Vṛṣākapi hymn – The Kapi, the Kavi, and the Vāk
[Indra] They indeed released the soma away, they didn’t think of Indra (as) the deva.
There where my companion Vṛṣākapi delighted in the abundances of the lords – Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] You indeed run beyond the staggering Vṛṣākapi,
Even then you don’t find anywhere else, for drinking soma – Indra higher to all.
[Indra] What has this tawny beast Vṛṣākapi done to you,
Or to the abundant riches of lords, that you hate him? Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] This dear Vṛṣākapi, whom you keep watch into;
Boar-hunting hound will even bite his ear now; Indra higher to all.
The kapi spoiled away my beloved parts well built, well-demarcated.
I will break his head, I won’t be an easy passage for a bad actor. Indra higher to all.
No woman is of good clear parts than me, none would be of better embraces;
None rolls back better than me, none raises up the shafts better. Indra higher to all.
[Vṛṣākapi] Aye, mummy, easy-gain, like this you will be :
It causes my bald part, my “shafts”, my head to be aroused; Indra higher to all.
[Indra] O you of good hands, good fingers, wide praise, wide-ended;
O mistress of hero, why, just why, do you bother of Vṛṣākapi? Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] This stingy one considers me as if not having a hero,
And here am, with the hero, mistress of Indra, with companions Maruts.
Indra higher to all.
[Poet] In the first, she the woman was the one going over, whether for concourse or meeting;
She, the performer of Ṛta, is glorified as Indra’s heroic mistress. Indra higher to all.
I have heard Indrāṇī, the most fortunate among women;
Indeed not even in the future will her lord die of old age. Indra higher to all.
[Indra] Indrāṇī, I don’t “rock” in the (flow of) Ṛta without companion Vṛṣākapi;
Whose this dear gift, born of water, goes to the devas; Indra higher to all.
Vṛṣākapāyi, wealthy, having a good son and good daughter-in-law,
Indra will accept your dear consecrated gift, whatever it does. Indra higher to all.
Consecrated indeed are the fifteen for me, they cook a twenty with it;
And I eat just the substance, they satisfy both my cups, (heaven-earth) Indra higher to all.
[Poet] Like a sharply horned bull, wandering within the herd,
The churned which the pious impels out for you is bliss for your heart; Indra higher to all.
[Indra] He isn’t the controller, whose mulch-tool hangs loosely between the shafts;
He is THE controller, for whose (plow) having settled down, the hairy (field) gapes open. Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] He isn’t the controller, for whose (organ) settled down, the hairy (vulva) gapes open;
He is THE controller whose mulch-tool (organ) hangs loosely between the shafts. (thighs) Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] O Indra, this Vṛṣākapi found a killed equid,
New butchering (or “impelling”?) knife, a cooking pot, a wagon spread over with firewood. Indra higher to all.
[Vṛṣākapi] Here I go, distinguishing and recognizing the Arya and Dāsa.
I drink of the foolish presser, having viewed him to be wise. Indra higher to all.
[Indra] Desert and tilled section – how many miles would they be apart;
Come back to shelter, Vṛṣākapi, towards the nearby settlements. Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] Return back, Vṛṣākapi, easy paths we will design ourselves;
While as the destroyer of sleep, you go again, to your shelter, along the path. Indra higher to all.
[Poet] When you all, O Vṛṣākapi, O Indra, had gone towards the upper house,
Where did he, the beast of many offenses, the one who frustrates the folks, go! Indra higher to all.
The woman Parśu, simultaneously gave birth to a twenty.
Auspiciousness was indeed there for her whose belly was afflicted, Indra higher to all.
Indications to metaphors and comments, ordered by verses :
Summary of basic metaphors – There are three strains working parallel in this hymn – rightly adhiyajñam, adhyātmam, and adhidaivam. All based on one social context – the slow decline and discouragement of sage tradition from new chief lords with their sponsored priests who believe only in action, not vision. Metaphors are Indra = Kavi = the Indra who is the Divine concept born of spiritual Vision = the Spiritual Self of Kavi. Indrāṇī = Vision of Kavi = the Vāk = the human Self of Kavi. Vṛṣākapi = the recipient of soma of the kings who believe not in spiritual vision, but only in mere practices = the ignorant royally sponsored Priest = the descendants of the priest-sage community who have lost their spiritual sage tradition.
> abundances of lords – (also aryaḥ puṣṭi/ aryaḥ puṣṭāni) is a classical concept in middle and later Vedic period, when chiefs (aryaḥ) turned out to be possessors of enormous wealth, and still never distributed anything properly. They ended the presence and the culture of sages and raised a community of ignorant priests, who are good enough to do the rituals, without having any much knowledge about the meaning.
> Indra running beyond staggering Vṛṣākapi is in the “ultimate greatness” which Indra transcends beyond all. Indra as the Divine concept is all-inclusive and beyond what we can think of. It cannot be compared with a Vṛṣākapi concept who merely acts when worshiped, and not based on spiritual vision. Indra here stands for kavi as opposed to kapi, again. The kavi gets immortality, so goes for his Vision as well. However, an ignorant priest who has no vision merely performs and dies off.
> Tawny beast (mṛga) reminds one of the imagery of Indra’s symbol of Yajña – the Soma, (elsewhere called Vṛṣṇaḥ aśvasya retaḥ) also explained as Viṣṇu. (who is also called mṛga) However here, Vṛṣākapi, while assuming the role of Agni/Viṣṇu/Soma to implement the Yajña, is not in the right track. Indra is tolerant of the priest – as it could have been how sages adapted with the priests. But they surely did leave a viewpoint from the other side – from the side of the Right, from the side of spiritual vision and tradition they followed – in Indrāṇī. Indra is thus fine with identifying the Vṛṣākapis worshiped by people as Viṣṇu, his companion and radiance. Just like the poet sages, who had to face the reality of priests and chiefs spoiling the rich spiritual tradition and vision and replacing it with their cults. However, this underlying irritation reflects through the Indrāṇī, who has a “humanly” basis, though with the Divine forms.
> Indrāṇī retorts to the Indrian tolerance, that the true companion of Indra – Viṣṇu, who is the boar-hunter of Vedas (who hunts Emuṣa boar with Indra) will snap the ear (pun intended for the “śravaṇa” and “śravas” – the learning and fame) of Vṛṣākapi, for this priest actually spoils the well-demarcated Vision – the Indrāṇī, and robs her off her beauty while acting himself. Ear is also the metaphor for directions (fame), hence why the “boar hunter” is fully vindicated beautifully.
> Indrāṇī explains her plight. Which is the human in the poet reacting to how the new practice has destroyed the rich spiritual tradition. She is also the “verse”, of the poet, who is effed up by the priest for his gains. The “clear”, “well-demarcated” refers to the reality of how the vision and metaphors yielded the new priests clueless, as they had no idea or the will to discern. This is a constant theme in the later Vedic period – esp. in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. By the time of Atharvaveda, the great sages had become legends – he stands for the Brahmā.
> “Rolling back” is a concept in Vedas – the vision pays to the sages. “Raising the shafts better” – as in a ploughcart that is to plow the field. The reason for this is that Indra’s wife is the humanly born vision of the poet who reaches to Indra and becomes one with Divine. This is visualized also, as the ahalyā, the field which cannot be plowed, in Vedic theme – esp. in the Subrahmaṇyā. (only Indra makes her fertile, and becomes the plow and plowshare himself) The word for shaft also happens to mean “thigh”, and this is the sublimest divine pun in the history of Vedic Sanskrit.
Head is the metaphor for heaven, as always. Indrāṇī doesn’t expect Vṛṣākapi to pass to the spiritual realm, by spoiling her. Spoiling her will make her break the “head” of Vṛṣākapi, never revealing her spiritual inside to him.
> Indrāṇī is “easy-gain” for Vṛṣākapi as he doesn’t possess a vision. He merely appropriates the Though it is the Vāk of vision which made a sage and priest in Vedic times, the Vṛṣākapi considers himself to be a child of the Vāk, though has no vision. This theme can be again, seen better represented in the Vāk hymn of same tenth Maṇḍala, where Vāk says, she makes the Brahman herself and reveals herself to the one who discerns her. Thus, while Vṛṣākapi claims Indrāṇī to be his “mommy” (ambe! is also an exclamation in Aśvamedha ritual, which is again, used in this hymn later) Indrāṇī doesn’t find him to be suitable enough to make a kavi, or even reveal herself.
The words used by Vṛṣākapi are so significant. He believes just chanting the verses will make the spiritual realm rise in him, (his “head”) lift the shafts and pull his cart of Yajña forward, making the yajña to be fruitful deed, Bald part is his bald yajña without the hairs of fire/ the inner sky without hairs of sun / Ahalyā without Indra. As these three are elsewhere called three hairy ones in metaphors. (tryaḥ keśinaḥ)
> The spiritual self of the poet, also the actual Divinity Indra, is seemingly not bothering of how people are ignorant. He asks instead, in order to make us clear of Indrāṇī’s feelings. Good hands, as she “performs” well and pays back to the sage as his passage to immortality. Good fingers, since fingers, symbolize the impelling of soma, the spiritual life. (This is a very common metaphor, especially running throughout ninth maṇḍala) Ten fingers also symbolize the ten directions, and directions of action. (hand) Indrāṇī is wide ended, as her seat is the magnificent seat of Ṛta. (again reaffirmed in verses to follow)
> Indrāṇī replies that the hurting, stingy, Vṛṣākapi takes pride in himself and thinks that he can appropriate Indrāṇī. A sage actually gives birth to his thought, through which he gains the divine inspiration, and returns it as the vision in Vāk. The Vāk becomes his companion, and both remain immortal. Vṛṣākapi has no clue of vision, hence, he doesn’t compose anything from his vision; neither understands anything. He merely tries to appropriate the verses thinking it will make him get all materialistic and spiritual benefits. Now, we are in a position to accept Indrāṇī’s viewpoint.
> Poet explains to us the key for the metaphor, that the human woman (nārī) glorified as Indrāṇī is the first one who takes her place in every meeting/assembly (to “speak brave” in assembly is a Vedic concept – the assembly is associated with Vāk always) As she gains the divinity and becomes one with Indra, she is glorified as Indrāṇī. She implements the Ṛta.
She thus is immortal and causes her hero (both Indra and kavi) to be immortal. As immortality is elsewhere clearly associated with Kavis- their knowledge of the spiritual basis of chandas. (ya it tat vidus te amṛtatatvam ānaśuḥ)
This can also be phrased with respect to the Vṛṣākapi, who really “hears” the Indrāṇī.
> Indra says that he rocks in the flow of Ṛta only with priest – it is the reality. That the priest has been ignorant of Divine vision is unfortunate, though. Whatever he offers, born of waters, (soma) does indeed go to devas, as the Devas are ultimately the recipients of all worship. If a priest doesn’t limit his worship to his own ego, Indra will be glad to accept it, and it goes to the Devas.
> Indra addresses Indrāṇī as Vṛṣākapāyī, for the priest has appropriated her. Indra shows He has no ill-will towards anyone for what is happening – whatever happens, will happen with its own consequences. Here we find the lofty spirit of Vedic sages and their concept of Divinity – that is not “jealous” but beyond any affliction of human emotions. Good “daughter-in-law” is a very good phrase used by Indra – as Indrāṇī has become her own daughter-in-law. Indra says that the glory of the Vision never fades off even though Vṛṣākapi has dealt with her – and that He accepts whatever is offered with her.
> Vrishakapi offers the soma yajna, where the bulls of fifteen (Trishtubh verses) and twenty (Dvipad verses of twenty syllables) – both are mixed together in Gauriviti Saman – are offered to Indra. Indra fills the cups of cosmos – the “heaven and earth” with the substance. (soma) Indra is not intent on the practices (unlike Vṛṣākapi) but only the substance. One who presses soma for the world to live rejuvenates the Indrian concept and simultaneously rejuvenates the world. Only those who do that will be aided by Indra.
> Poet says that Indra finds indeed the soma pressed by the inspired as blissful by heart. “By heart” is a phrase of Vedas by which one “understands” or “discerns”. (Cf. hṛdā paśyanti …)
> > Indra and Indrāṇī both describe the nature of who really wins. It is not the mere performer, but only the visionary actor achieves.
> Scene of Aśvamedha reinstated through the sighting of a killed “equid”. (Since horse stands for soma, but the Vṛṣākapāyī is unable to press the real soma – he “finds the ass killed”. This also alludes to a satire of Aśvamedha ritual that had just been released in among chiefs, where priest/horse toils for the king, and at least is killed (because it had no wits to escape) and after its death, the queen becomes fertile, and the kingdom becomes prosperous. Queen sleeps with the dead horses. The sighting of equid causes this hindsight inside the priest. This sparks an introspection in Vṛṣākapi, and makes him create a better future for him.
> Vṛṣākapi is taking his leave, saying that he will distinguish Arya and Dāsa, and thus accept only offers from righteous rulers. He also confesses what he had been doing these days.
> Indra calls back Vṛṣākapi, warning that he is going to a desert, and requests to continue being nearer to the tilled section, in nearby settlements;. (the tradition having a spirit, followed by his sagely ancestors)
> Indrāṇī, out of love to Vṛṣākapi, calls out to him to return to his shelter – to his home and traditions. She assures that then she will devise the “easy paths” for him to get to spiritual heaven. The “easy paths” are also a satire of Aśvamedha, where Aśva returns to the shelter in yajña where it is offered an “easy path”. Sage refers to their tradition already being sacrificed. And as the Indra-Indrāṇī now take the place of king and queen of the Aśvamedha, it is like they are letting loose their horse, the Vṛṣākapi. For ultimately the greater immortality and spiritual achievement are for poets and verses.
> The pattern of this kind of speech is a Vedic one, it is a syntactical feature of Vedic Sanskrit. To emphasize poetically that something happened, that is expressed as a question with the subject referred to in a third person’s viewpoint. For example, to affirm and exclaim at Indra’s killing of Vṛtra, one would say it in Vedic poetic syntax: “Who saw the exterminator of Vṛtra, O Indra, when thrill came to your heart, O destroyer!”. (RV 1.32)
Here, it is shown that only those who didn’t have any “agha” or didn’t torment people actually reached “heaven” – the upper spiritual house.
> Another political context. Will be dealt separate.
- vi hi sotorasṛkṣata nendram devamamaṃsata ǀ
yatrāmadadvṛṣākapiraryaḥ puṣṭeṣu matsakhā viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- parā hīndra dhāvasi vṛṣākaperati vyathiḥ ǀ
no aha pra vindasyanyatra somapītaye viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- kimayam tvām vṛṣākapiścakāra harito mṛgaḥ ǀ
yasmā irasyasīdu nvaryo vā puṣṭimadvasu viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- yamimam tvam vṛṣākapim priyamindrābhirakṣasi ǀ
śvā nvasya jambhiṣadapi karṇe varāhayurviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- priyā taṣṭāni me kapirvyaktā vyadūduṣat ǀ
śiro nvasya rāviṣam na sugam duṣkṛte bhuvam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- na matstrī subhasattarā na suyāśutarā bhuvat ǀ
na matpraticyavīyasī na sakthyudyamīyasī viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- uve amba sulābhike yathevāṅga bhaviṣyati ǀ
bhasanme amba sakthi me śiro me vīva hṛṣyati viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- kim subāho svaṅgure pṛthuṣṭo pṛthujāghane ǀ
kim śūrapatni nastvamabhyamīṣi vṛṣākapim viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- avīrāmiva māmayam śarārurabhi manyate ǀ
utāhamasmi vīriṇīndrapatnī marutsakhā viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- saṃhotram sma purā nārī samanam vāva gacchati ǀ
vedhā ṛtasya vīriṇīndrapatnī mahīyate viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- indrāṇīmāsu nāriṣu subhagāmahamaśravam ǀ
nahyasyā aparam cana jarasā marate patirviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- nāhamindrāṇi rāraṇa sakhyurvṛṣākaperṛte ǀ
yasyedamapyam haviḥ priyam deveṣu gacchati viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- vṛṣākapāyi revati suputra ādu susnuṣe ǀ
ghasatta indra ukṣaṇaḥ priyam kācitkaram havirviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- ukṣṇo hi me pañcadaśa sākam pacanti viṃśatim ǀ
utāhamadmi pīva idubhā kukṣī pṛṇanti me viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- vṛṣabho na tigmaśṛṅgo’ntaryūtheṣu roruvat ǀ
manthasta indra śam hṛde yam te sunoti bhāvayurviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- na seśe yasya rambate’ntarā sakthyā kapṛt ǀ
sedīśe yasya romaśam niṣeduṣo vijṛmbhate viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- na seśe yasya romaśam niṣeduṣo vijṛmbhate ǀ
sedīśe yasya rambate’ntarā sakthyā kapṛdviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- ayamindra vṛṣākapiḥ parasvantam hatam vidat ǀ
asim sūnām navam carumādedhasyāna ācitam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- ayamemi vicākaśadvicinvandāsamāryam ǀ
pibāmi pākasutvano’bhi dhīramacākaśam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- dhanva ca yatkṛntatram ca kati svittā vi yojanā ǀ
nedīyaso vṛṣākape’stamehi gṛhām̐ upa viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- punarehi vṛṣākape suvitā kalpayāvahai ǀ
ya eṣa svapnanaṃśano’stameṣi pathā punarviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- yadudañco vṛṣākape gṛhamindrājagantana ǀ
kva sya pulvagho mṛgaḥ kamagañjanayopano viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
- parśurha nāma mānavī sākam sasūva viṃśatim ǀ
bhadram bhala tyasyā abhūdyasyā udaramāmayadviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ