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Chapter XVI. The Angirasa Rishis

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The name Angirasa occurs in the Veda in two different forms, Angira and Angirasa, although the latter is the more common; we have also the patronymic Angirasa applied more than once to the god Brihaspati. In later times Angirasa, like Bhrigu and other seers, was regarded as one of the original sages, progenitors of clans of Rishis who went by their names, the Angirasas, Atris, Bhargavas. In the Veda also there are these families of Rishis, the Atris, Bhrigus, Kanwas, etc. In one of the hymns of the Atris the discovery of Agni, the sacred fire, is attributed to the Angirasa Rishis (V.11.6), but in another to the Bhrigus (X.46.9).1 Frequently the seven original Angirasa Rishis are described as the human fathers, pitaro manuṣyāḥ, who discovered the Light, made the sun to shine and ascended to the heaven of the Truth. In some of the hymns of the tenth Mandala they are associated as the Pitris or Manes with Yama, a deity who only comes into prominence in the later Suktas; they take their seats with the gods on the barhis, the sacred grass, and have their share in the sacrifice.

If this were all, the explanation of the part taken by the Angirasa Rishis in the finding of the Cows, would be simple and superficial enough; they would be the Ancestors, the founders of the Vedic religion, partially deified by their descendants and continually associated with the gods whether in the winning back of the Dawn and the Sun out of the long Arctic night or in the conquest of the Light and the Truth. But this is not all, the Vedic myth has profounder aspects. In the first place, the Angirasas are not merely the deified human fathers, they are also brought before us as heavenly seers, sons of the gods, sons of heaven and heroes or powers of the Asura, the mighty Lord, divas putrāso asurasya vīrāḥ (III.53.7), an expression which, their number being seven, reminds us strongly, though perhaps only fortuitously, of the seven Angels of Ahura Mazda in the kindred Iranian mythology. Moreover there are passages in which they seem to become purely symbolical, powers and sons of Agni the original Angirasa, forces of the symbolic Light and Flame, and even to coalesce into a single seven-mouthed Angirasa with his nine and his ten rays of the Light, navagve aṅgire daśagve saptāsye, on and by whom the Dawn breaks out with all her joy and opulence. And yet all these three presentations seem to be of the same Angirasas, their characteristics and their action being otherwise identical.

Two entirely opposite explanations can be given of the double character of these seers, divine and human. They may have been originally human sages deified by their descendants and in the apotheosis given a divine parentage and a divine function; or they may have been originally demi-gods, powers of the Light and Flame, who became humanised as the fathers of the race and the discoverers of its wisdom. Both of these processes are recognisable in early mythology. In the Greek legend, for instance, Castor and Polydeuces and their sister Helen are human beings, though children of Zeus, and only deified after their death, but the probability is that originally all three were gods,– Castor and Polydeuces, the twins, riders of the horse, saviours of sailors on the ocean being almost certainly identical with the Vedic Ashwins, the Horsemen, as their name signifies, riders in the wonderful chariot, twins also, saviours of Bhujyu from the ocean, ferriers over the great waters, brothers of the Dawn, and Helen very possibly the Dawn their sister or even identical with Sarama, the hound of heaven, who is, like Dakshina, a power, almost a figure of the Dawn. But in either case there has been a farther development by which these gods or demi-gods have become invested with psychological functions, perhaps by the same process which in the Greek religion converted Athene, the Dawn, into the goddess of knowledge and Apollo, the sun, into the divine singer and seer, lord of the prophetic and poetic inspiration.

In the Veda it is possible that another tendency has been at work,– the persistent and all-pervading habit of symbolism dominant in the minds of these ancient Mystics. Everything, their own names, the names of Kings and sacrificers, the ordinary circumstances of their lives were turned into symbols and covers for their secret meaning. Just as they used the ambiguity of the word go, which means both ray and cow, so as to make the concrete figure of the cow, the chief form of their pastoral wealth, a cover for its hidden sense of the inner light which was the chief element in the spiritual wealth they coveted from the gods, so also they would use their own names, gotama “most full of light”, gaviṣṭhira “the steadfast in light” to hide a broad and general sense for their thought beneath what seemed a personal claim or desire. Thus too they used the experiences external and internal whether of themselves or of other Rishis. If there is any truth in the old legend of Shunahshepa bound as a victim on the altar of sacrifice, it is yet quite certain, as we shall see, that in the Rig-veda the occurrence or the legend is used as a symbol of the human soul bound by the triple cord of sin and released from it by the divine power of Agni, Surya, Varuna. So also Rishis like Kutsa, Kanwa, Ushanas Kavya have become types and symbols of certain spiritual experiences and victories and placed in that capacity side by side with the gods. It is not surprising, then, that in this mystic symbolism the seven Angirasa Rishis should have become divine powers and living forces of the spiritual life without losing altogether their traditional or historic human character. We will leave, however, these conjectures and speculations aside and examine instead the part played by these three elements or aspects of their personality in the figure of the cows and the recovery of the Sun and the Dawn out of the darkness.

We note first that the word Angiras is used in the Veda as an epithet, often in connection with the image of the Dawn and the Cows. Secondly, it occurs as a name of Agni, while Indra is said to become Angirasa and Brihaspati is called āṅgirasa and āṅgīrasa, obviously not as a mere decorative or mythological appellation but with a special significance and an allusion to the psychological or other sense attached to the word. Even the Ashwins are addressed collectively as Angirasa. It is therefore clear that the word Angirasa is used in the Veda not merely as a name of a certain family of Rishis, but with a distinct meaning inherent in the word. It is probable also that even when used as a name it is still with a clear recognition of the inherent meaning of the name; it is probable even that names in the Veda are generally, if not always, used with a certain stress on their significance, especially the names of gods, sages and kings. The word Indra is generally used as a name, yet we have such significant glimpses of the Vedic method as the description of Usha indratamā aṅgirastamā, “most-Indra”, “most-Angirasa”, and of the Panis as anindrāḥ, “not-Indra”, expressions which evidently are meant to convey the possession or absence of the qualities, powers or functionings represented by Indra and the Angirasa. We have then to see what may be this meaning and what light it sheds on the nature or functions of the Angirasa Rishis.

The word is akin to the name Agni; for it is derived from a root aṅg which is only a nasalised form of ag, the root of Agni. These roots seem to convey intrinsically the sense of pre-eminent or forceful state, feeling, movement, action, light,2 and it is this last sense of a brilliant or burning light that gives us agni, fire, aṅgati, fire, aṅgāra, a burning coal and aṅgiras, which must have meant flaming, glowing. Both in the Veda and the tradition of the Brahmanas the Angirasas are in their origin closely connected with Agni. In the Brahmanas it is said that Agni is the fire and the Angirasas the burning coals, aṅgārāḥ; but in the Veda itself the indication seems rather to be that they are the flames or lustres of Agni. In X.62, a hymn to the Angirasa Rishis, it is said of them that they are sons of Agni and have been born about him in different forms all about heaven, and in the next clause it is added, speaking of them collectively in the singular, navagvo nu daśagvo aṅgirastamo sacā deveṣu maṃhate, nine-rayed, ten-rayed, most aṅgiras, this Angirasa clan becomes together full of plenty with or in the gods; aided by Indra they set free the pen of cows and horses, they give to the sacrificer the mystic eight-eared kine and thereby create in the gods śravas, the divine hearing or inspiration of the Truth. It is fairly evident that the Angirasa Rishis are here the radiant lustres of the divine Agni which are born in heaven, therefore of the divine Flame and not of any physical fire; they become equipped with the nine rays of the Light and the ten, become most aṅgiras, that is to say most full of the blazing radiance of Agni, the divine flame, and are therefore able to release the imprisoned Light and Force and create the supramental knowledge.

Even if this interpretation of the symbolism is not accepted, yet that there is a symbolism must be admitted. These Angirasas are not human sacrificers, but sons of Agni born in heaven, although their action is precisely that of the human Angirasas, the fathers, pitaro manuṣyāḥ; they are born with different forms, virūpāsaḥ, and all this can only mean that they are various forms of the power of Agni. The question is of what Agni, the sacrificial flame, the element of fire generally or that other sacred flame which is described as “the priest with the seer-will” or “who does the work of the seer, the true, the rich in varied light of inspiration,” agnir hotā kavikratuḥ satyaś citraśravastamaḥ (1.1.5)? If it is the element of fire, then the blazing lustre they represent must be that of the Sun, the fire of Agni radiating out as the solar rays and in association with Indra the sky creating the Dawn. There can be no other physical interpretation consistent with the details and circumstances of the Angirasa myth. But this explanation does not at all account for the farther description of the Angirasa Rishis as seers, as singers of the hymn, powers of Brihaspati as well as of the Sun and Dawn.

There is another passage of the Veda (VI.6.3-5) in which the identity of these divine Angirasas with the flaming lustres of Agni is clearly and unmistakably revealed. “Wide everywhere, O pure-shining Agni, range driven by the wind thy pure shining lustres (bhāmāsaḥ); forcefully overpowering the heavenly Nine-rayed ones (divyā navagvāḥ) enjoy the woods3 (vanā vananti, significantly conveying the covert sense, ‘enjoying the objects of enjoyment’) breaking them up violently. O thou of the pure light, they bright and pure assail4 (or overcome) all the earth, they are thy horses galloping in all directions. Then thy roaming shines widely vast directing their journey to the higher level of the Various-coloured (the cow, Prishni, mother of the Maruts). Then doubly (in earth and heaven?) thy tongue leaps forward like the lightning loosed of the Bull that wars for the cows.” Sayana tries to avoid the obvious identification of the Rishis with the flames by giving navagva the sense of “new-born rays”, but obviously divyā navagvāḥ here and the sons of Agni (in X.62) born in heaven who are navagva are the same and cannot possibly be different; and the identification is confirmed, if any confirmation were needed, by the statement that in this ranging of Agni constituted by the action of the Navagwas his tongue takes the appearance of the thunderbolt of Indra, the Bull who wars for the cows, loosed from his hand and leaping forward, undoubtedly to assail the powers of darkness in the hill of heaven; for the march of Agni and the Navagwas is here described as ascending the hill (sānu pṛśneḥ) after ranging over the earth.

We have evidently here a symbolism of the Flame and the Light, the divine flames devouring the earth and then becoming the lightning of heaven and the lustre of the solar Powers; for Agni in the Veda is the light of the sun and the lightning as well as the flame found in the waters and shining on the earth. The Angirasa Rishis being powers of Agni share this manifold function. The divine flame kindled by the sacrifice supplies also to Indra the material of the lightning, the weapon, the heavenly stone, svarya aśmā, by which he destroys the powers of darkness and wins the cows, the solar illuminations.

Agni, the father of the Angirasas, is not only the fount and origin of these divine flames, he is also described in the Veda as himself the first, that is to say, the supreme and original Angirasa, prathamo aṅgirāḥ. What do the Vedic poets wish us to understand by this description? We can best understand by a glance at some of the passages in which this epithet is applied to the bright and flaming deity. In the first place it is twice associated with another fixed epithet of Agni, the Son of Force or of Energy, sahasaḥ sūnuḥ, ūrjo napāt. Thus in VIII.60.2, he is addressed “O Angirasa, Son of Force”, sahasaḥ sūno aṅgiraḥ, and in VIII.84.4, “O Agni Angirasa, Son of Energy”, agne aṅgira ūrjo napāt. And in V.11.6, it is said “Thee, O Agni, the Angirasas found established in the secret place (guhā hitam) lying in wood and wood (vane vane)” or, if we accept the indication of a covert sense we have already noted in the phrase vanā vananti, “in each object of enjoyment. So art thou born by being pressed (mathyamānaḥ) a mighty force; thee they call the Son of Force, O Angirasa, sa jāyase mathyamānaḥ saho mahat tvām āhuḥ sahasas putram aṅgiraḥ.” It is hardly doubtful, then, that this idea of force is an essential element in the Vedic conception of the Angirasa and it is, as we have seen, part of the meaning of the word. Force in status, action, movement, light, feeling is the inherent quality of the roots ag and aṅg from which we have agni and aṅgiraḥ. Force but also, in these words, Light. Agni, the sacred flame, is the burning force of Light; the Angirasas also are burning powers of the Light.

But of what light? physical or figurative? We must not imagine that the Vedic poets were crude and savage intellects incapable of the obvious figure, common to all languages, which makes the physical light a figure of the mental and spiritual, of knowledge, of an inner illumination. The Veda speaks expressly of “luminous sages”, dyumanto viprāḥ and the word sūri, a seer, is associated with Surya, the sun, by etymology and must originally have meant luminous. In 1.31.1, it is said of this god of the Flame, “Thou, O Agni, wast the first Angirasa, the seer and auspicious friend, a god, of the gods; in the law of thy working the Maruts with their shining spears were born, seers who do the work by the knowledge.” Clearly, then, in the conception of Agni Angirasa there are two ideas, knowledge and action; the luminous Agni and the luminous Maruts are by their light seers of the knowledge, ṛṣi, kavi; and by the light of knowledge the forceful Maruts do the work because they are born or manifested in the characteristic working (vrata) of Agni. For Agni himself has been described to us as having the seer-will, kavikratuḥ, the force of action which works according to the inspired or supramental knowledge (śravas), for it is that knowledge and not intellectuality which is meant by the word kavi. What then is this great force, Agni Angirasa, saho mahat, but the flaming force of the divine consciousness with its two twin qualities of Light and Power working in perfect harmony,– even as the Maruts are described, kavayo vidmanā apasaḥ, seers working by the knowledge? We have had reason to conclude that Usha is the divine Dawn and not merely the physical, that her cows, or rays of the Dawn and the Sun are the illuminations of the dawning divine consciousness and that therefore the Sun is the Illuminer in the sense of the Lord of Knowledge and that Swar, the solar world beyond heaven and earth, is the world of the divine Truth and Bliss, in a word, that Light in the Veda is the symbol of knowledge, of the illumination of the divine Truth. We now begin to have reason for concluding that the Flame, which is only another aspect of Light, is the Vedic symbol for the Force of the divine consciousness, of the supramental Truth.

In another passage, VI.11.3, we have mention of the “seer most illumined of the Angirasas”, vepiṣṭho aṅgirasāṃ...vipraḥ, where the reference is not at all clear. Sayana, ignoring the collocation vepiṣṭho vipraḥ which at once fixes the sense of vepiṣṭha as equivalent to most vipra, most a seer, most illumined, supposes that Bharadwaja, the traditional Rishi of the hymn, is here praising himself as the “greatest praiser” of the gods; but this is a doubtful suggestion. Here it is Agni who is the hotā, the priest; it is he who is sacrificing to the gods, to his own embodiment, tanvaṃ tava svām (VI. 11.2), to the Maruts, Mitra, Varuna, Heaven and Earth. “For in thee”, says the hymn, “the thought even though full of riches desires still the gods, the (divine) births, for the singer of the hymn that he may sacrifice to them, when the sage, the most luminous of the Angirasas, utters the rhythm of sweetness in the sacrifice.” It would almost seem that Agni himself is the sage, the most luminous of the Angirasas. On the other hand, the description seems to be more appropriate to Brihaspati.

For Brihaspati is also an Angirasa and one who becomes the Angirasa. He is, as we have seen, closely associated with the Angiras Rishis in the winning of the luminous cattle and he is so associated as Brahmanaspati, as the Master of the sacred or inspired word (brahma); for by his cry Vala is split to pieces and the cows answer lowing with desire to his call. As powers of Agni these Rishis are like him kavikratu; they possess the divine Light, they act by it with the divine force; they are not only Rishis, but heroes of the Vedic war, divas putrāso asurasya vīrāḥ (III.53.7) sons of heaven, heroes of the Mighty Lord, they are, as described in VI.75.9, “The Fathers who dwell in the sweetness (the world of bliss), who establish the wide birth, moving in the difficult places, possessed of force, profound,5 with their bright host and their strength of arrows, invincible, heroes in their being, wide overcomers of the banded foes”: but also, they are, as the next verse describes them, brāhmaṇāsaḥ pitaraḥ somyāsaḥ, that is, they have the divine word and the inspired knowledge it carries with it.6 This divine word is the satyamantra, it is the thought by whose truth the Angirasas bring the Dawn to birth and make the lost Sun to rise in the heavens. This word is also called the arká, a vocable which means both hymn and light and is sometimes used of the sun. It is therefore the word of illumination, the word which expresses the truth of which the Sun is the lord, and its emergence from the secret seat of the Truth is associated with the outpouring by the Sun of its herded radiances; so we read in VII.36.1, “Let the Word come forward from the seat of the Truth; the Sun has released wide by its rays the cows”, pra brahmaitu sadanād ṛtasya vi raśmibhiḥ sasṛje sūryo gāḥ. It has to be won possession of like the Sun itself and the gods have to give their aid for that possession (arkasya sātau) as well as for the possession of the Sun (sūryasya sātau) and of Swar (svarṣātau).

The Angirasa, therefore, is not only an Agni-power, he is also a Brihaspati-power. Brihaspati is called more than once the Angirasa, as in VI.73.1, yo adribhit prathamajā ṛtāvā bṛhaspatir āṅgiraso haviṣmān, “Brihaspati, breaker of the hill (the cave of the Panis), the first-born who has the Truth, the Angirasa, he of the oblation”. And in X.47.6, we have a still more significant description of Brihaspati as the Angirasa: pra saptagum ṛtadhītiṃ sumedhāṃ bṛhaspatiṃ matir achā jigāti ya āṅgiraso namasā upasadyaḥ. “The thought goes towards Brihaspati the seven-rayed, the truth-thinking, the perfect intelligence, who is the Angirasa, to be approached with obeisance.” In II.23.18 also, Brihaspati is addressed as Angirasa in connection with the release of the cows and the release of the waters: “For the glory of thee the hill parted asunder when thou didst release upward the pen of the cows; with Indra for ally thou didst force out, O Brihaspati, the flood of the waters which was environed by the darkness.” We may note in passing how closely the release of the waters, which is the subject of the Vritra legend, is associated with the release of the cows which is the subject of the legend of the Angirasa Rishis and the Panis and that both Vritra and the Panis are powers of the darkness. The cows are the light of the Truth, the true illumining sun, satyaṃ tad... sūryam; the waters released from the environing darkness of Vritra are called sometimes the streams of the Truth, ṛtasya dhārāḥ and sometimes svarvatīr apaḥ, the waters of Swar, the luminous solar world.

We see then that the Angirasa is in the first place a power of Agni the seer-will; he is the seer who works by the light, by the knowledge; he is a flame of the puissance of Agni, the great force that is born into the world to be the priest of the sacrifice and the leader of the journey, the puissance which the gods are said by Vamadeva (IV.1.1) to establish here as the Immortal in mortals, the energy that does the great work (arati). In the second place, he is a power or at least has the power of Brihaspati, the truth-thinking and seven-rayed, whose seven rays of the light hold that truth which he thinks (ṛtadhītim) and whose seven mouths repeat the word that expresses the truth, the god of whom it is said (IV.50.4,5), “Brihaspati coming first to birth out of the great Light in the highest heaven, born in many forms, seven-mouthed, seven-rayed (saptāsyaḥ saptaraśmiḥ), by his cry dispelled the darkness; he by his host with the Rik and the Stubh (the hymn of illumination and the rhythm that affirms the gods) broke Vala by his cry.” It cannot be doubted that by this host or troop of Brihaspati (suṣṭubhā ṛkvatā gaṇena) are meant the Angirasa Rishis who by the true mantra help in the great victory.

Indra is also described as becoming an Angirasa or as becoming possessed of the Angirasa quality. “May he become most Angirasa with the Angirasas, being the Bull with bulls (the bull is the male power or Purusha, nṛ, with regard to the Rays and the Waters who are the cows, gāvaḥ, dhenavaḥ), the Friend with friends, the possessor of the Rik with those who have the Rik (ṛgmibhir ṛgmī), with those who make the journey (gātubhiḥ, the souls that advance on the path towards the Vast and True) the greatest; may Indra become associated with the Maruts (marutvān) for our thriving.” The epithets here (1.100.4) are all the proper epithets of the Angirasa Rishis and Indra is supposed to take upon himself the qualities or relations that constitute Angirasahood. So in III.31.7, “Most illumined in knowledge (vipratamaḥ, answering to the vepiṣṭho aṅgirasāṃ vipraḥ of VI.11.3), becoming a friend (sakhīyan, the Angirasas are friends or comrades in the great battle) he went (agacchad, upon the path, cf. gātubhiḥ, discovered by Sarama); the hill sped forth its pregnant contents (gárbham) for the doer of the good work; strong in manhood with the young (maryo yuvabhiḥ, the youth also giving the idea of unaging, undecaying force) he sought fullness of riches and won possession (sasāna makhasyan); so at once, chanting the hymn (arcan), he became an Angirasa.” This Indra who assumes all the qualities of the Angirasa is, we must remember, the Lord of Swar, the wide world of the Sun or the Truth, and descends to us with his two shining horses, harī, which are called in one passage sūryasya ketū, the sun’s two powers of perception or of vision in knowledge, in order to war with the sons of darkness and aid the great journey. If we have been right in all that we have concluded with regard to the esoteric sense of the Veda, Indra must be the Power (indra, the Puissant,7 the powerful lord) of the divine Mind born in man and there increasing by the Word and the Soma to his full divinity. This growth continues by the winning and growth of the Light, till Indra reveals himself fully as the lord of all the luminous herds which he sees by the “eye of the sun”, the divine Mind master of all the illuminations of knowledge.

Indra, in becoming the Angirasa, becomes marutvān, possessed of or companioned by the Maruts, and these Maruts, luminous and violent gods of the storm and the lightning, uniting in themselves the vehement power of Vayu, the Wind, the Breath, the Lord of Life and the force of Agni, the Seer-Will, are therefore seers who do the work by the knowledge, kavayo vidmanā apasaḥ, as well as battling forces who by the power of the heavenly Breath and the heavenly lightning overthrow the established things, the artificial obstructions, kṛtrimāṇi rodhāṃsi, in which the sons of Darkness have entrenched themselves, and aid Indra to overcome Vritra and the Dasyus. They seem to be in the esoteric Veda the Life-Powers that support by their nervous or vital energies the action of the thought in the attempt of the mortal consciousness to grow or expand itself into the immortality of the Truth and Bliss. In any case, they also are described in VI.49.11, as acting with the qualities of the Angirasa (aṅgirasvat), “O young and seers and powers of the sacrifice, Maruts, come uttering the word to the high place (or desirable plane of earth or the hill, adhi sānu pṛśneḥ, VI.6.4, which is probably the sense of varasyām), powers increasing, rightly moving (on the path, gātu) like the Angirasa,8 give joy even to that which is not illumined (acitram, that which has not received the varied light of the dawn, the night of our ordinary darkness)”. We see there the same characteristics of the Angirasa action, the eternal youth and force of Agni (agne yaviṣṭha), the possession and utterance of the Word, the seerhood, the doing of the work of sacrifice, the right movement on the great path which leads, as we shall see, to the world of the Truth, to the vast and luminous bliss. The Maruts are even said to be (X.78.5) as it were “Angirasas with their Sama hymns, they who take all forms”, viśvarūpā aṅgiraso na sāmabhiḥ.

All this action and movement are made possible by the coming of Usha, the Dawn. Usha also is described as aṅgirastamā and in addition as indratamā. The power of Agni, the Angirasa power, manifests itself also in the lightning of Indra and in the rays of the Dawn. Two passages may be cited which throw light on this aspect of the Angirasa force. The first is VII.79.2,3. “The Dawns make their rays to shine out in the extremities of heaven, they labour like men who are set to a work. Thy rays set fleeing the darkness, they extend the Light as if the sun were extending its two arms. Usha has become (or, come into being) most full of Indra power (indratamā), opulent in riches and has given birth to the inspirations of knowledge for our happy going (or for good and bliss), the goddess, daughter of Heaven, most full of Angirasahood (aṅgirastamā), orders her riches for the doer of good works.” The riches in which Usha is opulent cannot be anything else than the riches of the Light and the Power of the Truth; full of Indra power, the power of the divine illumined mind, she gives the inspirations of that mind (śravāṃsi) which lead us towards the Bliss, and by the flaming radiant Angirasa-power in her she bestows and arranges her treasures for those who do aright the great work and thus move rightly on the path, itthā nakṣanto naro aṅgirasvat (VI.49.11).

The second passage is in VII.75, “Dawn, heaven-born, has opened up (the veil of darkness) by the Truth and she comes making manifest the vastness (mahimānam), she has drawn away the veil of harms and of darkness (druhas tamaḥ) and all that is unloved; most full of Angirasahood she manifests the paths (of the great journey). Today, O Dawn, awake for us for the journey to the vast bliss (mahe suvitāya), extend (thy riches) for a vast state of enjoyment, confirm in us a wealth of varied brightness (citram) full of inspired knowledge (śravasyum), in us mortals, O human and divine. These are the lustres of the visible Dawn which have come varied-bright (citrāḥ) and immortal; bringing to birth the divine workings they diffuse themselves, filling those of the mid-region”, janayanto daivyāni vratāny āpṛṇanto antarikṣā vyasthuḥ (Riks 1-3). Again we have the Angirasa power associated with the journey, the revelation of its paths by the removal of the darkness and the bringing of the radiances of the Dawn; the Panis represent the harms (druhaḥ, hurts or those who hurt) done to man by the evil powers, the darkness is their cave; the journey is that which leads to the divine happiness and the state of immortal bliss by means of our growing wealth of light and power and knowledge; the immortal lustres of the Dawn which give birth in man to the heavenly workings and fill with them the workings of the mid-regions between earth and heaven, that is to say, the functioning of those vital planes governed by Vayu which link our physical and pure mental being, may well be the Angirasa powers. For they too gain and maintain the truth by maintaining unhurt the divine workings (amardhanto devānāṃ vratāni). This is indeed their function, to bring the divine Dawn into mortal nature so that the visible goddess pouring out her riches may be there, at once divine and human, devi marteṣu mānuṣi, the goddess human in mortals.


1 Very possibly the Angirasa Rishis are the flame-powers of Agni and the Bhrigus the solar powers of Surya.


2 For state we have agra, first, top and Greek agan, excessively; for feeling, Greek agapē, love, and possibly Sanskrit aṅganā, a woman; for movement and action several words in Sanskrit and in Greek and Latin.


3 The logs of the sacrificial fire, according to Sayana.


4 Shave the hair of the earth, according to Sayana.


5 Cf. the description in X.62.5 of the Angirasas as sons of Agni, different in form, but all profound in knowledge, gambhīravepasaḥ.


6 This seems to be the sense of the word Brahman in the Veda. It certainly does not mean Brahmanas by caste or priests by profession; the Fathers here are warriors as well as sages. The four castes are only mentioned in the Rig-veda once, in that profound but late composition, the Purushasukta.


7 But also perhaps “shining”, cf. indu, the moon; ina, glorious, the sun; indh, to kindle.


8 It is to be noted that Sayana here hazards the idea that Angirasa means the moving rays (from aṅg to move) or the Angirasa Rishis. If the great scholar had been able to pursue with greater courage his ideas to their logical conclusion, he would have anticipated the modern theory in its most essential points.


9 Arya, vol. 2, No 5; CWSA, volume 15: here