Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 21

BY: SUN STAFF - 5.4 2018

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


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

Third Adhyâya – Fifth Brâhmana


1:3:5:1 - 1. With the fire-wood (idhma, lighting material) the Adhvaryu lights (indh) the fire: hence it is called fire-wood. And with the kindling verses (sâmidhenî) the Hotri kindles (sam-indh, to make blaze): hence they are called kindling verses.

1:3:5:2 - 2. He (the Adhvaryu [1]) says (to the Hotri): 'Recite to the fire as it is being kindled!' for it is to the fire, when it is being kindled, that he recites.

1:3:5:3 - 3. Here now some people say, 'O Hotar, recite to the fire as it is being kindled!' But let him not say so; for that (priest) is not a Hotri as yet; only when he (the sacrificer) elects him [2], does he become a Hotri. Let him therefore say, 'Recite to the fire as it is being kindled!'

1:3:5:4 - 4. He recites (verses) addressed to Agni: he accordingly kindles it (the fire) with the aid of its own deity. In the gâyatrî metre (are the verses which) he recites; for the gâyatrî is Agni's metre: by means of its own metre he thereby kindles it. The gâyatrî is vigour, the gâyatrî is the brahman [1] (the priestly order): with vigour he thereby kindles it.

1:3:5:5 - 5. Eleven (verses) he recites; for of eleven syllables consists the trishtubh metre. The gâyatrî is the brahman and the trishtubh is the kshatra (or military order) [2]. With the aid of these two energies he thus kindles it: for this reason he recites eleven (verses).

1:3:5:6 - 6. Thrice he recites the first verse, and thrice the last one; for of threefold beginning are sacrifices, and of threefold termination: therefore he recites thrice the first and the last (verses).

1:3:5:7 - 7. Fifteen sâmidhenî verses result (from this repetition of the first and last of the eleven verses). The fifteen-versed chant [3], doubtless, is the thunderbolt, and the thunderbolt means strength; so that he thereby converts the sâmidhenîs into strength: hence, if he should hate any one, he may crush him with his great toes 1 at the time when those (verses) are recited. By saying, 'I here crush so and so!' he crushes him with that thunderbolt.

1:3:5:8 - 8. Fifteen nights indeed there are in a half-moon; and growing by half-moons the year passes: hence he thereby obtains the nights.

1:3:5:9 - 9. Now in the fifteen gâyatrî verses there are indeed three hundred and sixty syllables [2]; and three hundred and sixty days there are in a year: hence he thereby obtains the days, he thereby obtains the year.

1:3:5:10 - 10. For an ishti (which is performed in order to obtain the fulfilment of a special wish) [3] let him recite seventeen sâmidhenî verses; for in a low voice he sacrifices to the deity to which he offers an ishti. Twelve months, namely, there are in a year, and five seasons [1]: this (makes) the seventeenfold Pragâpati. For verily Pragâpati is all: hence for what wish he performs the ishti, that wish he thus accomplishes by means of the All. In a low voice he sacrifices to the deity; for what is spoken in a low voice is undefined (indistinct), and undefined is the 'All:' hence for whatever wish he performs the ishti, that wish he thus accomplishes by means of the All. This is the practice in regard to an ishti.

1:3:5:11 - 11. Some people say: 'Let him recite twenty-one sâmidhenî verses also at the full- and new-moon sacrifice.' Twelve, doubtless, are the months of the year, five the seasons, and three these worlds: this (makes) twenty; and the twenty-first is this very (sun) that here shines: he is the resort, he the stay; thereby he (the sacrificer) obtains this resort, this stay. He may therefore recite twenty-one.

1:3:5:12 - 12. Let him recite them only for one of established prosperity (gatasrî), who would not wish to become either better or worse. For, what he for whom they recite is like, like that he will either be or worse [2], for whom, that knows this, they recite those (twenty-one verses). This, however, is mere speculation, for those (twenty-one verses) are not recited [1].

1:3:5:13 - 13. Thrice he should recite the first and thrice the last (verse), without drawing breath; for three are these worlds, so that he thereby spreads (san-tan) these worlds, gains these worlds. Also three breaths there are in man: this recitation thereby causes him (the sacrificer) to be extended (santata), not cut short (by death).

1:3:5:14 - 14. He (the Hotri) should endeavour to recite this (uninterruptedly) as long as his strength lasts. If, on the other hand, he were to take breath in the middle (of the verse), it would be a slight on this very (sacrifice) [2]: by reciting this (holy) composition without taking breath, that slight will be avoided.

1:3:5:15 - 15. If, however, he do not care to undertake this, he may also recite one (verse) at a time without drawing breath: he thereby spreads those worlds one by one, gains those worlds one by one. The reason why he takes breath, is that the gâyatrî is indeed breath; and that by reciting a complete gâyatrî verse, he accordingly bestows complete breathing (on the sacrificer): let him therefore recite one (verse) at a time without breathing.

1:3:5:16 - 16. He recites them in a continuous, uninterrupted way: thereby he makes the days and nights of the year continuous, and in a continuous, uninterrupted way revolve those days and nights of the year. And in this way he gives no access to the spiteful enemy; but access he would indeed give, if he were to recite them discontinuously: he therefore recites in a continuous, uninterrupted way.



95:1 The Adhvaryu, in the first place, prepares a seat for the Hotri, either west of the altar or north of its left hip; and covers it with dry Kusa grass. [He then calls, 'O Hotri, come!'] The Hotri; having rinsed his mouth north-east of the Âhavanîya, with his face to the east, turns round from left to right and betakes himself to the sacrificial ground, always keeping his right foot before the left. He finally takes up his position so as to have the heel of the right foot in a line with the north hip of the altar, and the toes on the barhis; whilst he keeps the hands on a level with the heart, spread open and joined together, and looks towards the junction of the earth and sky. The Adhvaryu then takes a samidh (kindling-stick) and calls on him as above. The Hotri now mutters the formulas 'Adoration to the teacher! Adoration to the observer! Adoration to the promulgator!' &c. (Âsv. Srautas I, 2, 1). The sacrificer then takes the wooden sword and says, 'Recite for me, as it were, stretching along (i.e. continuously)!' whereupon the Hotri; having asked and received the permission of the Brahman, proceeds to recite the kindling verses. Kâty. III, 1, 1 seq.; Âsv. I, 1, 4 seq.

95:2 This does not take place until the pravara or invitation addressed to Agni, the Hotri of the gods, to assist in calling the gods to the sacrifice, cf. Sâyana and Sat. Br. I, 5, 1, 1 seq. According to some authorities, however, the choosing of the Hotri seems to take place at this particular time, or even before, at the time of the agnyanvâdhâna; cf. Hillebrandt, p. 73.

96:1 The gâyatrî (though it is not the most frequent metre) is considered as the first, as it is the shortest, of Vedic metres. The hymns addressed to Agni are mostly in the gâyatrî metre.

96:2 The hymns celebrating the heroic deeds of Indra and his associates, the wind-gods, are almost entirely composed in the trishtubh, the most frequent of Vedic metres.

96:3 The pañkadasa-stoma, or form of recitation in fifteen verses at the Soma-sacrifice, is sacred to Indra (Nirukta 7, 10), the wielder of the thunderbolt.

97:1 Or, with his thumbs (aṅgushthâbhyâm). The Kânva text has 'pâdyâbhyâm aṅgushthâbhyâm;' but Kâty. III, 1, 7 has 'aṅgushthâbhyâm pâdyâbhyâm vâ,' which would seem to leave a choice between the thumbs and the great toes; the commentator, however, takes vâ in a restrictive sense. The sacrificer is to press down the earth with his great toes (or thumbs) each time when a kindling verse is recited.

97:2 The gâyatrî verse consists of three times eight syllables, and 24 × 15 = 360. In the place of the last sâmidhenî (called paridhânîyâ), however, the Vâsishthas have a trishtubh stanza (4 × 11 syllables), so that the above computation of syllables does not hold good in their case. One might be inclined to infer from this that the trishtubh was the more original, a gâyatrî being substituted later to yield the above symbolical number of syllables. Cf. Taitt. S. II, 5, 7 seq.; Taitt. Br. III, 5, 3.

97:3 The kâmyeshtis, and ishtis generally, are performed with certain modifications, on the model of the new- and full-moon sacrifice, of which they are therefore said to be vikritis or modifications.

98:1 In other passages, and in later times generally, six seasons, comprising two months each, are counted, but the transitional season between winter and spring, sisira, is not unfrequently, as in our passage, combined with the winter season (hemanta), or partially with that and the spring (vasanta). On the identification of Pragâpati with the year, cf. note on I, 2, 5, 12.

98:2 The condition of one who is gatasrî cannot be improved, but only impaired. The construction of this paragraph is somewhat doubtful to me. It runs thus: Tâ haitâ gatasrer evânubrûyâd ya ikkhen na sreyânt syâm na pâpîyân iti yâdrisâya haiva sate 'nvâhus tâdrin vâ haiva bhavati pâpîyân vâ yasyaivam vidusha etâ p. 99 anvâhuh so eshâ mîmâmsaiva na tv evaitâ anûkyante. Sâyana seems to take it thus:--'He should recite them only for a gatasrî. A householder who desires neither an improvement nor a lowering of his position, is just such a one for whom the Hotris recite the sâmidhenîs in the appointed (niyatena) way. Further, for whomsoever, that thus knows the irregular (? aniyata, not regulated) way of recitation, they recite those twenty-one sâmidhenîs, he becomes either worse or better. What is set forth in the words from "A householder who desires neither an improvement" &c. is mere speculation; the recitation is not to be performed in this way.' The corresponding paragraph of the Kânva recension is much briefer and clearer:--Tad etad gatasrîr eva kurvîta na ha sreyân na pâpîyân bhavati yasyaivam anvâhuh saishâ mîmâmsaiva na tv anûkyante, 'only a gatasrî, however, should do this; for neither better nor worse becomes he for whom they recite thus. This is indeed speculation, but they (the twenty-one sâmidhenîs) are not recited.'

99:1 In the Taitt. S. II, 5, 10, the number of verses (effected by the repetition) is given as varying, according to the special object in view, between fifteen and forty-eight.

99:2 ? Or, it would be an act of neglect on his, the sacrificer's, part: by (the Hotri) reciting without fetching breath, that act, that neglect would be avoided.