1Once on a time the gods deposited with Agni all their beasts, both domestic and wild; either because they were about to engage in battle or from a desire of free scope, or because they thought that he (Agni) would protect them as the best protector.
2Now Agni coveted them and seizing them he entered the night with them. ‘Let us go back thither,’ said the gods, and betook themselves to where Agni was concealed. Now they knew that he had entered there, that he had entered the night; and when the night returned in the evening, they approached him and said, ‘Give us our beasts! give us back our beasts!’ Agni then gave them back their beasts.
3For this then let him respectfully approach the two fires: the fires are givers, and thereby he supplicates them. Let him approach them in the evening, for in the evening the gods approached (Agni). And whosoever, knowing this, approaches (the two fires), to him, indeed, they grant cattle.
4Then as to why he should not approach them. Now in the beginning both the gods and men were together here. And whatever did not belong to the men, for that they importuned the gods, saying, ‘This is not ours: let it be ours!’ Being indignant at this importunity, the gods then disappeared. Hence (it may be argued) one should not approach (the fires), fearing lest he should offend them, lest he should become hateful to them.
5Then as to why he should nevertheless approach (the fires). The sacrifice, assuredly, belongs to the gods, and the prayer for blessing to the sacrificer. Now the (Agnihotra) libation, doubtless, is the same as the sacrifice; and what he does in now approaching (the fires), that indeed is the sacrificer’s prayer for blessing.
6And again, why he should not approach (the fires). Whosoever follows either a Brâhman or Kshatriya, praising him, thinking, ‘He will give me gifts, he will build me a house,’ to him, if he strives to please him both in speech and deed, that (master of his) will think himself bound to give gifts. Whosoever, on the other hand, says, ‘What art thou to me, that givest me nothing?’ him that (master) is likely to hate, to become disgusted with. Hence one should not approach (the fire); for by kindling and offering in it, he already supplicates it, and he should not therefore approach (and importune it again).
7And again, why he should nevertheless approach (the fires). He alone that asks finds a giver; and the master, moreover, knows nothing of his dependent. But when the latter says, ‘I am thy dependent: support me!’ then he does know him and feels himself bound to support him. Let him therefore approach (the fires). This then is the whole (argument) as to why one should approach (the fires).
8Now that (fire) being Pragâpati, when the Agnihotra is offered, he casts the seed of all that he rules over, of all that is after his manner: and by approaching (the fire) one imitates (him in) all this, one reproduces all this .
9He begins to pray with the verse containing the word ‘upon (upa).’ Now the word ‘upon’ means this (earth), and that in a twofold way: for whatever is produced here, that is produced upon (upa-gan) this (earth); and whatever decays, that is buried (upa-vap ) in this (earth): hence there is here imperishable, ever-increasing abundance, and with that imperishable abundance he begins.
10He prays, ‘Entering upon the worship,’ worship (adhvara) doubtless means sacrifice: ‘entering upon the sacrifice’ is what he means to say. ‘ Let us offer prayer to Agni ,’ for he is indeed about to offer prayer to him; ‘to him who hears us even from afar!’ thereby he means to say, ‘Although thou art afar from us, yet do thou hear this our (prayer), do thou so far think well of it!’
11[He continues], ‘Agni, the head, the summit of the sky; he, the lord of the earth, animates the seeds of the waters.’ He thereby follows (and praises) him: even as a supplicant would speak politely, ‘Surely thou art the descendant of so and so! surely thou art able to do this!’ so (he does) by this (verse).
12Thereupon the verse to Indra and Agni, ‘You two, O Indra and Agni, I will invoke; you two I will delight together with kindly office; you two, the givers of strength and wealth, you two I invoke for the obtainment of strength!’ Indra, doubtless, is the same as that burning (sun); when he sets, then he enters the Âhavanîya; hence he now approaches these two that are thus united, thinking, ‘May the two, united, grant me favours:’ this is why the Indra-Agni (verse is muttered).
13[He continues], ‘This is thy natural womb, whence born thou shonest forth: knowing this, arise, O Agni, and increase our substance!’ substance, doubtless, means affluence: ‘grant to us ever-increasing affluence!’ is what he thereby says.
14‘First was he founded by the founders here, the best offering priest, worthy of praise at the sacrifices; he whom Apnavâna and the Bhrigus kindled , shining brightly in the wood, and spreading from house to house:’ even as a supplicant would speak politely, ‘Surely thou art the descendant of so and so! surely thou art able to do this!’ so in this (verse). And what he (Agni) really is, as such he speaks of him when he says ‘spreading from house to house,’ for he does indeed spread from house to house.
15‘In accordance with his old (pratna) splendour, the dauntless have milked the shining juice from the wise one that giveth a hundredfold.’ The richest of gifts, indeed, is the hundredfold gift; and in order to obtain that (giver) he says, ‘the wise one that giveth a hundredfold.’
16This is a hymn of six verses collected (from the Rik); the first of them containing (the word) ‘upon,’ and the last containing (the word) ‘old’ (pratna). And this we recited, because she (the earth) is the one that contains the (word) ‘upon;’ and that which is ‘old’ doubtless is yonder (sky), for as many gods as there were ‘of old,’ in the beginning, so many gods there are now, and hence the ‘old’ means yonder (sky). Now within these two (worlds) all desires are contained; and these two are in accord with each other for his (the sacrificer’s) benefit, and concede all his wishes.
17Thrice he mutters the first (verse) and thrice the last; for of threefold beginning are sacrifices, and of threefold termination: therefore he mutters thrice the first and the last (verses).
18Now, in offering the Agnihotra, whatever mistake one commits, either in word or deed, thereby he injures either his own body, or his life, or his vigour, or his offspring.
19Accordingly (he mutters the texts), ‘Thou, O Agni, art the protector of bodies: protect my body! Thou, O Agni, art the giver of life: give me life! Thou, O Agni, art the giver of vigour: give me vigour! O Agni, what defect there is in my body, supply that for me!’
20And whatever mistake he commits, in offering the Agnihotra, either in word or deed, thereby he injures either his own body, or his life, or his vigour, or his offspring: ‘make that up for me!’ he thereby says; and accordingly that (defect) is again made up for him.
21[He continues], ‘Kindled, we enkindle thee, the brilliant one, a hundred winters ;’ he thereby says, ‘may we live a hundred years;’ and ‘so long we enkindle thee, the great one,’ he says, when he says ‘we enkindle thee, the brilliant one.’ ‘We, the vigorous thee, the invigorating; we, the strong thee, the giver of strength;’ whereby he says, ‘may we be vigorous, mayest thou be invigorating! may we be strong, mayest thou be a giver of strength!’ ‘We, the uninjured thee, the uninjurable injurer of enemies!’ whereby he says, ‘by thine aid may we render our enemies utterly miserable!’
22‘O thou, rich in lights, may I safely reach thine end!’ this he mutters thrice. She that is rich in lights (kitrâvasu) doubtless is the night, since the latter, as it were, rests (vas) after gathering together the lights (kitrâ): hence (at night) one does not see clearly (kitram) from afar.
23Now it was by means of this same (text) that the Rishis reached safely the end of the night; and because of it the evil spirits, the Rakshas, did not find them: by it, therefore, he also now reaches safely the end of the night; and because of it the evil spirits, the Rakshas, find him not. This much he mutters while standing.
24Thereupon, while seated, (he mutters), ‘Thou, O Agni, hast attained to Sûrya’s lustre;’ this he says, because, in setting, the sun enters the Âhavanîya; ‘to the praise of the Rishis;’ this he says, because he himself now approaches (and worships, praises, the fire); ‘to the favourite abode (or dainty);’ his (Agni’s) favourite abode doubtless are the offerings: ‘to offerings’ he thereby says. ‘ May I attain to long life, to lustre, to offspring, to increase of wealth!’ whereby he says, ‘Even as thou didst attain to those (qualities), so may I attain to long life, lustre, offspring, affluence, that is to say, to prosperity.’
25He then approaches the cow , with the text, ‘Food ye are: may I enjoy your food! wealth ye are: may I enjoy your wealth!’ whereby he means to say, ‘whatever energies are yours, whatever riches are yours, may I enjoy them.’ ‘Strength ye are: may I enjoy your strength!’ whereby he says, ‘sap ye are: may I enjoy your sap!’ ’Affluence ye are: may I enjoy your affluence!’ whereby he says, ‘abundance ye are: may I enjoy your abundance!’
26‘Ye prosperous ones, disport yourselves;’ cattle are prosperous: therefore he says, ‘ye prosperous ones, disport yourselves;’ ‘ in this seat, in this fold, in this place, in this homestead: remain here, go not from hence!’ this he says with reference to himself, ’go not away from me!’
27He then touches the cow, with the text, ‘Motley thou art, of all shapes;’ for cattle are indeed of all shapes: therefore he calls her all-shaped; ‘come to me with sap and possession of cattle!’ when he says ‘with sap,’ he means to say ‘with juice;’ and when he says with possession of cattle,’ he means to say ‘with abundance.’
28He then steps up to the Gârhapatya, and renders homage to it, with the text, ‘Thee, O Agni, illuminer of the night , we approach day by day with prayer, paying homage unto thee.’ He thus renders homage to it in order that it may not injure him.
29[He continues], ‘Thee that rulest over the sacrifices, the brilliant guardian of the sacred rite, thriving in thine own house;’ whereby he means to say, ‘thine own house is this (house) of mine: make it ever more flourishing for us!’
30‘O Agni, be thou accessible unto us, even as a father is to his son! lead us unto well-being!’ whereby he says, ‘As a father is easy of access to his son, and the latter in no wise injures him, so be thou easy of access to us, and may we in no wise injure thee!’
31Then the dvipadâ verses, ‘O Agni, be ever nigh unto us, a kindly guardian and protector! as wealthy Agni, famed for wealth, come hither and bestow on us glorious riches! Thee, the most bright and resplendent, we now approach for happiness to our friends: be with us, hear our call, and keep us safe from every evil-doer!’
32Now when he approaches the Âhavanîya, he prays for cattle: he therefore approaches it with metres great and small, since cattle are of great and small size. And when he approaches the Gârhapatya, he prays for men: hence the first tristich is in the gâyatrî metre, since the gâyatrî is Agni’s metre, and he thus approaches him with his own metre.
33Thereupon (he mutters) the dvipadâ (two-footed) verses. The dvipadâ, doubtless, is man’s metre, since man is two-footed, and men are therewith prayed for: and as he now prays for men, therefore (he uses) dvipadâ verses. And whosoever, knowing this, approaches (the two fires), becomes possessed both of cattle and men.
34He then goes (again) to the cow, with the text, ‘O Idâ, come hither! O Aditi, come hither!’ for both Idâ and Aditi are cows. He touches her with, ‘Come hither, ye much-desired!’ for men’s wishes are fixed on them, and hence he says, ‘come hither, ye much-desired;’ ’Let there be for me the fulfilment of wishes from you!’ whereby he says, ‘may I be dear to you!’
35Thereupon, while standing between the Âhavanîya and Gârhapatya and looking eastward at the (former) fire, he mutters, ‘O Lord of prayer, make him sweet-voiced, the offerer of Soma, Kakshîvat, Usig’s son! Be he with us, he the opulent, the killer of woe, the bestower of wealth, the increaser of prosperity, he the nimble! Let not the curse of the evil-doer reach us, nor the guile of the mortal: preserve us, O Lord of prayer!’
36Now when he approaches the Âhavanîya, he approaches the sky; and when (he approaches) the Gârhapatya, (he approaches) the earth. Hereby now (he approaches) the ether, that being Brihaspati’s region; and that region he thereby approaches: this is why he mutters the prayer to Brihaspati.
37[He continues], ‘May the mighty, the heavenly, the unassailable favour of the three, Mitra, Aryaman, and Varuna, be (with us)! For the wicked enemy lords it not over them (that are protected by these gods), neither at home nor on dangerous paths: for those sons of Aditi bestow undying light on the mortal that he may live!’ In this (prayer) he says, ‘nor on dangerous paths;’ for dangerous indeed are the paths that lie between heaven and earth: those he now walks, and therefore he says, ‘nor on dangerous paths.’
38Then follows a verse to Indra; for Indra is the deity of the sacrifice, and with Indra therefore he now connects the fire-worship: ‘At no time, O Indra, art thou barren; and never dost thou fail the worshipper;’ the worshipper, doubtless, is the sacrificer: ‘never dost thou harm the sacrificer,’ this is what he thereby says: ‘but more and evermore is thy gift increased, O mighty god!’ thereby he says, ‘do thou make us ever more prosperous here!’
39Then follows a verse to Savitri, for Savitri is the impeller (prasavitri) of the gods; and thus all his (the sacrificer’s) wishes are fulfilled, impelled as they are by Savitri. (He mutters), ‘May we obtain the glorious light of the divine Savitri, who, we trust, may inspire our prayers!’
40Thereupon a verse to Agni (Vâg. S. III, 36), whereby he finally makes himself over to Agni for protection: ‘May thine unapproachable chariot, wherewith thou protectest the worshippers, encircle us on every side!’ The worshippers, doubtless, are the sacrificers; and what unassailable chariot he (Agni) possesses, therewith he protects the sacrificers. Hence he thereby means to say, ‘what unassailable chariot thou possessest, wherewith thou protectest the sacrificers, therewith do thou guard us on every side.’ This (verse) he mutters thrice.
41He then pronounces his son’s name : ‘May this son carry on this manly deed of mine!’ Should he have no son, let him insert his own name.