Rig Veda II.20.7 says

स वृ॑त्र॒हेन्द्र॑: कृ॒ष्णयो॑नीः पुरंद॒रो दासी॑रैरय॒द्वि । अज॑नय॒न्मन॑वे॒ क्षाम॒पश्च॑ स॒त्रा शंसं॒ यज॑मानस्य तूतोत् ॥७॥

sa vṛtrahendraḥ kṛṣṇayonīḥ purandaro dāsīrairayad vi | ajanayan manave kṣāmapaśca satrā śaṃsaṃ yajamānasya tūtot ||

Smasher of Vr̥tra, splitter of fortresses, Indra razed the Dāsa (fortresses) with their dark wombs. He gave birth to the earth and the waters for Manu. In every way he makes the sacrificer’s laud powerful.

What is the inner meaning of the phrase dark wombs (kṛṣṇayonīḥ) in this Rig Vedic mantra?

  • Just a thought, I read somewhere where wombs are compared with hell, as the embryo within has to go through a multitude of difficulties inside it. Maybe it is related to that concept somehow. – V.Aggarwal Aug 26 '20 at 13:06
  • translation is not correct it seems, because yoni doesn't mean womb. – TheLittleNaruto Aug 26 '20 at 14:38
  • There are many meanings for yoni. You can suggest a suitable one from among them please @TheLittleNaruto – Srimannarayana K V Aug 26 '20 at 14:54
  • Does it refer to a dark-skinned dAsa race? – user17987 Sep 24 '20 at 16:06
  • @idolworshipper: It is appearing in Rig Vedic mantra. Hence, as far as I understood, some deeper meaning will there. That is why the question. – Srimannarayana K V Sep 24 '20 at 16:08

That is an incorrect translation, not sure where you obtained it. Sanskrit words -

'vRtra' - means restrainer/a container of thunder clouds/overbearing containers/clouds;

'yoni' - generally means a container/bearer (only if using it when describing a particular human's origin is it used a equivalent for a female's womb);

'mAnava' - does not mean Manu, but means 'of men' or 'of humans'

In that verse, vRtra...kRshnayOnih.. means the imposing restrainer of dark (i.e. rain bearing) cloud-containers, i.e. an imposing set of your smoky rain bearing clouds.

The correct translation would be -

Indra destroyed those restrainers of dark rain-bearing clouds and thereby released for the earth the waters for men, for helping his worshiper/forgiveness-seeker.

The above is based on my knowledge of sanskrit language. A reference that is much close to correct meaning is at this link - https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv02020.htm

  • This translation is from the Rig Veda by Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton. By the way, who are the restrainers of the dark rain-bearing clouds? Further, I am expecting an inner meaning for this mantra , please. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 29 '20 at 16:05
  • 'the restrainers of dark rain-bearing clouds' refers to the force that is holding the smoky rain bearing clouds together. You will see an occasional white cloud by itself, but you will rarely see a lonely dark cloud, usually they gather in numbers, a huge expanse that covers the sky and you know there will be a downpour very soon. That is what it refers to here, the expanse in the sky of dark smoky rain-bearing clouds threatening and imposing humans (for they bring darkness and hide the sun). – Vijay Sharma Aug 29 '20 at 22:07
  • There is an inner meaning, you would need to read Upanishads to know that. Somethings in Vedas and everything in Puranas have 3 meanings, an adiBhoutika one, an adiDaivika one (like this example), and an AdhyAtmika one. I will not tell you the AdhyAtmika meaning here, but will give you a hint with which you can take that journey yourself. Indra refers (in AdhyAtmika sense) to the controller of all of your gnyAnendriyAs in your body. And Indra and vRtra are enemies.... – Vijay Sharma Aug 29 '20 at 22:08
  • Thanks for responding. I know this upanishad concept - Indra refers (in AdhyAtmika sense) to the controller of all of your gnyAnendriyAs in your body. I don't want hints here. If you know, please explain with references to the upanishad. Otherwise, I will stop here. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 29 '20 at 22:33
  • I know it, but I will not tell you, go embark on that quest and you will find out too. Had you upvoted my answer, a very valid answer to the question, perhaps I may have felt more generous. – Vijay Sharma Sep 3 '20 at 16:19

The verse is -

sa vṛtrahendraḥ kṛṣṇayonīḥ purandaro dāsīrairayad vi | ajanayan manave kṣāmapaśca satrā śaṃsaṃ yajamānasya tūtot ||

Note the word dAsa in the above verse. Regarding who the dAsas were, in the Rig Veda translated by Jamison and Brereton, the authors write -

The people of the R̥ gveda refer to themselves as Āryas, which probably meant the “civilized” ones or something similar. Under this term they define their own group as the people who sacrifice to the gods, who adhere to Vedic customs, who speak Indo-Aryan languages, and who in other ways identify themselves with Vedic culture. They also refer to themselves as mā́nuṣa and mānavá, the “sons of Manu” or the “peoples of Manu,”....


The Āryas fought among themselves, but their enemies were often groups of non-Āryas, called Dāsas or Dasyus, who may, or may not, have been non-Indo-Aryans. The opposition between Āryas and Dāsas or Dasyus was not an unbridgeable divide. There are many people, clans, and tribes in the Veda who have names without likely Indo-European derivation. Witzel (1999: 359–60) gives a “fairly comprehensive list” of Vedic “tribal and (some) clan names” that includes names from the R̥ gveda. Of these he counts twenty-two that are non-Indo-Aryan names. The evidence is rough, but it suggests that at some point in their histories these people had adopted Vedic culture and had become part of the Ārya community. The distinction between Āryas and Dāsas or Dasyus, therefore, was essentially a cultural and political one. The Dāsas and Dasyus were people who had not adopted or not yet adopted the customs and behaviors of the R̥ gvedic Āryas and therefore were not part of the Ārya community. Exactly who the Dāsas and Dasyus were—as opposed to who they were not—is a more difficult problem. They must have been people and cultures either indigenous to South Asia or already in South Asia—from wherever or whenever they may have come—when the carriers of R̥ gvedic culture and religion moved into and through the northwest of the subcontinent.


There is a great degree of overlap between Dasyus and Dāsas, since both names can be used of the same beings (I.103.3, IV.28.4, V.30.9). Like the Dasyus, the Dāsas are also humans and usually they are enemies of the Āryas. Indra destroys them (IV.30.15, 21;VI.20.10, 47.21, X.120.2) and their fortresses (II.20.7, IV.32.10). However, the use of Dāsa in the R̥ gveda is more complex than that of Dasyu. Since the greatest enemy of Indra, Vr̥tra, is a Dāsa (I.32.11, II.11.2, IV.18.9) but not a Dasyu, the Dāsas apparently penetrated further into the nonhuman realm as demonic beings. Such a nonhuman Dāsa occurs also in X.99.6, where Indra “subdued the mightily roaring Dāsa with his six eyes and three heads.” However, dāsá can mean “servant, slave” already in some R̥ gvedic passages. According to VIII.56.3, a man named Dasyave Vr̥ka, “Wolf to the Dasyu,” has given to the poet “a hundred donkeys,” “a hundred wooly ewes, a hundred slaves (dāsá), and garlands beyond that” (cf. also VII.86.7, X.62.10). These dāsás were obviously not enemies of the Āryas, at least not as long as they were subordinate to them. The R̥ gveda also shows less insistence on the Dāsas’ cultural difference from the Āryas than on the Dasyus’—Dāsas are not described as akarmán, amantú, anyávrata, ámānuṣa, and the like. However, the poets sharply distinguish between Āryas and Dāsas (V.34.6, VI.25.2, X.86.19) and worry that the Dāsas have wealth that should belong to Āryas (II.12.4). Yet they also can have ties to the Āryas. In VIII.46.32, a dānastuti verse, the poet mentions a wealthy Dāsa named Balbūtha Tarukṣa, from whom he says he received a hundred camels. Although Balbūtha’s name is not Indo-Aryan and although he is called a Dāsa, he had apparently employed the poet, presumably to compose hymns and to sacrifice for him. Therefore, he must have had one foot in Ārya culture, if not quite in the Ārya community. In summary, the Dasyus and Dāsas are overlapping categories of peoples opposed to the Āryas, and the poets call on the gods to defeat them for the sake of the Āryas. However, sometimes Dāsas may have been rivals to the Āryas or may even have been at the fringes the Ārya community rather than inevitable enemies of Āryas.

In this context, we can infer that the word kṛṣṇayonīḥ refers to the dAsas being considered as dwelling in darkness or being sinful, due to not being part of the Aryan vedic culture or being on the fringes of it or being their enemies.

Sayana's commentary

Sayana's commentary can be found here and the English explanation of Sayana's commentary for krsnayonIH can be found here.

Sayana gives two interpretations of krsnayonIH -

  1. nikrSTajAtIH (निकृष्टजातीः) - of very low birth or low caste

  2. Pregnant wives of an Asura named Krsna.

  • 2
    Taking clue from the usage of kṛṣṇayonīḥ in the above Rig Vedic Mantra, paapa-yonayah was used in BG 9.32. However, the meaning with which these 2 words were used in 2 different places, is different. Most of the content of BG is from Upanishads. So there was a change of ideas between Rig Veda and Upanishads. As far as I understood, definitely there is a inner meaning for the word kṛṣṇayonīḥ in the above Rig Vedic Mantra. I am searching for that externally and internally :-) – Srimannarayana K V Sep 24 '20 at 19:20
  • @srimannarayanakv In Gita, the meaning is philosophical. In Rig veda, the meaning appears to be cultural. – user17987 Sep 24 '20 at 19:31
  • Rig Vedic mantras were heard and composed by Rishies. They would not have used words so casually, that can be interpreted so easily. :-) – Srimannarayana K V Sep 25 '20 at 2:16
  • @srimannarayanakv Then may be, Sayana commentary might make the meaning clear. Have you looked at his commentary? – user17987 Sep 25 '20 at 2:59
  • Added sayana's interpretation @srimannarayanakv – user17987 Sep 25 '20 at 5:05

Rig Veda II.20.7

स वृ॑त्र॒हेन्द्र॑: कृ॒ष्णयो॑नीः पुरंद॒रो दासी॑रैरय॒द्वि । अज॑नय॒न्मन॑वे॒ क्षाम॒पश्च॑ स॒त्रा शंसं॒ यज॑मानस्य तूतोत् ॥७॥

sa vṛtrahendraḥ kṛṣṇayonīḥ purandaro dāsīrairayad vi | ajanayan manave kṣāmapaśca satrā śaṃsaṃ yajamānasya tūtot ||

Translation from the Rig Veda by Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton is as follows:

Smasher of Vr̥tra, splitter of fortresses, Indra razed the Dāsa (fortresses) with their dark wombs. He gave birth to the earth and the waters for Manu. In every way he makes the sacrificer’s laud powerful.

Traditional translator Sri Sayana laid a path, which was followed by many Western translators of Rig Veda, restricting the meanings of Rig Vedic mantras to narrow Karma Kanda.

Sri Aurobindo says on Sri Sayana as follows:

...it is the central defect of Sayana’s system that he is obsessed always by the ritualistic formula and seeks continually to force the sense of the Veda into that narrow mould.

Thee word Dāsa in the above verse can be understood from the article of Sri Aurobindo .

Sri Aurobindo explains Dasyus or Dāsas as follows:

We have seen, not once but repeatedly, that it is impossible to read into the story of the Angirases, Indra and Sarama, the cave of the Panis and the conquest of the Dawn, the Sun and the Cows an account of a political and military struggle between Aryan invaders and Dravidian cave-dwellers.

It is a struggle between the seekers of Light and the powers of Darkness; the cows are the illuminations of the Sun and the Dawn, they cannot be physical cows; the wide fear-free field of the Cows won by Indra for the Aryans is the wide world of Swar, the world of the solar Illumination, the threefold luminous regions of Heaven.

Therefore equally the Panis must be taken as powers of the cave of Darkness. It is quite true that the Panis are Dasyus or Dāsas; they are spoken of constantly by that name, they are described as the Dāsa Varna as opposed to the Arya Varna, and varṇa, colour, is the word used for caste or class in the Brahmanas and later writings, although it does not therefore follow that it has that sense in the Rig Veda.

The Dasyus are the haters of the sacred word; they are those who give not to the gods the gift or the holy wine, who keep their wealth of cows and horses and other treasure for themselves and do not give them to the seers; they are those who do not the sacrifice. We may, if we like, suppose that there was a struggle between two different cults in India and that the Rishis took their images from the physical struggle between the human representatives of these cults and applied them to the spiritual conflict, just as they employed the other details of their physical life to symbolise the spiritual sacrifice, the spiritual wealth, the spiritual battle and journey.

But it is perfectly certain that in the Rig Veda at least it is the spiritual conflict and victory, not the physical battle and plunder of which they are speaking.

Coming to the question part - the inner meaning of the word kṛṣṇayonīḥ, we have another meaning than the known meaning of dark wombs of Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton.

It can also mean Dark Origin/born out of darkness.

The power of the Almighty God is called Indra (epithet).

Indra destroys the power of ONE's intentions/weaknesses born out of ignorance (darkness), which hinders the deliverance of Illumination (cow/waters) or SELF REALISATION, which is hidden within ONESELF (cave) to humans.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .