Lesson 49 – Analysis of a hymn from The Rig Veda (RV 1.1)

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In the last lesson, Lesson 48, we looked at some of the key features of Vedic Sanskrit, like Sandhis, Infinitives etc.

In this lesson we will analyse the first hymn from the Rig Veda.

This is a hymn to Agni. Agni, meaning fire, and a deity representing fire, represents in addition to the fire itself,  lustre, brilliance, the sun, lightning, intellect etc. Agni is addressed in over 200 hymns and is second only to Indra (who is addressed in over a quarter of the hymns of the Rig Veda)  in importance in the Rig Veda.

The metre of this hymn is Gāyatrī. This consists of three octosyllabic verses identical in construction. When normal, each of these verses ends (the last four syllables) in ~ – ~ ~/-.

Hymn

Latin Script देवनागरी Griffith’s Translation
agním īḷe puróhitaṃ yajñásya devám r̥tvíjam । अ॒ग्निम् ई॑ळे पु॒रोहि॑तं य॒ज्ञस्य॑ दे॒वम् ऋ॒त्विज॑म् । I Laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,,
hótāraṃ ratnadhā́tamam ॥ 1 होता॑रं रत्न॒धात॑मम् ॥ The hotar, lavishest of wealth.
agníḥ pū́rvebhir ŕ̥ṣibhir ī́ḍyo nū́tanair utá । अ॒ग्निः पूर्वे॑भि॒र् ऋषि॑भि॒र् ईड्यो॒ नूत॑नैर् उ॒त । Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as by ancient seers.
sá devā́m̐ éhá vakṣati ॥ 2 स दे॒वाँ एह व॑क्षति ॥ He shall bring hitherward the Gods.
agnínā rayím aśnavat póṣam evá divédive । अ॒ग्निना॑ र॒यिम् अ॑श्नव॒त् पोष॑म् ए॒व दि॒वेदि॑वे । Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yea, plenty waxing day by day,
yaśásaṃ vīrávattamam ॥ 3 य॒शसं॑ वी॒रव॑त्तमम् ॥ Most rich in heroes, glorious.
ágne yáṃ yajñám adhvaráṃ viśvátaḥ paribhū́r ási । अग्ने॒ यं य॒ज्ञम् अ॑ध्व॒रं वि॒श्वतः॑ परि॒भूर् असि॑ । Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompassest about
sá íd devéṣu gachati ॥ 4 || स इद् दे॒वेषु॑ गछति ॥ Verily goeth to the Gods.
agnír hótā kavíkratuḥ satyáś citráśravastamaḥ । अ॒ग्निर् होता॑ क॒विक्र॑तुः स॒त्यश् चि॒त्रश्र॑वस्तमः । May Agni, sapient-minded Priest, truthful, most gloriously great,
devó devébhir ā́ gamat ॥ 5 दे॒वो दे॒वेभि॒र् आ ग॑मत् ॥ The God, come hither with the Gods.
yád aṅgá dāśúṣe tvám ágne bhadráṃ kariṣyási । यद् अ॒ङ्ग दा॒शुषे॒ त्वम् अग्ने॑ भ॒द्रं क॑रि॒ष्यसि॑ । Whatever blessing, Agni, thou wilt grant unto thy worshipper,
távét tát satyám aṅgiraḥ ॥ 6 तवेत् तत् स॒त्यम् अ॑ङ्गिरः ॥ That, Angiras, is indeed thy truth.
úpa tvāgne divédive dóṣāvastar dhiyā́ vayám । उप॑ त्वाग्ने दि॒वेदि॑वे॒ दोषा॑वस्तर् धि॒या व॒यम् । To thee, dispeller of the night, O Agni, day by day with prayer
námo bháranta émasi ॥ 7 नमो॒ भर॑न्त॒ एम॑सि ॥ Bringing thee reverence, we come
rā́jantam adhvarā́ṇāṃ gopā́m r̥tásya dī́divim । राज॑न्तम् अध्व॒राणां॑ गो॒पाम् ऋ॒तस्य॒ दीदि॑विम् । Ruler of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One,
várdhamānaṃ své dáme ॥ 8 वर्ध॑मानं॒ स्वे दमे॑ ॥ Increasing in thine own abode.
sá naḥ pitéva sūnávé ‘gne sūpāyanó bhava । स नः॑ पि॒तेव॑ सू॒नवे ऽग्ने॑ सूपाय॒नो भ॑व । Be to us easy of approach, even as a father to his son:
sácasvā naḥ svastáye ॥ 9 सच॑स्वा नः स्व॒स्तये॑ ॥ Agni, be with us for our weal.

When metrically restored, it looks like this:

agním īḷe puróhitaṃ 1.001.01a – ~ – – ~ – ~ ~
yajñásya devám r̥tvíjam 1.001.01b – – ~ – ~ – ~ ~
hótāraṃ ratnadhā́tamam 1.001.01c – – – – ~ – ~ ~
agníḥ pū́rvebhir ŕ̥ṣibhir 1.001.02a – – – – ~ ~ ~ ~
ī́ḍiyo nū́tanair utá 1.001.02b – ~ – – ~ – ~ ~
sá devā́m̐ éhá vakṣati 1.001.02c ~ – – – ~ – ~ ~
agnínā rayím aśnavat 1.001.03a – ~ – ~ ~ – ~ ~
póṣam evá divédive 1.001.03b – ~ – ~ ~ – ~ –
yaśásaṃ vīrávattamam 1.001.03c ~ ~ – – ~ – ~ ~
ágne yáṃ yajñám adhvaráṃ 1.001.04a – – – – ~ – ~ ~
viśvátaḥ paribhū́r ási 1.001.04b – ~ – ~ ~ – ~ ~
sá íd devéṣu gachati 1.001.04c ~ – – – ~ – ~ ~
agnír hótā kavíkratuḥ 1.001.05a – – – – ~ – ~ ~
satyáś citráśravastamaḥ 1.001.05b – – – – ~ – ~ ~
devó devébhir ā́gamat 1.001.05c – – – – ~ – ~ ~
yád aṅgá dāśúṣe tuám 1.001.06a ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ ~
ágne bhadráṃ kariṣyási 1.001.06b – – – – ~ – ~ ~
távét tát satyám aṅgiraḥ 1.001.06c ~ – – – ~ – ~ ~
úpa tvāgne divédive 1.001.07a ~ – – – ~ – ~ –
dóṣāvastar dhiyā́ vayám 1.001.07b – – – – ~ – ~ ~
námo bháranta émasi 1.001.07c ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ ~
rā́jantam adhvarā́ṇaāṃ 1.001.08a – – ~ – ~ – ~ –
gopā́m r̥tásya dī́divim 1.001.08b – – ~ – ~ – ~ ~
várdhamānaṃ suvé dáme 1.001.08c – ~ – – ~ – ~ –
sá naḥ pitéva sūnáve 1.001.09a ~ – ~ – ~ – ~ –
ágne sūpāyanó bhava 1.001.09b – – – – ~ – ~ ~
sácasvā naḥ suastáye 1.001.09c ~ – – – ~ – ~ –

Analysis of the verses

Verse 1

agním अ॒ग्निम् Accusative singular of masculine agní “fire”. Probably from the root √aj “be agile”
īḷe ई॒ळे॒ For īḍe. “ḍ” between vowels becomes “ḷ”. Principal verb. So unaccented. Present indicative, first person, singular, middle of √īḍ “to praise, to magnify”. “I praise”
puróhitam पु॒रोहि॑तम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective puróhita “priest”. From purás + past passive participle of √dhā “put”. Literally “put in front” (of fire). Karmadhāraya compound.
yajñásya य॒ज्ञस्य॑ Genitive singular of masculine yajñá “devotion, worship”.”Of worship”. From √yaj “offer”
devám दे॒वम् Accusative singular of masculine devá ” heavenly, god”. Maybe from the noun “dív” (sky).
r̥tvíjam ऋ॒त्विज॑म् Accusative singular of masculine adjective r̥tvíj “sacrificing at the appointed time, sacrificing at season, priest”. r̥tú (“regular time, season”) + íj (“sacrificing”). r̥tú (from √r̥ (“go, send”) ; íj (verbal  of √yaj “to sacrifice”; íj does not appear as an independent word). Tatpuruṣa compound
hótāram होता॑रम् Accusative singular of masculine hótr̥ “priest, chief priest”. From √hu (“sacrifice”) or √hū (“invoke”).
ratnadhā́tamam र॒त्न॒धात॑मम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective ratnadhā́tama. Superlative of ratnadhā́ = rátna (“treasure, blessing”) + dhā́ (“bestowing, granting”). rátna is from √rā (“give”);  dhā́ is from √dhā (“put”). Tatpuruṣa compound.

Meaning

I praise Agni, the (domestic) priest, the divine sacrificer, the giver of the best treasures.

Verse 2

Note that the word ī́ḍyo when metrically restored becomes ī́ḍio ईडि॑ओ. This then has to be pronounced ī́ḷio ईळि॑ओ. [In Vedic Sanskrit ḍ ड् between two vowels becomes ḷ ळ्]

Note that the visarga in agníḥ, since it is before a “p”, is to be pronounced as an upadhmānīya spirant. That is an “f” sound. So agníf pū́rvebhir etc.

 

agníḥ अ॒ग्निः Nominative singular of masculine agní.
pū́rvebhiḥ पूर्वे॑भिः Instrumental plural of masculine adjective “pū́rva” “by ancient”. In Vedic Sanskrit, the ending “ebhis” is also used commonly as “ais” for “a” ending stems. In Classical Sanskrit only “ais” is used.
ŕ̥ṣibhiḥ ऋषि॑भिः Instrumental plural of masculine ŕ̥ṣi “by seers”
ī́ḍyaḥ ईड्यः॑ Nominative singular of masculine adjective ī́ḍya. Gerundive (potential passive participle) of √īḍ “praise”
nū́tanaiḥ नूत॑नैः Instrumental plural of masculine adjective “nū́tana” “of now, young”. Here the “ais” ending is used. This combining of the “ais” ending and “ebhis” ending in the same stanza is common. From adverb nú “now”
utá उ॒त This particle meaning “and” is very commonly used in the Vedas
sáḥ सः Nominative singular of masculine pronoun “tad”. “he”
devā́n दे॒वान् Accusative plural of masculine “devá” “heavenly, god”Note the Sandhi here. In ancient Sanskrit, a final “n” before vowels is changed after a long vowel, to the Anusvāra. (If the preceding long vowel is an “ā”, then to “m̐” and if it is “ī”, “ū” or “ṝ” to “m̐r”
ā́ Note how the the preposition / verbal prefix is separated from the verb. [In classical Sanskrit it would have been āvakṣati.] Note also that this preposition is accented as we mentioned before in lesson 46.
ihá इ॒ह Adverb “here”
vakṣati व॒क्ष॒ति॒ Note that the verb is accentless. This form is an “s” aorist subjunctive, third person active singular of √vah “carry” (vah-s-a-ti) [In Vedic Sanskrit, like the present system, the aorist system also has a subjunctive mode]

Meaning

Agni has been praised by former and current seers. He will bring the gods here.

Verse 3

agnínā अ॒ग्निना॑ Instrumental singular of masculine agní. “by agni, through agni”
rayím र॒यिम् Accusative singular of masculine rayí  “wealth, treasure”. From √rā (“bestow”) through “ri”.
aśnavat अ॒श्न॒व॒त् present subjunctive active third person singular of √aṃś or √aś  aśnav-a-t “(one) will obtain wealth”
póṣam पोष॑म् Accusative singular of masculine póṣa “thriving, development”; from √puṣ “thrive”
evá ए॒व adverb “just, exactly”
divédive दि॒वेदि॑वे iterative compound (used as adverb) (accented on the first only) meaning “day by day”; diva “day” from noun div “sky”
yaśásam य॒शस॑म् Accusative singular of masculine adjective yaśás “honoured, splendid”. [Note: The neuter noun yáśas means “honour, fame”. Note the different accent between adjective and noun.]
vīrávattamam वी॒रव॑त्तमम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective vīrávattama. Superlative of vīrávant “having heroic sons”; from vīrá “man”. [Note that this word vīrá “man” is cognate with the English word “wer” meaning “man”. Hence the word werewolf meaning man-wolf]

Meaning

Through Agni one will obtain wealth and prosperity day by day. And (obtain) (the state of) honour and most heroic sons.

Verse 4

ágne अग्ने॑ Vocative singular of masculine agní. [Note 1. The vocative is normally not accented, unless it is at the beginning of a pada (which here it is. Note 2. When the vocative is accented at all, like above, it is always accented on the first syllable, irrespective of where the stem accent is]
yám यम् Accusative singular of masculine relative pronoun yád. “which, that”
yajñám य॒ज्ञम् Accusative singular of masculine yajñá “devotion, worship”.”Of worship”. From √yaj “offer”
adhvarám अ॒ध्व॒रम् Accusative singular of masculine adhvará “sacrifice”
viśvátaḥ वि॒श्वतः॑ adverb “from all sides”.  víśva (“all”) + tas. Note the shift of the accent of víśva to the last syllable before the suffix “tas”.
paribhū́ḥ प॒रि॒भूः Nominative singular of masculine adjective paribhū́ “being around, encompassing” . pari + √bhū
ási असि॑ Present indicative second person singular of √as “be”. Note that the verb is accented because it is in a subordinate clause.
sáḥ स: Nominative singular of masculine pronoun tád. “that”. Connected to the relative yám above.
ít इत् (=íd) particle “exactly, just”
devéṣu दे॒वेषु॑ Locative plural of masculine devá ” to the gods”. Maybe from the noun “dív” (sky). The locative with gachati indicates goal reached (accusative indicates where motion is directed)
gachati ग॒छ॒ति॒ Present indicative active third person singular of √gam “go”. Not accented since main verb. (Note that the first syllable of gachati is long by postion, since ch follows it.)

Meaning

O Agni, that devotion and sacrifice that you surround on all sides, that same goes to the gods.

Verse 5

agníḥ अ॒ग्निः Nominative singular of masculine agní.
hótā होता॑ Nominative singular of masculine hótr̥ “priest, chief priest”. From √hu (“sacrifice”) or √hū (“invoke”).
kavíkratuḥ क॒विक्र॑तुः Nominative singular of masculine adjective kavíkratu “having the power of a wsie one). Bahuvrīhi compound kaví + krátu.; kaví (m) – “seer, wise one” from √kū (“see”); krátu (m) – “power, understanding” from √kr̥ (“do”)
satyáḥ स॒त्यः Nominative singular of masculine adjective satyá “true”. From √as (“be”) through sánt (“being’)
citráśravastamaḥ चि॒त्रश्र॑वस्तमः Nominative singular of masculine adjective citráśravastama. “Of most excellent fame”.  Superlative of citráśravas (adj). Bahuvrīhi compound citrá (adj) “excellent” √cit (“know, appear”)+ śrávas (n) “sounds, fame” √śru (“hear”)
deváḥ दे॒वः Nominative singular of masculine devá “god”. Maybe from the noun “dív” (sky).
devébhiḥ दे॒वेभिः॑ Instrumental plural of masculine devá “with the gods”. Maybe from the noun “dív” (sky). The instrumental can be used without a preposition like “saha” and can mean “with”.
ā́ Preposition / verbal prefix to be used with gamat.
gamat ग॒म॒त् Root aorist subjunctive active third person singular of √gam (“go”) . ā + √gam (“come”)

Meaning

The god, Agni, the chief priest, the true, and of the most excellent fame, will come with the gods.

Verse 6

yát यत् Accusative singular of neuter relative pronoun yád. “which, that”
aṅgá अ॒ङ्ग Asserverative particle “just, exactly”
dāśúṣe दा॒शुषे॑ Dative singular of masculine dāśvā́ṃs “worshipper, servant of god”. Perfect participle of √dāś (“make offering”)
tvám त्वम् To be read as two syllables tu-ám. Nominative singular of second person personal pronoun yuṣmad. “you”
ágne अग्ने॑ Vocative singular of masculine agní. Accented since it is in the beginning of the pāda
bhadrám भ॒द्रम् Accusative of adjective bhadrá (“good, happy”) used adverbially with √kr̥ (“do”) meaning “do well”. bhadrá is from √bhand “be bright”
kariṣyási क॒रि॒ष्यसि॑ Simple future (lr̥ṭ लृट्) second person active singular of √kr̥ (“do”)
táva तव॑ Genitive singular of second person personal pronoun yuṣmad. “your”
ít इत्  (=íd) particle “exactly, just”
tát तत् Nominative singular of neuter relative pronoun tád. “that”
satyám स॒त्यम् Nominative singular of neuter adjective satyá “true”. From √as (“be”) through sánt (“being’)
aṅgiraḥ अ॒ङ्गि॒रः॒ Vocative singular of masculine aṅgiras. “messenger, Agni”.

Meaning

O Agni, Angiras, just what good you would do for the worshipper, that is exactly true.

Verse 7

úpa उप॑ Preposition (used with accusative) “unto”
tvā त्वा॒ Accusative singular (the enclitic form) of second person personal pronoun yuṣmad. “you”. The enclitic form does never has an accent.
agne अ॒ग्ने॒ Vocative singular of masculine agní.
divédive दि॒वेदि॑वे  iterative compound (used as adverb) (accented on the first only) meaning “day by day”; diva “day” from noun div “sky”
dóṣāvastaḥ दोषा॑वस्त: = dóṣāvastar (The visarga represents “r” not “s”). Vocative singular of doṣāvastŕ̥ (“illuminer of darkness”). Tatpuruṣa compound doṣā́  + vastŕ̥. doṣā́ (f) “evening, dark” from √duṣ (“spoil”) ; vastŕ̥ (m) “illuminer” from √vas (“shine”)
dhiyā́ धि॒या Instrumental singular of feminine dhī́ (“thought”). From √dhī (“think”). [Note how the accent gets transferred to the ending in the weak case (instrumental)]
vayám व॒यम् Nominative plural of first person personal pronoun “asmad”. “we”
námaḥ नमः॑ Accusative singular of neuter námas “bow, homage”. from √nam (“bow”)
bhárantaḥ भर॑न्तः Nominative plural of masculine adjective bhárant (“carrying, bringing”). Present active participle of √bhr̥ (“bear”)
ā́ Verbal prefix / preposition
imasi इ॒म॒सि॒ Present indicative active first person plural of √i (‘go”) : ā + √i = “come”. Note that in classical Sanskrit the ending is always “mas” (so imaḥ) but, in Vedic Sanskrit, the “masi” ending is much more common than the “mas” ending.

Meaning

O Agni, illuminer of darkness, we come to you, day by day, bearing homage in our thoughts.

Verse 8

rā́jantam राज॑न्तम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective rā́jant (“ruling”). Present active participle of √rāj (“rule, be kingly”) [All the accusative in this verse are in agreement with tvā in the previous verse.]
adhvarā́ṇām अ॒ध्व॒राणा॑म् Genitive plural of masculine adhvará “sacrifice”
gopā́m गो॒पाम् Accusative singular of masculine gopā́ (“cowherd, keeper”). [One of the very few masculine nouns ending in ā]. From √pā (“protect, keep”)
r̥tásya ऋ॒तस्य॑ Genitive singular of neuter r̥tá (“established order”). From r̥tá, past passive participle of of √r̥ (‘go send”)
dī́divim दीदि॑विम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective dī́divi “shining”. From √dī (“shine”)
várdhamānam वर्ध॑मानम् Accusative singular of masculine adjective várdhamāna “growing”. Present middle participle of √vr̥dh (“grow”)
své स्वे To be read as two syllables su-é. Locative singular of pronoun adjective svá “own” (it refers to all three persons and numbers “your own, my own, our own, their own etc.).
dáme दमे॑ Locative singular of masculine / neuter dáma (“house, home”). From √dam “control”

Meaning

(To you)  the ruler of sacrifices, the shining protector of order, growing in your own house (growing in the altar after being kindled).

Verse 9

 

sáḥ स: Nominative singular of masculine pronoun tád. “that”. Here used to refer to the ideas discussed previously. “So, as such, thus”
naḥ नः॒ Dative plural (enclitic) of first person personal pronoun “asmad”. “to us”. Unaccented.
pitā́ पि॒ता Nominative singular of masculine pitr̥ “father”
iva इ॒व॒ Particle “as, like”
sūnáve सू॒नवे॑ Dative singular of masculine  sūnú “to his son”. In the verse, sūnávé has two accents because the accent of the elided “a” of ágne gets thrown backward.

[sūnávé ‘gne]

ágne अग्ने॑  Vocative singular of masculine agní.
sūpāyanáḥ सू॒पा॒य॒नः Nominative singular of masculine adjective sūpāyaná “of easy access”. sú + upā́yana. sú – inseparable particle meaning “well, good”. upā́yana (n) “approach” úpa + √i “go”
bhava भ॒व॒ Present imperative active second person singular of √bhū (“be”)
sácasva सच॑स्व Present imperative middle second person singular of √sac “accompany”. The ending “a” of sácasva is metrically  lengthened to sácasvā.
naḥ नः॒ Accuative plural (enclitic) of first person personal pronoun “asmad”. “us”. Unaccented.
svastáye स्व॒स्तये॑ To be read as su-astáye. Dative singular of feminine svastí “welfare, well-being”. From sú + asti (“being”) from √as (‘be”)

Meaning

So, O Agni, be of easy access to us like a father to his son. Be with us for our well-being.

This is the end of Lesson 49. In this lesson we analysed the first hymn (RV 1.1) of the Rig Veda.

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