Matters of religion-3

Lootika seeing Somakhya contemplating something remarked: “That great clash of men is upon us, where, as the śruti says, our flag will be mingled with that of the enemy in close combat.”
Somakhya: “It’s almost as if your mind is reflecting mine!”
Lootika: “Indeed, though born V1s our life is like that of V2s in a sense like as this is the downward turn of the yuga-cakra. Hence, may Vajrabāhu sink the dasyu to his left and bring light to the ārya on the right.”
Somakhya: “The founders of my clan or your Śaradvān clansman never shied from yuddha. It is with that in mind O Gautamī we have to invoke the fierce spells of our ancestors as enjoined by father Manu and as Harihara and Bukka had done in the southern country before embarking on the destruction of the makkha-rākṣasa-s. Before we make those oblations we have protect and purify ourselves with the śāntyudaka as was done by the young brahman Vicārin, the knower of the Atharvāṅgirasa-śruti.”

Early in the day Lootika placed the leaves of the secret plants known as citi, tumburu, śigru, devadāru, pīlu, kapu, viparvā, rodākā, vṛkkavatī, nāḍā and nirdahantī in the śāntyudaka pitcher. As she did so Somakhya recited the following incantation of his ancient ancestors:

sahasva yātudhānān
sahasva yātudhānyaḥ |
sahasva sarvā rakṣāṃsi
sahamānāsy oṣadhe ||

Conquer the the yātudhāna-s, conquer the yātudhānī-s, conquer all the rakṣa-s. You are conquering, O herb!

L: “O Ārya, tradition holds that a subset of these plants belong to the Atharvan-s or the Bhṛgu-s and the other subset to the Āṅgirasa-s. How do we place them in each of these categories.”
S: “That is indeed so Varārohā. Those from citi to pīlu are those of my ancestors while those from kapu to nirdahantī belong to yours. Such is the lore passed down by the knowers of the Atharvaṇa-śruti.”

Then, as Lootika poured water from her kamaṇḍalu into the pitcher Somakhya standing up held his palms in the añjalika-mudrā and recited the following incantations of his ancient ancestors:

viśvād riprān muñcata sindhavo no
yāny enāṃsi cakṛmā tanūbhiḥ |
indra-praśiṣṭā varuṇa prasūtā
ā siṅcatāpo madhva ā samudre ||

O rivers, free us from all the impurity and from whatever sins we have committed with our bodies. Directed by Indra, impelled by Varuṇa, O waters pour honey into the sea.

yūyaṃ mitrasya varuṇasya yonir
yūyaṃ somasya dhenavo madhiṣṭhāḥ |
yuṣmān devīr deva ā kṣiyantīndur
yūyaṃ jinvata brahma-kṣatram āpaḥ ||

You are the seat of Mitra and Varuṇa, you are the sweetest cows of Soma. In you, O goddesses, dwells the godly Moon. You, O waters, must impel the the brahma and the kṣatra.

punānā āpo bahudhā sravanti
imāṃś ca lokān pradiśaś ca sarvāḥ |
punantv asmān duritād avadyān
muṅcantu mṛtyor nirṛter upasthāt ||

The waters, becoming pure, stream in many directions, throughout these worlds and throughout all the quarters of space. Let them purify us from evil, from disgrace; let them release us from death, from the lap of the goddess Nirṛti.

Then he muttered the Sāvitrī and recited the Triṣaptīya hymn.

L: “Should the goddesses of the waters be correctly understood as Apsaras-es with Urvaśī, Sahajanyā, Ghṛtācī and Menakā at their head? Their being called upon to called upon to impel the brahma and the kṣatra, who lead the society of the ārya-s, is similar to their being invoked to protect the brahma-kṣatra in the Yajuṣ incantations known as the Rāṣṭrabhṛt-s.”
S: “One may understand it that way from the etymology of Apsaras-es, which is a extension of the more basic form āpaḥ. Indeed, the Rāṣṭrabhṛt-s further the equation with the Apsaras-es. It has also been explicitly indicated by my ancient clansman Kavi, the son of Bhṛgu:

samudriyā apsaraso manīṣiṇam
āsīnā antar abhi somam akṣaran |

The marine Apsaras-es, sitting within, have streamed toward Soma of inspired mantra-thought.

Here the word samudriyā indicates their belonging to the watery realm. Further, the sense in which they are used in the ṛk of Kavi relates to them being termed “somasya dhenavo madhiṣṭhāḥ” in the mantra-s we just deployed. This identity of the Apsaras-es as the goddesses of the waters is reinforced in the famous ritual of the apsaras-es and the gandharva of the ocean, which we shall perform at a different time. There we shall encounter another dangerous class of 80 Apsaras-es who are known as the Uluṅgulukā-s, coming in groups of 31, 4, 10, 10, 25, associated with the asura Uluṅgula. We shall see in a later rite how to ward off danger from them by invoking Indra and obtain benefits instead.”

L: “Ah, I recall that while studying that rite I saw parallels between the Atharvaṇic divisions of the Apsaras-es and the Greek division of the water-nymphs into Naiads, Nereids, Oceanids and the like. This brings up another point for discussion. The waters are described as streaming through the worlds. The earthly realm is easily understood: the oceans and rivers and the like. The atmospheric realm too is obvious. But what about the heavenly realm? Even the moon is said to be contained in them. This seems to be reiterated in the Taittirīya-śruti where waters are described thus in the context of ‘watery’ nakṣatra of Pūrvāṣāḍhā:

yā divyā āpaḥ payasā saṃbabhūvuḥ |
yā antarikṣa uta pārthivīryāḥ |

Here, the enumeration of the waters begins with the divine waters followed by the more familiar ones. This suggests that our ancestors saw the ‘waters’ not just in the earthly regions but extending even to the heavenly realm. What might this mean?”

S: “That used seem puzzling to me too. But the clue comes from that very ṛk regarding Pūrvāṣāḍhā that you cited. I slips out of my mouth involuntarily whenever I see the said constellation on a clear night with Milky Way. It is telling that its states: ‘yā divyā āpaḥ payasā saṃbabhūvuḥ |‘ Which heavenly waters had their being by milk. We hold that the milk mentioned here is none other than the Milky Way — an analogy which is rather clear to anyone who has beheld the core of our galaxy on a good night. Hence, it is possible that the heavenly waters were an allusion to the Milky Way. This might also apply to the term divyaṃ nabhas to which we offer the barhiṣ at the end of the ritual.”

L: “The idea of divyā āpaḥ is also philosophically satisfying in a current sense. After all where did water on the earth come from? Most likely from the asteroids, the comets, and the objects of the dwarf planet belt. Thus, we may say all the earthly waters are indeed from the divyā āpaḥ.”

Later that evening knotting the yoktra girdle around Lootika’s waist Somakhya indicated to her to cover the mouth of the pitcher with her palms. Then he uttered the incantations:

śaṃ no mitraḥ śaṃ varuṇaḥ
śaṃ viṣṇuḥ śaṃ prajāpatiḥ |
śaṃ na indro bṛhaspatiḥ
śaṃ no bhavatv aryamā ||

Weal to us Mitra, weal to us Varuṇa, weal to us Viṣṇu, weal to us Prajāpati, weal to us Indra, weal to us Bṛhaspati. May Aryaman be beneficent to us.

śaṃ no grahāś cāndramasāḥ
śam ādityaś ca rāhuṇā |
śaṃ no mṛtyur dhūmaketuḥ
śaṃ rudrās tigmatejasaḥ ||

Weal to us the planets and the Moon, weal to us the Sun and the eclipses, weal to us death and the comets, weal the Rudra-s of sharp luster.

śaṃ rudrāḥ śaṃ vasavaḥ
śam ādityāḥ śam agnayaḥ |
śaṃ no maharṣayo devāḥ
śaṃ devyāḥ śaṃ bṛhaspatiḥ ||

Weal the Rudra-s, weal the Vasu-s, weal the Āditya-s, weal the Agni-s, weal to us the great seers and gods, weal to us the goddesses and Bṛhaspati.

Then Somakhya steeped a fistful of darbha in the water and uttered the following incantation:

pṛthivī śāntir antarikṣaṃ śāntir dyauḥ śāntir
āpaḥ śāntir oṣadhayaḥ śāntir vanaspatayaḥ śāntir
viśve me devāḥ śāntiḥ sarve me devāḥ śāntiḥ
śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntibhiḥ |
yad iha ghoraṃ yad iha krūraṃ
yad iha pāpaṃ tac chāntaṃ
tac chivaṃ sarvam eva śam astu naḥ ||

The Earth peaceful, the atmosphere peaceful, the heaven peaceful, the waters peaceful, the plants peaceful, the trees peaceful, all gods my peace, the collection of gods my peace, peace be peaceful. By peace, I render all that is terrible here, all that is cruel here, all that is sinful here, peaceful and auspicious. Let all this be weal to us.

Then he sprinkled the water on himself, her and around the vedi with the below incantations:

agnir āyuṣmān sa vanaspatibhir āyuṣmān |
sa māyuṣmān āyusmantaṃ kṛṇotu ||

Agni is full of life: with the trees he is full of life. Full of life let him make me full of life.

vāyur ayuṣmān so ‘ntarikṣeṇāyuṣmān |
sa māyuṣmān āyusmantaṃ kṛṇotu ||

Vāyu is full of life: with the atmosphere he is full of life. Full of life let him make me full of life.

indra āyuṣmān sa viryeṇāyuṣmān |
sa māyuṣmān āyuṣmantaṃ kṛṇotu ||

Indra is full of life: with manliness he is full of life. Full of life let him make me full of life.

devā āyuṣmantas te ‘mṛtenāyuṣmantaḥ |
te māyuṣmanta āyuṣmantaṃ kṛṇvantu ||

The gods are full of life: with ambrosia they are full of life. Full of life let them make me full of life.

They seated themselves on the reddish brown bull skin to commence the ritual. Somakhya then placed a fire-stick of the vikaṅkata plum in the vedī dipped in ghee: “Gautamī, it has been stated in the śruti: vajro vai vikaṅkataḥ ।; hence, for such a ritual we use this samidh. It is an ancient medicinal plant, perhaps used an Indian substitute for the willow.” He then muttered the vāravantīya incantation to the god Agni of his ancient clansman who had transferred to the clan of the Vaiśvāmitra-s:

aśvaṃ na tvā vāravantaṃ
vandadhyā agniṃ namobhiḥ |
samrājantam adhvarāṇām ||

This is to praise you, Agni, with salutations, the one like tail of the horse | the one of excellent things, presiding like the emperor over the ritual.

The great god Vaiśvānara, who takes the oblations to the deva-s, blazed forth illuminating their fire-room with a purple hue in the dim twilight even as the last rays of the sun withdrew from the sky. Lootika looking at the ever-moving flames was deeply moved by this thought: It is indeed for this reason our ancient ārya ancestors called him vāravant — his sinuous movements are verily like the prancing tail of a horse dashing across the grassy steppe. His changing from form to form, like the vibhakti-s of the substantives, he truly embodies the ever-moving aspect of the ṛta. Hence, my ancestor Nodhas had stated thus when he performed a sacrifice for the king Śātavaneya:

mūrdhā divo nābhir agniḥ pṛthivyā
athābhavad aratī rodasyoḥ |
taṃ tvā devāso ‘janayanta devaṃ
vaiśvānara jyotir id āryāya ||

The head of heaven and the navel of the earth is Agni. Then he became the spoked wheel of the world-hemispheres. The gods generated you, that god Vaiśvānara, verily as light for the Ārya-s.

Indeed, that wheel in the midst of the world-hemispheres indicates his ever-moving moving form as the celestial cycles. She snapped out her reveries as she had to fill the sruk and hand it over to Somakhya to pour out the great attacking oblations.

yo no dipsād adipsato
dipsato yaś ca dipsati |
vaiśvānarasya daṃṣṭrayor
agner api dadhāmi tam || + vau3ṣaṭ

Him who, though unharmed, would harm us, and him who, harmed, would harm us,
I verily place between the two fangs of Agni Vaiśvānara.

Then Somakhya made the sruva offering to the foe-killing Vāyu:

sagarāya śatruhaṇe svāhā | śarṇilāya śatruhaṇe svāhā | samudrāya śatruhaṇe svāhā |
sāndhasāya śatruhaṇe svāhā | iṣirāya śatruhaṇe svāhā | avasyave śatruhaṇe svāhā |
vāyave śatruhaṇe svāhā | vātāya śatruhaṇe svāhā | mātariśvane śatruhaṇe svāhā | pavamānāya śatruhaṇe svāhā ||

L: “These 10, sometimes obscure, names of Vāyu bring to mind some yajuṣ oblations that I have heard my father making from the Taittirīya-śruti.”
S: “There are two sets of such oblations among the Taittirīyaka-s. The first of those are related to the ‘offering of the seven winds’ or the Vāta-nāmāni:

samudrāya tvā vātāya svāhā | salilāya tvā vātāya svāhā | anādhṛṣyāya tvā vātāya svāhā | apratidhṛṣyāya tvā vātāya svāhā | avasyave tvā vātāya svāhā | duvasvate tvā vātāya svāhā | śimidvate tvā vātāya svāhā ||

The second of those are rather remarkable in associating Vāyu with the the Marut-s, a development which completely enveloped the latter in the epic period, as in the Rāmāyaṇa:

samudro ‘si nabhasvān ārdradānuḥ śambhūr mayobhūr abhi mā vāhi svāhā |
māruto ‘si marutāṃ ganaḥ śambhūr mayobhūr abhi mā vāhi svāhā |
avasyur asi duvasvāñ śambhūr mayobhūr abhi mā vāhi svāhā ||”

L: “It is notable that while these are pauṣṭika, our AV prayoga is abhicārika. This is rather reminiscent of the Iranian tradition where a long series of Vātanāmāni are prescribed to be deployed in the sacrifice to be performed when an Iranian is under attack or during war. However, what is consistent across such Vāyu invocations in our vaidika traditions is the association of Vāyu with moisture and the waters: salila, sagara, samudra, śarṇila and ārdra-dānuḥ(!).”
S: “In fact that watery connection is seen in the very same Iranian collection of incantations you alluded to, suggesting that this is an ancient feature from the Indo-Iranian period referring to Vāyu as the bearer of moisture and the stirrer of water-bodies. The Avestan incantations states:

ýazâi apem ca bakhem ca
ýazâi âxshtîm hãm-vaiñtîm ca
suyãm ca kataremcit
tem vayêmcit ýazamaide
tem vayêmcit zbayamahi

I will sacrifice to the waters and to him who divides them. I will sacrifice to the peaceful one, whose breath is beneficent, and to weal, both of them. To this Vayu do we sacrifice, this Vayu do we invoke.”

Next they prepared the sruk for offering to Indra:

indrasya bāhū sthavirau vṛṣāṇau
citrā imā vṛṣabhau pārayiṣṇū |
tau yokṣe prathamo yoga āgate
yābhyāṃ jitam asurāṇāṃ svar yat ||+ vau3ṣaṭ

Indra’s two arms, firm and manly, these two are wondrous as stud bulls. The [time of] yoking has arrived, I first yoke these two, by which the heaven of the Asura-s was conquered.

S: “This is the famous Atharvanic apratiratha-ṛk. The arms of Indra are compared to fierce bulls, something our ancestors would seen in a rather unadulterated form on the steppes from even before the age of the śruti. But do you suspect a wordplay here?”
L: “Seems so. While the reference is to the two bulls, the time of yoking I believe actually refers to horses being yoked to the ratha, that key war-conveyance of the ārya-s. The time of yoking is verily that of the warrior yoking the horses for war. But what the mantra conveys is that even before the horses we first yoke the Vajra- and the arrow-bearing arms of Maghavan that bring victory.”
S: “Good.”

They prepared the sruk for the next oblation with the below incantation:
indrasyaujasā hata |
aviṃ vṛka iva mathnīta
tato vo jīvan mā moci
prāṇam asyāpi nahyata || + vau3ṣaṭ

Having overtaken him the spells slay [him] with the might of Indra, snatch him like a wolf a sheep. Then let him not get away from you alive, indeed block his breath.

L: “The atisara which is dispatched reminds one of the missile dispatched in the hair-raising combat between Arjuna and Karṇa in the national epic, which was much like that of Śatamanyu and Vṛtra. There when Karṇa deployed the missile of Rāma Bhārgava it is said to be of Atharvaṇic nature:

rāmād upāttena mahāmahimnā
ātharvaṇena+arivināśanena |
tad arjunāstraṃ vyadhamad dahantaṃ
pārthaṃ ca bāṇair niśitair nijaghne ||

With the [missile] of great might obtained from Rāma, the Atharvaṇic foe-destroyer, [Karṇa] smashed that fiery weapon of Arjuna and he pierced Pārtha with sharp arrows.

Then again when finally Arjuna killed Karṇa with a gigantic missile it is said:

kṛtyām atharvāṅgirasīm ivogrāṃ
dīptām asahyāṃ yudhi mṛtyunāpi |
bruvan kirīṭī tam atiprahṛṣṭo
ayaṃ śaro me vijayāvaho ‘stu ||

Having fired the blazing weapon fierce as an Atharvāṅgirasa Kṛtyā incapable of being endured by Death herself in battle, the crowned one (Arjuna) said with great joy: “Let this arrow be victory-bearing to me.”

S: “For a V2 in battle the atisara might indeed be his actual weapon, while a V1 performing such a prayoga might visualize it as striking his foe like a wolf seizing a sheep. In the national epic there is another such account of the deployment of a śakti made by Tvaṣṭṛ for Rudra by Yudhiṣṭhira which was be worshiped with such mantra-s. Let us read it out in full for it is most inspiring:

tatas tu śaktiṃ rucirogra-daṇḍāṃ
maṇi-pravālojjvalitāṃ pradīptām |
cikṣepa vegāt subhṛśaṃ mahātmā
madrādhipāya pravaraḥ kurūṇām ||

The great soul, the foremost of the Kuru-s [Yudhiṣṭhira] then hurled with great force at the king of the Madra-s that blazing śakti with a well-made and fierce handle blazing [like] with the shine of gems and corals.

dīptām athaināṃ mahatā balena
savisphuliṅgāṃ sahasā patantīm |
praikṣanta sarve kuravaḥ sametā
yathā yugānte mahatīm ivolkām ||

All the Kuru-s together saw that blazing dart emitting sparks as it powerfully flew hurled with great might like a meteorite [falling] at the end of the yuga.

tāṃ kālarātrīm iva pāśa-hastāṃ
yamasya dhātrīm iva cograrūpām |
sabrahma-daṇḍa-pratimām amoghāṃ
sasarja yatto yudhi dharmarājaḥ ||

Guiding it, the Dharmarāja hurled that [missile], which was of dreadful form like the goddess of the night of dissolution holding a noose, the midwife who birthed Yama, and infallible as the rod of Brahman.

gandha-srag argyāsana-pānabhojanair
abhyarcitāṃ pāṇḍusutaiḥ prayatnāt |
saṃvartakāgni-pratimāṃ jvalantīṃ
kṛtyām atharvāṅgirasīm ivogrām ||

With much effort the sons of Pandu had worshiped [that missile] with perfumes and garlands, water pourings, a seat, drinks and food. It blazed like the fire of destruction and was fierce as an Atharvāṅgirasa Kṛtyā.

īśāna-hetoḥ pratinirmitāṃ tāṃ
tvaṣṭrā ripūṇām asu-deha-bhakṣām |
prasahya bhūtāni nihantum īśām ||

For the sake of Īśāna this missile was engineered by Tvaṣṭṛ; it consumes the breath and bodies of foes. By its force it can violently destroy the Earth, the atmosphere, water-bodies and living beings.

bala-prayatnād adhirūḍha-vegāṃ
mantraiś ca ghorair abhimantrayitvā |
sasarja mārgeṇa ca tāṃ pareṇa
vadhāya madrādhipates tadānīm ||

Thus, with a forceful effort, having inspired it with fierce mantra-s, [Yudhiṣṭhira] released it with utmost momentum along the best trajectory for the destruction of the lord of the Madra-s.

hato ‘sy asāv ity abhigarjamāno
rudro ‘ndhakāyāntakaraṃ yatheṣum |
prasārya bāhuṃ sudṛḍhaṃ supāṇiṃ
krodhena nṛtyann iva dharmarājaḥ ||

“There, you are killed”, roaring thus the Dharmarāja [hurled the missile], having stretched his arm with a firm good hand, as if dancing in wrath, even as Rudra had shot his arrow for bringing the end of Andhaka.

As you would have noted, the weapon is said to be like the Atharvāṅgirasa Kṛtyā and specifically it was inspired by mantra-s. Thus, indeed a V2 might inspire his weapon as an atisara before its deployment.”

L: “But what about the deployment of the Kṛtyā-prayoga related to the famous sūkta starting with yāṃ kalpayanti…?”
S: “That is used primarily in the deflecting mode. But this is primarily in the attacking mode in the vaidika tradition.”

Then they continued with the next oblation:

athainam indra vṛtrahann
ugro marmaṇi vidhya |
atraivainam abhi tiṣṭha
śakra medy ahaṃ tava |
anu tvendrā rabhāmahe
syāma sumatau tava || + vau3ṣaṭ

Now here O fierce Indra, the Vṛtra-slayer, pierce him in his marman. Trample him right here. O Śakra, I am your votary. We take hold of you, O Indra. May we be in your favor.

L: “It is indeed clear from this mantra that the ārya chooses Indra, whereas the śatru is anindra as has been clearly stated in the śruti.”
S: “Next comes the oblation to delude the mind of the foe.”

yad veda rājā varuṇo
veda devo bṛhaspatiḥ |
indro yad vṛtrahā veda
tat satyam cittamohanam || + vau3ṣaṭ

That which King Varuṇa knows, which the god Bṛhaspati knows, which Indra the Vṛtra-slayer knows, is the truth which bewilders the mind [of the foe].

śarveṇa nīlaśikhaṇḍena
bhavena marutāṃ pitrā |
virūpākṣeṇa babhrūṇā
vācaṃ vadiṣyato hataḥ || + vau3ṣaṭ

By Śarva, but the blue-crested one, by Bhava, by the father of the Marut-s, by the odd-eyed one and by the brown one the voice of he who verbally [attacks] us is smitten.

śarva nīlaśikhaṇḍa
vīra karmaṇi-karmaṇi |
imām asya prāśaṃ jahi
yenedaṃ vibhajāmahe || + vau3ṣaṭ

O Śarva, the blue-crested one, O hero, in every rite smite the food of this one with whom we portion this out.

L: This triad strikes me as being one of the vaidika-prayoga-s comparable to the tāntrika- prayoga-s like that of Bagalāmulkhī or Varāhī. Bagalā is used identically for the vāca-stambhana-prakriyā while the sow-headed Saṃketayoginī may be deployed for mohanam like the first ṛk. The last mantra appears a little obscure to me.
S: “One who is has ubhayavīrya in both the tāntrika and the vaidika prayoga-s is truly an accomplished mantravādin, like that one from the Kaliṅga country. Each path has its own rigor and strictures; hence, in the least it is good to be educated in both. But for a V1 the priority is the vaidika rite. As for the last mantra, I believe that it indicates a bhrātṛvya with whom we are competing for space or glory.”

Finally, they made the mysterious oblation to Rudra and his son.

tvaṃ devānām asi rudra śreṣṭha
tavas tavasām ugrabāho |
hṛṇīyasā manasā modamāna
ā babhūvitha rudrasya sūno || + vau3ṣaṭ

You are the chief of the gods O Rudra, the mightiest of the mighty, O one of formidable arms. With fury, delighting in your mind, you had come into being, O son of Rudra.

L: “That is quite remarkable! The son of Rudra clearly in singular here! It seems to indicate the emergence of a proto-Skanda. In my readings I have only encountered rudrasya sunuḥ in singular in that glorious sūkta to the Marut-s of my ancestor Nodhas.”
S: “That sūkta of Nodhas (RV 1.64) is truly an awe-inspiring one to the Marut-s who are entirely spoken of in plural as is usual. But then as you say we mysteriously get this singular occurrence of the singular form in it (RV 1.64.12):

ghṛṣum pāvakaṃ vaninaṃ vicarṣaṇiṃ
rudrasya sūnuṃ havasā gṛṇīmasi |

The agile, pure, winning, all-seeing son of Rudra we extol with an invocation.

Everywhere else in the RV the term is always in plural — rudrasya sunavaḥ except for the rather notable similar singular usage by the other Āṅgirasa clan, the Bharadvāja-s, in their parallel sūkta to the Marut-s (RV 6. 66):

taṃ vṛdhantam mārutam bhrājad-ṛṣṭiṃ
rudrasya sūnuṃ havasā vivāse |

This growing Māruta, with a blazing spear, the son of Rudra I bring with with an invocation.

Hence, it does seem that these rare singular usages for the Marut-s in the śruti point to the latent tendency for consolidation of the Marut-s into a single form. This process was indeed likely on the pathway to the emergence of Skanda in the para-Vedic Indo-Iranian borderlands. I could also point to a more circumstantial connection via the peculiar word hṛṇīyasā in the AV mantra. Its root is of early Indo-European vintage and can be related to the fury of the gods such as Rudra and Varuṇa. Hence, it is notable that in the late Atharvaṇic tradition the hymns to fury, the Manyu-sūkta-s are associated with a hapax ṛṣi named Brahmāskanda, which is none other than the name of our patron deity. Further, those Manyu hymns are used in the Skanda ritual of the late AV tradition.”

ayajvanaḥ sākṣi viśvasmin bharo3m ||

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