“Not without pains are the Gods made friends”
- Kaegi / Arrowsmith translation (1886)
A line from RV IV 33 11, in the words of the Rsi Vamadeva Gautama, that has stuck with me this morning. For additional clarity – here’s three further translations from the past century and a half of the same verse.
“Not without toil are Gods inclined to friendship.”
- Griffith translation (1896)
“The Gods are not in companionship (with men) except (for their
companionship) with him who has labored in the truth.”
- Jamison / Brereton translation (2014)
“The Gods verily [grant Their Boon] not through regard, but (as the gift of one) wearied out (by penance);”
- Wilson translation (1866) [and I’ve … edited that, because Wilson went with quite a ‘bring it all together’ rather than ‘clause by clause’ approach to translation for that line, so there were extraneous elements drawn from its surrounding context]
The actual context is a Ribhus hymnal, and more specifically the bestowal of the Divine benefit in result of hard work. The hard work, here, implicitly being that of the sacrificers – through which the Empowering Elixir [Soma] is obtained.
Although it is, of course, interesting that the preceding verses extol various great labours of the Ribhus [‘Craftsmen’, ‘Labourers’, ‘Artificers’] in service of other Gods and which directly produced various elements correlate with the effects of the Soma.
Given the Rbhus are implicitly ‘Song-Smiths’, on that spectrum of non-distinction between Priest and Forge-Lord within the archaic Vedic conceptry, the positioning of the labours of the terrestrial, human pious figures as ‘mythic resonancy’ with the miracle-working of the Solar Smiths is perhaps less surprising.
In any case, even if one is not either a priest or a metaphysically capable artificer – it is a wise maxim, indeed.
Here’s the original Sanskrit … and me just directly translating word-by-word.
न ऋते श्रान्तस्य सख्याय देवाः
Not Without Enervation [can be attained] Alliance Divine
… would be a really quick and strictly literal 04:51 a.m rendition of the Sanskrit into English.