One of my prized possessions are my digital copies of the Vedas. I love to spend hour looking over them and reading the hymns. I know some people might not like to read the English versions of the Vedas because they fear inaccuracies and misrepresentations, however I must admit I love the Ralph Griffith versions of the 1880s, they are written with such beautiful poetry and I don't believe I have ever come across anything negative or false within their pages.
However, there is something very peculiar about the versions of the Vedas I have seen so far, and that is the reoccurring non-translation of one particular hymn, and of all the gods in the Vedas, it is the one hymn to the goddess of sexual lust, Rati. The absence of this hymn is particularly peculiar for me as I am a devotee to Rati's husband, Kama Deva. Both Kama Deva and Rati are scandalous gods in the Vedas as they are associated with free love and sex.
The Puranas teach that Rati was born of sweat and semen, insinuating she has a forbidden erotic energy. There is a tale in the Puranas which shows Rati misleading with lust a noble Vishnu worshiping king at the behest of a jealous Indra. But truth be told, as dubious as Rati seems to be in later Vedic lore, she is counted among the oldest Rig Vedic pantheon as a Devi and therefor a goddess who is worthy of respect and dignity, no demon. But it might be hard to prove this fact since it is Rati's hymn and her hymn alone which seems to have gone untranslated in many of today's Vedas.
In 2002 the "Dharmic Scriptures Team" published an online PDF version of the Vedas which contained a partial translation of the hymn (why only partial). From the hymn's accompanying explanation it would seem that there are a number of issues with translating this hymn including paraphrasing rather than literal translations and the appearance of text which seems out of place. It is also hard to tell whether some hymns have concrete or mystical meanings. Either way the Rati hymn is shrouded in much mystery. However, the parts that have been translated show one of the most beautiful hymns in the Vedas.
They song speaks of a man who has become old with age and toil, and even though age has impaired the his body and the body of his wife, they sing that they may still unite together in sexual love. Wife is implored to go to her husband, for we all have desires and the gods want us to be happy. And even though the couple face many dangers form the outside, they are better protected by uniting together. It is this kind of open and impetuous brazen love and giving which makes me such a disciple of the gods of love and sex.
The deified object of this omitted hymn is said to be Rati or Love, and its Rsis or authors are Lopamudrd, Agastya, and a disciple. Lopamudra is represented as inviting the caresses of her aged husband Agastya, and complaining of his coldness and neglect. Agastya responds in stanza 3, and in the second half of stanza 4 the disciple or the poet briefly tells the result of the dialogue. Stanza 5 is supposed to be spoken by the disciple who has overheard the conversation, but its connexion with the rest of the hymn is not very apparent. In stanza 6 'toiling with strong endeavour' is a paraphrase and not a translation of the original khanamanah khanitraib (ligonibus fodiens) which Sayana explains by 'obtaining the desired result by means of lauds and sacrifices.' M. Bergaigne is of opinion that the hymn has a mystical meaning, Agastya being identifiable with the celestial Soma whom Lopamudra, representing fervent Prayer, succeeds after long labour in drawing down from his secret dwelling place. See La Religion Vedique, ii. 394 f.
Rig VedaBook 1, Hymn 179
1 'Through many autumns have I toiled and laboured, at night and morn, through age-inducing dawnings. Old age impairs the beauty of our bodies. Let husbands still come near unto their spouses. 2 For even the men aforetime, law-fulfillers, who with the Gods declared eternal statutes,-- They have decided, but have not accomplished: so now let Wives come near unto their husbands. 3 Worship does not go in vain. God is our protector. He wants us to enjoy our life. When danger faces us from outside, he wants us to face it by uniting together and by so doing obtain victory. 4 Cupido me cepit illius tauri [viri] qui me despicit, utrum hinc utrum illinc ab aliqua parte nata sit. Lopamudra taururn [mariturn suum] ad se detrahit: insipiens illa sapientem anhelantern absorbet. 5 This Soma I address that is most near us, that which hath been imbibed within the spirit, To pardon any sins we have committed. Verily mortal man is full of longings. 6 Agastya thus, toiling with strong endeavour, wishing for children, progeny and. power, Cherished - a sage of mighty strength - both classes, and with the Gods obtained his prayer's fulfilment. By 'both classes' probably priests and princes, or institutors of sacrifices, are meant. M. Bergaigne understands the expression to mean the two forms or essences of Soma, the celestial and the terrestrial. 5 Membrum suum virile, quod vrotentum fuerat, mas ille retraxit. Rursus illud quod in juvenem filiam sublatum fuerat, non aggressurus, ad se rerahit. 6 Quum jam in medio connessu, semiperfecto opere, amorem in puellam pater impleverat, ambo discedentes seminis paulum in terrae superficiem sacrorum sede effusum emiserunt. 7 Quum pater suam nilam adiverat, cum ed congressus suum semen supra wrrarn effudit. Tum Dii benigni precem (brahma) prgeduerunt, et Vastoshpatim, legum sacrarum custodem, formaverunt. 8 Ille tauro similis spumam in certamine jactavit, tunc discedens pusillaximis huc profectus est. Quasi dextro pede claudus processit, "inutiles fuerunt illi mei complexus," ita locutus. 9 'The fire, burning the people, does not approach quickly (by day): the naked (Rakasas approach) not Agni by night; the giver of fuel, and the giver of food, he, the upholder (of the rite), is born, overcoming enemies by his might.'
Who knows why the Rati hymn has still gone partially untranslated, even its non-translation seems to be mystery, scholars cannot agree on its meaning or even the idea that all of its text belongs within the hymn. Sometimes I wonder if the translators are being prudish, I don't know, maybe the hymn is too sultry for them, maybe they see scandal rather than beauty, or maybe it was just the hymn's destiny to call upon itself such enigmatic and cryptic attention. Whatever the reason maybe, I love the message that is preached in those parts of the hymn which have been translated and I hope others can see the delicate heart of our goddess Rati.