1Now the Seasons were desirous to have a share in the sacrifice among the gods, and said, ‘Let us share in the sacrifice! Do not exclude us from the sacrifice! Let us have a share in the sacrifice!’
2The gods, however, did not approve of this. The gods not approving, the Seasons went to the Asuras, the malignant, spiteful enemies of the gods.
3Those (Asuras) then throve in such a manner that they (the gods) heard of it; for even while the foremost (of the Asuras) were still ploughing and sowing, those behind them were already engaged in reaping and threshing: indeed even without tilling the plants ripened forthwith for them.
4This now caused anxiety to the gods: ‘That owing to that (desertion of the Seasons), enemy (viz. the Asuras) seeks to injure enemy (viz. us) is of little consequence; but this indeed goes too far: try to find out how henceforth this may be different!’
5They then said, ‘Let us invite the Seasons!’ How? Let us offer prayer to them first of all at the sacrifice!’
6Agni then said, ‘But whereas hitherto you used to offer prayer to me in the first place, what is now to become of me?’ ‘We will not remove you from your place!’ said they. And since, in inviting the Seasons, they did not remove Agni from his place, for that reason Agni is immutable ; and verily, he who knows that Agni to be immutable, does not move from the place where he bides.
7The gods said to Agni, ‘Go and invite them hither!’ Agni went to them and said, ‘O Seasons, I have obtained for you a share in the sacrifice among the gods.’ They said, ‘In what form hast thou obtained it for us?’ He replied, ‘They will offer prayer to you first at the sacrifice.’
8The Seasons said to Agni, ‘We will let thee share along with us in the sacrifice who hast obtained for us a share in the sacrifice among the gods!’ And because Agni has been allowed a share along with the Seasons (the offering-prayers are): ‘The Samidhs, O Agni, (may accept the butter)…!’ ‘Tanûnapât, O Agni…!’ ‘The Ids, O Agni…!’ ‘The Barhis, O Agni…!’ ‘Svâhâ Agni!’ And verily, whosoever knows that Agni is thus allowed to share (in the sacrifice) along with the Seasons, he is allowed to participate in whatever auspicious rite is performed by one who professes to be equal (in that knowledge) to him; for him, being possessed of Agni, the Seasons, themselves possessed of Agni, ripen the plants and everything here.
9Now, as to this point, some raise the objection, ‘But since they invite the fore-offerings last of all (at the two libations of butter), why do they offer prayer to them first of all?’ Because they established them last of all in the sacrifice ; and because they said, ‘we will offer prayer to you first:’ for that reason they invite them last, and offer prayer to them first.
10By the fourth fore-offering the gods, assuredly, obtained the sacrifice, and by the fifth they firmly established it; and by what part of the sacrifice after that remained unaccomplished they gained the world of heaven.
11In going to heaven they were afraid of an attack from the Asuras and Rakshas. They placed Agni at their head, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; they placed Agni in their midst, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; they placed Agni in their rear, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas.
12And if the Asuras and Rakshas wished to attack them in front, Agni repelled them, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; if they wished to attack in the centre, Agni repelled them, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; and if they wished to attack in the rear, Agni repelled them, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas: being thus guarded on all sides by Agnis, they reached the world of heaven.
13And in the same way this one now obtains the sacrifice by means of the fourth fore-offering, and by means of the fifth he establishes it; and by what part of the sacrifice after that remains un-accomplished, he gains the world of heaven.
14Now when he pronounces the offering-prayer over Agni’s butter-portion, he thereby places Agni in front, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; and when Agni’s sacrificial cake is (offered), he thereby places Agni in the midst, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; and when he pronounces the offering-prayer to Agni Svishtakrit (the maker of good offering), he thereby places Agni in the rear, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas.
15And if the Asuras and Rakshas try to attack him (the sacrificer) in front, Agni repels them, as the Rakshas-killer, the Repeller of the Rakshas: if they try to attack him in the centre, Agni repels them, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas; and if they try to attack him from behind, Agni repels them, as the Rakshas-killer, the repeller of the Rakshas: being thus guarded on every side by Agnis, he gains the world of heaven.
16And if any one were to imprecate evil on him previously to (or, in the fore-part of) the (chief) sacrifice, let him be thus spoken to, ‘Thou shalt suffer some disease of the face! thou shalt become either blind or deaf!’ for these, in truth, are diseases of the face: and thus it would indeed fare with him.
17If any one were to imprecate evil on him in the middle of the sacrifice, let him be thus spoken to, ‘Thou shalt be without offspring, without cattle!’ for offspring and cattle, indeed, constitute the centre (i.e. the substantial possession of man): and thus it would indeed fare with him.
18If any one were to imprecate evil on him after the completion of the (chief) sacrifice, let him be thus spoken to, ‘Unstable and poor, thou shalt swiftly go to yonder world!’ for thus it would indeed fare with him. One should not therefore utter imprecations: for whosoever thus understands this has the advantage.
19He who gains by means of the fore-offerings, assuredly, gains the year . But he alone gains it who knows its doors; for what were he to do with a house who cannot find his way inside? Even as those (fore-offerings) are (the doors) of this (sacrifice), so is the spring a door, and so is the winter a door, of that (year). This same year he enters, as the world of heaven; for, assuredly, the year is all, and the All (universe) is imperishable: his thereby becomes imperishable merit, the imperishable world.
20Here now some say, ‘To what deity belong the butter-portions?’ Let him reply, ‘To Pragâpati;’ for, assuredly, Pragâpati is undefined (mysterious); and undefined are the butter-portions, because they have the sacrificer for their deity; for the sacrificer is Pragâpati at his own sacrifice, since it is by his order that the priests spread and produce it.
21Having basted the havis with butter and made two cuttings from it, he pours some of the butter thereon: thus the oblation is offered combined with butter, and thereby indeed it is offered combined with the sacrificer; and for one who knows this, whether he has a sacrifice performed for him while he is far away, or while he is near, the sacrifice is performed in the same way as it would be performed if he were near; and he who knows this, even though he do much evil, is not shut out from the sacrifice.