A laud of indra
For the Arya of yore there was nothing more inspiring than indra in his dasyu-smashing manifestation. Indeed, only one who is touched deeply, inspired to heavenly heights and invigorated in ardor upon hearing these R^iks can lay any claim to understanding the spirit of the warlike Arya-s. Fleeting glimpses of this spirit of indra can be seen in the other branches of the Indo-European tree in the glorification of Thor among the Germanic peoples or the poetic flourishes among the yavana-s on the might of Zeus. But the R^igveda is unrivaled in its pure exhibition of the lauds of the great indra.
tvam mAyAbhir apa mAyino .adhamaH svadhAbhir ye adhi shuptAv ajuhvata |
tvam pipror nR^imaNaH prArujaH puraH pra R^ijishvAnaM dasyu-hatyeShv Avitha || (RV 1.51.5 )
You with your mAyA powers blew away those with mAyA, with self-manifest powers those who made offerings into their own mouth. You, full of manliness, have demolished pipru’s forts, and impelled R^ijishvAn in dasyu-killing [battle].
tvaM kutsaM shuShNahatyeShv AvithArandhayo .atithigvAya shambaram |
mahAntaM chid arbudaM ni kramIH padA sanAd eva dasyuhatyAya jaj~niShe || (RV1.51.6)
You boosted kutsa during the killing of shushNa, and annihilated shambhara for atithigva; you trampled the mighty arbuda under foot, and verily arose in the ancient past for the killing of dasyu-s
tve vishvA taviShI sadhryag ghitA tava rAdhaH somapIthAya harShate |
tava vajrash chikite bAhvor hito vR^ishchA shatror ava vishvAni vR^iShNyA || (RV 1.51.7)
In you all powers are closely gathered up; your generosity is pleased by drinking soma; The vajra that is held in your arms is known : shear off all manliness of our enemy !
vi jAnIhy AryAn ye cha dasyavo barhiShmate randhayA shAsad avratAn |
shAkI bhava yajamAnasya choditA vishvet tA te sadhamAdeShu chAkana || (RV 1.51.08)
You discriminate the Arya-s and the dasyu-s, punishing non-performers of rites, subjugating them to the ritualist (literally one who spreads the barhiSh for the somayAga); be the ritualist’s powerful impeller; all these acts of yours bring happiness during the soma ritual.
anuvratAya randhayann apavratAn AbhUbhir indraH shnathayann anAbhuvaH |
vR^iddhasya chid vardhato dyAm inakShata stavAno vamro vi jaghAna saMdihaH || (RV 1.51.9)
indra subjugates the non-ritualist to the ritualist, enabling the offerers [of sacraments] to strike down those do not do so. When vamra when praised [you], he destroyed the fortifications of the builder who was augmenting them to reach the skies.
Thus, savya a~Ngirasa praises indra to bear him aid in the battle against the dasyu-s by performing a soma sacrifice.
He concludes this praise with a mantra seeking the protection of indra thus:
idaM namo vR^iShabhAya svarAje satyashuShmAya tavase .avAchi |
asminn indra vR^ijane sarva-vIrAH smat sUribhis tava sharman syAma || (RV 1.51.15)
Obeisance to him the self-ruling bull, this mantra is uttered to the truly valiant and mighty one; may we with all the heroes and ritualists together in this ritual enclosure, O Indra, be in your protection.
* The second quarter of RV 1.51.5 is difficult to translate. The main problem being the meaning of the word shupti, which occurs as a singular locative noun. It is a hapax legomenon in the R^igveda. Here we follow the suggestion of the learned shAstrI from the va~Nga country manmathanAtha dutta for the translation, based on sAyaNa. The great sAyaNa states that shupti means mukha (face). He then points to two vaidika traditions to defend the interpretation of shupti as mukha: In the shukla yajurvedic tradition of the vAjasaneyin-s it is stated that during the conflict between the deva-s and asura-s, the latter said that they would not offer sacrifice to anyone else. In the kaushItaki tradition, the asuras are described as scoffing agni and making the offerings to themselves. Thus, the “adhi shuptAv ajuhvata” is taken as a reference to this incident, implying that the asura-s made the oblations in their own mouth. The word shupti being a body part is consistent with the following constructs for body parts in Indo-Iranian, all of which have the ‘-ti’ suffix (probably inherited from proto-Indo-European): vistati= palm; pR^iShTi=rib; muShTi= fist; shruti=ear (also hearing); dR^iShTi= eye (also sight); niShTi= collarbone. However, inference based on homology suggests that it means shoulder rather than mouth: In middle low German schuft= shoulder blade of ox or horse; Dutch schoft; Avestan supt; Middle Persian suft; Albanian sup all meaning shoulder. The interpretation of sAyana could still be right, even if shupti actually meant shoulder in the RV, with making offerings on shoulder being an obscure way of stating that they sacrificed to themselves. But translating this quarter with shupti=shoulder leaves room for alternative interpretations. Could it be that it refers to a specifically deprecated ritual associated with the enemies of the Arya-s of making oblations on a shoulder blade? This is a possibility to be explored further.
* The term sUri in RV 1.51.15 specifically means the sponsor of the soma yaga. From the context it is likely to be a kShatriya yajamAna, whose R^itvik-s were the a~Ngirasa ritualists like savya. Who could have been his main patron? An interesting hint is provided by his allusion to the young warrior sushravas tUrvAyaNa in addition to the usual Arya heroes like kutsa and divodAsa atithigva. In savya-s sUkta-s, sushravas is supposed to have even exceeded the heroes like kutsa, divodAsa and the early pUru king Ayu and subjugated 20 kings of men (jana-rAj~no dvir dasha). But this illustrious sushravas is not mentioned by most other R^igvedic R^iShi-s who do praise kutsa and divodAsa commonly. Interestingly, we find the Iranian tradition mentioning a warrior hero kavI husrava who was aided by the god hauma (=soma). Could it have been that he was the cognate of the R^igvedic sushravas tUrvAyaNa and savya sought his patronage after moving away from the core territory of the rulers like kutsa or Ayu?
* saMdiH is translated as fortifications in this context. Its use to describe a wall appears to be related to its original root which means to smear or to pile. This captures the actions of piling stones and smearing with mud to build the early fortifications that were typical of the Indo-Europeans. Indeed, fort-based warfare remained an important aspect of Indo-European military activity wherever they settled after radiating from their homeland in the steppes. Even closer to the ancestral homeland the Indo-Iranian remnants of fortifications are seen in sites like Arkaim. Not surprisingly there are several references to fort warfare in the R^igveda. Certain terms like puraMdhara and poliorcetes point to parallels between saMskR^ita and Greek in this regard.