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A History of Sanskrit Literature by MacDonell

Sue for the hand of Surya from her father

These Brahmans with their soma raise their voices, Performing punctually their yearly worship; And these Adhvaryus, sweating with their kettles, These priests come forth to view, and none are hidden.

The twelvemonth's god-sent order they have guarded, And never do these men neglect the season. When in the year the rainy time commences, Those who were heated kettles gain deliverance.

This poem has usually been interpreted as a satire upon the Brahmans. If such be indeed its purport, we find it difficult to conceive how it could have gained admittance into a collection like the Rigveda, which, if not entirely composed, was certainly edited, by priests. The Brahmans cannot have been ignorant of the real significance of the poem. On the other hand, the comparison of frogs with Brahmans would not necessarily imply satire to the Vedic Indian. Students familiar with the style of the Rigveda know that many similes which, if used by ourselves, would involve contempt or ridicule, were employed by the ancient Indian poets only for the sake of graphic effect. As the frogs are in the last stanza besought to grant wealth and length of days, it is much more likely that we have here a panegyric of frogs believed to have the magical power of bringing rain.

There remain about twenty poems the subject-matter of which is of a more or less secular character. They

deal with social customs, the liberality of patrons, ethical questions, riddles, and cosmogonic speculations. Several of them are of high importance for the history of Indian thought and civilisation. As social usages have always been dominated by religion in India, it is natural that the poems dealing with them should have a religious and mythological colouring. The most notable poem of this kind is the long wedding-hymn (x. 85) of forty-seven stanzas. Lacking in poetic unity, it consists of groups of verses relating to the marriage ceremonial loosely strung together. The opening stanzas (1-5), in which the identity of the celestial soma and of the moon is expressed in veiled terms, are followed by others (6-17) relating the myth of the wedding of Soma the moon with the sun-maiden Surya. The Acvins, elsewhere her spouses, here appear in the inferior capacity of groomsmen, who, on behalf of Soma, sue for the hand of Surya from her father, the sun-god. Savitri consents, and sends his daughter, a willing bride, to her husband's house on a two-wheeled car made of the wood of the calmali or silk-cotton tree, decked with red kimcuka flowers, and drawn by two white bulls.

Then sun and moon, the prototype of human marriage, are described as an inseparable pair (18-19):--

They move alternately with mystic power; Like children playing they go round the sacrifice: One of the two surveys all living beings, The other, seasons meting out, is born again.

Ever anew, being born again, he rises, He goes in front of dawns as daylight's token. He, coming, to the gods their share apportions: The moon extends the length of man's existence.

Blessings are then invoked on the wedding procession, and a wish expressed that the newly-married couple may have many children and enjoy prosperity, long life, and freedom from disease (20-33).

The next two stanzas (34-35), containing some obscure references to the bridal garments, are followed by six others (36-41) pronounced at the wedding rite, which is again brought into connection with the marriage of Surya. The bridegroom here thus addresses the bride:--

I grasp thy hand that I may gain good fortune, That thou may'st reach old age with me thy husband. Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitri, Puramdhi, The gods have given thee to share my household.

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