The remoteness of the era of the veda, those oldest words of our Aryan ancestors, are hardly grasped without deep consideration. This indeed is a testimony of the great age of the veda, so hoary that its usages remained mysterious to most brahmins of the ages and upstart indologists of the modern era. Even the learned sAyaNa of the mideaval Andhra country remained clueless on some such matters. So when one grasps an obscure mantra of the R^igveda the feeling is profound. One such is the spell of varuNa and the maruts composed by the hoary kANva in the peculiar mahApankti meter of the form (8,8,8/8,8,8); if one is favored by it the bhrAtR^ivyas are slain.
asmA U Shu prabhUtaye : varuNAya marudbhyo : .arcA viduShTarebhyaH /
yo dhiitA mAnuShANAM : pashvo gA iva rakShati : nabhantAm anyake same //
The verse though simple is simple misunderstood and mistranslated by most (for example the ridiculous translations of the Germans Grassmann and Geldner as also sAyaNa’s incorrect idea).
Herr Grassmann : Ihm der der Menschen Regungen wie Rinderherden wohl bewacht.
Herr Geldner: Der die Gedanken der Menschen bewacht wie der Hirt die Herdentiere.
Mr. Griffith: This Varuna who guardeth well the thoughts of men like herds of kine.
What they do not realize is that the verb rakShati has two meanings : 1) protect 2) To keep watch. The second meaning is critical to correctly understand this mantra. Its prayoga can be successful only with this latter meaning taken into account.