Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 23

BY: SUN STAFF - 10.4 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

Fourth Adhyâya – First Brâhmana, Part Two

1:4:1:18 - 18. Gotama Râhûgana then said (to Mâthava), 'Why didst thou not answer when addressed by us?' He replied, 'Agni Vaisvânara was in my mouth; I did not reply, lest he should escape from my mouth.'

1:4:1:19 - 19. 'How then did this happen?'--'At the moment when thou didst utter the words, "(Thee), O butter-sprinkled one, we invoke!" just then, at the mention of butter, Agni Vaisvânara flashed forth from my mouth; I was unable to hold him back, he issued from my mouth.'

1:4:1:20 - 20. That (word) in the sâmidhenîs, therefore, which contains butter (ghrita) is especially suitable for kindling (sam-indh); and by it he accordingly kindles him (Agni, the fire) and bestows vigour on this (sacrificer).

1:4:1:21 - 21. Now that (word) is ghritâkyâ, 'with the buttered (spoon).'--'He nears [2] the gods, wishful of bliss.' Wishful of bliss, truly, is the sacrificer, since he wishes to approach the gods, to go to [3] the gods: therefore he says, 'he nears the gods, wishful of bliss.' This (verse), which is addressed to Agni, is undefined (vague); and undefined, doubtless, is the 'All;' he thus commences (this holy work) with the All.

1:4:1:22 - 22. [He recites the second sâmidhenî]: 'Come hither, Agni, to expand!'--'To expand' he says, because at the beginning these worlds were well-nigh contiguous to one another: at that time one could touch the sky thus [1].

1:4:1:23 - 23. The gods desired, 'How could these worlds of ours become farther apart from one another? How could there be more space for us?' They breathed through them (the worlds) with these three syllables (forming the word) 'vîtaye [2],' and these worlds became far apart from one another; and there was then ampler space for the gods: ample space, therefore, he will have for whom, knowing this, they recite this (verse) containing (the word) 'vîtaye.'

1:4:1:24 - 24. He proceeds, 'Invoked for the giver of oblations!' 'The giver of oblations [3],' of course, is the sacrificer: hence 'invoked for the sacrificer' is what he thereby means to say.--'As Hotri on the barhis sit!' Agni, indeed, is the Hotri, and the barhis (the covering of sacrificial grass on the altar) is this world: hence he thereby establishes Agni (the fire) in this world, as this fire is established (or, beneficial, hita) in this world. This (verse), then, is recited with reference to this world (the earth): through it this world is conquered by him for whom, knowing this, they recite this (verse).

1:4:1:25 - 25. [He recites the third sâmidhenî]: 'With samidhs thee, O Aṅgiras!'--with samidhs (kindling-sticks), indeed, the Aṅgiras kindled him. 'O Aṅgiras!' he says, for Agni is indeed Aṅgiras [1].--'With butter we exhilarate!' This (viz. ghritena, 'with butter') is a word which is especially suitable for the kindling of Agni: by it he kindles him, and bestows vigour on this (sacrificer).

1:4:1:26 - 26. 'Shine forth, O youngest, brilliantly!' he adds; for brilliantly he shines, when kindled; and 'O youngest!' he says, because he is really the youngest Agni [2]: therefore he says, 'O youngest!' This (verse) is recited with reference to yonder world, to wit, the aërial world; hence this (verse), which is addressed to Agni, is undefined, for undefined is yonder world: that world he thereby gains, for whom, knowing this, they recite this verse.

1:4:1:27 - 27. [He recites the fourth sâmidhenî]: 'Agni, do thou obtain for us that (region) wide and glorious!' For wide, indeed, is yonder (region) wherein the gods (dwell), and glorious is that (region) wherein the gods (dwell). When he says, 'Do thou obtain for us [1],' he means to say, 'make us go to it!'

1:4:1:28 - 28. 'That great and mighty one, O God!' For great, indeed, is yonder (region) wherein the gods (dwell), and mighty [2] is that wherein the gods (dwell). This (verse), then, is recited with reference to yonder world: that heavenly world he thereby gains, for whom, knowing this, they recite this (verse).

1:4:1:29 - 29. He recites (the fifth sâmidhenî): 'Praiseworthy he, adorable,' for worthy of praise he is, and worthy of adoration;--'visible through the veil of gloom,' for when kindled he is seen right through the gloom;--'Agni, the mighty one (bull), is lit,' for he is indeed lit up, the mighty one.

[He recites the sixth sâmidhenî]: 'The mighty Agni is lit up,' for he is indeed lit up.

1:4:1:30 - 30. 'Yea [3], as a horse that bears the gods,' for having become a horse he does indeed carry the sacrifice to the gods: the (word) 'na' which occurs in this verse has the meaning of 'om' (verily); hence he says, 'Yea, as a horse that bears to the gods.'

1:4:1:31 - 31. 'With offerings him they glorify,' for with offerings men indeed glorify him; therefore he says, 'with offerings him they glorify.'

1:4:1:32 - 32. [He recites the seventh sâmidhenî): 'O mighty one [1]! we mighty men do kindle thee, the mighty one!' for they indeed kindle him;--'O Agni, thee that brightly shines!' for he indeed shone brightly when he was kindled.

1:4:1:33 - 33. He recites this tristich which contains the word (vrishan), 'mighty.' All these kindling verses, it is true, are addressed to Agni; Indra, however, is the deity of sacrifice, Indra is the mighty (hero); hence these his (the sacrificer's) kindling verses thereby become possessed of Indra: this is the reason why he recites the tristich containing the word 'mighty.'

1:4:1:34 - 34. He recites [the eighth sâmidhenî]: 'Agni we choose as messenger!' Now the gods and the Asuras, both of them sprang from Pragâpati, were contending for superiority. When they were thus contending, the gâyatrî stood between them. That gâyatrî was the same as this earth, and this earth indeed lay between them [2]. Now both of them knew that whichever she would side with, they would be victorious and the others would be defeated. Both parties then invited her secretly to come to them. Agni acted as messenger for the gods; and an Asura-Rakshas, named Saharakshas [1], for the Asuras. She then followed Agni: he therefore recites, 'Agni we choose for messenger,' because he was the messenger of the gods.--'As Hotri the all-knowing, him!'

1:4:1:35 - 35. Here now some people recite, 'He who is the Hotri of the all-knowing [2];' lest (in saying 'for Hotri, the all-knowing, him') one should say to oneself 'enough (i.e. have done)!' This, however, he should not do; for by (doing) so they do at the sacrifice what is human; and what is human, is inauspicious at a sacrifice. Therefore, lest he should do what is inauspicious at the sacrifice, he should recite, just as it is recited by the Rik, 'for Hotri, the all-knowing, him!' [He continues], 'Performing well this sacrifice!' for he, Agni, is indeed a good performer of the sacrifice: for this reason he says, 'performing well this sacrifice.' She (gâyatrî, or the earth) sided with the gods, and the gods thereupon were victorious and the Asuras were defeated: and verily he for whom, knowing this, they recite this (verse), is himself victorious and his adversaries are defeated.

1:4:1:36 - 36. He therefore recites this, the eighth sâmidhenî). This, indeed, is peculiarly a gâyatrî verse, since it is of eight syllables that the gâyatrî (metre) consists: for this reason he recites the eighth (sâmidhenî).

1:4:1:37 - 37. Here now some people place the two (dhâyyâs) additional kindling verses before (the eighth sâmidhenî), arguing, 'The two dhâyyâs [1] mean food: this edible food we place in front (or, in the mouth, mukhatah).' But let him not do this: for with him who inserts the additional verses before (the eighth), the latter (the eighth) is clearly out of its place [2], since in that case it (and the succeeding verse) become the tenth and eleventh verses. With him, on the other hand, for whom they recite this as the eighth (kindling verse), it is indeed in its proper place: let him therefore insert the two additional verses after (the ninth).

1:4:1:38 - 38. [He recites the ninth kindling verse]: 'He who is kindled at the cult'--the cult (adhvara), doubtless, is the sacrifice: 'he who is kindled at the sacrifice' he thereby says;--'Agni, the bright, the laudable,' for he is both bright and laudable;--'the flaming-locked, him we adore!' for when he is kindled, his locks, as it were, flame. Previously to (the beginning of the tenth verse), 'O Agni, worshipped, thou art lit!' let him (the Adhvaryu) put on all the kindling-sticks with the exception of the one stick (which is to be put on at the after-offerings [1]); for it is now that the Hotri completes (the kindling); and what then is left of the kindling-sticks, other than the one stick, that is left (unused altogether); and what is left (unused) of the sacrifice, that is left for his (the sacrificer's) spiteful enemy: let him, therefore, previously to this (verse), put on all the samidhs, save one.

1:4:1:39 - 39. [He continues]: 'Adore, good worshipper, the gods!' worship (adhvara) doubtless means sacrifice: 'adore the gods, good sacrificer,' he thereby says;--'Oblation-bearer, sure, art thou!' for he, Agni, is indeed the bearer of oblations: for this reason he says 'oblation-bearer, sure, art thou.'

[He recites the last sâmidhenî]: 'Make offerings! do reverence! Him, Agni, while the cult proceeds, for your oblation-bearer choose!' by this (verse) he urges them on: 'make offerings and worship! do this for (the accomplishment) of whatever desire you kindled him!' this is what he thereby means to say. 'Him, Agni, while the cult proceeds,' he says, because cult means sacrifice: hence he thereby says, 'him, Agni, whilst the sacrifice proceeds;'--'for your oblation-bearer choose!' for he, Agni, is indeed the oblation-bearer, and for this reason he says 'for your oblation-bearer choose (him)!'

1:4:1:40 - 40. This tristich, containing (the word) 'cult (adhvara),' he thus recites. For once when the gods were engaged in sacrificing, their rivals, the Asuras, wished to injure (dhurv, dhvar) them; but, though desirous of injuring them, they were unable to injure them and were foiled: for this reason the sacrifice is called adhvara ('not damaged, uninterrupted'); and for whomsoever, that knows this, they recite this tristich containing (the word) adhvara ('cult, sacrifice'), his rival, though desirous of injuring him, is foiled; and he, (the sacrificer), moreover, gains as much as one gains by offering a Soma-sacrifice [1].


100:1 That is, by uttering 'Om!' after each verse. The recitation of the first verse is preceded by the mystic words 'Hiṅ bhûr bhuvah svar om!' Âsv. S. I, 2, 3. Both syllables 'hiṅ' and 'om' are essential elements in the recitation of Sâman hymns, See II, 2, 4, 11 seq.

101:1 The particles pra and â were apparently used in phrases wishing one a safe journey and return (cf. Ait. Br. 3, 26, with Haug's note). The first sâmidhenî begins, 'prá vo vâ´gâ abhídyavah' (forth go your viands, heavenward); and the second 'ágna â´ yâhi vîtáye' (come hither, Agni, to the feast!). It is from these verses that the above symbolical explanation is derived. Cf. Taitt. S. II, 5, 7, 3 [prâkînam reto dhîyate--pratîkîh pragâ gâyante].

102:1 The following is a connected translation (as literal as possible, if not elegant) of the eleven sâmidhenîs, or kindling verses, in the same octosyllabic metre as the original. The first and eleventh verses are recited three times; and when at the end of each verse the Hotri pronounces the syllable om, the Adhvaryu throws a stick (samidh) into the fire,--up to the eighth verse, at the end of which the tenth stick is thrown in. At the end of the ninth verse five of the remaining six sticks are thrown into the fire. The throwing of the first stick is accompanied by the sacrificer pronouncing the dedicatory formula (tyâga), 'For Agni this, not for me!'

1. Forth go your viands, heavenward, 
In havis rich; with buttered (spoon)
He nears the gods, wishful of bliss.

2. Come hither, Agni, to the feast;
Invokéd for the offering-gift,
As Hotri on the barhis sit!

3. With samidhs thee, O Aṅgiras,
With butter we exhilarate:
Shine forth, O youngest, brilliantly!

4. Agni, do thou obtain for us
That region wide and glorious,
That great and mighty one, O God!

5. Praiseworthy he, adorable,
Visible through the veil of gloom,
Agni, the mighty one, is lit.

6. The mighty Agni is lit up,
Yea, as a horse that bears the gods:
With offerings him they glorify.

7. O mighty one! we mighty men
Do kindle thee, the mighty one,--
O Agni, thee that brightly shines.

8. Agni we choose as messenger,
As Hotri the all-knowing,--him,
Performing well this sacrifice.

9. He who is kindled at the cult,
Agni, the bright, the laudable,
The flaming-locked, him we adore.

10. O Agni, worshipped, thou art lit:
Adore, good worshipper, the gods!
Oblation-bearer, sure, art thou.

11. Make offerings! do reverence!--
Him, Agni, while the cult proceeds,
For your oblation-bearer choose!

103:1 See further on, par. 22 seq.

103:2 Inasmuch as Agni, whilst coming to the sacrifice, goes away from the gods. Sây.

103:3 In the Taitt. S. II, 5, 7, 3-4 also vâga is in the first place rendered by 'food,' while afterwards it is identified with the months (i.e. the coursers? gamanasîla, Sây.); as abhidyavah (in the sense of 'shining in both directions,' i.e. in the form of the waxing and waning moon, Sây.) is referred to the half-moons.

104:1 To this important legend attention was first drawn by Professor Weber, Ind. Stud. I, 170 seq. (cf. also Ind. Streifen, I, p. 13; J. Muir, Sanskrit Texts, II, p. 402). It was pointed out by Weber that this legend distinguishes three successive stages of the eastward migration of the Brâhmanical Hindus. In the first place the settlements of the Âryans had already been extended from the Pañgab (where they were settled in the times of the hymns of the Rig-veda) as far as the Sarasvatî. They thence pushed forward, led by the Videgha Mâthava and his priest, according to our legend, as far east as the river Sadânîrâ (that is, 'she that is always filled with water'), which, according to Sâyana, is another name for the Karatoyâ (the modern Kurattee, on which Bograh lies), which formed the eastern boundary of the Videhas; or more probably the Gandakî (the modern Gunduck, a noble river which falls into the Ganges opposite Patna, and) which formed the boundary between the Kosalas and the Videhas (cf. par. 17). It would appear from our legend, that for some time the Aryans did not venture to cross this river; but at the time of the author the country to the east of it had long been occupied by them. Sâyana takes the hero of the legend to be Videgha, the Mâdhava or son of Madhu; but Videgha, an older form of Videha, is more probably intended here (as Weber takes it) for the name of that people and country (corresponding to the modern Tirhut). The Agni Vaisvânara (or Agni who is common to all men) of our legend Professor Weber considers a personification of Brâhmanical worship and civilisation and the destructive effects of their extension.

105:1 Or, according to Sâyana, he was then in the Sarasvatî, plunged into the river in order to quench the heat produced by Agni.

106:1 That is to say, it is not affected by the heat of the summer, as the other rivers, but rushes along as rapidly and as well-filled as ever.

106:2 Gigâti is taken by Sâyana in the sense of 'he sings, praises.' Our author, on the other hand, seems to interpret it by 'he conquers (gi);' see, however, next note.

106:3 The text has, 'Sa hi devân gigîshati sa hi devân gigâmsati.' The Kânva recension has the same reading, except that it omits 'hi' p. 107 in both cases. Instead of gigâmsati, however, some MSS., as well as Sâyana, read gighâmsati ('he wishes to conquer, or beat, the gods'), probably an old corruption, easily accounted for by the circumstance that gigishati is the regular desiderative of gi, 'to conquer,' though it also occurs in some passages as the desiderative of gâ, 'to go.' Sâyana, however, though he reads gighâmsati, here allows to the root han (with Naigh. 2, 14) the meaning of 'to go.' Cf. Weber, Omina and Portenta, p. 406, note 4.

107:1 Viz. by stretching the arms upwards. Sâyana.

107:2 That is, vi-itaye, 'for going asunder,' a fanciful analysis of the word vîti; the correct rendering is 'for the meal or food,' 'for the feast.'

107:3 Havyadâti, the correct meaning of the word is 'the giving of oblations.'

108:1 Rig-veda I, 31, 1, he is called the first of the Aṅgiras.

108:2 The fire which has just been kindled is frequently called the youngest (yavishtha). Sâyana takes it as 'the ever young.' See also the legend regarding the three Agnis who preceded the present Agni in the office of divine Hotri, I, 2, 3, 1; 3, 3, 13.

109:1 Vivâsasi, Sâyana explains it by prakâsaya, 'illuminate it;' but cf. Sâyana on Rig-veda VI, 16, asmân akkha abhigamaya, 'make it (dhanam) come to us.'

109:2 Suvîrya is taken by our author as an adjective, co-ordinate with the others; but it is evidently a noun ('abundance of heroes' or 'manliness, manly power,' St. Petersburg Dictionary) qualified by the adjectives.

109:3 Na is taken by our author as a particle of asseveration; though in reality it is a particle of comparison. In later Sanskrit na is only used as particle of negation.

110:1 Vrishan, 'the male, the vigorous one, the bull;' cf. Max Müller, Translation of Rig-veda Sanhitâ, I, p. 121 seq.

110:2 'On the top of Mount Meru lies the city of Amarâvatî, wherein the gods dwell; and beneath Meru lies Irâvatî, the city of the Asuras: between these two lies the earth.' Sâyana.

111:1 Cf. the corresponding passage in Taitt. S. II, 5, 11, 8, where Daivya is given as the name of the messenger of the Asuras.

111:2 That is to say, instead of 'Hotâram visvavedasam,' they recite 'Hotâ yo visvavedasah;' for the reason that Hotâram (accusative of hotri) might be understood to be 'hotâ aram,' aram, 'enough,' being a particle implying a prohibition. Our author, however, promptly sets his face against this application of human reasoning to an inspired text.

112:1 Whenever thirteen kindling verses are recited instead of eleven (or counting the repetitions of the first and last verses, seventeen instead of fifteen), the two verses Rig-veda III, 27, 5 and 6 are inserted according to our author after the ninth, and according to others before the eighth, sâmidhenî. They are called dhâyyâ, probably derived from dhâ, 'to put, add,' whilst those ritualists whose practice is here rejected apparently connect the word with the root dhâ (dhe), 'to suck.'

112:2 According to Sâyana, because it no longer occupies the eighth place for which it is specially appropriate on account of its being, according to our author, 'peculiarly a gâyatrî (eight-syllabled) verse.' This reasoning is far from satisfactory, since the two dhâyyâs (Rig-veda III, 27, 5 and 6) are also gâyatrî verses.

113:1 See I, 8, 2, 3.

114:1 Saumya adhvara is the common designation of the solemn Soma-sacrifice; hence, our author argues, the word adhvara is here used for sacrifice (yagña) with a view to insure to this offering the efficacy of a Soma-sacrifice.