Dialogue Hymns of Rgveda by Dre Satya Dev Choudhary

Dialogue Hymns of Rgveda

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Dialogue Hymns of Rgveda
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Dr. Satya Dev Choudhary, Shastri from the University of Panjab, Lahore; M.A. (Sanskrit & Hindi) Both in 1st class and PH.D. (Hindi) from the University of Delhi, taught in the Deptt. of Hindi, University of Delhi for about 35 years and for 1 year as a Guest Professor of Hindi & Sanskirt in the Deptt. of Indology, University of Tubingen (W. Germany). Under His guidance more than 30 students completed their work for their M. Lit; M. Phil; Ph.D and Post-doctoral achievements. His special interest: Indian Poetics, Philology, Vedic literature and Medieval Hindi literature. Presently: working as the Director of 'Ramkrishan Jaidayal Dalmia Shrivani Nyas for the last many years.

He was about 25 about books to his credit and for them has been felicitated with a number of Prizes and awards from the Panjab and Uttarpradesh Government Delhi Sanskrit Academy Delhi Hindi Academy Dalmia Puraskar Samiti and a few other institutions.

Major Works Dialogue hymns of Rgveda (in English & Hindi), The Bihari Satasal in English free verse. Glimpses of Indian Poetics: Bhartiya Kavya-shastra, Bhartiya Shali-vijnana, Kavyashastra ke Paridrshya, Rudrata's Kavyalamkara, Hindi Kavyadarsha (1st Chapter), Hindi Riti-Parampara ke Pramush Achariya (thesis) Hindi Abhijnana-shakuntala in free verse, Paumachariyu (Hindi) by Svayambu: an Apabhramsha poet, Ishopanisad (in Hindi & English free Verse) etc., and also a good number of children books in Hindi & Sanskrit.


Form the Jacket

This book deals with eleven dialogue-hymns of the Rgveda out if them two are composed in soliloquy form and are concerned with a gambler and mendicant respectively. Three hymns are connected mainly with Indra (the god of rains), two with the couples like Agastya and Lopamudra and Pururavas and Urvashi and one with the twin siblings: Yama and Yami. Out of the rest, one hymn displays a delightful and heavenly picture of the marriage ceremony which is traditionally prevalent in Indra even today, another tells us about the prosperous condition of the ancient traders like Panis and yet another deals with the crossing through the currents of two rivers by Vishvamitra, a vedic seer.

The original text in Vedic Sanskrit has been translated in as easy an expression as possible. In the 'Comments' on each hymn, after its short summary the description as furnished by Shaunaka in the Brhadddevata about it has been introduced. Then the movements of the tale has been traced through the texts like the Brahmanas the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Puranas, the epic-poems, plays and so on.

Out of these narrations the legendary tale about Pururavas and Urvashi can be said to the first love-story of the world the Marriage-hymn as the communication about the ceremonial and social union of a couple the diologue between Yama and Yami as the first prohibition to have sexual relationship between two blood-relatives. And above all, the dialogue form of these hymns can indisputably be designated as the first source of the drams authored till this date in the whole world especially in India

Great efforts have been made by scholars from time immemorial to explain the figurative and symbolic significance of the names occurring in these hymns through their various etymologies or likewise instruments and thus for example Pururavas is a thundering cloud while Urvashi is a glittering thunderbolt, Yama is the day while Yami is the night. But such efforts seem to be not much tangible for want of valid reasons. The Couclusion part of the book (by the name of Symbolism in Dialogue-Hymns) deals with many aspects of this type and an effort has been made to clarify what the ancient seers meant by these tales.

A worth reading book indeed for those having taste for a peep into and respect for the distant past.



In my early student-life I had read somewhere that the origin of dialogue in drama are some hymns of Rgveda. In my further studies I become acquired with the legendary hymns of Rgveda through the text books relating to Vedas prescribed for my various examinations, and also from the books relating to the history of Sanskrit literature. Such hymns are said to be 20 in number and among those at least 11 are composted in dialogue form.

Of these while preparing for my M.A. (Sanskrit) examination from the University of Delhi in 1946, I had gone through the description of Yama-Yami dialogue' from 'A History of Indian Literature', Vol I (pp. 106-107) by M. Winternitz. This dialogue had engrossed me much. Though an amorous attraction of a sister toward her real brother described in this dialogue had irked me to some extent, yet I took no notice of it keeping in mind a lady imploring a man expressing her extreme desire for cohabitation. It had delighted me and also made me feel astonished. Delightful of course this piece of literature is astonishing in the sense as to how a lady especially an Indian lady of Vedic age, can entreat a man for such act with no felling of shyness and shame.

In the above-said book (pp.103-104), another hymn which attracted me much is a dialogue between Pururavas and Urvashi. This dialogue also astonishes a reader that a lady is leaving her husband for good who has committed no fault, with whom she remained for several years, got a son or a number of sons through him and in the moments of her salaciousness she had enjoyed a lot through this he-man. I was susprised on this aspect also as to what sort if this man Pururavas is who laments wails sobs and wanders about here, there and everywhere, after being separated from his wife.

Along with these hymns, I had read Surya-hymn in this book (pp.107-109) and was thrilled with the English version of the following part of one of the Mantras and even today I feel thrilled through the sentiment and the outlook is different from those days:

"I take thy hand in mine for happy fortune

that you mayst reach old age with me thy husband"

The time passed on. A few years back read a paper entitled 'Disposition if Women with reference to the Dialogue between Yama and Yami in a seminar held in the University of Delhi. After presenting it, suddenly my past memories awakened and I went on studying the dialogue hymns from the original text if Rgveda itself one by one.

After going through the above-noted hymns, I studied the dialogue between Lopamudra and Agastya. The accusation of Lopamudra toward Agastya and then to persuada and incite him to fulfil her desire for amorous dalliance makes the gentle Agastya exclaim the words, i.e., " A lewd lady distracts a self-resrained man from his righteous path.

After these hymns I read a dialogue between Pani and Sarama and also between Vishvamitra and two rivers. Sarma a celestial bitch reached at the exact place where the stolen kine were encircled in a compound. Even today the police-dogs help their masters in their investigations. On the humble request of Vishvamitra, both the rivers-Bias and Sutlej-lessened the flow of their water. Such miracle is described in Mahabharata also. The water of Yamuna become low, and Vasudeva with his new-born baby on his head, crossed the river.

I did not like at all hymn relating to Indra, Indrani and Vrsakapi. Indrani talks in an irrelevant and nasty manner while Vrsakapi, unnecessarily casts his stealthy glances upon the husband and wife talking together lonely.

The hymns relating to the gambler and a beggar (rather a mendicant) have been included in this collection as these are soliloquies, which are used in the dramas even today. The wretched gambler is addicted to gambling, through he knows the evils of the game. Only a person who is conscious of the evil of his bad habit can be able to get rid of it. The beggar of the above-said hymn is a philosopher of his own kind according to him, "person, who takes his food regularly dies ultimately he also dies who satisfies his hunger on the mercy of other people and that creature certainly dies who gets nothing to eat from any source. It is thus obvious that the hunger is not the cause of death,"

In this collection are included the hymns relating to the dialogue among Indra, Maruts and Agastya and also between Indra and Agastya. Both these dialogues represent the spirit of Vedic age more vividly than others. Among all these three characters Indra and Maruts are close to nature, while Agastya also is moulded in accordance with them.

Thus in all eleven dialogue-hymns have been incorporated in this collection. These have been arranged according to the sequence of the Mandalas (Volumes) of the Rgveda as well as the hymn themselves. After mentioning the name of each and every Rsi (seer, an inspired poet), Devata (subject-matter) and the metre of all the hymns the mantras of these hymn have been translated after giving the meanings of their specific words.

In the Comments first a short summary of the hymn has been presented and then the legend about that hymn as given by Shaunaka in his treatise Brahaddevata has been hinted at. Then the movement of the story or of the account of the hymn has been traced how it developed and what sort of turn it took through the ages in the texts-wherever it is available-like Brahmanagranthas, Ramayana, Mahabharata epic poetry, dramas, etc. after this the etymology of the Prominent names in the text has been given, which may to some extent help the reader understand the figurative meaning of those names. And in the end, viable effort has been made trace the symbolic connotation of the whole hymn. For this purpose, available citations have been quoted from the olden texts and also different views of the ancient as well as modern scholars have been presented. And in the last chapter of this book some conclusion have been drawn, with which I should add, all of my readers may not agree with me to some extent.

I am grateful to Prof. Shridhar Vasistha, ex-Vice Chancellor, Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskirt Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, Prof Tulsi Ram ex-Head of the Department of English, M.D. University, Rohtak (Haryana), Prof. Dr Usha Choudhuri, Department of Sanskrit University of Delhi and Prof. H.C. Gaur, ex-Head of the department of Chemistry, University of Delhi who have gone through this book thoroughly and obliged me with their valuable suggestions. Above all, I have no words to express my indebtedness to the Late veteran Vedic scholars like Sayanacharya and Swami Dayanand on one hand and H.H. Wilson and R.T.H Griffth on the other for seeking help in translation the text of all these eleven hymns from their translation of Rgveda.




1 Dialogue between Indra, Maruts and Agastya (Rg.I. 165) 1
2 Dialogue between Indra Agastya (Rg.I. 170) 18
3 Dialogue between Agastya and Lopamudra (Rg.I. 179) 33
4 Dialogue between Vishvamitra, Vipat and Shutudri (Rg.III. 33) 46
5 Dialogue between Yama and Yami(Rg.X. 10) 63
6 Gambler-hymn (Rg.x.34) 83
7 Surya-hymn (Marriage-hymn)(Rg.x.45) 92
8 Dialogue between Indra Indrani and Vrsakapi(Rg.X.86) 116
9 Dialogue between Pururavas and Urvashi (Rg.x.95) 139
10 Dialogue between Sarama and Panis (Rg.x.108) 169
11 Beggar hymn (mendicant hymn)(Rg.X.117) 183
12 Symbolism as depicted in the dialogue hymns 189


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