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Ancient Sanskrit Online

Lesson 9

Karen Thomson and Jonathan Slocum

Study of the language of the Rigveda, the earliest surviving Sanskrit text, shows that it is an anthology of poems that were composed over a period of many centuries. Some of its hymns are believed to date from the beginning of the second millennium BC, or even earlier according to some scholars.

The most detailed study of the internal chronology of these poems, based on an analysis of vocabulary, grammatical forms, and metre, was carried out by E. Vernon Arnold a century ago, building on the work of his nineteenth-century predecessors (see the reading list in section 9 of the Series Introduction). Arnold assigns the poems to five basic periods: Archaic (the earliest poems), Strophic, Cretic, Normal, and Popular, the last consisting of poems significantly later than the rest, most of which are found towards the end of Books I to IX, or in Book X. The periods of composition of the lesson texts are as follows:

  • Archaic (Lessons 5, 6 and 10)
  • Strophic (Lesson 4)
  • Cretic (Lessons 1, 7 and 8)
  • Normal (Lessons 2 and 3)

This lesson text consists of two poems, II, 42 (233), the penultimate poem in Book II, and X, 58 (884). Both belong to what Arnold termed the Popular Rigveda, which he describes as later additions to the original collection.

Reading and Textual Analyis

II, 42 is in the triṣṭubh metre, like the last lesson text, while X, 58 is in anuṣṭubh, verses of four lines of 8 syllables each. Both clearly exhibit characteristics of the later language. The word pradíś 'direction' in both poems is late, for example, as are the verbal adjectives bhávya 'future', and bhūtá 'past' in the last verse of X, 58. Some words shifted in meaning over time: pitáras 'fathers' acquired the sense 'ancestors' (II, 42), and mánas 'understanding' the meaning 'spirit' (X, 58). The similiar change in meaning of sárva 'whole' to mean 'all' was mentioned in section 32 of Lesson 7. In the first verse of X, 58 yamá appears as a proper name, which is also characteristic of a late poem. In earlier poems yamá means 'twin': samānó vāṃ janitā́ bhrā́tarā yuváṃ, yamā́v [yamaú] ihéhamātarā (VI, 59, 2) '(Indra and Agni,) your parents are the same, you are brothers, twins whose mother is everywhere'.

The first poem, II, 42, is addressed to a bird of good omen, and has only three verses. The second, X, 58, to the wandering spirit, is twelve verses long, but only the first line changes - lines 2-4 are a repeated refrain. After the first verse of X, 58 therefore only the new first line of each verse is glossed.

[II, 42] - kánikradaj janúṣam prabruvāṇá
íyarti vā́cam aritéva nā́vam
sumaṅgálaś ca śakune bhávāsi
́ tvā kā́ cid abhibhā́ víśvyā vidat

  • kánikradat -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active intensive participle of <√krand, krándati> cry out -- calling out repeatedly
  • janúṣam -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <janús> descent, kind -- kind
  • prabruvāṇás -- participle; nominative singular masculine present middle participle of <√brū, brávīti> say + preverb <prá> forth -- proclaiming
  • íyarti -- verb; 3rd person singular active present of <√r̥, íyarti> go, send -- he urges
  • ́cam -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <́c> voice, speech -- his voice
  • aritā́ -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <aritŕ̥> oarsman -- oarsman
  • iva -- particle; <iva> like -- like
  • ́vam -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <naú> boat -- a boat
  • sumaṅgálas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sumaṅgála> auspicious, bringing luck -- bringing luck
  • ca -- conjunction; <ca> and -- if # A specialised use of ca, which accents the verb.
  • śakune -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <śakúni> (a kind of bird) -- shakuni-bird
  • bhávāsi -- verb; 2nd person singular active subjunctive of <√bhū, bhávati> be -- you will be
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • tvā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- you
  • ́ cit -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <kás, kā́, kát, kím> who, which, what? + particle <cit> even, all -- any
  • abhibhā́ -- noun; nominative singular feminine of <abhibhā́> lit. shining-against -- prying light
  • víśvyā -- indeclinable; <víśvyā> anywhere -- anywhere # Like abhibhā́, this word occurs only in this passage, and its meaning and form are debated.
  • vidat -- verb; 3rd person singular active aorist injunctive of <√vid, vindáti> find -- find

́ tvā śyená úd vadhīn mā́ suparṇó
́ tvā vidad íṣumān vīró ástā
pítryām ánu pradíśaṃ kánikradat
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ vadehá

  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • tvā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- you
  • śyenás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <śyená> eagle -- the eagle
  • út vadhīt -- verb; 3rd person singular active aorist injunctive of <√vadh> slay + preverb <út> up -- slay
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • suparṇás -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <suparṇá> finely-plumed -- the fine-feathered one
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • tvā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- you
  • vidat -- verb; 3rd person singular active aorist injunctive of <√vid, vindáti> find -- find
  • íṣumān -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <íṣumant> bearing arrows -- bearing arrows
  • vīrás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <vīrá> hero, man, strong son -- the man
  • ástā -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <ástr̥> shooter, hunter -- hunter
  • pítryām -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <pítrya> of the fathers -- of the fathers
  • ánu -- preposition; <ánu> after -- towards
  • pradíśam -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <pradíś> direction, region -- in the direction
  • kánikradat -- participle; nominative singular masculine present active intensive participle of <√krand, krándati> cry out -- calling out repeatedly
  • sumaṅgálas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sumaṅgála> auspicious, bringing luck -- bringing luck
  • bhadravādī́ -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <bhadravādín> of fortunate pronouncement -- speaking good fortune
  • vada -- verb; 2nd person singular active imperative of <√vad, vádati> speak -- speak
  • ihá -- adverb; <ihá> here, here on earth -- down to us

áva kranda dakṣiṇató gr̥hā́ṇāṃ
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ śakunte
́ na stená īśata mā́gháśaṃso
br̥hád vadema vidáthe suvī́rāḥ

  • áva kranda -- verb; 2nd person singular active imperative of <√krand, krándati> cry out + preverb <áva> down -- call down
  • dakṣiṇatás -- adverb; <dakṣiṇatás> from the right side -- from the right side # From dákṣiṇa 'right', compare Greek δεξιός.
  • gr̥hā́ṇām -- noun; genitive plural masculine of <gr̥há> house -- of the houses
  • sumaṅgálas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sumaṅgála> auspicious, bringing luck -- bringing luck
  • bhadravādī́ -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <bhadravādín> of fortunate pronouncement -- speaking good fortune
  • śakunte -- noun; vocative singular masculine of <śakúnti> (a kind of bird) -- dear shakuni-bird # A variant of śakúni in verse 1.
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • nas -- personal pronoun; accusative/dative/genitive enclitic form of <vayám> we -- us
  • stenás -- noun; nominative singular masculine of <stená> thief -- the thief
  • īśata -- verb; 3rd person singular middle aorist injunctive of <√īś, ī́śe> have mastery over -- triumph over
  • ́ -- particle; <́> not, that not -- let not
  • agháśaṃsas -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <agháśaṃsa> of wicked praise -- the impious man
  • br̥hát -- adverb; <br̥hát> on high -- aloud
  • vadema -- verb; 1st person plural active optative of <√vad, vádati> speak -- may we speak
  • vidáthe -- noun; locative singular neuter of <vidátha> confident knowledge, wise judgement -- in wisdom
  • suvī́rās -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <suvī́ra> of good manhood -- good men # The last line is formulaic, ending 22 poems in Book II, together with IX, 86, 48.

[X, 58] - yát te yamáṃ vaivasvatám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • yamám -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <yamá> twin, Yama -- to Yama # The accusative of goal with a verb of motion. Yama is the saṃgámanaṃ jánānām (X, 14, 1) 'the gatherer of men' who presides over the ancestral fathers in the kingdom of the dead.
  • vaivasvatám -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <vaivasvatá> son of Vivasvat -- son of Vivasvat # Literally 'of the radiant one'; see the feminine form in example 223 in Lesson 7.
  • mánas -- noun; nominative singular neuter of <mánas> understanding, spirit -- spirit
  • jagā́ma -- verb; 3rd person singular active perfect of <√gam, gáchati> go -- goes
  • dūrakám -- adverb; <dūrakám> far away -- far away
  • tát -- adverb; <tát> then -- then
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- to you
  • ā́ vartayāmasi -- verb; 1st person plural active causative of <√vr̥t, vártate> turn + preverb <ā́> (intensifies or reverses meaning) -- we turn it back
  • ihá -- adverb; <ihá> here, here on earth -- here
  • kṣáyāya -- noun; dative singular masculine of <kṣáya> home -- to dwell
  • jīváse -- infinitive; dative infinitive from <√jīv, jī́vati> be alive -- to live # See section 44.

yát te dívaṃ yát pr̥thivī́
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • dívam -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <dyú, dív> sky, heaven, day -- to the sky
  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • pr̥thivī́m -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <pr̥thivī́> earth -- to the earth...

yát te bhū́miṃ cáturbhr̥ṣṭim
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • bhū́mim -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <bhū́mi> earth, land -- to the land
  • cáturbhr̥ṣṭim -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <cáturbhr̥ṣṭi> four-cornered -- four-cornered...

yát te cátasraḥ pradíśo
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • cátasras -- numeral; accusative plural feminine of <catúr> four -- in the four
  • pradíśas -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <pradíś> direction, region -- directions...

yát te samudrám arṇavám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • samudrám -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <samudrá> gathering place of waters, sea -- sea
  • arṇavám -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <arṇavá> billowing, foaming -- to the foaming...

yát te márīcīḥ praváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • márīcīs -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <márīci> particle of light, gleaming light -- to the gleaming lights
  • pravátas -- noun; genitive singular feminine of <pravát> mountain slope, height -- of the distant slope...

yát te apó yád óṣadhīr
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • apás -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <áp> water -- to the waters
  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • óṣadhīs -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <óṣadhi> plant -- to the plants...

yát te sū́ryaṃ yád uṣásam
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • ́ryam -- noun; accusative singular masculine of <́rya> sun -- to the sun
  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • uṣásam -- noun; accusative singular feminine of <uṣás> dawn -- to the dawn...

yát te párvatān br̥ható
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • párvatān -- noun; accusative plural masculine of <párvata> mountain -- to the mountains
  • br̥hatás -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <br̥hánt> high, lofty -- lofty...

yát te víśvam idáṃ jágan
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • víśvam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <víśva> all -- to all
  • idám -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <ayám, iyám, idám> this -- this
  • jágat -- noun; accusative singular neuter of <jágat> moving world -- world...

yát te párāḥ parāváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • párās -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <pára> former, farther -- still farther
  • parāvátas -- noun; accusative plural feminine of <parāvát> distance -- to distances...

yát te bhūtáṃ ca bhávyaṃ ca
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

  • yát -- conjunction; <yát> that, when -- when
  • te -- personal pronoun; dative/genitive singular enclitic form of <tvám> you -- your
  • bhūtám -- verbal adjective; accusative singular neuter of past participle of <√bhū, bhávati> be -- to what has been
  • ca -- conjunction; <ca> and -- and
  • bhávyam -- verbal adjective; accusative singular neuter of future passive participle of <√bhū, bhávati> be -- what is to be
  • ca -- conjunction; <ca> and -- and...

Lesson Text



[II, 42] - kánikradaj janúṣam prabruvāṇá
íyarti vā́cam aritéva nā́vam
sumaṅgálaś ca śakune bhávāsi
́ tvā kā́ cid abhibhā́ víśvyā vidat

́ tvā śyená úd vadhīn mā́ suparṇó
́ tvā vidad íṣumān vīró ástā
pítryām ánu pradíśaṃ kánikradat
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ vadehá

áva kranda dakṣiṇató gr̥hā́ṇāṃ
sumaṅgálo bhadravādī́ śakunte
́ na stená īśata mā́gháśaṃso
br̥hád vadema vidáthe suvī́rāḥ



[X, 58] - yát te yamáṃ vaivasvatám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te dívaṃ yát pr̥thivī́
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te bhū́miṃ cáturbhr̥ṣṭim
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te cátasraḥ pradíśo
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te samudrám arṇavám
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te márīcīḥ praváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te apó yád óṣadhīr
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te sū́ryaṃ yád uṣásam
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te párvatān br̥ható
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te víśvam idáṃ jágan
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te párāḥ parāváto
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

yát te bhūtáṃ ca bhávyaṃ ca
máno jagā́ma dūrakám
tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

Translation

[II, 42]
Calling out repeatedly, proclaiming his kind,
He urges his voice like an oarsman a boat.
O shakuni-bird, if you will bring us luck
Let not any prying light anywhere find you.
Let the eagle not slay you, not the fine-feathered one,
Nor the man bearing arrows, the hunter, find you.
Calling out repeatedly in the direction of the fathers
Bringing luck, speaking good fortune, speak down to us.
Call down from the right side of the houses
Bringing luck, speaking good fortune, dear shakuni-bird;
Let the thief not triumph over us, nor the impious man,
May we, good men, in wisdom speak out loud.
[X, 58]
When your spirit goes
Far away, to Yama son of Vivasvant;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far way, to the sky, to the earth;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the four-cornered land;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, in the four directions;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the foaming sea;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the gleaming lights of the distant slope;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the waters, the plants;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the sun, to the dawn;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to the lofty mountains;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to all this world;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to still farther distances;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.
When your spirit goes
Far away, to what has been and what is to be;
Then we turn it back to you,
Here to dwell, to live.

Grammar

41. Similes introduced by iva and .
41.1. iva, va.

The poetry of the Rigveda is regularly metaphorical, and similes are not uncommon. The example in the first verse of the lesson text is typical of the use of iva -- the bird íyarti vā́cam aritéva [aritā́ iva] nā́vam (II, 42, 1) 'urges his voice like an oarsman a boat'. A similar example was given at the end of Lesson 7, svastí pánthām ánu carema, sūryācandramásāv iva (V, 51, 15) 'with wellbeing may we follow the path, like the sun and shining moon'. Usually iva follows a noun in the simile, but it can also follow other parts of speech, as in the first and penultimate examples below. These are not long similes of the Homeric kind, but short pithy comparisons, as is stressed by the treatment of iva in the ancient 'word by word', or Pada text, which attaches it to the preceding word as if it were a suffix.

In a number of places the metre indicates that although the earliest texts give the reading as iva, it should in fact be va. Example 279 is an instance of this. The metre of these poems shows numerous ways in which the ancient texts need to be corrected, some examples of which will be discussed in the section on metre at the end of this lesson.

  • prá bodhayā púraṃdhiṃ, jārá ā́ sasatī́m iva (I, 134, 3) 'wake up abundance, like a lover a sleeping girl' [275] (= first 2 lines of 217)
  • mánus tókmeva [tókma iva] rohatu (X, 62, 8) 'let mankind spring up like young corn' (quoted at the end of Lesson 1; 'corn' here is of course used in its collective sense) [276]
  • ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva [śamitā́ iva] cárma, upastíre pr̥thivī́ṃ sū́ryāya (V, 85, 1) '(Varuna,) who struck out the earth like a worker a skin to spread it before the sun' [277]
  • tád indra préva [prá iva] vīryàṃ cakartha, yát sasántaṃ vájreṇā́bodhayó 'him [vájreṇa ábodhayas áhim] (I, 103, 7) 'then, Indra, you initiated your heroic deed, so to speak, when you roused the sleeping dragon with your weapon' (the participle is from √sas 'sleep'; compare the feminine sasatī́ in 275 above) [278]
  • máyo vā́po [máyas va ā́pas] ná tŕ̥ṣyate babhū́tha (I, 175, 6; I, 176, 6) 'you were like happiness, like water (waters) to a thirsty man' [279]
41.2. 'like'.

The particle has two distinct meanings in Ancient Sanskrit, , 'not' and 'like', the second of which is found in the last example above. The use of 'like' is common in the Rigveda, with well over a thousand occurrences, but this meaning is already rare by the time of the Atharvaveda where it is found only 18 times, and it has disappeared entirely from Classical Sanskrit. The two meanings are often differentiated in pronunciation: 'not' combines with a following vowel, but 'like', being closely connected with the preceding word, does not, as the metre makes clear. In addition, 'like' cannot stand first in the line, although 'not' regularly does. Compare the use of the two together in examples 281 and 284.

Like iva, 'like' usually follows a noun in the simile, as in the Lesson 4 text: syā́ma mātúr ná sūnávaḥ 'we would be like of-the-mother sons'. The sense may however extend over the whole clause, as in example 56 in Lesson 3, yásya bráhmāṇi sukratū ávātha, ā́ yát krátvā ná śarádaḥ pr̥ṇaíthe (VII, 61, 2) 'whose prayers, O very able pair, you will favour, so that you will fill his autumns with capability, as it were'. The ancient Pada text does not treat as suffixal, unlike iva, possibly because of uncertainty about the distinction from 'not' in some passages. The two words, 'like' and 'not', are listed together in Alexander Lubotsky's concordance to the Rigveda for the same reason.

The last example in this section, the first verse of a poem addressed to víśve devā́, illustrates how a sustained metaphor can grow out of a simile. The poet uses figurative language throughout the verse to describe his willingness to engage in his task of praising the gods in turn.

  • sahasríyāso apā́ṃ ná ūrmáyaḥ (I, 168, 2) 'like the countless waves of the waters' [280]
  • yásyā́mitāni vīryā̀, ná rā́dhaḥ párietave, jyótir ná víśvam abhí ásti dákṣiṇā (VIII, 24, 21) 'who heroic deeds are measureless, his favour not to be surpassed, his liberality, like light, is over all' [281]
  • tváṃ dhíyam manoyújaṃ, sr̥jā́ vr̥ṣtíṃ ná tanyatúḥ (IX, 100, 3) 'may you send forth the thought harnessed by understanding, as thunder (tanyatú (m)) the rain' [282]
  • práti me stómam áditir jagr̥bhyāt, sūnúṃ ná mātā́ hŕ̥dyaṃ suśévam (V, 42, 2) 'may Aditi welcome my praise, like a mother a beloved son dear to her heart (hŕ̥dya, from hŕ̥d)' [283] (first line = 163)
  • háyo ná vidvā́m̐ ayuji svayáṃ dhurí, tā́ṃ vahāmi pratáraṇīm avasyúvam, nā́syā [ná asyās] vaśmi vimúcaṃ nā́vŕ̥tam [ná āvŕ̥tam] púnar, vidvā́n patháḥ puraetá rjú [puraetā́ r̥jú] neṣati (V, 46, 1) 'like a draught-animal that knows I have harnessed myself to the pole. I draw that which promotes (feminine of pratáraṇa, from √tr̥̄ with preverb prá, elsewhere always figurative) and brings help. I do not wish for freeing (vimúc (f), from √muc with preverb , again always metaphorical), nor turning back again; may he who knows the way, the one going in front (pura-etŕ̥), guide me straight! (r̥jú, used both literally and metaphorically, here in both senses)' [284]
42. yáthā and yathā.

The word yáthā, like , has two distinct senses. It is used as a conjunction meaning 'so that', as at the end of the Lesson 7 text: yáthā śám ádhvañ chám ásad duroṇé 'that there may be blessing on the way, or at home'. It can also, like and iva, mark a comparison. An example was given in the introduction to Lesson 5 -- pakṣā́ váyo yáthopári [yáthā upári], ví asmé śárma yachata (VIII, 47, 2) 'as birds their wings overhead, stretch out shelter for us' [285]. The compound yathāvaśám 'according to will (váśa (m) 'will')' derives from this second meaning, as in example 259 in the last lesson: ātmā́ devā́nām bhúvanasya gárbha, yathāvaśáṃ carati devá eṣáḥ (X, 168, 4) 'the breath of the gods, the germ of being, this god goes as he wills'.

In both senses yáthā introduces a subordinate clause, accenting the verb if there is one, and can stand first in the sentence or line unlike iva and 'like'. It is also sometimes used as a simple comparative at the end of a line, when it loses its accent, as in the last verse of II, 43 (which forms a pair with the lesson text poem II, 42), the last example in this section.

The three words of comparison, yáthā, and iva, can be used together for poetic effect, as in the first example.

  • yáthā pū́rvebhyo jaritŕ̥bhya indra, máyo vā́po ná tŕ̥ṣyate babhū́tha, tā́m ánu tvā nivídaṃ johavīmi (I, 175, 6; I, 176, 6) 'as you were to the singers of old like happiness, Indra, like water to the thirsting man, I entreat you for that knowledge' (second line = 279) [286]
  • yátheyám [yáthā iyám] pr̥thivī́ mahī́, dādhā́remā́n [dādhā́ra imā́n] vánaspátīn, evā́ dādhāra te máno, jīvā́tave ná mr̥tyáve (X, 60, 9) 'just as this mighty earth holds firm these trees, so does it hold firm your spirit, for life not death' [287]
  • tát-tad agnír váyo dadhe, yáthā-yathā kr̥paṇyáti (VIII, 39, 4) 'every life-force fire grants, to each exactly as he yearns (a denominative verb, from kr̥paṇá)' [288]
  • gr̥hā́n gacha gr̥hápatnī yáthā́so [yáthā ásas], vaśínī tváṃ vidátham ā́ vadāsi (X, 85, 26) 'go home so that you will be lady of the house, having sway may you pronounce wise judgement' [289]
  • āvádaṃs [āvádan] tváṃ śakune bhadrám ā́ vada, tūṣṇī́m ā́sīnaḥ sumatíṃ cikiddhi naḥ, yád utpátan vádasi karkarír yathā (II, 43, 3) 'may you, shakuni-bird, speaking out pronounce good fortune, sitting silently observe favour for us, when flying off you speak like a karkari' ('a charivari'? The word karkarí occurs only here. It has been related to the Homeric verb καρκαίρω in Iliad 20, 157: 'the plain was filled with the men and their horses... the earth reverberated, κάρκαιρε δὲ γαῖα, under their feet') [290]
43. Injunctives.

The verbal forms known as injunctives are ancient. They are identical with forms of the imperfect and the aorist, the augmented past tenses, but without the augment, being residues of the period before the augment was added to indicate past tense. These unaugmented verbal forms developed in two distinct directions, with different meanings. They remain in use in the Rigveda as alternatives to the augmented past forms. In addition, many are used modally, with an exhortatory, or injunctive, sense, from which the name derives. They survive in Classical Sanskrit only with the particle ́ 'not', Greek μή, as negative injunctions or prohibitions. The context usually makes clear the function of the verb.

43.1. Unaugmented past forms.

These three examples are taken from earlier lessons.

  • yáj jā́yathā [jā́yathās, = ájāyathās] apūrvya [...] tát pr̥thivī́m aprathayaḥ (VIII, 89, 5) 'when you were born, O incomparable one ... then you spread out the earth' (=67, 113) [291]
  • árcanta éke máhi sā́ma manvata [= amanvata], téna sū́ryam arocayan (VIII, 29, 10) 'some, praising, conceived the great harmony, with which they caused the sun to shine' (=143) [292]
  • pravā́cyaṃ śaśvadhā́ vīryàṃ tád, índrasya kárma yád áhiṃ vivr̥ścát [= ví ávr̥ścat] (Lesson 3 text) 'that heroic deed is evermore to be celebrated, Indra's act that he cut the snake in pieces' [293]
43.2. Modal forms.

In the first three passages below the context shows that vocam, sāvīs and pīpes have an injunctive, not a past sense. The fourth is less clear; but the imperative in the first line of the verse that follows, úṣa ā́ bhāhi bhānúnā 'O dawn, shine out with brightness', suggests an injunctive sense for uchat.

  • índrasya nú vīryā̀ṇi prá vocaṃ, yā́ni cakā́ra prathamā́ni vajrī́ (I, 32, 1) 'now let me praise Indra's heroic deeds, the first ones that he did, the armed one' (the opening line of a poem to Indra) [294]
  • adyā́ no deva savitaḥ, prajā́vat sāvīḥ [sāvīs] saúbhagam, párā duṣvápnyaṃ suva (V, 82, 4) 'today prompt fortune with progeny for us, O divine Savitar, banish the bad dream' [295]
  • ́ ṣṭutá [stutás] indra nū́ gr̥ṇāná, íṣaṃ jaritré nadyò ná pīpeḥ [pīpes] (IV, 16, 21) 'now praised, now lauded, Indra, yield refreshment abundantly for the singer, like streams' (final verse) [296]
  • víśvam asyā nānāma cákṣase jágaj, jyótiṣ kr̥ṇoti sūnárī, ápa dvéṣo maghónī duhitā́ divá, uṣā́ uchad [uchat] ápa srídhaḥ (I, 48, 8) 'all the moving world pays reverence to the sight of her; the fair lady makes the light. Let dawn, the gracious daughter of heaven, shine away hatred, shine misfortunes away' (quoted in the introduction to Lesson 4) [297]
43.3. Negative modal forms with ́.
  • ́ śū́ne bhūma sū́ryasya saṃdŕ̥śi (Lesson 7 text) 'let us not be in want in the sight of the sun' [298]
  • ́ no mātā́ pr̥thivī́ durmataú dhāt (Lesson 8 text) 'let Mother Earth not place us in disfavour' [299]
  • sárasvati abhí no neṣi vásyo, mā́pa [mā́ ápa] spharīḥ [spharīs] páyasā mā́ na ā́ dhak [...] mā́ tvát kṣétrāṇi áraṇāni ganma (VI, 61, 14) 'O Sarasvati, lead (a -si imperative) us to better, do not spurn us (from √sphr̥), do not deprive us (from √dagh with preverb ā́) of your plenty... let us not go away from you to foreign fields' [300]
44. Infinitives.

All forms of what is called the infinitive in the Rigveda are in origin case forms of old abstract nouns, datives being by far the most common. They frequently appear in parallel with datives of more familiar nouns, as jīváse does with the dative of kṣáya in the refrain in the lesson text: ihá ksáyāya jīváse, literally 'here for home, for living'. The majority are formed from ancient abstract nouns in -tu, like vártave 'to be hindered' in the Lesson 3 text, from vártu, yótave 'to keep away' in Lesson 5 from yótu, and párietave 'to be surpassed' in example 281, from pári-etu.

One line of the Lesson 4 text contains two dative infinitive forms from different stems: prakhyaí devi svàr dr̥śé 'O goddess, (you make) the sunlight to be gazed on (from pra-khyā́), seen (from dŕ̥ś; compare the locative of saṃdŕ̥ś in example 298 in the last section)'. Because infinitives in fact derive from abstract nouns, when translated as infinitives they often have to be rendered as passive, as in these examples: vártave 'to be hindered' is literally 'for hindrance', prakhyaí 'for gazing on', and dŕ̥śe 'for sight'.

Two peculiarities of the infinitive are worthy of note. Some, ending in -tavaí, are doubly accented, as in example 254 in the last lesson, ákar dhánvāni átietavā́ [átietavaí] u (V, 83, 10) 'you have now made the deserts passable (from áti-etu)', and hántavaí in example 304 below. The second is that the regular accusative infinitive form of Classical Sanskrit, ending in -tum or -itum, despite its coincidence of form with the Latin infinitive, appears not to owe its origin to the ancient Rigvedic dialect: only four forms in -tum are found, of which only ́tum, from ́tu 'giving', occurs more than once (twice; the dative ́tave, as in example 303, five times).

  • ā́ no nāvā́ matīnā́ṃ, yātám pārā́ya gántave (I, 46, 7) 'approach, (Ashvins), with the ship of our thoughts, to go to the far shore' (from gántu 'going') [301]
  • ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva [śamitā́ iva] cárma, upastíre pr̥thivī́ṃ sū́ryāya (V, 85, 1) '(Varuna,) who struck out the earth like a worker a skin to spread it before the sun' (from upa-stír 'spreading before') (= 277) [302]
  • yé te mádā āhanáso víhāyasas, tébhir índraṃ codaya dā́tave maghám (IX, 75, 5) 'what delights, richly productive, mighty, are yours, with them encourage Indra to give the reciprocal gift' [303]
  • brahmā́ṇa índram maháyanto arkaír, ávardhayann áhaye hántavā́ [hántavaí] u (V, 31, 4) 'devout men magnifying Indra with eulogies, strengthened him for destroying the dragon' (áhaye, from áhi, is dative by attraction; first line =130) [304]
  • kr̥dhī́ [kr̥dhí] na ūrdhvā́ñ caráthāya jīváse (I, 36, 14) 'raise us up to move ('for moving'; carátham, caráthām, and caráthā also occur), to live ('for living', jīvás, only found in the dative)' [305]
  • utá vāta pitā́si na, utá bhrā́totá naḥ sákhā, sá no jīvā́tave kr̥dhi (X, 186, 2) 'Wind, you are to us a father, and a brother, and our friend, so make us to live' (dative of jīvā́tu 'life'; also occurs in the nominative and accusative, and see example 287 above where the dative was juxtaposed with the dative of mr̥tyú 'death'. In later texts jīvā́tave becomes established as an independent infinitive) [306]
45. Metre.

The metre of the Rigveda has an underlying iambic rhythm, that is, a rhythm characterised by a repeated pattern of a short followed by a long syllable, v- v- v- v-. This is also the natural rhythm of English, and Milton's line describing the progress of Satan,

And swims/ or sinks/ or wades/ or creeps/ or flies

is an example of an entirely regular iambic line. Milton wrote chiefly in iambic pentameters, lines of 5 iambs (v-) or ten syllables, as in this example. Lines of 10 syllables are however rare in the Rigveda where lines of 8, 11 or 12 syllables predominate.

The second of the two poems of the lesson 9 text, X, 58, is in a metre traditionally called anuṣṭubh, which consists of four-line iambic verses of 8 syllables. (If , or any two consonants, which do not have to be in the same word, follow, they render a syllable long, and aḥ is always long.) As in all good poetry, there are many variations to the underlying rhythm. The cadence, or closing phrase, however tends to be regular, as in the line concluding every verse of this poem:

    yát te yamáṃ vaivasvatám   -- v- -- vv
    máno jagā́ma dūrakám   v- v- v- vv
    tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi   -v -- v- vv
    ihá kṣáyāya jīváse   v- v- v- v-

This is the prevailing metre of later Sanskrit verse. A more usual Rigvedic metre is one line shorter, with verses of three lines of 8 syllables, as in example 251 in the last lesson, repeated below. This is called gāyatrī:

    ní grā́māso avikṣata   -- -- v- vv
    ní padvánto ni pakṣíṇaḥ   v- -- v- v-
    ní śyenā́saś cid arthínaḥ   -- -- v- v-

The first text poem in this lesson, II, 42, is in triṣṭubh, which is the most common metre of the Rigveda. It is also the metre of the texts of lessons 1, 3, 6 and 8. It consists of four-line verses of 11 syllables, with a varied rhythmic pattern as a result. The cadence is regularly trochaic, that is, characterised by an inversion of the iambic rhythm, (-v), but the opening is usually iambic, as in the first two lines.

    kánikradaj janúṣam prabruvāṇá   v- v- vv- -v -v
    íyarti vā́cam aritéva nā́vam   v- v- vvv -v -v

Another metre in frequent use by the ancient poets adds a syllable to the 11 triṣṭubh syllables, restoring the iambic cadence. This is called jagatī, and is the metre of the Lesson 2 text, and most of the Lesson 7 text.

The metres of the Lesson 4, 5, and 10 texts combine lines of different lengths, and are known as lyric metres. The Lesson 5 text consists of verses of 8, 8 and 12 syllables, a metre called uṣṇih. Both the Lesson 4 and 10 texts alternate verses of 8, 8, 12, 8 syllables (br̥hatī) and 12, 8, 12, 8 syllables (satobr̥hatī). These song-like verse patterns are characteristic of early poems. In addition, many poems interpose verses in different metres for poetic effect, as in the texts of Lessons 7 and 8.

The above is a highly condensed outline of the metre used by the poets of the Rigveda. A comprehensive study in the context of the chronology of the poems was published by E. Vernon Arnold in 1905 (see the reading list at the end of the Series Introduction).

45.1. The importance of the metrical evidence.

The Rigveda has come down to us in two textual forms. The primary text is the saṃhitā 'placed together', or continuous text. Its date is unknown. The accompanying Pada 'word' text derives from the continuous text, analysing all its sandhi combinations (Sanskrit saṃdhi, related to saṃhitā) to provide a word by word gloss. The later Vedic texts, also handed down from remote antiquity, largely derive from the Rigveda. The earliest of these quote extensively from the Rigveda, sometimes introducing variations to the saṃhitā text, replacing words that have become archaic, and occasionally giving readings that are incorrect. Example 151 in Lesson 6, lines 3 and 4 of the first verse of a triṣṭubh poem in praise of Indra -- the opening two lines are example 294 above -- provides a simple illustration:

    áhann áhim ánu apás tatarda
    prá vakṣáṇā abhinat párvatānām
     
    He destroyed the dragon, released the waters,
    Split open the fertile places of the mountains.

The Atharvaveda (AVP 13.6.1) repeats the verse, but replaces the plural noun vakṣáṇās with a participle, vakṣámānās. This not only destoys the metre of the line but makes no grammatical sense, and is clearly simply an error. The saṃhitā text is the most authoritative text that we have.

However, study of the metre of the poems of the Rigveda demonstrates that the ancient editors of this continuous text systematically applied rules of pronunciation that were regularly wrong. They were dealing with material composed in a period when the language was less rigidly regulated than it was in theirs, and it is apparent that this freer form was unfamiliar to them.

Some of these misapplied rules have already been mentioned in the lessons. For example, the first person plural optative of the verb 'to be' is regularly trisyllabic in the Rigvedic poems, siyā́ma, as in the first line of the first lesson text. The ancient editors always render it syā́ma, with loss of a syllable. Syllabic value has to be restored to the semivowels y and v in this way in a large number of words. (Many of the illustrations that follow are drawn from the examples given in the first grammar section of this lesson.) The word hŕ̥dya, which occurs in example 283, must always be read hŕ̥diya, and tvám must regularly be read tuvám, particularly in poems from the Archaic period, as in example 282. In ten of its twelve occurrences in the lesson texts ́rya has to be read ́riya. The syllabic loss is most apparent where the dropped vowel carried the accent, and the ancient text supplies a grave accent to the following syllable to indicate that it is missing. The accented vowel must be restored in nearly every case: svàr should always read súvar, ukthyà, ukthíya, vīryà, vīríya (see examples 278 and 281). (However, as words from which these syllables were systematically dropped by the saṃhitā text have entered dictionaries and grammars only in this later form, this is the form given both in the examples and in the glosses, to enable cross-referencing.) Other rules are similarly imposed on the Rigvedic vocabulary by its earliest editors. Later rules of syncopation are consistently applied to oblique cases of neuter nouns in -man: dhā́man and ́man appear fifteen times in the text with the second vowel syncopated, but in every instance the vowel is restored by the metre. In the same way, the genitive/locative pitarós is always written pitrós.

Some examples of rules misapplied between words follow, to illustrate the many ways in which the ancient editors obscured the poetry of the Rigveda.

Rules of combination, designed to avoid hiatus, were systematically applied to adjoining vowels in different words, often destroying the rhythm of the line. These combinations occur even over line ends, obscuring the metrical form. Every lesson text contains at least one example of this combining of words over line ends; the Lesson 10 text has five. The refrain in each of the twelve verses of X, 58 in this lesson provides a typical example:

    tát ta ā́ vartayāmasi
    ihá kṣáyāya jīváse

The saṃhitā text combines the i at the end of one line with the i at the beginning of the next, and reads

tát ta ā́ vartayāmasīhá kṣáyāya jīváse,

and the anuṣṭubh verse pattern of 8-syllable lines, with a reiterated regular iambic cadence in the last line, is lost.

Example 277 reads

    ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva cárma
    upastíre pr̥thivī́ṃ sū́ryāya

The poem is in triṣṭubh throughout, and ́riyāya must be read for ́ryāya, as often. The saṃhitā text, in addition to regularising the last word to ́ryāya, combines the a at the end of one line with the u at the beginning of the next. The couplet then reads

ví yó jaghā́na śamitéva cármopastíre pr̥thivī́ ́ryāya,

and again the metrical form, together with in this instance two syllables, disappears. In the third verse of the Lesson 8 text,

    ́mo rāyé havate mā suastí
    úpa stuhi pŕ̥ṣadaśvām̐ ayā́saḥ

su-astí 'well-being' -- which the continuous text gives as svastí -- at the end of one line is combined with úpa at the beginning of the next to read svastyúpa. The replacement by the saṃhitā text of final i or u with the semivowels y or v before a vowel, which happens twice in this line, has to be corrected more than 5,000 times in the text.

The last illustration is example 280, from an Archaic poem in the jagatī metre.

sahasríyāso apā́ṃ ná ūrmáyaḥ

The line is a syllable short. The syllable can be restored here, and in over 500 similar places, by reading the genitive plural ending as bisyllabic, -aam. It seems probable that this was the earlier pronunciation. However, in the saṃhitā text another syllable is lost. It applies sandhi between the two words and ūrmáyas, reading nórmayás,

sahasríyāso apā́ nórmáyaḥ

But here means 'like', 'like the countless waves of the waters', and unlike 'not', 'like' does not combine with a following word in pronunciation. In this example, and in three other places in the same poem, the systematic rule applied by the ancient editors obscures not only the metre, but also the meaning of the line.

The editors of the saṃhitā 'continuous' text regularly turned the poetry of the Rigveda into prose, masking both its form and its meaning. The Pada 'word' text is often, quite by chance, closer to the original. Only careful study of the metre has enabled scholars to reconstruct the form in which these poems were composed, and it was not until 1994 that an attempt at a complete reconstruction was published (see the reading list at the end of the Series Introduction). Gary Holland and Barend van Nooten's metrically reconstructed text provides a long-needed resource for renewed study of the Ancient Sanskrit of the Rigveda. Throughout these lessons misleading sandhi combinations between words in the saṃhitā text have been removed according to the 1994 metrical text.