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Satapatha Brahmana – First Kandha – Seventh Adhyaya

Second Brâhmana

The chief offerings
1Verily, whoever exists, he, in being born, is born as (owing) a debt to the gods, to the Rishis, to the fathers, and to men[1].
2For, inasmuch as he is bound to sacrifice, for that reason he is born as (owing) a debt to the gods: hence when he sacrifices to them, when he makes offerings to them, he does this (in discharge of his debt) to them.
3And further, inasmuch as he is bound to study (the Veda), for that reason he is born as (owing) a debt to the Rishis: hence it is to them that he does this; for one who has studied (the Veda) they call ‘the Rishis’ treasure-warden.’
4And further, inasmuch as he is bound to wish for offspring, for that reason he is born as (owing) a debt to the fathers: hence when there is (provided by him) a continued, uninterrupted lineage, it is for them that he does this.
5And further, inasmuch as he is bound to practise hospitality, for that reason he is born as (owing) a debt to men: hence when he harbours them, when he offers food to them, it is (in discharge of his debt) to them that he does so. Whoever does all these things, has discharged his duties: by him all is obtained, all is conquered.
6And, accordingly, in that he is born as (owing) a debt to the gods, in regard to that he satisfies (ava-day) them by sacrificing; and when he makes offerings in the fire, he thereby satisfies them in regard to that (debt): hence whatever they offer up in the fire, is called avadânam (sacrificial portion)[2].
7Now this (oblation) consists of four cuttings; (the reason for this is, that) there is here first, the invitatory prayer (anuvâkyâ), then the offering-prayer (yâgyâ), then the vashat-call, and as the fourth, the deity for which the sacrificial food is (destined): for in this way the deities are dependent on the sacrificial portions, or the portions are dependent on the deities: hence what fifth cutting there is (made by some), that is redundant, for whom is he to cut it? For this reason it consists of four cuttings.
8But a fivefold cutting also takes place (with some people): fivefold is the sacrifice, fivefold the animal victim, and five seasons there are in the year, such is the perfection of the fivefold cutting; and he, assuredly, will have abundant offspring and cattle for whom, knowing this, the fivefold cutting is made. The fourfold cutting, however, is the approved (practice) among the Kuru-Pañkâlas, and for this reason a fourfold cutting takes place (with us[3]).
9Let him cut off only a moderate quantity; for were he to cut off a large quantity, he would make it human; and what is human is inauspicious at the sacrifice. Let him therefore cut off only a moderate quantity, lest he should do what is inauspicious at the sacrifice.
10Having made an under-layer of butter (in the guhû-spoon) and cut off twice from the havis, he then pours over it some butter. There are, indeed, two (kinds of) oblations; the oblation of Soma being one, and the oblation of (or rather, with) butter being the other. Now the one, viz. the Soma-oblation, is (an oblation) by itself; and the other, viz. the butter-oblation, is the same as the offering of havis (rice, milk, &c.) and the animal offering[4]; hence he thereby makes it (the cake) butter, and therefore butter is on both sides of it. Butter, doubtless, is palatable to the gods; hence he thereby renders it palatable to the gods: for this reason butter is on both sides of it.
11The invitatory prayer (anuvâkyâ, f.), doubtless, is yonder (sky), and the offering-prayer (yâgyâ, f.) is this (earth) these two are females. With each of these two the vashat-call (vashatkâra, m.) makes up a pair[5]. Now the vashat, indeed, is no other than that scorching one (the sun). When he rises he approaches yonder (sky); and when he sets he approaches this (earth): hence whatever is brought forth here by these two, that they bring forth through that male.
12Having recited the invitatory prayer and pronounced the offering-prayer[6], he afterwards (paskât) utters the vashat formula; for from behind (paskât) the male approaches the female: hence, after placing those two in front, he causes them to be approached by that male, the vashat. For the same reason let him make the offering either simultaneously with the vashat or (immediately) after the vashat has been pronounced.
13A vessel of the gods, doubtless, is that vashat. Even as, after ladling, one would mete out (food) into a vessel, so here. If, on the other hand, he were to make the offering before the vashat, it would be lost, as would be that (food) falling to the ground: for this reason also let him make the offering either simultaneously with the vashat or after it has been pronounced.
14As seed is poured into the womb, so here. If, on the other hand, he were to make the offering before the vashat, it would be lost, as would be the seed poured not into the womb: for this reason also let him make the offering either simultaneously with the vashat or after it has been pronounced.
15The invitatory formula, doubtless, is yonder (sky), and the offering-formula is this (earth). The gâyatrî metre also is this (earth), and the trishtubh is yonder (sky)[7] He recites the gâyatrî verse, thereby reciting yonder (sky), for the invitatory formula (anuvâkyâ) is yonder (sky). He recites this (earth), for the gâyatrî verse (viz. the offering-formula) is this (earth).
16He then presents the offering with a trishtubh verse[8], thereby presenting it by means of this (earth), for the offering-formula (yâgyâ) is this (earth). Over yonder (sky) he places the vashat, for yonder (sky) also is the trishtubh. Thereby he makes those two (sky and earth) yoke-fellows; and as such they feed together; and after their common meal all these creatures get food[9].
17Let him pronounce the invitatory formula lingering, as it were: the invitatory formula, namely, is yonder (sky), and the brihat(-sâman) also is yonder (sky), since its form is that of the brihat. With the offering-formula let him, as it were, hurry on fast: the offering-formula, doubtless, is this (earth), and the rathantara(-sâman) also is this (earth), since its form is that of the rathantara[10]. With the invitatory formula he calls (the gods), and with the offering-formula he presents (food to them): hence the invitatory formula (anuvâkyâ) has some such form as ‘I call,’ ‘We call,’ ‘Come hither!’ ‘Sit on the barhis!’ for with it he calls. With the offering-formula (yâgyâ) he offers: hence the offering-formula has some such form as, ‘Accept the sacrificial food!’ ‘Relish the sacrificial food!’ ‘Accept the potation (âvrishâyasva)!’ ‘Eat! Drink! There[11]!’ for by it he offers that which (is indicated by) ‘there!’
18Let the invitatory formula be one that has its distinctive indication (in the form of the name of the respective deity) at the beginning (in front): for the invitatory formula is yonder (sky); and that (sky) yonder has the moon, the stars, and the sun for its mark below[12].
19The offering-formula then should be one that has its characteristic indication (further) back[13]; for the offering-formula is this (earth), and this same (earth) has plants, trees, waters, fire, and these creatures for its mark above.
20Verily, that invitatory formula alone is auspicious, in the first word of which he utters the (name of the) deity; and that offering-formula alone is auspicious in the last word of which he pronounces the vashat upon the deity[14]; for the (name of the) deity constitutes the vigour of the Rik (verse): hence after thus enclosing it[15] on both sides with vigour, he offers the sacrificial food to that deity for which it is intended.
21He pronounces (the syllable) vauk[16]; for, assuredly, the vashat-call is speech; and speech means seed: hence he thereby casts seed. ‘Shat’ (he pronounces), because there are six seasons: he thereby casts that seed into the seasons, and the seasons cause that seed so cast to spring up here as creatures. This is the reason why he pronounces the vashat.
22Now the gods and the Asuras, both of them sprung from Pragâpati, entered upon their father Pragâpati’s inheritance[17], to wit, these two half-moons. The gods entered upon the one which waxes, and the Asuras on the one which wanes.
23The gods were desirous as to how they might appropriate also the one that had fallen to the Asuras. They went on worshipping and toiling. They saw this haviryagña, to wit, the new- and full-moon sacrifices, and performed them; and by performing them they likewise appropriated the one
24Which belonged to the Asuras. Now when these two revolve, then the month is produced; and month (revolving) after month, the year (is produced). But the year, doubtless, means all; hence the gods thereby appropriated all that belonged to the Asuras, they deprived their enemies, the Asuras, of all. And in the same way he (the sacrificer) who knows this appropriates all that belongs to his enemies, deprives his enemies of all.
25That (half-moon) which belonged to the gods is (called) yavan, for the gods possessed themselves (yu, ‘to join’) of it; and that which belonged to the Asuras is ayavan, because the Asuras did not possess themselves of it.
26But they also say contrariwise: That which belonged to the gods is (called) ayavan, because the Asuras did not get possession of it; and that which belonged to the Asuras is yavan, because the gods did get possession of it. The day is (called) sabda, the night sagarâ, the months yavya, the year sumeka[18]: sveka (‘eminently one’), doubtless, is the same as sumeka. And since the Hotri is concerned with these to wit, the yavan and the ayavan, which (according to some) is yavan they call (his office) yâvihotram[19].


[1] The wording of this passage is very ambiguous; so much so indeed, that it could also be taken in the sense that ‘whoever exists, is born as (one to whom) a debt (is owed) from the gods,’ &c.; cf. I, 1, 2, 19: ‘Whichever deities are chosen (for the oblations), they consider it as a debt (clue from them), that they are bound to fulfil whatever wish he entertains while taking the oblation.’ But see Taitt. Br. VI, 3, 10, 5: ‘Verily, a Brâhmana who is born, is born as owing a debt in respect to three things: in the shape of sacred study (brahmakarya) to the Rishis, in the shape of sacrifice to the gods, and in the shape of offspring to the fathers. Free from debt, verily, is he who has a son, who is a sacrificer, who lives (for a time with a guru) as a religious student.’ Ath.-veda VI, 117, 3 (Taitt. Br. III, 7, 9, 8): ‘May we be debtless in this, debtless in the other, debtless in the third, world! What worlds (paths, Taitt. Br.) there are trodden by the gods and trodden by the fathers, may we abide debtless on all (those) paths!’
[2] The word is really derived from ava-dâ (do), ‘to cut off.’ The Taitt. Br. gives the same fanciful etymological explanation of the term as here.
[3] The four ‘cuttings’ of which each oblation of rice-cake consists are made in the following way: first, some clarified butter, ‘cut out’ or drawn from the butter in the dhruvâ-spoon by means of the sruva (dipping-spoon) and poured into the guhû (this is called the upastarana or under-layer of butter); second and third, two pieces of the size of a thumb’s joint, cut out from the centre and the fore-part of the rice-cake and laid on that butter; and fourth, some clarified butter poured on these pieces of cake (the technical name of this basting of butter being abhighârana). The family of the Gamadagnis, which is mentioned as always making five cuttings (Kâty. I, 9, 3-4), take three pieces of cake instead of two, viz. an additional one from the back (or west) part of the cake. Yâgñika Deva on Kâty. quotes a couplet from some Smriti, in which the Vatsas, the Vidas, and the Ârshtishenas are mentioned beside the Gamadagnis, as pañkâvattinah or making five cuttings. At the Upâmsuyâga (low-voiced offering), which is performed between the cake-oblation to Agni and that to Agni-Soma at the full moon, and between the cake-oblation to Agni and that to Indra-Agni (or the sânnâyya, or oblation of sweet and sour milk, to Indra) at the new moon, and which consists entirely of butter, the four cuttings are effected in the same way as described p. 193 page 174 note. At the sânnâyya, two (or three) sruva-fuls of both the sweet and the sour milk take the place of the two (or three) pieces of cake.
[4] See page 26, note 1. The parts of the cakes or the sânnâyya, from which cuttings have been made, he bastes, each once, with butter taken with the sruva from the butter-pot; and whenever butter is ladled with the sruva from the dhruvâ into the guhû, the former is replenished from the butter-pot.
[5] Tayor mithunam asti vashatkâra eva, ‘to these two the vashat-call is the complement in forming a pair.’ On the vashat (vaushat) and the other two formulas, see note on I, 5, 2, 16.
[6] The usual formalities, which have been detailed before (see page 174 note), have, of course, to be gone through at each oblation.
[7] In this passage the invitatory formula (anuvâkyâ or puro’nuvâkyâ), which is in the gâyatrî metre, is identified with the sky, and the offering-formula (yâgyâ), which is in the trishtubh metre, with the earth. On the other hand, the gâyatrî also is the earth (cf. I, 4, I, 34), and the trishtubh the sky; so that, according to this mode of reasoning, there is not only an intimate connection between the two metres, but actual identity. The gâyatrî verse, used as invitatory formula, on the occasion of the rice-cake offering to Agni, is Rig-veda VIII, 4.4, 16 [agnir mûrdhâ divah kakut, ‘Agni, the head and summit of the sky,’ &c.]; with that to Agni and Soma, at the full-moon sacrifice, Rig-veda I, 93, 3 [agnîshomau savedasau, sahûtî vanatam girah, ‘O Agni and Soma, of self-same wealth and invocation, accept this song!’ &c.]; and to Indra and Agni, at the new moon, Rig-veda VII, 94, 7 [indrâgnî avasâ gatam, ‘O Indra and Agni, come to us with favour I’ &c.] or with the (optional) milk-offering (sânnâyyam), at the new moon, Rig-veda I, 8, 1 [endra sânasim rayim, hither, O Indra, bring abundant treasure!!’ &c.], if to Indra; or Rig-veda VIII, 6, 1 [mahâṅ indro ya ogasâ parganyo vrishtimâṅ iva, ‘the Great Indra, who in might is equal to the rainy thunder-cloud,’ &c.], if to Mahendra.
[8] The trishtubh verse, used as offering-formula with the oblation of cake to Agni, both at the new and full moon, is Rig-veda X, 8, 6 [bhuvo yagñasya ragasas ka netâ . . . agne . . ., ‘be thou the leader of the sacrifice and welkin, . . . O Agni!’ &c.]; with that to Agni and Soma, at the full moon, Rig-veda I, 93, 5 [yuvam etâni divi rokanâni . . . agnîshomau . . ., ‘you, O Agni and Soma, (fixed) those lights in the heaven,’ &c.]; with that to Indra and Agni, at the new moon, Rig-veda VII, 93 4 [gîrbhir viprah pramatim ikkhamâna, .. indrâgnî . . ., ‘the bard, seeking your grace by songs . . ., O Indra and Agni,’ &c.]; and with the milk-offering, at the same sacrifice, if to Indra, Rig-veda X, 180, 1 [pra sasâhishe puruhûta satrûn . . . indrâ . . ., thou, O Indra, the much-invoked, hast vanquished the enemies!’ &c.]; or, if to Mahendra, Rig-veda X, 50, 4 [bhuvas p. 196 tvam indra brahmanâ mahân, ‘mighty, O Indra, mayest thou be through (our) prayer!’ &c.].
[9] For the notion that there is rain (and consequently food) when heaven and earth are on friendly terms with each other, see I, 8, 3, 12. The rain is the food of the earth; and the food, produced thereby, in its turn furnishes food for the sky (or the gods) in the form of oblations.
[10] The brihat-sâman (tvam id dhi havâmahe, ‘on thee, indeed, we call,’ &c., Sâma-veda II, 159-160 = Rig-veda VI, 46, 1-2) and the rathantara-sâman (abhi tvâ sûra nonumah, ‘to thee, O Hero, we call,’ &c., Sâma-veda II, 30-31 = Rig-veda VII, 32, 22-23) are two of the most highly prized Sâma-hymns, which are especially used in forming the so-called prishthas, or combinations of two hymns in such a way that one of them (being a mystic representation of the embryo) is enclosed in the other, which is supposed to represent the womb. In these symbolical combinations the brihat and rathantara, which must never be used together, are often employed as the enclosing chants, representative of the womb. They are already mentioned in Rig-veda X, 181. See also Sat. Br. IX, 1, 2, 36-37. Taitt. S. VII, 1, I, 4, Pragâpati is said to have first created from his mouth Agni together with the Gâyatrî, the Rathantara-sâman, the Brâhmana, and the goat; and then from his chest and arms Indra, the Trishtubh, the Brihat-sâman, the Râganya, and the ram.
[11] Literally, ‘forwards, thither (pra).’
[12] Avastâllakshma, ‘the sign below or on this (the, to us, nearest or front) side.’ See the formulas above, p. 195, note 1.
[13] Or upwards, on the upper side, uparishtâllakshanam. See the offering-formulas above, p. 195, note 2.
[14] Vashat, or rather vâushat [‘may he (Agni) carry it (to the gods)!’], is pronounced after each yâgyâ or offering-formula, which contains the name of the deity towards the end, or at least not at the very beginning.
[15] Viz. the invitatory and offering-formulas.
[16] The sacrificial call vaushat (for vashat, irregular aorist of vah, ‘to bear,’ cf. p. 88, note 2) is here fancifully explained as composed of vauk, for vâk, ‘speech,’ + shat, ‘six.’
[17] Pragâpati, or Lord of Creatures, is here, as often (cf. I, 2, 5, 13), taken as representing the year, or Time.
[18] Sumeka is taken by the St. Petersburg Dictionary to mean ‘firmly established;’ by Grassmann, ‘bountiful,’ literally ‘well-showering.’ Our author identifies it with su-eka. The words sabdam (sabdam, Kânva rec., ? = the sounding one) and sagarâ are obscure; yavya here apparently means, ‘consisting of the yavas or half-months.’
[19] The term yâvihotram is obscure, and does not seem to occur anywhere else. The Kânva MS. reads yâmihotram (? = gâmihotram). Sâyana’s comment is corrupt in several places and affords little help.

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