vedic mantra-s adapted for kaumAra ritual

kumAram mAtA yuvatiH samubdhaM guhA bibharti na dadAti pitre |
anIkam asya na minaj janAsaH puraH pashyanti nihitam aratau ||
The young mother keeps the boy hidden in secret, nor gives him to the father;
Men see his undiminishing radiance only when he is set up on the fuel sticks [reeds].

In the vedic context it refers to agni hidden within his “mother”: the kindling wood block, who is hidden away from the father: the fire-drill. He become visible only when placed on the fire-sticks in the altar. The term aratau has been somewhat obscure to some commentators. It is a synonym of aratni, which means a unit length (probably ell), which is a metaphor for the samidh which might be an aratni long.

Its relationship to the kaumara worship is explained thus: 1) the two words kumAra and guha that come in the mantra are epithets of the god. Further, as per the kaumara myth, kumAra was born secretly, hence his name is guha, which is also the theme in this formula. 2) The young mother (mAtA yuvatiH who holds kumAra secretly is interpretted as either the goddess ga~NgA or the forest mother sharavana. 3) The aratau are interepretted as the ell-long reeds: the sharas on which kumAra was placed and became visible to all.

kam etaM tvaM yuvate kumAram peShI bibharShi mahiShI jajAna |
pUrvIr hi garbhaH sharado vavardhA pashyaM jAtaM yad asUta mAtA ||
What is this[child], swaddled in cloth, you bear young lady? the mighty queen gave birth to him.
The embryo grew through many autumns. I saw him when his mother bore him.

In the vedic parlance two different mothers of agni are being alluded to. The young lady who was carrying him swaddled in cloth and the queen mother who originally bore him.

In the kaumara parlance the young mother is again ga~NgA or the reed forest mother, while the mahiShI is taken to mean the great mother umA.

hiraNyadantaM shucivarNam ArAt kShetrAd apashyam AyudhA mimAnam |
dadAno asmA amR^itaM vipR^ikvat kim mAm anindrAH kR^iNavann anukthAH ||
I saw him from afar in his abode, bright-complexioned and with golden teeth, hurling his weapons; When I have offered him soma, how can the non-indra-worshippers and ones-without mantras attack me?

In the vedic sense agni protects the yajamAna from the dasyu-s, when he offers oblations to the deva.

In the kaumara sense again kumAra is seen here- hurling his weapons, drinking amR^ita from the gods and keeping away the enemies of indra.

vR^iShA jajAna vR^iShaNaM raNAya tamu cin nArI naryaM sasUva |
pra yaH senAnIr adha nR^ibhyo astInaH satvA gaveShaNaH sa dhR^iShNuH ||
The bull sired the bull for the sake of battle, and the firm mother bore forth the manly warrior;
He who is the commander of the armies, the fore most of the manly, he is the strong hero, brave and ready for war.

In the vedic context, it describes indra as the son of dyaus and aditi [pR^ithivi], who becomes the commander of the forces leading the gods in conflict.

In the kaumAra sense many points are seen as critical: 1) the epithet senAnI- commander, is specifically that of kumAra. 2) The bull that sires him from the sake of battle is obviously seen as rudra (also described as vR^iSha in the veda) for the sake of the battle with the enemies of the gods. The firm mother who bears him is seen as umA.

arbhako na kumArako .adhi tiShThan navaM ratham |
sa pakShan mahiSham mR^igam pitre mAtre vibhukratum ||
He, while yet a small boy, mounted his new chariot; He at his mother and father’s behest burnt the mighty buffalo.

In the vedic parlance indra is explained as slaying the buffalo even when he was still a young boy and just born.

In the kaumara context this is seen as an allusion to the kumAra mounting his chariot for war at his parent’s behest to slay the demon mahiSha. The vedic story of indra burning the buffalo is obscure. However, it is possible it had some connection with the tale of kumAra killing mahiSha.

agniriva manyo tviShitaH sahasva senAnIr naH sahure hUta edhi |
hatvAya shatrUn vi bhajasva veda ojo mimAno vi mR^idho nudasva ||
Blazing like agni, oh over-powering anger, you are invoked as the commander of the army;
Slay our foes, distribute their weath and give us might to scatter our enemies.

This is from the famous vedic manyu sUktaM.

In the atharva vedic tradition the R^iShi of this hymn is said to be brahmAskanda. In the skanda yAga of gopatha and the shANmukha-kalpa this hymn is supposed be used for the worship of kumAra. It contains an epithet of kumAra- senAnI and the manyu sUktaM describes the commander of deva armies as agni conjoint with the maruts (sons of rudra).

The adaptation of these vedic hymns for kumAra worship is not particular surprising, especially given that agni’s ‘birth’ in the veda provides a parallel for the birth of kumara the son of agni (who may be identified with rudra). Indeed in the shukla yajurvedic tradition, the shatapata brAhmaNa calls a manifestation of rudra to be kumAra. Many other elements of the kaumara myth are paralleled in the veda. For example, agni is elsewhere described as having 7 mothers and the constellation of agni is kR^ittikA [the mother of paurANic kumAra]. The sons of rudra even in the vedic parlance- the maruts were the leaders of the deva senA (RV 10.103.8):
devasenAnAm abhibha~njatInAM jayantInAM maruto yantvagram”. The nejameSha hymn in the RV khila is a direct reference to the deity, but it is in the context of the birth-rites.

This entry was posted in Heathen thought. Bookmark the permalink.