Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 71

BY: SUN STAFF - 16.7 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 – Fourth Brâhmana, Part Three

2:1:4:23 - 23. He (the Adhvaryu) then makes the horse step on (the Âhavanîya fire-place) [2]. When he has made it step on it, he leads it out towards the east, makes it turn round again (from left to right) and lets it stand there facing the west. The horse doubtless represents strength: hence he makes it turn round again in order that this strength shall not turn away from him (the sacrificer).

2:1:4:24 - 24. He lays that (fire) down on the horse's footprint 1; for the horse represents strength, so that he thereby lays it down on strength: for this reason he lays it down on the horse's foot-print.

2:1:4:25 - 25. In the first place he silently touches (the footprint with the burning fire-wood). He then lifts it up and touches once more with it; and at the third time he lays it down with (Vâg. S. III, 5), 'Earth! ether! heaven!' For there are three worlds indeed; so that he thereby obtains these (three) worlds. This now is one (mode of laying down the fire).

2:1:4:26 - 26. Then there is this other. Silently he touches (the foot-print with it) in the first place; he then lifts it up, and at the second time lays it down with 'Earth! ether! heaven!' For he who wants to lift a load without having a firm footing on this (earth), cannot lift it; nay, it crushes him.

2:1:4:27 - 27. Now, when he touches it silently he thereby takes a firm footing on this resting-place; and having obtained a firm footing on it, he lays down (the fire): and thus he wavers not. Here now Âsuri, Pâñki, and Mâdhuki held it (the fire) slightly to the back (or west of the fire-place) [2]. 'For,' they argued, 'everything else (that is on the hearth) becomes, as it were, relaxed (on being touched by the fire): he should therefore, after holding it up, lay it down at the first (touching) with "Earth! ether! heaven!" for thus no relaxation takes place.' Let him then do this in whichever way he may deem proper.

2:1:4:28 - 28. He (the sacrificer) then goes round to the east side (of the fire), and taking hold of the top part of the burning sticks he mutters (Vâg. S. III, 5): 'Like unto the sky in plenty, like unto the earth in greatness!' When he says, 'Like unto the sky in plenty,' he means to say, 'Like as yonder sky is plenteous with stars, so may I become plenteous!' and when he says, 'Like unto the earth in greatness,' he means to say, 'As great as this earth is so great may I become!'--'On that back of thine, O Earth, that art meet for the worship of the gods'--for on her back he lays down that (fire)--'I lay down Agni, the eater of food, for the obtainment of food.' Agni is an eater of food: 'May I become an eater of food,' this is what he thereby says. This is a prayer for blessing,--he may mutter it, if he choose; or, if he choose, he may omit it.

2:1:4:29 - 29. He stands worshipping by (the fire) while muttering the (three) Rik-verses of the queen of serpents (Vâg. S. III, 6-8) [1],--'Hither has come that spotted bull and has settled down before the mother; and before the father on going up to heaven.--She moves along through the luminous spheres, breathing forth from his breath: the mighty (bull) has illumined the sky.--He rules over the thirty domains; and song is bestowed on the winged one, yea, with the light at the break of day!' Thus he recites; and whatever (benefit) has not been obtained by him either through the equipments, or through the asterisms, or through the seasons, or through the laying down of the fire, all that is thereby obtained by him; and for this reason he stands worshipping by (the fire), while muttering the verses of the queen of serpents.

2:1:4:30 - 30. They say, however, that one need not stand by (the fire) worshipping with the verses of the queen of serpents. For the queen of serpents, they argue, is this earth; and accordingly when he lays down the fire on her, he thereby obtains all his desires: hence he need not stand by (the fire) worshipping with the verses of the queen of serpents.



291:3 See I, 1, 1, 7 seq.

292:1 This practice is perhaps the remnant of a former animal offering. See I, 2, 3, 6, where the goat is mentioned as the last of the animals meet for sacrifice.

292:2 That is, as would seem, those ritualists who maintain that a goat should be tied up for that night. The Kânva text reads, 'Here some cook that night that kâtuhprâsya rice-pap, saying (vadantah), "Hereby we gratify the metres."' According to the Paddhati on Kâty IV, 8, the quotation 'Hereby we gratify the metres' seems to form the last of the formulas pronounced by the sacrificer, while washing the feet of the priests and offering them food.

292:3 'The fulfilment of that wish he obtains through Brahmans, whether officiating priests or not, staying in his house (kula) and taking food there.' Kânva text.

293:1 The three verses containing the words samidh and ghrita are Vâg. S. III, 1, 3, 4. Taitt. Br. I, 2, 1, 9-10 has them in the order 1, 4, 3; and does not give the verse Vâg. S. III, 2 (Rig-veda V, 5, s). As neither version of our Brâhmana makes any mention of this verse, it may be doubted whether originally it formed part of the Samhitâ. According to Kâty. IV, 8, 5-6 he (? the Adhvaryu) is to put on (the three kindling-sticks) with Vâg. S. III, i, &c., one verse with each stick; whereupon he, (the sacrificer, according to the commentary) is to mutter III, 4; and according to ib. 7 'the Adhvaryu optionally mutters the second.' The Paddhati reconciles the different statements thus: he takes the sticks, rises and puts the first on the fire with III, 1; then sitting down he mutters III, 2; thereupon he again rises and puts on the second with III, 3, and the third with III, 4. The commentator, however, alludes to differences of practice in different schools as to this point.

293:2 The sacrificial fire, to be set up at the Âdheya, should probably be produced by means of two pieces of asvattha wood which has grown out of a samî tree. Sâyana remarks that the ritualists referred to in our passage consider that the cooking of the rice-pap takes place, not with the view of the latter being eaten by the priests, but merely to afford an opportunity for putting the kindling-sticks on the fire, and thereby securing to the sacrificer the benefits that would have accrued to hire from the above mode of ignition. This view, however, is not countenanced by our author, who, on the contrary, favours the daily cooking of a mess of rice-pap for the four priests for a twelvemonth preceding the Agnyâdheya, as a substitute for the production of the fire by friction. See Kâty. IV, 8, 11 (and Paddhati).

294:1 His argument seems to be that, since the cooking of the rice-pap involves the putting on of consecrated sticks with sacrificial formulas, one is not to cook the pap because that same fire will afterwards have to be extinguished or to be taken to the Dakshinâgni hearth. The passage is, however, far from clear to me.

294:2 Viz. the ritualists referred to; that is to say, they make the sacrificer and his wife remain awake all night. Sâyana takes gâgrati to stand for gâgarti, 'he, the sacrificer, remains awake.' The Kânva text, however, has, 'Here now they say, he should remain awake that night.'

294:3 The production of the sacred fire by means of two sticks (arani) of the asvattha (Ficus Religiosa) is thus described by Stevenson, 'Translation of the Sâma Veda,' pref. p. vii: 'The process by which fire is obtained from wood is called churning, as it resembles p. 295 that by which butter in India is separated from milk. The New-Hollanders obtain fire from a similar process. It consists in drilling one piece of arani wood into another by pulling a string tied to it with a jerk with the one hand, while the other is slackened, and so alternately till the wood takes fire. The fire is received on cotton or flax held in the hand of an assistant Brahman.' On the mythological associations of the agni-manthana, especially with the Teutonic need-fire and the myth of Prometheus; and those of the asvattha tree, grown out of a samî, with the mountain-ash (roun-tree, rowan-tree, witch-elm, witchen, witch-hazel, witch-wood; eber-esche), see A. Kuhn's epoch-making essay, 'Ueber die Herabkunft des Feuers and des Göttertranks.'

296:1 Compare XI, 1, 6, 3.

296:2 Viz. svah, pronounced su-vah. In laying down the Gârhapatya he utters the first two words, consisting of three syllables; and in laying down the Âhavanîya he pronounces all three words, consisting of five syllables.

297:1 The horse is to stand east of the Gârhapatya fire-place, with its head to the west, where, behind the khara, the Adhvaryu is about to produce the fire.

297:2 Pûrvavah, 'drawing in front,' i.e. a young (newly-harnessed) horse. The term may also mean 'conveying eastwards,' whence it is probably used here; cf. Taitt. Br. I, 1, 5, 6.

297:3 See XIII, 8, 4, 6, where the ox is said to be sacred to Agni (âgneya). See also p. 292, note 1; and I, 2, 3, 6.

297:4 The following particulars, not alluded to by our author, have p. 298 to be supplied here from Katy. IV, 8, 29 seq., and the commentaries: As soon as fire has been obtained from the two pieces of wood, [it is placed in a pan and covered with dry, powdered gomaya; and] the sacrificer blows it with 'Breath I bestow on the immortal;' and the well-kindled flame he inhales with 'The immortal I bestow on the breath' (see II, 2) 2, 15). The fire is then set ablaze with fire-wood and laid down on the newly-made Gârhapatya hearth-mound with '[Om!] Bhûr bhuvah svah!' (Vâg. S. III, 5); and with 'I lay thee down, O Lord of Vows (vratapati), with the law (vrata) of N. N?'--the gotra-name being inserted in the case of the Bhrigus and Aṅgiras; and those of different Rishis or gods and divine beings in that of others. At the sacrificer's bidding the Brahman or Adhvaryu then chants the Rathantara-sâman (cf. p. 196, note 2). Then follows the uddharana or taking out fire from the Gârhapatya for the Âhavanîya. A bundle of wood is lighted at the lower ends on the Gârhapatya and placed in a pan on an underlayer of clay. It is then carried eastwards in such a way that the smoke is directed towards the sacrificer following it; the horse being led in front of the fire. At the starting of the procession the Brahman, at the Adhvaryu's call, chants the Vâmadevya-sâman.

299:1 Viz. the wind indicated by the backward-turned flame of the fire, as it is carried eastwards to the Âhavanîya.

299:2 The Adhvaryu sits down and makes the horse put its right fore-foot on the recently prepared hearth-mound. Having then led it eastwards and turned it round, he calls on the Brahman to chant the Brihat-sâman (see p. 196, note 2).

300:1 Taitt. Br. I, 1, 5, 9, on the contrary, forbids the fire to be laid down on the horse's foot-print, as the sacrificer's cattle is thereby surrendered to Rudra. Moreover, the horse is there made to step beside, not upon, the hearth-mound.

300:2 The Kânva text reads: Tad v Âsurih Pâñkir Mâdhukir iti dadhrire, 'here now they held it thus.'

301:1 These verses form the hymn Rig-veda X, 189, the authorship of which is ascribed to the queen of serpents (either Kadrû, or the earth, according to Mahîdhara).