Aristophanes, Vashistha and the Frog Song in the Rig Veda ( Post No.3452)

Research Article written by London swaminathan


Date: 15 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:- 14-32


Post No.3452



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.





Frog song in the Rig Veda, the oldest religious book in the world, is echoed in Greek Aristophanes’ work and Kamba Ramayana in Tamil. These works span at least 3000 years. Croaking of frogs as inspired three great writers!


The seventh Mandala of Vashistha is placed third in the chronological order of ten mandalas. This means it forms the oldest section of the Rig Veda. Greek writer Aristophanes wrote The Frog in 405 BCE. Kamban wrote his verse on frog 1000 years after the Greek author.

Max Muller says that the panegyric of the frogs in the Rig Veda, is a satire on the priests; and it is curious to observe the same animal was chosen by the Greek satirist Aristophanes.


Following is the translation of Ralph T H Griffith:

1.They who lay quiet for a year, the Brahmans who fulfil their vows,

The Frogs have lifted up their voice, the voice Parjanya hath inspired.


2.What time on these, as a dry skin lying in the pool’s bed, the floods of heaven descended,

The music of the Frogs comes forth in concert like the cows lowing with their calves beside them.


3.When at the coming of the Rains the water has poured upon them as they yearned and thirsted,

One seeks another as he talks and greets him with cries of pleasure as a son his father.


4.Each of these twain receives the other kindly, while they are revelling in the flow of waters,

When the Frog moistened by the rain springs forward, the Green and Spotty both combine their voices.


5.When one of these repeats the other’s language, as he who learns the lesson of the teacher,

Your every limb seems to be growing larger as ye converse with eloquence on the waters.


6.Oneis Cow bellow and Goat-bleat the other, one Frog is Green and one of them is Spotty.

They bear one common name, and yet they vary, and, talking, modulate the voice diversely.


7.As the Brahmans, sitting round the brimful vessel talk at he Soma rite of Atiratra,

So, Frogs, ye gather round he pool to honour this day of all the year, the first of Rain-time.


8.These Brahmans, with the Soma juice, performing their year long rite, have lifted up their voices;

And these Adhvaryus, sweating with their kettles, come forth and show themselves, and none are hidden.


9.They keep the twelve month’s God appointed order, and never do men neglect the season.

Soon as the Rain-time in the year returneth, those who were heated kettles gain their freedom.


10.Cow-bellow and Goat-bleat have granted riches, and Green and Spotty have vouchsafed us treasure.

The Frogs who give us cows in hundreds lengthen our lives in the most fertilizing season.

This poem gives additional information such as

1.There was year long Fire ceremonies and Brahmins observed silence or something like that.

2.The 12 month a year was our contribution to the world. The Pancha Bhutas (five elements), the six seasons all show that Hndus were far advanced in every filed before the Greeks, Sumerians and the Egyptians.

3.The decimal system is also our gft to the world; it is used in hundreds of hymns in the Rig Veda

4.This is a beautiful poem on nature and it shows how much the Vedic Hindus loved the nature.

5.In the poem Brahmins and frogs are interchangeable.

6.We don’t fully understand this poem now. Even with Sayana’s commentary we cant understand it completely.

Kamba Ramayanam

Kamban was a great poet who translated Ramayana in tamil. He used the simile of Frog in the Kishkanda Canto. He says,

The frogs are making loud noise in the rainy season and became quiet when the rains stopped. It is like the children who learn from the teacher making loud noise and the intellectuals keeping quiet in the assembly of fools.


Bharti, the greatest Tamil poet of modern era also was influenced by this hymn.

Bharati on Cats

The greatest of the modern Tamil poets Subramanya Bharati says in his beautiful poem Tom Tom:
We have in our home
A pet, a white cat,
She gave birth to kittens
Each of a different hue.

Ash coloured was one kitty,
Jet black was another;
A third vivid like a viper;
Milky-white was a fourth.

Skin colours do vary
But they are of the same stock.
Can you call one colour superior
And another inferior?

Complexions may vary
But all men are one.
We are all uniformly human
In our thoughts and deeds.


Greek Frogs

Aristophanes was the greatest comic playwright of ancient Greece. His comedies are the earliest roots of the film, theatre and television comedies we enjoy today. Other ancient writers list 40 plays by Aristophanes; only 11 of these have survived to the present. He wrote The Frogs in 405 BCE.


Frogs, or The Frogs is one of Aristophanes’s greatest comedies and is justly celebrated for its wit and keen commentary on Athenian politics and society. It is the last surviving work of Old Comedy and is thus also notable for heralding a passing era of literature. While it is a comedy, it is also a trenchant political satire and expresses Aristophanes’s views on Athenian democracy, the value of poetry



Born in the city of Athens he started writing before he was 20.  Aristophanes lived through a period of great political and social change. For 27 years Athens fought a war against its arch rival Sparta. The eventual defeat of Athens brought to an end the greatest of ancient Greek civilization and was followed by a time of political instability during which Athens was ruled by dictators and corrupt governments.


Aristophanes wrote plays about the changes he saw going around him.


Many of Aristophanes’ plays are satires. He criticizes political leaders by making them seem ridiculous; often the leaders are out witted by the hero of the play, who is portrayed as an ordinary citizen.

Aristophanes also made fun of people such as philosophers, teachers and lawyers, whom he felt corrupted society. Nobody was shape from his sharp words even the most respected figures of the time are made to look foolish.


In his play the great Greek Philosopher and teacher Socrates is portrayed as a mad man who has an evil influence on the young people of Athens.





Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. राजेंद्र गुप्ता Rajendra Gupta has left a new comment on your post “Aristophanes, Vashistha and the Frog Song in the R…”:

    There is a verse in the Hindi Ramayan, the ‘Ramacharit Manas’ by Goswami Tulasidas in which the veda reciting brahmins are given the simile of frogs’ croaking.
    दादुर धुनि चहु दिसा सुहाई। बेद पढ़हिं जनु बटु समुदाई।। किष्किन्धा काण्ड 14.1
    dådura dhuni cahu diså suhå∂, beda paRhahiÚ janu ba¢u samudå∂. Kishakindhakand 14.1
    (On all sides one hears the delightful croaking of frogs, which reminds one of a batch of religious students chanting the Vedas)”. This is almost an echo of the vedic hymn cited by you.– “As the Brahmans, sitting round the brimful vessel talk at he Soma rite of Atiratra, So, Frogs, ye gather round he pool to honour this day of all the year, the first of Rain-time.” and your observation that “In the poem Brahmins and frogs are interchangeable.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: