Drinking for courage, forging ahead, stealing cattle, and humiliating losers
By “battle,” what I mean is the metaphorical battle over the narratives curated on behalf of Yoga. Often, the popular and official narratives that are shared and repeated grow in legitimacy, as time passes. Yet, it is often the case that instead of facts, factoids circulate. In some small way, these irregular posts intend to attenuate the -oids in the fact-…that is, the intention is to address factoids and separate them from the facts.
While it appears commonly held, there is a belief that “namas te” is somehow this ever present term found across the Vedic canon of texts. This does not seem to be the case. For instance, a quick scan of the following upaniṣads does not show any sign of namaste in the: Aitareyopaniṣad, Chandogya-Upanisad, Isa-Upanisad, Kathopaniṣad, Mandukya-Upanisad, Prasna-Upanisad, Sivasamkalpa-Upanisad.
There are 4 poems, below, which demonstrate both the earliest known meanings of “yoga” and “namaste.” Together, they demonstrate some of the moral economy at the centre of “yogic action.” This builds on from the previous Yoga’s Battle rant, which can be accessed, HERE.
- The first poem, III.32.1–17, is about drinking Soma to get manly strength and then go out into battle.
- Following directly on from that, the second poem, III.33.1–13, discusses the path taken and crossing of rivers. It is at verse 8 and 9 that the earliest attested meaning of “namas te” is located in relation to women coerced into submission by the heroes looking for a fight.
- Verse 10 of the third poem, VIII.75.1–16, is where “namas te” is found. This poem essentially takes on a belligerent, martial tone focused on asking Agni for power for the purposes of cattle rustling, the destruction of enemies, and the accumulation of wealth.
- The fourth poem, X.166.1–5, boasts about the humiliation and destruction that will befall the losing opponent and how all that is theirs will become that of the hero and that this is what “yoga” equates with.
The fact that namas te only appears twice in the Ṛgveda is interesting in and of itself. However, what it means and the context within which it is found really do add credibility to the phrase #namaslay. If not clear, now, then it will be by the end. In fact, while there seemingly plenty of people who consider #namaslay an eggregious harm-causing appropriation, in some ways it is apt to think of “Yoga” involving slaying.
Namaste quite literally means ‘to bend’ toward someone or something. It is an act of deference rhetorically symbolizing supplication which places the supplicant lower or under the one or thing asking a favor of. It does not translate to a context of being equal or seeing eye to eye, so to speak.
Think about it. How can it mean you and I are equal if it means to bend down lower and put myself in an inferior position to you?
It is within a context of servitude or homage that its first mentions in the “Vedas” occurs. It does not occur in the way it is romantically imagined.
I mean, yeah, sure. Ok. But, saying as such doesn’t make it so. Neither does it prove that people used it in the way that people do today. This goes for its meaning and the way it is used as a greeting.
Just because namaste is used in some ritual practice of honoring something doesn’t mean people used it as a greeting in the way it is popularly imagined to have been used.
It is worth thinking about why people bend (nam) to another. If you think about Indo-European languages, this idea of bending through several languages rely on the same root as does namaste and is possibly better appreciated through the way in which the Italian, ciao, used as a parting salutation, literally derives from schiavo “(your obedient) servant,” literally “slave,” from Medieval Latin sclavus “slave”. Like Italian, German/Hungarian uses servus. The root ‘nam’ refers to ‘bending.’ It’s a form of deference or obeisance, in the same way that ciao and servus are used to show someone is a servant/slave to someone else.
What exactly lies at the essence of the Vedic namaste?
The first mention of ‘yoga’ is in relation to warfare and the acquisition of property and the continuation of prosperity, which fundamentally celebrated humiliating and destroying one’s enemies in battle and taking all that they had. That is, to our best knowledge, yoga’s ground zero — acquisition of property and wealth…
Of course, times and meanings of words change. This is inevitable. But that doesn’t alter the historiographical facts regarding the genealogical transmission of ideas and how they are re-orientalized in the way often proposed, which is not much more than an appeal to a monolithic and static 1-dimensional rendering article of faith.
Ironically, it is the people who claim to honor its roots who make regular editorial decisions to occlude these facts, or are just generally ignorant of them, who often have little appreciation of the textual sources of the traditions they claim to be stewards of.
Why is that?
This wouldn’t be such an issue if there weren’t as strong a fundamentalist, subjectively radical proposition regularly espoused, which has little in the way of evidence to support much, if any, of the truth claims put forward.
There are, across multiple arthaśāstra and grammatical texts, discussions of the terms of address people of different groups and ranks within society were prescribed and permitted to use. From an objective historical position, this obviously doesn’t prove people said this or that or anything, in particular. Importantly however, neither does it help support the claims made in defense of the idea that people were walking about during Vedic period sayin, “namaste” to each other.
Have a look at this section of Manu Smṛti (Mānava Dharma Śāstra) on honorifics and respectful greetings based on rank. Nowhere is namaste mentioned.
There is really no mention of namaste having anything to do with divine light honoring someone else’s divine light.
However, these dictionary entries speak to the terms of address one ought to use when speaking to people of different or similar rank.
bhadramukha (one whose face (or whose look) confers prosperity) = ‘good or gentle sir’ pl. ‘good people’. A prince is so to be addressed by the inferior characters in plays; it is a term of address to inferior persons.
bhāva (in dram.) a discreet or learned man (as a term of address = respected sir)
bhikṣāmāṇava = a beggar boy (as a term of contempt)
bhrātṛ = a brother (often used to designate a near relative or an intimate friend, esp. as a term of friendly address)
mahāśaya = a respectable person, gentleman (sometimes a term of respectful address = Sir, Master)
māṃsavikretṛ = flesh-seller (also used as a term of reproach)
māriṣa = ‘colleague’; a worthy or respectable man (esp. in the voc. as a term of address = ‘worthy friend’ or ‘dear sir’
raṇḍa = a term of abuse in addressing women, a slut, a widow
vatsa = the young of any animal, offspring, child = often used as a term of endearment = my dear child, my darling
viṭa = bon-vivant, rogue, knave, Vidūshaka (buffoon), a parasite on familiar terms with his associate, but at the same time accomplished in the arts of poetry, music, and singing; ifc. a term of reproach
khasūcyādi = pimp = ‘the keeper of a prostitute’
bahvādi = a passionate woman, vixen; a term of endearment applied to a mistress
putraka = a little son, boy, child (often used as a term of endearment)
bhāmita = an angry or passionate woman, vixen (often used as a term of endearment
ranti = pleasure, delight (used as a term of endearment for a cow)
śrī = is frequently used as an honorific
śrīyukta = ‘endowed with irī’ (happy, fortunate, famous, illustrious, wealthy) prefixed as an honorific title to the names of men
atrabhavat = his Honour, your Honour, &c. (used honorifically in dramatic language)
āyuṣmat = living‘life-possessing’, often applied as a kind of honorific title (especially to royal personages and Buddhist monks)
aupacārika = honorific, complimentary (as a name or title)
guru = a honorific appellation of a preceptor
tārkikacūḍāmaṇi = ‘crest-jewel of philosophers’, a honorific
prajācandra = ‘people’s moon’, honorific
āryamiśrāḥ = respectable or honourable people
Here is where the discussion of the four poems begins. The translations and the block quote sections are direct quotes from Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton. These come from their book and website on the Ṛgveda. Notes for RV_3,033.1–13 are found on pages 23–25 of this pdf from their website mentioned above.
#1 III.32 Indra
Viśvāmitra Gāthina 17 verses: triṣṭubh
The ritual application of this hymn is announced in the first verse: the Midday Pressing of soma, which in some ritual circles, as here, Indra shares with the Marut troop, his supporters in the Vr̥tra battle. Throughout the hymn invitations to drink soma at this rite are interspersed with praises of Indra’s cosmogonic deeds, espe- cially the slaying of Vr̥tra. In verses 9–10 Indra’s powers are ascribed to his origi- nal drinking of soma immediately after birth, with the implicit suggestion that the sacrificers’ current offering of soma will revitalize those powers for the sacrificers’ benefit. For the most part the language of this hymn is straightforward and even a bit monotonous, and there are a number of technical terms pertaining to the soma sacrifice (see, e.g., the types of soma in vs. 2). There are, however, several studied contrastive pairs (e.g., “vulnerable. . . invulnerable,” vs. 4; “goddesses. . . godless,” vs. 6; see also vss. 7, 11), as well as a few striking images, such as Indra “wearing the earth on his other hip” (vs. 11) as an indication of his greatness.
indra somaṁ somapate pibemam mādhyaṁdinaṁ savanaṁ cāru yat te | prapruthyā śipre maghavann ṛjīṣin vimucyā harī iha mādayasva || RV_3,032.01. O Indra, lord of soma, drink this soma here, the Midday Pressing, which is dear to you. Snuffling out your two lips, you bounteous possessor of the silvery drink, having unhitched your two fallow bays, reach exhilaration here.
gavāśiram manthinam indra śukram pibā somaṁ rarimā te madāya | brahmakṛtā mārutenā gaṇena sajoṣā rudrais tṛpad ā vṛṣasva || RV_3,032.02. Mixed with cows [=milk], stirred (with meal), or pure, o Indra — drink the soma. We have given it to you for your exhilaration. Joined in pleasure with the formulation-making flock of Maruts, with the Rudras, drench yourself (in it), to satiety.
ye te śuṣmaṁ ye taviṣīm avardhann arcanta indra marutas ta ojaḥ | mādhyaṁdine savane vajrahasta pibā rudrebhiḥ sagaṇaḥ suśipra || RV_3,032.03. They who increased your tempestuousness, who increased your power, the Maruts, hymning your strength, Indra — at the Midday Pressing, you with mace in hand, drink in a flock with the Rudras, you of good lips.
ta in nv asya madhumad vivipra indrasya śardho maruto ya āsan | yebhir vṛtrasyeṣito vivedāmarmaṇo manyamānasya marma || RV_3,032.04. It was they who became inspired at his honeyed (drink), Indra’s troop, who were the Maruts, impelled by whom he found the vulnerable place of Vr̥ tra, who thought himself invulnerable.
manuṣvad indra savanaṁ juṣāṇaḥ pibā somaṁ śaśvate vīryāya |
sa ā vavṛtsva haryaśva yajñaiḥ saraṇyubhir apo arṇā sisarṣi || RV_3,032.05. As by Manu, o Indra, enjoying the pressing, drink the soma for manly power ever new. Let yourself be turned hither by our sacrifices, you of the fallow bays. Along with the hastening ones, you set to running the flooding waters,
tvam apo yad dha vṛtraṁ jaghanvām̐ atyām̐ iva prāsṛjaḥ sartavājau | śayānam indra caratā vadhena vavrivāṁsam pari devīr adevam || RV_3,032.06. When you sent forth the waters, like steeds to run in a contest — having smashed Vr̥tra,who was lying still, with your moving weapon of death, o Indra, him having surrounded the goddesses, godless himself.
yajāma in namasā vṛddham indram bṛhantam ṛṣvam ajaraṁ yuvānam | yasya priye mamatur yajñiyasya na rodasī mahimānam mamāte || RV_3,032.07. Let us sacrifice to Indra, increased through homage, lofty and towering, unaging and youthful,whose greatness the two dear world-halves measured, but did not measure up to the greatness of him worthy of the sacrifice.
indrasya karma sukṛtā purūṇi vratāni devā na minanti viśve |
dādhāra yaḥ pṛthivīṁ dyām utemāṁ jajāna sūryam uṣasaṁ sudaṁsāḥ || RV_3,032.08. Many are the well-done deeds of Indra. The All Gods do not violate the commandments (of him), who upholds earth and this heaven. Of wondrous power, he begot the sun and the dawn.
adrogha satyaṁ tava tan mahitvaṁ sadyo yaj jāto apibo ha somam | na dyāva indra tavasas ta ojo nāhā na māsāḥ śarado varanta || RV_3,032.09. Undeceptive one, this greatness of yours is truly real: because, just born, you drank the soma, not the heavens, Indra, nor the days, nor the months and years could obstruct the strength of you, the powerful one.
tvaṁ sadyo apibo jāta indra madāya somam parame vyoman |
yad dha dyāvāpṛthivī āviveśīr athābhavaḥ pūrvyaḥ kārudhāyāḥ || RV_3,032.10. Undeceptive one, this greatness of yours is truly real: because, just born, you drank the soma, not the heavens, Indra, nor the days, nor the months and years could obstruct the strength of you, the powerful one.
ahann ahim pariśayānam arṇa ojāyamānaṁ tuvijāta tavyān |
na te mahitvam anu bhūd adha dyaur yad anyayā sphigyā kṣām avasthāḥ || RV_3,032.11. You, Indra, just born, drank the soma for exhilaration in the highest distant heaven. After you had entered heaven and earth, then you became the first to suckle the bard.
yajño hi ta indra vardhano bhūd uta priyaḥ sutasomo miyedhaḥ |
yajñena yajñam ava yajñiyaḥ san yajñas te vajram ahihatya āvat || RV_3,032.12. Since the sacrifice has become your strengthener, Indra, and the dear ritual meal of pressed soma also, aid sacrifice upon sacrifice, being the one who deserves the sacrifice; the sacrifice aided your mace in the serpent-smashing.
yajñenendram avasā cakre arvāg ainaṁ sumnāya navyase vavṛtyām | yaḥ stomebhir vāvṛdhe pūrvyebhir yo madhyamebhir uta nūtanebhiḥ || RV_3,032.13. With the sacrifice as aid I (previously) brought Indra nearby with his aid. May I turn him hither for newer favor, him who was strengthened by previous praises, who by midmost ones and by the present ones.
viveṣa yan mā dhiṣaṇā jajāna stavai purā pāryād indram ahnaḥ |
aṁhaso yatra pīparad yathā no nāveva yāntam ubhaye havante || RV_3,032.14. She labored when she begot me [=poet]—the Holy Place [=Earth? ritual ground?]. I shall praise Indra before the decisive day, so that at that time he (will) carry us across (to the far shore) of constraint, as if with a boat. Both (sides) call upon him as he travels.
āpūrṇo asya kalaśaḥ svāhā sekteva kośaṁ sisice pibadhyai |
sam u priyā āvavṛtran madāya pradakṣiṇid abhi somāsa indram || RV_3,032.15. His (soma) tub is filled—hail! As a man pours out a bucket, I have poured (for him) to drink. And the dear soma drinks have together turned him here with respectful circumambulation, to exhilarate Indra.
na tvā gabhīraḥ puruhūta sindhur nādrayaḥ pari ṣanto varanta |
itthā sakhibhya iṣito yad indrā dṛḻhaṁ cid arujo gavyam ūrvam || RV_3,032.16. Not the deep river nor the surrounding peaks could obstruct you, much-invoked one, when impelled just so from your comrades, Indra, you broke into the cattle enclosure though it was firmly fastened.
śunaṁ huvema maghavānam indram asmin bhare nṛtamaṁ vājasātau | śṛṇvantam ugram ūtaye samatsu ghnantaṁ vṛtrāṇi saṁjitaṁ dhanānām || RV_3,032.17. – For blessing we would invoke bounteous Indra, most manly, at this raid, at the winning of the prize of victory, the strong one who listens, (we would invoke) for help in battles, him who smashes obstacles, the winner of prizes.
#2 III.33 Viśvamitra and the Rivers
13 verses: triṣṭubh, except anuṣṭubh 13
Although this hymn is found in the Indra collection, the Anukramaṇī identifies Indra as the dedicand only of verses 6–7, with the remainder divided between the rivers (Nadyas: 1–3, 5, 9, 11–13) and the poet himself, Viśvāmitra (4, 8, 10). After two opening verses describing the confluence of the Vipāś and Śutudrī rivers, this justly famous poem consists of a dialogue between those rivers and Viśvāmitra, who begs the rivers to stop in their course to allow the Bharata forces, under his patron, King Sudās (not named here, but see III.53.9), to cross. They accede to his request in return for his ensuring their future fame in his poetry, and the Bharatas cross successfully, as is announced in verse 12 — after which the rivers are urged to refill themselves with water and flow again. That it is the poet who succeeds in temporarily stopping the rivers is yet another example of the power of properly formulated speech to control the physical world. The final verse (13), in a different meter, may be a magic spell, exemplifying the continuing belief in the power of the word by applying this legendary river crossing to a team in trouble at a ford.
The following verse is the first “namas te” in the Vedas.
This verse is one of 13 in this particular poem found in the 3rd book (of 10) of the ṛgveda. It is basically a discussion between Visv́am̄itra and the rivers he is trying to cross with his army while they go about literally attending to “yoga” (ie martial action) of stealing cattle and destroying enemies.
etad vaco jaritar māpi mṛṣṭhā ā yat te ghoṣān uttarā yugāni |
uktheṣu kāro prati no juṣasva mā no ni kaḥ puruṣatrā namas te || RV_3,033.08 8. [Rivers:] This speech, singer — do not forget it — so that later generations will hear it from you. Favor us in return in your hymns, bard: don’t put us down among men. Homage to you.
Notice, in this first attested instance of namas te that it relates to the plea to not be mentioned negatively in future songs. this poem uses the imagery of the earth and its rivers as swollen female/motherly anatomy representing the natural feminine flows as obstructing the advance of the heroes who literally seek fortune and glory, who then smash at the anthropromorphised female body, thrusting forward… Yet, it is a narcissistic aspiration (and survival strategy) upon the part of the rivers who bend in obsequiousness to the poets/bards/soldiers to be remembered favourably in their songs they will sing after returning home from battle.
o ṣu svasāraḥ kārave śṛṇota yayau vo dūrād anasā rathena |
ni ṣū namadhvam bhavatā supārā adhoakṣāḥ sindhavaḥ srotyābhiḥ || RV_3,033.09 9. [Viśvāmitra:] Listen well to the bard, sisters. He has driven to you from afar with his wagon and chariot.
Bow down; become easy to cross, staying below his axle(s) with your currents, you rivers.
ā te kāro śṛṇavāmā vacāṁsi yayātha dūrād anasā rathena |
ni te naṁsai pīpyāneva yoṣā maryāyeva kanyā śaśvacai te || RV_3,033.10 10. [Rivers:] We will listen to your words, bard. You have driven from afar with wagon and chariot. I [=one river] will bow down to you like a young woman swollen (with milk, to her infant), (while) I [=other river] will bend to you like a maiden to her cavalier.
It becomes even clearer the 1st context upon which namaste is attested in the, as you say, the Vedas…in verse 9 namaste ‘hides’ as namadhvam, which is a command to bend down. to become lower, so that one’s body can be traversed. It is a coercive command to obey. In verse 10, the rivers respond saying they will comply and and bow down, ie lower their water line…
Here is the entire poem, in context.
- Forth from the lap of the mountains, eager, racing with each other like two mares unloosed, resplendent, licking each other like mother cows (their calves), the Vipāś and Śutudrī (rivers) speed with their milk.
- Impelled by Indra as you long to take part in the forward thrust, you drive like two charioteers to the sea, clashing together, swelling with your waves, the one of you merges into the other — you resplendent ones.
- [Viśvāmitra:] I have driven to the most motherly river [=Śutudrī]; we have come to the broad, well-portioned Vipāś — the two who are like mothers together licking their calf, proceeding together along the same womb [=riverbed].
- [Rivers:] So we are — swelling with milk, proceeding along our god-made womb. Our forward thrust, launched in a surge, is not to be obstructed. Seeking what does the poet keep calling upon the rivers?
- [Viśvāmitra:] Stop for my somian speech, truthful ones, for an instant, in your travels. My lofty inspired thought (has gone) forth to the river: seeking help, have I, the son of Kuśika, called upon (you).
- [Rivers:] Indra with the mace in his arms dug us channels: he smashed away Vr̥ tra [/the obstacle] surrounding the rivers. God Savitar of the lovely hands led (us): at his forward thrust we journey widely.
- [Viśvāmitra:] This act of heroism is to be proclaimed ever anew, the deed of Indra when he hewed apart the serpent. He smashed apart the enclosures with his mace. The waters went seeking a way to go.
- [Rivers:] This speech, singer — do not forget it — so that later generations will hear it from you. Favor us in return in your hymns, bard: don’t put us down among men. Homage to you.
- 9. [Viśvāmitra:] Listen well to the bard, sisters. He has driven to you from afar with his wagon and chariot. Bow down; become easy to cross, staying below his axle(s) with your currents, you rivers.
- [Rivers:] We will listen to your words, bard. You have driven from afar with wagon and chariot.
I [=one river] will bow down to you like a young woman swollen (with milk, to her infant), (while) I [=other river] will bend to you like a maiden to her cavalier.
- [Viśvāmitra:] When the Bharatas should really have crossed you entirely — the horde seeking cattle, propelled, sped by Indra — then certainly your forward thrust, launched in a surge, will rush (again). I wish for the favor of you who deserve the sacrifice.
- [Viśvāmitra:] The cattle-seeking Bharatas have entirely crossed; the poet has shared in the favor of the rivers. Swell forth, nurturing, very generous; fill your bellies; drive quickly.
- Let your wave push up the yoke-pins; o waters, let loose the yoking cords. Let the two inviolable (oxen), doing no ill, without offense, not come to naught.
#3 VIII.75 Agni Virūpa Āṅgirasa
16 verses: gāyatrī arranged in trc̥ as
Agni’s role in the sacrifice and his relationship with the poet-sacrificers is the subject of the first two conventional tr̥ cas (vss. 1–6), but a martial, indeed a belligerent, strain appears beginning with verse 7. The setting seems to be a contest for cattle or a cattle raid, and the poet calls on Agni to use his aggressive powers to defeat encroaching threats and assure victory and the winning of cattle and wealth (vss. 7–13). The hymn ends with general, and less combative, prayers for help for the sacrificer (vss. 14–16).
namas te || RV_8,075.10
ukṣvā hi devahūtamām̐ aśvām̐ agne rathīr iva |
ni hotā pūrvyaḥ sadaḥ || RV_8,075.01. Harness your horses that best summon the gods, o Agni, like a charioteer. Take your seat as the primordial Hotar.
uta no deva devām̐ acchā voco viduṣṭaraḥ |
śrad viśvā vāryā kṛdhi || RV_8,075.02. And as one who knows better, invite the gods for us, o god. Make our trust (in the sacrifice) into all things worth desiring,
tvaṁ ha yad yaviṣṭhya sahasaḥ sūnav āhuta |
ṛtāvā yajñiyo bhuvaḥ || RV_8,075.03. Since you — o youngest one, o son of strength to whom offering is made — have become the one possessing the truth and worthy of the sacrifice.
ayam agniḥ sahasriṇo vājasya śatinas patiḥ |
mūrdhā kavī rayīṇām || RV_8,075.04. This Agni here is the lord of the thousandfold prize and of the hundredfold; as sage poet he is the head of riches.
taṁ nemim ṛbhavo yathā namasva sahūtibhiḥ |
nedīyo yajñam aṅgiraḥ || RV_8,075.05. As craftsmen [/R̥ bhus] bend the felly, bend here, closer to the sacrifice, with the shared invocations, o Aṅgiras [=Agni].
tasmai nūnam abhidyave vācā virūpa nityayā |
vṛṣṇe codasva suṣṭutim || RV_8,075.06. Now for him, for the heaven-bound bull, o Virūpa [=poet], with your very own speech rouse your lovely praise hymn.
kam u ṣvid asya senayāgner apākacakṣasaḥ |
paṇiṁ goṣu starāmahe || RV_8,075.07. What Paṇi shall we lay low with his weapon, the weapon of Agni whose eye is not fooled, when cattle are at stake?
mā no devānāṁ viśaḥ prasnātīr ivosrāḥ |
kṛśaṁ na hāsur aghnyāḥ || RV_8,075.08. Let not the clans of the gods, like rosy bathers [=Dawns],leave us behind like cows a scrawny (calf).
mā naḥ samasya dūḍhya1ḥ paridveṣaso aṁhatiḥ |
ūrmir na nāvam ā vadhīt || RV_8,075.09. Let not the coercion of anyone of evil intention and encompassing hatred crash down on us, like a wave on a boat.
namas te agna ojase gṛṇanti deva kṛṣṭayaḥ |
amair amitram ardaya || RV_8,075.10. Homage to your power, Agni! The separate peoples hymn you, o god. With your attacks shake our foe to pieces.
kuvit su no gaviṣṭaye ‘gne saṁveṣiṣo rayim |
urukṛd uru ṇas kṛdhi || RV_8,075.11. Surely you will toil for wealth for us, for our quest for cattle, Agni?
Make a wide (way) for us, you wide-maker.
mā no asmin mahādhane parā varg bhārabhṛd yathā |
saṁvargaṁ saṁ rayiṁ jaya || RV_8,075.12. Do not shun us in this (contest for) great stakes, any more than a burden-bearer would (his burden). Win wealth as your takings.
anyam asmad bhiyā iyam agne siṣaktu ducchunā |
vardhā no amavac chavaḥ || RV_8,075.13. Let this misfortune here follow some other one than us, to frighten him, o Agni. Strengthen our power of attack.
yasyājuṣan namasvinaḥ śamīm adurmakhasya vā |
taṁ ghed agnir vṛdhāvati || RV_8,075.14. (The man) who offers homage or is no stingy patron, whose ritual laborhe [=Agni] has enjoyed — him alone does Agni help with strengthening.
parasyā adhi saṁvato ‘varām̐ abhy ā tara |
yatrāham asmi tām̐ ava || RV_8,075.15. From beyond the distant boundary, cross over to the ones below, where I am. Help them!
vidmā hi te purā vayam agne pitur yathāvasaḥ |
adhā te sumnam īmahe || RV_8,075.16. For we know of your help from of old, o Agni — help like that of a father — and so we beg your favor.
#4 X.166 Against Rivals
R̥ṣabha Vairāja or R̥ṣabha Śākvara
5 verses: anuṣṭubh, except mahāpaṅkti 5
Moving beyond a singular perspective, the poem at 10.166.1–5 explains, in essence, what Viśvāmitra and his soldiers were set about doing. This is what Brereton and Jamison say,
The extremely aggressive 1st-person speaker of this hymn proclaims his triumph over his rivals and their utter humiliation. Using the well-nigh universal tropes of high and low, he repeatedly emphasizes the spatial (and thus conceptual) position of his defeated enemies, who are literally beneath his feet (vss. 2, 5; see also vss. 3–4). Verse 4 is notable for the trio of attributes that the speaker seizes from his rivals, a set that easily accommodates a trifunctional (Dumézilian) analysis: “cognition” as the higher mental power appropriate to the priestly First Function, “commandment” representative of the warrior-ruler Second Function, and “company, assembly” the Third Function mass of followers. Although we are not over-sympathetic to the Dumézilian paradigm, this particular passage gains resonance from such an analysis.
ṛṣabham mā samānānāṁ sapatnānāṁ viṣāsahim |
hantāraṁ śatrūṇāṁ kṛdhi virājaṁ gopatiṁ gavām || RV_10,166.01. 1. Make me bull over my equals, widely victorious over my rivals,smiter of my rivals, wide-ruling cattle-lord of cattle.
aham asmi sapatnahendra ivāriṣṭo akṣataḥ |
adhaḥ sapatnā me pador ime sarve abhiṣṭhitāḥ || RV_10,166.02. 2. I am a smiter of rivals, like Indra, unharmable, invulnerable.Beneath my feet are my rivals: all these here have been stood upon.
atraiva vo ‘pi nahyāmy ubhe ārtnī iva jyayā |
vācas pate ni ṣedhemān yathā mad adharaṁ vadān || RV_10,166.03. 3. Right here I bind you, like the two ends of a bow with a bowstringO Lord of Speech, drive these down, so that they will speak lower than me.
abhibhūr aham āgamaṁ viśvakarmeṇa dhāmnā |
ā vaś cittam ā vo vratam ā vo ‘haṁ samitiṁ dade || RV_10,166.04. 4. I have come here on top, with Viśvakarman as my foundation. I take for myself your cognition, your commandment, and your
yogakṣemaṁ va ādāyāham bhūyāsam uttama ā vo mūrdhānam akramīm |adhaspadān ma ud vadata maṇḍūkā ivodakān maṇḍūkā udakād iva || RV_10,166.05
5. Having taken for myself your yoking up [=war] and your peace, might
I become the highest. I have trampled on your head.
From beneath my feet, lift up your speech to me, like frogs from the
water, like frogs from the water.
Beyond simply destroying his enemy, the hero in verse 3 shows the superior position to his rival and the totalising control he deems his right in verse 4. which culminates in verse 5 beginning with one of the only 7 x “yoga” is literally used in the ṛgveda, which in this instance is the compound “yoga-kṣema” (action-rest). the moral economy of the early ṛgvedic culture was 1)pray to indra for help in smashing and humiliating rivals, get ready by yoking to armor and preparing transport, going to war, succeeding in heroic martial action, returning home to get drunk on soma and have a meat fest of a bbq with indra, sing songs eulogizing the powerful arms of the heroes and the sizzle of beef fat as it drips on to the coals, then rest…sleep off the hangover and …repeat…
The following is an excerpt from my co-authored article with Ghil’ad Zuckermann (2020), which you can access, here.
The vernacular (laukika) varieties spoken today are considered derivatives of the post-Paninian variety of Classical Sanskrit. Today, the laukika TL (target language) of ‘Spoken Sanskrit’ is situated in contrast to vaidika-saṃskṛta, which refers to the ritualized recitation of liturgical utterances, that is, mantra-s (prayers). While this obviously occurs today in Hindu temples and homes, a conversational vaidika Sanskrit, as spoken 2500 years ago, is not spoken today. While it is difficult to say, with certainty, the pace at which language shift occurred, there is no doubt that it did. The grammatical ossification occurred during the transition between the Vedic and Classical periods. While the perceived ‘purity’ of Classical Sanskrit continues to be celebrated as testament to its purported, immutably ‘divine’ origin and status; this process is at least a significant contributory factor for the language entering an artificial and post-vernacular state some 2000-plus years ago. It is, however, remarkable that due to its prestige and symbolic capital, it has survived; albeit as a second language, and more so, today, as a heritage language. While there are hundreds of other endangered languages in India, from several different language families that are equally deserving, if not more, of institutional support, the Indian state continues to favour the revival of Sanskrit.
Building upon Haugen (1972), Pandharipande (1992:254) explains that, in order to understand the nature and function of language shift and loss in India, we ought to understand the region’s complex language ecology. This is an unenviable task. As Tsunoda (2017:44) shows, previous literature on language shift terminology refers to language A (which, in this present case, is Sanskrit) as: an ‘abandoned’, ‘disappearing’, ‘fading’, ‘receding’ or ‘recessive’ language. Sanskrit, is in something of a unique situation, as the terminology above seems more representative of current or recent shifts.
In the remote past, as like today, laukika Sanskrit had both ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ registers, and existed in a diglossic situation (Aralikatti 1989, Masica, 1986, d’Souza, 1988). Today, the ‘elite’ register refers to the type of spoken Sanskrit one is most likely to learn through the modern gurukula education system, which is a traditional pedagogical system that trains, mainly male, upper-caste children, in the various aṅga-s (limbs) of education related to Brahminical orthopraxis. See Larios (2017) for a sweeping overview of this intangible cultural heritage. As Ciotti explains:
Vedalakṣaṇa (lit. ‘characteristic of the Vedas’) is the field of Brāhmaṇical scholarship that collects those language-related expertises […] to preserve and transmit, generation by generation, the Vedic Saṃhitās (“Collections [of hymns]”). […] In fact, the Vedic reciters are expected to master a gamut of topics, including the correct articulation of the Sanskrit speech-sounds (varnas) and pitch modulations (svaras), the modification these can undergo in the specific linguistic and recitational contexts (sandhis, lit. “combinations”), and the mastering of complex recombinations of the words of the text (vikṛtis, lit. “[textual] modifications, which in fact are the mnemonic techniques devised for the preservation of the form of the Saṃhitās (Ciotti 2014:36–37).
Due to this elite, traditional pedagogical system,[i] which typically includes rote learning of Vedic texts related to ritual praxis (karmakaṇḍa), and the other limbs related to exegetical attainment of knowledge (jñānakaṇḍa), individuals are trained to become elite knowers of Sanskrit (McCartney 2017f, 2018a). This includes being exposed to an elite register of Sanskrit, which the non-specialist (non-scholarly) speaker of Sanskrit does not typically have access to.[ii]
[i] Taylor (2017:99) explains how students typically have the following options for advancing their careers as elite knowers within the Sanskrit episteme: 1) as a professional reader of the Bhāgavata (Bhāgavata-pārāyaṇa); 2) as a Bhāgavata exponent (Bhāgavata-kathā pravacaka); 3) as an expert in the ritual worship of Rudra (a form of Śiva, a practice known as Rudrābhiśeka); and 4) as a practitioner of karma-kāṇḍa, that is, as an officiating priest in a range of other ritual practices. To this list, we can add: 5) teacher (ācārya).
Below are notes to work on.
The sanskrit dictionaries and paratexts, like thesaurus, do not gloss it in this popular way. It was not used in any intergroup dynamics as a way to attenuate conflict.
It makes one wonder how sources of knowledge are legitimized and how ideological coherence precludes people independently arriving at conclusions beyond the staid, popular narratives that don’t ultimately say much or have much connection to the thing claimed.
Pastor describing namaste as a way for black people to be less violent
start brhup 3,8.5
sā hovaca — namas te ‘stu yājñavalkya yo ma etaṃ vyavoco ‘parasmai dhārayasveti pṛccha gārgīti || brhup_3,8.5 ||
brhupbh_3,8.5 punaḥ sā hovāca;namaste ‘stvityādi praśnasya durvacatvapradarśanārtham;yo me mamaitaṃ praśnaṃ vyavoco viśeṣaṇāpākṛtavānasi;etasya durvacatve kāraṇam — sūtrameva tāvadagamyamitarairdurvācyam, kimuta tat, yasminnotaṃ ca protaṃ ceti;ato namo ‘stu te tubhyam /
aparasmai dvitīyāya praśnāya dhārayasva dṛḍhīkurvātmānamityarthaḥ /
pṛccha gārgītītara āha //5//
janako ha vaidehaḥ kūrcād upāvasarpann uvāca — namas te ‘stu yājñavalkya | anu mā śādhīti | sa hovāca yathā vai samrāṇ mahāntam adhvānam eṣyan rathaṃ vā nāvaṃ vā samādadītaivam evaitābhir upaniṣadbhiḥ samāhitātmāsi | evaṃ vṛndāraka āḍhyaḥ sann adhītaveda uktopaniṣatka ito vimucyamānaḥ kva gamiṣyasīti | nāhaṃ tad bhagavan veda yatra gamiṣyāmīti | atha vai te ‘haṃ tad vakṣyāmi yatra gamiṣyasīti | bravītu bhagavān iti || brhup_4,2.1 ||
start brhup 4,2.4
tasya prācī dik prāñcaḥ prāṇāḥ | dakṣiṇā dig dakṣiṇe prāṇāḥ | pratīcī dik pratyañcaḥ prāṇāḥ | udīcī dig udañcaḥ prāṇāḥ | ūrdhvā dig ūrdhvāḥ prāṇāḥ | avācī dig avāñcaḥ prāṇāḥ | sarvā diśaḥ sarve prāṇāḥ | sa eṣa neti nety ātmā | agṛhyo na hi gṛhyate | aśīryo na hi śīryate | asaṅgo na hi sajyate | asito na vyathate | na riṣyati | abhayaṃ vai janaka prāpto ‘sīti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ | sa hovāca janako vaideho ‘bhayaṃ tvā gacchatād yājñavalkya yo no bhagavann abhayaṃ vedayase | namas te ‘stu | ime videhā ayam aham asmīti || brhup_4,2.4 ||
start brhup 5,14.7
tasyā upasthānam | gāyatry asy ekapadī dvipadī tripadī catuṣpadi | apad asi | na hi padyase | namas te turīyāya darśatāya padāya parorajase | asāv ado mā prāpad iti | yaṃ dviṣyād asāv asmai kāmo mā samardhīti vā | na haivāsmai sa kāmaḥ samṛdhyate yasmā evam upatiṣṭhate | aham adaḥ prāpam iti vā || brhup_5,14.7 ||
agnim īḻe purohitaṁ yajñasya devam ṛtvijam |
hotāraṁ ratnadhātamam || RV_1,001.01
agniḥ pūrvebhir ṛṣibhir īḍyo nūtanair uta |
sa devām̐ eha vakṣati || RV_1,001.02
agninā rayim aśnavat poṣam eva dive-dive |
yaśasaṁ vīravattamam || RV_1,001.03
agne yaṁ yajñam adhvaraṁ viśvataḥ paribhūr asi |
sa id deveṣu gacchati || RV_1,001.04
agnir hotā kavikratuḥ satyaś citraśravastamaḥ |
devo devebhir ā gamat || RV_1,001.05
yad aṅga dāśuṣe tvam agne bhadraṁ kariṣyasi |
tavet tat satyam aṅgiraḥ || RV_1,001.06
upa tvāgne dive-dive doṣāvastar dhiyā vayam |
namo bharanta emasi || RV_1,001.07
rājantam adhvarāṇāṁ gopām ṛtasya dīdivim |
vardhamānaṁ sve dame || RV_1,001.08
sa naḥ piteva sūnave ‘gne sūpāyano bhava |
sacasvā naḥ svastaye || RV_1,001.09