The Veda And Indian Culture

The Deeper Secret

There is in the Veda the legend of the Cow and of the Angirasa Rishis. This legend, if properly understood, brings out a deeper secret.

The legend is simple. The Cows have been lost and the Angirasa Rishis are in search of these lost Cows. The sacrifice is to be performed, and the Angirasas have to chant the true word, the Mantra. Indra of all the gods is invoked. Indra comes down to help with his thunderbolt in which enter the powers of all the gods. Indra is the hero and fighter, and the battle is waged against certain powers, the Dasyus and the Panis. Sarama, the heavenly hound runs forward and finds out the Cows in the cave of the Panis. Indra strong with the Some-wine and the Angirasas, the Rishis, who are his companions, follow the track, enter the cave or violently break open the strong places of the hill, defeat the Panis and drive upward the liberated herds. The conquest is effected, and although Indra has done it once for all in the type by means of the Angirasas, yet he repeats the type continually even in the present. He is constantly the seeker of the Cows, 'gaveshana', and the restorer of the stolen wealth.

There are several variations of this legend in the Veda. Sometimes there is no reference to Sarama or the Angirasas or the Panis. Sometimes Agni is referred to as the God who breaks up the dark cave and restores the lost radiances. Sometimes both Agni and Indra have been described as having joined together in the battle over the Cows. 'You two warred over the Cows, O Indra, O Agni.' (VI.60.2) Sometimes it is Agni and Soma who are referred to as having joined together in the battle. 'O Agni and Soma, that heroic might of yours was made conscient when you robbed Panis of the Cows.' (1.93.4). Sometimes the Ashwins also are credited with the same achievement. 'You two (Ashwins) open the doors of the strong pan full of the kine.' (VI.62.II). Brihaspati is, however, more

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