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Satapatha Brahmana – Third Kandha – Eighth Adhyaya

Satapatha Brahmana

Third Kânda – Eighth Adhyâya

First Brâhmana

C. The oblations.

1Thereupon the Hotri, having sat down on the Hotri’s seat whereon he sits down after being chosen[1], urges, and thus urged the Adhvaryu takes the two spoons.
2They then proceed with the Âprî (verses). The reason why they proceed with the Âprîs is this. With his whole mind, with his whole self, forsooth, he who consecrates himself prepares and endeavours to prepare the sacrifice. His self is, as it were, emptied out; with those Âprîs they fill it again; and because they fill[2] it therewith, therefore they are called Âprî. For this reason they proceed with the Âprîs.
3Now there are here eleven fore-offerings; for here in man there are ten vital airs, and the eleventh is the self wherein those vital airs are contained; this is the whole man; thus they fill his whole self, and therefore there are eleven fore-offerings.
4[The Adhvaryu] having called (on the Âgnîdhra) for the Sraushat, he says (to the Maitrâvaruna), ‘Prompt (the Hotri to recite to) the kindling-sticks[3]!’ Thus he proceeds with ten fore-offerings, saying, ‘Prompt…’ at each, and pouring the ghee together at every fourth fore-offering[4]. Having performed ten fore-offerings, he says, ‘Bring the slayer!’ ‘Slayer,’ namely, the (butcher’s) knife is called.
5He then takes the (svaru) chip of the sacrificial stake, and having anointed both (the slaughtering-knife and the chip) at the top (with ghee) from the guhû-spoon, he touches the forehead of the victim with them, saying (Vâg. S. VI, 11), ‘Anointed with ghee, protect ye the animals!’ for the chip of the stake is a thunderbolt, and the slaughtering-knife is a thunderbolt, and ghee is a thunderbolt; having thus fitted together the entire thunderbolt[5] he appoints it the keeper of this (victim), lest the evil spirits should injure it. He again conceals the chip of the stake (under the girding-rope of the stake). In handing the slaughtering-knife to the butcher, he says, ‘Be this thine approved edge!’ and deposits the two spoons.
6Thereupon he says (to the Hotri), ‘Recite to Agni circumambient[6]!’ Having taken a firebrand, the Agnîdh carries the fire round (the victim). Why he carries the fire round, is that he encircles it (the victim) by means of the fire with an unbroken fence, lest the evil spirits should seize upon it; for Agni is the repeller of the Rakshas; therefore he carries the fire round. He carries it round the place where they cook it (the victim[7]).
7As to this they say, ‘Let him take back that firebrand (to the Âhavanîya); and having there (at the Sâmitra) churned out a new fire, let them cook it (the victim) thereon. For this (firebrand), surely, is âhavanîya (fit to offer upon); it is not for the purpose that they should cook uncooked (food) thereon, but for this that they should sacrifice cooked (food) thereon.’
8Let him, however, not do this. For in that he carries fire round it, it (the victim) becomes as food swallowed by that (firebrand), and it would be as if he were to seize and tear out food that has been swallowed and offer it to some one else; let them, therefore, crumble some coals off that same firebrand, and thereon cook that (victim).
9Thereupon the Agnîdh, taking a (new) firebrand, walks in front: whereby he places Agni in front, thinking, ‘Agni shall repel the evil spirits in front!’ and they lead the victim after him (to the slaughtering-place) on a (way) free from danger and injury. The Pratiprasthâtri holds on to it from behind by means of the two spits[8], and the Adhvaryu (holds on to) the Pratiprasthâtri, and the Sacrificer to the Adhvaryu.
10As to this they say, ‘That (victim) must not be held on to by the sacrificer, for they lead it unto death; therefore let him not hold on to it.’ But let him nevertheless hold on to it; for that (victim) which they lead to the sacrifice they lead not to death; therefore let him hold on to it. Moreover he would cut himself off from the sacrifice, were he not to hold on to it; therefore let him hold on to it. It is held on to in a mysterious way; by means of the spits the Pratiprasthâtri (holds on to it); to the Pratiprasthâtri the Adhvaryu, to the Adhvaryu the Sacrificer; thus then it is held on to in a mysterious way.
11Thereupon the Adhvaryu takes two stalks of grass from the covered altar, and having called for the Sraushat, he says (to the Maitrâvaruna), ‘O Hotri, prompt again (the Hotri to recite for) the offerings to the gods[9]!’ This is what belongs to the All-gods at the animal offering.
12He then makes (the Sacrificer) say the text (Vâg. S. VI, 11), ‘O thou prosperous! upon the Sacrificer,’ the prosperous one, forsooth, is Speech, it is because she speaks much, that Speech is prosperous, ’bestow thou what is agreeable unto him! Approach thou,’ thereby he means to say, ‘Approach thou an existence free from affliction,’ ’from the wide air, along with the divine wind;’ for the Rakshas moves about the air rootless and unfettered on both sides, even as man here moves about the air rootless and unfettered on both sides: he means to say, ‘Meeting together with the wind, protect thou this one from the wide air,’ when he says ‘from the wide air, along with the divine wind.’
13‘Offer thou with the self of this oblation!’ whereby he means to say to Speech, ‘Offer thou with the soul of this unblemished oblation;’ ’Unite thou with its body!’ whereby he means to say to Speech, ‘Unite thou with the body of this unblemished oblation!’
14In front[10] of the place where they cut it up, he throws down a stalk of grass, with, ‘O great one, lead the lord of sacrifice unto greater sacrifice!’ he thus strews barhis (an underlayer of sacrificial grass) for it, that no sacrificial food may be spilt; whatever may now be spilt of it when it is cut up, that settles thereon and thus is not lost.
15They then step back (to the altar) and sit down turning towards the Âhavanîya, ‘lest they should be eye-witnesses to its being quieted (strangled).’ They do not slay it on the frontal bone[11], for that is human manner; nor behind the ear, for that is after the manner of the Fathers. They either choke it by merely keeping its mouth closed, or they make a noose. Therefore he says not, ‘Slay! kill!’ for that is human manner, but, ‘Quiet it! It has passed away!’ for that is after the manner of the gods. For when he says, ‘It has passed away,’ then this one (the Sacrificer) passes away to the gods: therefore he says, ‘It has passed away.’
16When they hold it down, then, before the strangling, he offers with ‘Hail, to the gods!’ And when (the butcher) says, ‘Quieted is the victim,’ he offers with, ‘To the gods, Hail!’ Thus some of the gods are preceded by ‘Hail,’ and others followed by ‘Hail;’ he thereby gratifies them, and thus gratified both kinds of gods convey him to the heavenly world. These are the so-called ‘paripasavya[12]’ oblations; he may offer them if he choose; or, if he choose, he need not mind them.


[1] Viz. at the north-west corner (or left hip) of the altar. For the formulas used by him, see I, 5, 1, 24-2, 1.
[2] The text has only ‘âpyâyayanti,’ but the verb with which the author connects the verb ‘âprî’ is either â-prinâti, he fills; or (more correctly) ‘â-prînâti,’ he gratifies, propitiates, corresponding to the Zand âfrînaiti. Perhaps some words have been lost here. The Kânva text has: sa yad etâbhir âprîbhih punar âpyâyata etâbhir enam âprinâti tasmâd âpriyo nâma. On the Âprî verses, which form the offering-prayers (yâgyâs) at the fore-offerings of the animal sacrifice, and vary according to different families, see Ait. Br. II, 4; Max Müller, Hist. of A. S. L., p. 463 seq.; Haug, Essays, p. 24r.
[3] See I, 5, 3, 8. The Adhvaryu calls out to the Agnîdh, ‘O srâvaya (make listen)!’ The Agnîdh calls out, ‘Astu sraushat (yea, may one hear)!’ The Adhvaryu calls on the Maitrâvaruna, ‘Preshya samidhah (prompt as to the kindling-sticks)!’ [or, ‘Preshya Tanûnapâtam or Narâsamsam’ &c. in the succeeding fore-offerings.] The Maitrâvaruna calls out, ‘Hotâ yakshat samidham [Tanûnapâtam, &c.], (let the Hotri pronounce the offering-prayer to the kindling-sticks, &c,!)’ Each offering-prayer (Âprî) is introduced with the formula ‘Ye yagâmahe, &c.’ See part i, p.148 note. The divine objects of these oblations of ghee are: 1. the Samidhs or kindling-sticks; 2. either Tanûnapât or Narâsamsa; 3. the Idas; 4. the Barhis (sacrificial grass on the altar); 5. the gates (of heaven and worshipping ground); 6. Dawn and Night; 7. the two divine Hotris; 8. the three goddesses (Sarasvatî, Idâ, and Bhâratî); 9. Tvashtri; 10. Vanaspati (the tree, or lord of the forest); 11. the Svâhâkritis (calls of ‘All-hail,’ which at this, the last offering-prayer, are repeated before the names of the principal deities of the sacrifice). For this last fore-offering, see III, 8, 2, 23 seq.
[4] See I, 5, 3, 16.
[5] For the three parts of the thunderbolt, see p. 108, note 2.
[6] The Hotri recites the triplet, Rig-veda IV, 15, 1-3.
[7] Sâyana seems to take ‘abhipariharati’ in the sense of ‘he takes it round to the place where they cook.’ According to Kâty. VI, 5, 2, 3, the Agnîdh circumambulates thrice from left to right, either the place comprising the victim, the ghee, the slaughtering-place, the sacrificial post, the kâtvâla, and Âhavanîya; or only the ghee, the victim, and slaughtering-place. He then throws the firebrand back on the Âhavanîya, and performs the circumambulation as many times in the opposite direction. On the Paryagnikarana, see also part i, p. 45 note.
[8] For the two omentum-spits, see note on III, 8, 2, 16.
[9] The Maitrâvaruna’s additional cue or order (upapraisha) is ‘Agni has been victorious; he has won wealth!’ On the Hotri’s recitation the so-called Adhrigu litany commencing ‘Ye divine quieters (slaughterers), commence, as well as ye that are human!’ and consisting of formulas usually pronounced by the Adhvaryu (and hence perhaps going back to a time when the Hotri had to perform all but the menial parts of the sacrificial service), see Ait. Br. II, 6-7; Roth, Yâska XXXVII seq.
[10] According to Kâty. VI, 5, 15, the stalk is put down behind the Sâmitra (i.e. the fire at the slaughtering-place) with the top towards the east.
[11] Lit. ‘by means of the frontal bone.’ Sâyana explains it by ‘in seizing it by the horn;’ Professor Weber, Ind. Stud. IX, p. 222, ‘by striking it with a horn.’ The Kânva text reads, tasya na kûtena praghnanti mânusham ha kuryâd yad asya kûtena prahanyuh.
[12] That is, surrounding, relating to, the victim.

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