Atharva-Veda Samhita/Book XI/Hymn 3

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3. Extolling the rice-dish (odaná).

[Atharvan.—trayaḥ paryāyāḥ.]

⌊Prose, except vss. 19-22.⌋ A corresponding passage is found in Pāipp. xvi., but so different in detail that it would require to be given in full for comparison; and this has not been done.

SPP., without any good reason,* counts the three paryāyas or divisions of this hymn as so many independent hymns, thus not only defacing the structure of the book, but defeating all the references that had been made to it in lexicons and elsewhere.

*⌊Whether Whitney's condemnation of SPP's procedure is justified or not may be decided when all the facts are before us. Some of them have been put together by me, above, pages 610, 611, which see.⌋

⌊The hymn is not cited by Vāit.; nor in the text of Kāuç., unless vs. 31 is meant at 62. 8: but Keçava (p. 3531) cites it for use in witchcraft practices (so the comm.), and also (p. 3652) for use in the bṛhaspati sava (so comm.).⌋

Translated: Henry, 106, 145; Griffith, ii. 61.—Cf. especially Henry's introduction, p. 145. The rice-dish, hot and yellow and nourishing, is a symbol of the sun (cf. vs. 50); its ingredients and the utensils used in making it are identified with all sorts of things in the most grotesque manner of the Brāhmaṇas.


[Paryāya I.ekatriṅçat. bārhaspatyāudanadevatyam. 1, 14. āsurī gāyatrī; 2. 3-p. samaviṣamā gāyatrī; 3, 6, 10. āsurī pan̄kti; 4, 8. sāmny anuṣṭubh; 5, 13, 15, 25. sāmny uṣṇih; 7, 19-22. prājāpatyā ’nuṣṭubh; 9, 17, 18. āsury anuṣṭubh; 11. bhurig ārcy anuṣṭubh; 12. yājuṣī jagatī; 16, 23. āsurī bṛhatī; 24. 3-p. prājāpatyā bṛhatī; 26. ārcy uṣṇih; 27; ....; ⌊28, 29.⌋ sāmnī bṛhatī (29. bhurij); 30. yājuṣī triṣṭubh; 31. alpaçah (?) pan̄ktir uta yājuṣī.]

1. Of this rice-dish Brihaspati is the head, Brahman the mouth (múkha).

The comm. combines in part two or three verses of the first paryāya together in giving his explanations.


2. Heaven-and-earth are the ears, sun-and-moon the eyes, the seven seers the breaths-and-expirations.

3. Sight (cákṣus) the pestle, desire (kā́ma) the mortar.

4. Diti the winnowing basket, Aditi the basket-holder; the wind winnowed (apa-vic).

5. Horses the corns (káṇa), kine the grains (taṇḍulá), flies the husks.

6. Kábru the hulls, the cloud the stalk (çára).

The comm. reads kabhru, and gives a forced etymology, from ka 'head' and bhrū 'brow'; he also has çíras for çáras, and this reading is found in some of the mss. (including our B.p.m., E.s.m., O.p.m. ⌊and some of SPP's⌋).


7. Dark metal its flesh, red its blood (lóhita).

That is, doubtless, iron and copper respectively.


8. Tin [its] ash, greens (? háritam) [its] color, blue lotus (púṣkara) its smell.

The comm. glosses hárita with heman 'gold.' ⌊Over "greens" W. has interlined "gold? (so BR.)." He rendered hárita by "the yellow one" at v. 28. 5, 9.⌋


9. The threshing-floor [its] receptacle, the two splints (sphyá) [its] shoulders, the two poles (īṣā́) [its] spines (anūkyā̀).

The comm. reads sphāu, and defines as pravṛddhāu dhānyādhārasya çakaṭasyā ’vayavāu; and he defines anūkyè as aṅsayor madhyadehasya ca saṁdhī. Bp. reads īçé for īṣé.


10. Entrails [its] 'neck-ropes (? jatrú), intestines [its] straps.

Jatrú is rendered with the commentary, who explains it as anaḍudgrīvāṇāṁ çakaṭayojanārthā rajjavaḥ.


11. This very earth is the vessel (kumbhī́) of the finishing (rādh) rice-dish, heaven the cover.

⌊W. interlines a query over "finishing." The comm. renders rādh- by pacyamānasya.⌋


12. The furrows [its] ribs, gravel the content of [its] bowels.

The comm. reads ūvadhyam.


13. Righteousness (ṛtá) [its] hand-washing, the brook (kulyā̀) [its] pouring-on.

In order to force a parallelism into it, the comm. explains ṛta as a 'name for water,' and as signifying 'all the water that is found in the world.' The Pet. Lex., on the other hand, conjectures 'family custom' for kulyā̀; it is translated above as if = kulyā́, as the comm. takes it.


14. With sacred verse (ṛ́c) is the vessel put on, with priesthood sent forth;

15. With sacredness (bráhman) seized about, with sacred chant (sā́man) carried about.

For the sake of the parallelism again, the comm. makes 'priesthood' indicate the Yajur-Veda, and 'sacredness' the Brahma-Veda of the Atharvans.


16. Bṛhát the stirring-stick, rathaṁtará the spoon.

The comm. paraphrases āyavana with udake prakṣiptānāṁ taṇḍulānām miçraṇasādhanaṁ kāṣṭham.


17. The seasons the cooks; they of the seasons kindle fire.

18. Heat (gharmá) burns upon the pot of five openings, the boiler (ukhá).

19. By the rice-dish of him who hath an offering (?) all worlds are to be obtained together.

The translation implies emendation of the unintelligible yajñavacás to yajñavatas, the Ppp. reading, as reported in the minor Pet. Lex. ⌊and Roth's notes⌋. The comm. explains the word as = yajñāir agniṣṭomādibhiḥ prāptavyatveno ’cyamānaḥ.


20. In which ⌊rice-dish⌋ are set (çritá), one below the other, the three, sea, sky, earth.

21. In the remnant (úchiṣṭa) of which took shape six times eighty gods.

The comm. paraphrases akalpanta by samarthā vīryavanto ‘bhavan.


22. Thee here I ask of the rice-dish, what is its great greatness.

23. He who may know the greatness of the rice-dish—

24. May not say "[it is] little," not "[it is] without onpouring," nor "[it is] this thing soever."

Upasecana is explained by the comm. as 'milk, butter, curd, or the like, that is poured on'—we might render by 'sauce.'


25. As much as the giver may set his mind upon, that one should not overbid (ati-vad).

26. The theologues (brahmavādín) say: hast thou eaten (pra-aç) the rice-dish as it was retiring (párāñc), or as it was coming on (pratyáñc)?

The pluta- or protracted syllables in this and the next verse are quoted in Prāt. i. 105, but nothing is said as to their accentuation, from which it seems most plausible to infer that the protraction made no difference in the accent; and though in the Brāhmaṇas a protracted syllable is always accented ⌊see Gram. §78 a⌋, that is not the invariable rule in the Vedic texts (thus, only once among the three instances occurring in RV.). Here the mss. are greatly at variance. ⌊SPP's V. (a then living çrotriya) read prā́çī́3ḥ; and by his ms. Dc the reading prā́çī́ḥ3 is given secunda manu. Among our mss., O.R.Kp. (and E.?) give prā́çī́ḥ3. SPP. reports that 16 of his authorities agree in giving pratyáñcā́3m; and (apart from the presence or position of the 3) this seems to be the reading of many of W's mss.⌋ SPP's text gives an accent to the protracted syllable in both cases in both vs. 26 and vs. 27.—⌊SPP's pada-reading in vs. 26 is prá: āçī́3ḥ, and in 27 it is prá: ā́çī́3ḥ. An accented ā́ in āçī́3ḥ would require pra॰ā́çī́3ḥ (cf. vs. 28); but one does not see why the ā should be accented.⌋


27. Hast thou eaten the rice-dish, or the rice-dish thee?

The mss. again disagree as to the accent of prāçī3s, the majority (including our Bp.P.M.) having prā́çī3s as odaná happens to have its natural accent on the final, there is no discordance as to odanā́3ḥ.


28. If thou hast eaten it retiring, thy breaths (prāṇá) will quit thee: so one says to him.

29. If thou hast eaten it coming on, thine expirations (apāná) will quit thee: so one says to him.

30. Not I, indeed, [have eaten] the rice-dish, nor the rice-dish me.

31. The rice-dish itself hath eaten the rice-dish.


[Paryāya II.dvāsaptati. mantroktadevatyam. a, of 32, 38, 41, g of 32-49. sāmnī triṣṭubh; b of 32, 35, 42, c 32-49, e of 33, 34, 44-48, 1-p. āsurī gāyatrī; d of 32, 41, 43, 47. dāivī jagatī; b of 38, 44, 46, e of 32, 33-43, 49. 1-p. āsury anuṣṭubh; f of 32-49. sāmny anuṣṭubh; a of 33-49.* ārcy anuṣṭubh; a of 37. sāmnī pan̄kti; b of 33, 36, 40, 47, 48. āsurī jagatī; b of 34, 37, 41, 43, 45. āsurī pan̄kti; d of 34. āsurī triṣṭubh; d of 35, 46, 48. yājuṣī gāyatrī; d of 36, 37, 40. dāivi pan̄kti; d of 38, 39. prājāpatyā gāyatrī; b of 39. āsury uṣṇih; d of 42, 45, 49, dāivi triṣṭubh; b of 49. 1-p. bhurik sāmnī bṛhatī.†]

*⌊The text of the Anukr. reads enam anyābhyāṁ çrotrābhyām (= a of 33) ity āditaḥ saptadaçā ”rcyanuṣṭubhaḥ. The definition applies (perhaps with occasional forcing) to 14 of the 17 first avasānas of vss. 33-49. As for the other 3, the a of 38 and the a of 41 are accurately defined above, in the first line of the Anukr. excerpts for this paryāya; and the a of 37, in the definition next following the asterisk.⌋

†⌊The definition of 33 d, 44 d (9 syllables) is omitted by the Anukr.⌋

The second paryāya of this hymn is reckoned in the Anukr. as of 72 divisions in 18 gaṇas or paragraphs; but the actual division in the mss. is into 126 such divisions (7 to each gaṇa), as given in both editions; and the metrical description of the Anukr. (as reported above) is also on that basis.

The division of this paryāya into 72 avasānas.—In his Critical Notice, p. 20-21, at the beginning of his first volume, SPP. treats of this matter; and just after the end (p. 356) of the text of his third volume, he prints again this paryāya, but divided into 72 avasānas "according to the instructions contained in the Sarvānukramaṇikā" which he had printed in the Critical Notice, l.c.⌋

⌊The Major Anukr. calls the 18 main divisions of this paryāya (answering to the "verses" of the Berlin ed.) by the name of daṇḍakas. Since the daṇḍakas are all subdivided, they are also (see p. 472) called ganas. Each dandaka falls into 7 subdivisions or avasānas, which may be designated as a, b, c, d, e, f, g. Each of these 7 is written out and counted for the first and last daṇḍaka (vss. 32 and 49, Berlin).⌋

⌊Similarly, in a sequence of refrains or anuṣan̄gas, the refrain is given and counted as an avasāna only for its first and last occurrence in that sequence. The third subdivision (or c: beginning taṁ vā aham) of each daṇḍaka, being unvaried throughout the paryāya, constitutes a sequence of 18 and is given and counted independently only for vss. 32 and 49; while for the 16 vss., 33-48, it is given (see SPP. in vol. iii.) and counted as one with b, thus making the avasāna to consist of b-c.—In like manner, the sixth subdivision (or f: beginning eṣa vā odanaḥ) and the seventh subdivision (or g: beginning sarvān̄ga eva), being unvaried throughout, constitute a sequence of 18 and are given and counted independently only for vss. 32 and 49; while for the other 16 vss. they are counted as one with e, thus making the avasāna to consist of e-g.⌋

⌊Furthermore, and on the other hand, subdivision e varies as to its beginning between tenāi ’nam, tayāi ’nam, and tāir enam, and tābhyām enam: but we find no unvaried sequences of more than two except tenāi ’nam etc. in the 5 vss., 39-43, and tābhyām enam etc. in the 5 vss., 44-48. For vss. 40, 41, 42, accordingly, and for vss. 45, 46, 47, as well, not only is f-g reckoned to e, but also e-f-g is reckoned as an anuṣan̄ga to d, thus making the avasāna to consist of d-g.⌋

⌊For these six verses, therefore, arranged and counted as 3 avasānas (a, b-c, d-g), we have the reckoning 6 × 3 = 18.—For verses 32 and 49 (counted as a, b, c, d, e, f, g, as above noted), we have the reckoning 2 × 7 = 14.—And for the remaining ten verses, we have the arrangement and count, a, b-c, d, e-g, or 10 × 4 = 40. This gives us (18 + 14 + 40 =) 72, which is the count, not only of the Major Anukr., but of the Old Anukr. or Pañcapaṭalikā. as well.⌋


32. If ⌊ca⌋ thou hast eaten it with another head than that (tátas) with which the ancient seers ate this, thy progeny, from the oldest down, will die: so one says to him; it verily I [have] not [eaten] coming hither (arvā́ñc), nor retiring, nor coming on; with Brihaspati [as] head, therewith have I eaten it, therewith have I made it go; this rice-dish, verily, is whole-limbed, whole-jointed, whole-bodied; whole-limbed, whole-jointed, whole-bodied becometh he who knoweth thus.

The pada-reading of prā́çīs in a is pra॰ā́çīḥ.


33. If thou hast eaten it with other ears than those ⌊tátas⌋ with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt become deaf: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with heaven-and-earth as ears, with them have I eaten it, with them have I made it go etc. etc.

34. If thou hast eaten it with other eyes than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt become blind: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with sun-and-moon as eyes, with them have I eaten it, with them etc. etc.

All the mss. read sūryācandramasā́bhyām, which SPP. has very properly retained in his text; ours was altered to agree with vi. 128. 3, but the alteration should have been the other way.


35. If thou hast eaten it with another mouth (múkha) than that with which the ancient seers ate this, thy progeny will die from in front (mukhatás): thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with bráhman as mouth, therewith have I etc. etc.

36. If thou hast eaten it with another tongue than that with which the ancient seers ate this, thy tongue will die: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with Agni's tongue, therewith have I etc. etc.

37. If thou hast eaten it with other teeth than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thy teeth will fall out (çad): thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the seasons as teeth, therewith have I etc. etc.

The comm. reads satsyanti for çatsyanti.


38. If thou hast eaten it with other breaths-and-expirations than those with which the ancient seers ate this, breaths-and-expirations will quit thee: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the seven seers as breaths-and-expirations, therewith have I etc. etc.

The mss., as usual, are divided between saptarṣibhis and saptaṛṣi- in this verse; SPP. adopts the former.


39. If thou hast eaten it with another bulk (vyácas) than that with which the ancient seers ate this, the king-yákshma will slay thee: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the atmosphere as bulk, therewith have I etc. etc.

The comm. explains vyacasā by vyāptimatā rūpeṇa.


40. If thou hast eaten it with another back than that with which the ancient seers ate this, the lightning will slay thee: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the sky as back, therewith have I etc. etc.

41. If thou hast eaten it with another breast than that with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt not prosper with plowing: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the earth as breast, therewith have I etc. etc.

42. If thou hast eaten it with another belly than that with which the ancient seers ate this, the colic (? udaradārá) will slay thee: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with truth as belly, therewith have I etc. etc.

The comm. explains udaradāra as udarasya daraṇātmako ’tīsārākhyo rogaḥ, or diarrhœa.


43. If thou hast eaten it with another bladder than that with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt die in the waters: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the ocean as bladder, therewith have I etc. etc.

44. If thou hast eaten it with other thighs than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thy thighs will die: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the thighs of Mitra-and-Varuṇa, therewith have I etc. etc.

45. If thou hast eaten it with other knees (aṣṭhīvánt) than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt become lame: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with Tvashṭar's knees, therewith have I etc. etc.

46. If thou hast eaten it with other feet than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt be much-wandering: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the feet of the two Açvins, therewith have I etc. etc.

47. If thou hast eaten it with other front-feet than those with which the ancient seers ate this, a serpent will slay thee: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with Savitar's front-feet, therewith have I etc. etc.

Read in our text savitúḥ in d (an accent-mark slipped out of place).


48. If thou hast eaten it with other hands than those with which the ancient seers ate this, thou wilt slay a Brahman: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; with the hands of righteousness (ṛtá), therewith have I etc. etc.

49. If thou hast eaten it with another firm standing (pratiṣṭhā́) than that with which the ancient seers ate this, without firm standing, without support (āyátana) wilt thou die: thus one says to him; it verily [have] I not [eaten] coming hither, nor retiring, nor coming on; standing firm in truth, therewith have I etc. etc.

All our saṁhitā-mss., and the majority of SPP's, have the false accent apratiṣṭhānó ‘nāy- in b; both editions emend to -ṣṭhānò. Some of our mss. (B.P.M.) read pratiṣṭhā́yā in d, as if aiming at pratiṣṭháyā.


[Paryāya III.saptakaḥ. mantroktadevatyam. 50. āsury anuṣṭubh; 51. ārcy uṣṇih; 52. 3-p. bhurik sāmnī triṣṭubh; 53. āsurī bṛhatī; 54. 2-p. bhurik sāmnī bṛhatī; 55. sāmny uṣṇih; 56. prājāpatyā bṛhatī.]

50. This—namely, the rice-dish—is indeed the summit (viṣṭápa) of the ruddy one (bradhná).

The comm. explains bradhna as sūryamaṇḍalamadhyavartī ”çvaraḥ, and viṣṭapa as viyati viṣṭabdham maṇḍalam.


51. He cometh to have the ruddy one for his world, he resorteth (çri) to the summit of the ruddy one, who knoweth thus.

52. Out of this rice-dish Prajāpati verily fashioned thirty-three worlds.

53. In order to the knowledge (prajñā́na) of them he created the sacrifice.

54. He who becomes the on-looker (upadraṣṭṛ́) of one knowing thus stops [his own] breath.

Upadraṣṭṛ́ ought to have here some special and offensive sense; but what? All the mss. leave bhavati unaccented, and SPP's text follows them; ours makes the necessary emendation to bhávati. We might expect runddhe, middle, but the following verses show whose breath is meant.


55. If he does not stop [his own] breath, he is scathed a complete scathing.

The comm. explains sarvajyāním by prajāpçvādirūpasya sarvasyā ’bhimatasya vastunaḥ...hānir yathā bhavati tathā. ⌊Cf. GB. i. 3. 13, p. 5218; LÇS. x. 17. 7.⌋


56. If he is not scathed a complete scathing, before old age breath quits him.

⌊The quotations from the Old Anukr. for the paryāya-sūkta are given piecemeal at the end of each paryāya. They may here be given together in their metrical form:

ekatriṅçad bhavet pūrvas tasmād dvāsaptatiḥ paraḥ:
tṛtīyaḥ saptako dṛṣṭo "bṛhaspatiḥ çirasy" api:

'In the [hymn beginning] "bṛhaspatiḥ çiraḥ"' etc.—The summations of gaṇas and (gaṇa-)avasāna-rcas are as follows: I. g., o; av., 31; 11. g., 18; av., 72; III. g., o; av., 7. Total of av., 110.—The second paryāya-sūkta is called also a gaṇa-sūkta.⌋