Sarama Pani Samvada (सरमापणिसंवादः)
Sarama (Samskrit : सरमा) is the देवशुनी or divine Dog Mother, who serves Indra, the leader of devatas. The legend goes that Indra with the help of देवशुनी Sarama, and with the guidance of Angirasa rishi, locates the lost divine cows and releases them from captivity. In this context appears discussion between the Panis and Sarama in the 10th mandala of Rig Veda. This episode of stealing of the divine Cows || गोग्रहणम् by the Panis who are a class of tradesmen with no regard for yajnas or vedic principles is also mentioned in other ancient texts.
Panis are basically tradesmen who were prominent class of people along with Dasyus and Asuras, intelligent, powerful having a materialistic outlook. Nirukta describes them as tightfisted, shrewd business-minded people with no regard for yajnas and charity. The conflict between Indra and Panis was mainly due to the refusal of Panis to contribute Dana and Dakshina for Yajna. Wealth in those days was mainly the strength of cattle and property.  RigVeda (10.108) describes the legendary theft of the divine cows and the quest of देवशुनी सरमा to locate them.
सरमापणिसंवादः ॥ Sarama and Pani Conversation
Panis were demons, who steal and hide the divine cows in a cave. Indra sends the divine mother of dogs Sarama in search of the lost cows. In this context Sarama comes across Panis, with whom she has an important discussion. This episode describes how Sarama requests Panis to return back the cows and they in turn try to bribe or tempt her. Their conversation goes thus:
किमिच्छन्ती सरमा प्रेदमानड्दूरे ह्यध्वा जगुरिः पराचैः । कास्मेहितिः का परितक्म्यासीत्कथं रसाया अतरः पयांसि ॥१॥ (Rig, Veda. 10.108.1)
kimicchantī saramā predamānaḍdūre hyadhvā jaguriḥ parācaiḥ । kāsmehitiḥ kā paritakmyāsītkathaṁ rasāyā ataraḥ payāṁsi ॥1॥
Panis said: Oh Sarama, what do you want and why have you traveled such a long distance. This is a difficult path and there is the river rasa right in the middle of the road. How did you cross the river and why did you make the effort? Why have you come here?
कीदृङ्ङिन्द्रः सरमे का दृशीका यस्येदं दूतीरसरः पराकात् । आ च गच्छान्मित्रमेना दधामाथा गवां गोपतिर्नो भवाति ॥३॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108.3)
नाहं तं वेद दभ्यं दभत्स यस्येदं दूतीरसरं पराकात् । न तं गूहन्ति स्रवतो गभीरा हता इन्द्रेण पणयः शयध्वे ॥४॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 4)
kīdr̥ṅṅindraḥ sarame kā dr̥śīkā yasyedaṁ dūtīrasaraḥ parākāt । ā ca gacchānmitramenā dadhāmāthā gavāṁ gopatirno bhavāti ॥3॥
nāhaṁ taṁ veda dabhyaṁ dabhatsa yasyedaṁ dūtīrasaraṁ parākāt । na taṁ gūhanti sravato gabhīrā hatā indreṇa paṇayaḥ śayadhve ॥4॥
Sarama replies, Oh Panis, I come as the messenger of Indra. The cow wealth are our treasure and I came here looking for them. The river gave way to us in fear as it knew that if it didnt we would take over it.
इमा गावः सरमे या ऐच्छः परि दिवो अन्तान्सुभगे पतन्ती । कस्त एना अव सृजादयुध्व्युतास्माकमायुधा सन्ति तिग्मा ॥५॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 5)
असेन्या वः पणयो वचांस्यनिषव्यास्तन्वः सन्तु पापीः । अधृष्टो व एतवा अस्तु पन्था बृहस्पतिर्व उभया न मृळात् ॥६॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 6)
imā gāvaḥ sarame yā aicchaḥ pari divo antānsubhage patantī । kasta enā ava sr̥jādayudhvyutāsmākamāyudhā santi tigmā ॥5॥
asenyā vaḥ paṇayo vacāṁsyaniṣavyāstanvaḥ santu pāpīḥ । adhr̥ṣṭo va etavā astu panthā br̥haspatirva ubhayā na mr̥ḻāt ॥6॥
The Panis spoke, Oh you are only a servant, yet you have such power? If you have so much power, imagine how much powerful your master Indra must be? We should befriend Sarama. Let Indra become the master of cows.
अयं निधिः सरमे अद्रिबुध्नो गोभिरश्वेभिर्वसुभिर्न्यृष्टः । रक्षन्ति तं पणयो ये सुगोपा रेकु पदमलकमा जगन्थ ॥७॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 7)
एह गमन्नृषयः सोमशिता अयास्यो अङ्गिरसो नवग्वाः । त एतमूर्वं वि भजन्त गोनामथैतद्वचः पणयो वमन्नित् ॥८॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 8)
एवा च त्वं सरम आजगन्थ प्रबाधिता सहसा दैव्येन । स्वसारं त्वा कृणवै मा पुनर्गा अप ते गवां सुभगे भजाम ॥९॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108. 9)
नाहं वेद भ्रातृत्वं नो स्वसृत्वमिन्द्रो विदुरङ्गिरसश्च घोराः । गोकामा मे अच्छदयन्यदायमपात इत पणयो वरीयः ॥१०॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108.10)
दूरमित पणयो वरीय उद्गावो यन्तु मिनतीरृतेन । बृहस्पतिर्या अविन्दन्निगूळ्हाः सोमो ग्रावाण ऋषयश्च विप्राः ॥११॥ (Rig. Veda 10.108.11)
ayaṁ nidhiḥ sarame adribudhno gobhiraśvebhirvasubhirnyr̥ṣṭaḥ । rakṣanti taṁ paṇayo ye sugopā reku padamalakamā jagantha ॥7॥
eha gamannr̥ṣayaḥ somaśitā ayāsyo aṅgiraso navagvāḥ । ta etamūrvaṁ vi bhajanta gonāmathaitadvacaḥ paṇayo vamannit ॥8॥
evā ca tvaṁ sarama ājagantha prabādhitā sahasā daivyena । svasāraṁ tvā kr̥ṇavai mā punargā apa te gavāṁ subhage bhajāma ॥9॥
nāhaṁ veda bhrātr̥tvaṁ no svasr̥tvamindro viduraṅgirasaśca ghorāḥ । gokāmā me acchadayanyadāyamapāta ita paṇayo varīyaḥ ॥10॥
dūramita paṇayo varīya udgāvo yantu minatīrr̥tena । br̥haspatiryā avindannigūḻhāḥ somo grāvāṇa r̥ṣayaśca viprāḥ ॥11॥
Sarama spoke:Oh Panis! Indra can’t be destroyed. He can destroy all of you! The fact that I have come here shows Indra’s power. No river, however deep can keep Indra away!
As forth goes the Rig mantras the Panis spoke with great anger "Ye Sarama! We are not so foolish to give up the cows without a fight. We have got all kinds of sharp weapons.
Sarama spoke this is not befitting for warriors. Your body is not meant for arrows as it is full of papa (पापम्). As your path is not dharmic, even Brihaspathi will show no favour to either (your words or persons).
The Panis retorted, this is mountainous terrain and so for someone to come here is difficult and the cows are safely hidden. We have all kinds of security, horses and unlimited prosperity and our soldiers are alert. Therefore, your coming is useless.
Sarama replies, the unwearied Angirasas and Navagvas who have drunk the powerful Soma rasa will come and they will distribute those cows within themselves then your words will be futile and useless.
The Panis then give up threatening Sarama and use samadanadandopaya to entice her to join them. Ye Sarama, you would not have come if the devathas had not forced you to travel this far, you shall be our sister. Do not go back to Indra, stay here and we will give you the cows.
Sarama is not tempted, says, I know not what you are saying, about making me your sister. I know who Indra and Angirasa are. They who are gokaamaa or long for the cows when I departed.
She continues - Go hence Panis, to a far off distant (place), let the cattle come forth in due order, from where they are concealed place. They Brihaspathi, Soma, Angirasa have found them when hidden.
This sukta doesn’t continue further with the story, but in Saunaka’s Brhaddevatha and from Jaiminiya Brahmana the legend is continued. Although slightly different versions of the legend is found in different places of the scriptures essentially the purport has not changed over different commentaries over ages.
Legend in Brhaddevata
Different from the Rig veda version, according to Brhadevata text, Sarama after saying that she does not have any relationship with Panis, nor desires for any prosperity or money she is tempted to ask for milk from those divine cows that Panis had hid (Page 235 of Reference 6).
असुराः पणयो नाम रसापारनिवासिनः । (Brhd. Deva. 8.24)
पिवेयं तु पयस्तासां गवां यास्ता निगुहथ । असुरास्तां तथेत्युक्त्वा तदाजहुः पयस्ततः || (Brhd. Deva. 8.30)
सा स्वभावाच्च लौल्याच्च पात्वा तत् पय आसुरम् । ... (Brhd. Deva. 8.31)
asurāḥ paṇayo nāma rasāpāranivāsinaḥ ।
piveyaṁ tu payastāsāṁ gavāṁ yāstā niguhatha । asurāstāṁ tathetyuktvā tadājahuḥ payastataḥ ||
sā svabhāvācca laulyācca pātvā tat paya āsuram ।
Meaning : Sarama by her nature not being too strong स्वभावाच्च लौल्याच्च || fickleness and greedy by nature was tempted by the offer of cow milk. Sarama was very appreciative of the milk and she crossed the Rasanadi and gave Indra a false report. Indra realized that Sarama’s report was false and wondered at the reason for the change in the character of Sarama. Saunaka explained that Sarama changed because of प्रभावादासुरस्य influence of asuras, that is even though the milk of cows was divine, Sarama resorted to lies. Then Indra using his power kicked Sarama to get out the real truth and immediately Sarama vomited all the milk given by demons.
तां जघान तदा क्रुद्ध उद्गिरन्तौ पयस्ततः | जगाम सा भयोद्विग्ना पुनरेव पणान् प्रति || (Brhd. Deva. 8.34)
tāṁ jaghāna tadā kruddha udgirantau payastataḥ | jagāma sā bhayodvignā punareva paṇān prati ||
Sarama became very fearful and in her fear she walked towards the place of Panis. Indra who had followed Sarama on his Ari vahana killed all the panis and brought back the cows.
Legend in Jaiminiya Brahmana
In this text the events are similar to those in Rig veda where the cows of the devatas are stolen by the Panis. But unlike Rig veda, devatas first send Suparna to find the stolen cows. Suparna accepts bribe from the Panis and returns back to Indra. Enraged they strangle Suparna, who vomits the curds which he receives as bribe from Panis. Then they send Sarama, who returns to Indra with the information of the cows.
अथ ह वै पणयो नामासुरा देवानां गोरक्षा आसुः। ताभिर् अहापातस्थुः। ता ह रसायां निरुध्य वलेनापिदधुः। ते देवा अलिक्लवम् ऊचुस् सुपर्णेमा नो गा अन्विच्छेति।... (Jaim. Brah. 2.440)
ते सरमाम् अब्रुवन् सरम इमा नस् त्वं गा अन्विच्छेति।... (Jaim. Brah. 2.441)
atha ha vai paṇayo nāmāsurā devānāṁ gorakṣā āsuḥ। tābhir ahāpātasthuḥ। tā ha rasāyāṁ nirudhya valenāpidadhuḥ। te devā aliklavam ūcus suparṇemā no gā anviccheti।...
te saramām abruvan sarama imā nas tvaṁ gā anviccheti।...
संवादः || Discussion
This story of stealing the cows is interpreted by Indologists and their followers through the fake Aryan-Dravidian race theory. For them the Panis are the Mulnivasis, the original native people of India, and the Dravidians, were the dasyus.
The Aryans were the non-natives invaders who owned the cows. There was constant conflict between the Dravidians and the Aryans. The Dravidians would hide the cows of Aryans repeatedly and one of such episodes is described here according to the distorted Aryan Invasion theory.
- If it was true, then what is the role of Sarama, Indra’s dog?
- Is Sarama a historical character? If so, was it true that dogs could speak in the Vedic period?
- What is the meaning of the discussion between Sarama and the Panis?
- What is the place beyond the Rasa River? Is it a physical place?
- If Indra had to release the cows, then is Indra a historical personality? If that is true, then is it Indra’s right to claim that Indra is Arya and he was victorious against the Panis? Or to consider that Panis are some kind of group of people.
- If Angirasa is brahmana, how come he had pet dogs, as a Brahmana why was he taking care of dogs? If he was not a brahamana then does he talk about the deeper definition of the cow? What is the meaning of Angirasa?
- Is it true that Aryans raised dogs, instead of cows and horses? Was that true that Dravidians did not have dogs with them?
- Why are there name related to dogs in Vedas: suna, saunaka, sunaka, sunasshepa, etc., Why would they have such names connected to dogs?
Panis are basically the enemies of Indra, Soma, Agni, Brihaspathi and Angiras. Here Pani word can be used as a miserly, tight-fisted person. They are called Indra Sathru enemies of Indra: vala, bala. If we accept cows as jnana, then it could be said that Panis are the powers that can stop the progress of knowledge.
The suktas we can understand that the Panis are the jnana apaharaka Shakti (the robbers of knowledge). This indicates the struggle to acquire the knowledge. The dog that comes here is nothing but devaduthi (agent of the devatas) or the chitta (consciousness) which is always conscious in every living entity.
The dog of the devathas is always alert and awake and has the power to know everything. She symbolically represents finding out the inner difficulties of living entities.
The esoteric meaning in Sarama's conversation depicts the brahma jnanis and describes the nature of life, talks about the destination of iha and para and the importance of brahma jnani achieving the knowledge.
- Narayanacharya, K. S. (2011). Veda Sanskritiya Parichaya, Part I. Hubli:Sahitya Prakashana.
- Prasad, Prakash Charan. (1977) Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India. New Delhi : Abhinav Publications
- Rig Veda (Mandala 10, Sukta 108)
- Varadpande, M. L. (1981) Ancient Indian And Indo-Greek Theatre New Delhi : Abhinav Publications
- Satavalekar, Pt. Sripada Damodara. (1985) Rigved ka subodh bhasya, Volume 4. Paradi : Svadhyaya Mandal
- Saunaka's Brihadevata (1893) Source : Digital Library of India
- Sarama and the Panis : A Mythological Theme in the Rigveda
- Jaiminiya Brahmana (Adhyaya 2)