Rig Veda Book 10 Hymn 97 is dedicated to the herbs and I am sharing a part of it here:

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  1. HERBS that sprang up in time of old, three ages earlier than the Gods,— Of these, whose hue is brown, will I declare the hundred powers and seven.

  2. Ye, Mothers, have a hundred homes, yea, and a thousand are your growths. Do ye who have a thousand powers free this my patient from disease.

Do any commentaries describe if the hymn is dedicated to any specific herbs or to all of them in general? My specific question is regarding the highlighted portion and I want to know if any commentary explains what it means for the herbs that are brown in color to have emerged three ages before the gods?

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    Have a look on this translation... – YDS Jul 31 '18 at 2:29
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    @YDS Thanks this also does indicate it being about herbs right not what Mr. Bhaskar claimed. As for the meaning it seems everyone has their own interpretations so it would be great if you could find a commentary and post as an answer :) – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Jul 31 '18 at 8:26

Your question is basically wrong as it is based on wrong interpretation of the verse. here 'Babhru'is a name of a group of ancient people who lived in hundred and seven villages(dhAmAni) at that time and knew about those herbs by heart. 'Babhru nA' means 'of the Babhru'. Notice the weakness of the translator - the same word 'dhAmAni' he translate with two different meaning; in one verse as 'house' and in other as 'power'.

For 'Babhru' as a name of a group of ancient people check RV.3.1.8 & 10 where they are addressed as 'BabhrAn' and 'Babhre' and then decide whether it stands as a name of colour or group of people. There are many other verses also in Rig Veda which define this term. Be sure before posing a question, because most of the translations are fraught with such mistakes and many times belows the dignity of our revered past.

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    Well how can one be sure unless he is a master of Vedic Sanskrit? You dont have to be so indignant especially since the translation is a widely accepted one! BTW its still not clear from your answer who or what these Babhru were in relation to the verse as they couldn't have been older than gods. It would also be good if you give reference from some commentary before giving such declaration rather than relying only on your interpretation. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Jul 30 '18 at 18:48
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal you need not to be a master of Vedic Sanskrit; you simply check what your translator says about RV.3.1.8 &10. I had not provided any interpretation, just pointed out the inconsistency of translator 'a widely accepted one' for the word 'dhAmAni'. It could also be for 'Babhru'. – B.N. Bhaskar Jul 31 '18 at 8:24
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal instead I checked. Your translator is Griffith; he completely skips the meaning brown for the term Babhru/ Babhre/BabhrAn for something other in RV.3.1.8 &10. The original should not be allowed to be damaged by any translation or commentry how much prestigious they may be. – B.N. Bhaskar Jul 31 '18 at 9:00
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal Your view about birth of Rig Vedic gods is based on later scriptures. I invite you to put forward a question using Rig Vedic hymns that gods came first than human being. – B.N. Bhaskar Jul 31 '18 at 9:27
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    Mr Bhaskar I find a lot of judgement in your comments which is really unfortunate. You talk as if Griffith is my personal translator which he certainly isn't. My view about the birth of the gods is based on this specifc verse only so please dont presume. The question is about a specific verse and as shared by YDS in the comment on the question the Hindi translation is also talking about the herbs. If you can share the answer from any commentary that would be great else it s just one translation vs another. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 1 '18 at 6:47

In Sanskrit-Hindi version from Arya Sahitya Mandal,

  • पूर्वाः is translated as many forms (अनेक रूप)
  • पुरा is translated as beforehand (पहिले ही)
  • त्रि-युगम् is translated as three seasons: spring, summer and autumn (तीन ऋतु: वसंत, ग्रीष्म और शरद)

Below is the screenshot from the book

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Pandit Harisharan Siddhantalankar's commentary on this can be found on onlineved:

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The English translation of above commentary would be something like this [please feel free to improve it]:

Those herbs that have been sustaining the body and removing the minimization, have arisen for men and women of Divinity from this anatomical person in spring, summer and autumn. Gods consume omnipotent vegetation, the time of transfusion of the herbs is usually 'spring, summer and autumn'. The Lord has established all the nutritional elements of the body in these medicines. The strength of these medicines is divided into 107 parts here. This is also the number of main places in the human body. These medicines keep all these places free from sickness. Normally, humans should get 107 years of life by using these herbs properly.

Update as asked by OP

From sanskritdictionary.com,

triyuga त्रियुग: 3 generations ("spring, rainy-season, and autumn")

So, triyuga doesn't have to be 3 yugaz, it may mean 3 generations/seasons etc.

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    I think this is translator's personal view since Yugam has been extremeley loosley interpreted to mean Ritu. Yugas are quite different from seasons and I am sure the Vedic seers must have known the difference. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 19 '18 at 7:00
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal Yugam means a time frame...the famous verse "Sambhavami yuge yuge" is translated in many ways..few say yuga is millennium here, few say Mahayuga and few say age...here also it's just time frame so season is appropriate too...it's clear that earlier is not suitable word in translation, beforehand or other similar word is suitable...now if you take 3 yuga as satya,treta,dwapara then it seems false as herbs are in kaliyuga too...so here, season is more appropriate translation for yuga than other translation... – YDS Aug 19 '18 at 7:20
  • I doubt that especially since Yuga implies a relatively longer time span even in the verse you quoted unlike seasons that change every three months or so. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 19 '18 at 7:27
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal Updated the answer with Sanskrit dictionary link.... – YDS Aug 19 '18 at 7:49
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    Thanks but again thats a dictionary not a scripture & even here the real translation is generations while seasons have been put in the bracket as a possible meaning. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 19 '18 at 7:52

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