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

This is Satapatha Brahmana II.2.4 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 4th brahmana of kanda II, adhyaya 2.

Kanda II, adhyaya 2, brahmana 4

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]


1. Prajāpati 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.

2. He 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 (pūrva); 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.

3. Prajāpati 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.

4. Thereupon Agni turned towards him with open mouth; and he (Prajāpati) 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.

5. This (offering), however, did not satisfy him, because it had hairs mixed with it. He poured it away (into the fire), saying, 'Drink, while burning (oṣaṃ dhaya)!' From it plants sprang: hence their name 'plants (oṣadhayaḥ).' 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.

6. This (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!' Prajāpati was aware that it was his own (sva) greatness that had spoken (āha) to him; and offered it up with 'Svāhā!' This is why offerings are made with 'Svāhā!' Thereupon that burning one (viz. the sun) rose; and then that blowing one (viz. the wind) sprang up; whereupon, indeed, Agni turned away.

7. And Prajāpati, 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 Prajāpati reproduced himself; and saves himself from Agni, Death, when he is about to devour him.

8. And 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.

9. And as to that same birth from out of doubt,--when Prajāpati 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).

10. Having offered, he rubbed (his hands). Thence a Vikaṅkata[1] 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 (Vāyu), and Sūrya: and, verily, whosoever thus knows those heroes among the gods, to him a hero is born.

11. They then said, 'We come after our father Prajāpati: let us then create what shall come after us!' Having enclosed (a piece of ground), they sang praises with the gāyatrī stanza without the 'Hiṅ[2]:' and that (with) which they enclosed was the ocean; and this earth was the praising-ground (āstāva).

12. When 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 Sāman (melodious sacrificial chant); for heretofore (their song was) without the but after that it was the (real) Sāman. And as this same sound 'Hiṅ' of the Sāman 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 Sāman in the cow.

13. They 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.'

14. This (word 'go'), then, is a name of those (cows), and so it is of the sacrifice: let him, therefore, repeat[3] 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.

15. Now, 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.

16. They (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 (Vāyu).--'To me!' said Sūrya. They did not come to an agreement; and not being agreed, they said, 'Let us go to our father Prajāpati; and to whichever of us he says it shall be offered first, to him they shall first offer this.' They went to their father Prajāpati, and said, 'To whom of us shall they offer this first?'

17. He 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 Sūrya; 'and what of the offered (milk) he then is still possessed of, that shall belong to that blower (Vāyu)!' 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 Sūrya; and what of the offered (milk) he then is still possessed of, that, indeed, belongs to that blower.

18. By 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, Vāyu the air, and Sūrya 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.

Footnotes and references:


The sruva, or dipping-spoon, and the Agnihotra ladle, for instance, are made of this wood; see p. 331, note 2.


On 'hiṅ' as an essential element in the recitation of Sāma-chants, see I, 4, 1, 1 seq.


Pariharet [? 'let him avoid it (the term go in the sense of sacrifice), thinking that it is too holy']. Sāyaṇa merely remarks, that both the cow and the sacrifice are here represented as extremely auspicious (utkṛṣṭam puṇyam). Perhaps we have here a play on the words upanāma, 'a by-name,' and upanāmuka, 'inclining to (him).' 'Go' (for go-ṣṭoma) is the designation of one of the days of the Abhiplava at the Gavāmayana.

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