1. Eager for booty, craving strength and horses, we-singers stir Indra, the strong, for friendship, Who gives the wives we seek, whose succour fails not, to hasten, like a pitcher to the fountain

This is Rig Veda mandala 4 hymn 17 verse 16

What is the word here for booty, is this correct word to word translation?

  • Swami Dayananda has given different translation, See his commentary archive.org/stream/RigvedaWww.aryamantavya.in/…
    – The Destroyer
    Jul 27, 2018 at 17:42
  • 2
    Don't rely on western translators, at many places they have twisted the facts.
    – Just_Do_It
    Jul 27, 2018 at 17:44
  • @TheDestroyer some muslim guy was using this hymn to "prove" that women were taken as war booties, thanks for the link,proves that this is prayer for good wives and not slavery :)
    – Anisha
    Jul 27, 2018 at 17:44
  • In case you need Hindi version you can get it here: vedpuran.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/rigved.pdf
    – Just_Do_It
    Jul 27, 2018 at 17:45
  • @Anisha I didn't read vedas, so don't know exact context of verse. But looks like It is prayer to Indra to get happiness and good wives are like Mothers.
    – The Destroyer
    Jul 27, 2018 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


The Sanskrit Richa is

गव्यन्त इन्द्रं सख्याय विप्रा अश्वायन्तो वृषणं वाजयन्तः ।

जनीयन्तो जनिदामक्षितोतिमा च्यावयामोऽवते न कोशम् ॥१६॥

These are translations/commentraries besides Griffith:

  • Dharmdev Vidyamartandya's translation (Source1, Source2):

    O men! being wise men we invoke Indra (the king, shining like the sun on account of his virtues) for friendship. We desire the cow, horses, knowledge or food and good wives, because she showers happiness, like a mother and gives protection. We invoke him (Indra) like a person, who draws water from a well.

  • Hindi translation (Source1)

    RV 4.17.16 Hindi translation

  • Maharshee Dayanand's commentary (Source1, Source2)

    Maharshee Dayanand's commentary

  • Pandit Harisharan Siddhantalankar's commentary (Source1)

    enter image description here

RV 07.096.04

जनीयन्तो नवग्रवः पुत्रीयन्तः सुदानवः |

सरस्वन्तं हवामहे ||

English translation by Griffith

We call upon Sarasvān, as unmarried men who long for wives, As liberal men who yearn for sons.

Pandit Harisharan Siddhantalankar's commentory

Pandit Harisharan Siddhantalankar's commentory

  • What is the word for good wives in the mantra? Jul 29, 2018 at 3:04
  • @Sarvabhouma जनीयन्त: ....
    – YDS
    Jul 29, 2018 at 3:21
  • Janiyantah can generally mean people, daughter in law and jana can mean people, worker. Why should we take only wives? Jul 29, 2018 at 3:29
  • @Sarvabhouma A word may hv multiple meanings and we should take the appropriate meaning only...it may mean स्री which should be wife in this context and not others...
    – YDS
    Jul 29, 2018 at 3:34
  • @YDS I salute Mahrishi Dayanand for his mammoth effort to understand the language which even Mahrishi Panini declared out of date around 500 BC.and more so for his conclusions entirely different from dominant Brahminical order. But we should not think he was the final as Veda always improves. Jul 29, 2018 at 6:04

Neither Griffith nor Dharmdev presents a literal translation of this hymn based on the language and its variations contained in Rig Veda itself. In this verse Rishi Vamdev Gautam is describing Indra's presence in four different places thus it should be understood in its four composed segments-

  1. gavyant Idnram sakhyAy viprA - In Rig Veda we find mainly two types of offerings Havya and Gavya. While Havya stands for calling, its offerings contains fragrant smoke,flower etc to welcome the god, Gavya stands for consummation, its offerings contain food items,clothes,gold etc to please the god. Thus this composed section could be translated as follows-

Indra accepts offerings for the sake of friendship of the priest (viprA)

  1. ashvAyanto vRshanam VAjyantah could be translated as follows-

The bull(vRshan/Indra) while going for battle (vAj yantah) moves with his horses(ashvA yanto)

For word meaning one can visit 'spoken sanskrit.org's dictionary.

3.janiyanto janidA makshi totimA
here 'jani' is simple dialectical variation of "jan' which means comman people. Dictionary does not provide proper meaning of 'maksh' but internal analysis of Rig Veda reveals it could mean 'worker'/'who toils'. The meaning of 'toti' is given in above dictionary.Thus translation follows-

Indra moves among the people to strengthen(totima) people's workers

4.cyAvayA mo avate na kosham here 'cyAvaya' means 'dripping into'/'pouring into' and ' kosh' is well known for treasury but the meaning of 'mo' is not clear. Since 'avate' follows it which means 'after coming', 'mo' may be a place-name. Thus this segment could be managed to translate as follows-

Indra fills up treasure after coming to 'Mo'

I can not find a single word which could be translated as 'wife'. the term 'janyant'is often repeated term in Rig Veda which means people-oriented and many times in conjunction with Indra and Agni.@ YDS has kindly brought in another example of 'jani' translated as women mentioned above in his answer.

RV.7.96.4 is addressed to river Sarasvati. People living along this river are called as sarasvant or its variation sArsvat, as the root word for Sarasvati is 'sar' explained here,sarasvant is an earlier term improved to sArsvat. The suffix 'yant' is used widely in Rig Veda and its meaning varies depending upon the term it suffixes and the context,but one of the two basic element ' to bring in' or 'to move towards' is invariably present in its meaning. The most difficult word in this verse is 'vagravah'; poetic style of Rishi suggests that the term stands for Sarasvati itself, because the definite article 'na' precedes.Considering an improved term 'griva'(neck/throat) the producer of sound>speech, 'va grava' could be translated as 'expanded throat'- a great speech maker. The 'aerial translator' Griffith skips this term in his translation,but a credit to him does not translates 'putri' as daughter and dAnav as demon. Thus the verse and its translation as follows -

janiyanto na vagravah putriyantoh sudAnavah

sarasvantam havAmahe

O, great speech maker (Sarasvati) you are in close intimacy with women/men here, you bring in offsprings to good natured people of DAnu. People living along your bank hails you in a big way

  • Okay...if it says "we desire for women"... who can be women here other than wives??? Also स्त्री is the word for both wife and woman...so some hindi translators translate such vesre as स्त्री instead of पत्नी but that should be understood as per context...
    – YDS
    Jul 29, 2018 at 4:10
  • 1
    @ Uday Krishna, thanks for appreciation. I am really unable to understand this 'mo-avate' term. 'mo' as a place name is only my guesswork, it could mean something else as well. So far I have not similar word in other hymns of Rig Veda. Jul 29, 2018 at 4:40
  • 1
    @YDS The proper word for women in Rig Veda is 'vAm' and for married women is 'jAr. The young women is denoted by 'yosha'/'yuvati. To my understanding the term 'jani' could be related to women when denoted by 'janitri' (one who gives birth), but 'janitra' is also used for other contexts. The language of Rig Veda is very fluid. I would appreciate if you provide another verse where 'jani' is used to denote women or wife. Jul 29, 2018 at 5:12
  • @ B.N.Bhaskar "I would appreciate if you provide another verse where 'jani' is used to denote women or wife" - Sure.. have a look on RV 07.096.04.. I have added this in my above answer..
    – YDS
    Jul 29, 2018 at 7:02
  • 1
    @YDS I appreciate your effort to bring in another example, thanks it improved my list of dialectical variations in Rig Veda. However this verse contains another example o dialectical variation - 'sarasvant'. I am returning to this verse in my answer. Jul 29, 2018 at 9:50

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