Here are the two verses in question from Rigveda Book 1 Hymn 163

यदक्रन्दः परथमं जायमान उद्यन समुद्रादुत वा पुरीषात |
शयेनस्य पक्षा हरिणस्य बाहू उपस्तुत्यं महि जातं ते अर्वन ||

Here's the translation from Ralph Griffith :

WHAT time, first springing into life, thou neighedst, proceeding from the sea or upper waters, Limbs of the deer hadst thou, and eagle pinions. O Steed, thy birth is nigh and must be lauded.

The entire hymn is titled 'The Horse'. I want to understand why is this horse (arvan) said to arise from the sea ? What's the context of this praise of the horse ?

  • The context is the Ashwamedha Yagna, where the horse plays a central role. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 5:44
  • @KeshavSrinivasan ok, but why is it arising from the sea ? Can you please mention any source for this referring to Ashwamedha Yagna ? Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 7:30
  • Here, the interpretation of Arvan/अर्वन् (literally means agile/fickle moving) as (addressing) Megha (sprinkler i.e cloud) which arises from sea, is more meaningful (According to Gayatri Parivar)
    – Pandya
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 8:25
  • 1
    @Pandya Its unlikey that arvan denotes a cloud because words like 'neighing', 'reign', 'riding', etc are used in this and other verses of the hymn for arvan Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 8:36
  • The Horse entered India with the from the North (upper waters, or the headwaters of the Indus) and West from the Iranian plains (the sea). This hymn seems to be a reflection of that fact in my opinion. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


That is called Horse hymn because Arvan (अर्वन्) means horse or running quickly like horse. This verse is interpreted differently. I'm here quoting two interpretations.

  1. According to Gayatri Pariwar translation, this verse is addressing to clouds which is coming from surface of sea.

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    English translation would be: Hey Arvan (having agile motion), moving like wings of eagle and legs of deer, when you originated from sea, you started making sound and your glory became laudable.

  1. According to Arya Samaja (Dayananda Saraswati) this verse is addressing to learned person (विद्वान), active like deer.

    Quoting English translation with purport from book Rigveda 3 of 5:

    English translation: O learned person! active like deer, when you shine with full splendour, like air created in the beginning by perfect God from the atmosphere, your arms have become strong like the wings of the eagle. You deserve the praise for this glaring great deeds. Fire is used by you for the accomplishment of many great works.

    PURPORT:-Those who study all sciences with the observance of Brahmacharya (state of continence and chasity) brightly shine like the sun, are full of speed like an eagle and actively jumping like the dear.

    NOTES : (समुद्रात्) अन्तरिक्षात् =From the firmament or atmosphere. पुरीषात् पूर्णात् कारणात् । पालकात् परमात्मन् इति । (Yv 19.12) - From Perfect God who is the efficient cause of the Universe. (अर्वन) विज्ञानवान् अथवा अश्व इव वेगवान् विद्वान् (Yv 29.12) = O learned person active like the horse.

By the way the same hymns occurs at Yajurveda 29.12

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