Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 67

BY: SUN STAFF - 10.7 2018

A serial presentation of the Satapatha Brahmana, translated by Julius Eggeling in 1882.


Second Kânda - The Agnyâdhâna, The Agnihotra, The Pindapitriyagña, The Âgrayaneshti, And The Kâturmâsyâni

I. The Agnyâdhâna Or Establishment Of The Sacred Fires.

First Adhyâya – Second Brâhmana, Part Two

2:1:2:14 - 14. Indra then considered [1], 'If they construct that (fire-altar), they will certainly prevail over us.' He secured a brick and proceeded thither, passing himself off for a Brâhman.

2:1:2:15 - 15. 'Hark ye!' he said, 'I, too, will put on this (brick) for myself!' 'Very well,' they replied. He put it on. That fire (altar) of theirs wanted but very little to be completely built up,--

2:1:2:16 - 16. When he said, 'I shall take back this (brick) which belongs to me.' He took hold of it and pulled it out; and on its being pulled out, the fire-altar fell down; and along with the falling fire-altar the Asuras fell down. He then converted those bricks into thunderbolts and clove the (Asuras') necks.

2:1:2:17 - 17. Thereupon the gods assembled and said, 'Wonderfully (kitram) indeed it has fared with us who have slain so many enemies!' Hence the wonderful nature (kitrâtva) [2] of the asterism Kitrâ; and verily wonderfully it fares with him, and he slays his rivals, his spiteful enemy, whosoever, knowing this, sets up his fires under Kitrâ. A Kshatriya, therefore, should especially desire to take advantage of this asterism; since such a one is anxious to strike, to vanquish his enemies.

2:1:2:18 - 18. Originally these (nakshatras) were so many different powers (kshatra), just as that sun yonder. But as soon as he rose, he took from them (â-dâ) their energy, their power; therefore he (the sun) is called Âditya, because he took from them their energy, their power [1].

2:1:2:19 - 19. The gods then said, 'They who have been powers, shall no longer (na) be powers (kshatra) [2]!' Hence the powerlessness (na-kshatratvam) of the nakshatras. For this reason also one need only take the sun for one's nakshatra (star), since he took away from them their energy, their power. But if he (the sacrificer) should nevertheless be desirous of having a nakshatra (under which to set up his fires), then assuredly that sun is a faultless nakshatra for him; and through that auspicious day (marked by the rising and setting of the sun) he should endeavour to obtain the benefits of whichever of those asterisms he might desire. Let him therefore take the sun alone for his nakshatra [3].



282:1 That is, the Gârhapatya and Âhavanîya, the two principal fires.

282:2 Whilst the Krittikâs, or Pleiades, are supposed to consist of seven (or, according to others, of six) stars. the remaining twenty-six nakshatras or lunar mansions, according to our author, vary between one and four stars. Hence the Krittikâs are also called Bahulâs, 'the numerous.' In the later accounts, however, a larger number of stars is attributed to several nakshatras. Cf. Weber, Nakshatra, II, pp. 368, 381. The Kânva text has: 'Other nakshatras are (i.e. consist of) four; and there is here an abundance, so that he thereby obtains abundance.'

282:3 Saptarshi, or the seven Rishis, is the designation of the constellation of Ursa Major, or the Wain. In the Rig-vela, rikshâh (bears) occurs once (I, 24, 10), either in the same restricted sense, or in that of stars generally.

283:1 'Tâ asya pragâh srishtâ ekarûpâ upastabdhâs tasthû rohinya iva.' The Kânva text reads: Tam imâh pragâh srishtâ rohinya ivopastabdhâs tasthur ekarâpâ iva. Sâyana interprets upastabdhâh ('propped up, erect,' established) by 'pratibaddhagâtayah (of continuous lineage),' and ekarûpâh ('uniform') by 'avikkhinnapravâhâh (of uninterrupted flow or succession).' In Taitt. Br. I, 1, 2, 2, it is stated that Pragâpati created Agni under (the asterism) Rohinî, and that the gods then set up that fire under the same asterism.

284:1 For the mythical allusions in this and the succeeding paragraphs, we have to compare Sat. Br. I, 7, 4, 1; Ait. Br. III, 33. According to the version of the myth given in the latter work, Pragâpati transformed himself into a roe-buck (risya) and approached his own daughter (either the sky, or the dawn), who had assumed the shape of a doe (rohit). Out of their most fearful forms the gods then fashioned a divine being called Bhûtavat (i.e. Rudra), in order to punish Pragâpati for his incestuous deed. The latter was accordingly pierced by Bhûtavat's arrow and bounded up to the sky, where he became the constellation called Mriga (i.e. Mrigasîrsha), while his daughter became the asterism Rohinî. The arrow on the other hand, with which Pragâpati was pierced, became the constellation called 'the three-knotted arrow (perhaps the girdle of Orion).'

284:2 The Black Yagus does not recommend this asterism for the performance of agnyâdheya.

284:3 The Kânva text reads, 'When, on that occasion, that god (viz. Rudra) pierced him with the three-knotted arrow.'

285:1 Na vâ etasya devasya vâstu nâyagñiyam na sarîram asti.--Na vai tasya vâstu na nivîryam nâyagñiyam asti, 'for the relic of that (god) is neither sapless nor impure.' Kânva recension.

285:2 I.e. the repetition of the âdheya, or setting up of his fires, a ceremony which has to be performed in the event of the âdheya having proved unsuccessful; that is, in case he should not have prospered or even sustained losses. The direction has been inserted in this place on account of the position of Punarvasû, as the fifth mansion, between Mrigasîrsha, the third, and (Pûrva and Uttara) Phalgunîs, the ninth and tenth mansions, in the original order of the nakshatras.

285:3 In Taitt. Br. I, 1, 2, 4, the Pûrve Phalgunî are assigned to Aryaman, and the Uttare Phalgunî to Bhaga. While, however, both these asterisms are there recommended for the agnyâdheya, the Pûrve Phalgunî are rejected as unsuitable further on, in par. 8 (? a later addition).

286:1 In the Taitt. Br. this asterism is not mentioned as suitable for the agnyâdheya. The Âsv. S. II, 1, to omits both Hasta and Kitrâ; but permits the asterisms Visâkhe and Uttare Proshthapade.

286:2 In Taitt. Br. I, 1, 2, 4-6 this myth is related as follows: 'There were Asuras, named Kâlakañgas. They constructed a fire (altar) with a view to (gaining) the world of heaven. They put, every man of them, a brick to it. Indra, passing himself off for a Brâhman, put a brick on for himself, saying, "This one, Kîtra (the wonderful or bright one) by name, is for me!" They climbed up to heaven; Indra, however, pulled out his brick, and they tumbled down. And they who tumbled down, became spiders: two of them flew up, and they became the two heavenly dogs.' On this myth, Dr. A. Kuhn, 'Über entwickelungsstufen der mythenbildung,' p. 129, remarks: 'The myth given in Homer's Od. xi, 305-325, of Otos and Ephialtes, who, in order to fight the immortal gods, piled Ossa on Olympos, and Pelion on Ossa, of ἵν᾽ οὐρανὸς, and who are destroyed by Apollon, shows an obvious resemblance to these Indian myths; the more so, if we divest the latter of their Brâhmanical form, by which altar-bricks are substituted for mountains; and if we hear in mind that the later versions of the myth, e.g. in the well-known passage of Ovid, put the Gigantes in the place of the Aloades.' See also Weber, Nakshatra, II, p. 372.

287:1 The Kânva text here proceeds thus: The gods then were afraid and said, 'If those (Asuras) complete (samâsyanti) that (fire-altar), they will prevail over us.' Then Indra having fastened a brick with the lightning-band (ârkena dâmnâ) went thither passing himself off for a Brâhman. He said, 'I, too, will put on this (brick) for myself.' They said, 'On then (upa hi)!' He put it on. That (fire-altar) wanted but very little to be built up, when he said, 'I shall take this (brick) which is mine,' Take it then (â hi)!' they said. Then seizing it (tâm abhihâya) he pulled it out. On its being pulled out the fire-altar tumbled down. On the fire-altar having tumbled down he made thunderbolts with those bricks and smote those (Asuras). Then the gods prevailed and the Asuras were worsted, &c.

287:2 Or, perhaps, its identity with (Indra's brick) Kitrâ; cf. preceding note.

288:1 The Kânva text reads: Tâni ha vâ etâni kshatrâni nânaiva tepur yathâsau vâ sûryas kandramâ vâ; teshâm hodyann evâdityah kshatram vîryam tegah pralulopa, tad vaishâm âdade.

288:2 This etymology of nakshatra is of course quite fanciful. For Aufrecht's probably correct derivation of the word from nakta-tra, 'night-protector,' cf. Zeitschrift für vergl. Sprachf., VIII, pp. 71, 72. See also Weber, Nakshatra; II, p. 268.

288:3 The Kânva text reads: Tasmân na nakshatram âdriyeta yadaivaisha kadâ kodîyâd apy âdadhîtaisha hi sarvâni kshatrâni yadyu nakshatrakâmah syâd upo âsîta nakshatram ahâsya bhavati no etasyânudayo 'sti tasmâd v apy upaina(m â)sîta, 'he need therefore not attend to any nakshatra; but may set up his fires at any time when that (sun) rises, for he (the sun) is all the kshatras. Should he nevertheless be desirous of a nakshatra, let him approach (the sun) with veneration; for then there is a nakshatra for him, and that (sun) does not fail to rise: for this reason let him approach (the sun) with veneration.'