Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 15


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


First Kânda - The Darsapûrnamâsa-Ishtî or New And Full-Moon Sacrifices

Second Adhyâya - Fifth Brâhmana, Part Two

1:2:5:14 - 14. 'Let it (the altar) measure a fathom 4 across on the west side,' they say: that, namely, is the size of a man, and it (the altar) should be of (the) man's size. 'Three cubits long (should be) the "easterly line 1," for threefold is the sacrifice,' (so they say, but) in this there is no (fixed) measure: let him make it as long as he thinks fit in his own mind!

1:2:5:15 - 15. The two shoulders (of the altar) he carries along both sides of the (Âhavanîya) fire. For the altar (vedi, fem.) is female and the fire (agni, masc.) is male; and the woman lies embracing the man: thereby a copulation productive of offspring is obtained. For this reason he carries the two shoulders (of the altar) along both sides of the fire.

1:2:5:16 - 16. It (the altar) should be broader on the west side, contracted in the middle, and broad again on the east side; for thus shaped they praise a woman: 'broad about the hips, somewhat narrower between the shoulders, and contracted in the middle (or, about the waist).' Thereby he makes it (the altar) pleasing to the gods.

1:2:5:17 - 17. It should be sloping towards east, for the east is the quarter of the gods; and also sloping towards north, for the north is the quarter of men. To the south side he sweeps the rubbish (loose soil), for that is the quarter of the deceased ancestors. If it (the altar) were sloping towards south, the sacrificer would speedily go to yonder world; and thus (by making the altar in the prescribed way) the sacrificer lives for a long time: for this reason he sweeps the loose soil to the south side. Let him then cover it (the altar) over with (fresh) rubbish: for rubbish means cattle, and well-stocked with cattle he thereby makes it 1.

1:2:5:18 - 18. He (the Âgnîdhra) smooths it down (from east to west). The gods, namely, when they were preparing for the contest, said to one another: 'Come, let us remove to the moon for safety what imperishable place of worship there is on this earth; so that if the Asuras, on vanquishing us, should drive us away from here, we may afterwards, by praising and mortifying, prevail again!' They accordingly removed to the moon what imperishable place of worship there was on this earth. That now is the black (spots) in the moon: hence they say, 'In the moon is the place of worship for this earth.' It is in this place of worship also that his sacrifice is performed: for that reason he smooths (the altar) down 2.

1:2:5:19 - 19. He smooths it down, with the text (Vâg. S. I, 28): 'Before the bloody (battle) with its rushings hither and thither 3, O mighty one!' the bloody one no doubt is the battle, for in battle bloody deeds are done, and slain lie man and horse; and before that battle they removed it (the altar to the moon); therefore he says, 'Before the bloody (battle) with its rushings hither and thither, O mighty one!'--'lifting up the life-bestowing earth,' for after lifting up what was living on this earth, they removed it to the moon; therefore he says, 'lifting up the life-bestowing earth; which they raised to the moon by prayers,' 'which they placed in the moon by worship,' he thereby says,--'that (earth) the wise still point out and worship,' to that they accordingly address their worship; and the offering of him also who so understands this, is performed in that place of worship.

1:2:5:20 - 20. He now says (to the Âgnîdhra; Vâg. S. I, 28), 'Put the sprinkling-water down (on the altar)!' That thunderbolt, the wooden sword, and the priest (brâhmana) have hitherto defended that sacrifice. Now the water also is a thunderbolt: that thunderbolt he thereby lays down for its defence. While the sprinkling-water is being held close above the wooden sword, he takes up the latter. If he were to set the sprinkling-water down, while the wooden sword is still lying, the two thunderbolts would come into collision with each other; but in this way the two thunderbolts do not come into collision with each other: for that reason he takes up the wooden sword, while the sprinkling-water is being held close above it.

1:2:5:21 - 21. He pronounces this (entire) speech:--'Put the sprinkling-water down (on the altar)! put fuel and barhis (sacrificial grass) beside it! wipe the ladles! gird the (sacrificer's) wife! come hither with the clarified butter!' This is a direction (given to the Âgnîdhra); he (the Adhvaryu) may pronounce it, if he choose; or, if he so choose, he may omit it: for he (the Âgnîdhra) himself knows that this work has now to be done.

1:2:5:22 - 22. He then flings the wooden sword northwards (on the heap of rubbish). If he wishes to exorcise 1, (he does so), with the text, 'I fling thee as a thunderbolt for so and so!' and as a thunderbolt the wooden sword accordingly strikes down (the enemy).

1:2:5:23 - 23. He then washes his hands 2; for what there was bloody (or injured) on it (the altar) that he thereby removes from it: that is why he washes his hands.

1:2:5:24 - 24. Now those who made offerings in former times, touched (the altar and oblations) at this particular time, while they were sacrificing. They became more sinful. Those who washed (their hands) became righteous. Then unbelief took hold of men: 'Those who sacrifice become more sinful, and those who sacrifice not become righteous,' they said. No sacrificial food then came to the gods from this world: for the gods subsist on what is offered up from this world 3.

1:2:5:25 - 25. The gods thereupon said to Brihaspati Âṅgirasa, 'Verily, unbelief has come upon men; ordain thou the sacrifice to them!' Brihaspati Âṅgirasa then went and said, 'How comes it that you do not sacrifice?' They replied, 'From a desire for what should we sacrifice, since those who sacrifice become more sinful, and those who sacrifice not become righteous?'

1:2:5:26 - 26. Brihaspati Âṅgirasa then said, 'What we have heard of as produced 1 for the gods that is this sacrifice, that is to say, the cooked oblations and the prepared altar; therewith you have performed while touching: that is why you have become more sinful. Sacrifice therefore without touching, for thus you will become righteous!' 'How long?' they asked. 'Till the spreading of the sacrificial grass (on the altar),' he said. By the sacrificial grass, namely, it (the altar) becomes appeased. If, therefore, before the spreading of the sacrificial grass anything were to fall on it, let him only remove it at the time when he spreads the sacrificial grass; for when they spread the sacrificial grass, then they also step on it with the foot. He who knowing this sacrifices without touching, becomes indeed righteous: let him therefore sacrifice, without touching (the altar and oblations). Footnotes

59:1 This legend is given in Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts, IV, p. 122, where it is pointed out that we have here the germ of the Dwarf Incarnation of Vishnu; and in A. Kuhn's treatise, 'Ueber Entwickelungsstufen der Mythenbildung,' p. 128, where the following remarks are made on the story: 'Here also we meet with the same struggle between light and darkness: the gods of light are vanquished and obtain from the Asuras, who divide the earth between themselves, only as much room as is covered by Vishnu, who measures the atmosphere with his three steps. He represents (though I cannot prove it in this place) the sun-light, which, on shrinking into dwarf's size in the evening, is the only means of preservation that is left to the gods, who cover him with metres, i.e. with sacred hymns (probably in order to defend him from the powers of darkness), and in the end kindle Agni in the east--the dawn--and thereby once more obtain possession of the earth.' Compare also the corresponding legend in Taitt. Br. III, 2, 9, 7, where the gods are granted by the Asuras as much as they can enclose; and by the Vasus being placed in the south, the Rudras in the west, the Âdityas in the north, and Agni in the east, they obtain the whole of the earth.

60:1 In the actual performance of the sacrifice this represents the pûrva-parigraha, or first enclosing of the altar by a single line being drawn with the wooden sword on each of the three sides (viz. S.W. to S.E.; S.W. to N.W.; N.W. to N.E.) whilst muttering the respective texts. Before doing so he has, however, to ask and receive the permission of the Brahman, mutatis mutandis, in the usual way (cf. p. 7 note): the same forms have to be gone through at the marking of the second and third enclosures. Katy. II, 6, 25 seq. On the ritualistic application of the metres, see note on I, 3, 2, 9.

61:1 This teacher is mentioned again, Sat. Br. II, 1, 4, 27, along with two others, viz. Âsuri and Mâdhuki, but nothing further is known of him. According to the Black Yagus the altar is made four (not three) aṅgulas deep.

62:1 Viz. each enclosing line consists of three divisions corresponding to the three sides (S., W., N.) of the altar.

62:2 Pragâpati (Lord of Creation) is here, as elsewhere, identified with the year (probably as the representative of the eternal process of regeneration) and consequently with the annual cycle of sacrificial performance, or the sacrifice itself. Cf. Sat. Br. I, 5, 2, 16; X, 4, 3, 1.

62:3 According to Sâyana, because each of the three mantras, 'gâyatrena (traishtubhena, gâgatena resp.) tvâ khandasâ pari grihnâmi,' consists of two parts, the first ending with tvâ, the second with grihnâmi, which makes together six. Similarly with the second triad of mantras. In the former case the Taittirîya text (Taitt. S. I, 1, 9, 3), 'The Vasus may enclose thee with the Gâyatrî metre, the Rudras with the Trishtubh metre, the Âdityas with the Gagatî metre!' would furnish a more natural explanation of the six sacred words.

62:4 Vyâma, the space between the extreme ends of the outstretched arms. It is doubtful whether it is here intended for a fixed measure, or whether it is a relative one, depending on the size of the respective sacrificer. The size of a man was supposed to be equal to the extent of his outstretched arms.

63:1 I.e. a line drawn from the middle of the western side through the centre of the altar to the Âhavanîya fire. The same line prolongated from the western side of the altar westwards to the Gârhapatya would measure eight (eleven or twelve) steps (prakrama or vikrama, of two feet or pada each) from fire to fire. See I, 7, 3, 23-25.

64:1 Purîsha, rubbish; 'sandy or gravel-like soil,' Sây. on Taitt. Br. III, 2, 9, 12; purîsha also means 'fæces, manure,' in which sense it is probably taken symbolically for 'cattle.' The Taitt. Br. better: 'well supplied with cattle he thereby makes him (the sacrificer).'

64:2 By stroking along the altar he shifts it to the moon.

64:3 The interpretation of purâ krûrasya visripah here given by the author, and also by Mahîdhara on Vâg. S. I, 28, is more than doubtful. Sâyana on Taitt. S. I, 1, 9 is probably more correct in taking purâ visripah (abl. or gerund) krûrasya to mean 'before the sneaking away of the cruel enemy (Araru, lying fettered on the heap of rubbish)'--he supplies: 'thou, O altar, containest merely the divine oblations, but since his removal thou containest everything.' Cf. also Weber, Ind. Streifen, II, p. 463.

66:1 Otherwise he uses the text (Vâg. S. I, 28): 'A killer of the enemy art thou!' Kâty. II, 6, 42.

66:2 He does so (on the utkara) and then lays down the wooden sword west of the pranîtâ water. Kâty. II, 6, 43.

66:3 Men, on the other hand, subsist on what is bestowed on them from yonder world. Taitt. S. III, 2, 9, 7; Taitt. Br. II, 2, 7, 3.

67:1 Parishûtam, which Sâyana interprets by parigrihîtam, 'hedged round' [? 'set apart']. The Kânva MS. reads parishutam.