by Hermann Oldenberg | 1886 | 27,388 words

Most of the questions referring to the Grihya-sutra of Ashvalayana will be treated of more conveniently in connection with the different subjects which we shall have to discuss in our General Introduction to the Grihya-sutras. Alternative titles: Āśvalāyana-gṛhya-sūtra (आश्वलायन-गृह्य-सूत्र), Ashvalayana, grhya, Āśvalāyanagṛhyasūtra (आश्वलायनगृह्य...

Adhyāya I, Kaṇḍikā 23

1[1]. He chooses priests (for officiating at a sacrifice) with neither deficient nor superfluous limbs, 'who on the mother's and on the father's side (&c.),' as it has been said above.

2. Let him choose young men as officiating priests: thus (declare) some (teachers).

3. He chooses first the Brahman, then the Hotṛ, then the Adhvaryu, then the Udgātṛ.

4[2]. Or all who officiate at the Ahīna sacrifices and at those lasting one day.

5[3]. The Kauṣītakinas prescribe the Sadasya as the seventeenth, saying, 'He is the looker-on at the performances.'

6[4]. This has been said in the two Ṛcas, 'He whom the officiating priests, performing (the sacrifice) in many ways' (Rig-veda VIII, 58, I. 2).

7[5]. He chooses the Hotṛ first.

8. With (the formula), 'Agni is my Hotṛ; he is my Hotṛ; I choose thee N.N. as my Hotṛ' (he chooses) the Hotṛ.

9. With (the formula), 'Candramas (the moon) is my Brahman; he is my Brahman; I choose thee N.N. as my Brahman' (he chooses) the Brahman.

10. With (the formula), 'Āditya (the sun) is my Adhvaryu; (he is my Adhvaryu, &c.)'—the Adhvaryu.

11. With (the formula), 'Parjanya is my Udgātṛ; (he is my Udgātṛ, &c.)'—the Udgātṛ.

12[6]. With (the formula), 'The waters are my reciters of what belongs to the Hotrakas'—the Hotrakas.

13[7]. With (the formula), 'The rays are my Camasādhvaryus'—the Camasādhvaryus.

14. With (the formula), 'The ether is my Sadasya'—the Sadasya.

15. He whom he has chosen should murmur, 'A great thing thou hast told me; splendour thou hast told me; fortune thou hast told me; glory thou hast told me; praise thou hast told me; success thou hast told me; enjoyment thou hast told me; satiating thou hast told me; everything thou hast told me.'

16. Having murmured (this formula), the Hotṛ declares his assent (in the words), 'Agni is thy Hotṛ; he is thy Hotṛ; thy human Hotṛ am I.'

17. 'Candramas (the moon) is thy Brahman; he is thy Brahman (&c.)'—thus the Brahman.

18. In the same way the others according to the prescriptions (given above).

19[8]. And if (the priest who accepts the invitation) is going to perform the sacrifice (for the inviting person, he should add), 'May that bless me; may that enter upon me; may I thereby enjoy (bliss).'

20[9]. The functions of an officiating priest are not to be exercised, if abandoned (by another priest), or at an Ahīna sacrifice with small sacrificial fee, or for a person that is sick, or suffering, or affected with consumption, or decried among the people in his village, or of despised extraction: for such persons (the functions of a Ritvij should not be exercised).

21[10]. He (who is chosen as a Ṛtvij) should ask the Somapravāka, 'What sacrifice is it? Who are the priests officiating? What is the fee for the sacrifice?'

22. If (all the conditions) are favourable, he should accept.

23. Let (the officiating priests) eat no flesh nor have intercourse with a wife until the completion of the sacrifice.

24. 'By this prayer, O Agni, increase' (Rig-veda I, 31, 18)—with (this verse) let him offer (at the end of the sacrifice) an oblation of Ājya in (his own) Dakṣiṇāgni, and go away where he likes;

25. In the same way one who has not set up the (Śrauta) fires, in his (sacred) domestic fire with this Ṛc, 'Forgive us, O Agni, this sin' (Rig-veda I, 31, 16).

Footnotes and references:


23, 1. Comp. Śrauta-sūtra IX, 3, 20; Gṛhya-sūtra I, 5, 1.


The Ahīna sacrifices are those which last more than one day, but not more than twelve days. (Indische Studien, IX, 373; X, 355.) The priests officiating at such sacrifices are the sixteen stated in the Śrauta-sūtra IV, 1, 6. 7. Those besides the sixteen, though they are chosen (saty api varaṇe) for taking part in the sacred performances, have not the rank of ṛtvijas (officiating priests); such are the Sadasya, the Samitṛ, and the Camasādhvaryavaḥ (schol. Śrautas. loc. cit.). See Max Müller's History of A. S. L., pp. 450, 469 seq. As to the Sadasya, however, there was some difference of opinion (see the next Sūtra).


On the office of the Sadasya, see Indische Studien, X, 136, 144.


The two Ṛcas quoted here belong to the tenth among the Vālakhilya hymns, a hymn omitted in many of the Rig-veda MSS. They give no special confirmation to the rules stated in our text, but contain only a general allusion to the unity of the sacrifice, which the various priests perform in many various ways.


'If the four (chief) priests have to be chosen, the choosing of the Brāhmaṇa stands first in order (see above, Sūtra 3); if all (the sixteen), then the choosing of the Hotṛ stands first in order.' Nārāyaṇa.


The twelve priests of the sixteen (see § 4 note) who do not stand at the head of one of the four categories. Those at the head are enumerated in the Sutras


13, 14. See above, § 4 note.


Priests who only perform the Agnyādheya for a person, are, according to Nārāyaṇa's note on this Sūtra, not considered as p. 196 performing a sacrifice for him; consequently the formula given here is only to be used by priests who are elected for a Soma sacrifice. Stenzler translates, 'So spricht er, wenn er das Opfer durch sie vollziehen lassen will.' But this would be yakṣyamāṇaḥ, not yājayiṣyan.


The tradition takes nīcadakṣiṇasya as in apposition to ahīnasya, and I have translated accordingly. But I cannot help thinking that the two words should be separated, so that we should have to translate, 'or at an Ahīna, or for a person that gives small sacrificial fee.' Thus the Brāhmaṇa quoted by Āpastamba (see the commentary on the Pañcaviṃśa Brāhmaṇa, vol. i, p. 6, ed. Bibl. Indica) gives the following questions which the Ritvij to be chosen should ask, 'Is it no Ahīna sacrifice? Is the Ritvij office not abandoned by others? Is the sacrificial fee plentiful?' It is a very singular fact, that on the one hand the assistance of a number of Ṛtvijas was unanimously declared necessary for the performance of an Ahīna sacrifice, while on the other hand it was considered objectionable, at least among some of the Vedic schools, to officiate at such a sacrifice. See Weber's Indische Studien, X, 150, 151.


The Somapravāka is the messenger who invites the priests on behalf of the sacrificer to officiate at his intended Soma sacrifice. Comp. Indische Studien, IX, 308.

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