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Satapatha Brahmana – Third Kandha – First Adhyaya

Third Brahmana

1Having brought water forward[1], he takes out (the material for) a cake on eleven potsherds for Agni and Vishnu; for Agni is all the deities, since it is in Agni that offering is made to all the deities. Moreover Agni is the lower half, and Vishnu is the upper half of the sacrifice: ‘I will become consecrated after encompassing all the deities, after encompassing the entire sacrifice,’ thus he thinks, and hence there is a cake on eleven potsherds for Agni and Vishnu.
2Some then offer a rice-pap to the Âdityas. This is referred to (in the passage, Rig-veda X, 72, 8), ‘There are eight sons of Aditi who were born from her body; with seven she went to the gods, but Mârtânda[2] she cast off.’
3Now Aditi had eight sons. But those that are called ‘the gods, sons of Aditi,’ were only seven, for the eighth, Mârtânda, she brought forth unformed[3]: it was a mere lump of bodily matter[4], as broad as it was high. Some, however, say that he was of the size of a man.
4The gods, sons of Aditi, then spake, ‘That which was born after us[5] must not be lost: come, let us fashion it.’ They accordingly fashioned it as this man is fashioned. The flesh which was cut off him, and thrown down in a lump, became the elephant: hence they say that one must not accept an elephant (as a gift)[6], since the elephant has sprung from man. Now he whom they thus fashioned was Vivasvat, the Âditya (or the sun); and of him (came) these creatures.
5He spake, ‘Among my offspring he shall be successful who shall offer that rice-pap to the Âdityas.’ Accordingly he alone succeeds who offers that rice-pap to the Âdityas. Only that (cake) to Agni and Vishnu is, however, generally approved.
6There are seventeen kindling-verses for it[7]. In a low voice he offers to the two deities. There are five fore-offerings and three after-offerings. For the sake of completeness they perform the patnîsamyâgas[8]; but he offers no samishtayagus, lest, having put on that garment of the consecrated, he should reach the end of the sacrifice before its completion; for the samishtayagus is the end of the sacrifice.
7He (the sacrificer) then gets himself anointed (with fresh butter), while standing east of the hall. For, having been flayed, man is sore; and by getting himself anointed, he becomes healed of his soreness: for man’s skin is on the cow, and that fresh butter also comes from the cow. He (the Adhvaryu) thus supplies him with his own skin, and for this reason he gets himself anointed.
8It is fresh butter, for melted butter (ghee) belongs to the gods, and creamy butter[9] to men. Here, on the other hand, it is neither ghee nor creamy butter; it should rather be both ghee and creamy butter, for the sake of unimpaired vigour: by means of that which is of unimpaired vigour he accordingly makes him of unimpaired vigour.
9He anoints him from the head down to the feet in accordance with the tendency of the hair, with the text (Vâg. S. IV, 3), ‘Thou art the sap of the great ones.’ The ‘great ones,’ doubtless, is one of the names of those cows, and their sap indeed it is: therefore he says, ‘thou art the sap of the great ones.’ ‘Thou art life-giving: give me light!’ There is nothing obscure in this.
10Thereupon he anoints the eyes. ‘Sore, indeed, is the eye of man; mine is sound,’ so spake Yâgñavalkya. Dim-eyed, indeed, he was (heretofore); and the secretion of his eyes was matter. He now makes his eyes sound by anointing them.
11Now, when the gods slew the Asura-Rakshas, Sushna[10], the Dânava, falling backward entered into the eyes of men: he is that pupil of the eye, and looks like a young lad[11]. Against him he (the sacrificer), now that he enters on the sacrifice, raises a rampart of stone all round himself, for the ointment is (produced from) stone.
12It is such as comes from mount Trikakud; for when Indra slew Vritra he transformed that eye of his (Vritra’s) into the mount Trikakud[12]. The reason, then, why (ointment) from mount Trikakud (is used), is that he thereby puts eye into eye. Should he be unable to obtain any Traikakuda ointment, any other than Traikakuda may be used; for one and the same, indeed, is the significance of the ointment.
13He anoints (the eyes) with a reed-stalk, for the reed is a thunderbolt. It is one with a tuft, in order to chase away the evil spirits[13]. For rootless, indeed, and unfettered on both sides, the Rakshas roams along the air; even as man here roams along the air[14], rootless and unfettered on both sides: the reason, then, why it is (a reed-stalk) with a tuft, is to chase away the evil spirits.
14The right eye he anoints first; for in human practice the left (eye is anointed) first, but with the gods (it is done) thus.
15He anoints it with the text, ‘Thou art the eye-ball of Vritra,’ for Vritra’s eye-ball it indeed is; ‘Eye-giving thou art: give me the eye!’ in this there is nothing obscure.
16The right eye he anoints once with the sacrificial formula, once silently; and the left one he anoints once with the formula, twice silently: thus he makes the left (or upper) one superior[15].
17And the reason why he anoints five times, is that the sacrifice is of equal measure with the year, and five seasons there are in the year: he thus obtains possession of the latter in five (divisions), and therefore he anoints five times.
18He then purifies him with a cleanser (pavitra, strainer) of sacred grass; for impure, indeed, is man: he is foul within in that he speaks untruth; and sacred grass is pure: ‘Having become pure, I shall be consecrated,’ thus he thinks; and the stalks of sacred grass are a means of cleansing, ‘Having become cleansed, I shall be consecrated,’ thus he thinks; and therefore he purifies him with a cleanser of sacred grass.
19It may consist of one (stalk of grass); for that blower (or purifier, the Wind) is one only, and in accordance with his nature is this (cleanser): hence it may consist of one (stalk).
20Or there may be three (stalks); for one, indeed, is that blower, but on entering into man he becomes threefold, to wit, the out-breathing, the in-breathing, and the through-breathing[16], and in accordance with his measure is this (cleanser): hence there may be three (stalks).
21Or there may be seven (stalks[17]); for there are seven vital airs of the head: hence there may be seven (stalks). There may even be thrice seven, one and twenty: such indeed is perfection.
22He purifies him with seven (stalks) each time, with the text (Vâg. S. IV, 4), ‘May the Lord of thought purify me!’ The lord of thought doubtless is Pragâpati[18]: he thereby means to say, ‘May Pragâpati purify me!’ ‘May the lord of speech purify me!’ The lord of speech doubtless is Pragâpati[19]: he thereby means to say, ‘May Pragâpati purify me!’ ‘May the divine Savitri purify me,’ for well purified indeed is he whom the divine Savitri has purified[20]; therefore he says, ‘May the divine Savitri purify me!’ ‘with a flawless cleanser;’ for that blower (the wind) is indeed a flawless cleanser: ‘with that one,’ he means to say; ‘with the rays of the sun;’ for they, the rays of the sun, are indeed purifiers; therefore he says, ‘with the rays of the sun.’
23‘O Lord of the pavitra’ (means of purification), for he (who is consecrated) is indeed the lord of the pavitra, ‘of thee, purified by the pavitra, for he is indeed purified by the pavitra’; ‘with whatsoever desire I purify myself, may I be able to effect it!’ whereby he says, ‘May I reach the end of the sacrifice!’
24He then makes him pronounce the beginning of the benedictions (Vâg. S. IV, 5), ‘We approach you, O gods, for desirable goods, at the opening of the sacrifice; we call on you, O gods, for holy[21] blessings.’ Thereby the officiating priests invoke on him those blessings which are their own.
25He (the sacrificer) then bends his fingers inwards, viz. the two (little fingers), with the text (Vâg. S. IV, 6), ‘Hail, from the mind (I take hold of) the sacrifice!’ the two (nameless or ring fingers) with, ‘Hail, from the wide ether!’ the two (middle fingers) with, ‘Hail, from the sky and earth!’ with, ‘Hail, from the wind, I take hold (of the sacrifice)!’ he clenches both fists[22]. Not visibly indeed is the sacrifice to be taken hold of, as is either this staff or the garment, but invisible indeed are the gods, invisible is the sacrifice.
26Now when he says, ‘Hail, from the mind (I take hold of) the sacrifice,’ he takes hold of it from the mind; in saying, ‘From the wide ether,’ he takes hold of it from the ether; in saying, ‘From heaven and earth,’ he takes hold of it from those two, heaven and earth, on which this entire universe rests; and in saying, ‘From the wind I take hold of (the sacrifice)’ the wind being the sacrifice he takes hold of the sacrifice directly.
27And when he calls, ‘Hail! Hail[23]!’ the ‘Svâhâ’ being the sacrifice he thereby appropriates the sacrifice. Here now he restrains his speech; the sacrifice being speech: he thereby appropriates[24] the sacrifice.
28He (the Adhvaryu) then makes him enter the hall. He walks along the back of the Âhavanîya and the front of the Gârhapatya[25], this is his passage until the Soma pressing. The reason why this is his passage until the Soma pressing is this. The fire is the womb of the sacrifice, and the consecrated is an embryo; and the embryo moves about within the womb. And since he (the sacrificer) moves about there (between the fires), and now turns round and now back, therefore these embryos move about, and now turn round and now back. Hence this is his passage till the Soma pressing.


[1] Viz. the so-called ‘pranîtâh,’ see part i, p. 9 note. The offering, described in the following paragraphs, is called the Dîkshanî-yeshti, ‘Consecration offering.’ As to the formulas used at the offering, see Ait. Br. I, 4 seq.
[2] The bird, Vishnu, the sun.
[3] Or, the eighth she brought forth undeveloped, as a mârtânda (? either a bird, or, more probably, in accordance with Taitt. S. VI, 5, 6, 1, = vyriddham ândam, ‘an abortive egg’). See Rig-veda Sanhitâ, translated by M. M., p. 239.
[4] Sandegha; the St. Petersburg Dict. takes it in the sense of ‘doubt, uncertainty,’ in this passage.
[5] Or, perhaps, after the manner of us (anu).
[6] Muir, O. S. T. IV, 15, reads ‘parigrihnîyât’ instead of ‘pratigrihnîyât,’ and translates, ‘let no one catch an elephant, for an elephant partakes of the nature of man.’
[7] For the ordinary eleven Sâmidhenîs (raised to the number of fifteen by repetitions of the first and last verses), see part i, p. 102, and for the two additional ones (dhâyyâ), ib. p. 112 note.
[8] See part i, p. 256; for the Samishtayagus, ib. p. 262.
[9] Phânta, explained as the first particles of butter that appear in churning (?). The Kânva recension, on the other hand, reads ‘âgyam nishpântam’ (!) instead. Cf. Taitt. S. VI, 1, 1, 4, Ghritam devânâm, mastu pitrinâm, nishpakvam (i.e. surabhi ghritam, ‘well-seasoned butter,’ Sây.) manushyânâm; tad vai etat sarvadevatyam yan navanîtam; also Ait. Br. I, 3, âgyam vai devânâm, surabhi ghritam manushyânâm, âyutam pitrinâm, navanîtam garbhânâm; with Haug’s note, Transl. p. 8.
[10] The Kânva text (MSS. O. W.) reads Sisna.
[11] Sa esha kanînakah kumâraka iva paribhâsate. A play on the word kanînaka, which has the double meaning of ‘youth’ and ‘pupil of the eye.’ The St. Petersburg Dict. assigns also to kumâraka the meaning of ‘ball of the eye’ in this (the only) passage. The Kânva recension reads, Sa esha kumâraka iva kanînakâyâm (? both ‘maiden’ and ‘pupil of the eye’).
[12] ‘Indra slew Vritra, his eye-ball fell away, it became collyrium.’ Taitt. S. VI, 1, 1, 5.
[13] Professor Delbrück, S. F. III, 27, takes it thus, ‘He brushes the eye with the end of a reed, for the reed is a thunderbolt capable of repelling mischief.’ But, if ‘virakshastâyai’ belonged to what precedes, it would probably have to be construed with ‘sareshikayâ ‘nakti,’ the clause with ‘vai,’ giving the reason, being inserted parenthetically; while, in an idiomatic rendering, it would have to be placed at the end: He anoints the eyes with a reed-stalk in order to chase away the evil spirits, the reed being a thunderbolt. This abstract dative of purpose is very common; it being generally construed with what precedes, as, for instance, I, 1, 4, 1; 3, 2, 8; 5, 3, 8; 15; III, 1, 2, 13; 19; ; and, with a parenthetic clause with ‘vai’ intervening, III, 2, 1, 13; IV, 5, 7, 7. Not less common is the analogous construction with a clause with ‘ned’ (‘lest such an event should happen’) instead of the dative of the abstract, cf. I, 2, 1, 8; 9; IV, 5, 9, 3.
[14] I now take this passage differently from my interpretation of I, 1, 2, 4 (‘and, in order that this man may move about the air, rootless and unfettered in both directions’). See also IV, 1, 1, 20.
[15] ‘Tad uttaram evaitad uttarâvat karoti;’ ‘uttarấm évaitad úttaram karoti,’ Kânva recension. Cf. p. 2, note 1.
[16] See part i, p. 19, note 2.
[17] The Taitt. S. VI, 1, 1 allows the option between (one), 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 21 stalks; while the Ait. Br. I, 3 mentions only the highest number.
[18] The Kânva text adds, sa hi kittânâm îshte, ‘for he rules over the thoughts.’
[19] The Kânvas read, ayam vâva vâkpatir yo ‘yam pavate, tad enam esha punâti, ‘the lord of speech doubtless is that blower (purifier, the wind): hence it is he that purifies him.’
[20] See p. 8, note 3.
[21] I take yagñiyâsah as acc. pl. fem., as does Mahîdh. Perhaps it ought to be translated ‘for prayers proper at the sacrifice,’ whereby he makes sure that each priest uses his own proper prayers during the sacrifice.
[22] For the symbolic meaning of the closing of the hands, see III, 2, 1, 6; Ait. Br. I, 3, 20.
[23] That is, ‘svâhâ’ in each formula. The Samhitâ has twice ‘svâhâ’ in the last formula (svâhâ vâtâd ârabhe svâhâ), to which this might refer, but neither recension of the Brâhmana mentions the final ‘svâhâ.’
[24] Literally, ‘he takes within him’ (as the speech confined within him through silence).
[25] That is, he enters the hall by the front (east) door, then walks along the north side of the Âhavanîya and altar, and passes between the Gârhapatya and altar to his seat south of the Âhavanîya. The Pratiprasthâtri then silently anoints and purifies the Dîkshita’s wife and leads her into the hall, either by the front or back door.

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