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A History of Sanskrit Literature by MacDonell

That thou mayst live and mayst not die


Just as a yoke with leathern thong They fasten on that it may hold: So have I now held fast thy soul, That thou mayst live and mayst not die, Anon to be unhurt and well.

Downward is blown the blast of wind, Downward the burning sunbeams shoot, Adown the milk streams from the cow: So downward may thy ailment go.

Here is a stanza from a poem intended as a charm to induce slumber (v. 55):--

The man who sits and he who walks, And he who sees us with his gaze: Of these we now close up the eyes, Just as we shut this dwelling-house.

The first three stanzas of this lullaby end with the refrain, "Fall fast asleep" (ni shu shvapa).

The purpose of one incantation (x. 183) is to procure children, while another (x. 162) is directed against the demon that destroys offspring. There is also a spell (x. 166) aiming at the destruction of enemies. We further find the incantation (x. 145) of a woman desiring to oust her rival wives from the affections of her husband. A sequel to it is formed by the song of triumph (x. 159) of one who has succeeded in this object:--

Up has arisen there the sun, So too my fortunes now arise: With craft victorious I have gained Over my lord this victory.

My sons now mighty warriors are, My daughter is a princess now, And I myself have gained the day: My name stands highest with my lord.

Vanquished have I these rival wives, Rising superior to them all, That over this heroic man And all this people I may rule.

With regard to a late hymn (vii. 103), which is entirely secular in style, there is some doubt as to its original purpose. The awakening of the frogs at the beginning of the rainy season is here described with a graphic power which will doubtless be appreciated best by those who have lived in India. The poet compares the din of their croaking with the chants of priests exhilarated by soma, and with the clamour of pupils at school repeating the words of their teacher:--

Resting in silence for a year, As Brahmans practising a vow, The frogs have lifted up their voice, Excited when Parjanya comes.

When one repeats the utterance of the other Like those who learn the lesson of their teacher, Then every limb of yours seems to be swelling, As eloquent ye prate upon the waters.

As Brahmans at the mighty soma offering Sit round the large and brimming vessel talking, So throng ye round the pool to hallow This day of all the year that brings the rain-time.


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