1Pragâpati alone, indeed, existed here in the beginning. He considered, ‘How may I be reproduced?’ He toiled and performed acts of penance. He generated Agni from his mouth; and because he generated him from his mouth, therefore Agni is a consumer of food: and, verily, he who thus knows Agni to be a consumer of food, becomes himself a consumer of food.
2He thus generated him first (agre) of the gods; and therefore (he is called) Agni, for agni (they say) is the same as agri. He, being generated, went forth as the first (pûrva); for of him who goes first, they say that he goes at the head (agre). Such, then, is the origin and nature of that Agni.
3Pragâpati then considered, ‘In that Agni I have generated a food-eater for myself; but, indeed, there is no other food here but myself, whom, surely, he would not eat.’ At that time this earth had, indeed, been rendered quite bald; there were neither plants nor trees. This, then, weighed on his mind.
4Thereupon Agni turned towards him with open mouth; and he (Pragâpati) being terrified, his own greatness departed from him. Now his own greatness is his speech: that speech of his departed from him. He desired an offering in his own self, and rubbed (his hands); and because he rubbed (his hands), therefore both this and this (palm) are hairless. He then obtained either a butter-offering or a milk-offering; but, indeed, they are both milk.
5This (offering), however, did not satisfy him, because it had hairs mixed with it. He poured it away (into the fire), saying, ‘Drink, while burning (osham dhaya)!’ From it plants sprang: hence their name ‘plants (oshadhayah).’ He rubbed (his hands) a second time, and thereby obtained another offering, either a butter-offering or a milk-offering; but, indeed, they are both milk.
6This (offering) then satisfied him. He hesitated: ‘Shall I offer it up? shall I not offer it up?’ he thought. His own greatness said to him, ‘Offer it up!’ Pragâpati was aware that it was his own (sva) greatness that had spoken (âha) to him; and offered it up with ‘Svâhâ!’ This is why offerings are made with ‘Svâhâ!’ Thereupon that burning one (viz. the sun) rose; and then that blowing one (viz. the wind) sprang up; whereupon, indeed, Agni turned away.
7And Pragâpati, having performed offering, reproduced himself, and saved himself from Agni, Death, as he was about to devour him. And, verily, whosoever, knowing this, offers the Agnihotra, reproduces himself by offspring even as Pragâpati reproduced himself; and saves himself from Agni, Death, when he is about to devour him.
8And when he dies, and when they place him on the fire, then he is born (again) out of the fire, and the fire only consumes his body. Even as he is born from his father and mother, so is he born from the fire. But he who offers not the Agnihotra, verily, he does not come into life at all: therefore the Agnihotra should by all means be offered.
9And as to that same birth from out of doubt, when Pragâpati doubted, he, while doubting, remained steadfast on the better (side), insomuch that he reproduced himself and saved himself from Agni, Death, when he was about to devour him: so he also who knows that birth from out of doubt, when he doubts about anything, still remains on the better (side).
10Having offered, he rubbed (his hands). Thence a Vikaṅkata tree sprung forth; and therefore that tree is suitable for the sacrifice, and proper for sacrificial vessels. Thereupon those (three) heroes among the gods were born, viz. Agni, that blower (Vâyu), and Sûrya: and, verily, whosoever thus knows those heroes among the gods, to him a hero is born.
11They then said, ‘We come after our father Pragâpati: let us then create what shall come after us!’ Having enclosed (a piece of ground), they sang praises with the gâyatrî stanza without the ‘Hiṅ :’ and that (with) which they enclosed was the ocean; and this earth was the praising-ground (âstâva).
12When they had sung praises, they went out towards the east, saying, ‘We (will) go back thither!’ The gods came upon a cow which had sprung into existence. Looking up at them, she uttered the sound ‘hiṅ.’ The gods perceived that this was the ‘Hiṅ’ of the Sâman (melodious sacrificial chant); for heretofore (their song was) without the but after that it was the (real) Sâman. And as this same sound ‘Hiṅ’ of the Sâman was in the cow, therefore the latter affords the means of subsistence; and so does he afford the means of subsistence whosoever thus knows that ‘Hiṅ’ of the Sâman in the cow.
13They said, ‘Auspicious, indeed, is what we have produced here, who have produced the cow: for, truly, she is the sacrifice, and without her no sacrifice is performed; she is also the food, for the cow, indeed, is all food.’
14This (word ‘go’), then, is a name of those (cows), and so it is of the sacrifice: let him, therefore, repeat it, (as it were) saying, ‘Good, excellent!’ and, verily, whosoever, knowing this, repeats it; (as it were) saying, ‘Good, excellent!’ with him those (cows) multiply, and the sacrifice will incline to him.
15Now, Agni coveted her: ‘May I pair with her,’ he thought. He united with her, and his seed became that milk of hers: hence, while the cow is raw, that milk in her is cooked (warm); for it is Agni’s seed; and therefore also, whether it be in a black or in a red (cow), it is ever white, and shining like fire, it being Agni’s seed. Hence it is warm when first milked; for it is Agni’s seed.
16They (the men) said, ‘Come, let us offer this up!’ ’To whom of us shall they first offer this?’ (said those gods). ’To me!’ said Agni. ’To me!’ said that blower (Vâyu). ’To me!’ said Sûrya. They did not come to an agreement; and not being agreed, they said, ‘Let us go to our father Pragâpati; and to whichever of us he says it shall be offered first, to him they shall first offer this.’ They went to their father Pragâpati, and said, ‘To whom of us shall they offer this first?’
17He replied, ‘To Agni: Agni will forthwith cause his own seed to be reproduced, and so you will be reproduced.’ ‘Then to thee,’ he said to Sûrya; ‘and what of the offered (milk) he then is still possessed of, that shall belong to that blower (Vâyu)!’ And, accordingly, they in the same way offer this (milk) to them till this day: in the evening to Agni, and in the morning to Sûrya; and what of the offered (milk) he then is still possessed of, that, indeed, belongs to that blower.
18By offering, those gods were produced in the way in which they were produced, by it they gained that victory which they did gain: Agni conquered this world, Vâyu the air, and Sûrya the sky. And whosoever, knowing this, offers the Agnihotra, he, indeed, is produced in the same way in which they were then produced, he gains that same victory which they then gained; indeed, he shares the same world with them, whosoever, knowing this, offers the Agnihotra. Therefore the Agnihotra should certainly be performed.