VerseThursday translations 1/2 

translation - From Vedic Sanskrit

Atharvaveda 1.5

Waters! As the unceasing joy of Earth, lead us to join the flow
And show us that intense delight.

Impel us to participate in your most soothing savour now
Like a mother who’s all too keen.

Waters! Let’s call on you to feel that secret whose serene abode
You help us to and birth us for.

Nourisher of the weal, abiding carer of this land and us:
From you, Waters, I seek a cure.

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VerseThursday translations 2/2 


Atharvaveda 6.42

Like unstringing a tightened bow, I unwind from your heart this rage.
Let us therefore unite as friends, since we two minds have come as one.

Let us unite as friends: In you I unwind and relax the wrath.
With our folks here we cast it down and put a big boulder on its top.

And I stand on the buried grudge, and press down with my heel and toe,
So that it shall attend my thoughts and speak nothing against our will.

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Notes 2 

This poem (or incantation) is a curious one. It basically described a community event for conflict resolution and anger management.

Here the poetic voice is helping the "you" to release their anger. In the 2nd verse, the original makes it clear, but subtly, that the "burial" of the wrath is a community event. The core verb is in the 1st person plural (in contrast to the 1st person dual, for the speaker and the "you", in the 1st verse). Therefore, this is not a private matter between two people, but something witnessed and participated by the community. Therefore I deliberately used "our folks" to make it clear in the translation.

And the goal of this "session", is not to suppress the irate emotion, but to learn to manage our response: to make it "speak nothing against our will". In other words, what we'd achieve is to acknowledge the emotional memory but take control of our action in response. And this is done with the community members, who support us and hold us accountable.

Notes 2 contd. 

This poem is in a different metre, the anuṣṭubh: couplets of 8 syllables x 2 each, also with the "iambic" tendency in the even-numbered half-units. It is a fairly uncommon metre in the Vedas, but is widely influential in the history of Sanskrit literature. The relatively simple anuṣṭubh evolved into the śloka form of the epics, and became a defining paradigm of Sanskrit verse.

In the translation, I also tries to preserve the metre using the English equivalent, the contrast of syllable stresses.

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