Translated By Bibek Debroy, Dipavali Debroy
The Yajur Veda is a sacred Hindu text that contains ancient Sanskrit mantras and hymns recited during ritual ceremonies. The other three are the Rig Veda, the Atharva Veda, and the Sama Veda; together, these four comprise the fundamental religious texts of Hinduism, known as the Vedas.
The literature is primarily aimed for Hindu priests because it details the proper technique to conduct religious rites and sacred ceremonies. Have a look at this whole English translation of the Yajur Veda, which was done by Bibek and Dipavali Debroy.
The Vedas are sacred texts. The word veda, from the word vid meaning to know, literally means knowledge. The vedas are thus texts that provide knowledge.
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.
The word trayi is also interpreted in a different sense. Although the interpretation does seem to be slightly artificial, it is the following. The three paths to salvation are believed to be those of jnana (knowledge), bhakti (devotion) and karma (action). Since the Vedas teach these three paths to salvation, they are referred to as trayi. The Rig Veda is identified with the path of knowledge, the Yajur Veda with the path of action, and the Sama Veda with the path of devotion.
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 these mantras are difficult to interpret without commentaries. This is what the brahmanas set out to do. They explain the hymns and indicate how these are to be used in sacrifices. The brahmans 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 the various Vedas.
There is thus both a narrow definition 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 Yajur Veda, we are retelling the Yajur 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 divine essence (brahman) to ancient seers (rishis). These rishis did not compose the Vedas, they 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.
In the Hindu conception of time, time is divided into four eras. These are known as satya yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga. As one moves from satya yuga towards kali yuga, the power of righteousness diminishes and evil starts to rear its ugly head. To bring men back to the righteous path, the sacred knowledge that is in the Vedas must be disseminated amongst them. But the Vedas are abstract and esoteric, too difficult for ordinary mortals to comprehend. To make the dissemination and assimilation easier, the Vedas must be conveniently partitioned and divided into various groups. A person who thus divides (vyasa) the Vedas has the title of Vedavyasa conferred on him.
In every dvapara yuga, such a Vedavyasa is born to perform this sacred task. The Vedavyasa born in the dvapara yuga that immediately preceded the present kali yuga, was Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa. It is he who is credited with having divided the original unified Vedas into the four segments of the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda. Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa did not compose the Vedas, he merely recapitulated what was already known. Incidentally, Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa is also credited with the composition of the great epic, the Mahabharata.
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., 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 Yajur 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). They carried out sacrificial rites while chanting the sacred texts and the hymns of the Yajur Veda are for this class of priests. The fourth class of priests consisted of brahmana overseers. They supervised the sacrifice and the hymns of the Atharva Veda are for this class of priests.
The Yajur Veda Samhita thus consists of formulae and verses to be uttered by the adhvaryu. These priests were mainly entrusted with manual work that had to be performed at yajnas. The liturgical Yajur Veda is partly metrical and most of this part is extracted from the hymns of the Rig Veda. The remaining part is in prose. The word yaj means to sacrifice and it is from this that the name Yajur Veda is derived.
Every Veda was taught in different shakhas (schools) and the teaching of one school often varied from that of another. According to the legend, Vedavyasa taught the four Vedas to four of his disciples. Paila was taught the Rig Veda, Vaishampayana the Yajur Veda, Jaimini the Sama Veda and Sumantu the Atharva Veda. Vaishampayana taught the Yajur Veda to twenty-seven different pupils, and over time the Yajur Veda branched off into two different schools. The first one was the Taittiriya, often referred to as the black Yajur Veda. And the second one was the Vajasaneyi, often referred to as the white Yajur Veda.
The Tattiriya Samhita is called black as it is impure. It is impure because the samhita and brahmana portions are mixed. The Vajasaneyi Samhita clearly demarcates the samhita and brahmana parts, the brahmana part being known as the Shatapatha Brahmana.
We will retell for you the Vajasaneyi Samhita. As mentioned earlier, this is partly in metrical form and partly in prose. The prose passages are known as yajus. The entire samhita consists of forty books or chapters (adhyaya).
The Gods of the Vedas
The Vedas cannot really be appreciated without some sort of an understanding of the gods of 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 were identified with Indra or Vayu, and all gods in heaven were identified 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 held that all the various gods were manifestations of the same unified supreme godhead. This monotheistic point of view can be particularly found in the Upanishads. An alternative point of view subscribed to polytheism and held that all the various gods could not be identified; they 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 became gods. 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 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 Chandrma. 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 ocean. 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. Pusha is also a manifestation of Surya. 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, sharing 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 (sacrifical fee). It was at the time of dawn that priests began sacrifices and received their fees. Chandrama is the moon-god, but is a minor 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 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 associated with 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, 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 Yajur Veda Samhita has to say.
The god Savita is the creator of all beings. May Savita grant you food grains. May he grant you strength. O men! You are the breath of life. May the great creator guide you on the path to superior action. O men! Forge ahead. May you not kill other living beings. May you set aside a share for Indra at sacrifices. May you have children and may you be free of ill health and tuberculosis. Thieves will not steal your goods and sinners will not harm you.
O Savita! Reside with the king who is performing this sacrifice. Bless him with many subjects and preserve the sacrificial beasts.
(Although the hymn is addressed to Savita, in this context, Savita probably does not mean a manifestation of Surya. The word is probably used to signify the supreme godhead (paramatman).)
You are the one who makes the vasus pure, you are heaven and earth, you are the one who makes the warmth of life flow in all living beings. You are the one who nurtures everything. May your greatness increase in the best of places. You will not be evil, nor will one who performs a sacrifice to you be evil.
(This hymn is again addressed to the paramatman. The vasus are gods and there are eight of them. The eight vasus are sometimes identified os Agni, Prithivi, Vayu, Antariksha, Aditya, Dyou, Chandrama and Nakshatra. The word aditya signifies a son of Aditi, the mother of all the gods.)
In your countless flows you make the vasus pure. Your thousand flows unite with the vasus to make them pure. O men! The one who purifies everything and the one who creates everything will also purify you. O men! Where is the kamadhenu whose milk you have drunk?
(A kamadhenu is a cow which gives whatever fruits one desires. The answer to the question of where is the kamadhenu, is given in the subsequent hymn.)
O men! You possess three kamadhenus. The first is a full life span, the second is the power to perform all actions, and the third is the energy that is the nurturer of everything. O men! You are all parts of Indra and to you too, I offer the soma juice. O Vishnu! Please protect the oblations of the sacrifice.
(The first part of this hymn may seem obscure, but the implication is the following. Some men strive for a long live, others attain fame through their actions and still others seek union with the energy that is the paramatman. The word Vishnu is probably used not with the specific god Vishnu in mind, but as a general expression for all gods.)
O Agni! You are the one who enables religious rites (vrata) to be performed. I will try to observe vratas and may I be successful in this endeavour. May my vrata be performed ond may I spurn that which is untrue and seek that which is true.
O men! Who is the one who spurs you to action? Why does he desire that this action be performed? He inspires the two of you to action so that both of you may obtain houses.
(This again is slightly obscure. Who are the two who are being addressed ? The word two refers to two types of men, the wise as opposed to the ignorant and the weak as opposed to the strong. The house seems to be a reference to heaven. Those who perform good acts attain this house quickly.)
Rakshasas (demons) have been vanquished; they have been burnt to ashes. Those who are narrow-minded have also been burnt up. Now the wide open spaces are free and I can roam at will.
O men! You have the power to destroy. Destroy assassins and killers, destroy those who bring us harm. Destroy those whom all of us wish to vanquish. You are the ones who can summon the gods with excellent oblations. You are the ones who can offer them means of transport. You are the ones who can purify the gods and make them complete.
(This hymn is to be interpreted in the sense that the gods reside in human bodies. For example, Surya is in the eyes, Chandrama in the mind, Vayu in the nose, Prithivi in the legs, and Antariksha in the navel.)
Oblations are offered in vessels. O men: May you be as straight as these vessels and may you be strong. May you be truthful and may the one who is performing the sacrifice for you also be truthful. May Vishnu descend on you and may you roam in the places frequented by Vayu. Rakshasas will keep their distance from you. The five will act as captors.
(The five is a reference to the five senses of action, knowledge, the mind, intelligence and the soul. The five senses will be controlled and will capture the divine energy.)
The god who is the root of all creation will preserve you (men). The arms of the Ashvinis will preserve you and the hands of the god Pusha will preserve you. 1 will offer the oblations that are loved by Agni, I will also offer the oblations that are loved by Soma.
Men have been created so that they may tread along superior paths. They have not been created so as to be narrow-minded. I can see the shining atman (soul). May the dwellings on earth be well-preserved, may I travel through the atmosphere at will. Men have been established at the centre of the earth. O Agni! Preserve these oblations.
The two of you are blessed with the power of the great Vishnu and with the power to purify. This universe has been made by the great creator.
I will use the rays of the sun to purify everything. O divine drops of water! You are the first one to make every object sacred. Come to this sacrifice. Bless the performer of the sacrifice with the best of metals. Make the performer of the sacrifice devoted to the gods so that he can forge forward.
(The first part of this hymn is again not very dear. Obviously, men in general are being addressed. Vishnu probably means the paramatman and the word two is used to signify Vishnu’s power and the power to purify.)
O water! Indra acknowledged your superiority at the time of killing the demon Vritra. You also acknowledged Indra’s superiority at that time. You
have been purified. 1 purify you, the beloved of Agni. I purify you, the beloved of Soma. May you become sacred so that divine tasks can be performed. May you become sacred so that sacrifices to the gods can be performed. Men who are not pure get defeated. It is for these reasons that I am purifying you.
May demons keep their distance and may narrow-minded people be banished. O men! Happiness is to be found in you. May you be free. You are like mountains covered with trees. You are like boulders. May you prosper.
O men! You are the body of Agni. You have the power to create words. I accept that in you can be found the energy of the gods. You are like mountains covered with trees. Prepare oblations so that all the gods may be satisfied. Purify the oblations and offer them in peace. You are the ones who offer oblations of food. Come here.
O men! You can conjure up sweet words. Create compositions in praise of strength and food grains. Your power will lead to the destruction of enemies. May your wisdom and knowledge increase every year. Demons will maintain their distance or be destroyed. Those who are narrow-minded will be banished. Vayu will purify you. The god Savita whose hands are covered with gold will bless you.
O men! May you have patience. O Agni! Let not those who eat meat come near us. But reside with those who worship the gods. May Agni be constant and may he make the earth prosper. Agni is the one who makes brahmanas (the priestly class), kshatriyas (the warrior class) and our kin thrive. I crave that Agni may be near me so that the evil can be killed.
O Agni! Make wisdom pervasive. You are the nurturer, nurture the atmosphere. You are the one who makes brahmanas, kshatriyas and our kin thrive. Make heaven prosper. I keep you close to me in all the four directions. You are the harbinger of our welfare and you are the one who sharpens our senses. Make us tread along superior paths. May the energy of the sages Bhrigu and Angirasa increase your energy even more.
O Agni! You are the source of all happiness. May demons and those who are narrow-minded maintain their distance. May prosperity be close to you. You are the wisdom that resides in mountains. May you be familiar with this knowledge. May you make heaven thrive.
(The concept of there being wisdom in mountains may not be very clear. In yoga (a technique of meditation), there is an identification of the human spine with a mountain range and it is thought that there is latent knowledge in the spine which needs to be progressively elevated through the meditation.)
Food grains find their expression in men. It is men who please and satisfy the gods. It is men who bear the breath of life. As a man, the divine energy courses through my body so that I may have a long life. The god Savita whose arms are adorned with gold will bless us men. The eyes and the senses of men are the source of great energy.
O men! You flourish in the creation created by the supreme godhead. You flourish in the creation that is blessed by the arms of the Ashvinis. You flourish in the creation that is blessed by the arms of Pusha. May the water be mingled with the herbs and may the herbs thrive. Let the rich and the swift live in harmony. May this universe be sweetened.
I praise men because they are the source of off-springs. The gods Agni and Soma have their presence in human bodies. Men have warmth in their bodies. They are great and may they have long lives. May their greatness increase even more. May those who perform sacrifices attain fame. Agni will not harm the skin of humans. The god Savita will take men to the highest of heavens.
O men! Do not be afraid. Do not retreat. Perform sacrifices. Let those who perform sacrifices prosper. May the three, the two, and the one make you complete.
(The three, the two, and the one requires explanation. The three basic qualities (guna) and those of truth (sattva), passion (rajas) and darkness (tamas). Sattva is identified with three, rajas with two, and tamos with one. The idea is that an admixture of these three qualities should make men complete.)
I praise men who flourish in the universe created by the supreme godhead. The greatness of men is increased through the blessings of the Ashvinis and Pusha. May men perform non-violent deeds. Men are like Indra’s right arm. Men are full of boundless energy, they can kill thousands of enemies. Men destroy those who have hatred in their hearts. Men are the breath of life.
O Prithivi! The gods are worshipping you. May the herbs which grow on you never bring me unhappiness. Make the cowsheds of cowherds prosper. May heaven bring you rains. O supreme creator! On this earth there are those who have hatred in their hearts, and those whom we hate. Bind them up in the nets and let them not escape.
I banish the evil from those places on earth where the gods are worshipped. O supreme creator! Bind the hated ones up in nets. O evil ones! You will not be able to bring grief to heaven.
O Prithivi! I chant hymns to you composed in the gayatri mantra. I chant hymns to you composed in the trishtupa metre. I chant hymns to you composed in the jagati metre. O mother earth! You grant us strength and bring us welfare. You bring us happiness and grant us the best of places to sit in. The earth is blessed with food and water.
O learned ones! Brave is he who gives up his life in a battle between two powerful foes. But braver is he who gives up his life for the sake of his motherland. Though his powers, such a person delivers up his motherland to Chandrama. May those who thus purify be near us. May they kill the ones who hate.
(Chandrama is not literally meant to signify the moon. Etymologically, the word chandrama means one who brings happiness. The sense therefore is that someone who sacrifices himself for his motherland brings happiness to his country.)
The demons have been vanquished and burnt to ashes. The narrow- minded ones have been vanquished and burnt to ashes. The vast and open spaces are now free. Men are strong like sharp weapons. Men are the swords which destroy enemies. I purify the power that is in men.
O men! You are like the clothing of independence. You are the dwelling-house of the supreme creator. I praise you for the sake of food grains and strength. I look upon you with my eyes. You are like the tongue of Agni. You will welcome the gods to the sacrifices held in every household.
This universe has been created by the supreme godhead. I purify all men with the rays of the sun. Men are energy and valour. Men are immortal like the place where a sacrifice is held. Men are beloved of the gods.
This concludes Adhyaya one. We will now skip a few chapters and move on to Adhyaya five.
O Soma! You ore the body of Agni. I worship you because you are the beloved of the paramatman. I pray to Soma because Soma is the beloved of Vishnu. O Soma! You are the one who pleases and satisfies guests. You yourself are like Vishnu, the lord of all riches.
Soma is the source of Agni. Soma is the source of all strength. O Soma! You are life. You are Urvashi and Pururava. I churn you to the chanting of hymns composed in the gayatri, trishtupa and Jagati metres.
(Pururava was the grandson of Chandrama and Urvashi was an apsara (dancer) from heaven. The Vedas and Puranas have references to the love affair between the King Pururava and the celestial nymph Urvashi. Scholars have interpreted this union in a naturalistic sense. That is, Pururava has been identified with the Sun and Urvashi with the dawn.
Urvashi also means someone who controls every object and this is probably the sense in which the word should be interpreted in the context of the hymn. Similarly, Pururava means someone who can converse well. That is, the drinking of the soma juice confers the power to converse well.)
O Agni! May you be concentrated and constant, may you not flicker. Do not destroy the sacrifice and make sure that the performer of the sacrifice prospers. On this day, we desire that you will bring us welfare.
O Agni! Preserve those who are performing the sacrifice. May Agni merge into the ahavaniya fire. You are the son of the sages. O Agni! Bring us the happiness and carry our oblations to the gods. I offer these oblations to you.
(You will remember of course that ahavaniya agni is the fire into which oblations are offered. Why should Agni be referred to as the son of the sages? The word that is used for son is putra. Etymologically, the word putra signifies a person who delivers one from the hell (naraka) named put. The sense therefore is that Agni delivers the sages from hell.)
I worship the Agni who is the lord of everything. I worship the Agni who is as beloved to me as a grandson. 1 worship the Agni who is strong and powerful and always mobile. Agni has so far never been maligned by anybody, nor will Agni ever be maligned. Agni increases the strength of the gods; he deserves all praise. May Agni protect us from performing tasks that bring disrepute. Let Agni rise up straight and attain the best of places.
We are performing the sacrifice in accordance with the prescribed rites. May Agni make our sacrifice a success.
O Agni! You are the one who permits religious rites (vrata) to be performed. May your body merge with mine. May we always be close together. May my initiation into the world of learning (diksha) be a success. May I attain powers.
O Soma of the divine powers! May you be offered to Indra and may you increase Indra’s wisdom. Bring riches and wisdom to all my friends. O shining Soma! May you prosper. Grant me the boon that I may be able to successfully complete my sacrifice. Grant me riches and show me the path that leads to the truth. I worship all those who are fit to be worshipped in heaven and on earth.
O Agni! Your energy can be found in iron. You are the one who grants the gods the objects of their desire. You are the one who makes the demons live in terrible places and you are the one who robs them of their harsh words. I dedicate this sacrifice to your body. O Agni! Your energy can be found in silver. O Agni! Your energy can be found in gold. I dedicate this body to your sacrifice.
O Agni! You bring us warmth and riches. Preserve me in the course of this sacrifice. I acknowledge you to be the fire that is there in the sky. I acknowledge you to be the fire that is in my body. I acknowledge you to be the fire that grants us long lives. You are present on earth at all sacrifices. You are never maligned. O Agni! Since you are in the sky, I hail you by the name of Nabha. (Nabha means the sky.) Since you are in my body, I hail you by the name of Angirasa. (Anga means part of the anatomy). From the atmosphere you descend to the place of the sacrifice. I establish you on the occasion of the sacrifice. O earth! I also acknowledge your supremacy so that I may please the gods.
O earth! May you be like a lioness and may you defeat the enemies.
May you ensure the welfare of the gods. May you be pure.
Indra and the eight Vasus will protect the earth towards the east. Varuna and the eleven Rudras will protect the earth towards the west. The ancestors (pitris) will protect the earth towards the south. Vishvakarma and the twelve Adityas will protect the earth towards the north. I offer this sanctified water with this wish.
(The Vasus are gods and there are believed to be eight such gods. Rudra is sometimes referred to as a single god, and at other times, there are said to be eleven different Rudras. Vishvakarma is regarded as the architect of the gods, but in the Vedas, he is often referred to as the creator of the universe. That is, he is identified with the supreme godhead. The word Aditya signifies a son of Aditi, the mother of the gods. Gods are thus generally referred to as Adityas. Specifically, there were twelve Adityas, each such Aditya being a manifestation of Surya. For each of the twelve months, there was one Aditya.)
O earth! You destroy the demons through your valour. You are like a lioness. I offer these oblations to you; please accept them. You are the fount of all wisdom; 1 offer these oblations to you. You are the one who grants good subjects, riches and prosperity. Accept these offerings and bring the gods to this sacrifice. Bless all beings who are born.
May the earth be still. May the atmosphere be still. May the heaven be still. Let not anything in the universe move. That is my wish.
Those who are learned attain wisdom by observing others who are learned. They concentrate their minds and seek the path of yoga. They control their intelligence and perform righteous deeds. The learned sing the praise of the paramatman and may this praise be glorified. May oblations be offered for the pleasure of the paramatman.
Vishnu bore this universe. He placed one step on earth, a second step in the atmosphere and a third step in heaven. Vishnu is omnipresent; he encompasses the universe. Oblations are offered to the great godhead.
(The word Vishnu is here used synonymously with the paramatman. There is an associated legend in the Puranas whereby Vishnu traversed the universe in three of his footsteps. This took place on the occasion of the sacrifice organised by the demon-king Vali and relates to the story of Vishnu’s dwarf (vamana) incarnation.)
O Dyavaprithivi! You bring about the welfare of men by providing them with food grains and cows. O omnipresent paramatman! You have divided Dyavaprithivi into the sky and the earth. You protect the earth through your rays. I offer these oblations to you.
O men! Announce this message in all assemblies of learned people. Make it be known that it is nonviolent deeds that should be performed. Advance towards the east, the direction where the sun rises. Observe
sacrifices and perform righteous deeds. Do not retreat and do not perform acts of ill repute. Do not perform destructive deeds. Establish your cowsheds in the best of places. Do not do that which impairs one’s long life. Make sure that the subjects prosper. And dwell in those places on earth that bring one happiness.
I do not have words to describe the glory of the paramatman. It is he who created the earth, the atmosphere and heaven. His power manifests itself in these three worlds. May his fame spread and may he dwell in the best of places.
O Vishnu! (Vishnu again means the paramatman) Take pity on us. Bring us objects from heaven so that we may be fulfilled. May objects from the atmosphere bring us happiness. May we be fulfilled through objects received from the earth. O supreme godhead! Bring us happiness from the right and from the left. It is to you that we pray through this sacrifice.
The paramatman is like a terrible lion that dwells in the mountain. Such is his valour. His acts deserve praise. It is through the paramatman’s grace that living beings get to dwell in the three worlds.
The glory of the paramatman is pervasive. It is Vishnu who makes this universe constant and controls its expanse. Sentient or not, all objects in the universe were created by the paramatman. It is for that great creator that we perform this sacrifice.
It is to please the great Savita that I make offerings. I make offerings to the Ashvinis and to Pusha with my two arms. May Savita come to my aid. May I be able to chop off the heads of the demons with my acts. O men! You are capable of speech. Chant hymns in praise of Indra.
(In this hymn, Savita is being used as a synonym for the paramatman. Pusha is a manifestation of Surya).
O learned men! I vanquish demons through my valour and spread the glory of the paramatman. May you also do the same. May your servants also do the same. May you also attain the wisdom that I have attained.
O men! You have been created so that you may perform righteous deeds and defeat your enemies. You have been created so that you may perform sacrifices and kill the insolent. Destroy evil demons and preserve those who are righteous and learned.
O men! You destroy the evil ones and you worship the omnipresent paramatman. It is for this reason that you are sacred. May I vanquish the soldiers of my enemies and may I protect the devotees of the paramatman. May my wisdom increase and may I learn the knowledge that teaches of the glory of Vishnu. May all of us become devotees of the great paramatman.
O Savita! For your pleasure I acknowledge the supremacy of the Ashvinis and of Pusha. May you make me great. May I perform righteous deeds and behead the demons. You are ever youthful. Please ensure that enemy cohorts maintain their distance. I sanctify you for the welfare of heaven. I sanctify you for the welfare of the atmosphere. I sanctify you for the welfare of the earth. I sanctify you for the welfare of the place where the ancestors dwell.
O men! Make heaven lofty. (Heaven is already lofty. The sense is that, be as high as heaven by performing good deeds). Make the atmosphere vast. (Be as vast as the atmosphere through your deeds.) Make the earth firm. (Be as firm as the earth in your actions). May the god Vayu bring you righteousness. May Mitra and Varuna protect you. Be blessed with wisdom, strength and riches. May you have long lives and may your children prosper.
O wives of those who are performing sacrifices! Bring your children and your cows to the place of the sacrifice. Make the sacrifice a success with your husbands. Offer clarified butter at the sacrifice and fulfil the sky and the earth. O women who perform sacrifices! You are like Indra’s shadow; you shelter the world and bring it happiness.
O Indra! You are the one who deserves praise. I sing your glory through my hymns. The aged are praised for their learning. Such is your wisdom that you are the oldest of them all. All praise to you.
Men will be like ropes that bind Indra; they will attain his proximity. Men will obtain Indra’s friendship. In men will be found Indra’s strength; in them will be found the strength of all the gods.
Agni is everywhere. It is Agni’s flames that enable us to perform wonderous deeds. Agni is our friend. He is the bearer (vahana) of our oblations (havya) and he is thus known as Havyavahana. Agni is the source of all wisdom. In him is found the knowledge (veda) of the universe (vishva) and he is thus known as Vishvaveda.
O Agni! You are handsome and learned. You deliver us from sin. You protect us from our enemies. You are sacred and you purify everyone. Blaze forth. You purify the priest who has become thin in body as a result of performing this arduous sacrifice. You bring us welfare and you kill the abductors. O Agni! You are sacred because you carry our oblations to their destinations. You are radiant. You are powerful. You are truth itself.
O paramatman! You are as vast as the ocean. You are omnipresent and you have no origin. The universe is gathered near your feet. You do not wither away. You are the first and the foremost. You are the speech; you are the source of divine wealth. You are like the door which opens a sacrifice. May you protect us from all misery. You rule over the righteous path; guide us along it. May we perform good deeds and may our welfare be ensured.
O powerful Agni! We pray to you so that you may look upon us as a friend. You are the one who deserves praise. Protect us through your flaming tongue. May Agni preserve us. We bow down in obeisance before him. Do not lead to our destruction.
O Soma! In you can be found the forms of all the gods. You are like a lamp which lights up their presence. You punish those who bear hatred towards us in their hearts. You destroy the evil demons. We offer these oblations to you. Be powerful and accept these offerings. May the pleasant Soma accept the clarified butter that we have offered.
O paramatman! You light up the entire universe. In you can be found all the divine qualities. You are the source of all wisdom. You are the one who knows the secret of the righteous path. Guide us along that path and make our sacrifice a success. May we attain the fruits that we desire. May we obtain riches. Remove all impediments and sin from the path of the sacrifice. We chant these words in your praise.
Agni will grant us riches. Agni will lead us when we scatter our enemies in battle. Agni will bring us triumph over our foes. Agni will grant us food grains. Agni will accept our offerings.
O paramatman! You are the supreme godhead. Remove our enemies and remove all our vices. Make us prosper and make us great. We offer these offerings of clarified butter in your name; accept our offerings and thrive. May they prosper who make offerings to you.
O Savita! This soma juice is being offered to you, preserve it. May no one bring harm to this soma juice. O Soma! You are blessed with divine
qualities; bring the gods here to our sacrifice. I summon the gods here for the prosperity and well-being of all mankind. We make these offerings to the gods. May Varuna look upon us with favour.
O Agni! You are the one who ensures that religious rites are properly performed. You will ensure the success of our rites. Your presence can be found in our bodies, which are port of your being. The paramatman will look upon our religious acts with favour.
O Vishnu! You are the paramatman, you are like the ahavaniya fire. Display your valour when you fight with our enemies and with our vices. Make us great so that we may get to reside in heaven. Accept the offerings of clarified butter that we have made. Make the one who is performing a sacrifice prosper. These offerings are for you.
O god who created the trees! (This seems to be addressed to the paramatman). You shun evil people and are dose to those who are learned. May I also keep company with learned people. May I attain your proximity. The learned wish to be dose to you. That is my wish as well. The learned desire your presence at sacrifices made for the gods. That is my desire as well. Preserve the herbs and protect us. May disease not bring us harm. Please ensure that our sacrifice is a success. May we be wise.
O god who created the trees! Preserve all objects in heaven and preserve all objects in the atmosphere. Be like a friend to the earth. This axe is indeed sharp. We will use it to chop wood for the sacrifice. Stay at the place of the sacrifice for a hundred years. Bring a thousand riches to us.
This concludes Adhyaya five. We will again skip a few chapters and move on to Adhyaya ten.
The gods have accepted the water that is sweet and strong. This water stirs the senses and grants the power to rule. It is this water that is used for the coronation of the gods Mitra and Varuna. It is this water that is used for the coronation of Indra, the destroyer of enemies. May the gods accept this offering of water.
O water! You increase our strength and wisdom. You grant us kingdoms. Please grant us kingdoms that are ruled through truth. You bring us happiness. Grant us kingdoms and grant kingdoms also to others who desire such a boon. O water! Countless soldiers accompany you. Grant us kingdoms to the sound of sweet words.
O water! You are the one who tries to bring us riches. You are also the one who gives us kingdoms. Grant me kingdoms according to the proper rites. Grant kingdoms to brave warriors who deserve such gifts. I am powerful and valiant, therefore grant me kingdoms. Grant kingdoms to those who possess many soldiers. Those who can rule over the water are those who deserve to be kings.
O kings! Our radiance is like that of the sun. It is we who deserve to be kings and obtain kingdoms. I will bring happiness to the kingdoms I get, I will rule over them through the ways of truth. All the subjects will thrive in bliss. Kingdoms will go to those who worship the paramatmcm. Kingdoms will go to those who preserve cows and other animals. I deserve kingdoms as I will follow the path of truth. I deserve kingdoms as I am strong and powerful.
May I be like the one who brings prosperity to the universe, may I be as radiant as that great one. I offer these oblations to Agni, to Soma, to Savita, to Sarasvati, to Pusha, to Brihaspati, to Indra, to the gods who rule over the power of sound, to the gods who create ripples in the water, to the gods who area ted good deeds (punya), and sin (paap), and to the omnipresent Aryama. I offer these oblations for the sake of riches.
O subjects! May you be righteous and pure. May you be devoted to the supreme godhead and may you please him through your good deeds. May you be free from all sin and populate this great universe. May you make righteousness spread throughout this world. May you be as pure as the water that rises up when it is heated by the rays of the sun. O subjects! Do not deviate from the righteous path. Please one another and be like friends through your sweet words. Study the sacred knowledge and perform meditation. It is through your deeds that kingdoms prosper.
Water is the source of all happiness. It is powerful and makes us perform good deeds. It is not impaired by the acts of our enemies. The subjects build houses and the king rules over his subjects with as much purity as can be found in the energy of Agni when it is manifested in the water.
O kings! You are the receptacles of valour. You are the source of valour. You are the fulcrum of brave deeds. You are like the strength of Indra himself. Mitra and Varuna possess wonderful weapons. These weapons will stay with you and enable you to vanquish your foes. They will
help you to break down the fortresses of your enemies. You are like arrows that bring misery to your foes. You are the ones who rule in truth. O brave warriors! Be in the forefront of battle and protect the king. Protect him from the front, protect him from the back, and protect him from the sides. Protect him in all the four directions.
Let all men protect the one who observes sacrifices. Let the Agni who presides over the household protect him, let Indra, the performer of wonderous deeds, know him well. Let Mitra and Varuna, the protectors of proper rites, be close to him. Let him be known by the omniscient Pusha and let him be protected by heaven and earth. The mother of the gods is the source of great happiness. Let her protect him as well.
The snakes have evil natures; may they be destroyed. O men! Move towards the east. The gayatri mantra, the sama hymns and the spring season will protect you and bring you joy in the form of riches.
O men! Move towards the south. The trishtupa metre, the sama hymns and the summer season will protect you and bring you joy in the form of riches.
O men! Move towards the west. The jagati metre, the sama hymns and the monsoon season will protect you and bring you joy in the form of riches.
O men! Move towards the north. The anushtupa metre, the sama hymns and the autumn season will protect you and bring you joy in the form of riches.
O men! Advance upwards. The pamkti metre, the sama hymns and the winter season will protect you and bring you joy in the form of riches. May those who do not forsake sinful ways, be beheaded.
May I be prosperous, strong and valiant. May I be freed from the cycle of birth and death. May I be radiant. May I be protected from death.
O Mitral O Varuna! The two of you are as radiant as gold and as prosperous as kings. You are the ones who rise to make Usha manifest and to spread the glory of Surya and Chandrama. O Mitra! O Varuna! Ascend your chariots and come. Make large kingdoms and small ones flourish through your advice. O Mitra! You are the benefactor. O Varuna! You are capable of repulsing all enemies.
O king! I crown you so that you may shine like Chandrama. I crown you so that you may be as radiant as Agni. I crown you so that you may be as strong as Indra. May you rule over all kshatriyas (the warrior class). O king! May you triumph over all impediments that come in the way of your subjects and may you rule over them well.
O gods! Bring power and valour to this deserving king. Bring him great kingdoms so that he may rule like Indra. Let him be crowned so that he may vanquish all his enemies. Let the son of such and such parents be crowned so that he may rule over his subjects. O such and such subjects! This is your king, and also the king of us brahmanas (the priestly class).
(Obviously the douse such and such would be replaced by the appropriate name as the occasion warranted.)
The water that is in mountain streams flows down the backs of the mountains. Like that, the water used for the coronation flows down the king’s back. From above and from below, this king is sprinkled with water so that he may never be killed. O earth! You will be the place where the fame of this king will spread. O atmosphere! His valour will spread to you. O heaven! You will also learn of the glory of this king.
O Rudra! You rule over subjects. You are alone the lord of all objects; they have no other lord. Grant us the fruits for the sake of which we are making these oblations to you. The one who is performing the sacrifice is the son of such and such and the father of such and such. But we acknowledge you to be our father. With your aid we will perform righteous deeds and attain wealth. O Rudra! You are the one who can destroy everyone. You are the one who deserves to be worshipped in every household. I make these offerings to you; may you accept them.
O men! May you be like Indra’s vajra. May you be blessed by the gods Mitra and Varuna. May you not suffer violence at the hands of your enemies. May you triumph over your foes through your valour.
O Indra! You wield the vajra in you hand. You swiftly defeat all your enemies. You are prosperous and you are the receptacle of all divine qualities. You drive in a chariot to which excellent and well-trained horses are harnessed. May we never be separated from you and may we never become atheists.
I offer these oblations to Agni who is present in every household. I offer these oblations to Soma, whose presence can be detected in all the
trees. I offer these oblations to the valorous Maruts. I offer these oblations to the brave Indra. O motherland! May you preserve me from all destruction and may I never bring you grief.
You are the performer of all righteous deeds. You are the protector of all the subjects. You dwell in the atmosphere, but are the lord of all beings. You are worshipped by those who make oblations into the fire. You make your seat on the earth and are welcomed like a guest in every household. You are present in every kingdom; you are present in the bodies of our leaders. You are based in truth and you are the protector. You are the origin of water and you are the source of true wisdom. In you can be found the strength that does not wane. You grant strength to men and you are the greatest of the great.
(It is not entirely clear to whom this and some of the succeeding hymns are addressed. They are probably addressed to Agni).
You are indeed great; you are like life itself. Grant me a long life. You are energy itself; grant me energy. You are the performer of all righteous deeds. You are like strength itself; grant me strength. O Mitra and Varuna! You are like the two arms of the great Indra. May you be close to Indra.
You bring happiness. You provide the strength that preserves kingdoms. Be seated on this throne and rule over this kingdom.
The best of kings makes his subjects prosper. He performs good deeds and makes the kingdom thrive. He rules in all fairness.
O god! You are capable of defeating all your enemies. May the five directions bring you bliss. You are strong and learned. You are the god who created righteousness. You are the valorous Varuna. You are the strong Indra who rules over his subjects. You are the Rudra who brings happiness. You permit wonderful deeds to be performed and you bring welfare. You are the lord of all prosperity. You are like Indra’s vajra. Bring us happiness.
Let this powerful king be the leader. Let him perform the duties of a king and preserve his subjects the way Agni preserves righteous deeds. Let the king’s valour increase through truthfulness. O king! You have been blessed with various forms of prosperity. May you be as powerful as the rays of the sun. May the brave warriors of the kingdom preserve the king in their midst.
I advance along the best of paths through the blessings of ten gods. First is Savita of the divine qualities. He is the source of all riches. Second
is Prajapati, the ruler of all forms. Third is Pusha, the lord of all animals. Fourth is Vakpati, the lord of the Vedas and of all knowledge. Fifth is Indra, who rules over kings. Sixth is the brave Varuna. Seventh is Agni, the source of all energy. Eighth is Soma, in whom can be found all the traits of a king. Ninth is Vishnu, in whom can be found all qualities. And the tenth is the god who rules over words.
O men! May you be as learned and wise as Surya and Chandrama. May your words be full of knowledge. May you make your country prosper for the sake of your king. May you be strong and may you be the performers of righteous deeds. May you worship the gods and may you be blessed with all the desirable qualities. May you pray to the paramatman through yoga.
O learned ones! Through your deeds you have attained the proximity of the prosperous Ashvinis. Your words are full of wisdom and you will attain riches. Those who dwell in you country will prosper. Prepare food for those who are aged. Farmers carefully separate the chaff from the grain. Like that, separate out evil deeds from righteous ones. Perform good deeds. Protect the righteous and destroy the evil.
O Ashvinis! You bring welfare to all of mankind. Indra is the destroyer of the demon Namuchi. It is you who aided Indra in this task. It is you who drank the sweet soma juice.
O Indra! The two Ashvinis aided you in your task. They protected you the way parents protect their sons. O Indra! You drank the soma juice after defeating the demon Namuchi. It is then that Sarasvati pleased you with her words.
This concludes Adhyaya ten. Let us now move on to Adhyaya fifteen.
O omniscient Agni! You are acquainted with all objects. Destroy all our enemies. Protect us from enemies who have not yet emerged. Do not forsake us, but grant us boons with a benevolent heart. May we be blessed with the happiness that your bounties will confer. May we be saved from the radiance of your energy.
O Agni! You are omniscient. Destroy our enemies from all the directions. Destroy even those enemies who have not yet been created. You have the best of minds, advise us on the righteous path. May we be strong in every respect, may all our enemies be destroyed.
The words of these hymns are blessed with all the arts. These hymns will bring us riches. The words of these hymns have in them all forms of strength. These hymns will bring us strength. These hymns will make Agni blaze brighter. They will bring all the gods to us. These hymns are the refuge of those who are strong and valiant. May these hymns bring the devotees immense prosperity.
In speed there is joy. In superiority there is joy. In happiness there is joy. There is joy in enveloping all the directions. There is joy in covering all objects. In the power of the mind there is joy. In vast expanses there is joy. In water there is joy. In the ocean there is joy. In poetry there is joy. In metres there is joy.
(This may seem obscure. In fact, the sense of the hymn is that in metres (chhanda) there is joy. Eighteen different metres are mentioned by name, some of which can be interpreted in the literal senses given above. The names of these eighteen metres are eva, variva, shambhu, paribhu, acchata, mana, vyacha, sindhu, samudra, sariram, kakupa, trikakupa, kavya, ankupa, aksharapamkti, podapamkti, vishtarapamkti and shurabhraja.)
O that which grants us the fruits we desire! I bear in mind the food grains that sustain the body and revere you. I bear in mind the water that sustains the body and revere you. I bear in mind the night and revere you. I bear in mind the day and revere you. I bear in mind the vast heaven and revere you. I bear in mind the earth where chariots travel and revere you.
I bear in mind the noisy wind and revere you. I bear in mind the atmosphere where ghosts and demons dwell and revere you. I bear in mind the food which can be eaten and revere you. I bear in mind the flaming fire and revere you. I bear in mind the power of speech and revere you. I bear in mind the circle of energy and revere you. I bear in mind my childhood and revere you.
I bear in mind hunger and revere you. I bear in mind the heaven which grants riches and revere you. I bear in mind the illusions created by solar rays and revere you. I bear in mind the sacrifices which yield knowledge and revere you. I bear in mind my ignorance and revere you. I bear in mind atheism and revere you. I bear in mind pits and stones and revere you.
(This hymn also seems to be exceedingly obscure. But the sense again is that various metres yield joy. Twenty-two different metres are intended and their names are acchata, pracchata, samyata, viyata, vrihata,
rathantara, nikaya, vivadha, gira, bhraja, samstupa, anushtupa, eva, variva, vaya, vayaskrita, vishpardha, vishala, chhadi, durohana, tandra and amkadanka. Some of these metres can be interpreted in the literal senses given above.)
O men! Be energetic in the pursuit of truth so that truth may be preserved. Use your learning to follow the path of righteousness so that righteousness may be preserved. Forge ahead energetically so that heaven may be pleased. Maintain non-violence and preserve the atmosphere. Make sure that food grains grow in abundance and please the earth. Know the monsoon that gives rise to rains. Know the day and know the night. Please the Vasus who have human welfare in their hearts. Learn of the Adityas through your wisdom and please them.
O men! Use the food grains to preserve your bodies. Use the riches to sustain your bodies. Protect the Vedas and learn the knowledge that is in them. Use the herbs well to make medicines. Nurture your bodies well through food and increase your knowledge through studying. May your energies increase and may you be victorious.
O men! You are intelligent. I praise you because intelligence can be found in you. You are the manifestation of food. I praise you because food can be traced in your bodies. You are the possessors of wealth. I praise you because wealth can be found in your possession. In you can be found an abundance of energy. I praise you because you are the source of energy.
O men! You are as sacred as sacrifices. I acknowledge your supremacy for the success of the sacrifice. You yourselves are the inspiration behind all action. I acknowledge your supremacy for the success of action. In you can be found excellence of character, and I acknowledge your supremacy for that reason. I acknowledge your supremacy when you do battle with your enemies. You are the ones who invade your foes. I acknowledge you for the sake of your supremacy.
O men who observe sacrifices! You are like the queen who rules over the eastern direction. The eight Vasus bless you. Agni preserves you from all unhappiness. These hymns will establish your supremacy on earth. These offerings of clarified butter will make you great. These sama hymns will establish you firmly in the atmosphere. The sages will sing of your glory in heaven. The lord of all the objects in the universe will preserve
you. The Vasus and the other gods will bring happiness to all those who observe sacrifices.
O men who observe sacrifices! You are like the vast expanse of the southern direction. The Rudras will bless you. The god Indra will protect you from disease. These hymns will establish your supremacy on earth. These offerings will make you great. These sama hymns will establish you firmly in the atmosphere. The sages will sing of your glory in heaven. The lord who brings welfare will make you great. The Vasus and the other gods will bring happiness to all those who observe sacrifices; they will establish them in heaven.
O men who observe sacrifices! You are like the radiance of the western direction. The Adityas will preserve you through their divine qualities. Varuna will save you from unhappiness and these hymns will establish your supremacy on earth. Weapons will make you firm and strong. These sama hymns will establish you firmly in the atmosphere. The sages will sing of your glory in heaven. The best of the gods will make you great. The Vasus and the other gods will bring happiness to all those who observe sacrifices and establish them in heaven.
O men who observe sacrifices! You are like the light of the northern direction. The Maruts will protect you. Soma will not permit disease to come near you. These hymns will establish your supremacy on earth. Weapons will make you firm and strong. These sama hymns will establish you firmly in the atmosphere. The sages will sing of your glory in heaven. The gods who ensure the success of all action will make you great. The Vasus and the other gods will bring happiness to all those who observe sacrifices; they will establish them in heaven.
O men who observe sacrifices! You are like the lofty upper direction. All the gods are your protectors. Brihaspati will preserve you from all unhappiness. These hymns will establish your supremacy on earth. Agni and the Maruts will make you firm and strong. These sama hymns will establish you firmly in the atmosphere. The sages will sing of your glory in heaven. The gods who grant desired fruits will make you great. The Vasus and the other gods will bring happiness to all those who observe sacrifices and establish them in heaven.
Agni is present in the eastern direction. His hue is golden and his radiance is like the rays of the sun. Wonderful is Agni’s chariot and the
spring season is like Agni’s charioteer. Great is the learning that can be found with Agni. His weapons are as powerful as fierce animals like tigers. I bow down before Agni with all my offerings. May Agni and his companions bring me happiness and protection. May those who hate me be destroyed.
Vayu is present in the southern direction. He controls all action. Wonderful is Vayu’s chariot and the summer season is like Vayu’s charioteer. Two apsaras (dancers of heaven) named Yatudhana and Heti ride on Vayu’s chariot. His weapons are as fierce as terrible demons. I bow down before Vayu with all my offerings. May Vayu and his companions bring me happiness and protection. May those who hate me be destroyed.
Aditya is present in the western direction. (The word Aditya is used here in the singular). He is the one who makes the entire universe manifest. Wonderful is Aditya’s chariot and the monsoon season is like Aditya’s charioteer. Two apsaras named Sarpa and Praheti ride on Aditya’s chariot. His weapons are as powerful as tigers. I bow down before Aditya with all my offerings. May Aditya and his companions bring me happiness and protection. May those who hate me be destroyed.
Yajna is present in the northern direction. (This god is a personification of yajna or sacrifice.) He is the one who grants riches. His weapons are as fierce as birds of prey that roam in the sky. Wonderful is Yajna’s chariot and the autumn season is like Yajna’s charioteer. The two apsaras Heti and Praheti ride on Yajna’s chariot. I bow down before Yajna with all my offerings. May Yajna and his companions bring me happiness and protection. May those who hate me be destroyed.
Parjanya is present in the upper direction. He is the one who grants all desires. Wonderful is his chariot and the late autumn season is like Parjanya’s charioteer. The two apsaras Heti and Praheti ride on Parjanya’s chariot. His weapons are as sharp as the lightning. I bow down before Parjanya with all my offerings. May Parjanya and his companions bring me happiness and protection. May those who hate me be destroyed.
Agni is supreme in heaven. He is as lofty as the shoulder of a bull.
Agni is the lord of this earth. He is the one who nurtures the water.
Agni is omniscient. He is the one who grants a thousand forms of happiness. He is the one who grants a thousand forms of riches and food
grains. He is as lofty as one’s head and he is the source of the supreme wisdom.
O Agni! The priests who are the most learned, the priests who are the best among all the priests on earth, have brought you into being by rubbing two sticks together. You have descended in our midst from the sky. You are high and lofty.
O Agni! The flames of your tongue spread to accept the oblations that we have offered. You are the one who ensures that the sacrifice will be a success. You are the one who grants excellent horses and other objects. You are the one who makes the Adityas happy in heaven.
Agni’s fires are lit through the firewood collected by men. Men are inspired at the sight of dawn, the way a calf is inspired at the sight of the mother cow. (This is relevant because sacrifices commenced when it was dawn.) Agni’s shining flames rise upwards towards heaven. It is almost as if a bird is rising up into the highest parts of the sky.
We pray to the Agni who is omniscient. We pray to the Agni who rules over sacrifices. Men use words, food and hymns to welcome the ahavaniya fire. Oblations are offered and Agni is praised, the way the sun is praised at the time of the evening.
Agni is the one who summons the gods to our midst. Agni is the one who presides over the sacrifice, it is Agni whom the priests praise through their hymns. It is Agni whom the sages establish on the occasion of a sacrifice. The sage Bhrigu had many sons. He lit the flames of Agni in the middle of a forest.
Agni protects those who perform sacrifices. Agni never sleeps, but is ever awake. Agni is skilled. Agni is pure. It is to Agni that clarified butter is offered on the occasion of a sacrifice. It is Agni who is lit by the sages on the occasion of a sacrifice. Agni’s radiant flames rise upwards towards heaven.
O Agni! You are the beloved of the sages Angirasa. (There were several sages named Angirasa. In fact, it is not quite dear that the Angirasa were sages. The Vedas often suggest that they were a semi-divine species and were Agni’s companions.) You resided in caves and in trees. But the Angirasa obtained you in their midst and were blessed. O Agni! You blaze forth when you are obtained by rubbing two sticks together. It is because you are so strong that the sages have addressed you as the son of strength.
O Mitra! Those who are learned have prayed to you for food grains so that these may be offered as oblations to the great Agni.
O Agni! You are strong and you are the lord of all that there is. Grant the desired fruits to the ones who are performing this sacrifice. We have prepared a pyre for you to the north of the place where the sacrifice is being held. Be seated there. Great is your fame. You will be pleased and will grant us wonderful riches.
O Agni! You are the lord of action and riches. All your subjects call upon you to come and accept their oblations.
I call upon the immortal Agni with these offerings of food grains. I call upon the Agni who has his origin in water and who is the source of all learning. I call upon the Agni who is always energetic and who brings fruition to sacrifices. I call upon the Agni who is like a messenger for the gods.
Agni is immortal, he is the messenger. Agni can never be destroyed. I call upon the Agni who is not stirred by anger. I call upon the Agni to whom the best of the oblations are offered. Agni has two steeds harnessed to his chariot. When we call upon him, he swiftly arrives in our midst.
This sacrifice is the best of sacrifices, and has the best of priests. Agni has been summoned to the sacrifice in the prescribed fashion. He will come here and shower the performer of the sacrifice with riches. Once Agni comes, Vasu, Rudra and the other gods will also come to the sacrifice.
O Agni! You are omniscient, you are the son of strength. You are the lord of food grains and cows. Grant us riches.
O Agni! You are the source of all happiness. You are radiant and you are the one who establishes all objects. You are omniscient and the Vedas are full of praise for you. You are the one who presides over sacrifices. Make your presence felt and grant us riches.
O Agni! You are the shining one. Your tongues are as sharp as the vajra. You are famous as the destroyer of the demons. Destroy the demons who are here during the day and destroy the ones who are here at the time of dawn.
O Agni! You are prosperous and learned. The priests have lit you for die sake of our welfare. You will grant us boons and you will make the
sacrifice a success. We chant these hymns to you so that you may bring us happiness.
O Agni! So great are your mental powers that you vanquish all your enemies in battle. Use those mental powers to protect us in the course of battle. We pray to you so that our welfare may be increased.
O Agni! Great are your powers. You destroy your enemies in battle. They are deluded and become immobile. The strings of their bows snap. Use those powers to bring us prosperity.
I know the Agni who is the one who establishes every object. I am acquainted with the Agni whose blessings make steeds strong and swift. I know the Agni whose energy brings the cows safely back to their cowsheds. O Agni! I am praying to you. Make my house full of food grains.
I pray to Agni. Riches and prosperity are nothing but manifestations of Agni’s being. Agni is the lord of cows and fleet-footed steeds. Those who are blessed at birth and those who are learned worship the divine qualities of Agni. O Agni! Grant a plentiful supply of food grains to your devotees.
O Agni! You bring us as much of happiness as Chandrama does. You accept our offerings of clarified butter with your tongues. You are the lord of all strength. This sacrifice is being performed for you, it is to you that hymns are being sung. Grant us riches and food grains.
Food nurtures a steed that is swift. A true devotee nurtures a sacrifice. O Agni! Nurture the sama hymns that we are chanting on the occasion of the sacrifice.
O Agni! You are skilled and you will bring us welfare. You will aid us in the performing of wonderful deeds and you will grant us the fruits of our desire. You are great, you are the sustainer of a true sacrifice. Come and be our leader.
O Agni! Be pleased at the prayers that are being chanted for your benefit. Be present before us with all your rays. May you flood us with your radiance the way the sun floods the earth at the time of sunrise.
Agni is the possessor of divine qualities. Agni is the one who nurtures sacrifices. Agni is the one whose flames attain the lofty gods. Agni is the one who desires to drink the clarified butter that is offered at the time of sacrifices. Agni will establish everyone. Agni will summon the gods. Agni is the son of strength; he has been created through the rubbing together of
sticks. Agni is the learned one, he is well- versed in all the sacred texts (shastras). I revere Agni as much as I revere a brahmana.
O Agni! You are the one who is closest to us. You are the one who brings us happiness. You are our protector. Bring welfare to our houses. You are like a leader, you are the performer of wonderful deeds. You are the lord of riches. O pure Agni! Come to the place where we are holding the sacrifice. Grant us riches. O handsome one! We ask of you the riches that will make us radiant.
The sages perform sacrifices through their powers of meditation. They light the flames of Agni so as to obtain true bliss. I pray to Agni so that I may obtain the same happiness. The learned refer to Agni as the one who makes the expanse of the sky vast.
O Agni! You are blessed with divine qualities. You rule in heaven. I crave for the bliss that there is in heaven through my good deeds. I perform this sacrifice with my lawful wives for your sake. I perform this sacrifice with my sons for your sake. I perform this sacrifice with my brothers for your sake.
Agni is the lord of the universe. Agni is the one who preserves righteous people. Agni is learned. The radiant Agni is established on earth; he is praised through our words. Enemy soldiers who wish to fight with us are destroyed by Agni.
The brave Agni is the one who accepts our oblations. Agni is the performer of a thousand wonderful deeds. Agni is shining; he does not hesitate in the course of performing any action. Let Agni shine on earth and make us feel the radiance that there is in heaven.
O men! All of you come close to Agni. Come close to Agni and receive him in your midst. O Agni! Display to us the path that leads to the gods. Display to us the path that leads to the ancestors. The sages have summoned you on the occasion of the sacrifice.
O Agni! Arise and awake. Awaken every day the person who desires to perform a sacrifice. Ensure that good deeds are performed such righteous deeds include donation and meditation. May the bodies of those who perform such deeds be pure and may their houses be full. It is through your blessing that the performer of the sacrifice will receive whatever boon he wants. O lord of the universe! Your proximity will grant us our desires and
your proximity will free us from all sin. May we always be desirous of performing sacrifices.
O Agni! Reside in our households as garhapatya agni. Be present in all the seasons and grant us riches.
O Agni! Our sacrifices are accompanied by the giving of fees (dakshina). Make sure the sacrifices are a success. Bring the gods to our sacrifice and thereby ensure our proximity to heaven.
The months of Magha and Falguna constitute winter (shishira). O Agni! You are the flaming fire. Be constant and firm. May heaven and earth bring us happiness through your grace. May water and soma and other herbs bring us happiness through your grace. May all the different forms of fire bless those who are performing sacrifices. There are many forms of fire in heaven and on earth. May all these various forms of fire thrive in the winter season. Just as Indra is the refuge of the gods, may Agni be the refuge of all the seasons. Reside with the Angirasa and make them great.
O goddess! You are full of energy. Vishvakarma established you atop heaven. Surya is your husband. Grant those who perform sacrifices the breath of life. Make them superior through your energy. Use the influence of the gods to make sure that Angirasa are firm in their resolve to perform the sacrifice.
(It is not clear which goddess is being addressed.)
You will fill up the world so that no holes remain. You will be firm and constant. Indra, Agni, Brihaspati and the other gods have established you.
(This is another hymn addressed to the same goddess.)
The sun’s rays mix with water in heaven. They have been there since the time when the gods were created. The performer of the sacrifice is located in one of the three worlds. He prepares the soma juice.
The words of the Vedas are as vast as the ocean. Like a great warrior surrounded by minor warriors, the words of the Vedas surround Indra. Indra is the lord of all food grains.
Agni is lit by rubbing two sticks together. The sound that the fire makes then is like the sound made by a horse which is hungry for grass. The sound of the fire raging attracts the wind and Vayu follows Agni’s path. The trail that the fire leaves is black of hue.
The god named Ayu is as grim as the ocean; he is the ruler. Luminiscent Agni is established right in the middle of Ayu’s heart. Agni lights up heaven and the atmosphere.
Vishvakarma is the creator and he established you on heaven’s pinnacle. You are the breath of life that courses through all living beings. You are the one who aids the performance of righteous deeds. May Surya preserve you in all the directions. May heaven find pleasure in you. Protect all beings through your energy and be as constant as the Angirasa.
(This is a hymn addressed to a goddess whose identification is not dear.
But obviously the earlier hymn was also addressed to the same goddess.)
O Agni! Be full of a thousand powers. Be the manifestation of a thousand riches. Be strong. Have a thousand forms of strength. Live in thousands of lofty places. You deserve to be the ruler of thousands. I appoint you as the ruler of a thousand subjects.
This condudes Adhyaya fifteen. We now move on to Adhyaya twenty.
O king! You are the refuge of the power of kshatriyas and the power of the kingdom. You are the centre of all martial prowess. May you never kill your subjects and may your subjects never kill you.
Let the one who is a leader of men follow the path of truth and observe religious rites. Let him be intelligent and a man of action. Let him be the best of men. O king! Protect your subjects from death. Protect them from lightning and other catastrophes.
O king! Savita will bless you at the time of your coronation. The two Ashvinis and Pusha will bring you bounties with their arms. The Ashvinis will bless your coronation with their healing powers. May the wisdom that is in the Vedas vest with you. You are being crowned so that food grains may grow, and so that Sarasvati may impart her power to the herbs. You are being crowned so that Indra’s strength and intelligence may increase. May we obtain prosperity and fame as your subjects.
O king! May you be the performer of righteous deeds. May you bring welfare. May you rule in the light of truth. May you be the fount of happiness. I crown you so that you may be the receptacle of the wisdom of the Vedas and of the knowledge of the brahman (the divine essence).
O subjects! I have been crowned as the king of this land. Different parts of my body will correspond to various traits of my kingdom. The prosperity of the kingdom will be my head, the fame of the kingdom will be my face, the truth that prevails in the kingdom will be my hair, beard and moustache, the life of the kingdom will be my breath of life, the throne will be like my eyes and the various assemblies of learned subjects will be my ears. I will carefully rule in the name of all that is righteous.
(This and the succeeding hymns are being sung by the king.)
May my tongue be the source of sweet words, may my speech bring glory to the kingdom and my mind be the source of rage for those who are evil. My anger will aid me in ruling the kingdom well, my fingers will bring joy to the kingdom and my body will contribute to its happiness. My friends will help me in defeating my enemies.
My two arms will be full of strength. All my senses will also be powerful. My arms will spur me to action and enable me to perform valorous deeds. My heart will be full of martial traits.
My shoulders will be vast so that I can support the kingdom. I will look after my subjects the way I look after my stomach, shoulders, neck, thighs, waist and other parts of my anatomy. That is, I will take good care of my subjects.
I will be the source of knowledge and prosperity for my kingdom. I am the king who has been crowned, I will rule over my subjects in accordance with the norms of righteousness.
I am the lord of this kingdom and I will protect it from all decay. I will ensure its prosperity and I will ensure that my kingdom is full of cows, horses and all manner of riches. I will be like the soul of the kingdom. I will be like its breath of life. I will rule so that I become dear to heaven.
May the eleven gods of heaven, the eleven gods of the atmosphere, and the eleven gods of the earth protect me. May the learned Brihaspati, the leader of the gods, spur them to bless me with their divine qualities. May all the gods protect me.
(You will recollect that in an introductory section, we stated that there were thirty-three gods, eleven for each of the three lokas. Brihaspati is the leader of the gods in the sense of being their preceptor.)
Prithivi and the other Vasus will make sure that I attain my desires. The eleven Rudras will make sure that I attain my desires. The twelve Adityas will make sure that I attain my desires. The truest of the true, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Rig Veda, will make sure that I attain my desires. The mantras uttered on the occasion of the sacrifices and the sacrificial oblations will make sure that I attain my desires.
(Thirty-three gods are obtained by adding the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Prajapati and the brahman. The eight Vasus are Prithivi, Apa, Teja, Vayu, Akasha, Kala, Disha and Atma. Alternatively, they are sometimes stated to be Apa, Dhruva, Soma, Ghara, Anila, Anala, Pratyusha and Prabhata.
The eleven Rudras are Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana, Naga, Kurma, Krikala, Devadatta, Dhananjaya and Atma. The twelve Adityas are Chaitra, Vaishakha, Jyeshtha, Ashada, Shravana, Bhadrapada, Ashivna, Kartika, Margashirsha, Pousha, Magha and Falguna. That is, the twelve Adityas are the twelve solar months. Alternatively, the twelve Adityas are referred to as Dhata, Mitra, Aryama, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivasvana, Pusha, Savita, Tvashta and Vishnu.)
The hair on my body will be sensitive to the needs of the kingdom. My skin and bones will be sensitive to the needs of the kingdom. My bones and marrow will serve the world and be sensitive to the needs of the kingdom.
O radiant gods! May the god Agni free me of all the sins that I have committed so as to offend the gods. May the god Agni preserve me from all manner of sinful deeds.
The god Vayu will free me from all the sins that I may have committed during the day or during the night.
The god Surya will free me from all the sins that I may have committed while I was sleeping or while I was awake.
The gods will free me from all the sins that I may have committed in villages, in forests or in assemblies. May all the sins that I have committed through my various senses be pardoned.
O Varuna! I may have committed the crime of stating that cows can be killed. Pardon me that sin. O Varuna! You are swift of foot. But tarry a while with me. Free me from the sins that I may have committed against the gods, free me from the sins that I may have committed against men. O Varuna! Protect me from the violent enemies who hate me.
O Soma! Your heart mingles with the water of the ocean. May your heart mix with the water and the herbs. May they bring you pleasure. May the water and the herbs protect me from those who hate me and from those whom I hate.
May the water purify me from all sin. A man who has sweated becomes clean after he has bathed. May I be cleansed thus. May I be purified the way clarified butter becomes pure once it is strained.
Surya provides light to the world that is the best of all the worlds. May Surya’s blazing radiance protect me from the darkness.
O Agni! I have come to you after sanctifying this water. Bless me with riches so that my subjects may prosper.
O Agni! You are the one who grants intelligence; may I have intelligence. You are the one who grants energy; may I have energy. Please ensure that this earth brings me happiness. May Usha bring me happiness. May Surya bring me happiness. May this entire universe bring me happiness. O Agni! Make all living beings energetic May I attain all the objects that I want. I offer these oblations to you; please accept them.
O Agni! You are the one who ensures that religious rites are observed. I have decided to perform a sacrifice and I offer these oblations to you. I light your flames so that the sacrifice may be successful.
Blessed is a land where brahmanas and kshatriyas unite in the performance of religious deeds. That land is sacred and free of all evil. The learned inhabitants of that land are as radiant as Agni.
I know for a fact that the world where Indra and Vayu live together is blessed. There is no misery in that world, nor is there a lack of food grains.
O soma juice ! You are part of Soma’s being and may you bring us happiness.
Those who crush soma herbs and extract the soma Juice are blessed with strength. Strong are those who drink the soma juice. But those who merely talk without acting, obtain nothing at all.
O Indra! In the morning we have offered you riches, curds, balls of flour and cakes (purodasha). Please accept these and listen to our hymns.
O Maruts! Chant sama hymns in praise of the valorous Indra, the destroyer of the demon Vritra. The hymns that the officiating priests chant on the occasion of the sacrifice speak of Indra’s glory.
O priests! Bring the soma juice here. Purify it so that it may be offered to Indra.
I pray to the paramatman. He is the lord of all living beings and all the worlds find refuge in his being. He is the greatest of the great, he is the one who controls all objects.
O Ashvinis! I pray to the two of you so that you may be kindly disposed towards me. I pray to you for the sake of Indra and Sarasvati. I pray to you for the sake of protection.
O Ashvinis! You will protect our lives and you will protect all the Kshatriyas. You will make our speech pure and you will guide us along the righteous path.
I partake of this food in the name of the two Ashvinis. I partake of this food in the name of Sarasvati. I partake of this food in the name of Indra, the protector.
Indra blazes with radiance. At the time of dawn, he manifests himself as the sun in the eastern sky. He arrives with the thirty-three gods. He is the wielder of the vajra. He is the killer of the demon Vritra. He is the one who broke open the doors of the fortresses.
Indra is prayed to by countless people. He is the life of sacrifices and he is the one who created wonderous objects. Indra is valiant, his form never fades and he is the one who provides milk in cattle. Our offerings of clarified butter increase Indra’s energy. Indra’s form is more golden than gold itself. Learned is the great god whom everyone worships. He is the only one who can be our refuge.
The gods themselves worship the manifold rays of Agni. He is the one for whom sacrifices are observed. He is the one to whom offerings are made by the sacrificial priests. Agni is strong. He destroys the cities of his enemies and demolishes the fortresses of the demons. Agni’s arms are as strong as the vajra. May he come to our sacrifice.
Indra’s rays radiate out. He is the pleasant one who performs fantastic deeds. Indra is accompanied by the twelve Adityas and the eight Vasus. Indra will bring us joy. He will ascend the seat we have reserved for him on the occasion of the sacrifice.
Like a wife is united with her husband, we will be united with Indra. He will bring strength to the brave king. He will spread the king’s fame and bring victory over the enemies.
Usha and Ratri (the night) bring fame to the great Indra. They are as sacred as beautiful cows which give an abundant supply of milk.
Those who are desirous of observing a sacrifice first pray to Indra. Indra is the one who is the foremost. Vayu and Agni are also summoned on the occasions of sacrifices.
The three goddesses Sarasvati, Bharati and Ila will come with Indra when he comes to attend the sacrifice. They will ensure that our offerings of milk are blessed.
Indra is the performer of excellent deeds, the brave warrior who destroys the power of enemies. The famous Indra performs acts that are unsurpassed by others. May Indra be worshipped and may he bring us the fruits of our desire. May Indra be present at our sacrifice. May he claim the best of seats and may he bring the other gods to the sacrifice.
Indra manifests himself in his radiance. Gigantic trees like the banyan were created so that they might bring peace and happiness to the world. They are like Indra’s belly when it has been satiated with food. We have made offerings of clarified butter and honey on the occasion of the sacrifice. Indra will accept these offerings.
Indra is strong; he destroys the enemies. He showers down happiness the way a cloud showers down rain. These offerings of clarified butter will please Indra. He and the other immortal gods will accept our offerings of soma juice, and be pleased.
Let Indra be near us and grant us protection. Let him be pleased through this praise so that he may bring us joy. Let Indra increase our strength and power. Let him increase our intelligence. May we be able to vanquish our enemies. And may Indra make our martial prowess as powerful as Surya’s energy.
Let Indra be close to us. He is the one who fulfils all desires. He is the powerful one who protects all men. He is he wielder of the vajra. Indra defeats his enemies, in battles big and small. Let Indra come to us and offer us protection.
Indra is the possessor of myriad riches. He is the wielder of the great vajra. Let him come for our protection and let him increase our prosperity. Let him climb onto his horses and come to our sacrifice.
I pray to Indra who is our protector. I call him to every sacrifice so that he may offer us deliverance. He is the one who is worshipped by many. I call upon Indra. May he bring us welfare.
Indra is the one who preserves righteous deeds. Indra is the one who will come to our aid. He is the one who will grant riches and food grains. He will be the king who will bring us happiness. May Indra bring misery to those who are opposed to him. May he free us from all the manner of fear. Indra will bless his subjects so that they become powerful and fearless.
May Indra look upon us with favour, may he look upon us with benevolence. Even if Indra is not close to us, he will grant us protection and prosperity. He will make those who bear hatred towards us maintain their distance.
O Indra! Your body-hair have the colour of peacock feathers. Your voice is like the sound of thunder. Come to us on your horses. Hunters capture birds in their noses and nets. But there is no enemy who can capture you. The enemies may be terrible, but they are scattered by the valour of your bow.
Indra showers us with the objects that we desire; his arm is as powerful as the vajra. It is to Indra that the sage Vashishtha prayed through his mantras. The performer of brave deeds will bless us with valour and with cows and other animals. He will be our protector. O priests! Your prayers will please Indra and bring us protection.
O Ashvinis! Agni is full of energy and that energy has mixed with this soma juice. Accept these offerings of soma juice. Sarasvati herself has aided in the extraction of this soma juice. This sacrifice has been blessed through her presence.
The two Ashvinis cure all manner of illnesses. Sarasvati fills all the words with sweetness. Sarasvati and the Ashvinis will take us closer to Indra.
Sarasvati has helped in the preparation of this soma juice so that it may be offered to Indra on the occasion of the sacrifice. The Ashvinis have provided the herbs from which the soma juice has been obtained.
(Sarasvati connotes a river. What is probably meant by Sarasvati helping is that the waters of the river have been mixed with the soma juice.) Sarasvati and the two Ashvinis will summon Indra to the sacrifice.
They have sharpened Indra’s senses and given him strength so that he may grant us riches.
The two Ashvinis mixed soma juice with the juices of other herbs. The soma juice was stolen by the demon Namuchi. But Sarasvati stole the juice from the demon and offered it to Indra.
The Ashvinis, Sarasvati and Indra will grant us our desires. They are like the door of the sacrifice; they will make heaven and earth complete.
Sarasvati and the Ashvinis increase Indra’s strength, be it morning, evening, night or day.
O Ashvinis! Protect us during the day. O Sarasvati! Protect us during the night. O goddess and O physicians of the gods! Be united in your desire to prepare the soma juice and offer it to Indra.
The two Ashvinis and the three goddesses unite to prepare the soma juice for Indra. The three goddesses are Sarasvati, Bharati and Ila. The soma juice brings happiness.
When the soma juice has been prepared, the Ashvinis bring herbs. The juice from these herbs is mixed with the soma juice. Sarasvati brings other herbs from which the juice can be extracted. The god Tvashta imparts a beauteous form to the soma juice.
Indra is the lord of the forests. In every season, Indra mixes food grains with the soma juice. The Ashvinis and Sarasvati impart sweetness to the soma juice.
O Ashvinis! Unite with Sarasvati in mixing the juices of herbs with the soma juice. Offer the sweet soma juice as an offering to Indra.
The demon Namuchi possessed many offerings and riches. The Ashvinis and Sarasvati robbed Namuchi of these possessions and brought them for Indra.
The two Ashvinis and Sarasvati united to increase Indra’s valour through these offerings. Indra destroyed the strength of the demon Namuchi.
The Ashvinis and Sarasvati are to be praised. They are to be praised as they made offerings to Indra.
The gods Savita, Varuna and Bhaga increased Indra’s strength and sharpened his senses. They offered oblations to the protector.
Indra robbed the demon Namuchi of his riches, senses and power.
Savita and Varuna granted boons of strength and riches to the devotees.
Indra and Savita are the gods who increase fame. They are the ones who increase prosperity and martial prowess.
Sarasvati and the two Ashvinis offer cows, horses, riches, strength and valour to their devotees.
The Ashvinis traverse a golden path and are handsome of appearance. O Ashvinis, Sarasvati and Indra! Please protect us while we are performing this sacrifice.
The Ashvinis are physicians who perform beauteous deeds. Sarasvati fulfils our desires. Indra is the destroyer of the demon Vritra.
O Ashvinis! O Sarasvati! Be united. The demon Namuchi has the soma
juice. Take it away from him and offer it to Indra. Drink it yourself.
O Indra! The Ashvinis will protect you with their mantras. They will protect you the way a son is protected by his parents. O Indra! Drink the soma juice and increase your strength. Sarasvati will look upon you with favour.
Agni is the one who will accept our offerings of food grains, he will drink the soma juice we have offered. He will make himself manifest and grant us horses, bulls, cows and sheep. He will grant us protection.
O Agni! Accept these oblations with your tongues. Accept these offerings of clarified butter, accept these offerings of soma juice. Grant us food grains, brave sons and riches. You will grant us the greatness that brings fame.
The two Ashivinis bring energy to the eyes. Sarasvati brings strength to life and Indra brings sound to speech.
O Ashvinis! You are the performers of that which is true. You are the brave ones who make the evil weep. Grant us boons of cows and horses. Make us traverse the righteous path.
O Ashvinis! You are the ones who give rise to rain. May the enemies who slander us be unable to bring us harm. May those who do not associate with us be unable to bring us harm.
O Ashvinis! You are the ones who establish all objects. The two of you will bring us yellow gold and other riches.
Sarasvati will energise our sacrifice. She is the one who purifies. She is the one who grants food grains, riches and intelligence.
Sarasvati inspires us to excellent speech, she increases our wisdom.
May Sarasvati make this sacrifice a success.
Through her wisdom Sarasvati imparts intelligence to the sky. She is the manifestation of all wisdom.
O Indra! You are handsome and many are your manifestations. Come here and bless those who wish to be close to you. We have prepared this soma juice with our own fingers. We have purified it. Accept it.
O Indra! Those who are wise pray to you. Those who are learned pray to you. And those who desire riches also pray to you. Come here and grant us riches, fame and food grains.
O Indra! You are the possessor of the best of horses. Come quickly to the sacrifice and be close to those who are chanting the mantras. Drink the soma juice we have offered. Accept the oblations we have offered.
May Sarasvati and the two Ashvinis unite and drink the soma juice.
May Indra, the destroyer of the demon Vritra, drink the soma juice.
This the end of Adhyaya twenty. We will skip some chapters and move on to Adhyaya twenty-five.
I please the sweet grass with my teeth. With the roots of my teeth I please the expanse where the sweet grass grows. The back of my teeth brings pleasure to the earth and the front of my teeth brings pleasure to the god Tega. The tip of my tongue will please Sarasvati and my tongue will please the god Utsada. My palate brings pleasure to the god Avakandra and my two lips bring pleasure to food grains. I will please the god Apa through my mouth and my beard and moustaches will please the Adityas. My eyebrows bring pleasure to the god Pantha and my eyelashes bring pleasure to Dyavaprithivi. The centre of my forehead pleases the god of lightning. I offer these oblations to the god of fairness (Shukladeva), I offer these oblations to the god of darkness (Krishnadeva). The top of my eyes worships the god Para and the bottom of my eyes worships the god Roma.
Through my breath of life I worship the gods Vata and Nasika. My lower lips worship the god Upayama and my upper lips worship the god Sata. The upper part of my body is for the pleasure of the god Antara and the lower part of my body is for the pleasure of the god Brahma. My head is for the pleasure of the god Niveshya and the bones of my head are for the pleasure of the god Stananiyatnu. With the centre of my head I worship the god Ashani and with my eyes I worship the god of lightning. With my ears and my throat I worship various other gods. With my head I worship the goddess Aditi.
With my hair I worship the god Mashakan. With my action I worship Indra and with my gait I worship Brihaspati. With my calves I worship the god Kapinjala and with my arms I worship the god Marga. With my thighs I worship the gods Aranya and Agni, with my hands 1 worship Pusha, and with my shoulders I worship the Ashvinis. With the joints of my body I worship Rudra.
The first joint on my right is for Agni, the second joint is for Vayu, the third for Indra, the fourth for Soma, the fifth for Aditi, the sixth for Indrani (Indra’s wife), the seventh for the Maruts, the eighth for Brihaspati, the ninth for Aryama, the tenth for Dhata, the eleventh for Indra, the twelfth for Varuna, and the thirteenth for Yama.
The first joint on my left is for Indra and Agni, the second joint is for Sarasvati, the third for Mitra, the fourth for the god of waters, the fifth for Agni, the sixth for Soma, the seventh for the god of the snakes, the eighth for Vishnu, the ninth for Pusha, the tenth for Tvashta, the eleventh for Indra, the twelfth for Varuna, and the thirteenth for Yama.
(In both of these hymns, by ‘joints’ are meant joints of the body.)
The kingdom is like a body. The tents of the soldiers are like the kingdom’s shoulders. The righteous path indicated by the gods is the soul. The general and the king are like the legs of the kingdom and the learned citizens are like the waist.
In any body, the lap is Indra’s and the feet belong to Aditi. Aditi, Dyou and Prithivi can be found in the human body. The clouds are like the blood that there is in the body and the arteries of the heart are like the atmosphere. The sky is like the intestine and the clouds are like the spleen. Termite-hills can be likened to the liver and creepers can be likened to the veins of the heart. The various veins and arteries in the body are like creepers and the
pools of blood in the body resemble ponds. The stomach is like an ocean. The fire named Vaishvanara is like the juices in the stomach which digest the food.
Compare the energy that holds up the universe to the navel. Compare clarified butter to the strength of the body. Compared the learned in the kingdom to the digestive juices. The sun is to be compared to the fat of the body and the morning dew to the body-heat. Trees can be compared to the fat and the water which makes trees thrive to the water that there is in the body. The lightning in the sky can be compared to the eyes. Wonderful places in the kingdom can be compared to various parts of the anatomy. The stars can also be compared to various parts of the body. The earth can be compared to the skin of the body. These offerings are being made to the god Varuna.
Surya and other objects that are full of energy are manifestations of the paramatman. The paramatman was present before the universe was created. It is the paramatman which is the lord of the universe. The paramatman bears aloft heaven and earth and the paramatman is the source of all happiness. We make these offerings to the paramatman.
The powers of the paramatman created life and sight in all living beings that populate the universe. The paramatman is the lord of the universe. The paramatman is the lord of bipeds like humans and birds and quadrupeds like cows and elephants. The paramatman is the lord of all subjects (prajapati). We make these offerings to Prajapati.
The powers of the paramatman created these snow- dad mountains and the great oceans. The powers of the paramatman created all the directions. The paramatman is the source of all happiness and is full of divine qualities. We make these offerings to the paramatman.
The paramatman is the granter of physical and spiritual strength. All the gods follow the path laid down by the paramatman. The paramatman is the source of all bliss and immortality. To forsake the paramatman is to be dose to death. The paramatman is the source of all happiness. We make these offerings to the paramatman.
May we obtain the objects of our desire and may these fruits bring us happiness. May these objects be everlasting and may they surpass all the fruits that others may have obtained before. May these objects bring us wisdom. The gods will be energetic in providing us learning and protection.
The god follow a constant and straight path; they will grant us wisdom and other boons. May they look upon us with favour and be like our friends. May they grant us long lives and intelligence.
We pray to Bhaga, Mitra, Aditi, Daksha, Aryama, Varuna, Soma and the two Ashvinis so that we may be preserved from destruction. We pray to the knowledge manifest in the Vedas so that we may be protected. May the goddess Sarasvati bring us welfare and good fortune.
Vayu will be close to us and will bring us herbs that are a source of happiness and banish all manner of disease. The mother earth will be the source of a plentiful supply of food grains. Heaven will provide us with the energy that is the source of happiness. Heaven will make the water flourish. Soma will bring us herbs. O Ashvinis! You are the ones who will bear us. Please bring us all manner of happiness.
O men! Let us pray to the paramatman for our protection. Let us call upon the paramatman who is the protector of all objects in the universe. May our intelligence be purified through these prayers. The paramatman will strengthen our learning, protect us from death and bring us happiness.
The paramatman is the performer of wonderous deeds and may we obtain happiness from that great source. The paramatman is the source of the learning that there is in the Vedas. It will bring us welfare. The paramatman is everywhere and it cannot be splintered. May the great Brihaspati bring us happiness.
The Maruts are as swift as strong steeds; they are the ones who encompass the sky. The Maruts give birth to clouds in the atmosphere. The Maruts have the energy of Agni, and Surya is like their eyes. They are the possessors of divine qualities. The Maruts will come here for our welfare and will protect us.
O gods who are the possessors of divine qualities! May we listen to sweet speech. O officiating priests! May we only look upon objects that bring us happiness. We pray to the supreme godhead and praise him. The learned have decreed a life span for humans. May we attain that lifespan and be blessed in various ways.
O gods! You are the possessors of divine qualities. May we live to see a hundred autumns, may we not die before that. (That is, may we live to be a hundred years.) May we not die before our sons have themselves become fathers.
May heaven be the source of infinite strength. May the atmosphere be the source of infinite strength. May the earth be the source of infinite strength. May the paramatman protect all living beings from being ever destroyed. The gods are never destroyed. Five types of men are never destroyed. The world that is constituted of the five elements is never destroyed. The one who is born first is never destroyed.
(This needs some explanation. The five types of men refers to the five classes or castes—brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, shudras and nishadas. Brahmanas were priests, kshatriyas warriors, vaishyas traders, shudras a serving class; nishadas were hunters. The sense of one who is born first never being destroyed is not clear either. The idea is that there is a constant cycle of birth. Those who were born earlier are destroyed, but others are born to take their place. In this fashion, the world is never destroyed.)
Mitra, Varuna, Aryama, Vayu, Indra, Ribhu and the Maruts will look upon us with favour. The gods are the possessors of divine qualities, to them we pray for strength and prosperity.
One who follows the path indicated by the supreme godhead is energised like the sun when it rises in the east. Such a person becomes immortal and treads the path that is loved by Indra and Pusha.
Such a person is blessed with divine qualities. He is the one who deserves to be a leader of warriors among men. He is the one who becomes the destroyer of the enemies and the protector of the kingdom. He becomes famous and is the beloved of the inhabitants of the kingdom.
The king should be a deserving person so that he is as revered as a handsome sacrificial horse. He should be the beloved of the gods. Thrice a year, the leaders of the kingdom take the king on a tour of the kingdom. (This was a ritual which enabled the king to get acquainted with the kingdom.) The gods are the ones who protect and sustain. They remain in the forefront and protect the kingdom.
O officiating priests! Make the offerings and offer dakshina (the sacrificial fee) to the brahmanas. May the rivers overflow and may the learned be satisfied.
A person has laboured to make the sacrificial scaffolding. A person has laboured to bring it here and another person has laboured to make the bridle for the sacrificial horse. Some other person has laboured to collect the wood. May all this labour ensure our welfare.
The king brings welfare to his subjects, he is the one who can grant protection. He is the refuge of the learned. The sages are pleased when they are close to the king. May the king bring prosperity to his subjects and victory to his warriors.
The sacrificial horse has a bridle; its neck, legs and head are tied with ropes. In its mouth can be found grass and other fodder. May all these objects please the gods.
The mouth of the horse will bring us victory. Part of the horse remains attached to the weapon and part of it is in the hands of the person who wishes for peace. Part of the body is beyond the purview of the senses. Then part of it is offered to the kingdom. All of this is blessed by those who are learned.
(This is obscure. It probably refers to the actual act of the horse being sacrificed and the body being divided up.)
May peace be brought to the waste matter of the body. May only that food be cooked which is pure and sanctified.
O men! Part of the field has not been ploughed; it has been burnt by the fire of the sun. Let not that part of the field remain fallow. Let it not be swallowed up by weeds and grass. May those learned ones who want this land be given it, so that they can grow food grains on it.
The kingdom is like a field. There are those who wish to see the kingdom as full as a field on which food grains grow. The fields are irrigated with water from ponds and wells. The kingdom is full of resting- houses where travellers can rest from the heat of the sun. Thus it is that the kingdom flourishes.
May the smoke of Agni protect you from grief. May Usha and her energy protect you from disease. The king is handsome and the beloved of everyone. He is energetic and hard-working. May he be accepted as a leader by everyone.
The horse comes out, sits, moves here and there, moves backwards, drinks water, eats grass. May all these acts please those who are learned.
There are handsome clothes in which the horse is to be covered. There is gold with which it will be adorned. There are ropes to tie its head and feet. May these objects be preserved by those who are learned.
(These are references to the sacrificial horse.)
Your enemies are swift of foot. They will attack you from behind and catch you unawares. They will bring you harm. I will use my knowledge of the Vedas to protect you from such misery. I will cover all your faults.
(This and the subsequent hymn are addressed to the king.)
You are so strong that all by yourself you are capable of protecting the kingdom. You are the friend of the learned and you are the one who knows well the thirty-four parts of a horse’s body. O best of men! Protect the kingdom through your efforts and make the kingdom prosper.
The seasons divide the year into various parts. There are two ayanas in a year, each consisting of six months. The sun is the ruler of time. I offer oblations in the various seasons.
When the atman (soul) leaves the body at the time of death, may you not grieve. May weapons which pierce you not overpower your body. May one who is undeserving not rule over you. May swords not chop up your body.
May you not be plagued by death and may you not know misery. May the path you tread be such that it takes you straight to the gods. O king! May the kingdom be like an excellent chariot which bears you on two handsome steeds. May one who is appointed as the prime minister of the kingdom be learned.
A strong king will bring us excellent horses and cows. There will be brave warriors in the kingdom and we will have sons. The land will prosper. O king! Protect us from evil and sin. May he who rules over us be as strong as a horse. May the kingdom be blessed with prosperity and martial prowess.
This world will certainly be blessed with happiness. Indra and other gods, the twelve Adityas, and the forty-nine Maruts, will bring us the herbs that grant us welfare. The prosperous Indra and the Adityas will protect our sacrifices, our body and our sons. They will grant us the best of qualities.
O Agni! You are the one who is pure. You are the one in whom the Vasus find a refuge. You are the one who brings us riches in the form of the ahavaniya fire. Stay close to us and protect us. Bring us welfare. Grant us sons. Grant objects which bring us happiness. May the flames of our sacrificial fire rise upwards. May you blaze in glory. O handsome one! Light up our lives and bless us with the best of qualities. We are like your
friends. We are praying to you so that you may grant us riches and prosperity.
This is the end of Adhyaya twenty-five. We now move on to Adhyaya
This chapter has twenty-two mantras, all of which need some explanation.
May the supreme godhead grant everyone the wisdom to perform righteous deeds and protect righteousness. May the supreme godhead purify us and purify our learning. May our speech become sweet and may we tread superior paths.
(Men who desire to elevate themselves require four qualities. These are
(i) the inspiration to perform righteous deeds; (ii) the desire to protect righteousness; (iii) purity of learning; (iv) sweetness of speech.)
We meditate on the energy of the supreme godhead. It is this energy that inspires our intelligence.
(The supreme godhead is the receptacle of all good qualities. These are the qualities of strength, power, energy, bliss and purification. When one meditates on the supreme godhead, it is on these qualities that one meditates. One meditates on infinite strength, infinite power, infinite energy, infinite bliss and infinite purification and is accordingly blessed with these qualities. Such a form of meditation (upasana) is known as saguna upasana.)
O supreme godhead! You are the creator. Keep all evil away from us and keep us close to all that is good.
(The specific evils that are intended are evil thoughts, evil habits, evil acts and evil companionship. If these are avoided, and good thoughts, good habits, good acts and good companionship cultivated, man is purified and elevated.)
There exists one who has divided righteous action into various forms. This has been done for the sake of prosperity. There exists one who has advised all men and inspired them to righteous action. He is the one who deserves all praise.
(The word prosperity should not be interpreted in a narrow sense. Prosperity or riches mean different things to different people. For
brahmanas, prosperity is in learning and knowledge. For kshatriyas, prosperity connotes valour and kingdoms. For vaishyas, prosperity lies in trade and money. And for shudras, prosperity means artisanship and physical labour. Accordingly, each class has certain specified tasks that connote righteous action. Righteous action means studying and teaching for brahmanas; for kshatriyas it means fighting and protecting others. For vaishyas its connotations are accumulation and donation of wealth, and for shudras they are manufacture of artefacts and spreading the skills of artisanship. It is in this sense that righteous action has been divided into various forms.)
One who associates with the learned for the sake of learning is a brahmana. One who is known for his valour is a king. One who is appointed for the sake of men is a vaishya. The shudra is for acts that require physical effort. May each stick to his appointed task so that ignorance is banished. To preserve the soldiers may there be warriors who can vanquish enemies. Be impotent in the case of evil. Take special care in buying and selling. Attain proximity to the one who has control over wishes. Appoint the one who can substantiate his speech with evidence.
(This seems to be very confusing, because advice to different classes are mixed up in the same mantra. That brahmanas should associate with the learned is clear enough. Moreover, one resorts to brahmanas for the sake of one’s learning. The word kshatra means kingdom as well as valour. Thus, a kshatriya can be a king as well as one who is valourous. One resorts to the king or to kshatriyas for protection. The vaishyas trade in articles and set up shops and men require these articles and shops for their everyday living. It is for this reason that the vaishya is appointed for the sake of men. Physical tasks are set aside for the shudra. Each must stick to his appointed task, otherwise there will be chaos. Evil thoughts and evil deeds tempt men. If one is impotent, one does not act and so does not fall prey to such temptation. One is accordingly preserved from evil. The admonishment to take special care in buying and selling is meant for vaishyas. Alternatively, the sense is that, to take care of buying and selling, vaishyas must be employed. One who has a lot of will-power can influence other people and thus have control over wishes. Such people should be associated with; for, they can spur other men to good action. There were a class of people known as magadhas. They eventually became bards and minstrels, but the word magadha also means one who can substantiate the points made in his
speech with appropriate evidence. It is thus suggested that a magadha be employed for important speeches.)
Let dancers be employed for the purpose of dancing. Let those who play on cymbals be employed for the purpose of singing. May righteous advisers be appointed for assemblies. Let one who is powerful be employed for the soul of the nation. One who is strong must be employed for martial games. An artisan must be employed for brightening up the kingdom. Befriend women for the sake of happiness. If you have a strong enemy, appoint the brave son of a brave woman. For the sake of strength, appoint charioteers and those who look after chariots. Appoint architects for the sake of patience.
(Some of the sentences are dear enough, but others require explanation. There were assemblies known as sabhas. These were dharma sabhas, as they indicated the canons of righteousness (dharma) that should be followed in ruling over the kingdom. Proper advisers or members of these assemblies should be appointed. The soul of the nation lies in the kingdom’s strength, energy and truthfulness, and a powerful ruler preserves these traits. The suggestion is not that one should befriend all women indiscriminately. The woman in question is one’s wife. What have architects got to do with patience? Architects build houses and if a house has been built well, it instils patience in the mind of one who lives in it. That is the reason why a good architect must be employed.)
A man who meditates must be employed because he brings glory to his lineage. For the sake of the kingdom, skilled artisans must be employed. For the beauty of one’s own body, jewellers must be employed. And the beauty of one’s body is also enhanced by employing barbers. If you wish to create a cloud of arrows in battle, employ those who make arrows. If you wish to possess weapons, employ those who make bows and other weapons. For the sake of battle, employ those who make the strings of bows. If you wish your orders to be followed, do not employ one who deviates from his path. Employ one who can kill the deer. Employ as executioner someone whose voice thunders.
(Most of this passage is dear, but a few words need to be said about meditation (tapas). Meditation should not be construed as praying. For a brahmana, meditation means praying and studying. But for a kshatriya, meditation means protecting the kingdom. For a vaishya, meditation consists of agriculture, trade and animal husbandry. And for a shudra, meditation connotes artisanship and working as servants.)
Let ordinary men populate the banks of the rivers. But let hunters live in the forests so that they can take care of wild animals. Employ those who are like tigers in spirit. Appoint teachers who will travel around and instruct farmers and workers. For each task, only a person who is not evil must be appointed. The learned must be employed as instructors for those who live in the forests and also for ordinary subjects. To ensure one’s own elevation, one must employ those who are wise and learned. Such individuals must not be frauds. Appoint those who can create a division in the ranks of the ghosts. Employ soldiers with weapons to take care of robbers and dacoits.
(We have used the word ghost as a translation for pishacha in the text. Pishacha literally means “one who lives on flesh and blood” and could therefore also refer to cannibalistic races. The division in their ranks leads to their fighting amongst themselves. The word used for robbers and dacoits is yatudhana. These were robbers, dacoits and bandits, particularly those who waylaid travellers.)
For advice resort to the aged, as they have the wisdom of experience. For protecting the house, sentries must be employed. In times of unhappiness, resort to the advice of those who are learned. The learned will preserve you from decline. Employ those who are skilled for performing tasks that are difficult to accomplish. To improve one’s appearance, employ those who are well-versed in the art of beautification. Those who perform their tasks with love and kind words should be employed; for they bring wisdom. But if a specific task needs to be done immediately, employ whoever is best from those who are at hand. Time should not be lost in looking for someone who is better. Each person who is employed should be given a task that is characteristic of his class. One who helps should be employed, as he provides succour in hours of stress.
(It is worth pointing out that the words that are used in the context of employing the learned are parivitti, parivividana and edidhishu. In the above passage, we have used these three words as signifying “those who are learned”. Technically, all three words mean “someone who ensures one’s own welfare before that of others”. In the context of marriages, these three words have an additional significance. The words parivitti and parivividana are used for younger brothers who get married before their elder brothers
are married. And the word edidhishu is used for a younger sister who gets married before her elder sister is married.)
For destroying your enemies, employ a soldier who wields a scimitar. For the sake of happiness, employ one whose mind is pure. One who likes to labour should be employed as a guard at the main gate. Mental peace comes if one controls one’s senses. Close your ears to the temptations of sin. Resort to physicians for the sake of a pure body. If you desire special knowledge, resort to an astrologer. For someone who wishes to learn, always employ a person who will ask questions. If you need to practise what you have learned, you still need an instructor who will ask questions. For the sake of fairness, employ a proper judge.
(On two occasions, references are made to a person who asks questions. The first word that is used is prashnim and this word also means complainant. The second word that is used is abhiprashnim and this word also means defendant. This is followed by a reference to a judge (prashnavivakam), but it becomes difficult to interpret the sentences in the sense of a litigation.)
To ensure speed, employ those who can ride on elephants. Also employ those who can ride on horses and look after them. Cowherds should be employed as the yield of cows will bring you sustenance. Also employ those who tend sheep, as the milk of sheep brings development to the body. Goatherds must be employed, as the milk of goats makes the body energetic. Employ farmers so that food grains may be obtained. To obtain wine, employ those who make wine. Guards must be employed for the welfare of the household. For the sake of your welfare, employ those who bear riches and increase them. A person who keeps an eye on other employees must be employed.
(The reference to wine must be elaborated on. The word that is used is kilala. Kilala does mean wine, but it also means a heavenly drink. For instance, the word kilala is used for one part of salt mixed with a hundred parts of pure water. It is also used for coconut-milk. Thus the sentence need not necessarily be interpreted as a reference to wine. The word that is used for a maker of wine is surakara. But this could also signify someone who makes water purified. And surakara does also mean a coconut tree. A person who increases riches is a money-lender.)
To obtain light, employ a bringer of firewood. Employ those who can light fires for brightness. Employ one who will bathe you to protect you from the heat. For the sake of happiness, employ one who will remove your impediments. To attain the abode of the gods, employ someone who will beautify you. Employ those who will bring welfare to mankind. Employ those who will bring welfare to the universe. Employ those who will kill your enemies and bring such distress to them that they do not dare to attack you again. Employ a washer man so that your clothes may be pure and clean. For your beautification, employ those who are skilled in the use of colour.
(Those who are skilled in the use of colour will colour one’s clothes, or other objects.)
To deal with your enemies, employ a person who has the heart of a thief. Employ one who will bring a division to the ranks of the enemies. He will destroy the enemies. Employ spies to find out what is happening. Men who obey orders, that is, are obedient by nature, must be employed as soldiers. A travelling employee must be there to earmark different plots of land and mark out villages and cities. If you wish that there should be love, employ those who are sweet of speech. For the sake of protection, have a cavalry. As advisers and ministers to the king, employ those who make the kingdom as lofty as heaven. For the sake of happiness, employ those who remove all impediments.
(Why should a person with the heart of a thief be employed to deal with one’s enemies? A thief hides his thoughts, he does not come out into the open. It is this trait of treachery that must be used in dealing with one’s enemies.)
If you wish to be strong, employ those who will smelt iron for you. To keep your anger in check, employ those who will give alms on your behalf. To learn the techniques of yoga, employ teachers of yoga. May your body be energised with the energy of gold. May those whom you employ bring you peace and protection. Employ those who know the techniques of rising and falling water. Employ those who will make your body strong. For a good body, employ those who will take care of your eyes. For times of emergency, employ a treasurer for the kingdom. Be impartial to ensure that fairness prevails.
(Yoga literally means union. It is a technique of meditation that seeks to bring about an union between the human soul (atman) and divine soul (paramatman). There are eight components of yoga. The first four are named yama, niyama, asana and pranayama. These try to bring about physical upliftment. The other four are named pratyahara, dhyana, dharana and samadhi. These seek to bring about spiritual upliftment. There are places where the water rises or ascends and there are other places where the water falls or descends. There are still other places where water neither rises nor falls, but maintains a stable level. The neighbourhood of the water must be populated by those who know how to handle these three types of water.)
To follow proper rules, employ those who know these rules. In the case of a practitioner of yoga who has attained the supreme state of meditation (samadhi), employ people to take care of him. For the first year, a woman who is youthful must be in control. For the second year, a learned and middle- aged woman must be in control. For the third year, a woman who achieves superiority fast must be in control. For the fourth year, a white- haired old woman must be in control. For the fifth year, an extremely learned woman must be in control. For each span of five years, an old woman must have the control. Those who deal with chariots must have the help of those who work with leather. Those who make wooden chairs must also have the help of those who work with leather.
(The part about the women is not very dear. But the general idea is that a woman must be appointed to supervise other women. The nature of the woman in control must not remain constant over time, but should be rotated and varied from year to year. If that is done, no particular group of women can have a grievance.)
Employ fishermen to take care of lakes and ponds. Those who are employed to look after copses need not be the best of men. People must be employed to take care of small ponds. The water in these ponds must regularly be cleaned. People must be employed to make arrows. Those who know how to traverse rivers must be employed to help people cross. Those who can swim well must be employed near rivers and ponds to prevent others from drowning. In places where one can swim across the water, people must be employed to build dams. In places which go uphill and downhill, those who know the paths must be employed to protect others. Employ musicians to obtain a good voice. Employ hunters to live in caves.
Employ mountain-dwellers to live on the peaks of mountains. But in other places in the mountains, ordinary people can reside.
For cruel acts, forest-dwellers must be employed. To obtain splendour, employ jewellers who work with gold. Employ tradesmen and shopkeepers to measure weights. A person who is always at the back must be specially hard-working. One who pursues the truth must be employed to take care of the learned. Be skilled so that you may attain superiority. If one is lazy, downfall is certain. At times of danger or at times of destruction, employ someone who can think of the welfare of the human race. Be humble to attain superiority. As executioner, employ someone who can behead efficiently.
(A person who is always at the back of every action suffers from the sin of never being in the front. He must therefore be specially hard-working so as to overcome this sin.)
The chief employee of the kingdom must be a person who is extremely learned. To ensure the success of your action, employ someone who will always find fault with your action. Employ one who is imaginative so that he can think of good deeds for you. Employ one who will enable you to overcome your laziness. Before embarking on a war, obtain the consent of one who is influential in the assembly. Punish with death those who oppress cows or kill them.
(Before embarking on a war, the king has to obtain the permission of the assembly (sabha). This becomes easy if someone who is influential in the assembly has sanctioned the war.)
Punish with hunger those who maim cows and those who are beggars. Those who are evil must be taught so that they return to the righteous path. And there must be soldiers with weapons to take care of those who sin.
One who is impartial must be employed to adjudicate promises and vows. If a speech requires a loud volume, employ one whose voice is strong. If a debate is to be concluded, employ a good orator. If a debate is unlikely to be concluded, employ those who talk less. If you require noise, employ those who play on drums. For the sake of glory, employ those who play on the veena (a musical instrument). If you want a loud noise, employ those who play on drums. But if you want a medium noise, employ those who play on conch-shells. Employ foresters to take care of the forests. For larger forests, employ fire-fighters to protect the forests.
For martial games, employ those who are strong. Employ artisans to make the kingdom shine. If the kingdom is to be strong, employ leaders in the villages. Employ those who can count the riches of the kingdom. Employ those who can make announcements for the people. For the sake of dancing, employ those who can play on the veena. Employ those who can play on cymbals and musical instruments made of leather (percussion instruments). For the sake of happiness, employ those who have some sense of music.
Employ strong men to work with fire. To work under the ground, employ those who can crawl. To work in places where the wind is strong, employ outcasts. If you need work to be done up in the air, employ those who can walk on stilts. If work is to be done in the sky, someone who knows the way of the sky must be employed. To deal with Surya, employ ones whose eyes are green. To deal with the stars, employ one whose eyes are orange. To deal with the moon, employ one whose eyes are white. To work during the day, employ someone whose complexion is fair. His eyes must however be brown. And to work during the night, employ someone whose complexion is dark. His eyes must however be brown.
(It is difficult to make sense of the bit about the sun, the moon and the stars. This must have had something to do with astronomy. For example, if one uses green-tinted glasses to look at the sun, one’s eyes are not damaged.)
There are eight types of men who are unbecoming of appearance. These are men who are too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too fair, too dark, those who have no hair and those who have too much of hair. These eight types of men and four additional types can be retained by the king. The four additional types are those who sing the king’s praise (magadha), eunuchs (pumshchali), those who play with dice (kitava), and those who are impotent (kliba). These twelve types of men are not brahmanas, nor are they shudras.
This is the end of Adhyaya thirty. We now move on to Adhyaya thirty- six. The reason for choosing chapter thirty-six, rather than chapter thirty- five, is that chapter thirty-six contains many mantras which are commonly recited.
There are twenty-four mantras in this chapter.
Through my speech I seek refuge in the Rig Veda. Through my mind I seek refuge in the Yajur Veda. Through my breath of life I seek refuge in the Sama Veda. Through my senses I seek refuge in the Atharva Veda. May the strength of speech, the strength of unity and the strength of life be constant in my body.
My eyes, my heart and my mind may have holes in them. Any such faults that I have will be rectified by the lord of all learning. The lord of all creation will bring welfare to all of us.
The supreme godhead is the creator of the universe. He has the same form in all three worlds. He is the source of infinite happiness. We meditate on the energy of this supreme godhead. It is he who will specially inspire our intelligence.
(Since this mantra is recited quite often, it is worth reproducing the Sanskrit. That goes as follows.
(bhu bhuvah svah tat savituh varenyam bhargoh devasya dhimahi dhiyoyo nah prachodayat)
The great and wonderful godhead befriends all of us through his protection, through his great power and through the constant evolution of action. All of this ensures our welfare.
O supreme godhead! You bring more happiness than the happiness that comes from savouring food and other material objects. You are constant in the three periods of time (the past, the present and the future). Who can please you? You can blow to bits the strong earth and all its objects. O men! The supreme godhead, who is the source of all happiness, is constant in the three periods of time and brings you happiness through food and other pleasures. He grants you many riches to free you from misery.
O god! You are our benefactor. You are our protector. You take care of your devotees through all manner of protection.
O god! You shower down happiness on us. You are the source of happiness and you make us happy in all the directions through your protection. You sustain through your happiness all those who praise you.
The supreme godhead has an abundance of riches and is the lord of everyone. He brings welfare to bipeds and to quadrupeds.
May he who is everyone’s friend (Mitra) bring us welfare. May he who is the greatest (Varuna) bring us welfare. May he who is fair (Aryama)
bring us welfare. May he who is prosperous (Indra) bring us welfare. May he who is the lord of speech (Brihaspati) bring us welfare. May he who is everywhere and is the performer of great deeds (Vishnu) bring us welfare.
May the wind (Vayu) blow so that It brings everyone welfare. May the sun (Surya) radiate heat so that it brings everyone welfare. May the rain (Parjanya) thunder and shower so that it brings everyone welfare.
May the day bring all of us welfare. May the night bring all of us welfare. May he who is prosperous and energetic grant all of us protection and welfare. May he who is prosperous and supreme grant all of us food grains and welfare. May the prosperous one who sustains us bring us welfare when he grants us food grains. May the prosperous one who is learned grant us welfare. May he protect us from disease and fear. May our welfare be ensured.
The divine water will fulfil our wishes and slake our thirst. It will bring us welfare. It will flow so that disease is banished and so that we are freed from all harm.
O earth! May you be such that you bring us happiness. May we never have to suffer. Grant us excellent places to dwell in. Increase your expanse so that all of us can attain happiness.
Water is certainly the source of happiness. The water nourishes our strength, food grains and intelligence. May water enable us to know the nature of divine sound and divine sight.
On this earth, water is the source of all juices that bring happiness. May we obtain these juices. O earth! Give us these juices the way a mother gives her son milk.
Water is the source of all juices. May we obtain these juices by obtaining the completeness that is in water. O water! Show us the path by which we can attain superiority.
May heaven give rise to peace. May the atmosphere give rise to peace. May the earth give rise to peace. May the water give rise to peace. May the herbs give rise to peace. May the trees give rise to peace. May the learned ones (Vishvadevas) give rise to peace. May the knowledge of the brahman give rise to peace. May peace prevail in the entire universe. May peace itself give rise to true peace. May I attain the peace that is indeed true.
(This an oft-recited mantra and so it is worthwhile reproducing the original Sanskrit. This runs as follows. dyouh shantih antariksham shantih prithivi shantih apah shantih oshadhayah shantih vanaspatayah shantih vishve devah shantih brahma shantih sarvam shantih shanti eva shantih sa ma shantiredhi.)
O brahman! Make me strong. May all living beings look upon me as a friend. May I look upon all living beings as friends. May we look upon each other as friends.
O powerful one! Make me strong. If I get to see you, I will live for a long time. If I get to meet you, I will live for a long time.
I pray to the one who removes all evil. I pray to the one who increases purity. I pray to the one whose energy radiates out. I bow in obeisance before you. May your weapons leave me unharmed; may they instead be diverted towards others. The supreme godhead who purifies everything will bring all of us welfare.
I pray to the one in whose form there is special energy. I pray to the one in whose form there is a thunderous roar. O prosperous one! I pray to thee. You are the one who is the source of all happiness.
In every place where you perform your action, may you free us from fear. Bring our subjects welfare and free them from fear. Make our animals free from fear.
(We will reproduce the original Sanskrit for this as well, and it is as follows.
yatah yatah sam ihase tatah nah abhayam kuru sham nah kuru prajabhyah abhayam nah pashubhyah.)
The water and the herbs will bring welfare to all of us. But they will bring misery to the one who bears hatred towards us in his heart. They will also bring misery to the one whom we hate in our hearts.
The pure learning that brings welfare to the learned has been known for some time. It will help the learned to live for a hundred years. They will hear for a hundred years and talk for a hundred years. For a hundred years, they will not live in penury, but will be blessed with happiness.
This is the end of Adhyaya thirty-six. We will now move on to the last chapter of the Yajur Veda. This is Adhyaya forty. Adhyaya forty is in fact rather special. It is actually an Upanishad, the lshopanishad.
zThis is the only instance where an Upanishad forms a part of the samhita section of a Veda.
There are seventeen mantras in this chapter. The supreme godhead is the origin of this universe where one can dwell. The universe evolves and changes, but it continues to be the same constant universe. Enjoy the universe by donating its riches. Do not be greedy. Do the riches of the universe belong to any single individual?
This world is the place to perform great acts (karma). It is action that enables one to live for a hundred years. May you realise this knowledge. There is no other course of action. Performing deeds never sullies the human race.
Those who are famous for their physical strength and strive only for that, are shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. Those who kill themselves join the ranks of these ignorant ones after they die.
(Killing oneself does not mean killing oneself in a literal sense. There are ten ways to kill oneself. These are : (i) negating that the supreme godhead is everywhere ; (ii) harming the populace in general to further one’s own desires; (iii) being selfish in the pursuit of pleasure; (iv) being greedy; (v) desiring all the wealth for one’s own self; (vi) performing evil acts; performing acts that reduce one’s life expectancy; not maintaining the concentration of the mind; believing in a path that is not the righteous one; and (x) believing that righteous deeds act as bonds. Anyone who does any of these, kills himself by failing to elevate himself spiritually. Thus, the death referred to above does not refer to the literal act of dying. People who are evil in the above senses are spiritually dead even though they may be physically alive.)
The supreme godhead is one. It is constant and does not move. It is ancient and was there before the universe was created. The supreme godhead is the source of all inspiration; it is swifter than the speed of thought. The senses are incapable of getting to know the paramatman. Although the godhead is constant and immobile, it is faster than any object that one can think of. An individual who is in his mother’s womb has given up his earlier physical body and is awaiting a new one. It is the supreme godhead which guides him along the path to future action and it is the paramatman which keeps a tally of all the action that he performs.
The paramatman makes others move, but it does not move itself. The paramatman is far away, and yet it is certainly very near. The paramatman is in everything, but it is also outside everything.
He who is truly learned visualises the paramatman in every object. He realises that the paramatman is inside and outside every element. The truly learned never doubt this truth.
One who attains this special knowledge realises that it is his atman that is there in every object and in every element. How can one who understands this unification suffer from any form of illusion? How can he ever be unhappy?
The paramatman is everywhere. It has no body, nor does it have any senses. It has no hue. The paramatman is pure and energetic, untouched by sin. It sees everything and it knows everything. The paramatman is victorious; it has created itself. From time Immemorial, the paramatman has preordained the destiny of all objects according to prescribed paths.
One can strive for the unity of a nation or one can strive for the independence of its individual entities. One who strives for individual independence is shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. One who strives for the independence of individual entities is also ignorant. One who strives only for the unity of a nation is also ignorant. But the ignorance of the one who strives for individual independence is greater.
(There must therefore be a proper balance between individual independence and the unity of the nation. Too much of emphasis on unification stifles individual initiative. And too much of emphasis on individual independence leads to selfishness.)
There is some good in striving for the unity of the nation and there is also some good in striving for individual independence. These are two distinct paths. Those who choose that which is good from each of these two paths and attain a balance are the truly learned.
Learned indeed is the one who knows the good of each of these two paths. He attains immortality.
He who does not know the nature of the atman is shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. But he who knows only the atman and ignores the world at large, is also shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. In fact, the ignorance of the latter is greater.
The fruits of pursuing spiritual knowledge are different from the fruits of pursuing material knowledge. That is the instruction we have received from those who are learned.
(Spiritual knowledge is attained by those who strive to understand the nature of the atman. Material knowledge is attained by those who are obsessed with the world and material possessions. The learned have instructed us that pursuing either path in an extreme fashion has its dangers. Someone who concentrates exclusively on the material world does not attain spiritual upliftment, and someone who concentrates only on the atman and ignores the material world, liable to spurn all action. The path indicated by the learned is a proper mixture of the two.)
The person who has knowledge of the atman and knowledge of the world is indeed learned. Through his knowledge of the world, he banishes death. Through his knowledge of the atman, he attains immortality.
The force of life is divine and immortal. The physical body will eventually be burnt to ashes. O men! You are the ones who perform action. Meditate on the atman for your protection. Think of the deeds that you have performed. O men! You are the ones who perform action. Think. Think of the deeds that you have performed.
O Agni! You are the one who lights everything up. Show us the path along which we can elevate ourselves. O gods! You are familiar with the acts we have performed. Please remove the sin resulting from any evil acts that we may have committed. We bow down in obeisance before you and chant your praise.
The happiness that is in truth is covered inside a golden vessel. It is true that I am the one who is present in all life. It is true that heaven is nothing but the brahman.
(The pursuit of gold leads to distraction. Gold is a symbol for the illusions of the material world. Unless one sets aside this distraction, one will not attain the light of true knowledge. I am the one who is present in all life since I am trying to obtain the knowledge of the brahman through all living beings. The brahman pervades the universe and heaven is identical with the brahman.)
This truth is universal. That (the brahman) is complete. This (the world) is also complete (as it was created by the brahman). It is known that anything created by the complete is also complete. If the complete (the
world) is taken away from the complete (the brahman), what remains is also complete.
(The creation of the world did not, in any way, impair the completeness of the brahman. This mantra is also cited quite often. Therefore, let us reproduce the Sanskrit.
(om purnamadah purnamidam purnatpum- amudachyate purnasya purnamadaya purnameva- vashishyate)
O protector! May there be peace. May there be peace. May there be peace.
(Om! Shantih! Shantih! Shantih! The first invocation of peace refers to individual peace, the second to social peace and the third to worldly peace.)
This concludes the Yajur Veda Samhita. As you have realised, we have not reproduced the text in its entirety. That would have been impossible in so short a space. We have skipped many chapters. Wouldn’t you like to savour what the other chapters have to offer? You will also have realised that there is scope for varied interpretation in translating the text. The text of the Yajur Veda is not as straightforward as is the case with, say, the text of the Sama Veda. Wouldn’t you like to check whether our interpretations are correct?
What better way is there to do this than to read the original Yajur Veda for yourself?