Journal : Atharva Veda – Part I


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.

*    *    *

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.

Source :

 (1)      IN PRAISE OF SAVITR          :           BOOK VI  HYMNS I & II

Sing, Atharvan

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

Praise Him

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.

O Bhaga

Augment our stables of kine and horses.

O Bhaga

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.

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