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Satapatha Brahmana – Third Kandha – Ninth Adhyaya

Fourth Brâhmana

B. The Prâtahsavana, or morning-pressing.

1. Upâmsu-graha.

1Thereupon they sit down round the two press-boards[1]. He (the Adhvaryu) then ties a piece of gold to that (nameless finger). For twofold, verily, is this; there is no third, namely, the truth and the untruth; the gods, forsooth, are the truth, and men are the untruth. And the gold has sprung from Agni’s seed: ‘With the truth I will touch the stalks, with the truth I will take hold of Soma,’ thus he thinks, and therefore he ties a piece of gold to that (ring-finger).
2He then takes a press-stone[2]. Now those press-stones are of rock, and Soma is a god for Soma was in the sky, Soma was Vritra; those mountains, those rocks are his body he thus perfects him by means of his body, makes him whole; therefore they are of rock. Moreover, in pressing him they slay him, they slay him by means of that (stone, Soma’s own body); thus he rises from thence, thus he lives; therefore the press-stones are of rock.
3He takes it with (Vâg. S. VI, 30), ‘At the impulse of the divine Savitri I take thee with the arms of the Asvins, with the hands of Pûshan; thou art a giver!’ For Savitri is the impeller of the gods; thus he takes it, impelled by Savitri. ‘With the arms of the Asvins,’ he says, the Asvins are the Adhvaryus (of the gods): with their arms he thus takes it, not with his own. ‘With the hands of Pûshan,’ he says, Pûshan is the distributor of portions: with his hands he thus takes it, not with his own. Moreover, that (stone) is a thunderbolt, and no man can hold it: by means of those deities he takes it.
4‘I take thee: thou art a giver,’ he says; for when they press him by means of that (stone), then there is an oblation; and when he offers an oblation, then he gives sacrificial gifts, thus, then, that (stone) gives twofold, oblations and sacrificial gifts; wherefore he says, ‘Thou art a giver.’
5‘Perform thou this deep cult!’ Cult means sacrifice; he thereby means to say, ‘Perform thou this great sacrifice!’ ’well-gotten for Indra;’ by ‘well-gotten’ he means to say, ‘well-produced;’ and Indra is the deity of the sacrifice, wherefore he says, ‘for Indra;’ ’by the most excellent bolt,’ for he, Soma, is indeed the most excellent bolt[3], therefore he says, ‘by the most excellent bolt;’ ’the (cult) rich in food and sweetness and drink,’ whereby he means to say, ‘the (cult) rich in sap.’
6Thereupon he restrains-speech. For once on a time, the gods, while performing sacrifice, were afraid of an attack from the Asura-Rakshas. They said, ‘Let us sacrifice in a low voice, let us restrain speech!’ They sacrificed (with formulas muttered) in a low voice and restrained speech.
7He then fetches the Nigrâbhyâs (waters), and makes him (the sacrificer) mutter over them[4], ‘Ye are the Nigrâbhyâs, heard by the gods; satisfy me, satisfy my mind, satisfy my speech, satisfy my breath, satisfy mine eye, satisfy mine ear, satisfy my soul, satisfy mine offspring, satisfy my flocks, satisfy my followers, let not my followers thirst!’ For water is sap, and over it he invokes this blessing, ‘Satisfy ye my whole self, satisfy my offspring, satisfy my followers, let not my followers thirst!’ Now that Upâmsusavana (stone), forsooth, is in reality Âditya Vivasvant (the sun), it is the pervading vital air (vyâna) of this (sacrifice).
8Thereon he metes out (the Soma). For in pressing him they slay him, they slay him by means of that (stone); thus[5] he rises from hence, thus he lives. And because he metes him out, therefore there is a measure, both the measure among men[6], and what other measure there is.
9He metes out with (Vâg. S. VI, 32), ‘Thee for Indra, with the Vasus, with the Rudras!’ For Indra is the deity of the sacrifice: therefore he says, ‘Thee for Indra;’ and by saying ‘with the Vasus, with the Rudras,’ he assigns a share, along with (or after) Indra, to the Vasus and the Rudras. ’Thee for Indra, with the Âdityas!’ whereby he assigns a share to the Âdityas along with Indra. ’Thee for Indra, the slayer of foes!’ a foe is an enemy: ‘Thee for Indra, the slayer of enemies,’ he means to say. This is his (Indra’s) special share: as there is a special share for a chief, so is this his special share apart from the (other) gods.
10‘Thee for the Soma-bearing falcon!’ this he metes out for Gâyatrî. ’Thee for Agni, the bestower of growth of wealth!’ Now Agni is Gâyatrî: he metes this out for Gâyatrî. And since Gâyatrî, as a falcon, fetched Soma from heaven, therefore she is (called) the Soma-bearing falcon: for that prowess of hers he metes out (for her) a second portion.
11Now as to why he metes out five times[7], the sacrifice is of the same measure as the year, and there are five seasons in the year: he takes possession of it in five (divisions); hence he metes out five times.
12He touches it with (Vâg. S. VI, 33), ‘What light of thine there is in the heavens, O Soma, what on earth, and what in the wide air, therewith make wide room for this sacrificer, for his prosperity: speak thou for the giver!’ Now when he (Soma) first became sacrificial food for the gods, he thought within himself, ‘I must not become sacrificial food for the gods with my whole self!’ Accordingly he deposited those three bodies of his in these worlds.
13The gods then were victorious. They obtained those bodies by means of this same (formula), and he became entirely the sacrificial food of the gods. And in like manner does this (priest) now thereby obtain those bodies of his, and he (Soma) becomes entirely the food of the gods: this is why he thus touches it.
14He then pours Nigrâbhyâ water on it. Now the waters, forsooth, slew Vritra and by virtue of that prowess of theirs they now flow. Wherefore nothing whatsoever can check them when they flow; for they followed their own free will, thinking, ‘To whom, forsooth, should we submit (or stop), we by whom Vritra was slain!’ Now all this (universe), whatsoever there is, had submitted[8] to Indra, even he that blows yonder.
15Indra spake, ‘Verily, all this (universe), whatsoever there is, has submitted unto me: submit ye also to me!’ They said, ‘What shall be our (reward) then?’ ’The first draught of king Soma shall be yours!’ ’So be it!’ thus they submitted to him; and they having submitted, he drew (ni-grabh) them to his breast; and because he thus drew them to his breast, therefore they are called Nigrâbhyâs. And in like manner does this sacrificer now draw them to his breast: and this is their first draught of king Soma, in that he pours Nigrâbhyâ water thereon.
16He pours it with (Vâg. S. VI, 34), ‘Ye are grateful, the subduers of Vritra;’ the waters indeed are propitious: therefore he says, ‘Ye are grateful;’ and ‘the subduers of Vritra’ he says because they did slay Vritra; ’the beneficent wives of the immortal (Soma);’ for the waters are immortal; ’Ye goddesses, lead this sacrifice to the gods!’ there is nothing obscure in this; ‘Invited, drink ye of Soma!’ Thus invited they drink the first draught of king Soma.
17Being about to beat (the Soma with the pressing-stone), let him think in his mind of him he hates: ‘Herewith I strike N.N., not thee!’ Now whosoever kills a human Brâhman here, he, forsooth, is deemed guilty[9], how much more so he who strikes him (Soma), for Soma is a god. But they do kill him when they press him; they kill him with that (stone): thus he rises from thence, thus he lives; and thus no guilt is incurred.. But if he hate no one, he may even think of a straw, and thus no guilt is incurred.
18He beats with (Vâg. S. VI, 35), ‘Fear not, tremble not!’ whereby he means to say, ‘Be not afraid, do not tremble, it is N.N. I strike, not thee!’ ’Take thou strength!’ whereby he means to say, ‘Take sap!’ ’Both ye bowls, that are firm, remain firm, take strength!’ ’Surely, it is those two (pressing-)boards that are thereby meant,’ so say some; what, then, if one were to break those two boards[10]? But, forsooth, it is these two, heaven and earth, that tremble for fear of that raised thunderbolt (the stone): hereby now he propitiates it for those two, heaven and earth; and thus propitiated it does not injure them. By ‘Take strength!’ he means to say, ‘Take sap!’ ’The evil is slain, not Soma!’ he thereby slays every evil of his.
19Thrice he presses[11], thrice he gathers together, four times he performs the Nigrâbha, this makes ten, for of ten syllables consists the virâg, and Soma is of virâg nature: therefore he completes (the ceremony) in ten times.
20Then as to why he performs the Nigrâbha. Now when he (Soma) first became sacrificial food for the gods, he set his heart on those (four) regions, thinking, ‘Could I but consort with those regions as my mate, my loved resort!’ By performing the Nigrâbha, the gods then made him consort with the regions as his mate, his loved resort; and in like manner does this (sacrificer) now, by performing the Nigrâbha, make him (Soma) consort with those regions as his mate, his loved resort.
21He performs with (Vâg. S. VI, 36), ‘From east, from west, from north, from south from every side may the regions resort to thee!’ whereby he makes him consort with the regions as his mate, his loved resort. ‘O mother, satisfy (him)! may the noble meet together[12]!’ A mother (ambâ) is a woman, and the regions (dis, fem.) are women: therefore he says, ‘O mother, satisfy (him)! May the noble meet together!’ The noble doubtless means people (creatures, offspring): he thus means to say, ‘May the people live in harmony with each other!’ Even the people that are far away (from each other) live in harmony with each other: therefore he says, ‘May the noble meet together.’
22Now as to why he is called Soma. When he first became sacrificial food for the gods, he thought within him, ‘I must not become, sacrificial food for the gods with my whole self!’ That form of his which was most pleasing he accordingly put aside. Thereupon the gods were victorious; they said, ‘Draw that unto thee, for therewith shalt thou become our food!’ He drew it to him even from afar, saying, verily, that is mine own (svâ me): hence he was called Soma.
23Then as to why he is called Yagña (sacrifice). Now, when they press him, they slay him; and when they spread him[13], they cause him to be born. He is born in being spread along, he is born moving (yan gâyate): hence yan-ga, for ‘yañga’ they say, is the same as ‘yagña.’
24Also this speech did he then utter (Vâg. S. VI, 37; Rig-veda I, 84, 19), ‘Verily thou, a god, shalt extol the mortal, O most mighty! than thee there is no other giver of joy[14], O lord! unto thee do I speak this word, O Indra!’ For it was indeed as a mortal that he uttered this, ‘Thou alone wilt produce (me) from here, no other but thee!’
25And from the Nigrâbhyâ water they draw the several grahas (cups or libations of Soma). For it was the waters that slew Vritra, and in virtue of this prowess they flow; and it is from flowing water that he takes the Vasatîvarî water, and from the Vasatîvarî the Nigrâbhyâ water; and from the Nigrâbhyâ water the several grahas are drawn. In virtue of that prowess, then, the grahas are drawn from the Hotri’s cup. Now the Hotri means the Rik (fem.), a woman; and from woman creatures are born here on earth: hence he makes him (Soma) to be born from that woman, the Rik, the Hotri; wherefore (he takes the grahas) from the Hotri’s cup.


[1] The Adhvaryu and sacrificer sit north of them, looking towards the south; and the assistants of the former viz. the Pratiprasthâtri; Neshtri, and Unnetri on the south side, looking northwards. The press-boards were laid down on the ‘sound-holes,’ under the fore-part of the southern Soma-cart, and the pressing-skin was spread over them; see III, 5, 4, 22-23. The Udgâtris, or chanters, are seated behind the carts.
[2] Viz. the upâmsusavana, or ‘low-voiced pressing (stone),’ (see paragraph 6,) with which the Soma for the Upâmsu libation (or cup, graha) is pressed.
[3] It is doubtful what ‘pavi’ may mean here. It seems to mean originally a metallic mounting, especially of a shaft. The commentators explain it by ‘thunderbolt.’
[4] The sacrificer holds the Hotri’s cup with the Nigrâbhyâh to his breast.
[5] Viz. by being placed upon the stone. which is identical with the sun (?); but cf. III, 8, 2, 27.
[6] Tasmâd v iyam manushyeshu mâtrâ yat kaushtho yat kumbhî yeyam kâ ka manushyeshu mâtrâ. Kânva text.
[7] According to Taitt. S. VI, 4, 4 he metes out five times with the above texts, and five times silently.
[8] The Kânva MS. has twice ‘tatsthâna,’ as Ait. Br. VI, 5, and twice ‘tasthâna;’ cf. Weber, Ind. Stud. IX, p. 295.
[9] ‘Parikakshate’ ought rather to mean ‘they despise him.’
[10] That is to say, in that case the formula would prove to have been a failure. According to the Taitt. Kalpas., quoted to Taitt. S. I, 4, 1 (p. 590), he presses the skin down upon the two press-boards while muttering this formula. The Kânva text argues somewhat differently, ime evaitat phalake âhur iti haika âhus tad u kim âdriyeta yad athaite bhidyeyâtâm eveme haiva dyâvâprithivyâv etasmâd vagrâd udyatât samregete, ’Some say those two boards are thereby meant; but who would care if they should get broken; for it is rather those two, heaven and earth,’ &c.?
[11] The pressing of the Upâmsu-graha also called the ‘small’ pressing, distinguished from the ‘great pressing’ (mahâbhishava) for the subsequent cups or libations (graha) consists of three turns of eight, eleven, and twelve single beatings respectively. Before each turn Nigrâbhyâ water is poured upon the Soma plants by the sacrificer from the Hotri’s cup. After each turn of pressing the Adhvaryu throws the completely-pressed stalks into the cup, and when they have become thoroughly soaked, he presses them out and takes them out again; this being the ‘gathering together’ referred to above. At the same time he mutters the Nigrâbha formula (paragraph 21); after which the pressed-out juice, absorbed by the water, is poured into the Upâmsu vessel in the following manner. Before the pressing the Pratiprasthâtri had taken six Soma-stalks, and put two each between the fingers of his left hand. After each turn of pressing he takes the Upâmsu vessel with his right hand and holds one pair of the Soma-stalks over it (or, according to others, all six at the same time), through which (as through a strainer) the Adhvaryu then pours the Soma-juice from the pressing-skin into the vessel. After the third turn the pressing-stone itself is put into the Hotri’s cup, either with or without the muttering of the Nigrâbha formula. According to the commentary on Kâty. IX, 4, 27, the Soma-juice is transferred from the skin to the Upâmsu cup, by the straining-cloth being made to imbibe the juice and then being pressed out so as to trickle down through the plants between the Pratiprasthâtri’s fingers. The description given by Haug, Ait. Br., Transl. p. 489, is somewhat different.
[12] The interpretation of this formula is very doubtful. The author evidently takes ‘arîh’ as nom. plur. of ‘ari’ (= ârya); but it does not appear how he takes ‘nishpara,’ while Mahîdhara explains it by ‘pûraya (give him, Soma, his fill).’ The St. Petersburg Dict. suggests that ‘nishpara’ may mean ‘come out!’ and that ‘arîh’ seems to be a nom. sing. here. I take the last part of the formula to mean, ‘May he (Soma) win (or, perhaps, join) the longing (waters)!’ some of the Nigrâbhyâ water being poured on the Soma at each turn of pressing; and small stalks of Soma being, besides, thrown into the Hotri’s cup containing that water. As to the first part of the formula, it may perhaps mean, ‘Well, pour out (or, pour forth, intrans.).’ Professor Ludwig, Rig-veda IV, p. xvi, thinks that ‘nishpara’ is a correction of the Taitt, reading ‘nishvara,’ which Sâyana interprets, ‘O mother (Soma), come out (from the stalks, in the form of juice),’ and according to the Sûtra quoted by him, the sacrificer is at the same time to think of the wife he loves.
[13] That is, when they perform the Soma-sacrifice.
[14] This is the traditional meaning (sukhayitri) assigned to mardayitri (the merciful, comforter); but it is not quite clear how the author of the Brâhmana interprets it.

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