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Rigved Verse 1.133 mentions this curious story:

  1. WITH sacrifice I purge both earth and heaven: I burn up great she-fiends who serve not Indra, Where throttled by thy hand the foes were slaughtered, and in the pit of death lay pierced and mangled.

  2. O thou who castest forth the stones crushing the sorceresses’ heads, Break them with thy wide-spreading foot, with thy wide-spreading mighty foot.

  3. Do thou, O Maghavan, beat off these sorceresses' daring strength. Cast them within the narrow pit. within the deep and narrow pit.

My question is who were these she-fiends or sorceresses? Is this event mentioned in any other scripture in detail?

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  • 1
    How's mythology a relevant tag here ?
    – Rickross
    Aug 22, 2017 at 6:01
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    Why? How is it irrelevant? Aug 22, 2017 at 7:48
  • 4
    Well I don't agree with this unreasonable hatred for the word 'mythology'. Every single thing mentioned in the scriptures can not be classified as history or real. Vedas especially are full of poetic license and vivid imagery. It is perfectly plausible that the event mentioned in this verse is an allegory or metaphor and hence a myth so it should be classified as mythology. Unless we have an answer it is pointless to argue whether the word fits or not. Aug 23, 2017 at 5:47
  • 1
    Oh Ok you seem to be among those who think that our Scriptures (including even the Vedas) are describing myths.
    – Rickross
    Aug 23, 2017 at 6:10
  • 5
    Lol I don't have to justify what I believe or not to anybody. Any rational person would realize that the scriptures include a mix of history and fiction both. Over and out. Aug 23, 2017 at 6:37

1 Answer 1

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Well, the alternate translations don't use the word 'witches' or 'she-fiends'.

The Original Verses are-

उ॒भे पु॑नामि॒ रोद॑सी ऋ॒तेन॒ द्रुहो॑ दहामि॒ सं म॒हीर॑नि॒न्द्राः ।
अ॒भि॒व्लग्य॒ यत्र॑ ह॒ता अ॒मित्रा॑ वैलस्था॒नं परि॑ तृ॒ळ्हा अशे॑रन् ॥ १.१३३.०१

अ॒भि॒व्लग्या॑ चिदद्रिवः शी॒र्षा या॑तु॒मती॑नाम् ।
छि॒न्धि व॑टू॒रिणा॑ प॒दा म॒हाव॑टूरिणा प॒दा ॥ १.१३३.०२ ॥

अवा॑सां मघवञ्जहि॒ शर्धो॑ यातु॒मती॑नाम् ।
वै॒ल॒स्था॒न॒के अ॑र्म॒के म॒हावै॑लस्थे अर्म॒के ॥ १.१३३.०३ ॥


Consider the following translators.

1. Dr. Tulsi Ram

  1. I purify the earth and heavens both by the light of truth and the fire and fragrance of yajna, creative and cooperative action. I subject the elements of hate and chaos to the heat and power of law and discipline and bum off the anti-Indra forces on earth to naught. And having thus seized and crushed the unfriendly elements wherever they happen to be active, and confirmed that they are dead and gone, I let them lie asleep in their grave.

  2. Indra, lord of yajna, power and law, firm as rock and generous as cloud, having caught the lawless and the violent by the head of the evil-minded, crush them under the wide wide foot, crush them by the rising forces of the youth.

  3. Indra, maghavan, lord of world power and wealth, break down and destroy the force of the evil-minded and throw them out deep into the vault of darkness, into the hideous world of sin and death.




2. H.H. Wilson

  1. By sacrifice I purify both the heaven and the earth: I burn the wide (realms of earth) that are without Inbra, and are (the haunts) of the wicked : wherever the enemies have congregated they have been slain : and, utterly destroyed, they sleep in a deep pit.

  2. Devourer (of foes), having trampled on the heads of the malignant (hosts), crush them with thy wide-spreading foot ; thy vast wide-spreading foot.

  3. Annihilate, Maghavan, the might of malignant (hoots), hurl them into the vile pit ; the vast and vile pit.




3. M.N. Dutt

  1. By sacrifice I purify both the sky and the earth I burn the wide (realms of Earth) that are without Indra and are (the haunts) of the wicked, wherever the enemies have congregated they have been slain: and utterly destroyed, they sleep in a dip pit.

  2. Devourer (of enemies) having trampled on the heads pL[the malignant (hosts)* crush them with thy wide-spreading foot; thy vast wide-spreading foot.

  3. Crush, Maghavan, the power of malignant (hosts) hurl them into the vile pit; the vast and vile pit.




4. Other Hindi Translators' views:-


  • Pandit ShriRam Sharma Acharya (from the Gayatri Parivaar):

    • He translates the words as the enemies of Indra or terrible people who revolt and oppose the dominance of Indra.

  • Ramgovind Trivedi:

    • He also interprets them as enemies or adversaries of Indra, in general, who are violent and antagonistic.



5. An allegorical exposition:

  • Pandit Jaydev Sharma, in his Hindi commentary (bhashya) on the same interprets it in two ways.

    • (i). The normal interpretation is similar to previous Hindi translators viz. enemies or rebellious elements challenging Indra's sovereignity.

    • (ii). From a spiritual perspective, he interprets it as the inner enemies of Humans, the feelings of lust & desire, anger, etc i.e., the feeling & emotions (vasanaas & vrittis) that the counter-intuitive to the spiritual well-being & upliftment of a jiva.




To conclude:

  • We'd be hard-pressed to find any "detailed story" in this regard since there might not be one to start with, it (the use of the word "she-fiends" or "sorceresses") all seems a play of translation. But it does have a higher spiritual or metaphorical interpretation as evident above under the '5th Heading'.

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