Rig Veda II.34.14, dedicated to Maruts, narrates briefly about 5 terrestrial rishies

तानियानो महि वरूथमूतय उप घेदेना नमसा गर्णीमसि | तरितो न यान पञ्च होतॄनभिष्टय आववर्तदवराञ्चक्रियावसे ||

tāniyāno mahi varūthamūtaya upa ghedenā namasā ghṛṇīmasi | trito na yān pañca hotṝnabhiṣṭaya āvavartadavarāñcakriyāvase ||

Translation of H.H. Wilson (P.179) is as follows:

Imploring them for ample wealth. and (having recourse to him) for protection. we glorify them with this praise: like the five Chief Priests whom TRITA detained for the (performance of) the sacrifice. and to protect it with their weapons.

This mantra is referring to

  • 5 Chief Priests, who TRITA detained

  • for protection of his sacrifice with their weapons

  • TRITA was used in other mantras to indicate a MAHARSHI

My questions are:

  1. Who were the 5 Chief Priests, who protected the sacrifice of TRITA?

  2. Was this protection of a sacrifice allegorical and/or a forerunner to protection of Yagna, performed by Sage Viswamitra by Sri Rama and Lakshmana, with their weapons?

2 Answers 2


They are Five Prāṇa​s i.e Prāṇa, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna, Samāna​ who constitutes Prāṇamaya​ Kosha (see Taittiriya Upanishad 2.3.1) and hence the body. They are considered equivalent to five Hotṛs in doing Yajna. Take a look at such type of Yajna mentioned in Bhagavad Gita 4.29.

I do not have any reference to translation of this commentary but I've highlighted the Sanskrit text which talks about five Prāṇas as five Hotṛs.

  • I have confirmed this interpretation from Rigveda Bhāṣā Bhāṣya by Pandit Jaydeva Sharma; you can read it on Internet Archive:

    enter image description here

    Note: Rigveda Bhāṣā Bhāṣya is one of the reliable commentary on Rigveda by Indian author mentioned here

So, five Hotṛs (priests), here refers to five Prāṇa​s i.e 1. Prāṇa, 2. Apāna, 3. Vyāna, 4. Udāna, 5. Samāna.

  • @Pandya: I had guessed these 5 pranas. However, it was stated in the Mantra that they protected the sacrifice with weapons. Can you explain this aspect? Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 12:23

As per my understanding, the five Chief Priests whom TRITA detained (Rig Veda II.34.14) are 5 Indriyas (sense organs) - i.e. eyes, ear, nose, tongue, and skin.

If we re-visit the crux of the mantra in question, we can understand that the 5 sense organs will goad humans to remain materialistic.

" .....like the five Chief Priests whom TRITA detained for the (performance of) the sacrifice. and to protect it with their weapons."

  • TRITA indicates a sage

  • sacrifice indicate the spiritual practice/asceticism

The sage was saying that one should detain the 5 sense organs, who are very powerful with their weapons, for doing spiritual practice/asceticism

Even many ascetics acknowledged that the 5 sense organs are very powerful to overcome with.

Rig Veda III.37.9 says

indriyāṇi śatakrato yā te janeṣu pañcasu | indra tāni taā vṛṇe ||

Indra, the object of many rites, I regard the organs of sense that exist in the 5 races (of beings dependent) on thee, as thine

Indra, who was alluded as Brahman in Rig Veda, will protect the sage, from the very powerful weapons of 5 sense organs, which are under the control of Indra.

  • I see tri ta bhur bhovas swagha (vyahruthi) with pranava is tri ta if you do pranayama with vyahruthi this five sense are controlled..
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 11:30

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