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The Atharva Veda Book 5 Hymn 17 is curiously titled - The abduction and restoration of a Brāhman's wife. I am sharing a few verses of the same here:

These first, the boundless Sea, and Mātarisvan, fierce glowing Fire, the Strong, the Bliss-bestower,

And heavenly Floods, first-born by holy Order, exclaimed against the outrage on a Brāhman.

King Soma first of all, without reluctance, made restitution of the Brāhman's consort.

Mitra and Varuna were the inviters: Agni as Hotar took her hand and led her.

The man, her pledge, must by the hand be taken when he hath cried, She is a Brāhman's consort.

The further verses also paint a vivid picture with some princes and various gods restoring the lady but don't name any specific person. SO my question is - Is this verse related to a specific incident or is it a general injunction against appropriating a Brahmin's wives?

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The name of the Atharva-Veda -Kanda 5 -Sukta 17 is Brahmajaya sukta. The meaning of word Brahmajaya is wife of guru , or Guru-Patni. Which is also called as Brahmani or consort of Brahmana. Since Bṛihaspati' is Guru of Devas , his wife Tara is considered as Guru-Patni. So the Brahmana women here is "Tara" wife of "Bṛihaspati"


I am here taking the help of the commentary of Atharva-Veda By Shripad Damodar Satwalekar . Which is called Atharva-Veda Subodh Bhashya. in Hindi.

One mantra you quoted in question is -:

सोमो राजा प्रथमो ब्रह्मजायां पुन: प्रायच्छदहरुणीयमान: |
अन्वर्तिता वरुणो मित्र आसिदग्निर्होता हस्ताग्रुह्या निनाय || AV. 5.17.2||

King Soma first of all, without reluctance, made restitution of the Brāhman's consort. Mitra and Varuna were the inviters: Agni as Hotar took her hand and led her.

Is this verse related to a specific incident ?

Yes , this mantra is related to specific incident of Tarakamaya war (तारकामय).—This is Devasura (in between gods and demons) battle happened in Krita Yuga.; Tara (Traka , Bṛhaspati's wife) was abducted by Soma (moon) was the reason for war between the God's and the Demons. Shukra joined Soma while Lord Shiva and Indra took up Bṛhaspati's side . The ended with the intervention of Brahmā who gave Tara back to Bṛhaspati. Tara is called here as" BrahmaJaya" Or Wife of Brahmana guru Bṛihaspati' .

In the above mantra there is description of Soma or moon returning the wife of Brihaspati to him. Soma returned the Brahmana women Tara to Brihaspati. Mitra and Varuna was present at the time and Agni(fire) was witnessa and Hotar.


Purpose - The purpose of above sukta is protection of Wife of Guru and hence all of the womenkind . This sukta tells us that in a nation , its people should always respect women. They should be given the highest respect and freedom and also protection and safety. The nation and the people of which does so flourish . And those who don't suffer consequences.

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    Quite interesting! I could figure that there was a specific story there that was leading towards a general code of conduct. Thanks for explaining both :) – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 14 '18 at 6:01
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    Yes , the the story abduction of Tara By Soma is linked to sukta , to remind us the topic of respecting women. Especially Guru's wife. Both Satwalekar and AWGP translators is mentioning the same purpose of sukta. i.e. protection and safety , freedom of women. This sukta is one of the best example of high level philosophy at the time of Vedic culture. – SwiftPushkar Aug 14 '18 at 6:15
  • What is the meaning or context of the verse 8 which says "Even if ten former husbands—none a Brāhman—had espoused a dame, And then a Brāhman took her hand, he is her husband, only he, 9Not Vaisya, not Rājanya, no, the Brāhman is indeed her lord:" – Spark Sunshine Feb 10 at 9:41
  • @SwiftPushkar That was a great answer. I am wondering if you know any source by which you can date that war? Example 5th Treta Yuga in the Vaivasvata Manwantara. – sidharth chhabra Feb 13 at 19:03

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