Sanskrit: यन्ति प्रमादमतन्द्राः AV 20.18.3

Au101

Senior Member
England, English (UK)
I've been looking at a verse from the Atharva-Veda, specifically it's 20.18.3 and it goes like this:

इ॒छन्ति॑ दे॒वाः सु॒न्वन्त॒ं न स्वप्ना॑य स्पृहयन्ति ।
यन्ति॑ प्र॒माद॒मत॑न्द्राः ॥३॥

Ichánti devā́ḥ sunvántaṃ ná svápnāya spṛhayanti;
Yánti pramā́dam átandrāḥ.


I found one translation which seems a little on the loose side:

The Devatās desire him who offers worship and works hard. They do not like him who loves to sleep and is lazy. The hard working person gets great praise from them.

Meanwhile Ralph Griffith goes for:

The Gods seek him who presses out the Soma; they desire not sleep: Incessantly they punish sloth.

I would go for 'The Gods (devā́ḥ) love (consciously loose translation of ichánti) those who are pious and perform the rituals (extremely loose translation of sunvántaṃ which aims to allow a reader who knows nothing of Vedic religion to get the idea without a multiple-paragraph footnote!); they are not () at all keen (spṛhayanti) on indolence (svápnāya).'

It's the next line where I do admit to coming a little unstuck. Átandrāḥ would appear to be an adjective of devā́ḥ. I think Griffith is right to translate it as an adverb. I prefer 'tirelessly' myself, but I think I've understood that word. Pramā́dam seems to be 'sloth' in Griffith's translation. It's not actually a very easy word to translate here. Monier-Williams gives the definition 'intoxication' in the Ṛg-Veda and he does also offer 'negligence, carelessness about' but that only has later references. However, if we look at the root pra- + √mad- we find:

to be careless or negligent, to be indifferent to or heedless about (abl. or loc.), RV. &c. &c.;

to neglect duty for, idle away time in (loc.), Mn. ; MBh. &c.;

Which is good enough for me.

But yánti! Well either I'm overlooking an obvious possibility, or its a 3rd person plural, present, active form of the common root √i-.

Now I suppose I might be missing nothing, and this root, in this context, has a meaning that's something like 'go after, pursue' and the idea is the Gods are 'out to get' slothfulness, or the slothful. But generally √i- means 'to come, go, etc.' and Monier-Williams doesn't hint at this potential meaning, so perhaps I'm on the wrong track.

I have found a commentary by Sāyaṇācārya, although I'm not very good at reading commentaries, perhaps someone can help:

देवाः इन्द्राद्याः सुन्वन्तम् सोमाभिषवं कुर्वन्तं यजमानम् इच्छन्ति रक्षितुम् इच्छां कुर्वन्ति । स्वप्नाय । स्वप्नशब्देन अनादरो लक्ष्यते । तद्विषयानादराय न स्पृहयन्ति नेच्छन्ति । औदासीन्यं न कुर्वन्तीत्यर्थः । "स्पृहेरीप्सितः" इति कर्मणि चतुर्थी । किं तु प्रमादम् प्रकर्षेण सादयितारं [तं] तस्य मदकरं सोमं वा उद्दिश्य अतन्द्राः अनलसाः सन्तो यन्ति गच्छन्त्येव । स्पृहयन्तीति । स्पृह ईप्सायाम् । चुरादिरदन्तः ॥
 
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  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    If there was no more context but only the three words "यन्ति प्रमादमतन्द्राः", I'd immediately say, it meant "Insomniacs make errors, get into erroneous understanding/decision". That's what प्रमाद means to my Bengali brain. :) That is, I'd take it as an instance of the common idiom "verb-of-going + noun/adjective-ness in acc." meaning "to become noun-y/adjective". यन्ति would be the verb of motion (3rd plu pres of i-) in question. However much of a universal truth that statement may bear, it does not fit well to the remaining part of the verse. That's essentially the conflict that each of the translators and commentators is trying to resolve.

    Anyway, I suspect you had a typo in your quote of Sāyaṇa (could you confirm?). I think, this is what he is saying:
    किं तु प्रमादम् प्रकर्षेण मादयितारं [तं] तस्य मदकरं सोमं वा उद्दिश्य अतन्द्राः अनलसाः सन्तो यन्ति गच्छन्त्येव।
    The key portion "प्रमादम् प्रकर्षेण मादयितारं [तं] तस्य मदकरं सोमं वा" means "प्रमाद (i.e.) the high-degree (प्रकर्ष = high degree = the nuance imparted by the particle प्र-) intoxicator/satisfier, or his intoxicating/satisfying सोम"

    So, Sāyaṇa takes प्रमाद to mean probably Indra, the intoxicator/satisfier, or सोम, his means of intoxication/satisfying. The last three words in the verse would then mean, "Being sleepless (i.e. hard-working) they go towards the great intoxicator/satisfier (प्रमाद, here either Indra(?) or Soma)".
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Thank you very much for your help!

    Anyway, I suspect you had a typo in your quote of Sāyaṇa (could you confirm?). I think, this is what he is saying:
    किं तु प्रमादम् प्रकर्षेण मादयितारं [तं] तस्य मदकरं सोमं वा उद्दिश्य अतन्द्राः अनलसाः सन्तो यन्ति गच्छन्त्येव।
    The key portion "प्रमादम् प्रकर्षेण मादयितारं [तं] तस्य मदकरं सोमं वा" means "प्रमाद (i.e.) the high-degree (प्रकर्ष = high degree = the nuance imparted by the particle प्र-) intoxicator, or his intoxicating सोम"

    Very probably yes, but if you have a look for yourself (top of page 623) I hope you will agree that mine was an easy mistake to make!

    Atharva Veda Samhita Vol-4 : Pandit,shankar Pandurang : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
     
    • Agree
    Reactions: Dib

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Of course, स and म are easy to confuse when it's not a very high-quality reproduction.

    After another read, I think, Sāyaṇa is saying something along this line:

    The gods wish (to protect) the soma-presser.
    They (=gods) do not want to sleep (i.e. neglect the devoted soma-presser).
    Sleepless (i.e. mindful of their duty of protecting the devotee), they (=gods) go towards the intoxicator (=soma or possibly the soma-presser).
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I think you're quite right.

    Unfortunately I think I must conclude that the first English translation quoted above, which I was looking to verify, has missed the mark a bit
     
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