A SMALL SELECTION OF FREELY PARAPHRASED HYMNS …
Source : Hymns of the Atharva Veda [ 1895 ] by Ralph T.H. Griffith
Vedas, Vedic Age and Vedic People : A Brief
The Vedas are not books. Their compilation was an afterthought that took place many centuries, perhaps millennia, after the compositions were first revealed and inducted in the oral tradition, which was pervasive among the laity and specialists consisting of experts, institutional teachers and priests of respective Vedas – Hotr ( of Rig Veda ), Adhvaryu ( of Yajur Veda ), Udgatr ( of Sama Veda ) and Brahma ( of Atharva Veda ). Of these, the first three – Hotr, Adhvaryu and Udgatr – perform all the actions required with speech or limbs, even that of Atharva which ought to have been performd by the fourth priest, Brahma, who but sits unmoved through the entire sacrifice performing the whole procedure in his mind, completing portions skipped over and correcting imperfections as the performance proceeds.
And that is one primary characteristic of the Vedic people : utter trust in the effectiveness of speech, aligned with knowledge instated in the intellect. The mind is concentrated to the purposed focus from which action is projected in the here and now. Every step is divined, their nature spelled and aspects elaborately specified for their institution, execution and delivery.
The values are clear : there is truth with us, in and about us; and actions performed in truth yield results in accord with desires in our truthful intent. The purpose could be universal good and peace, security and prosperity of the community, or personal … right knowledge and capacity for wisdom, physical or inner strength, skills of speech or other applications of mind, income or wealth, sensual and amorous fulfillment, purity of thought and inner organ or liberation absolute from all that is finite, mutable and transient.
For the Vedic people, there was nothing in truth that could not be obtained, bestowed or wrought with the purity of spirit we already have, which illumines and reveals in the mind, and with speech that proceeds from it. With poetry, in other words !
It is reasonable to suggest that universal nurture of such cognition would have permeated such spiritual orientation and pervasive culture in practice would have suffused such understanding in the wider community and, in fact, over the civilisation entire, through those millennia we know as the Vedic period.
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This selection has a whole range of focal matter for prayer or benediction … spiritual, social and personal. It even has one for pining young hearts, shaving of beard and strengthening of penis that, perhaps, Ralph Griffith found scandalous or too obnoxious to translate … and chose to leave it Latin or Spanish !
The liturgical corpus was orally handed down from those days in antiquity and several Vedic hymns, especially those in prayer and addressed to universal entities, are still invoked throughout India with subtleties of intonation, texture and rhythm, with which they were recited in ancient times.
Vedic Sacrifice with Chant at Ramanashram.
(1) IN PRAISE OF SAVITR : BOOK VI HYMNS I & II
In praise of Savitr !
Sing loudly this hymn in twilight
At dawn and dusk
To bring to us a splendid present.
Yea, O’ Son of Truth !
The youthful, gracious friend
Whose word is guileless
Whose home is in the river.
Savitr, our God
Shall send to us
Many everlasting treasures
So that both paths may well be traveled.
[ In praise of Atharvan ]
(Let all) Invoke for us
Proclaim in sundry places
The kinsman of the Gods …
Our sire, Atharvan !
His mother’s ovum !
His father’s vitality !
The youthful one
Who with his mind
Had noticed this oblation.
(2) A Prayer For Purification : Book VI HYMN XIX
Let the Gods purify me
Let men purify me with a prayer.
Cleanse me, all creatures that exist !
May Pavamāna make me pure.
May Pavamāna make me pure
For wisdom, for power and life
And unassailed security.
O God Savitr !
Purify us that we may see.
[ Hymn is sung while Soma bulb or twigs are pressed and crushed between two stones, and the juice filtered through sieves. The process is elaborate and complicated, and pretty much incidental on several extraneous factors. Hence are special prayers offered for the gods to help and assist. ]
(3) A Rishi’s Morning Prayer : BOOK III HYMN XVI
We invoke Agni at dawn
Indra and Varuna
Mitra and the Asvin twins !
We invoke Bhaga at dawn
Pūshan and Brāhmanaspati
Soma and Rudra …
We invoke at dawn.
We all invoke the strong Bhaga
Conqueror of the morning
Son of Aditi, the great Disposer
Whom each who feel poor
Strong and mighty, or a king
Address thus : O Bhaga !
Grant Thou my portion ( of strength ) !
O Bhaga, our guide !
O Thou, whose gifts we trust !
Accept this hymn
And favour us with wealth.
Augment our stables of kine and horses.
May we be rich in men
With heroes, brave and conquering.
Let felicity be ours at present
(As also) When the Sun advances
And at noontide;
And, O Bounteous One !
May we still be happy at sunset
Under God’s protective cover.
May Bhaga verily bestow bliss
And, through him, the gods
May cause happiness
To attend upon us.
As such, with all my might I call
And call Thee as such, O Bhaga !
Be thou our leader here.
With this, our sacrifice here
May the Dawns be inclined
To come to this pure place
As they did in Dadhikrāvan.
As strong steeds draw a chariot
May they lead me to Bhaga
Who discovers and bestows all treasure.
May the kind Mornings
Dawn on us for ever
With the wealth of kine
Horses and heroes.
Streaming with abundance, pouring rich,
Do ye preserve us evermore, with your blessings !
(4) A Prayer For Sacred Knowledge And Its Fruits : BOOK VII HYMN LXI
O Agni !
Since we undergo austerity with fervour and zeal
May we be dear to Sacred Lore.
May we be wise and live long.
O Agni !
We practise acts rogorous and sober.
We undergo austerity.
Hence, listening to the Holy Lore
May we grow wise and full of days ever more.
(5) To The Waters : BOOK VI HYMN XXIII
Here flow the restless ones
Unceasing, through day and night,
Here I call hitherward the Goddess of Waters
The One most excellent and wise.
Let the deft Waters I summon
Give permission that we bear them off
And quickly set us on our way.
Let all the people celebrate the rite
Of Savitr, the God.
Let the Waters be sweet unto us
And Plants be propitious !
(6) To The Rivers : BOOK VI HYMN XXIV
Forth from the Mountains of Snow
They stream and meet in the Sindhu
Here or there.
To me, the sacred Waters gave the balm
That heals the heart’s disease.
Whatever rupture I have had
That injured the eyes, heels or toes
The Waters, most skillful physicians
Have made me well again.
All Rivers ! Who have Sindhu for your Lady
Sindhu for your Queen
Give us the balm that heals this ill.
Let us enjoy this boon from you.
(7) A Prayer For Peace And Security : BOOK VI HYMN XL
O Heaven and Earth !
Here may we dwell in safety.
May Savitr and Soma deliver us to safety.
May the pervasive Airs keep us safe.
May our oblations to the Seven Rishis secure our safety.
May the Four Quarters empower this hamlet of ours.
May Savitr favour us and make us happy !
May Indra make us free from foes and danger.
May the wrath of Kings
Be turned to other places (and people).
O Indra ! Keep us free from enemies
Both from below and above
Give us perfect peace …
Peace from behind and in our face.
(8) To Promote Unanimity In An Assembly : BOOK VI HYMN LXIV
Let all agree and be united.
Let your minds be all of one accord
Even as the gods of ancient days
Unanimously waited for their share.
The counsel is common
Common the assembly
Common the law
So be their thoughts united.
I offer this general oblation up to you.
Let us together entertain one common purpose.
One and the same be your resolve
Let all your hearts be in harmony :
One and the same be all your minds
That all may happily consent.