Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": 'LOOSE ME FROM SIN'

A HYMN TO VARUNA


('Rig Veda,' II, 28)

1. This laud of the self-radiant wise Aditya 1 shall be supreme o'er

all that is in greatness.

I beg renown of Varuna the mighty, the god exceeding kind to

him who worships.

2. Having extolled thee, Varuna, with thoughtful care may we have

high fortune in thy service,

Singing thy praises like the fires at coming, day after day,

of mornings rich in cattle.

3. May we be in thy keeping, 0 thou leader, wide-ruling Varuna,

lord of many heroes.

0 sons of Aditi,2 for ever faithful, pardon us, gods, admit us to

your friendship.

4. He made them flow, the Aditya, the sustainer. the rivers run by

Varuna's commandments 3

These feel no weariness, nor cease from flowing: swift have they

flown like birds in air around us.

5. Loose me from sin as from a bond that binds me 4 may we swell,

Varuna, thy spring of Order.5

Let not my thread, while I weave song, be severed, nor my work's

sum before the time be shattered.

6. Far from me, Varuna, remove all danger. accept me graciously,

thou holy sovereign.

Cast off, like cords that hold a calf, my troubles: I am not even

my eyelid's lord without thee.

7. Strike us not, Varuna, with those dread weapons which, Asura,

at thy bidding wound the sinner.

Let us not pass away from light to exile. Scatter that we may

live, the men who hate us.

8. 0 mighty Varuna, now and hereafter, even as of old, will we

speak forth our worship.

For in thyself, infallible god, thy statutes ne'er to be moved are

fixed as on a mountain.

9. Wipe out what debts I have myself contracted: let me not profit,

king, by gain of others.

Full many a morn remains to dawn upon us: in these, 0 Varuna,

while we live direct us.

10. 0 king, whoever, be he friend or kinsman hath threatened me

affrighted in my slumber-

If any wolf or robber fain would harm us, therefrom, 0 Varuna,

give thou us protection.

11. May I not live, 0 Varuna, to witness my wealthy, liberal, dear

friend's destitution.

King, may I never lack well-ordered riches. Loud may we speak,

with heroes, in assembly.


Notes

1 The Adityas, sovereign beings, are led by the god Varuna, who is universal ruler (samraj), guardian Of the cosmic law (rita), and asura par excellence. As maintainer of truth and the moral order Varuna must also be the punisher of sin, and with 'this laud supreme' the poet seeks not only to gain the material favours of Varuna, but also to escape his dreadful recompense for ill.

2 The mother of the Adityas and a goddess also frequently invoked for release from sin.

3 Varuna as a celestial being merely orders the waters to flow; Indra, on the other hand (Rig Veda, II, 12, 3; see no.) must break resisting forces to release the cosmic waters.

4 just as important as the fact that Varuna is the god who 'binds' sinners is the knowledge that he forgives and releases from the fetters (pasha) those who are penitent.

5 Rita.


Translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith, in his The Hymns of the Rig Veda, I (Benares, 1889), pp. 379-80

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