as we have seen, based on a still older myth. These mythological ballads, if I may use the expression, foreshadow the dramatic and epic poetry of a later age.
A very small number, hardly more than thirty altogether, of the hymns of the Rigveda are not addressed to the gods or deified objects. About a dozen poems, occurring almost exclusively in the tenth book, are concerned with magical notions, and therefore belong rather to the domain of the Atharva-veda. Two short ones (ii. 42-43) belong to the sphere of augury, certain birds of omen being invoked to utter auspicious cries. Two others consist of spells directed against poisonous vermin (i. 191), and the disease called yakshma (x. 163). Two are incantations to preserve the life of one lying at the point of death (x. 58; 60, 7-12). A couple of stanzas from one of the latter may serve as a specimen:—
- Just as a yoke with leathern thong
- They fasten on that it may hold:
- So have I now held fast thy soul,
- That thou mayst live and mayst not die,
- Anon to be unhurt and well.
- Downward is blown the blast of wind,
- Downward the burning sunbeams shoot,
- Adown the milk streams from the cow:
- So downward may thy ailment go.
Here is a stanza from a poem intended as a charm to induce slumber (v. 55):—
- The man who sits and he who walks,
- And he who sees us with his gaze:
- Of these we now close up the eyes,
- Just as we shut this dwelling-house.