Hymns to the Horse from the Rig-Veda - Book I

Brahma receiving the Vedas

Translation by Ralph T.H. Griffith

HYMN CLXIL The Horse.

1. SLIGHT us not Varuna, Aryaman, or Mitra, Rbhuksan, Indra, Ayu, or the Maruts,
When we declare amid the congregation the virtues of the strong Steed, God-descended.
2 What time they bear before the Courser, covered with trappings and with wealth, the grasped oblation,
The dappled goat goeth straightforward, bleating, to the place dear to Indra and to Pusan.
3 Dear. to all Gods, this goat, the share of Pusan, is first led forward with the vigorous Courser,
While Tvastar sends him forward with the Charger, acceptable for sacrifice, to glory.
4 When thrice the men lead round the Steed, in order, who goeth to the Gods as meet oblation,
The goat precedeth him, the share of Pusan, and to the Gods the sacrifice announceth.
5 Invoker, ministering priest, atoner, fire-kindler Soma-presser, sage, reciter,
With this well ordered sacrifice, well finished, do ye fill full the channels of the rivers.
6 The hewers of the post and those who carry it, and those who carve the knob to deck the Horse's stake;
Those who prepare the cooking-vessels for the Steed,-may the approving help of these promote our work.
7 Forth, for the regions of the Gods, the Charger with his smooth back is come my prayer attends him.
In him rejoice the singers and the sages. A good friend have we won for the Gods' banquet.
8 May the fleet Courser's halter and his heel-ropes, the head-stall and the girths and cords about him.
And the grass put within his mouth to bait him,-among the Gods, too, let all these be with thee.
9 What part of the Steed's flesh the fly hath eaten, or is left sticking to the post or hatchet,
Or to the slayer's hands and nails adhereth,-among the Gods, too, may all this be with thee.
10 Food undigested steaming from his belly, and any odour of raw flesh remaining,
This let the immolators set in order and dress the sacrifice with perfect cooking.
11 What from thy body which with fire is roasted, when thou art set upon the spit, distilleth,
Let not that lie on earth or grass neglected, but to the longing Gods let all be offered.
12 They who observing that the Horse is ready call out and say, the smell is good; remove it;
And, craving meat, await the distribution, -may their approving help promote labour.
13 The trial-fork of the flesh-cooking caldron, the vessels out of which the broth is sprinkled,
The warming-pots, the covers of the dishes, hooks, carving-boards,-all these attend the Charger.
14 The starting-place, his place of rest and rolling, the ropes wherewith the Charger's feet were fastened,
The water that he drank, the food he tasted, -among the Gods, too, may all these attend thee.
15 Let not the fire, smoke-scented, make thee crackle, nor glowing caldron smell and break to pieces.
Offered, beloved, approved, and consecrated,-such Charger do the Gods accept with favour.
16 The robe they spread upon the Horse to clothe him, the upper covering and the golden trappings,
The halters which restrain the Steed, the heel-ropes,-all these, as grateful to the Gods, they offer.
17 If one, when seated, with excessive urging hath with his heel or with his whip distressed thee,
All these thy woes, as with the oblations' ladle at sacrifices, with my prayer I banish.
18 The four-and-thirty ribs of the. Swift Charger, kin to the Gods, the slayer's hatchet pierces.
Cut ye with skill, so that the parts be flawless, and piece by piece declaring them dissect them.
19 Of Tvastar's Charger there is one dissector,-this is the custom-two there are who guide him.
Such of his limbs as I divide in order, these, amid the balls, in fire I offer.
20 Let not thy dear soul burn thee as thou comest, let not the hatchet linger in thy body.
Let not a greedy clumsy immolator, missing the joints, mangle thy limbs unduly.
21 No, here thou diest not, thou art not injured: by easy paths unto the Gods thou goest.
Both Bays, both spotted mares are now thy fellows, and to the ass's pole is yoked the Charger.
22 May this Steed bring us all-sustaining riches, wealth in good kine,good horses, manly offspring.
Freedom from sin may Aditi vouchsafe us: the Steed with our oblations gain us lordship!


HYMN CLXIII. The Horse.

1. WHAT time, first springing into life, thou neighedst, proceeding from the sea or upper waters,
Limbs of the deer hadst thou, and eagle pinions. O Steed, thy birth is nigh and must be lauded.
2 This Steed which Yama gave hath Trita harnessed, and him, the first of all, hath Indra mounted.
His bridle the Gandharva grasped. O Vasus, from out the Sun ye fashioned forth the Courser.
3 Yama art thou, O Horse; thou art Aditya; Trita art thou by secret operation.
Thou art divided thoroughly from Soma. They say thou hast three bonds in heaven
that hold thee.
4 Three bonds, they say, thou hast in heaven that bind thee, three in the waters,
three within the ocean.
To me thou seernest Varuna , O Courser, there where they say is thy sublimest birth-place.
5 Here-, Courser, are the places where they groomed thee, here are the traces of thy hoofs as winner.
Here have I seen the auspicious reins that guide thee, which those who guard the holy Law keep safely.
6 Thyself from far I recognized in spirit,-a Bird that from below flew through the heaven.
I saw thy head still soaring, striving upward by paths unsoiled by dust, pleasant to travel.
7 Here I beheld thy form, matchless in glory, eager to win thee food at the Cow's station.
Whene'er a man brings thee to thine enjoyment, thou swallowest the plants most greedy eater.
8 After thee, Courser, come the car, the bridegroom, the kine come after, and the charm of maidens.
Full companies have followed for thy friendship: the pattern of thy vigour Gods have copied.
9 Horns made of gold hath he: his feet are iron: less fleet than he, though swift as thought, is Indra.
The Gods have come that they may taste the oblation of him who mounted, first of all, the Courser.
10 Symmetrical in flank, with rounded haunches, mettled like heroes, the Celestial Coursers
Put forth their strength, like swans in lengthened order, when they, the Steeds, have reached the heavenly causeway.
11 A body formed for flight hast thou, O Charger; swift as the wind in motion is thy spirit.
Thy horns are spread abroad in all directions: they move with restless beat in wildernesses.
12 The strong Steed hath come forward to the slaughter, pondering with a mind directed God-ward.
The goat who is his kin is led before him the sages and the singers follow after.
13 The Steed is come unto the noblest mansion, is come unto his Father and his Mother.
This day shall he approach the Gods, most welcome: then he declares good gifts to him who offers.

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Source: An English translation of the Vedas by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1896.