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Satapatha Brahmana – Fourth Kandha – First Adhyaya

Fifth Brâhmana

1The Âsvina graha[1], forsooth, is his organ of hearing; hence in drinking it he turns (the cup) all round[2], since with that ear of his he hears all round. Now when the Bhrigus, or the Aṅgiras, attained the heavenly world, Kyavana the Bhârgava, or Kyavana the Âṅgirasa, was left behind here (on earth) decrepit and ghostlike[3].
2But Saryâta, the Mânava, just then wandered about here with his tribe, and settled near by that same place. His boys[4], while playing, setting that decrepit, ghostlike man at nought, pelted him with clods.
3He was wroth with the Sâryâtas, and sowed discord among them: father fought with son, and brother with brother.
4Saryâta then bethought him[5], ‘This has come to pass for something or other I have done!’ He caused the cowherds and shepherds to be called together, and said
5He said, ‘Which of you has seen anything here this day?’ They said, ‘Yonder lies a man, decrepit and ghostlike: him the boys have pelted with clods, setting him at nought.’ Then Saryâta knew that this was Kyavana.
6He yoked his chariot, and putting his daughter Sukanyâ thereon, he set forth, and came to the place where the Rishi was.
7He said, ‘Reverence be to thee, O Rishi; because I knew thee not, therefore have I offended thee; here is Sukanyâ[6], with her I make atonement to thee: let my tribe live at peace together!’ And from that same time his tribe lived at peace together. But Saryâta, the Mânava, departed[7] forthwith, lest he should offend him a second time.
8Now the Asvins then wandered about here on earth performing cures. They came to Sukanyâ, and desired to win her love; but she consented not thereto.
9They said, ‘Sukanyâ, what a decrepit, ghostlike man is that whom thou liest with; come and follow us!’ She said, ‘To whom my father has given me, him will I not abandon, as long as he lives!’ But the Rishi was aware of this.
10He said, ‘Sukanyâ, what have those two said to thee?’ She told him all; and, when she had told him, he said, ‘If they speak to thee thus again, say thou to them, “But surely, ye are neither quite complete nor quite perfect, and yet ye deride my husband!” and if they say to thee, “In what respect are we incomplete, in what respect imperfect?” say thou to them, “Nay, make ye my husband young again, and I will tell you!” They came again to her, and said to her the same thing.
11She said, ‘But surely ye are neither quite complete nor quite perfect, and yet ye deride my husband!’ They said, ‘In what respect are we incomplete, in what respect imperfect?’ She said, ‘Nay, make ye my husband young again, and I will tell you!’
12They said, ‘Take him down to yonder pool[8], and he shall come forth with whatever age he shall desire!’ She took him down to that pool, and he came forth with the age he desired.
13They said, Sukanyâ, in what respect are we incomplete, in what respect imperfect?’ The Rishi himself answered them, ‘In Kurukshetra yonder the gods perform a sacrifice and exclude you two from it: in that respect ye are incomplete, in that respect imperfect!’ And the Asvins departed forthwith, and came to the gods, as they were performing a sacrifice, after the chanting of the Bahishpavamâna.
14They said, ‘Invite us thereto!’ The gods said, ‘We will not invite you: ye have wandered and mixed much among men, performing cures.’
15They said, ‘But surely ye worship with a headless sacrifice!’ ‘How with a headless (sacrifice)?’ ‘Nay, invite us, and we will tell you!’ ‘So be it!’ so they invited them. They drew this Âsvina cup for them; and those two became the Adhvaryu priests of the sacrifice, and restored the head of the sacrifice. Then, in the chapter of the divâkîrtyas[9], it is explained how they did restore the head of the sacrifice. Hence this libation is drawn after the chanting of the Bahishpavamâna, for it was after the chanting of the Bahishpavamâna that they arrived.
16They said, ‘Well, but we two, being the Adhvaryus, are the heads (leaders) of the sacrifice: transfer ye that graha of ours to this earlier time, to those belonging to two deities[10]!’ Accordingly they transferred that graha for them to a former time, to those belonging to two deities: hence that graha is drawn in the tenth place, and is consecrated by Vashat in the third place. And as to (the significance of) the Asvins, the Asvins are manifestly[11] those two, heaven and earth[12], for it is those two that have obtained possession of everything here; ‘the lotus-crowned’ they (the Asvins) are called: Agni, forsooth, is the lotus of this earth, and the sun that of yonder sky.
17Thus he takes (the Âsvina graha) from that (stream of Soma)[13], with (Vâg. S. VII, 11; Rig-veda I, 22, 3), ‘Mix ye the sacrifice, O Asvins, with that goad of yours, rich in honey and joyfulness! Thou art taken with a support[14]! thee for the Asvins!’ with ‘This is thy womb: thee for the honey-loving[15] (Asvins)!’ he deposits it. Now as to why he takes (the graha) with a verse containing (the word) ‘honey (madhu),’ and deposits it with ‘thee for the honey-loving!’
18Dadhyañk, the Âtharvana, imparted to them (the Asvins) the brâhmana called Madhu[16]: that (Madhu) is their favourite resort, and with that (favourite resort) of theirs he now approaches them; hence he takes (their graha) with a verse containing (the word) ‘honey,’ and deposits it with ‘thee for the honey-loving!’
19Now those vessels (other than those of the three dvidevatya grahas) are smooth[17]. The vessel of the graha for Indra and Vâyu has a (wooden) ‘belt’ round it: this is its second (peculiarity of) shape, and therefore it belongs to two deities. The vessel of the graha for Mitra and Varuna is goat-like[18]: this is its second shape, and therefore it belongs to two deities. The vessel of the graha for the Asvins is lip-shaped: this is its second shape, and therefore it belongs to two deities. And the reason why (this belongs to) the Asvins is that the Asvins are the heads (mukhya, viz. of the sacrifice), and this head (mukha[19]) is supplied with lips: hence the vessel of the Asvina graha is lip-shaped.


[1] The Asvina graha is not actually taken at this time, but later on, after the oblation of drops and the chanting of the Bahishpavamâna stotra; see IV, 2, 5, 12. The reasons for inserting it here are given in parag. 15-16.
[2] Lit. ‘he drinks it while turning it all round,’ in accordance with the regular Sanskrit idiom. The Âsvina cup has three mouths, from which the Soma is drunk by turns. See Haug, Transl. Ait. Br. p. 132.
[3] On this legend, and its probable connection with that of Medea’s cauldron, and the Germanic ‘quecprunno’ (Jungbrunnen, well of renovation), see A. Kuhn, ‘Herabkunft des Feuers and des Göttertranks,’ p. 11. For other translations, see Weber, Ind. Streifen, i. p. 13 seq.; Muir, O. S. T. v. p. 250 seq.; Delbrück ii. p. 121. For another version, apparently more modern, of the same legend, found in the Gaiminîya (Talavakâra) Brâhmana, see Professor Whitney, Proceedings Amer. Or. Soc. 1883, p. ix.
[4] That is, youths of his clan.
[5] Saryâta then bethought him, ‘From something I have done, thence (has come) so great a calamity.’ It then occurred to him, ‘Surely, Kyavana, the Bhârgava, or Âṅgirasa, was left behind here, decrepit: him I (must) have somehow offended sorely, thence so great a calamity.’ He called his tribe together. Having called the tribe together, he said, ‘Who, be he cowherd or shepherd, has noticed anything here?’ They said, ‘Yonder in the wood lies a decrepit, ghostlike man; him the boys have this day pelted with clods: that is the only thing we have descried (? tad evâdarishma),’ &c. Kânva text.
[6] That is, ‘the fair maiden.’
[7] That is, ‘he broke up his camp and departed with his tribe’ (so ’payuyuge grâmah, Kânva recension).
[8] Or, according to the Petersburg Dictionary, ‘Throw him into yonder pool.’ In the Kânva text no mention is made of a pool (hrada), but merely of water to which the Rishi is taken by his wife. I subjoin Professor Whitney’s translation of the corresponding passage of the Gaiminîya Br. version: They (the Asvins) said to him: “Sage, make us sharers in the Soma, Sir.” “Very well,” said he; “do you now make me young again.” They drew him away to the saisava of the Sarasvatī. He said: “Girl, we shall all come out looking alike; do you then know me by this sign.” They all came out looking just alike, with that form which is the most beautiful of forms. She, recognising him …. “This is my husband.” They said to him: “Sage, we have performed for you that desire which has been your desire; you have become young again; now instruct us in such wise that we may be sharers in the Soma,”… Then Kyavana the Bhārgavan, having become young again, went to Karyāta the Mānavan, and conducted his sacrifice on the eastern site. Then he gave him a thousand; with them he sacrificed. Thus Kyavana the Bhārgavan, having praised with this sāman (the kyāvana), became young again, won a girl for wife, sacrificed with a thousand,’ &c.
[9] Certain verses which are ‘to be chanted by day.’ According to Benfey (Ind. Stud. III, p. 228) also called mahâdivâkîrtya, and consisting of eleven verses (not in Sâma-veda), the first of which is called ‘siras (head),’ the second ‘grîvâh (neck),’ &c. The term is also applied to Sâma-veda II, 803-5 (Rig-veda X, 170,1-3) in the Uhyagâna II, 12. The reference in the text seems to be to Sat. Br. XIV, 1, 1, 8 seq. See, however, Weber, Ind. Streifen, I, p. 15, note 4. The Kânva MSS. read ‘divâkîrteshu.’
[10] One might expect the dual ‘dvidevatyau,’ as, besides the Âsvina graha, there are only two dvidevatya (belonging to two gods) grahas, viz. the Aindra-vâyava and Maitrâ-varuna. See p. 266, note 3.
[11] Or, in their visible form (pratyaksham).
[12] See Muir, O. S. T. v, p. 234. The identification of the Asvins with heaven and earth may have been suggested by Rig-veda VI, 70, 5, p. 277 where heaven and earth are called upon to mix the sweet drink, just as is the case with the Asvins in the verse with which their libation is taken.
[13] See p. 256, note 1.
[14] See IV, 1, 2, 6, and note.
[15] The real meaning of this epithet (mâdhvî) is uncertain.
[16] ? ‘The mystery called Madhu (sweet drink, Soma).’ See part i, Introd. p. xxxiv; Weber, Ind. Stud. I, p. 2
[17] It might also mean, that those (three dvidevatya) vessels are smooth, straight, save the peculiarities noticed above. The Kânva text, however, reads, takkhlakshnâny anyâni pâtrâni bhavanti.
[18] Or rather, according to the commentary on Kâty. IX, 2, 6, it resembles the breast of the goat (agakâ).
[19] Lit. ‘mouth.’

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