Mandala IV – The Vamadeva family book

It is perhaps 200 years from the heydays of the Bharadvajas and their main patron Divodasa. The Vedic society is far more settled and have put behind their conflicts with the Dasas. For the most part, the conflicts with the Dasas are mentioned as events in the past or casual references thrown in as a reminder that they were once a hostile force to reckon with.

The Chieftains of the earlier times are now Kings with grand strapping’s and attendants. There are no references to any contemporary wars or battles, at least nothing of the scale or extent of the Bharadvaja era.

While Agni and Indra continue to be the two most important deities, others such as Varuna, Mitra, Savitar, Rbhus do find significant mention.

The concept of a grand Law – Rta – that governs the Universe, including the Gods is firmly rooted in society.

Society has evolved, there are bridal feasts that are attended by “maidens decked in adornments”. Pastoral lifestyle has given way to agriculture – there is even a deity now, indicating how significant agriculture has come to mean.

The Vrta legend is well remembered but no so the Vala legend. The great Bharata does not find mention but his descendants Ajamidha and Purumidha do; they even have verses attributed to them. From the past, Divodasa and Srnjaya do find mention as does Trasadasyu.
Contemporary kings (not chieftains) that find mention are Sahadeva and Somaka, descandants of Divodasa.

There are several riddles embedded in the verses. Sample this:

Four are his horns, three are the feet that bear him; his heads are two, his hands are seven in number.
Bound with a triple bond the Steer roars loudly: the mighty God hath entered in to mortals.

The book of the Vamadevas, though comparatively short with just 58 hymns promises to be interesting, informative and throw light on a society far advanced and settled than the society of Mandala VI aka Book of the Bharadvajas.

Except for 2 hymns, Mandala IV is entirely composed by Rishi Vamadeva, son of Rishi Gotama and hence known as the Gotama family book.

Table below lists the name of the author of each hymn in Mandala VI

Hymns Author
1 – 42 Vamadeva Gautama
43-44 Purumidha Suhotra, Ajamidha Suhotra
45-58 Vamadeva Gautama

Synopsis of analysis of Mandala IV

Hymn Summary
01
  • Agni & Varuna
  • Varuna – King and Aditya who loves and supports mankind
  • Varuna as the one who is always true to Law (Rta) and loves sacrifice
  • Varuna mentioned as Agni’s brother – rare mention, usually Agni is known as Indra’s brother (twin)
  • Three births of Agni
  • The Dawn of Mankind
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
  •  Agni’s role as a messenger to and from the Gods is dealt with in detail
  • Agni knows the “deep recess of heaven” and how to guide the Gods (from the recess of heaven ??) to the homes of the righteous
  • Agni – is well informed and does his errands to and fro, i.e. bears to the Gods the prayers, praises and oblations of the worshippers and brings the Gods down to the sacrifices or the homes of the worshippers.
09
  •  Reaffirmation of the role of Agni as a messenger of those that worship him to the Gods
  • Referred as Angiras
10
  •  Agni removes hate and “mischief” from those that worship him in the right manner
11
  • Reaffirmation of the role of Agni as a messenger and conduit to the Gods
  • Through Agni flows wealth, strong horses and offspring, sent by the Gods
  • But Agni has much to offer through his own prowess – through Agni springs poetic wisdom and thoughts and hymns of praise. It is Agni who rids want and sorrow and removes hatred and protects against ill-will.
12
  • Reminder that whoever kindles Agni at morning and evening and offers food (to Agni) three times a day, will prosper and come to wealth and also excel by being able to slay his foemen
  • Asking Agni for forgiveness for offenses and sins committed, in “sight of Aditi”
  • Asking Agni for freedom from prison of the Gods or mortals, no matter how great the sin
  • Asking Agni for a life free of affliction and to grant health and strength unto seed and offspring
  • Evidence of the presence of prisons
13
  • Agni, spoken of as a witness to the grand morning, and the Asvins are invited too to behold the splendour of the rising Surya
  • It is the “way” established by Varuna and Mitra that makes the Sun ascend Heaven
  • Surya traverses the sky in a car driven by seven youthful horses
  • Rishi Vamadeva wonders how the sun, unbound and unsupported does not fall? What is the power that drives the movement of the sun? Who has seen this power or knows about it, asks the Rishi
14
  •  Invoking the Asvins to come to the early morning sacrifice in the presence of Agni, Savitr, Surya and Usha
  • Largely a repetition of 13
15
  • Mention of the ritual of three sacrifices offered to Agni everyday
  • Mention of a fire kindled for Srnjaya, Devavata’s son. Is this Srnjaya the same as the father of Prastoka, and a contemporary of Divodasa?
  • Evidence of contests in which horses raced and special treatment given to the winners i.e. they are cleaned everyday
  • The Vamadeva Danastutis
16
  • Mention of Usana, the ancient priest
  • Indra having begotten the seven sages
  • By now Indra is the most important Vedic God and his majesty exceeds the earth and heaven
  • Recounts the deeds of Indra:
    • Freeing of the waters obstructed by Vrta (Vrta legend); mention of Sarama as part of the legend
    • Claving of the mountain to free the cattle (Vala legend)
    • Aid to friend Kutsa in the battle with Susna
    • Aid to Rjisvan in the battle against Dasa heroes Mrgaya and Pipru
  • Indra referrred to as Maghavan, as benefactor and protector
  • Mention of Brghus who wrought a car for Indra
 17
  • Mention of Indra’s destruction of Vrta and release of waters
  • Dyaus identified as Indra’s father
  • Indra acknowledged as the all powerful God
  • Indra praised as Maghavan, the benefactor
 18
 19
  • Details of the Vrta slaying and release of waters
  • Aid offered to Vayya and Turviti to cross a rushing/flooded river
  • Mention of deeds and miracles performed by Indra
    • Saving a young child from an ant-hill, perhaps left there by its unwed mother
    • Enabling a blind man to see and save himself from a serpent
 20,21
  •  Praise of Indra
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