Atharva-Veda Samhita/Book XVII

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Book XVII.

Prayer to the Sun, identified with Indra and with Vishṇu.

⌊This is the fifth book of the third grand division (books xiii.-xviii.) of the Atharvan collection, and its unity of subject (as indicated by the title, above, which is slightly modified from Whitney's, p. 806) is sufficiently apparent. It is the only book of the entire collection that consists of a single anuvāka. At xix. 23. 27, it is called the Viṣāsahi (viṣāsahyāí svā́hā: note the singular number); and the Old Anukr., as noted below at page 812, gives it the same designation. As was true of the preceding book (see page 792), no translation of this book has been published by the translators of single books; but from here on to the end of xx. 37 we have the bhāṣya.

⌊The Atharvaṇīya-paddhati, in a chapter on veda-vratas (note to Kāuç. 57. 32), nominates a viṣāsahi-vrata; and the same vrata is mentioned by Keçava, in his note to Kāuç. 42. 12, p. 34424, together with the çiro-vrata, which latter is known as a necessary preliminary to the study of the "Shaveling Upanishad" (see Muṇḍaka, iii. 2. 10). "Doubtless this hymn figured prominently in it" [the viṣāsahi-vrata], says Bloomfield, in his part of the Grundriss, p. 95.⌋

⌊The hymn consists of just 30 verses: and so again we find the decad-division,—here into three precise decads. This, however, is a mechanical division. Structurally, the hymn is composed of five parts, as follows.⌋

Part I., verses 1-5.—This is a sequence of 5 verses of 6 pādas each and of the scheme 8 + 8: 8 + 12: 8 + 8 = 52. All 5 verses are identical in the first 5 pādas, which are made up mostly of words containing the roots sah 'overpower' and ji 'win by conquest'; and they differ only in the sixth pāda, which is characterized by the phrase 'may I be' (bhūyāsam), with an ūha which makes vs. 1 fall short of the full tale of syllables and makes an overplus for vs. 5.⌋

Part II., verses 6-19.—This is a sequence of 14 verses characterized by the refrain 'Thine, O Vishnu ' (távéd viṣṇo). It is a curious fact that the mss. do not separate this refrain from the stock of the verse by an avasāna-mark; and herein they are supported by the Anukr. (see below), which describes verses [1-8: that is, 1-5 of Part I. and] 6-8, 10-13, 16, 18-19, and 24 as try-avasāna. In all the taved viṣṇo verses (6-19, and 24), the Bombay ed. follows the mss.: the Berlin ed., on the other hand, inserts an avasāna-mark before the taved; and, so far as the sense and structure go, it is imperatively demanded.—All the vss. of this part are of 7 pādas except 9, 14-15, and 17, which are of 5 each, and except 10, which is of 8.⌋

Part III., verses 20-23.—This consists of 4 bits of prose. The verses contain: praise and prayer to the Sun (20-21: 'brilliant art thou; may I be brilliant'); and homage to the Sun, rising, setting, etc. (22-23: namas).⌋

Part IV., verses 24-26.—These are 3 perfectly regular anuṣṭubh verses, to the first of which is added the anuṣan̄ga that is characteristic of Part II. The 3 verses are closely related and are addressed to the Sun as Āditya or Sūrya, the first and last being appropriate for use at sunrise, and the second for use at sundown.—It may be noted that of the Pali paritta verses (Jātaka, ii. p. 33-35) cited in the introduction to iii. 26, one set is used at sunrise and the other at sundown.⌋

Part V., verses 27-30.—These (if we disregard the palpably intrusive bráhmaṇā of 27 a) are 4 perfectly regular stanzas, of which all the pādas are triṣṭubh except 30 a and 30 c, which are jagatī in count and cadence. We might call them paritta-vents, charms for defense and protection; they show various derivatives of the roots vṛ and gup, and references to Kaçyapa (see note to iv. 20. 7).⌋

Book XVII.—Prayer to the Sun as Indra and Vishṇu. Seer: Brahman
1 Prayer and praise to Indra and the Sun 809