Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 63

BY: SUN STAFF - 29.6 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 – First Brâhmana, Part One

The Agny-âdhâna (or Agny-âdheya), or ceremony of establishing a set of sacrificial fires, on the part of a young householder, is, as a rule, performed on the first day of the waxing moon. Some authorities also allow the performance to take place at full moon, probably in order to enable the newly-married couple to enter on their sacred duties with as little delay as possible.

Moreover, special benefits are supposed to accrue to the performer of the ceremony from the conjunction of the new moon with certain lunar asterisms; though the author of our work, at any rate, does not seem greatly to encourage this practice, but rather to urge the pious householder to set up fires of his own, whenever he feels a longing for the sacrifice.

The normal performance of the Agnyâdhâna, as that of the full and new-moon offerings, requires two days; the first of which is taken up with preliminary rites, while the second--that is, the first day of the respective half-moon--is devoted to the chief ceremonies, beginning with the production of the sacred fire by friction. (See II, 1, 4, 8 seq.)

After the sacrificer has chosen his four officiating priests--viz. the Brahman, Hotri, Adhvaryu, and Âgnîdhra (or Agnîdh)--he proceeds, together with them, to erect the two sheds or 'firehouses.' In order to determine their exact sites, the Adhvaryu first draws from west to east the so-called 'easterly' line (cf. I, 2, 5, 14), and on it marks, at 8, 11, or 12 prakramas or steps from each other, the centres of the Gârhapatya and Âhavanîya fire-places, the outlines of which he then traces, making each a square aratni or cubit in area, the former circular, the latter square.

The Dakshinâgni or Anvâhârya-pakana, if it is required at all, is of the same area, but of semicircular form, and lies south of the space between the altar and the Gârhapatya fire. The Gârhapatya fire-house is constructed with its laths running either from west to east, or from south to north, and a door on the south side; and so as to enclose both the Gârhapatya and Dakshina fires. The Âhavanîya fire-house, on the other hand, with its laths necessarily running from west to east, and an entrance from the east, contains the Âhavanîya fire and the altar (vedi) adjoining it on the west, and partly enclosing it with its 'shoulders' on the north and south sides. The two houses are also open to each other on the inner side; and sufficient space is left on all sides for freely moving around the fires.

The Adhvaryu then procures a temporary fire,--either producing it by friction, or obtaining it from certain specified sources in the village,--and after the usual fivefold lustration of the Gârhapatya fire-place (cf. p. 2), he lays down the fire thereon. Towards sunset the sacrificer [while seated east of the Âhavanîya house] invokes the gods and manes with 'Gods, fathers! fathers, gods! I sacrifice, being who I am; neither will I exclude him whose I am: mine own shall be the offering, mine own the toiling, mine own the sacrifice!' He then enters the Âhavanîya house from the east, passes through it to the Gârhapatya, and sits down behind (west of) the fire; his wife at the same time entering the Gârhapatya house from the south and seating herself south of him,--both facing the east.

Thereupon the Adhvaryu hands to the sacrificer two pieces of wood (arani),--if possible, of asvattha, grown out of a samî tree,--to be used next morning for the production (or 'churning') of the sacred fire by one of them (the upper arani) being rapidly drilled in a hole in the other (or lower arani). [The sacrificer and his wife then lay the upper and lower sticks respectively on their laps; whereupon certain propitiatory ceremonies are performed by them, and honours are paid to the priests and the sticks; and the latter are finally deposited on a seat.] In the house of the Gârhapatya a he-goat may then be tied up for the night, which, if it belong to the sacrificer, is to be presented by him to the Âgnîdhra on the completion of the sacrifice.

After sunset the Adhvaryu measures out four vessels of husked rice grains--each containing three handfuls, which quantity is considered sufficient to furnish a meal for one man--on an ox-hide died red [and spread out with the hairy side upwards and the neck-part to the east]. With this rice the (odana) kâtushprâsya, or '(pap) to be eaten by the four (priests),' is prepared on the provisional Gârhapatya fire. When it is ready, the Adhvaryu makes a hollow in the pap and pours clarified butter into it. He then takes three kindling-sticks (samidh), anoints them with some of that ghee, and puts them on the fire one after another, with texts (cf. note on II, 1, 4, 5). Thereupon the sacrificer [having paid due honours to the priests by washing their feet and giving them perfumes and wreaths, &c., and assigned to each his share] bids them eat: