Atharva-Veda Samhita/Book VI/Hymn 128
128. For auspicious time: with dung-smoke.
[Atharvān̄giras (nakṣatrarājānam candramasam astāut).—caturṛcam. sāumyam; çakadhūmadevatyam. ānuṣṭubham.']]
Except the third verse, this hymn occurs also in Pāipp. xix. Besides the ceremony reported under vs. 1, Kāuç. has the hymn (50. 13) in a general rite for good fortune, with vi. 1, 3-7, 59, etc. etc.; and also, in the chapter of portents (100. 3), in an expiatory ceremony on occasion of an eclipse of the moon (somagrahaṇa, comm.); vs. 3, too, is specially quoted in the aṣṭakā ceremony (138. 8), as accompanying a nineteenth [oblation?].
Translated: Weber, Omina und Portenta (1858), p. 363; Zimmer, p. 353; Griffith, i. 316; Bloomfield, 160, 532.—Bloomfield had already treated it at length, AJP. vii. 484 ff., and JAOS. xiii. p. cxxxiii (= PAOS., Oct. 1886). A pencilled note on Whitney's ms. shows that he considered the propriety of rewriting the translation and comment for vi. 128.
1. When the asterisms made the çakadhū́ma their king, they bestowed on him auspicious (bhadrá-) day, saying "This shall be [his] royalty."
Çakadhū́ma (with irregular but not unparalleled accent: see my Skt. Gr. §1267 b) means primarily 'dung-smoke,' i.e. smoke arising from burning dung (or else the vapor from fresh dung). According to the comm., it signifies here the fire from which such smoke arises, and then, "on account of inseparability from that, a Brahman"; and he quotes TS. v. 2. 81-2: "a Brahman is indeed this Agni Vāiçvānara." The Kāuçika-Sūtra, in a passage (50. 15, 16) also quoted by the comm., says that, with this hymn, 'having laid balls of dung on the joints of a Brahman friend, one asks dung-smoke, "what sort of day today?" He (of course, the Brahman*) answers "propitious, very favorable."' Prof. Bloomfield takes çakadhūma to be out-and-out the title of a Brahman, "weather-prophet"; but this seems not to follow from the Sūtra, also not from the Anukr., and least of all from the hymn. The Pāipp. version differs considerably from ours (but nearly agrees with one in an appendix to the Nakṣatra-kalpa: see Bloomfield, AJP. vii. 485): it reads yad rājānaṁ çakadhūmaṁ nakṣatrāṇy akṛṇuta: bhadrāham asmāi prā ’yachan iato rāṣṭram ajāyata. The accent of ásāt in d is not explained by any known rule. *⌊So Keçava to Kāuç. 50. 16.⌋
2. Auspicious day ours at noon, auspicious day be ours at evening, auspicious day ours in the morning of the days; be night auspicious day for us.
That is, may each of these times be free from omens and influences of ill-luck. The Ppp. version runs thus: bh. astu nas sāyaṁ bh. prātar astu naḥ: bh. asmabhyaṁ tvaṁ çakadhūma sadā kṛṇu (as in the appendix to the Nakṣatra-kalpa just cited).
3. From day-and-night, from the asterisms, from sun-and-moon, do thou, O king çakadhū́ma, make auspicious day for us.
This verse, as already noted, is wanting in Ppp., but its second half nearly agrees with that of the Ppp. version of vs. 2. The accent in b should be emended to sūryācandramasā́bhyām, as is read below ⌊see W's note⌋ in xi. 3. 34. The first half-verse is metrically irregular.
4. Thou who hast made auspicious day for us at evening, by night, also by day—to thee as such, O çakadhū́ma, king of the asterisms, [be] always homage.
Ppp. reads akarat at end of a, and prātar for naktam in b. All the mss. leave akaras unaccented, and SPP. accordingly gives akaras. in his text; ours emends to ákaras.
One may conjecture that it is the Milky Way, which is not unlike a thin line of smoke drawn across the sky, that is the real king of the asterisms, and that its imitation by a column of the heavy smoke of burning dung is what was relied on to counteract any evil influences from the asterisms; or the behavior of such smoke, as rising upward or hanging low, may have been really a weather-sign.