by Julius Eggeling | 1882 | 730,838 words | ISBN-13: 9788120801134

This is Satapatha Brahmana I.2.3 English translation of the Sanskrit text, including a glossary of technical terms. This book defines instructions on Vedic rituals and explains the legends behind them. The four Vedas are the highest authortity of the Hindu lifestyle revolving around four castes (viz., Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaishya and Shudra). Satapatha (also, Śatapatha, shatapatha) translates to “hundred paths”. This page contains the text of the 3rd brahmana of kanda I, adhyaya 2.

Kanda I, adhyaya 2, brahmana 3

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]


1. Fourfold, namely, was Agni (fire) at first. Now that Agni whom they at first chose for the office of Hotṛ priest passed away. He also whom they chose the second time passed away. He also whom they chose the third time passed away[1]. Thereupon the one who still constitutes the fire in our own time, concealed himself from fear. He entered into the waters. Him the gods discovered and brought forcibly away from the waters. He spat upon the waters, saying, 'Bespitten are ye who are an unsafe place of refuge, from whom they take me away against my will!' Thence sprung the Āptya deities, Trita, Dvita, and Ekata.

2. They roamed about with Indra, even as nowadays a Brāhman follows in the train of a king. When he slew Viśvarūpa, the three-headed son of Tvaṣṭṛ, they also knew of his going to be killed.; and straightway Trita slew him. Indra, assuredly, was free from that (sin), for he is a god[2].

3. And the people thereupon said: 'Let those be guilty of the sin who knew about his going to be killed! 'How?' they asked. 'The sacrifice shall wipe it off upon (shall transfer it to) them!' they said. Hence the sacrifice thereby wipes off upon them (the guilt or impurity incurred in the preparation of the offering), when they pour out for them the water with which the dish has been rinsed, and that in which he (the Adhvaryu) has washed his fingers.

4. And the Āptyas then said: 'Let us make this pass on beyond us!' 'On whom?' they asked. 'On him who shall make an offering without a dakṣiṇā (gift to the officiating priests)!' they said. Hence one must not make an offering without a dakṣiṇā; for the sacrifice wipes (the guilt) off upon the Āptyas, and the Āptyas wipe it off upon him who makes an offering without a dakṣiṇā.

5. Thereupon the gods ordained this to be the dakṣiṇā at the new- and full-moon sacrifices, to wit, the Anvāhārya mess of rice[3], 'lest the oblation should be without a dakṣiṇā.' That (rinsing water) he pours out (for each Āptya) separately: thus he avoids a quarrel among them. He makes it hot (previously)[4]: thus it becomes boiled (drinkable) for them. He pours it out with the formulas, 'For Trita thee!' 'For Dvita thee!' 'For Ekata thee!'--Now it is as an animal sacrifice that this sacrificial cake is offered[5].

6. At first, namely, the gods offered up a man as the victim[6]. When he was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of him. It entered into the horse. They offered up the horse. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the ox. They offered up the ox. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the sheep. They offered up the sheep. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the goat. They offered up the goat. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it.

7. It entered into this earth. They searched for it, by digging. They found it (in the shape of) those two (substances), the rice and barley: therefore even now they obtain those two by digging; and as much efficacy as all those sacrificed animal victims would have for him, so much efficacy has this oblation (of rice &c.) for him who knows this. And thus there is in this oblation also that completeness which they call 'the fivefold animal sacrifice.'

8. When it (the rice-cake) still consists of rice-meal, it is the hair[7]. When he pours water on it, it becomes skin[8]. When he mixes it, it becomes flesh: for then it becomes consistent; and consistent also is the flesh. When it is baked, it becomes bone: for then it becomes somewhat hard; and hard is the bone. And when he is about to take it off (the fire) and sprinkles it with butter, he changes it into marrow. This is the completeness which they call 'the fivefold animal sacrifice.'

9. The man (puruṣa) whom they had offered up became a mock-man (kim-puruṣa[9]). Those two, the horse and the ox, which they had sacrificed, became a bos gaurus and a gayal (bos gavaeus) respectively. The sheep which they had sacrificed, became a camel. The goat which they had sacrificed, became a śarabha[10]. For this reason one should not eat (the flesh) of these animals, for these animals are deprived of the sacrificial essence (are impure).

Footnotes and references:


In I, 3, 3, 13-16, the three former Agnis (or the three brothers of Agni, acc. to Mahīdh., Vāj. S. II, 2) are said to have fled from fear of the thunderbolt, in the shape of the vaṣaṭ formula.


Cf. I, 6, 3, 1 seq. In the Taitt. Sarah. II, 5, 1, 1, Viśvarūpa, the Tvāṣṭra, is said to have been a sister's son of the Asuras, and p. 48 house-priest (purohita) to the gods, and to have been killed by Indra, because he had secretly contrived to let the oblations go to the Asuras, instead of to the gods. Thus by killing him, Indra (or Trita, according to our version of the legend) became guilty of that most hideous crime, the brahmahatyā, or killing of a Brāhmaṇa. Trita, the Āptya (i.e. probably 'sprung from, or belonging to the ap, or waters of the atmosphere'), seems to have been a prominent figure of the early Indo-Iranian mythology, the prototype, in many respects, of Indra, the favourite god of the Vedic hymns. The notion of wishing evil and misfortune away to Trita, or far, far away, is a familiar one to the Vedic bards. The name Traitana also occurs once in Rig-veda (I, 158, 5), though in a rather dark passage. On the connection between Trita (? Traitana) and the Iranian Thraetona (Ferīdūn), son of Athvya, see E. Burnouf, Journ. Asiat. V, 120; R. Roth, Zeitschr. d. Deutsch. Morg. Ges. II, p. 216 seq. Dvita (the second) and Ekata are no doubt later abstractions suggested by the etymology of the name Trita (the third), although the former, Dvita, occurs already in the Vedic hymns.


The Anvāhārya consists of boiled rice prepared from the rice-grains that remain after the sacrificial cakes have been prepared. It is put on the Dakṣiṇa fire by the Adhvaryu for cooking after covering over the cakes and pouring out the water. Katy. II, 5, 27. Sāyaṇa explains the term as 'that which takes away (anvā-hṛ) from the sacrificer the guilt incurred by mistakes during the sacrifice;' but the St. Petersburg Dictionary offers the more probable explanation of it as 'that which serves to supplement (anvā-hṛ) the sacrifice.'


According to Sāyaṇa 'he makes the poured-out water hot with a coal.' Kātyāyana (II, 5, 26) and his commentators, on the other hand, supply the following particulars: 'Having heated (with straw lighted in the Gārhapatya) the water which has been used for washing the dish and hands, he pours it out for the Āptyas (from east to west into three lines drawn with the wooden sword from west to east, north of the sacrificial ground) in such a manner that it does not flow together, with the formulas, "For Trita thee!" &c., respectively.'


That is to say, the sacrificial cake is a substitute or symbol (pratimā) for the animal sacrifice (as this it would seem was originally a substitute for the human sacrifice) by which the sacrificer redeems himself from the gods. Cf. Śat. Br. XI, 1, 8, 3; Taitt. Br. III, 2, 8, 8. The initiation (dīkṣā) of the sacrificer constitutes his consecration as the victim at the animal sacrifice (Śat. Br. XI, 7, 1, 3; Ait. Br. II, 3; 9; 11; Taitt. Br. II, 2, 82; T. S. VI, 1, 11, 6; Kaush. Br. X, 3; XI, 8), or as the sacrificial food at the haviryajña (Śat. Br. III, 3, 4, 21; Taitt, Br. III, 2, 8, 9), or as the horse at the horse-sacrifice (Taitt. Br. III, 9, 17, 4-5), &c. See, also, Taitt. S. VII, 2, 30, 4; Kāṭh. 34, 11, where it is said that one must p. 50 not perform the dvādaśāha for any one, since in having to eat of the victim, the cake, &c., one would eat the sacrificer's own flesh, &c. Cf. Weber, Ind. Streifen, I, p. 73. In accordance with these notions it would seem that man originally sacrificed his equal, as the best substitute for his own self; and that, as advancing civilisation rendered human sacrifices distasteful, the human victim was supplied by domestic animals, ennobled by constant contact with man; and finally by various materials of human diet.


On this legend and the one in the Ait. Br. II, 8, but slightly differing from ours, see Max Müller's History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 420; A. Weber's Ind. Streifen, I, p. 55; Haug's Transl. of the Ait. Br. p. 90; J. Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts, IV, p. 289 note. Professor Max Müller remarks: 'The drift of this story is most likely that in former times all these victims had been offered. We know it for certain in the case of horses and oxen, though afterwards these sacrifices were discontinued. As to sheep and goats, they were considered proper victims to a still later time. When vegetable offerings took the place of bloody victims, it was clearly the wish of the author of our passage to show that, for certain sacrifices, these rice-cakes were as efficient as the flesh of animals.' Cf. also II, 1, 4, 3.


According to Sāyaṇa, because, like the hair of the victim, the particles of the ground rice are minute and numerous. According to Ait. Br. II, 9, on the other hand, the awn or beard of the rice represents the hair; the husks the skin; the minute particles of chaff removed by the final winnowings, the blood; the ground rice the flesh; and 'whatever other substantial part is in the rice' are the bones of the victim.


'Because it becomes as flexible as skin,' Sāyaṇa.


It is doubtful what particular kind of being the term kimpuruṣa (depraved man) is here intended to denote. The authors of the St. Petersburg Dictionary, whom Professor Weber follows (Ind. Stud. IX, 246), take it (probably correctly) to denote 'a monkey.' Professor Haug, on the other hand, in his translation of the corresponding passage in the Ait. Br. II, 8, thinks 'the author very likely meant a dwarf,' whilst Professor Max Müller (History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 420) translates it by 'a savage.' Perhaps one of the species of apes which particularly resemble man, is intended by it. Cf. Weber, Omina et Portenta, P. 356.


A fabulous kind of deer with eight legs, which was supposed to kill elephants and lions.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: