First Brahmana

1He who is about to enter on the vow, touches water whilst standing between the Âhavanîya and Gârhapatya fires, with his face turned towards east. The reason why he touches water is, that man is (sacrificially) impure on account of his speaking untruth; and because by that act an internal purification (is effected), for water is indeed (sacrificially) pure. ‘After becoming sacrificially pure, I will enter on the vow,’ thus (he thinks); for water is indeed purifying. ‘Having become purified through the purifying one, I will enter on the vow,’ thus (he thinks, and) this is the reason why he touches water.
2Looking towards the fire, he enters on the vow, with the text: ‘O Agni, Lord of Vows! I will keep the vow! may I be equal to it, may I succeed in it!’ For Agni is Lord of Vows to the gods, and it is to him therefore that he addresses these words. In the words, ‘I will observe the vow; may I be equal to it; may I succeed in it,’ there is nothing that requires explanation.
3After the completion (of the sacrifice) he divests himself (of the vow), with the text, ‘O Agni, Lord of Vows! I have kept the vow; I have been equal to it; I have succeeded in it;’ for he who has attained the completion of the sacrifice, has indeed been equal to it; and he who has attained the completion of the sacrifice, has succeeded in it. It is in this way that most (sacrificers) will probably enter on the vow; but one may also enter on it in the following way.
4Twofold, verily, is this, there is no third, viz. truth and untruth. And verily the gods are the truth, and man is the untruth. Therefore in saying, ‘I now enter from untruth into truth,’ he passes from the men to the gods .
5Let him then only speak what is true; for this vow indeed the gods do keep, that they speak the truth; and for this reason, they are glorious: glorious therefore is he who, knowing this, speaks the truth.
6After the completion (of the sacrifice) he divests himself (of the vow), with the text: ‘Now I am he who I really am.’ For, in entering upon the vow, he becomes, as it were, nonhuman; and as it would not be becoming for him to say, ‘I enter from truth into untruth;’ and as, in fact, he now again becomes man, let him therefore divest himself (of the vow), with the text: ‘Now I am he who I really am.’
7Now then of the eating (or) fasting. And on this point Âshâdha Sâvayasa, on the one hand, was of opinion that the vow consisted in fasting. For assuredly, (he argued,) the gods see through the mind of man; they know that, when he enters on this vow, he means to sacrifice to them the next morning. Therefore all the gods betake themselves to his house, and abide by (him or the fires, upa-vas) in his house; whence this (day) is called upa-vasatha.
8Now, as it would even be unbecoming for him to take food, before men (who are staying with him as his guests) have eaten; how much more would it be so, if he were to take food before the gods (who are staying with him) have eaten: let him therefore take no food at all.
9Yâgñavalkya, on the other hand, said: ‘If he does not eat, he thereby becomes a sacrificer to the Manes; and if he does eat, he eats before the gods have eaten: let him therefore eat what, when eaten, counts as not eaten.’ For that of which no offering is made, even though it is eaten, is considered as not eaten. When he therefore eats, he does not become a sacrificer to the Manes; and by eating of that of which no offering is made, he does not eat before the gods have eaten.
10Let him therefore eat only what grows in the forest, be it forest plants or the fruit of trees. And in regard to this point Barku Vârshna said: ‘Cook ye beans for me, for no offering is made of them!’ This, however, he should not do; for pulse serves as an addition to rice and barley; and hence he increases the rice and barley by means of it: let him therefore eat only what grows in the forest.
11Let him sleep that night in the house of the Âhavanîya fire or in the house of the Gârhapatya fire. For he who enters on the vow approaches the gods; and he sleeps in the midst of those very gods whom he approaches. Let him sleep on the ground; for from below, as it were, one serves one’s superior.
12By way of his first act on the following morning he (the Adhvaryu priest) betakes himself to the water, and brings water forward: for water is (one of the means of) sacrifice. Hence by this his first act he approaches (engages in) the sacrifice; and by bringing (water) forward, he spreads out (prepares) the sacrifice.
13He brings it forward with those mysterious words: ‘Who (or Pragâpati) joins (or yokes) thee (to this fire)? He joins thee. For what (or, for Pragâpati) does he join thee? For that (or him) he joins thee!’ For Pragâpati is undefined (mysterious); Pragâpati is the sacrifice: hence he thereby yokes (gets ready for the performance) Pragâpati, this sacrifice.
14The reason why he brings forward water is, that all this (universe) is pervaded by water; hence by this his first act he pervades (or gains) all this (universe).
15And whatever here in this (sacrifice) the Hotri, or the Adhvaryu, or the Brahman, or the Âgnîdhra, or the sacrificer himself, does not succeed in accomplishing, all that is thereby obtained (or made good).
16Another reason why he brings forward water is this: whilst the gods were engaged in performing sacrifice, the Asuras and Rakshas forbade (raksh) them, saying, ‘Ye shall not sacrifice!’ and because they forbade (raksh), they are called Rakshas.
17The gods then perceived this thunderbolt, to wit, the water: the water is a thunderbolt, for the water is indeed a thunderbolt; hence wherever it goes, it produces a hollow (or depression of ground); and whatever it comes near, it destroys (lit. it burns up). Thereupon they took up that thunderbolt, and in its safe and foeless shelter they spread (performed) the sacrifice. And thus he (the Adhvaryu priest) likewise takes up this thunderbolt, and in its safe and foe less shelter spreads the sacrifice. This is the reason why he brings forward water.
18After pouring out some of it (into the jug) he puts it down north of the Gârhapatya fire. For water (ap) is female and fire (agni) is male; and the Gârhapatya is a house: hence a copulation productive of offspring is thereby effected in this house. Now he who brings forward the water, takes up a thunderbolt; but when he takes up the thunderbolt, he cannot do so unless he is firmly placed; for otherwise it destroys him.
19The reason then why he places it near the Gârhapatya fire is, that the Gârhapatya is a house, and a house is a safe resting-place; so that he thereby stands firmly in a house, and therefore in a safe resting-place: in this way that thunderbolt does not destroy him, for this reason he places it near the Gârhapatya fire.
20He then carries it north of the Âhavanîya fire. For water is female and fire is male: hence a copulation productive of offspring is thereby effected. And in this way alone a regular copulation can take place, since the woman lies on the left (or north) side of the man.
21Let nobody pass between the water (and the fire), lest by passing between them he should disturb the copulation which is taking place. Let him set the water down without carrying it beyond (the north side of the fire, i.e. not on the eastern side); nor should he put it down before reaching (the north side, i.e. not on the western side). For, if he were to put the water down after carrying it beyond, there being, as it were, a great rivalry between fire and water, he would cause this rivalry to break forth on the part of the fire; and when they (the priests and the sacrificer) touch the water of this (vessel), he would, by carrying it and setting it down beyond (the northern side), cause the enemy to rise (spirt) in the fire. If, on the other hand, he were to put it down before gaining (the northern side), he would not gain by it the fulfilment of the wish for which it has been brought forward. Let him therefore put it down exactly north of the Âhavanîya fire.
22He now strews sacrificial grass all round (the fires) , and fetches the utensils, taking two at a time, viz. the winnowing basket and the Agnihotra ladle, the wooden sword and the potsherds, the wedge and the black antelope skin, the mortar and the pestle, the large and the small mill-stones. These are ten in number; for of ten syllables consists the Virâg (metre), and radiant (virâg) also is the sacrifice: so that he thereby makes the sacrifice resemble the Virâg. The reason why he takes two at a time is, because a pair means strength; for when two undertake anything, there is strength in it. Moreover, a pair represents a productive copulation, so that a productive copulation (of those respective objects) is thereby effected.