Tuesday, December 1, 2015

For Susan and Mabel

Goodnight. Sleep, Sleep: The Pup’s Lullaby
Rg Veda 7.55.2a-6d
Translated from the Vedic, Douglas R. Brooks

The Vedic life began in encampments, temporary bivouacs that eventually gave way to more permanent settlements as these pastoral people took up the agrarian life and settled into villages.  Surrounded by the wild, they slept near their campfires, their pups also nearby, alert to signal warning and keep night’s watch. 

The great chieftan leader of the Gods Indra kept his own celebrated company, the bitch Saramā, renowned for recovering the cattle stolen by the Panis, and later herself attributed the revelation of another Vedic hymn, or at least a bit of it, where she is remembered by the name Saramā Devas’unī.  Saramā gave birth to four brindled pups that were given as a gift to Yama, Lord of Death.  Is it one of those four pups remembered here, in this lullaby that admonishes the watchful pup that it is at last time for him to sleep?  Surely the Rsi of this hymn, Vasiṣṭha Maitrāvaruṇi longs for a night’s sleep and implores the pup to stop his barking and let the camp have its slumber.  He then sings them all to bed, sástu mātā́ sástu pitā́ sástu śvā́, “sleep Momma, sleep Pappa, sleep pup…” and wishes us all a good night.  

When you bare your teeth, milky silver son of Saramā, brindled pup,
they flash like lancets in your growling jowls ! Go to sleep!
You bark at the Singers to Indra!
Why do you trouble us?
Go to sleep!

Sleep Momma, Sleep Pappa
Sleep pup, let the Lordly Chieftan sleep
Let all the folks we love sleep,
Let all these folks‘roundbout sleep too.
Whoever sits still and whoever walks about
And whoever sees us, the folks---
their eyes we close shuttered,
like this house.

7.055.02a     yád arjuna sārameya
7.055.02b     datáḥ piśaṅga yáchase
7.055.02c     vī́va bhrājanta r̥ṣṭáya
7.055.02d     úpa srákveṣu bápsato
7.055.02e     ní ṣú svapa

7.055.03a     stenáṃ rāya sārameya
7.055.03b     táskaraṃ vā punaḥsara
7.055.03c     stotr̥̄́n índrasya rāyasi
7.055.04d     kím asmā́n duchunāyase
7.055.04e     ní ṣú svapa

7.055.05a     sástu mātā́ sástu pitā́
7.055.05b     sástu śvā́ sástu viśpátiḥ
7.055.05c     sasántu sárve jñātáyaḥ
7.055.05d     sástv ayám abhíto jánaḥ

7.055.06a     yá ā́ste yáś ca cárati
7.055.06b     yáś ca páśyati no jánaḥ
7.055.06c     téṣāṃ sáṃ hanmo akṣā́ṇi
7.055.06d     yáthedáṃ harmiyáṃ táthāp