on the mountain. I brought them down from there and prepared medicines for the one who is ill. O you who are ill! This medicine is for you.

O beloved herb! I can prepare countless medicines from you. Some of them will stem the flow of blood. Others will perform the act of healing.

The physician digs up the herbs. From those he makes medicines that cure wounds and make patients well.

The physician also collects herbs from the depths of the ocean. From those also he makes medicines that cure patients.

I have dug out the herb from the ground. I have extracted the medicine that will heal the wound. I will bring an end to this disease.

May the water and the herbs ensure our welfare. May Indra’s weapons destroy the demons. May the arrows that are shot by the demons be unable to reach us.

Jangida Mani

For the sake of a long life and for the sake of happiness, I wear an amulet (mani) made of jangida. It will increase my strength and will dry up all manner of ill health.

(The jangida was a plant that was cultivated so that charms and amulets could be made out of it.)

The jangida mani is blessed with a thousand powers. It protects the wearer from infantile disorders and the wasting away of the body. It protects the wearer from dehydration and from the watering of the eyes.

The jangida mani protects the body from dehydration. It prevents digestive disorders. In it is the essence of all medicines. May it protect us from all evil.

The learned have told us of the virtues of the jangida mani. This amulet will protect us from disease.

May shana and jangida preserve us from disease. One of these is found in the forest and the other is grown in the fields.

(The jangida was cultivated and therefore grew in the fields. It is used as a general expression from all herbs and plants that were cultivated. The shana is cannabis or hemp. It was not cultivated. It grew on its own, in the forest. The shana is thus used as a general expression for all herbs and plants that did not have to be cultivated.)

This amulet will protect us from violence. It will protect us from enemies, demons and disease. May the powerful jangida mani grant us long lives.

Indra

O brave Indra! Be pleased and advance forth. Come here on your steeds. The intelligent ones have extracted the sweet juice for you. Drink it and be pleased.

(The juice refers to the juice of the soma herb.)

O Indra! Satiate yourself with the juice that deserves to be praised. This is the juice that grants divine bliss. It has been extracted for the sake of your pleasure. It has been offered to you with sweet words.

Indra is the one who swiftly descended on his enemies. Indra is the one who destroyed the enemies who encircled him from all directions. Indra is the one who churned the power of his foes. Fortified by soma juice, Indra vanquished his enemies.

O powerful Indra! May the juice which has been extracted merge Into your being. May it fulfil you. You are the ruler. Come to us in your wisdom and listen to our prayers. Accept our obeisance. We have summoned you for the sake of a big battle. Be pleased and reveal your plans to us.

I have described well the valour of the great Indra. The wielder of the vajra performed the brave deeds that I have described. He destroyed the enemies who arose. He split asunder the mountains and released floods of water.

Indra killed the enemies who hid in the mountains. The vajra is Indra’s weapon. It was made for him by a skilled artisan. When Indra released the waters, they flowed into the ocean.

The brave ore has drunk the soma juice. He has drunk the juice offered to him in three containers. Indra grasped the vajra in his hand and slew the enemies.

Agni

O Agni! The sages are the ones who follow the righteous path. May they light your flames every month, every season and every year. May your flames rise in their divine radiance. Bring radiance to the four directions.

O Agni! You have been lit according to the prescribed rites. Blaze forth. May you bring us riches and may your devotees be preserved. May the brahmanas (priests) who worship you attain fame. But may those who do not, be infamous.

O Agni! These brahmanas acknowledge your superiority. Bring us your blessings. You are the one who conquers all enemies. You are the one who enables us to rise above our vanities. This is your household. Come and reside here.

O Agni! Blaze forth In all your energy. Be like a friend unto us. We are like your relations, be seated in our midst. Be supreme, like a king among kshatriyas (the warrior class).

O Agni! Enable us to triumph over hatred and enmity. May we not be violent and may we not fall prey to temptation. The fact of your presence here is like wealth to us.

Kanda two has many more suktas. For example, you may have cursed someone. And you need a prayer to withdraw that curse. Apart from general prayers for removing impediments, there are specific prayers for curing diseases like gout and tuberculosis.

There are prayers for enhancing one’s mental and spiritual strength, suktas to be chanted when new clothes are donned, prayers for banishing robbers and ensuring victory and prosperity. There are other prayers that are to be chanted on the occasion of weddings. But we will now move on to kanda three.

Kanda Three Prayer For Defeating Enemies

Our brave warriors will be as powerful as Agni. They will attack our enemies and bum them to ashes. Our skilled soldiers will delude our foes and slice off their arms.

O warriors who are not afraid of dying! You are indeed brave. Advance, thrust with your weapons and be victorious. Our strong and brave

warriors are slicing up our enemies. Our leaders are as powerful as Agni, and they are invading our foes.

O Indra! O Agni! The two of your will aid us in the onslaught against our enemies. Bum the evil ones into ashes.

O Indra! Be swift. Use your vajra to slice up the enemies. Advance. Kill the enemies who are in the front, kill those who are in the middle, and kill those who are at the back. Delude the enemies in all the directions.

O Indra! Bring fear into the hearts of our enemies. Unite with Agni and Vayu to delude them from the four directions.

Let Indra delude the enemies and let our brave warriors kill them. Let Agni bum up the eyes of the foes. This is how we will defeat our enemies so that our army returns victorious.

Our soldiers are like our messengers. They will invade our enemies and demolish them. Our soldiers ore skilled. They will delude the minds of the enemies and chop up their arms.

Our army will make the hearts of the enemies tremble in fear. The enemies will be driven out of their homes; they will be repulsed in every land.

O Indra! Delude the minds of our enemies and come to us with your well wishes. Unite with Agni and Vayu to destroy our foes.

O those who are our enemies! May you start to fight amongst yourselves. May you be forced to retreat. May your minds be deluded. May all your wishes come to nought.

O disease! May you plague the bodies of our enemies. May you get under their skins. Advance and invade the enemies. Bring misery to their hearts and make them unconscious.

O warriors who are not afraid of dying! The cohorts of our enemies have invaded us. Attack them and bring darkness to their hearts.

Prayer for a Coronation

O king! You have been crowned the lord of this kingdom. May your ascent be blessed with energy. May you be the emperor over all your subjects. All the directions are summoning you here. You deserve to be a king. Come here and be revered.

The subjects have acknowledged you as the king for the sake of kingdom. The four directions have acknowledged you as the king, for the sake of the kingdom. Ascend the throne. Be a brave warrior and distribute the riches that you will acquire for us.

Your relations are summoning you with due honour. May Agni be your messenger. May your wives and sons prosper. Be energetic and accept these offerings.

The Ashvinis, Mitra, Varuna, the Maruts and the other gods are summoning you here. Be of a generous mind so that you give alms. Be brave so that you may acquire riches for us.

Come to us from places that are far away. May heaven and earth ensure your welfare. It is Varuna himself who summons you here so that you may be king of this kingdom.

O king of kings! Roam throughout your kingdom as an ordinary man. Mix with the elders so that you may become learned. If you perform these good deeds, people will welcome you into their houses. Observe sacrifices in honour of the gods. May you make your subjects strong.

Your righteous and prosperous subjects have come together to prepare this throne for you. They have summoned you so that you may become their king. May you have a good heart and body and may you rule for a hundred years.

Parna Mani

This powerful parna mani (amulet) has come so that it may destroy enemies through its power. This amulet is like the strength of the gods and the juice of all herbs. May it energise me.

(The word parna now means leaf. But originally, it meant a feather or feather—like leaf. Etymologically, parna is related to the word fern. This sukta is about an amulet made out of the leaves of the palasha tree.)

O parna mani! Bring me martial prowess and bring me riches. May I regard this kingdom as my own and work towards its prosperity.

It is the gods themselves who left this amulet in the trees. They left it there so that I might wear it and live for a long time.

This parna mani is on my body so that it may ensure my welfare. May it give me the best of minds and may it make me the most learned of all.

O parna mani! Bring to me all those who are intelligent. Bring to me the makers of chariots. Bring to me workers in iron. Let such people gather around me.

O parna mani! Bring to me the kings. And bring to me those who are the makers of kings. Bring to me the ones who preside over villages. Let them all surround me.

O parna mani! You are a leaf, but you are the protector of my body. May you increase my valour. 1 will wear your energy on my person for an entire year.

Prayer For the Unity of the Kingdom

Mitra is the one who spreads his rays throughout the world. Mitra is the one who is the originator of the asons. May Mitra come here. May Varuna, Vayu and Agni come here. May they bless us with a great kingdom that is fit to be lived in.

Let Dhata and Savita listen to my words. Let Indra and the architect Tvashta listen to my words. I call upon Aditi, the mother of the gods, to listen to my words. May I be a leader of my race.

I call upon Soma, Savita and all the Adityas with my offerings. May I attain superiority. Those in my race who are not opposed to me have lit the flames of this fire. May the flames of Agni blaze for many years.

O gods! Stay here. Do not go far away. Nourish us and bless us with food grains and cows. May all the gods grant us our wish that the subjects of the kingdom always stay united.

May the minds of the subjects function as one mind. May all their acts be driven by the same desires, ay their motives be identical. May those amongst them who act against one another be united.

O you who are opposed to me! May your mind be like mine. Come to me. May your heart be like mine, ay your acts be like mine and may you become like one who belongs to my own family.

Others suktas in kanda three are prayers against calamity and disease, and for a long life. There are prayers that have to be recited when a new house is built. There are suktas addressed to water and cows. Others ensure prosperity in trade and agriculture. Still others increase one’s energy and intelligence and control the senses. Let us now move on to kanda four.

Kanda Four The Knowledge of the Brahman

The brahman (the divine essence) first manifesto itself in the east. Learned is the one who knows this Learned is the one who sees the sun, the moon am the stars in the sky and realises the difference between that which is true and that which is untrue.

Man has obtained this divine wisdom from his fathers. May this wisdom and knowledge enable man to lead a superior life. May this wisdom be dedicate to the brahman. May it be used to increase one energy, to banish sinners, and to perform the purest of sacrifices.

One who thus befriends the brahman learns the true nature of the gods. It is from the brahman that a forms of knowledge became manifest. It is from the brahman that all forms of energy have emanated.

The brahman determined the true rules according to which heaven and earth were established. Heaven and earth were made fit for habitation. It was the brahman who made heaven, the atmosphere and the earth vast and firm.

Brihaspati is the lord of the universe. From time immemorial he has enveloped the universe in the four directions. It is his energy that gives rise to the pure radiance of day. It is from this radiance that the learned glean the wisdom needed to lead a righteous life.

(Brihaspati is being used as a synonym for the brahman.)

The learned know for sure the place where the brahman resides. The learned one is born at the same time as other men. But the door to true wisdom is opened a little bit for the learned one. It is through this opening that the one who is learned enters the world of learning. Other men remain outside the portals in a state of stupor.

Men are like the brothers of the gods. Brihaspati is the common father. Through devotion to Brihaspati, men obtain the knowledge that the brahman is the creator. The brahman is learned and powerful. It can never be overcome.

Who Should be Worshipped?

Who is the god we should worship? The one who is the source of spiritual and other forms of strength. The one whom all the gods obey. The

one who is the lord of all bipeds and quadrupeds. He is the one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? The one who is the lord of all beings who breathe and blink. The one in whose greatness can be found Immortality. To shun him is to fall into the clutches of death. He is the one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? The one to whom two armies pray at the time of battle. The one to whom heaven and earth call in times of danger. The one to whom the best of paths lead. The one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? The one whose energy makes heaven, the atmosphere and the earth vast. The one whose power makes the sun shine. The one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? The one whose greatness makes the snow-dad mountains rise. The one whose greatness creates land in the midst of oceans. The one whose arms are like the four directions. The one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? Prior to creation, the water bore the universe in its womb. It is the supreme one who instilled the life force in the universe through his divine powers. He is the one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god we should worship? The one who bore gold and other shining objects in his being. The one who was the lord of all the elements before creation. The one who bore heaven and the earth. The one who alone is worthy of worship.

Who is the god whom we should worship? The creator who instilled the life force in the water at the time of creation. The one who alone is worthy of worship.

Prayer for Purging Poison

(This is specifically for poison that has entered the body from a poison- tipped arrow.)

At first, the brahmanas were born with ten hands and ten mouths. The

brahmanas drank the soma juice and counteracted the effects of the poison.

(Brahmanas were often imputed with superhuman powers right from birth. The ten heads and ten arms is simply a reference to the extraordinary powers of brahmanas.)

I utter these words so that the poison may be banished from everywhere in this vast expanse of heaven and earth. I utter these words so that the poison may be banished from the region where the seven rivers flow.

(The seven rivers are often identified as Indus, Sarasvati, Vipasha, Shatadru, Vitasta, Asikli and Parushni.)

O poison! The celestial bird Garuda drank you up and you could do him no harm. You could not make him mad or unconscious; you were like food for him.

A brave warrior discharged the arrow with his hand. It is the shaft of the arrow that discharged poison into your body. But I have removed the poison with my words.

I have removed the poison from the barb, the shaft, and the tail of the arrow. I have removed the poison from the head, the horn, and the other parts.

(Before arrows came to be tipped with iron or bronze, they were tipped with the horn of deer.)

O arrow! Your shaft has now become useless. Your poison has become useless. Like a dried up tree, the bow which discharged this arrow has also become useless.

The efforts of the one who crushed the poisonous plants to extract the poison have come to nought. The efforts of the one who smeared the poison on the arrow have come to nought. The efforts of the one who shot the arrow have come to nought. The mountain on which the poisonous plant grew has also been rendered useless.

O poisonous plant! What has the one who dug you up out of the ground achieved? What has the mountain on which you grew achieved? Their efforts have all come to nought.

(The subsequent prayer is for neutralising the poison from poisonous plants.)

The juice of the herb named varana nullifies all poison. This juice is like amrita itself and with its help, I purge you of all poison.

May the poison that is in the east be nullified. May the poison that is in the north be nullified. May the poison that is in the south also be nullified, when I mix the sacred juice with curds and apply it.

O you who have poison in your body! I have made a paste with sesamum seeds, curds and clarified butter. I will apply the paste on your stomach and feed it to you so that you may regain consciousness.

O poisonous plant that has led to the unconsciousness! I will fling you aside like an arrow. The juice of my herb will banish you the way a useless utensil is discarded.

I repulse the poison with tills herb.

Such is the value of this herb that it is bought in exchange for valuable objects like clothing and deerskin. O poisonous plant which has been dug up! You will not be able to cause unconsciousness.

Physicians who are learned know the use of herbs. Retain that learning and purge the poison from your warriors and children. These are the words that I have to say.

Amongst other prayers in kanda four, are those that banish enemies, increase one’s strength, and cure insomnia. There is a sukta devoted to making amulets out of conch-shells. Prayers are addressed to trees and to rain. There are prayers to herbs and cows. Other suktas increase energy, purge sins and cure worms. Let us however move on to kanda five.

Kanda Five

Prayer for Victory

O Agni! May my energy manifest itself in every battle. I light your flames so that my body may become strong. May all the four directions bow down before me. May you be my leader when I strive for victory in battle.

O Agni! Repulse the anger of my enemies and be my protector in every direction. May the lowly ones who cause me anguish keep their distance. Even if my enemies are intelligent, let their evil designs be destroyed.

All the gods, Including Indra, the Maruts, Vishnu and Agni, will be on my side during battle. May my heart be strong in battle. May Vayu be on my side during battle.

May I be able to satisfy my desires. May my resolutions be true and firm. May I not fall prey to sin. May all the gods offer me protection.

May the gods grant me riches. May I be blessed by them and may I have the strength to summon them. The divine priests will grant me these boons. May I be protected from disease and may I be a brave warrior.

The divine directions will grant me vast expanses for my benefit. O gods! Bring me happiness. May I never suffer from a lack of energy. May I be able to perform famous deeds and may I be protected from sin.

O goddesses who are three in number! Please grant me a lot of happiness. May the objects which provide physical nutrition be available to me and my subjects. May I have many children and may my body not waste away. O Soma! Preserve me from the depredations of my enemies.

(The three goddesses in question are Ila, Sarasvati and Bharati. The reference to the subjects also makes it dear that the prayer is being recited by the king.)

May the supreme godhead who is omnipotent grant me the best of happiness. O lord! Grant happiness to my subjects. Preserve me from destruction and do not forsake me.

O god who is the creator and preserver! O god who is the lord of this universe! O Rudra and O Aditya! O two Ashvinis! O other gods! Preserve your devotee from destruction.

May my enemies maintain their distance. Indra and Agni will help me when I repel these foes. Aditya, Rudra and the other gods who dwell above will be like kings to me. They will inspire me and infuse me with energy.

I pray to the Indra who is the protector of my cows, horses and other riches. O Indra! Listen to my prayers. Aid me in every endeavour and shower me with your favours.

The Herb Kushtha

O herb who are named kushtha! You grow on the mountains. Descend here from the mountains so that you may cure disease.

(The kushtha was a medicinal plant.)

The Himalayas are the region where herbs are to be found. It is there that the bird Garuda makes his home. People know that the home of the herbs is there. It is for this reason that they spend such a lot of money in going there.

They go to collect medicinal herbs from the Himalayas.

Heaven is thrice removed from earth. (This is in the sense of it being the third of the regions, the first being the earth.) The divine ashvattha tree grows in heaven. It is there that the gods first received the immortal kushtha plant. (The ashvattha tree is the fig tree. It is regarded as sacred.)

In heaven travel golden boats with ropes made of gold. It was there that the gods obtained the kushtha plant, like the blossom of amrita itself.

The roads there are made of gold and the oars on the boats are also of gold. It was on these golden boats that the kushtha plant was brought.

O kushtha plant! Make this patient sit up. Make him healthy and remove his ailment.

You were born from the gods. The soma herb is your friend. You are like the breath of life; you cure diseases of the eye. Grant this patient happiness.

You were born in the Himalayas. You bring welfare to mankind. Justly is your praise chanted.

O kushtha! Great is your name. He who possesses you is also great.

You cure tuberculosis and other forms of illness.

You cure diseases of the head and the eyes. You purge the body of bad blood and increase one’s strength. You have the power of healing.

Shilachi or Laksha

The night is your mother. The sky is your father and your grandfather is the sun himself. You are known as shilachi. You are the sister of the gods.

(The shilachi was a medicinal plant, chiefly used to repair fractures. It is subsequently also referred to as arundhati. The plant was ascribed with such magical powers that it was believed to have had a celestial origin, like the kushtha. Hence the use of the expression sister of the gods.)

He who drinks your juice lives. You are the one who protects men. You are the one who nourishes and cures.

Like a man embracing a woman, you climb round every tree. You are the one who grants victory and a long life. You are also known as sparani.

(The plant was a creeper.)

Wounds are caused by rods and by arrows. They are caused by crushing. Whatever be the nature of the wound, you are the one who heals. Make this patient healthy.

You are to be found in the trees bhadra, plaksha (a fig tree), ashvattha, khadira (the acacia) and dhava (a shrub). You are to be found in the parna (the palasha) and the nyagrodha (a fig tree). You are the plant that heals all wounds. Come to me.

(This presumably means that the shilachi wound itself around these trees.)

You are the bringer of good fortune and golden is your hue. Your colour is like that of the sun and you make the body healthy. O curer of disease! You heal wounds and remove ailments. It Is thus that you are named nishkriti (relief).

Golden are you, the bringer of good fortune. You grant strength and long is your hair. (The part about the hair is not dear; perhaps it refers to the juice possessing strands.) You are known as the plant laksha (lac). You are the sister of the water and die wind is your soul.

The shilachi herb is beloved like a daughter. O shilachi! You are to be found on the trees on which goats feed. You are the one who is drawn by Yama’s swift horses.

(The last sentence is not at all dear. Yama, in this context, probably does not mean the god of death, but the sun. That is, the sun’s rays (the horses) help the plant to grow.)

You are born out of the horse’s mouth and get attached to the trees. (Horses again mean the rays of the sun.) You are the healer of wounds. Descend from the trees and come to me.

Other suktas of kanda five describe the knowledge of the brahman, help to destroy enemies and. increase spiritual strength. Prayers are addressed to the cows of brahmanas. There are prayers to purge snake-

poison and there are suktas to cure fever and other illnesses such as worms. Long life is sought through other prayers. There is even a prayer which enables one to frighten one’s enemies through the playing of drums. But we skip these and move on to kanda six.

Kanda Six

Savita

O descendant of the sage Atharvan! Sing the praise of Savita at night.

Chant many hymns to him and bear his energy in your heart.

The world is like an ocean and in this ocean, it is Savita who inspires with light of truth. He is the youthful one who grants happiness. Chant the praise of he who is the originator of non-violent speech.

Savita is the god who inspires. May we be elevated along both the paths and attain happiness.

(Savita is a manifestation of Surya. The two paths, are thus those of the rising and the setting sun.)

Indra

O priests who observe sacrifices according to the seasons! Extract the soma juice well. Purify it so that it may be offered to Indra. Let Indra listen to my hymns and my prayers.

Let the food grains which are offered reach Indra! Let them go to him the way a bird goes to a tree. O Indra! O learned and brave one! Destroy the enemies who are evil.

The soma juice has been extracted for the Indra who is the wielder of weapons. He is the drinker of the soma juice. He is the famous one who is youthful.

Prayer for Protection

Let the two gods Indra and Pusha protect me. Let Aditi and the Maruts protect me. Let Parjanya, the lord of the clouds, protect me. May all the gods protect me. May the seven oceans protect me. May heaven protect me.

Heaven and earth will protect me and grant me my wishes. The stones and the soma herb will preserve me from sin. The prosperous goddess of learning will protect me. Agni will protect me.

The Ashvinis will protect me. Usha and Ratri (the night) will protect me. O Tvashta! Preserve my house and increase my prosperity in every way.

May Tvashta, Parjanya and Brahmanaspati listen to my prayers. May Aditi listen to my prayers with her sons and brothers. May all the gods listen to my hymns and increase my strength. May they make me victorious.

May the gods Amsha, Bhaga, Varuna, Mitra, Aryama, Aditi and the Maruts offer me protection. May the evil hatred of my enemies stay far away. May the gods be close to me and banish my enemies.

O Ashvinis! Increase my wisdom and grant me protection. You are the ones who are swift. Do not err in granting me protection. O preserver of the universe! Remove all my misery.

Prayer For a Sacrifice

O Agni! I have offered clarified butter to you as an oblation. May your devotee attain great heights. Import your energy to him and make the subjects prosper.

O Indra! May the one who is observing the sacrifice be elevated. May this devotee be a leader of his race and may he rule over all. Grant him riches and prosperity. May he live for many years and may happiness not desert him in his old age.

O Agni! May our sacrifice be a wonderful success. May Soma and Brahmanaspati bless us.

Prayer For Destroying Enemies

O Brahmanaspati! My enemies are not devoted to god, but try to demean him. I am performing a sacrifice at which soma juice is being offered. Destroy my enemies for me.

O Soma! The evil ones try to rule over us who are righteous. Strike them in their mouths with a vajra. May they be crushed to pieces.

O Soma! The worst among men are trying to make us their slaves, even though they may be our own kin. They are also trying to kill us. Use your power to demolish these enemies. You will be like the heaven which destroys darkness.

Prayer For Peace

O Soma! The earth, the sun and other gods tread along paths that are not marked by hatred. May we also tread the path of non-violence and peace.

O victorious Soma! You are the one who destroys demons for our sake.

Bless us.

O gods! You are the ones who repulse the power of the demons. Grant us happiness through your powers.

Prayer For Purging Snake-poison

Just as Surya knows the heaven well, I am well acquainted with the story of the birth of snakes. Just as the sun removes the darkness of the night, I remove the snake-poison from your body.

The brahmanas, the sages and the gods knew how to purge snake- poison. That learning has come down to us from the past and will be used in the future as well. I cleanse you of snake-poison with that learning.

I sprinkle you with the waters of rivers and mountains. I sprinkle you with the waters of the rivers Parushni and Shipala. May peace descend on your face. May peace descend on your heart.

(The Parushni is now identified as the Iravati or the Ravi. It is not possible to identify the Shipala. The Shipala probably simply meant a stream in which the aquatic plant shaivala grew.)

The Revati Herb

(This is about a herb named revati which can no longer be identified. The revati had great efficacy in making hair grow and in treating ailments of the skin.)

This is the best region of all in the three worlds. It is from here that I have collected the herbs that are used for treating ailments of the skin.

This is the best of oil the herbs and the best of oil the trees. It is as superior as the gods Soma, Bhaga and Varuna are superior among the gods who move.

(An alternative interpretation is also possible. It is as follows. The revati herb is as superior as Soma (moon) among the stars which move and Varuna among the gods.)

O revati herb! Great are your healing powers. Great is your strength.

Make us well. Grant us an abundance of hair. Make our hair luxuriant.

Wearing Bangles

O bangles! You are the ones who ensure that norms are followed. You are the controls that are exercised on the two hands. You are the removers of impediments. You ensure progeny. You ensure riches.

O bangles! please ensure that the wearer has children. O bangles! Please ensure that the wearer has sons. Inspire the children to be born properly from the womb.

Aditi, the mother of the gods, desired to have sons. She wore bangles so that her wish might be granted. The architect Tvashta prepared the bangles for her. May all women who desire children wear bangles.

The suktas of kanda six tend to be short and they are quite varied. There are the usual prayers for the defeat of the enemies and for ensuring protection. There are also prayers addressed to specific herbs, death and water. One sukta speculates on the cause of rain. Yet another strives for marital harmony. Specific diseases like worms and tuberculosis are taken care of. There are prayers for spiritual upliftment and the avoidance of sin. On can be protected from curses through some suktas. Other suktas talk of curing illness through solar treatment. There are prayers addressed to cows, horses and food grains. But we will gloss over these and move on to kanda seven.

Kanda Seven

The Atman

There are four ways to purify the atman (the human soul). The first is to concentrate one’s mind through meditation so that one realises the origin of all speech. The second is to be always truthful. The third is to follow the path of learning. And the fourth is to keep chanting the name of the paramatman. These are the four ways to purify and elevate the atman.

One’s birth is successful only if one does all this. One then gets to know the nature of the paramatman, who is like a parent to all of us. Such a person goes beyond the confines of his own atman and encircles himself with the power of the three worlds. He immerses himself in the paramatman and pervades the universe.

The atman is always youthful. It is always present with the physical body and protects a person like a father. It comes into the womb of the mother. It is the atman which is the link between men and gods. The learned worship the atman through their mental powers. May those who are thus framed instruct us on the nature of the atman.

The atman is the performer of the best of deeds. The atman follows the best of paths so that it can merge into the paramatman. The paramatman is sweet and immortal. The atman elevates itself through meditation so that it can unite with the paramatman.

The Motherland

Heaven is in the motherland. The atmosphere is in the motherland. The motherland is our mother. It is our father and our son. All the gods, all the elements, and all sorts of people can be found here. All the objects that exist are in the motherland. All the objects that will exist are also in the motherland.

This is the land that brings welfare to the performer of good deeds. This is the land that is the preserver of truth and martial prowess. The motherland is large. It never wastes away. It grants us happiness. It is the land that guides us on the righteous path and provides us with food grains. For our protection we sing the praise of our motherland.

This is the land that grants us protection. This is the land that gives us radiance and non-violence. It is here that we follow the righteous path and obtain happiness. Divine boats with golden oars sail in heaven. The motherland is like those boats. It is free from sin and it brings us welfare.

We sing the glory of our motherland so that we may obtain food grains. The vast atmosphere is in the lap of this land. May our motherland bring us a multitude of happiness.

May the demons who seek to enslave us reside in the depths of the ocean. May our motherland be populated by those excellent ones who strive for the independence of their country. I banish the demons and populate my motherland with such people.

Prayer to Sarasvati

O Sarasvati! Nourish us with your milk so that we may obtain happiness, peace and spiritual upliftment. Yours are the one who nurtures

everything. O goddess! Nurture us so that we may thrive.

The Sabha

(In the Vedic age, the king was aided in his task of government by two assembles. These were known as the sabha and the samiti. The precise functions of these two assemblies are not known. But the samiti was a general assembly which everyone attended. The sabha was more exclusive and only select individuals attended it.)

The samiti of the villages and the sabha of the state are the two bodies that help the king to rule over his subjects. The subjects are like the king’s children. May the sabha and the samiti not have a difference of opinion with the king. May the assemblies educate the king. O gods! May I be able to make good speeches at the sabha.

O sabha! I know of your existence. Your are known as narishta among people because you do not allow the king to come to any harm. May those who are members of the sabha advise the king in a truly unbiased and neutral fashion.

The king acknowledges the power of learning of those who are members of the sabha. O Indra! May I also get to participate in a sabha.

O members of the sabha! Do not get distracted by other thoughts when you are taking part in the work of the sabha. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the task that is at hand. May all the members of the sabha concentrate on their duties and on the king.

The Mother Tongue

Let us not turn away from our mother tongue. May we always look upon our mother tongue with favour. Those who are desirous of pleasing the gods chant prayers to them in the mother tongue. It is the mother tongue which performs the function of purification. Each word of the mother tongue is bound to us with ties of blood. Clarified butter flows through each word of the mother tongue. All the sacred arts find expression in our mother tongue. May we use our mother tongue to describe the glory of the gods.

Prayer For a Long Life

O Agni! You are the beloved one. You are the one who deserves worship. You are always youthful. I increase your glory through my

oblations. May we attain you and may you grant us food grains. May you grant us long lives.

Prayer For Marital Harmony

May your eyes and mine (the husband and the wife) be as sweet as honey. May your eyes and mine be tinged with the best of ointments. Keep me in the innermost recesses of your heart. And may you and I always stay united.

A Wife’s Prayer

I dig up this herb from the ground. This herb will attract his attention towards me. This is the herb that protects one from all misfortunes and prevents one from falling prey to temptation, it will bring him back to me and it will grant happiness.

This herb is named asuri. It is this herb that gave Indra the power to rule over the gods. I use it to obtain power over my husband so that I may always be loved by him.

O herb! You obtain your serenity from the moon and your energy from the sun. The other gods bestow many divine qualities on you. It is for that reason that I praise you.

O husband! Pray let me speak now. Hold your tongue. It is I who will speak at home. You will certainly get your chance to speak at the sabha. At the sabha you belong to everyone. But at home, you are mine alone. Do not even mention anyone else’s name.

You may travel far away to the deserted forest. You may travel to the other bank of the river. But wherever you may be, this herb will tie you up and bring you back to me.

Prayer to Sarasvati

O Goddess Sarasvati! I am offering oblations to you through the prescribed religious rites. O goddess! Grant me subjects.

O Sarasvati! I offer these oblations of clarified butter to you. These oblations are fit to be accepted, please accept them. You have the power to shower us with welfare. Please display your grace and make us sweet.

O Sarasvati! You are deserving of worship. Grant us your favour and happiness. May you never be parted from us.

Amongst the other suktas in kanda seven are prayers to various gods. There are prayers for increasing one’s welfare and for obtaining protection from enemies. There are suktas for ensuring good rainfall and bountiful harvests. There are special charms for taking care of poison and specific illnesses. There are suktas dedicated to cows. However, let us move on to kanda eight.

Kanda Eight

Charm for the recovery of a man who is dying I bow down before the paramatman who adopts the form of death to bring an end to all life. O man! May your body retain your breath of life with pleasure. May this man live for a long time in the immortal rays of the sun.

The god Bhaga has established this man in the best of places. The god Soma has established him in the best of places. The Maruts have established him in the best of places. Indra and Agni have ensured his welfare and have established him in the best of places.

O man! May your life, your lifespan, your mind, and your breath of life reside in your body. May these divine words free you from the noose that is trying to drag you into the underworld. May you be elevated.

O man! Rise up. May you not fall. Free yourself horn the chains of death. Look upon Agni and Surya and continue to live.

The wind that is in the atmosphere will flow freely for your sake. The water will shower down heavenly nectar on you. The sun will radiate your body with pleasant heat. Death will take pity on you. May you not die.

O man! You will rise and be elevated. You will not descend. I am making you powerful so that you may have a long life. Your physical body is like a chariot. Ascend on it for the sake of the happiness that immortality will bring. When you become old, you will be learned and will impart wisdom to others.

May your mind not tread along paths that should be shunned. Do not forget that you have a debt to life. Do not wish to meet your ancestors yet. May all the gods protect you on earth.

Do not grieve over that which is past. That only serves to distract you from the present. Come here, away from the darkness. Come into the light. I am holding your hands.

The darkness of the night and the radiance of the day are the two rulers of time who have been appointed by the paramatman. They will show you the way. Come here. Do not sorrow. Do not turn away from life, towards the opposite direction.

Do not follow the path that should be shunned. That is a dangerous path and should not be followed. O man! I am telling you that such a road will lead you into darkness. Avoid that path. It will lead you to the land of fright. And if you follow the path that I have indicated, you will be free from all fear.

The fire that is in the water will preserve you. The fire that men light will preserve you. The learned fire that is in all human bodies will preserve you. The fire that is in the lightning of heaven will preserve you.

May those who eat raw flesh not kill you. Stay away from those who bring destruction. Heaven will protect you. The earth will protect you. The sun and the moon will protect you. The atmosphere will protect you from divine anger.

May all forms of learning protect you. May he who does not sleep protect you. May he who does not run away protect you. May he who is the protector himself protect you.

Let oil of them protect you. Let all of them nurture you. I pray to all your protectors. I offer myself to them.

The one who Is the creator, the preserver, and the protector, takes care of all living beings. He will take care of you. Your life will not desert your body. I call upon your life force to stay.

May men who are killers not be able to cause you any harm. May darkness not cast shadows on you. May evil words not grate on your ears. You will be the performer of sacrifices. How can you possibly die? Aditya, Indra, Agni and the Vasus will ensure your welfare and make you rise.

Heaven and earth will elevate you. The god who is the preserver will elevate you. All the herbs, led by their king Soma, will grant you protection. They will make you rise above death.

O gods! May this man continue to reside in this world. May he not leave this world and go into the world beyond. Applying the numerous powers that I have, I will protect this man from death.

I will make you triumph over death. The god who rules over life and food grains will nourish you. Let the women who have unbraided their hair and are crying, cease to weep. Let them not cry for your sake. For, it is certain that they need not weep for you.

I have revived you. I have brought you back. You have returned, as good as new. You are complete in limb and body. I have got you back your eyesight. I have got you back your lifespan, your tenure on the earth.

The darkness has forsaken you and has gone far away. Radiance surrounds you from all the four directions. I have repulsed death and misery from your proximity. I have cured your illness.

Virat

(This hymn is about the mystical goddess known as Virat or Viraj. According to the Vedas, she was born from the primeval purusha. She is the vital spirit who is identified with the creator.)

Right at the beginning, it is certain that Virat was the universe. When she emerged, everyone was frightened and struck with terror.

She arose and was transformed into the fire that resides in households. Those who realise this, perform the duties of householders and observe sacrifices in houses.

She arose and was transformed into sacrificial fire. Those who realise this, become the beloved of the goddess. They perform sacrifices according to the prescribed rites and act as hosts for guests.

She arose and was transformed into the sabha. Those who realise this, deserve to be members of a sabha.

She arose and was transformed into the samiti. Those who realise this, deserve to be members of a samiti.

She arose and was transformed into the council of ministers. Those who realise this, deserve to be ministers and counsel the king.

She arose and divided herself into four parts in the atmosphere.

Gods and men say that Virat is the source of the learning that keeps us all alive. That is the reason for praying to her.

Gods and men call her and pray to her. They say: come strength, come force of life, come truth, come food grains.

Indra is like her calf and the gayatri metre is the noose with which she is tethered.

(There follow several verses, which unfortunately, are exceedingly obscure. In essence, Virat is compared to a cow and there is an extended analogy on the milking of this cow so as to obtain various objects.)

Amongst other suktas in kanda eight are prayers to ward off demons and counteract illness. There is also a prayer that is used in the course of exorcisms. We will skip these and move on to kanda nine.

Kanda Nine

The Honey-lash of the Ashvinis

(This is probably the best known sukta of the Atharva Veda. The Ashvinis were the lords of light, who appeared just before dawn. The honey-lash seems to have represented the life-giving morning breeze, with all its creative powers. The honey-lash has also been identified with a cow.)

The honey-lash was born from heaven, the atmosphere and the earth, from the waters of the ocean, from the fire and the wind. In the honey-lash is the seed of immortality. All subjects worship it from their hearts and attain happiness.

The honey-lash has been known as the seed of the ocean. In its milk is the form of the universe. The breath of life is present wherever the sound of the honey-lash is heard. In the honey-lash there is amrita.

In different parts of earth, different people have observed the honey- lash and tried to understand its character. The honey-lash was born from the fire and from the wind. It is the daughter of the Maruts.

The honey-lash is the mother of the gods (adityas). It is the daughter of the Vasus. In it is immortality. In it is the life force of all living beings. Golden is the hue of the honey-lash and it sprinkles clarified butter. It is the honey-lash which energises the earth.

The gods made the honey-lash; this is the wonderful origin that it has. It is the gods who reared the youthful honey-lash as a mother. As soon as it was born, it began to observe the world.

Who can understand the honey-lash and who can comprehend its nature? Near its heart is a pot full of soma juice. The learned Brahma will take pleasure in this soma juice.

Only he who milks the honey-lash is capable of understanding it and comprehending its nature. With an unfaltering heart, such a person milks the honey-lash.

The honey-lash thunders in a loud voice. It frequents the places where sacrifices are held. It presides over sacrifices and provides milk on such occasions. The honey-lash alone is capable of measuring time.

The monsoon provides the strong and energetic water that satisfies one who is thirsty. The honey-lash is the/ origin of the monsoon. It is the origin of rain and of the strength that sustains the learned.

O ruler and preserver of the world! Your voice is the thunder of the clouds. You cast down your strength on the ground. Agni and Vayu gave birth to the honey-lash. It is the daughter of the Maruts.

O Ashvinis! You are fond of the soma juice that is offered at sacrifices.

May my soul also be fond of your energy.

Indra and Agni love the soma juice that is offered at sacrifices. O Indra and Agni! May my soul be the beloved of your energy.

Soma is the favourite priest at sacrifices. O Soma! May my soul be favoured with your energy.

May I create the sweetness, may I obtain the sweetness. O Agni! I have come with offerings of milk for you. Impart your energy to me.

O Agni! Grant me energy, subjects and length of life. May all the gods get to know me. May all the sages and Indra get to know me.

The bees collect honey in their hives. O Ashvinis! Like that, may knowledge, energy, strength and valour be collected in my being.

The bees keep adding freshly collected honey to that which already exists. O Ashvinis! Like that, may new knowledge, new energy, new strength and new valour be added to that which is already there in my being.

The hills and the mountains, the cows and the horses, are full of the sweet juice. There is sweetness in water collected from the rain. May all this sweetness merge into my being.

O Ashvinis! You are the preservers of that which is righteous. May the honey of bees be added to my existence. May I be able to energise my speech.

O prajapati! O preserver of the universe! You are strong and your voice is like the thunder of clouds. You shower down strength on earth and in heaven. It is on this strength that all living beings survive. It is this strength that fulfils and sustains them with food grains.

If the honey-lash is like a rod, the earth is its base. The atmosphere is the stem and heaven is the tip. Lightning radiates out of the tip and, right at the top, there is a golden point.

(It is difficult to Interpret this.)

The honey-lash gives rise to seven types of honey. He who understands this becomes like sweetness itself. These seven types of honey are to be found in brahmanas, kings, bulls, cows, rice and wheat. The seventh type of honey is honey itself.

He who knows this becomes sweetness itself. All of his possessions are blessed with sweetness. He gets to reside in the sweetest of worlds.

You may hear thunder in the sky. Realise that this is the manifestation of Prajapati himself. When you hear this, arise and pray to the supreme godhead. Pray that he may remember you. One who knows this is blessed with the love of all his subjects. Prajapati never forgets such a person.

The other suktas of kanda nine are concerned with the consecration of new houses and the glorification of cows, bulls and sacrificial goats. There are prayers to prevent diseases and a sukta on the proper reception of guests. But we move on the kanda ten.

Kanda Ten Kena Sukta

(The most famous sukta in kanda ten is known as kena sukta. The word kena means “from what”. Profound metaphysical and philosophical questions are the subject of this sukta. Who created the universe that we see? From what was the universe made? Where did I come from? Where will I go? These are the sort of questions that are asked in this sukta. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that there is also an upanishad known as the kenopanishad.)

Who created the structure of men? Who made the muscles and who made the calves? Who created the flesh and the handsome fingers? Who

created the senses? And who was it that stuck two legs at the base? Who gave form to the central parts of the body?

Who fixed the calves to the base of the body? Who gave form to the upper parts of the body? Who created the two thighs that are separate and then fixed them both to the body? Who made the structure by which the legs are joined to the body?

The rotund stomach has four types of intestines inside it. Who made the stomach and stuck it on top of the legs? What about the thighs and the ankles? Who made them all?

Who was the god who brought human chests and necks together? In what direction does he reside? Who built the breasts and who built the shoulders? Who was it that strung the bones together?

Who made the arms of men strong so that they can be used to perform, brave deeds? Who is the-god who fixed the head on the top of the shoulders?

The two ears, the two nostrils, the two eyes and the mouth are like seven doors drilled into the head. Who is the person who made these doors? It is owing to the glory of the great creator that bipeds and quadrupeds follow the paths appointed for them.

The tongue that speaks a lot has been fixed in the centre of the mouth. Powerful speech has been placed on the tongue. The creator who did all this is the source of all action in the world. But he himself remains hidden. Who can comprehend his nature?

Man has a brain, a head, a forehead and there is c back to the head as well. Who is the supreme god who made all this and disappeared in heaven?

The world is full of sweet speech and harsh words, It has sleep, danger and impediments. But there is also happiness and bliss. Who is the great one who made all these? Why did he create the world?

There is illness and poverty. There is disease and evil. How do men fall prey to these? But there is also fullness and prosperity. There is superiority and intelligence. How do men get inspired to these?

Who made the water that courses in the human body? Who made the water that travels everywhere? Who made the water that flows in the rivers

and who make the water that is red of hue? Who made the water that is the colour of iron and who made the water that is the colour of smoke? Who made the water that is above and below? Who made the water that is swift and swirling?

Who is the creator of all forms? Who is the creator of all names? Who is the creator of all fame and glory? Who has created speech and who has create learning? Who has endowed human bodies with character?

Who made life? Who made the breath of life? Who has endowed man with various traits?

Who is the god who made men so that they could perform sacrifices? Who gave men the power to follow the truth? Who gave men die power to lie? Where does death come from? And what is the origin of immortality?

Who gave men the physical bodies that are like clothing for them? Who decided on their lifespans? Who gave them strength? And who decided what human speeds should be?

Who made water? Who created the day so that it might give light?

Who made the radiance of dawn? And who created the evening?

Who framed the concept of birth so that living beings may perpetuate their kind? Who gave living beings intelligence and the power to use their tongues? Who taught them how to dance?

Who covered the ground? Who circumscribed heaven? Who made the mountains great? Who inspires men to action?

Who gives us rain? Who gives us the excellent soma juice? From whom do we obtain faith and sacrificial power? Who has turned our mind to such deeds?

From whom do we obtain learning? From whom do we obtain the ability to attain the paramatman? By whose grace does man obtain fire? Who divided time into years and other units?

The learned attain learning. And it is learning that attains the paramatman. It is learning that enables men to obtain fire. It is learning that enables men to measure time.

How can one please the gods and attain their proximity? How can one attain divine qualities and please the subjects? Who is the one who is truly a Kshatriya! And who is the one who can never be called a Kshatriya!

It is through learning that one can please the gods and attain their proximity. It is learning that enables one to attain divine qualities and please the subjects. It is through learning that one truly becomes a kshatriya. And it is through learning that one obtains the powers that do not characterise a kshatriya.

Who is the one who specially preserved the earth? Who is the one who placed heaven above earth? Who placed the vast atmosphere above the earth?

The brahman specially preserved the earth. The brahman is the one who placed heaven above earth. The brahman is the one who placed the vast atmosphere above the earth.

The one who successfully meditates controls his head and his heart. He raises his life force to the centre of his head and even above his head.

The head of a person who meditates is a treasure that is protected by the gods. The head is preserved through food, the mind and the breath of life.

The brahman is spread everywhere. It is known as the purusha. The purusha is in every direction. It is to be found in the city where the brahman dwells. It is because of this that it is known as the purusha. (The word pura means city and the word purusha is derived from pura.)

He who is indeed immortal gets to know the city where the brahman dwells. The brahman and the other gods give such a person eyes, life and subjects.

He who knows the purusha, and the city where the brahman dwells, is blessed with eyesight till a ripe old age. He lives for many years.

The city of the gods has eight concentric circles (chakra) in it. It has nine doors and the city is invincible. In that city there is a treasure-house of energy. It is this that is known as heaven.

Heaven has three sides and three focal points. (What this means is not dear.) In heaven can be found a learned yaksha. (Yakshas were demi gods.) He who knows this is blessed with the knowledge of the brahman.

That city is full of energy. That city removes all misery. That city is full of fame and can never be conquered. In such a radiant city, the brahman is always present.

Although the kena sukta is the most important sukta of kanda ten, there are other suktas in this section as well. There are prayers for fighting demons and for purging poison. There are charms for ensuring victory and for ensuring that a woman does not have a co-wife. Prayers are addressed to cows and there is a sukta that describes the brahman. But we will skip these and move on to kanda eleven.

Kanda Eleven

Rudra

(Although this hymn is addressed to Rudra, he is sometimes referred to by other names as well.)

O Bhava! O Sharva! O creator and O destroyer! May the two of you make all of us happy. Please do not attack us. The two of you rule over demons (bhuta) and animals. We bow down in obeisance before you. Do not fix arrows to your bows and shoot them at us. Do not exhibit violence towards us bipeds and quadrupeds.

Do not slice up our bodies so that black and hated worms may feed on them. May dogs and vultures not feed on our dead bodies. May foxes that howl not eat our flesh. O ruler over animals! May your flies and your crows not savour our dead bodies. Preserve our bodies from all manner of destruction.

O creator of all that there is! I worship the sound of your life force. O immortal Rudra! I worship the thousand eyes that you possess. I worship the power of your energy.

I worship you from the front. I worship you from above and from below. I worship you from every direction because you are heaven and you are the atmosphere.

O Pashupati! O Bhava! I worship your mouth. I worship your eyes. I worship your skin, your eyesight and your back.

I worship your body, your stomach, your tongue and your mouth. I worship your teeth and your fragrance.

May Rudra of the thousand eyes never turn against us. May he never use his blue-flamed weapons on us.

May he who is the creator protect us from all the directions. May he surround us the way water surrounds the fire. May he not destroy us. We

bow down before him.

O Pashupati! You are the creator. I bow down before you four times. I bow down before you eight times. 1 bow down before you ten times. I offer these five types of animals to you in sacrifice. They are cows, horses, goats, sheep and humans.

You are the lord of the four directions. You are the lord of heaven and earth. It is to you that the powerful atmosphere belongs. All the beings with senses belong to you. They are the inhabitants of the earth.

All the worlds belong to the universe. And the entire universe is the dwelling-place of the Vasus. But it is you who are the lord of the universe. O Pashupati! We worship you so that you may grant us happiness. May jackels, vultures and dogs keep their distance from us. May women who wear their hair unbraided and weep in shrill voices also keep their distance. May those who are the bringers of sorrow thus keep their distance.

O you who wear a tonsure on your head! You are the destroyer of thousands and you are the destroyer of millions. Your metallic bow is encrusted with gold. In Rudra’s arrows are to be found all the weapons of the gods. I bow down in whatever direction Rudra’s arrows may be.

O Rudra! Destroy those who attack us and go into hiding. Like an assassin, destroy them when their backs are turned.

O god! You are the creator and the destroyer. You are the learned one. You are the one in whom the divine powers of creation and destruction are to be found. I bow down in whatever direction these two powers are found.

O Rudra! You are the one who comes and you are the one who goes. You are the one who stays and you are the one who sits. I bow down in obeisance before you.

I worship you in the morning and I worship you in the evening. I worship you during the day and I worship you in the night. I worship Bhava and I worship Sharva.

I see in front of me the thousand-eyed Rudra. He is the learned one who hurls a myriad of weapons. May my tongue not utter words which offend the swift-footed Rudra.

Rudra is the possessor of steeds. Rudra is the one who cannot be bound. Rudra is the one who grants happiness. Many are the rays that

surround him. Rudra is the one who demolishes invincible chariots. He is the first god to be worshipped. We bow down in obeisance before him.

O Pashupati! Protect us from the weapons of the gods. We worship you so that the gods may not be enraged with us. May the weapons of the gods not come near us.

Please do not hate us, but bless us with your advice. Please do not vent your anger on us, but protect us. May we never come into conflict with you. O brave warrior! Protect our cows, sheep and goats. Protect us humans.

Remove all fear from our proximity. Destroy only men who are violent.

I worship the one whose weapons are tuberculosis, fever and coughs. I worship the one whose weapons make the sound of a powerful steed neighing. I bow down before the one whose weapons are sure and unfailing.

I worship the one who is constant in the atmosphere. I worship the one who destroys people who do not perform sacrifices. I worship the one who destroys people who hate the gods. I worship his ten different forms of power.

You are the lord of deer and other animals that live in the forests. You are the lord of swans, vultures, eagles and other birds. O Pashupati! (Pashupati literally means lord of animals.) Your revered soul is to be found in the water. It is for your sake that divine water flows down to the earth.

Your weapons will find their mark on crocodiles, pythons, tortoises and other aquatic animals. Your weapons will find their mark on fishes. None of them are your enemies, but none of them are your friends either. You look upon all of them equally. You make your presence felt from the eastern to the northern ocean.

O Rudra! May we not suffer from fever. May we not suffer from poison. May we not suffer from the divine fire. Please ensure that lightning does not strike us. May it strike some other place instead.

Bhava is the lord of the universe. Bhava is the lord of heaven, the atmosphere and the earth. Our prayers follow Bhava whatever be the direction he is in.

O creator! O king of the gods! You are the lord of all the animals. Please those who are praying to you. Shower your happiness on those who

are devoted and on those who believe in the existence of the gods. Please all such bipeds and quadrupeds.

Do not be enraged with those who are our elders. Do not be enraged with those who are children. Do not be enraged with those who are our equals. Do not be enraged with those amongst us who are strong. Do not be enraged with our parents. O Rudra! May our bodies never suffer from miseries.

I worship Rudra’s terrible dogs. Terrible are their mouths and some of them make a thunderous noise. Others make no sound at all.

O god! I bow down before the fearsome noise of your cohorts. I bow down before your soldiers who sport long hair. I bow down before your army which never suffers from a shortage of food. May our welfare be ensured and may we never know fear.

Other suktas in kanda eleven are on the virtues of celibacy and on life. There are prayers addressed to food grains. There are some hymns on the brahman and on warfare. We will bypass these and move on to kanda twelve.

Kanda Twelve

The Motherland

There are some acts which protect and nurture the motherland and the nation. These are firm truthfulness, true knowledge, martial prowess, righteousness, skill in performing deeds, performing sacrifices and giving alms. Sacred is the motherland. It not only nurtures that which is past and all the objects of the present, it bears the seed of the future as well. Such is our great motherland.

Our motherland is populated by learned men. It is populated by those who are inferior, those who are average and those who are superior. But all such people forget their differences and live together in unity and friendship. Our motherland possesses the qualities that banish disease. Our motherland is the land where there are many great trees. This is the land where we will perform deeds and attain fame. This is the land where our intelligence will prosper.

There are many oceans in our motherland. And there are many rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and waterfalls. In our motherland are produced all

sorts of grains, vegetables and fruit. In this land there are to be found many living beings. There are farmers, artisans and traders. They have come together to live in select habitations. Our motherland is the source of all material prosperity.

In our motherland can be found enterprising and hard-working farmers and artisans. In every direction that one glances, one finds fields of rice, wheat and other grains. Our motherland nourishes many different forms of life. It provides us with cows, food grains and other forms of sustenance.

In ancient times, the aryas who populated our motherland made it famous through their strength, intelligence, prowess and riches. The famous warriors of yore performed valourous deeds here. In this land the learned and brave ones conquered the violent demons. This is the land where one can find cows, horses and other animals and birds. May our motherland grant us riches, energy, valour and learning.

Our motherland is the nurturer. In it can be found gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds and other gems. Nuggets of gold, all sorts of objects, all forms of vegetation, and all forms of living beings can be found in our motherland. It is full of all sorts of men, states and kingdoms. Our motherland is the best country of all. Its leaders are learned men and brave warriors who vanquish enemies. May our motherland nurture us with riches.

The skilled and learned ones who live here do not fritter away their time in slumber and sloth. Like a cow which is milked, our motherland gives us all the objects of our desire. Its vast expanse protects us from all manner of danger. May this land make us complete with bravery, prowess, learning and riches.

In the beginning, this land was immersed in the water of the ocean. Its immortal roots go down to the centre of the earth and are preserved through righteousness. Vast is the expanse of this land. Its heights reach up to heaven. The skilled and the learned have lived in this land for generations. May there be excellent kingdoms in our motherland. May we be blessed with energy, valour and physical strength. May we have brave soldiers.

In this land are to be found learned mendicants who roam in every direction, just as water attains the same level everywhere, these hermits

look upon all with equal favour. They travel carefully, through night and day. In our motherland can be found all that there is to eat and all that there is to drink. There is an abundance of milk and clarified butter. May our motherland increase our energy, influence, strength and prowess.

The Ashvinis look after this land of ours. Brave warriors have measured the length and breadth of our motherland. Great rulers have exhibited their valour here. Learned and powerful ones have freed this land from all enemies. This motherland is like our mother. It provides us with sustenance just as mother provides her baby with milk. May this land satisfy the hunger and thirst of our children.

O my motherland! May the mountains and the snow-clad peaks that can be found here not bring you unhappiness. May these ranges be free of enemies so that you can nurture us all. May you be fit for agriculture. May trees and plants grow on you in abundance. Great is your length and breadth, great is your expanse. Many are your different forms. You have never been conquered by enemies. Wars and battles have brought you no harm. You have never been wounded. May I prosper in such a land.

O land! in your centre can be found men who have organised themselves into various groups. You provide strength and food grains so that such groups can be nurtured. May I merge into this society. O land! Protect me. You are my mother. I am the son of the earth. The water which rains down and nourishes us is my father. May I be preserved.

In this land the Vedas are revered in every direction. In this land the best paths to meditation have been found. In this land sacrifices and other altruistic deeds are performed. The righteous ones are worshipped here and the land is uplifted through the performance of sacrifices. Wonderful are the words of wisdom that have been uttered in this land. We have uplifted this land through our deeds. And may this land uplift us in turn.

O motherland! Destroy those who bear hatred towards us. Destroy those who bring armies to invade us. Destroy those who try to harm us and enslave us. Destroy those who seek to kill and slay us. You have destroyed such enemies earlier. Destroy them yet again.

O my motherland! Those of us who are born here and those of us who are reared here wish to serve you. The bipeds who live here, and rule over

the quadrupeds, wish to serve you. Those who bask in the energy of the sunlight here, wish to serve you. Five types of men wish to serve you.

(The five types of men are priests, warriors, tradesmen, artisans and slaves.)

O my motherland! All of us are your subjects. May all of us be gifted with sweet speech. May we live together in harmony.

This land is the mother of all trees, shrubs, plants and creepers. Vast is the expanse of this land. It is here that truth, learning, bravery and righteousness flourish. This land will bring us welfare and happiness. May we always serve our motherland.

O motherland ! This is the place where we all live in harmony. May you be great and firm. May brave warriors protect you with their intelligence and valour from enemies. May we be enriched. May we prosper.

May no one bear enmity towards us. O motherland! May you shine like gold.

In the centre of the earth, there is fire. In herbs that provide us nourishment, there is fire. In the water of the clouds, there is fire. In lightning, there is fire. In glistening stones, there is fire. In the hunger of men, there is fire. In food grains and in animals, there is fire.

In the sky, there is fire in the sun. This fire heats us all. The radiant fire manifests itself in the atmosphere. Many are the forms in which fire is present. Fire loves the clarified butter that is offered on the occasion of sacrifices. May the fire prevent illness in every season. May fire energise us men.

Fire is everywhere. Fire is in the earth. May fire make me radiant.

On earth, men offer oblations to the gods through sacrifices. Through this medium, mortal men make the earth yield a plentiful supply of food grains for nourishment. This land will grant us strength and long lives. This land will grant us intelligence and the desire to elevate ourselves.

O earth! You are the source of all fragrances. It is these fragrances that can be found in the herbs. The fragrances can be found in the water, and can be found in the rays of the sun. These fragrances will make us fragrant and

will grant us happiness. May we not bear hatred towards one another. May we live together in peace and harmony.

O earth! Your fragrance has entered the lotuses. It is this fragrance that was there when Vayu and the other gods celebrated Usha’s wedding. Make us fragrant through that fragrance. May no one bear hatred towards us.

O earth! Impart your energy to brave men, ordinary men, and women. Impart your energy to horses, elephants and other quadrupeds. Impart your energy to girls who are not yet married. May this divine energy energise us as well. May no one oppose us.

This land is full of mountains, ranges, stones and dust. May this land protect us through learning and valour. May we be deserving so that we can live here. We worship the golden vein that flows through the heart of this land.

Many are the trees, plants and creepers that constantly flourish here. It nurtures all objects through its divine qualities. We chant the praise of the land that protects us all.

May we not cause unhappiness to others when we are travelling on this land. May we not cause unhappiness to others when we are standing or when we are seated. May we not cause unhappiness to others either on our right or on our left.

This is the land where the search for the paramatman is made. This is the land that the paramatman has blessed through his strength and his nourishment. In this vast expanse can be found clarified butter and other objects of food. We pray to our motherland so that we may obtain refuge here. May all living beings prosper here.

O earth! May pure water flow here so that we are sanctified. May that which we do not like and that which causes us harm not get near us. May we be purified and devote ourselves to the performance of sacred deeds.

O motherland! May you bring us happiness to the north, south, east and west. May you bring us happiness to the north-east, north-west, south-east and south-west. May you bring us happiness to the top and the bottom, the front and the back. May the land where I live never cause me to degenerate.

O motherland ! Protect me from the back, the east and the south. May my welfare be ensured. May my enemies never get near me and may I be

able to vanquish them all.

O my motherland! The happy rays of the sun display for me your vast expanse. May I enjoy a long life in this great expanse. May my eyesight and other senses never dull. May I be able to perform excellent deeds throughout my allotted lifespan.

O my motherland! May you protect me when 1 turn in my sleep to the right or to the left. May you protect me when I sleep with my head facing the west. May my motherland preserve me from all manner of destruction.

O my motherland! I plough you and sow seeds. May these seeds soon grow into saplings. May the most delicate parts of this land never come to any harm. My mind and heart are devoted to you. May they never suffer.

O the vast expanse that is my motherland! In you can be found the six seasons – the summer, monsoon, early autumn, late autumn, winter and spring. May these seasons bring me happiness. In you can be found night and day. May they bring me happiness.

This is the land that is graced by the sacred fire. In the clouds, the lightning and the atmosphere can be seen this sacred fire. In my motherland can be found this fire. Brave warriors have revered my motherland. They have protected it from the depredations of the evil ones. In my motherland there has been the pursuit of learning. Such is my motherland.

In my motherland can be found houses to dwell in. There are objects that can be offered at sacrifices. At the sacrifices, the officiating priests are those who are learned in the Yajur Veda, the Rig Veda and the Sama Veda. At these sacrifices, soma juice is offered to Indra.

From ancient times, in my motherland righteous deeds have been performed. Many types of sacrifices have been observed. Alms have been given. And all such righteous deeds have been praised through hymns.

May my motherland grant us the riches that we desire. May it aid the brave warriors in their endeavours. May the brave soldiers advance and invade the enemies.

The inhabitants of this land sing and dance. The brave warriors who live here fight to protect their country. In this land can be heard the sound of horses neighing and drums beating. May all enemies be banished from my motherland.

Food grains like rice, jowar and wheat grow in my motherland. There is no shortage of food. Five types of men live here, priests, warriors, farmers, tradesmen and slaves. Rains are plentiful here so that crops grow easily. The rains nourish this land. I bow in obeisance before my motherland.

The cities in my motherland have been built by the gods. In every part of my motherland, men perform their duties well. This is the land that produces all objects, so that the subjects may thrive. May my motherland be beautiful in every direction.

This is the land that produces gold and silver and jewels like diamonds and emeralds. May this earth grant us riches and make us like the gods.

Many are the religions that are followed here. Many are the tongues that are spoken here. Many are the houses that are there in the cities. This constant and firm land will never be destroyed. May my motherland grant us cows and riches.

There are snakes and scorpions in my motherland. There are insects whose bites are poisonous. But may they not get near us. In my motherland there can be found fever, boils and other diseases. But may these not cause us harm. May our welfare be ensured and may we be happy.

O my motherland! Here there are wide roads for people to travel on. There are routes along which chariots can be driven. Carts carry harvests and other objects. May the paths be populated by righteous people. May robbers and dacoits not frequent them. May we be victorious. May our welfare be ensured. May we be happy.

My motherland can bear heavy objects. My motherland has both good and evil. Both good and evil people eventually die here. May heavy clouds shower down rain on my mother-land. May the sun spread its rays in every direction and bring purification.

O my motherland! In your forests there are carnivorous animals like lions and tigers. There are herbivorous animals like deer. There are also mad dogs and bears. But may all of these stay away from us.

May violent assassins who populate my motherland stay away from us. May those who are lazy and indolent stay away from us. May those who

wish to rob our riches stay away from us. May those who are cannibals stay away from us. May demons stay away from us.

There are birds like swans and eagles in my motherland. It is here that the wind blows through the air and swirls up dust. It is here that storms uproot the trees.

In my motherland can be found the darkness of the night. But there is also the radiance of the day. May the rains shower down welfare on us.

May the sky, the atmosphere and the earth bring me wisdom. May the sun and the fire bring me wisdom. May the gods bring me wisdom and learning. May we have the power to spread in every direction.

May I be able to bear the summer and the winter. May I be able to bear the happiness and the misery. May this land make me victorious in every direction. May all my enemies be vanquished.

This is the divine land that has been made famous by the gods, the learned ones and the brave warriors. This is the land that has been made famous by those who were skilled. O my motherland! You became famous in the four directions. May you continue to be as famous as of old.

The villages and the cities that are here will make this land flourish. The forests, the courts, and the courts of law will make this land flourish. The assemblies and the battles will make this land flourish.

Battles have raised dust in this country of ours. Dust has been raised by armies and by troops of horses. But my motherland has not been harmed and trees and herbs have thrived.

May that which I say about my motherland and my country be sweet and not harsh. May all that I see bring me happiness. May I be radiant, energetic and learned. May those who wish to rob my motherland be destroyed.

May my motherland bring peace and fragrance. May the rain that showers bring happiness. May all objects of desire be obtained here.

Those who are skilled wish to serve my motherland. May they obtain food grains and all the other objects that they desire.

O my motherland! May you bring happiness. May you grant us the objects of our desire. May you be praised. May crops grow here in plenty. May sacrifices be observed here. May the creator bring you completeness.

O my motherland ! May those who are born here be free from all diseases. May we live for a long time. May we be learned. May we able to make you offerings.

O my motherland! Grant us wisdom so that we can ensure our welfare.

May we be learned all the time. May we prosper in your midst.

Other suktas in kanda twelve are about the prevention of tuberculosis, about heaven and about cows. But we move on to kanda thirteen.

Kanda Thirteen Funeral Ceremonies

O man! This is a woman whose husband has died. According to the ancient rites, take her to be your wife. I have brought her back from the funeral. May you marry her and have children. May she marry you and prosper.

O woman! Stop sorrowing over your dead husband. Forget him and come back to the world of the living. Marry again and have children.

I have brought back the woman who followed her husband to the cremation ground. She was weeping in sorrow. But I have brought her back to the world.

O woman! You are not yet ready to die. You know well the ways of the world. You know well the dictates of the gods. This is your new husband. Marry him and love him. That is the road to heaven.

O Agni! You have an intimate connection with the water! sprinkle water on your flames. I pacify all the herbs through this action.

(This refers to the act of putting out the fire on the funeral pyre).

When the dead body has been completely burnt, the fire must be put out. Water must be sprinkled on the fire. Enough water must be sprinkled so that grass grows on the funeral ground again.

O man! The only energy that can light you up is the light that comes from your soul. That is the learning you must strive for.

Come. Arise. Go to the atmosphere where you will meet your dead ancestors. That is the region that is populated by the ancestors. Drink the soma juice that is there and be satiated.

(These words are addressed to the dead person.)

O man! May you attain superiority. Take care of your body and various parts of your anatomy so that you do not suddenly die. In this vast world that is like an ocean, go where you will. Live in the land and the country that pleases you most.

May the ancestors who drink soma juice grant me energy. May the gods make me complete with clarified butter. May I retain my eyesight when I am old. May I retain my ability to eat and drink when I am old. May I live for many years, may I not die before my time.

Agni will energise me with radiance. The paramatman which is omnipresent will invest me with wisdom. All the gods will grant me prosperity. The water that brings happiness will purify me.

The night and the day will protect me in every direction. The gods who are the destroyers of enemies will increase my prosperity. Indra will energise my two arms. The one who is the creator will grant me a long life.

The first man to be born was the son of Vivasvan. He was the first one to die and go to Yama’s abode. Worship King Yama with your oblations.

(Yama is the god of death. He was the son of Vivasvan, Vivasvan being another name for Surya.)

O ancestors! You will return to your abode after the sacrifice is over. But at the sacrifice, we have offered you many oblations. Accept them and grant us food grains and riches. May we be prosperous and have brave sons.

The ancestors are the possessors of divine qualities. May they grant us happiness.

We will purify ourselves through our learning. May we be protected from sin and may we have long lives. May we be blessed with the best of qualities. May we have subjects and other riches.

May the acts that we have performed bring us sweet fruits. We perform this sacrifice so that we may obtain our desired objects from the ancestors. May the ancestors come to our sacrifice and accept the oblations. May they grant us happiness.

Our ancient ancestors receive their energy from the power of the sacrifice. It is this power that manifests the dawn. O Agni! Please use your power as well, so that the dawn may become manifest.

The gods are the performers of wonderous deeds. After they were born, they purified themselves through meditation. They then lit Agni’s flames. The three types of Agni are die harbingers of prosperity. They purify the cows and grant us many cattle.

(The three types of Agni are explained in the introduction.)

One must be acquainted with the account of the birth of the gods. One must be acquainted with the deeds that bring the gods pleasure. Acts that please Agni are the acts that are indeed superior. If Agni is pleased, the radiant Usha will manifest herself for us. The objects that are preserved by the gods will then ensure our welfare. We must always pray and perform sacrifices so that the objects of our desire are attained.

Indra and the Maruts will protect us from all impediments in the eastern direction. They will protect us the way the earth protects the heaven above. We worship him who has created all the worlds and all the directions. We offer oblations so that the gods may be present here on earth.

Dhata will protect us from all Impediments in the southern direction. Aditi and all her sons will also protect us. Soma and the other gods will protect us from all imepdiments in the northern direction.

The paramatman bears everything the way the sun bears heaven. May the paramatman make my body complete in every respect. I worship the paramatman to the east, to the south, to the north and to the west. I worship him in the upper and the lower directions. The paramatman brings to this world water and the breath of life.

May I be preserved from all impediments on earth. May I be preserved from all impediments after I die. It is for this reason that two separate sets of oblations are being offered. May men be blessed with divine qualities.

We chant the mantras that are given in the Vedas. May we attain riches. May our oblations reach the gods the way a learned person reaches the world of learning. May the gods be present here so that they may listen to our prayers.

If men perform sacrifices and follow the righteous path, they can purify themselves. Their deeds become immortal and they attain the radiance of the sun.

Who amongst the gods is immortal? To begin with, the gods were all mortal. They too died. But the sage Brihaspati performed a sacrifice so that the gods could be immortal. The gods conquered death. But the fruits of the sacrifice did not percolate down to the world of men. Men continue to be mortal, they die. Yama robs men of their physical bodies and brings death to them.

O Agni! You are the learned one. Make these oblations fragrant and carry them to the ancestors. May the ancestors devour these oblations. O Agni! Please partake of these oblations yourself.

O ancestors! The flames of the fire have been lit on the occasion of the sacrifice. Come and be seated here and grant riches for your progeny. Nourish us with your blessings. O ancestors! Come to every house. Come to every sacrifice. Accept the oblations that are offered at sacrifices. Grant us riches and grant us brave sons.

The ancestors will come to the sacrifice at our bidding. They will listen to our prayers. They will protect us and grant us wisdom. All our ancestors, from time immemorial, will come to this sacrifice. Let us offer them soma juice. Let us have a plentiful supply of oblations for them.

The ancestors have become like the gods themselves. They will come to our sacrifice with Agni and the other gods. O Agni! Please bring the ancestors to this sacrifice.

There are more suktas in kanda thirteen on funeral ceremonies. There are also suktas on spiritual upliftment. But we move on to kanda fourteen.

Kanda Fourteen

Marriages

It is truth that makes the motherland flourish. It is the sun that makes heaven radiant.

The gods follow a constant path and the moon is constant in the sky. The offerings of soma juice make the gods powerful and they descend on earth. The energy of soma juice can be found in the stars as well.

When the soma herbs are crushed, it is certain that soma juice will be extracted and drunk. When soma juice is drunk, the soma herb does not wither away. New leaves continue to be added to the plant the way new

months are added to the year. But there is a divine soma herb as well. No one can drink of that divine soma juice.

When a bride goes to the house of her husband, it is her mind that is her best ornament. It is with her mind that she attains happiness in her husband’s household. The earth and heaven will shower her with happiness there. To the chanting of the mantras from the Vedas, she leaves her father’s house. To the chanting of these mantras, she enters her husband’s house. These incantations make her and her husband complete and ensure their welfare.

(The connection between soma juice and a bride is not at all clear. The Implicit suggestion is that soma juice is being compared to a bride.)

The sacrifices that are performed In her husband’s house constitute food for the bride. The mantras that are chanted there constitute her ornaments. Those who accompany the bride when she first goes to her husband’s house are like the Ashvinis themselves. The one who leads the procession is like Agni. And the father of the bride is like Surya.

When the bride goes to her husband’s house, she must ride on a chariot and the chariot must be drawn by two excellent bulls. If it is possible, the bulls must be white in colour. Mantras from the Vedas must be chanted as the chariot is driven. Hymns from the Sama Veda must be sung. The bride goes to her husband’s house so that husband and wife may perform righteous deeds together and thus attain heaven. May the two wheels of the chariot be pure.

The cows which are offered as dowry must first be delivered to the bridegroom’s house by the father of the bride. It is only after this is done that the marriage can be solemnised. For example, the cows can be sent when the nakshatra Magha is in the sky. And the marriage can be performed when the nakshatra Falguni is in the sky. The dowry which is sent to the groom’s house must be sent on a chariot. And it must be escorted by two individuals who are known to be righteous in conduct. They must ascertain the correct address and deliver the dowry at the proper house. It is these two who will subsequently lead the bridal procession to the groom’s house.

After the dowry has been received, two gentlemen from the groom’s house will come to the bride’s house. They will ask the bride’s father for the hand of the bride. These individuals must be welcomed with due respect and all those who are present will signify their assent to the marriage. Surya was the daughter of Savita and she was married to the sun. She was driven to her husband’s house in a chariot with three wheels. Every bride should go to her husband’s house in a chariot. And the chariot’s wheel must be excellent.

If information is required about the prospective groom, this information should be sought from those who are superior and righteous. It must never be sought from those who are inferior. Like a ripe fruit severed from the stem, the bride is severed from all relationship with her father’s house. But her relationship with her husband’s house must never be severed. The supreme godhead will grant happiness and welfare to the bride in her husband’s house. May the bride perform righteous deeds in her husband’s house.

The god who grants good fortune will hold the bride’s hand when the bridal procession goes to the groom’s house after the marriage is over. The Ashvinis will ride on her chariot when she goes to her husband’s house. May the bride be the queen of her husband’s house and may she please all those who are there. May the wife perform her duties well. May her sons be blessed with happiness.

May the husband and the wife always stay united and never be separated. May they play with their children. May their house be full of happiness. May they live through their appointed lifespans in righteous fashion.

This couple will have sons who will frisk and frolic till they grow up. When they have grown, they will perform great deeds so that they become famous throughout the world. May these offspring live to a ripe old age.

This couple will perform great deeds and become as radiant as Usha.

They will perform sacrifices and offer oblations to the gods.

At the time of marriage, excellent clothing must be gifted to brahmanas. They must also be donated riches. The brahmanas will impart wisdom to the newly married couple through their blessings. If this is not done and if the brahmanas are angered, the couple is certain to face destruction.

If the bride is evil, blood flows in her husband’s house. If the bride is evil, her father and her relations begin to live in her husband’s house and the husband feels stifled, as if in a noose.

A man should never wear a woman’s clothing. If he does this, his energy is reduced. A woman is best dressed when she wears three articles of clothing. An ordinary piece is used for the lower part of the body. A decorated piece is used for the upper part of the body. And the third piece is a covering that is worn over all this.

May the couple perform righteous deeds. May they always speak the truth. May they accumulate a lot of riches. May the wife always bear love for her husband in her heart. May the husband always address the wife in pleasent tones.

May there be cows in the house, may the cows not run away. May the cows deliver calves in ever increasing numbers. May sacrifices always be performed in the household. May the gods bless the household and increase the number of cows that are there. Let the path that leads to the house be free of all impediments. Let the paramatman bless this household.

There is energy in the eyes, in riches and in cows. May all this energy enter the bride’s body and may she be blessed. May she always follow the righteous path. Let the energy that is in water and in sacrifices enter this bride’s body. May all forms of disease maintain their distance.

May the wife bring a good heart, sons, riches and good fortune to her husband. May she please her husband through her deeds. May she please her father-in-law and her brother-in-law. The ocean is the lord of the rivers. Like that, may this bride reign as a queen in her husband’s household. May her mother- in-law and her sister-in-law be pleased.

People weep at the time of departure and separation. But there should be no crying and weeping when a bride leaves her father’s house for her husband’s. It is in fact a day of great happiness for her father and her other relations. The bride is leaving for her husband’s house so that she may bring happiness there. She will perform righteous deeds there.

The groom accepts the bride’s hand the way the fire accepts the earth. May the wife not come to grief. May she thrive in wealth and prosperity. The groom accepts the bride’s hand for the sake of good fortune. The gods have brought these two together. May the husband and the wife live together for a hundred years. May the husband take care of his wife.

The weavers have woven excellent clothing for the bride; let her wear them. The learned brahmanas have given her their blessings. Indra, Agni and the other gods will bless this woman with sons. May the wife have long hair so that she may please her husband.

Let jewellery adorn the bride. Let her be adorned with flowers, vermilion and gold.

This wife is following the path that is laid down by the gods. Let her not come to any harm and let her be free from the depredations of the demons. May wisdom and learning envelope her from every direction. May she make her new home as happy as a city of the gods.

There is more in the same vein. In fact, all the suktas in kanda fourteen pertain to marriage. But we will skip these and pass on to kanda fifteen.

Kanda Fifteen

The Paramatman

The paramatman Is the creator of all objects. He is Prajapati, the lord of all objects in the universe. He is the only one. He is the one who is great and superior. He is the brahman. He is the one who radiates heat and he is the source of all truth.

The paramatman is the god of all gods, he is the greatest one. He is the supreme godhead. He is the lord of all oceans and he is the one who created Indra’s bow. The paramatman’s stomach is blue and his back is red. The learned say that with the blue part of his body he destroys hated enemies. And with the red part he destroys those who bear hatred in their hearts.

The paramatman became great and stood up.

“Why are you standing? Why don’t you sit? “asked the gods. “Where will I sit?” asked the paramatman.

The gods constructed a chair for the paramatman to sit on. The four legs of the chair were the four seasons of summer, spring, early autumn and

the monsoon. The metres of sacred hymns were the planks for the chair and the mantras from the Vedas were the cane with which the chair was woven. The Vedas formed the cushions. Those who are learned know all this. The paramatman ascended this chair and the gods became his protectors.

The months of spring became his protector in the east, those of summer his protector in the south, those of the monsoon his protector in the west and those of early autumn his protector in the north. The months of late autumn protected him in the lower direction and those of winter protected him in the upper direction.

The god Bhava picked up his bow and became a sentinel in the east. Those who know this are protected by the gods Sharva, Bhava and Ishana. Sharva is the sentinel in the south and Pashupati the sentinel in the west. The god Ugra picked up his bow and became the sentinel in the north. Rudra is the sentinel in the lower direction and the.god Mahadeva is the sentinel in the upper direction.

The paramatman moved downwards and Prithivi, Agni, the herbs and the trees bowed down before him. The paramatman moved up and Surya, Chandra and the stars bowed down before him. The paramatman moved in other directions and the vedas bowed down before him. So did the metres, the Puranas, the different forms of fire, and all animals. The seasons and all other objects worshipped him. The various gods showed their obeisance.

The paramatman is the source of brahmanas, kshatriyas and all other classes. He is the source of all food grains. It is he who created the sabha and the samiti, soldiers and wealth.

He who knows all this is indeed learned. Blessed is the house where he comes as a guest. Let the king welcome such a guest for the welfare of the kingdom. Let every householder welcome such a guest. For this guest knows of the secrets of the brahman that vests with the great Brihaspati. And he also knows of the energy that vests with the great Indra. Let sacrifices be performed in the household when such a learned guest arrives.

There is much that is obscure in the suktas of kanda fifteen. All the suktas pertain to the paramatman and to those who are knowledgeable about the paramatman, particularly, wandering mendicants. We have summarised drastically and move on to kanda sixteen.

Kanda Sixteen

Charms For Removing Misery and Ensuring Victory

The water that is in the clouds has been freed. The divine fire has been freed. Let them burst forth. I use these to banish my enemies. Let those who pollute my body and my spirit be destroyed. Let assassins and arsonists be destroyed. Let those who hate me and those whom I hate be destroyed. I release the water towards the ocean so that all this may be accomplished. I release the fire that is in the water so that all this may be accomplished. I banish assassins, cannibals and others who pollute the body. May the divine water cleanse me of all pollution and sin. May I not suffer from nightmares. O divine water! Look upon me with favour. May your touch sanctify my skin. I call upon Agni the purifier. May divine energy course through my body.

May I be blessed with the proximity of sweet speech and may my miseries be removed. May I utter sweet words. May my ears hear the sacred wisdom that ensures welfare. May I never lose my power of hearing. May my eyesight always be as sharp as that of an eagle.

May I be the possessor of cattle and a myriad of riches. May I be the leader of my peers. May. I be handsome and energetic May I never deviate from the righteous path. May I never suffer from a shortage of food or weapons. May the water and the wind bring me pleasure. May my mind be learned and may my heart be pure. May I never know unhappiness. May my wisdom be as great as that of ocean.

I will be the lord of riches and of my peers. My atman is immortal. May it not forsake my body. May the breath of life not forsake may body. May the sun protect me during the day. Agni will protect me from the earth, Vayu from the atmosphere, Yama from men, and Sarasvati from all objects. May there be no one amongst men who wishes to kill me. O water! Please ensure my welfare. May I be blessed with all qualities. May I be happy night and day. May I be the owner of animals. Mitra and Varuna will grant me the breath of life. Agni will grant me energy.

O nightmares! I know well your origin. You are created by Yama and you are the son of disease. You are the herald of destruction and death. May I be protected from nightmares.

I know well the origin of nightmares. They are the sons of defeat and penury. They distort the senses and bring death. May I be protected from nightmares.

Today is the day when we will attain victory. We will achieve our goals. May we be free from all sin. O Usha! May the nightmares which scare us keep their distance. May those who hate us and those who curse us keep their distance. May those whom we hate, also keep their distance. May Usha be pleased through our prayers. May the goddess of learning also be pleased through our prayers.

May penury, misery and other ill fortune desert us and characterise our enemies. May diseases and other ailments also follow them there. May nightmares also leave us for our enemies.

O Agni! May you and the other gods remove impediments from our midst. Take them instead to our foes. May our enemies become weak, poor and miserable.

I destroy my enemies through these means. I pierce

them with poverty, penury and disease. May ignorance and defeat descend on my enemies. I make them unhappy with the blessings of the gods. I light up their homes with fire. All these misfortunes will beset my enemies. May those who hate us suffer from hatred themselves. May those whom we hate also suffer from hatred.

Those who hate us will be removed from heaven, the atmosphere and the earth. O paramatman! I send nightmares to my foes. I send evil to my foes. May they suffer from these through night and day. May they suffer from these whether they be sleeping or awake. I kill my enemies once they are thus weakened. Kill the enemies. Break their bones and shred their muscles. Let them dis. Let them not live.

We will be victorious. We will be the ones who will be on the ascendant. Truth, energy and learning will reside with us. We will be blessed with radiance and our sacrifices will be successful. May we possess sons, subjects and animals. May our warriors be brave.

We will invade the enemies who have sinned against us. We will curse them with disease. May they be robbed of energy, strength and life. I will dislodge them from the heights they have occupied. May they be entangle in the nooses of misfortune, poverty, misery, defeat and dissolution of the senses. Brihaspati, Prajapati, the sages, the trees, the seasons, the months, the days, heaven, the earth, Indra, Agni, Mitra and Varuna, will aid me in this endeavour. The enemies will be divested of energy, beauty and life.

We will be victorious. We will be the ones who will be on the ascendant. The armies of the enemies will be repulsed. Agni and Soma have told us this. Pusha has blessed us. Our atmans will become radiant. The energy of the sun will merge into our bodies. We will attain prosperity, riches and learning. Our sacrifices will be successful.

Kanda sixteen is a short kanda and all that is there has been reproduced above. We now pass on to kanda seventeen.

Kanda Seventeen Prayer For Victory

I pray to the gods who are strong, powerful and victorious. They triumph over their enemies. They are the lords of the earth, the senses and the cattle. They are the famous ones. I pray to the gods so that I may have a long life. May I be befriended by the gods and may I be loved by my people.

May I be loved by the animals and by my peers.

O Surya! It is time for you to rise. Rise and encircle me with energy from every direction. May those who hate me become my slaves, but may I never be enslaved. O supreme godhead! Your energy knows no bounds. May I become the possessor of cattle and be blessed with immortality. O Surya! Rise and make me kindly disposed towards the living beings that I can see, as well as those that I cannot see. May the sun never be forced to retreat. May the sun climb up into the sky and shower down happiness on us. May Surya look upon us with favour. O Indra! Grant us good fortune and protect us with your radiance from all the directions. Grant us welfare. May you ascend your throne in heaven and drink soma juice.

O Indra! You are victorious and learned. You are the famous one to whom we pray. You cannot be vanquished in heaven or on the earth. There is no one who can rival you in the atmosphere. Grant us happiness. Parts of your being can be found in the water, the earth and the fire. O Indra! Your

energy can be found in heaven and in the atmosphere. We pray to you and perform sacrifices in your honour. O learned one! Grant us happiness.

O god! You are the one who protects the four directions. It is your brilliance that can be seen in the sky. Bless this world of ours. Endow it with your favours. Show us the path that leads to truth.

O god! It is your energy that heats up the world. It is your energy that removes all impediments. O god! You are the great Indra. You are the greatest. You are the lord of all subjects. It is for your sake that sacrifices are performed. You are radiant and full of energy. May your energy be passed on to us.

You are radiance itself. May your radiance be passed on to us. May we attain learning and become the owners of animals. O Surya! I praise you for having risen. I worship you for having ascended the sky. I worship your dazzling energy. I worship the rising of the sun. I worship the setting of the sun.

The sun has risen in all its radiance. It will enslave our enemies, but will make sure that we are never enslaved. O god! O Surya! Great is your valour. Fulfil us with animals and confer immortality on us. Ride on a boat with many oars so that you may grant us good fortune. Cross the sky so that we may pass from day to night. The learning that we have received from Prajapati will be our armour. The energy that we have received from Surya will be our strength. We will have long lives and be energetic till we are old. Arrows that are shot towards us will not be able to kill us. We will be protected by the truth. We will be protected by the seasons and by the elements. We will be protected by the future, untainted by sin and death. I bear these sacred words in my body. I make my body and my life pure. Agni will protect me in every direction. The sun which rises will free me from the fear of death. Radiant Usha will bless me with the breath of life.

Kanda seventeen is also a short kanda and all that is there has been reproduced above. We pass on to kanda eighteen.

Kanda Eighteen

Yama

(This kanda begins with a conversation between Yama and his sister, Yami. In the course of this conversation, Yami wishes to marry Yama so

that they may have children. Since marriage between brother and sister is not permitted, Yama refuses. We leave out the details of this conversation.)

The learned use water, air and herbs to perform all sorts of tasks. These are the three objects that can be found everywhere in the world. They encompass the earth and it is to them that many hymns have been composed.

The paramatman is like a fire. From heaven, he showers down water on the earth in the form of rain. Depending on the season, men use this water for different purposes. It is from the water that food grains are born.

The words of the Vedas sing the glory of the paramatman. It is the paramatman who protects us and keeps us preserved in righteousness. He is like on elder brother who teaches us wisdom. It is the paramatman who grants us the objects of our desire.

Men who desired to be victorious lit the fires of a sacrifice. Usha manifested herself in her radiance.

The learned light a fire on the occasion of a sacrifice. They extract

soma juice so that it may be offered as an oblation.

Agni is as vital to a sacrifice as grass is to animals. It is Agni who grants happiness and fulfils the desires of the devotees.

The sun makes the four directions manifest. Agni makes the ancestors manifest and ensures the performance of righteous deeds.

A man who describes the glory of Agni becomes famous everywhere. He is blessed with riches, food grains, animals and chariots. He is brave and valorous and lives for a long time.

O Agni! Listen to the prayers we are chanting. We pray that you may bring heaven and earth to us. May there be rains through the grace of the gods. O Agni! Be a messenger between us and the gods.

(Some more hymns to Agni follow. Other gods and the ancestors are summoned to the sacrifice. These we skip.)

All living beings that are born must eventually die. They are born on earth and spend a short time here. But after they die, they go to Yama’s abode. It is for this reason that we offer oblations to Yama. It is impossible to avoid the path that leads to Yama’s abode. He who is born must surely die.

We offer oblations to our ancestors so that they may protects us. May they free us from all fear and disease.

May the ancestors come to this sacrifice. May they pardon any crimes that we may have committed against our fellow men.

Yama’s mother is named Saranyu. His father’s name is Vivasvan. Vivasvan is another name for Surya. After the name of his father, Yama is often referred to as Vaivasvat in the mantras of the Vedas.

Our ancestors have earlier traversed the path to Yama’s abode. Those who are alive will also travel along that path. May they be happy in Yama’s abode.

The ancestors determine the place where the funeral rites for a dead person are to be performed. The breath of life has left the dead person’s body. He no longer knows the difference between night and day. The ancestors have determined the cremation ground where the dead body has to be cremated. They have also set aside a place for the dead person in Yama’s abode.

O Agni! The fire of the sacrifice has been lit and oblations have been offered. Manifest yourself and bring the ancestors here so that they may partake of the oblations. We have offered oblations to Yama as well. We have offered oblations to his father, Vivasvan. Yama and the ancestors will come and be seated here.

Soma juice and other oblations have been offered to Yama on the occasion of the sacrifice. Sweet are the oblations that have been offered to King Yama. He will be pleased with these oblations and will grant us long lives.

As long as water is present in the dead body, the atman does not leave it and go elsewhere. It hovers around the dead body. When the dead body is burnt by fire, the water disappears. And the atman is freed from the shackles of the dead body to go and meet the ancestors.

Yama has two dogs that guard the path to his abode. They are terrible of appearance and have four eyes each. May those who are still alive be blessed by these dogs. These dogs have long noses and they live on the breath of life. They are exceedingly strong and pursue those who traverse the path to Yama’s abode.

Yama and Yami were the children of Saranyu. When Saranyu was in the form of a mare, she had two other children. These were the Ashvinis.

O Agni! There are four ways to dispose of a dead body. It may be buried in the ground, floated in the water, cremated by fire, or left on the ground to nature.

When a man is about to die, Yama and his ancestors come down to earth. They wish to take the dead person’s atman to heaven. The atman can also travel to Yama’s abode. That Is a wonderful place and only those who are deserving can go there. In Yama’s abode there are several sections. A section is determined for the atman depending on the acts that were performed on earth by the person concerned.

It is Yam a who, through his powers, bears the ancestors in the atmosphere. Yama is the one who is familiar with the end that will eventually come. O men! Offer oblations to Yama so that he may befriend you and grant you long lives.

May the dead person’s atman be happy in Yama’s abode. We offer sesamum seeds so that the path to Yama’s abode may be free of impediments.

There is a lack of continuity in the hymns of this kanda. Hymns to Yama are interpersed with hymns to the ancestors, to Agni and to the other gods. There is also a lot that is repetitive. But we have reproduced all the information that there is about Yama. We therefore pass on to kanda nineteen.

Kanda Nineteen

A Sacrifice

The rivers flow, the winds blow. The birds fly in the sky. This sacrifice will increase my power of speech. I offer the oblations that will be a source of happiness.

O powers of the sacrifice! Ensure that this sacrifice may be a success. O waters that flow! Ensure that this sacrifice is protected. The words that I utter sing of the glory of this sacrifice. I offer the oblations that will be a source of happiness.

All the devotees who are taking part in this sacrifice will be protected, no matter what their form or age. The four directions will chant the glory of this sacrifice. I offer the oblations that will be a source of happiness.

Water

May the water that flows down from the snow-clad mountains bring you happiness. May the water that flows in the rivers bring you happiness. May the swift-flowing streams bring you happiness. May the water of the monsoon bring you happiness.

May the water of the desert bring you happiness. May the water that flows in this kingdom bring you happiness. May the water that is dug up out of the ground bring you happiness. May the water that is kept in pots bring you happiness.

There are those who know how to use water in the treatment of ailments. Such people are learned and to them, water is a source of power.

There is water that showers down from the sky. There is water that flows in the streams. If this water is used properly, horses thrive. (This suggests that water was used not only to treat human ailments, but that of horses as well.)

Water is the object that guarantees our welfare. Water banishes all our ailments. Water increases our happiness. May water cure all your diseases. Acknowledge the power of water.

Agni

Agni is to be found in heaven, in the earth and in the atmosphere. Agni is also to be found in the trees and the herbs. Agni is praised, no matter what the source. May Agni grace us by his presence.

O Agni! It is your glory that is found in the water, the forests, the herbs and the animals. Bring all this energy together and come to us. May you always be with us and may you grant us riches.

You are famous among the gods as a source of happiness. Your presence can be detected in the ancestors and in the earth. O Agni! May your powers of sustenance be present among men. Use your powers to grant us riches.

It is worth praying to one who has ears. It is worth praying to one who is learned and deserving of respect. It is for these reasons that I am praying to you. O Agni! Grant me words and speech. Grant me freedom from all fear. Pacify the anger of the gods.

Oblations

The sage Atharvan was the first one to light a fire and offer oblations. He was the first one to worship the learned Agni. Agni accepted those oblations and that was the beginning of all sacrifices. I too offer oblations to the famous Agni. May Agni accept my oblations.

I pray to the goddess who grants all wishes. She like a mother to my mind and she will remove all m Impediments. Whatever be the direction I travel it may all my desires be satisfied. May the goddess who grants all wishes look upon me with favour.

O Brihaspati! Use the power of your will to come I me. You are the one who should be summoned according to the prescribed rites. Come to me an grant me good fortune.

Brihaspati was born in the line of the great sage Angirasa. May Brihaspati become acquainted with the power of my words. May he learn what my wishes are. Brihaspati is the one who dwells with all the gods. May he listen to my prayers and grant me m wishes.

The Paramatman

There is one who is the lord of all animals, birds and men. There is one who is the lord of Indra and the other gods. He alone is the lord of all the various objects that can be found on earth. He is the one who is the source of all riches. Pray to him if you wish I acquire riches.

The paramatman alone is the lord of all that mobile and immobile. He is the lord of all objects.

The paramatman has a thousand arms, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He surrounds the earl from the four directions. But the entire earth is merely equivalent to ten of the paramatman’s fingers.

Three-fourths of the paramatman are to be found in heaven. The remaining one-fourth can be found on earth in the form of all that is sentient and insentient, all that eats and does not eat.

Wonderful is the paramatman’s greatness. One- fourth of his body constitutes all the elements that can be found on earth. The remaining three- fourths are immortal in heaven.

Everything that has been created is in the paramatman. Everything that will be created is also in the paramatman. The paramatman is the lord of

immortality.

Who amongst all those who are learned can describe the nature of the paramatman? How can one describe his mouth or his arms? How can one describe his thighs or his feet?

The brahmanas are like the paramatman’s mouth. The kshatriyas are his arms, the vaishyas his waist, and the shudras his legs.

It is the mind of the paramatman that created the moon. The sun was born out of his eyes. His mouth gave birth to Indra and Agni. His breath of life created Vayu.

The paramatman’s navel created the atmosphere. Heaven was made out of this great being’s head. The earth was born from his feet and his ears gave birth to the directions. Other worlds were created from other parts of the paramatman’s anatomy.

(There are a few more verses on the paramatman which we skip.)

The Nakshatras

I sing the praise of the nakshatras that decorate heaven. They are always on the move, but they never decay. They are the swift ones who destroy all evil. For die sake of divine happiness, I sing the praise of these constant stars.

O Agni! I pray so that the nakshatras Krittika and Rohini may grant me happiness. May the nakshatra Mrigashira ensure my welfare and may the nakshatra Ardra grant me peace. Punarvasu nakshatra will increase my happiness and Pushya nakshatra will develop my power of speech. May the nakshatras Ashlesha and Magha manifest themselves and elevate me.

May the two nakshatras known as Purva Falguni lead me along the righteous path. (The two nakshatras are actually named Purva Falguni and Uttara Falguni.) May the nakshatras Hasta and Chitra bring me welfare. Svati nakshatra will grant me happiness and the nakshatras Radha and Vishakha will listen to my prayers. The nakshatras Anuradha, Jyeshtha and Mula will preserve me from all manner of destruction.

The nakshatra Purva Ashada will grant me food grains and the nakshatra Uttara Ashada will grant me strength. The nakshatra Abhijit will ensure that I am always righteous. I pray to the nakshatras Shravana and Shravishtha so that I may be nourished.

Shatabhisha is a great nakshatra and will grant me riches. The two nakshatras that are known as Proshthapada will ensure my happiness. The nakshatras Revati and Ashvayuga will grant me riches and Bharani nakshatra will ensure my prosperity.

(Traditionally, there are twenty-seven nakshatras spread along the line of the Zodiac. Their names are Ashvini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigashira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashlesha, Magha, Purva Falguni, Uttara Falguni, Hasta, Chitra, Svati, Vishakha, Anuradha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purva Ashada, Uttara Ashada, Shravana, Dhanishtha, Shatabhisha, Purva Bhadrapada, Uttara Bhadrapada and Revati.

When Abhijit is included as well, the number of nakshatras increases to twenty-eight. The list of nakshatras given above is however twenty-nine. Ashvayuga is obviously Ashvini, Shravishtha is Dhanishtha, and Proshthapada is Bhadrapada. The extra nakshatra turns out to be Radha.)

The nakshatras can be seen in heaven, in the atmosphere, in the water, on earth, in mountain ranges and in the various directions. The moon enjoys them one by one. May all these nakshatras bring me welfare and happiness.

(The moon progessively passes through each of these nakshatras in the sky. According to legends, the moon is also married to the nakshatras.)

Let the twenty-eight nakshatras ensure my welfare and happiness. May they be united with me. I pray to them, night and day.

May the time of sunset ensure my welfare. May dawn bring me happiness. May evening also bring me happiness. May the day make me happy. May all animals and birds be happy. O Agni! Let these, prayers ensure happiness. You are the immortal one. Be pleased and come here.

O Savita! You are the lord of everything. May I never suffer from vanity, strife, slander, hatred and disease. May my pots never be empty.

May sin keep its distance. May 1 always eat food that is pure. O sin!

You will be insulted. We are the ones that tread along the righteous path.

O Brahmanaspati! The winds blow in various directions. O Indra! Make the winds blow along the proper paths. May they bring us happiness.

May our welfare be ensured. May we know freedom from fear. I pray to the day and to the night.

Peace

May heaven grant peace. May the earth grant peace. May the wide atmosphere grant peace. May the waves on the water grant peace. May the herbs bring us peace.

May the acts that we have performed, and the acts we are yet to perform, grant peace. May the past and the future grant peace. May everything that there is bring us peace.

The goddess of learning resides in the most sacred of places. Her energy enables her to perform terrible deeds. May she grant us peace.

We possess five senses. The mind is like a sixth sense and is located in the heart. It is energised * through the power of learning and can perform wonderful deeds. May all these senses grant us peace.

May Mitra bring us happiness. May Varuna bring us happiness. May Vishnu and Prajapati bring us happiness. May Indra, Brihaspati and Aryama grant us peace.

Mitra and Varuna will grant us peace. Vivasvan will grant us peace. The one who is the destroyer will grant us peace. The impediments that are there on earth and in the atmosphere will grant us peace. The planets which travel in heaven will grant us peace.

The earth will grant us peace. The meteors which have fallen on earth will grant us peace. Cows which yield milk as red as blood will grant us peace. The ground which is cracked and parched will grant us peace.

Stars which have been flung out by meteors will grant us peace. The invasion of the ememies will grant us peace. The acts of assassins will grant us peace. All violent deeds will be pacified and will grant us peace. Bad omens will grant us peace.

The moon and the planets will grant us peace. The sun will grant us peace. Comets and death will grant us peace. The terrible Rudra will grant us peace.

The Vasus will grant us peace. The Adityas will grant us peace. Agni will grant us peace. All the gods and the sages will grant us peace. Brihaspati will grant us peace.

Brahma, Prajapati, Dhata and all the worlds will lead us on the path to happiness. The four Vedas will lead us on the path to happiness. The seven great sages will lead us on the path to happiness. Agni will lead us on the

path to happiness. Indra and Brahma will grant us happiness. All the gods will grant us happiness.

The seven great sages know about all that is peaceful in the universe. May they instruct us on the way to attain peace. May we be peaceful. May we know freedom from fear.

The earth will grant us peace, the atmosphere will grant us peace; heaven will grant us peace. Water will grant us peace. The herbs and the trees will grant us peace. May all the gods grant us peace. Let there be peace everywhere; let the universe be full of peace. May all that is violent, cruel and terrible be banished. May all the sin be banished and may everything be peaceful. May there be welfare everywhere. May there be peace everywhere.

There are more suktas on peace in this kanda. There are prayers for obtaining protection and freedom from fear. Some suktas are devoted to charms and prayers to specific gods. There are prayers for removing ailments and bad dreams. But we move on to kanda twenty.

Kanda twenty is the last kanda of the Atharva Veda Samhita. Although It contains a few suktas addressed to Agni, Surya, the Maruts and Brihaspati, the bulk of the suktas In this kanda are devoted to Indra.

Kanda Twenty

Indra

O Indra! You are the one who is strong. We have extracted soma juice for your sake. We call upon you to come and drink this sweet juice.

O Maruts! You are as powerful and valiant as heaven itself. Protect our houses and our places of sacrifice so that we become invincible. You are the protectors.

We pray to the great god Agni. The grain that has been carted by bulls is his food. The milk and clarified butter that has been obtained from cows are his food. It is to the learned Agni that oblations of soma juice are offered. It is for him that out hymns are chanted.

We are like the grandsons of Indra. We have recited beautiful hymns and prepared soma juice according to the rites of the season. May the Maruts come here and drink the soma juice that we have offered.

We have lit the fire of the sacrifice. We have recited excellent mantras.

Let Agni come here and drink the soma juice we have offered.

The soma Juice has been prepared according to the rites of the season. Beautiful hymns have been chanted. Let Indra and Brahma come and drink the soma juice.

The soma Juice has been extracted according to the rites of the season. Beautiful hymns have been chanted. May the god of all riches come and drink the soma Juice.

O Indra! Come here. It is for you that this juice has been extracted. Drink the soma juice that we have offered. And be seated on the throne we have reserved for you.

O Indra! Your steeds have long hair and are learned. May they bring you here to the sacrifice. Come close and listen to the hymns we are chanting.

O Indra! Our learned priests are offering this soma juice on the occasion of the sacrifice. You are the drinker of the soma juice. You are the wielder of the vajra. We are summoning you so that you may come here.

O Indra! You are the one who is dressed in beautiful clothing. We are the ones who have extracted the soma juice. Come to us. Listen to the prayers we are chanting. Drink the juice we have offered.

O Indra! We sprinkle the soma juice on your lap. Let the soma juice course down your body and please you. Taste the sweet soma juice with your tongue.

You are the one who grants myriad gifts. May you find this soma juice to be sweet. May your body find this soma Juice to be sweet. May this soma juice bring peace to your heart.

O Indra! You are the skilled performer of wonderous deeds. This soma juice has been mixed with the milk of cows. May it unite with you the way a wife is united with her husband.

Indra is the one who possesses a strong neck. Indra is the one with a rotund stomach, thick with fat. Indra is the possessor of strong arms. This soma juice will inspire Indra to kill the demon Vritra.

O Indra! Advance. Through your powers you have become the lord of the universe. You are the destroyer of the demon Vritra. Kill the demons.

O Indra! You hold a rod in your hand and you use this to grant riches to your devotees. May the rod be long. Grant riches to the devotees who are performing this sacrifice.

O Indra! This soma juice has been extracted for you. It has been strained and kept on a seat. Run and come here. Drink the soma juice.

You are the one who possesses powerful cows. You are the one who is worshipped by those who are powerful. You are the one who vanquishes all enemies. O Indra! It is for your pleasure that this soma juice has been prepared. It is you who are being summoned to the sacrifice.

O Indra! You are as strong as a homed bull. Your strength never wanes. Your strength never diminishes. Yours are the one who preserves and protects. I use your power to stabilise and pacify my mind.

O Indra! You are the strong one. After preparing the soma juice, we are calling upon you. Come and drink the tasty soma juice.

You are the one who is praised by many. You are the one who provides the inspiration for action. May you desire the soma juice. May it satiate you once you have drunk it. May the soma Juice make you strong.

O Indra! You are the one who has been praised. You are the lord of all the subjects. Our sacrifice has been blessed with riches. Come with all the gods and increase the glory of our sacrifice.

O Indra! You are the one who preserves those who are righteous. This is the shining soma juice that has been extracted. It bring pleasure. May this soma juice be able to reach you.

O Indra! This soma juice is worthy of being accepted. Fill your stomach with this juice. This is the soma juice that can be found in heaven. It belongs to you.

O Indra! You are the one who deserves to be worshipped. Drink the juice that we have prepared. It is this sweet juice that spurs you to all movement. It is you who will grant us fame.

May Indra grant unlimited riches to his devotees. May he who drinks soma juice attain greatness.

O Indra! You are the destroyer of the demon Vritra. Come to us, be you for or near. Accept the offerings we have made and listen to our prayers.

O Indra! We call upon you, be you far or near. We call upon you from the innermost recesses of our being. Come to us.

O Surya! You are prosperous and as strong as a bull. Rise so that Indra may come here. Indra is the one who brings welfare to mankind. He is the skilful wielder of the vajra.

Indra is the one who destroys enemies through his strength. Indra is the one who demolishes the fortresses of the enemies. Indra is the one who killed the snake Vritra.

Indra is like a friend to us and he will ensure our welfare He will grant us horses, cows, grain and riches. He will ensure that our cows yield a plentiful supply of milk.

O Indra! You have drunk the soma juice earlier. Drink it again. May this juice bring you pleasure. Listen to the hymns and prayers we are chanting. May they increase your power. Manifest the sun and grant us food grains. O Indra! Destroy our enemies. Make the rays of the sun radiate out.

Come here. You are the one who desires the soma juice. The juice is ready. Drink it and be pleased. The strong one has been summoned. He will fill his stomach with soma juice. He will listen to our prayers like a father listens to his son.

The pot of soma juice is full. It is being offered to you according to the prescribed rites. This pot of soma juice is for your pleasure. May the soma juice surround Indra from the four directions.

There are many more suktas addressed to Indra. But this sample will suffice.

With the end of kanda twenty, we also come to the end of the Atharva Veda Samhita. As you will have realised, there are many parts that we have skipped. We have only been able to give you a limited idea of what there is in the Atharva Veda. You will probably also have realised that there are many parts where alternative interpretations are possible.

The Atharva Veda is not very straightforward and our interpretations need not necessarily be the correct ones. If you have been stimulated, this is reason enough for you to read the entire Atharva Veda in the original.

What do you think?

Written by Mukund Kapoor

I'm Mukund Kapoor, a reader, thinker, and self-taught writer. Welcome to Mukund Kapoor's blog. I love to write about Spirituality, Success and Self-improvement. I sincerely hope my articles help you find the answers you're looking for, and I wish you a pleasant voyage over the vast expanse of existence. Wishing you all the best.

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