Vedā: Śacī Paulomī

Śacī Paulomī: Poetess from Rigveda

Rigveda, apart from having lots of fine poets, also has notable fine poetesses, of which Śacī has very strong importance. Shachi, whose name is the ancient form of “Shakti” (The strength), is as her name, so lively, confident, and determined poetess, like other confident poetesses of her time, in Rigveda. Her confidence and her outspoken words made her a legend in later ages, equating her with Indrani Shachi.

Shachi, was probably a queen of her time too or at least makes the impression that she is as royal as a queen, through her poem, the Rigveda 10.159. Her words are really dynamic as fire and show the courage and determination of female strength.

Shachi, as her name suggests, is the daughter of Puloma sage.

Here is her short poem, from Rigveda, 10.159; the translation is provided below :

“उद॒सौ सूर्यो॑ अगा॒दुद॒यं मा॑म॒को भगः॑
अ॒हं तद्वि॑द्व॒ला पति॑म॒भ्य॑साक्षि विषास॒हिः
अ॒हं के॒तुर॒हं मू॒र्धाहमु॒ग्रा वि॒वाच॑नी
ममेदनु॒ क्रतुं॒ पति॑ः सेहा॒नाया॑ उ॒पाच॑रेत्
मम॑ पु॒त्राः श॑त्रु॒हणोऽथो॑ मे दुहि॒ता वि॒राट्
उ॒ताहम॑स्मि संज॒या पत्यौ॑ मे॒ श्लोक॑ उत्त॒मः
येनेन्द्रो॑ ह॒विषा॑ कृ॒त्व्यभ॑वद्द्यु॒म्न्यु॑त्त॒मः
इ॒दं तद॑क्रि देवा असप॒त्ना किला॑भुवम्
अ॒स॒प॒त्ना स॑पत्न॒घ्नी जय॑न्त्यभि॒भूव॑री
आवृ॑क्षम॒न्यासां॒ वर्चो॒ राधो॒ अस्थे॑यसामिव
सम॑जैषमि॒मा अ॒हं स॒पत्नी॑रभि॒भूव॑री
यथा॒हम॒स्य वी॒रस्य॑ वि॒राजा॑नि॒ जन॑स्य च”

“The Sun has risen up, yea, my grace has risen,
I, knowing this, live with my husband whom I gained.
I am the torch, I am the summit. I am the eloquent mighty one.
I have conquered. My lord will attend to my will.
My sons are killers of enemies, and my daughter is a queen
Oh yea, I am victorious. Over my husband, my song is the best.
The gift, which Indra has made, and has grown glorious and supreme,
This I offer, O Divinities! Sole queen may I become.
Having no rival queens, slayer of enemies, victorious, conqueror have I become.
Other’s grace I have brought forth here, as it were the gifts of weaker (queens).
I have conquered the whole of these other queens
So have become the sole queen of the hero and the people.”

Note the amount of confidence and the power in her words. It may be amazing to the so-called fellows who think the Vedic period mistreated or made woman “a property”. Later literature, however, makes this simply “Shachi’s triumph song of pissing her rival wives off from Indra the lustful guy”. However, the word “sapatnA” clearly means a parallel queen, and the queen could be mistranslated to mean “rival wife of king”. However, patnA comes from the same root as to mean “protect”, “rule”. (So does patnI also) Rigveda mostly uses patnI (except when referred in single, along with a mere pati, where pati becomes not just “Lord” but also Husband, and patnI is merely “wife” and not just “queen”) and in almost all cases patnA to mean queen, patna to mean king. Hence, “sapatna” or “sapatnA” is used to refer to a parallel or contemporary “king” or “queen”, particularly a “rival”. For example, note the usage in Rigveda 10.166.1 “sapatnAnAm viSAsahim”. “One who can bear other kings”, 10.166.2 “sapatnA me …” “ My parallel kings…”.

Apart from the queen’s proud words and prayer above, there are also many “wise” poetesses whose words resound with wisdom and knowledge. Of them, one popular one has left her real name anonymous but has taken the pseudonym “Sūryā sāvitrī” meaning “Sūryā”, the daughter of Savita. Her lines make the beautiful and lovely “marriage poem” that is still used as “Vivaha suktam” in Brahmin weddings. It is notable that the one who wrote that soma is not a plant, so outspokenly, is not a man or a sage, but this Suryaa.

Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
July 30, 2016