First Brahmana

1He (the Adhvaryu) now utters his call for the Pravara (choosing of the Hotri). The reason why he utters his call, is that the (Adhvaryu’s) call is the sacrifice: ‘having bespoke the sacrifice, I will choose the Hotri,’ thus (he thinks, and) for this reason he utters his call for the Pravara.
2He utters his call after taking the fuel-band; for if the Adhvaryu were to utter his call without taking hold of the sacrifice, he would either be unsteady or meet with some other ailment.
3Here now some utter the call after taking sacrificial grass (barhis) from the covered altar, or they utter the call after cutting off and taking a chip of fire-wood, arguing, ‘this, surely, is something belonging to the sacrifice; after taking hold of this, the sacrifice, we will utter the call.’ Let him, however, not do this; for that also wherewith the firewood was tied together and wherewith they sweep the fire is, doubtless, something belonging to the sacrifice; and thus indeed he utters his call after taking hold of the sacrifice: for this reason let him utter the call after taking the fuel-band.
4Having uttered the call, he in the first place chooses him who is the Hotri of the gods, that is, Agni. Thereby he propitiates both Agni and the gods: for by first choosing Agni, he propitiates Agni; and by first choosing him who is the Hotri of the gods, he propitiates the gods.
5He says, ‘Agni, the god, the divine Hotri,’ for Agni is indeed the Hotri of the gods, therefore he says ‘Agni, the god, the divine Hotri:’ thereby he propitiates both Agni and the gods; for by his first mentioning Agni he propitiates Agni; and by his first mentioning him who is the Hotri of the gods, he propitiates the gods.
6‘May he worship, knowing the gods, he the thoughtful one,’ for he, Agni, indeed, knows the gods well: hence, he thereby says ‘may he who knows them well worship (them) in due form!
7‘Like as Manu (did), like as Bharata;’ Manu, indeed, worshipped with sacrifice in olden times, and doing as he did these descendants of his now sacrifice: therefore he says ‘like as Manu.’ Or, say they, (it means) ‘at the sacrifice of Manu,’ and therefore he says ‘as (he did) with Manu.’
8‘Like as (with) Bharata,’ for, say they, he bears (bhar) the oblation to the gods, hence Bharata (the bearer) is Agni; or, say they, he, having become the breath, supports (bhar) these creatures, and therefore he says ‘like as Bharata.’
9He then chooses (Agni as) the ancestral (Hotri). He thus introduces him both to the (ancestral) rishis and to the gods (as if he were saying), ‘he is of mighty strength who obtained the sacrifice!’ for this reason he chooses (him as) the ancestral one.
10He chooses from the remote end (of the sacrificer’s ancestral line) downwards; for it is from the remote end downwards that a race is propagated. Thereby he also propitiates the lord of seniority; for here among men the father comes first, then the son, and then the grandson: this is the reason why he chooses from the remote end downwards.
11Having named the ancestral, he says, ‘Like as, Brahman;’ for Agni is the Brahman (the Veda, or the sacerdotium), and therefore he says ‘like as Brahman;’ ‘may he bring (the gods) hither!’ what deities he bids him bring hither, those he refers to in saying ‘may he bring (them) hither.’
12‘The Brâhmanas (priests) are the guardians of this sacrifice;’ for guardians of the sacrifice, indeed, are those Brâhmanas who are versed in the sacred writ, because they spread it, they originate it: these he thereby propitiates; and for this reason he says, ‘the Brâhmanas are the guardians of the sacrifice.’
13‘N.N. is the man,’ thereby he chooses this man for his Hotri; heretofore he was not a Hotri, but now he is a Hotri.
14The chosen Hotri mutters, has recourse to the deities: in order that he may give the vashat-call to the gods in its proper order, that he may convey the oblation to the gods in its proper order, that he may not stumble, he has thus recourse to the deities.
15He mutters on this occasion , ‘Thee, O divine Savitri, they now choose,’ thereby he has recourse to Savitri for his impulsion (prasava), for Savitri is the impeller (prasavitri) of the gods; ‘(thee who art) Agni, for the Hotriship,’ thereby he propitiates both Agni and the gods; for by first naming Agni, he propitiates Agni; and by first naming him who is the Hotri of the gods, he propitiates the gods.
16‘Together with father Vaisvânara,’ for the father Vaisvânara (‘common to all men’), doubtless, is the year, is Pragâpati (lord of creatures); hence he thereby propitiates the year and thus Pragâpati. ‘O Agni! O Pûshan! O Brihaspati! speak forth and offer up sacrifice (pra-yag)!’ he (the Hotri), namely, will have to recite the anuvâkyâs and the yâgyâs ; he therefore now propitiates those gods: do ye recite, ‘do ye offer!’ thus (he thereby says).
17‘May we partake of the bounty of the Vasus, of the wide sway of the Rudras! may we be beloved of the Âdityas for the sake of (aditi) security from injury, free from obstruction!’ these, to wit, the Vasus, Rudras, and Âdityas, namely, are three (classes of) gods: ‘may we enjoy their protection’ he thereby says.
18‘May I this day utter speech that is agreeable to the gods;’ by this he means to say ‘may I this day recite what is agreeable to the gods,’ for auspicious it is when one recites what is agreeable to the gods.
19‘Agreeable to the Brahmans,’ by this he means to say ‘may I this day recite what is agreeable to the Brâhmanas (priests);’ for auspicious it is when one recites what is agreeable to the Brâhmanas.
20‘Agreeable to Narâsamsa,’ man (nara), namely, is a creature: hence he says this for all the creatures; thereby it is auspicious, and whether or not he knows (forms of speech that are agreeable), they are uttered (and received with applause), ‘well he has recited! well he has recited!’ ‘What at the Hotri choice may escape the crooked eye this day, that may Agni bring back here, he, the knower of beings (gâtavedas), the nimble one (vikarshani)!’ by this he means to say, ‘even as those (three) Agnis, whom they first chose for the Hotriship, passed away , (but thou, the fourth Agni, wast then obtained,) so do thou make good for me whatever mistake may have been committed at my election!’ and it is accordingly made good for him.
21He now touches the Adhvaryu and the Âgnîdhra: for the Adhvaryu is the mind, and the Hotri is, speech: thus he thereby brings mind and speech together.
22At the same time he mutters , ‘From anguish may the six spaces protect me, fire, earth, water, wind, day, and night !’ ‘may these deities protect me from disease!’ thus he thereby says; for he whom these deities protect from disease, will not stumble (or fail).
23He steps beside the Hotri’s seat, takes one stalk of (reed) grass from the Hotri’s seat and casts it outside (the sacrificial ground), with the formula, ‘Ejected is the wealth-clutcher (parâvasu, lit. “off-wealth”)!’ Formerly, namely, the Hotri of the Asuras was one Parâvasu by name: him he thereby ejects from the Hotri’s seat.
24He then sits down on the Hotri’s seat, with the formula, ‘I here sit down on the seat of the wealth-bestower (arvâvasu, lit. “hither-wealth”)!’ for one Arvâvasu by name was the Hotri of the gods, and on his seat he accordingly sits down.
25At the same time he mutters, ‘O All-maker, thou art the protector of lives! do not ye two (fires) scorch me away (from this) , injure me not! this is your sphere;’ with this he moves slightly northwards: by this (mantra, he indicates that) he sits midway between the Âhavanîya and the Gârhapatya, and thus he propitiates these two; and in accordance with what he says, ‘do not scorch me away from this! injure me not!’ they do not injure him.
26He then mutters whilst looking at the (Âhavanîya) fire, ‘All ye gods, instruct me, how and what I am to mind while seated here as the chosen Hotri! declare my share (of the sacrificial duties), how and by what road I am to convey the oblation to you!’ for as one says to those for whom food has been cooked, ‘order me how I am to bring if you, how I am to serve it up for you!’ in like manner he is desirous of directions regarding the gods, and for this reason he mutters thus, ‘instruct me how I may utter the Vashat-call for you in its proper order, how I may bring you the oblation in its proper order!’