APAAMAARGA HERB IN 4 HYMNS IN ATHARVANA VEDA (Post No.10,475)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,475

Date uploaded in London – –   22 DECEMBER  2021         

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A herb called Apaamaarga is mentioned at least in four hymns of Atharvana Veda(AV). It shows its importance. Magical qualities of this herb make interesting reading. I have given here all the four verses. Let me mention the interesting bits first with my comments:

Apamarga is Achyranthes Aspera; it is Naayuruvi in Tamil according to Wikipedia

Ralph T H Griffith gives the following information in the footnotes: –

What is Apamarga?

It is identified as Achyranthes Aspera, a biennial plant frequently used in incantations, in medicines, in washing linen and in sacrifices, and still believed to have the power of making men proof against the stings of scorpions. It is called also Paraakpushpii, Pratyak Pushpii, and Pratyak parni from the reverted direction of  the growth of its leaves, flowers and fruit.

See also AV. IV-19- 4,7; VI-129-3; and VII-65-1

What is the meaning in Sanskrit?

Apaa= with; mrj= to cleanse, wipe.

This hymn is a charm , addressed to the plant endowed with magical virtues to secure immunity from various kinds of evil, and restoration of health.

xxx

MY COMMENTS

The first two mantras praise the virtues of this herb as ‘Conquering’ and ‘Queen of Medicines’. It banishes the curse.

Other mantras in the hymn are about evil spirits, which are driven out by this herb.

Tamils still believe in such things. The most famous Kavasam (armour, shield) in Tamil is on Lord Skanda composed by Devaraya Swamikal. It is recited by all Saivite Tamils. That has a long list of ghosts, fiends, and evil spirits. By reciting this Kavsam, all those evil spirits are driven away. It is an echo of Vedic mantras.

Hanuman Chalisa , the most famous hymn in the North, also considered an antidote for evil spirits; the hymn says ‘Bhuta Pisacha nikata nahim ave’, where Hanuman’s name is recited.

In the olden days even the virus and bacteria were listed as evil sprits. So South Indian Hindus used neem leaves to get immunity from small pox, chicken pox etc. and those neem leaves are considered symbol of goddess.

If the identification of this plant as Nayuruvi in Tamil is correct, then we can add one more interesting point. That herb is used in Navagraha Homa done in all House warming ceremonies. (My comments continues at the end of the hymns.)


HYMN XVII; BOOK 4; AV; SUKTA 119

A charm to secure freedom from various evils

1.We seize and hold thee, Conquering One! the queen of medi-
   cines that heal.
  O Plant, I have endowed thee with a hundred powers for every
   man,

2.Still conquering, banishing the curse, mighty, with thy reverted.
   bloom.
  Thee and all Plants have I invoked: Hence let it save us! was
   my prayer.
3.She who hath cursed us with a curse, or hath conceived a
   murderous sin,
  Or seized our son to take his blood, may she devour the child
   she bare.
4.What magic they have wrought for thee in dish unbaked or
   burnt dark-red,
  What they have wrought in flesh undressed,—conquer the
   sorcerers therewith.
5.Ill dream and wretchedness of life, Rākshasa, monster, stingy
   hags,
  All the she-fiends of evil name and voice, we drive away from
   us.
6.Death caused by famine, caused by thirst, failure of children,.
   loss of kine,
  With thee, O Apāmārga, all this ill we cleanse and wipe away.
7.Death caused by thirst, death caused by stress of hunger, loss at
   play with dice,
  All this, O Apāmārga with thine aid we cleanse and wipe away.


8.The Apāmārga is alone the sovran of all Plants that grow.
  With this we wipe away whate’er hath fallen on thee: go in
   health!

XXXX

HYMN XVIII; BOOK 4; AV

A counter-charm against the incantations of enemies

1.The moonlight equalleth the sun, night is the rival of the day.
  I make effectual power my help: let magic arts be impotent.
2.Gods! if one make and bring a spell on some man’s house who
   knows it not,
  Close as the calf that sucks the cow may it revert and cling to
   him.
3.When one puts poison in a dish of unbaked clay to kill a man,
  It cracks when set upon the fire with the sharp sound of many
   stones.
4.Endowed with thousand powers! adjure the bald and those with
   necks awry.
  Back to its author turn the spell like a dear damsel to her
   friend!
5.I with this Plant have ruined all malignant powers of witchery.
  The spell which they have laid upon thy field, thy cattle, or thy
   men.
6.No power had he who wrought the spell: he hurt his foot, he
   broke his toe.
  His act hath brought us happiness and pain and sorrow to him-
   self.


7.Let Apāmārga sweep away chronic disease and every curse,
  Sweep sorceresses clean away, and all malignant stingy hags.


8.Sweep thou away the sorcerers, all stingy fiendish hags away.
  All this, O Apāmārga, with thine aid we wipe away from us.

XXXX

HYMN CXXIX; BOOK 6; AV

A charm for success and happiness

1.With fortune of the Sisu tree—with Indra as my friend to aid
  I give myself a happy fate. Fly and begone, Malignities!
2.That splendour and felicity wherewith thou hast excelled the
   trees
  Give me therewith a happy fate. Fly and begone, Malignities
3.Blind fortune, with reverted leaves that is deposited in trees—
  Give me therewith a happy fate. Fly and begone, Malignities.

XXX

HYMN LXV; BOOK 7; AV

A charm against imprecation and threatened evils

1.With retroverted fruit hast thou, O Apāmārga, sprung and
   grown.
  Hence into distance most remote drive every curse away from,
   me.
2.Whatever evil we have done, whatever vile or sinful act,
  With thee, O Apāmārga, who lookest all ways, we wipe it off.
3.If with the cripple we have lived, whose teeth are black and
   nails deformed,
  With thee, O Apāmārga, we wipe all that ill away from us.

Hymn 18 given above adds interesting details about collecting this plant:-

The plant is collected during night time on full moon days .

Mantra 1 in hymn 18 says: I gather a plant whose efficacy is undoubted, which shall counteract the magical practises of malignant fiends and sorcerers.

In short people believed in its medical and magical qualities. Westerners are affected mentally than any other place. They spend a lot of time and money in counselling. Psychologists make good money in ‘driving away the evil thoughts/spirits. Hindus don’t waste time or money; they are advised to go to temples and breath fresh air and enjoy nature. They get cured within a few months. Westerners spoil the people with lithium tablets. So, mantras like this have more psychological benefits for the patients and the family that looks after the patients.

Nowadays Apamarga is sold commercially .

–subham–

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