Satapatha-Brâhmana, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF - 27.2 2018

Bharadwaja Rishi 
Company School, Patna, 19th c. 
British Museum Collection

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


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

First Adhyâya - First Brâhmana


After the morning's performance of the Agnihotra and the subsequent rising of the sun, the sacrificer chooses his Brahman, or superintending priest.

[In the first place he gets six seats ready, covered with sacrificial grass: two of these, to be used by the Brahman and sacrificer during the ceremony of election, are placed somewhere on the north side of the sacrificial ground; another south of the Ahavanîya fire, to serve for the Brahman's permanent seat (brahmasâdanam), and west of the latter (placed so as to be quite close to the altar to be constructed hereafter, cf. Kâty. Sr. I, 8, 28), the sacrificer's permanent seat; finally a seat north of each of the two fires, the Gârhapatya and the Âhavanîya, to be used by the Adhvaryu on certain occasions.

The sacrificer and future Brahman then having seated themselves on the two first-mentioned seats on the north side, the former with his face turned northward, and the latter looking toward east; the sacrificer, holding the wooden sword (sphya) in his left hand, touches the right knee of the Brahman with his right hand, in which he holds barley-corns and] chooses him for his Brahman with the formula: ['Thou, of such and such a family, N.N. Sarman! we are about to perform the Full-moon sacrifice,'] 'O Lord of the earth! Lord of the world! Lord of the great universe! we choose thee for our Brahman!' The chosen one then mutters (cf. Vâg. S. p. 57): 'I am the lord of the earth, I lord of the world, I lord of the great universe (mahâbhûta)! earth! ether! heaven! O God Savitri, thee they choose for their Brahman, their lord of prayer (Brihaspati)!' &c., 'Brihaspati is Brahman to the gods, I to the men!' He (or, according to some, the sacrificer) further says, 'O Lord of speech, protect the sacrifice!' after which he betakes himself to the Brahman's seat (south of the Âhavanîya), and whilst [standing north of it, with his face turned eastward and] looking on it, he mutters: 'Avaunt! unholy one (daidhishavya, lit. son of a re-married woman)! take thee away from here and seat thee on another's seat who is less exalted (pâkatara) than we!'

He takes one blade of grass from the seat and flings it towards south-west (the region of the Rakshas or evil spirits) with the formula: 'Expelled is sin with him whom we detest!' and then sits down with the formula 'Here I sit on the seat of Brihaspati, at the command of the divine Savitri! This I proclaim to the fire, this to the wind, this to the earth!' Here he remains seated, with his face towards the Âhavanîya fire, to watch the progress of the ceremony and give directions, whenever he is appealed to. When the full or new-moon sacrifice is performed for the first time, it should be preceded by the Anvârambhanîyâ offering, performed in much the same way as the Paurnamâsî, except that the oblations themselves consist of a rice cake on eleven potsherds for Agni and Vishnu, a potful of boiled (rice) grains (karu) for Sarasvati; and a rice cake on twelve potsherds for Sarasvat; the priest's fee on this occasion consisting of a cow four years old, or a pair of cattle, instead of the Anvâhârya mess. Kâty. Sr. IV, 5, 22-23.

1:1:1:1212. By way of his first act on the following morning he (the Adhvaryu priest) betakes himself to the water, and brings water forward [1]: for water is (one of the means of) sacrifice. Hence by this his first act he approaches (engages in) the sacrifice; and by bringing (water) forward, he spreads out (prepares) the sacrifice.

1:1:1:1313. He brings it forward with those mysterious words (Vâg. S. I, 6): 'Who (or Pragâpati) joins (or yokes) thee (to this fire) [1]? He joins thee. For what (or, for Pragâpati) does he join thee? For that (or him) he joins thee!' For Pragâpati is undefined [2] (mysterious); Pragâpati is the sacrifice: hence he thereby yokes (gets ready for the performance) Pragâpati, this sacrifice.

1:1:1:1414. The reason why he brings forward water is, that all this (universe) is pervaded by water [3]; hence by this his first act he pervades (or gains) all this (universe).

1:1:1:1515. And whatever here in this (sacrifice) the Hotri, or the Adhvaryu, or the Brahman, or the Âgnîdhra, or the sacrificer himself, does not succeed in accomplishing, all that is thereby obtained (or made good).

1:1:1:1616. Another reason why he brings forward water is this: whilst the gods were engaged in performing sacrifice, the Asuras and Rakshas forbade (raksh) them, saying, 'Ye shall not sacrifice!' and because they forbade (raksh), they are called Rakshas.

1:1:1:1717. The gods then perceived this thunderbolt, to wit, the water: the water is a thunderbolt, for the water is indeed a thunderbolt; hence wherever it goes, it produces a hollow (or depression of ground); and whatever it comes near, it destroys (lit. it burns up). Thereupon they took up that thunderbolt, and in its safe and foeless shelter they spread (performed) the sacrifice. And thus he (the Adhvaryu priest) likewise takes up this thunderbolt, and in its safe and foeless shelter spreads the sacrifice. This is the reason why he brings forward water.

1:1:1:1818. After pouring out some of it (into the jug) he puts it down north of the Gârhapatya fire. For water (ap) is female and fire (agni) is male; and the Gârhapatya is a house: hence a copulation productive of offspring is thereby effected in this house. Now he who brings forward the water, takes up a thunderbolt; but when he takes up the thunderbolt, he cannot do so unless he is firmly placed; for otherwise it destroys him.

1:1:1:1919. The reason then why he places it near the Gârhapatya fire is, that the Gârhapatya is a house, and a house is a safe resting-place; so that he thereby stands firmly in a house, and therefore in a safe resting-place: in this way that thunderbolt does not destroy him,--for this reason he places it near the Gârhapatya fire.

1:1:1:2020. He then carries it north of the Âhavanîya fire [1]. For water is female and fire is male: hencea copulation productive of offspring is thereby effected. And in this way alone a regular copulation can take place, since the woman lies on the left (or north) side of the man.

1:1:1:2121. Let nobody pass between the water (and the fire), lest by passing between them he should disturb the copulation which is taking place. Let him set the water down without carrying it beyond (the north side of the fire, i.e. not on the eastern side); nor should he put it down before reaching (the north side, i.e. not on the western side). For, if he were to put the water down after carrying it beyond,--there being, as it were, a great rivalry between fire and water,--he would cause this rivalry to break forth on the part of the fire; and when they (the priests and the sacrificer) touch the water of this (vessel), he would, by carrying it and setting it down beyond (the northern side), cause the enemy to rise (spirt) in the fire. If, on the other hand, he were to put it down before gaining (the northern side), he would not gain by it the fulfilment of the wish for which it has been brought forward. Let him therefore put it down exactly north of the Âhavanîya fire.

1:1:1:2222. He now strews sacrificial grass all round (the fires) [1], and fetches the utensils, taking two at a time, viz. the winnowing basket and the Agnihotra ladle, the wooden sword and the potsherds, the wedge and the black antelope skin, the mortar and the pestle, the large and the small mill-stones. These are ten in number; for of ten syllables consists the Virâg(metre), and radiant (virâg) [1] also is the sacrifice: so that he thereby makes the sacrifice resemble the Virâg. The reason why he takes two at a time is, because a pair means strength; for when two undertake anything, there is strength in it. Moreover, a pair represents a productive copulation, so that a productive copulation (of those respective objects) is thereby effected.


2:1 The statements enclosed in brackets [ ] are drawn from the comments and Paddhati on Kâtyâyana's Srauta-sûtra.

2:2 I.e. 'he dips his hand into water contained in a vessel,' Schol. Kâty. Sr. S. I, 10, 14. According to the general rule there given, the same purificatory act has to be repeated whenever, in the course of ceremonial performances, a sacrificial formula or prayer has been used, which is addressed to, or directed against, Rudra, the Rakshas and Asuras, and the Manes; or one directed against some specified enemy of the sacrificer with the view of exorcising or averting the evil influences with which the latter is supposed to be threatened from that quarter; or lastly, when a touching of one's self has taken place, either accidentally or as part of the ceremonial.

3:1 'Stepping between the Gârhapatya and Dakshina fires (aparâgnî), and standing west of the Âhavanîya, with his face turned eastward and looking at the fire.' Kâty. Sr. S. II, 1, 11.

4:1 I.e. 'he obtains a divine body (devatâsarîram),' Mahîdh.; man's existence is untruth on account of its perishableness,' id.

4:2 The discussion which here follows refers to the evening meal which the sacrificer is allowed to take after he has performed the Agnihotra. Cf. Kâty. Sr. S. II, 1, 13.

5:1 The primary meaning of upa-vas probably is 'to dwell or abide near (? the gods or fires);' its secondary and technical meaning being 'to fast,' whence upavasatha, 'a fasting or fast-day,' literally 'the abiding near (? or honouring, the gods or fires).' Cf. III, 9, 2, 7. The term is more usually applied to the preliminary fast-day of the Soma-sacrifice; but the latter being considered the most solemn and efficacious of sacrificial rites, a strong tendency prevails to establish some kind of connection between it and the other ceremonies. Cf. Kâty. Sr. S. IV, 15, 36.

6:1 A shake-down of grass (âstaranam,? a blanket) is not forbidden. Paddh. on Kâty. Sr. II, 1.

7:1 He, in the first place, pours water into a jug [usually made of varana wood (Cratæva Roxburghii), four-cornered, about a span or twelve fingers' breadths deep and four fingers' breadths square, and furnished with a handle], puts it down north of the Gârhapatya fire, and touches it with the formula: 'I, the existent, will operate with thee (?tvâ karishyâmi), O existent one!' He then addresses himself to the Brahman: 'O Brahman! shall I bring the water forward?' and to the patron or sacrificer: 'Sacrificer, restrain thy speech!' The Brahman,---after muttering the mantra (as he does, with certain modifications, on similar occasions when his permission is asked in the course of the performance): 'Lead on the sacrifice! gladden the deities! May the sacrificer be on the vault of heaven! Where the world of the seven pious Rishis is, thither do thou lead this sacrifice and sacrificer!'--replies aloud: 'Hail (õm)! bring forward!'

8:1 'Ka (i.e. who? or Pragâpati) joins thee (i.e. places thee, O water, by the side of the Âhavanîya fire)? (I) . . Kasmai (i.e. for what purpose? or, for whom? or, for Pragâpati) does he join thee? (!)' Mahîdh. Dark is the meaning of these words because of the ambiguity of ka, the interrogative pronoun, which speculative theology also takes for a mystic name of Pragâpati. Cf. XI, 5, 4, seq.; Max Müller, History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 433.

8:2 Cf. also I, 6, 1, 20, where Sâyana says that Pragâpati is anirukta, because he represents all deities.

8:3 A play on the word âpah (ap), 'water,' and the root âp, 'to obtain, to pervade.'

9:1 After the water has been brought forward by the Adhvaryu from the house of the Gârhapatya fire, its technical name is Pranîtâh, 'brought forward.' On putting it down north of the Âhavanîya, he covers the jug over with sacrificial grass.

10:1 Kâty. Sr. II, 3, 6: 'Having strewn sacrificial grass around the fires, beginning on the east side,' which the Comm. interprets: 'He strews eastward and northward-pointed grass around first the Âhavanîya, then the Gârhapatya, and last the Dakshinâgni, beginning each time on the eastern side, and then moving around from left to right, and turning his right side towards the fire, so as to end on the north side' (cf. Kâty. IV, 13, 15). The Paddhati, on the other hand, following Âpastamba, interprets it to the effect that on the eastern and western sides he strews the grass with its tops turned northward, and on the southern and northern sides with the tops turned eastward.