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

This is Satapatha Brahmana III.9.4 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 III, adhyaya 9.

Kanda III, adhyaya 9, brahmana 4

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]



1. Thereupon they sit down round the two press-boards[1]. He (the Adhvaryu) then ties a piece of gold to that (nameless finger). For twofold, verily, is this; there is no third, namely, the truth and the untruth; the gods, forsooth, are the truth, and men are the untruth. And the gold has sprung from Agni's seed: 'With the truth I will touch the stalks, with the truth I will take hold of Soma,' thus he thinks, and therefore he ties a piece of gold to that (ring-finger).

2. He then takes a press-stone[2]. Now those press-stones are of rock, and Soma is a god--for Soma was in the sky, Soma was Vṛtra; those mountains, those rocks are his body--he thus perfects him by means of his body, makes him whole; therefore they are of rock. Moreover, in pressing him they slay him, they slay him by means of that (stone, Soma's own body); thus he rises from thence, thus he lives; therefore the press-stones are of rock.

3. He takes it with (Vāj. S. VI, 30), 'At the impulse of the divine Savitṛ I take thee with the arms of the Aśvins, with the hands of Pūṣan; thou art a giver!' For Savitṛ is the impeller of the gods; thus he takes it, impelled by Savitṛ. 'With the arms of the Aśvins,' he says,--the Aśvins are the Adhvaryus (of the gods): with their arms he thus takes it, not with his own. 'With the hands of Pūṣan,' he says,--Pūṣan is the distributor of portions: with his hands he thus takes it, not with his own. Moreover, that (stone) is a thunderbolt, and no man can hold it: by means of those deities he takes it.

4. 'I take thee: thou art a giver,' he says; for when they press him by means of that (stone), then there is an oblation; and when he offers an oblation, then he gives sacrificial gifts,--thus, then, that (stone) gives twofold, oblations and sacrificial gifts; wherefore he says, 'Thou art a giver.'

5. 'Perform thou this deep cult!' Cult means sacrifice; he thereby means to say, 'Perform thou this great sacrifice!'--'well-gotten for Indra;' by 'well-gotten' he means to say, 'well-produced;' and Indra is the deity of the sacrifice, wherefore he says, 'for Indra;'--'by the most excellent bolt,' for he, Soma, is indeed the most excellent bolt[3], therefore he says, 'by the most excellent bolt;'--'the (cult) rich in food and sweetness and drink,' whereby he means to say, 'the (cult) rich in sap.'

6. Thereupon he restrains-speech. For once on a time, the gods, while performing sacrifice, were afraid of an attack from the Asura-Rakṣas. They said, 'Let us sacrifice in a low voice, let us restrain speech!' They sacrificed (with formulas muttered) in a low voice and restrained speech.

7. He then fetches the Nigrābhyās (waters), and makes him (the sacrificer) mutter over them[4], 'Ye are the Nigrābhyās, heard by the gods; satisfy me, satisfy my mind, satisfy my speech, satisfy my breath, satisfy mine eye, satisfy mine ear, satisfy my soul, satisfy mine offspring, satisfy my flocks, satisfy my followers, let not my followers thirst!' For water is sap, and over it he invokes this blessing, 'Satisfy ye my whole self, satisfy my offspring, satisfy my followers, let not my followers thirst!' Now that Upāṃśusavana (stone), forsooth, is in reality Āditya Vivasvant (the sun), it is the pervading vital air (vyāna) of this (sacrifice).

8. Thereon he metes out (the Soma). For in pressing him they slay him, they slay him by means of that (stone); thus[5] he rises from hence, thus he lives. And because he metes him out, therefore there is a measure,--both the measure among men[6], and what other measure there is.

9. He metes out with (Vāj. S. VI, 32), 'Thee for Indra, with the Vasus, with the Rudras!' For Indra is the deity of the sacrifice: therefore he says, 'Thee for Indra;' and by saying 'with the Vasus, with the Rudras,' he assigns a share, along with (or after) Indra, to the Vasus and the Rudras.--'Thee for Indra, with the Ādityas!' whereby he assigns a share to the Ādityas along with Indra.--'Thee for Indra, the slayer of foes!' a foe is an enemy: 'Thee for Indra, the slayer of enemies,' he means to say. This is his (Indra's) special share: as there is a special share for a chief, so is this his special share apart from the (other) gods.

10. 'Thee for the Soma-bearing falcon!' this he metes out for Gāyatrī.--'Thee for Agni, the bestower of growth of wealth!' Now Agni is Gāyatrī: he metes this out for Gāyatrī. And since Gāyatrī, as a falcon, fetched Soma from heaven, therefore she is (called) the Soma-bearing falcon: for that prowess of hers he metes out (for her) a second portion.

11. Now as to why he metes out five times[7],--the sacrifice is of the same measure as the year, and there are five seasons in the year: he takes possession of it in five (divisions); hence he metes out five times.

12. He touches it with (Vāj. S. VI, 33), 'What light of thine there is in the heavens, O Soma, what on earth, and what in the wide air, therewith make wide room for this sacrificer, for his prosperity: speak thou for the giver!' Now when he (Soma) first became sacrificial food for the gods, he thought within himself, 'I must not become sacrificial food for the gods with my whole self!' Accordingly he deposited those three bodies of his in these worlds.

13. The gods then were victorious. They obtained those bodies by means of this same (formula), and he became entirely the sacrificial food of the gods. And in like manner does this (priest) now thereby obtain those bodies of his, and he (Soma) becomes entirely the food of the gods: this is why he thus touches it.

14. He then pours Nigrābhyā water on it. Now the waters, forsooth, slew Vṛtra and by virtue of that prowess of theirs they now flow. Wherefore nothing whatsoever can check them when they flow; for they followed their own free will, thinking, 'To whom, forsooth, should we submit (or stop), we by whom Vṛtra was slain!' Now all this (universe), whatsoever there is, had submitted[8] to Indra, even he that blows yonder.

15. Indra spake, 'Verily, all this (universe), whatsoever there is, has submitted unto me: submit ye also to me!'--They said, 'What shall be our (reward) then?'--'The first draught of king Soma shall be yours!'--'So be it!' thus they submitted to him; and they having submitted, he drew (ni-grabh) them to his breast; and because he thus drew them to his breast, therefore they are called Nigrābhyās. And in like manner does this sacrificer now draw them to his breast: and this is their first draught of king Soma, in that he pours Nigrābhyā water thereon.

16. He pours it with (Vāj. S. VI, 34), 'Ye are grateful, the subduers of Vṛtra;'--the waters indeed are propitious: therefore he says, 'Ye are grateful;' and 'the subduers of Vṛtra' he says because they did slay Vṛtra;--'the beneficent wives of the immortal (Soma);' for the waters are immortal;--'Ye goddesses, lead this sacrifice to the gods!' there is nothing obscure in this; 'Invited, drink ye of Soma!' Thus invited they drink the first draught of king Soma.

17. Being about to beat (the Soma with the pressing-stone), let him think in his mind of him he hates: 'Herewith I strike N.N., not thee!' Now whosoever kills a human Brāhman here, he, forsooth, is deemed guilty[9],--how much more so he who strikes him (Soma), for Soma is a god. But they do kill him when they press him;--they kill him with that (stone): thus he rises from thence, thus he lives; and thus no guilt is incurred.. But if he hate no one, he may even think of a straw, and thus no guilt is incurred.

18. He beats with (Vāj. S. VI, 35), 'Fear not, tremble not!' whereby he means to say, 'Be not afraid, do not tremble, it is N.N. I strike, not thee!'--'Take thou strength!' whereby he means to say, 'Take sap!'--'Both ye bowls, that are firm, remain firm, take strength!'--'Surely, it is those two (pressing-)boards that are thereby meant,' so say some;--what, then, if one were to break those two boards[10]? But, forsooth, it is these two, heaven and earth, that tremble for fear of that raised thunderbolt (the stone): hereby now he propitiates it for those two, heaven and earth; and thus propitiated it does not injure them. By 'Take strength!' he means to say, 'Take sap!'--'The evil is slain, not Soma!' he thereby slays every evil of his.

19. Thrice he presses[11], thrice he gathers together, four times he performs the Nigrābha,--this makes ten, for of ten syllables consists the virāj, and Soma is of virāj nature: therefore he completes (the ceremony) in ten times.

20. Then as to why he performs the Nigrābha. Now when he (Soma) first became sacrificial food for the gods, he set his heart on those (four) regions, thinking, 'Could I but consort with those regions as my mate, my loved resort!' By performing the Nigrābha, the gods then made him consort with the regions as his mate, his loved resort; and in like manner does this (sacrificer) now, by performing the Nigrābha, make him (Soma) consort with those regions as his mate, his loved resort.

21. He performs with (Vāj. S. VI, 36), 'From east, from west, from north, from south--from every side may the regions resort to thee!' whereby he makes him consort with the regions as his mate, his loved resort. 'O mother, satisfy (him)! may the noble meet together[12]!' A mother (ambā) is a woman, and the regions (diś, fem.) are women: therefore he says, 'O mother, satisfy (him)!--May the noble meet together!' The noble doubtless means people (creatures, offspring): he thus means to say, 'May the people live in harmony with each other!' Even the people that are far away (from each other) live in harmony with each other: therefore he says, 'May the noble meet together.'

22. Now as to why he is called Soma. When he first became sacrificial food for the gods, he thought within him, 'I must not become, sacrificial food for the gods with my whole self!' That form of his which was most pleasing he accordingly put aside. Thereupon the gods were victorious; they said, 'Draw that unto thee, for therewith shalt thou become our food!' He drew it to him even from afar, saying, verily, that is mine own (svā me): hence he was called Soma.

23. Then as to why he is called Yajña (sacrifice). Now, when they press him, they slay him; and when they spread him[13], they cause him to be born. He is born in being spread along, he is born moving (yan gāyate): hence yan-ja, for 'yañja' they say, is the same as 'yajña.'

24. Also this speech did he then utter (Vāj. S. VI, 37;

Rig-veda I, 84, 19), 'Verily thou, a god, shalt extol the mortal, O most mighty! than thee there is no other giver of joy[14], O lord! unto thee do I speak this word, O Indra!' For it was indeed as a mortal that he uttered this, 'Thou alone wilt produce (me) from here, no other but thee!'

25. And from the Nigrābhyā water they draw the several grahas (cups or libations of Soma). For it was the waters that slew Vṛtra, and in virtue of this prowess they flow; and it is from flowing water that he takes the Vasatīvarī water, and from the Vasatīvarī the Nigrābhyā water; and from the Nigrābhyā water the several grahas are drawn. In virtue of that prowess, then, the grahas are drawn from the Hotṛ's cup. Now the Hotṛ means the Ṛk (fem.), a woman; and from woman creatures are born here on earth: hence he makes him (Soma) to be born from that woman, the Ṛk, the Hotṛ; wherefore (he takes the grahas) from the Hotṛ's cup.

Footnotes and references:


The Adhvaryu and sacrificer sit north of them, looking towards the south; and the assistants of the former--viz. the Pratiprasthātṛ; Neṣṭṛ, and Unnetṛ--on the south side, looking northwards. The press-boards were laid down on the 'sound-holes,' under the fore-part of the southern Soma-cart, and the pressing-skin was spread over them; see III, 5, 4, 22-23. The Udgātṛs, or chanters, are seated behind the carts.


Viz. the upāṃśusavana, or 'low-voiced pressing (stone),' (see paragraph 6,) with which the Soma for the Upāṃśu libation (or cup, graha) is pressed.


It is doubtful what 'pavi' may mean here. It seems to mean originally a metallic mounting, especially of a shaft. The commentators explain it by 'thunderbolt.'


The sacrificer holds the Hotṛ's cup with the Nigrābhyāḥ to his breast.


Viz. by being placed upon the stone. which is identical with the sun (?); but cf. III, 8, 2, 27.


Tasmād v iyaṃ manushyeshu mātrā yat kauṣṭho yat kumbhī yeyaṃ kā ca manushyeshu mātrā. Kāṇva text.


According to Taitt. S. VI, 4, 4 he metes out five times with the above texts, and five times silently.


The Kāṇva MS. has twice 'tatsthāna,' as Ait. Br. VI, 5, and twice 'tasthāna;' cf. Weber, Ind. Stud. IX, p. 295.


'Paricakṣate' ought rather to mean 'they despise him.'


That is to say, in that case the formula would prove to have been a failure. According to the Taitt. Kalpas., quoted to Taitt. S. I, 4, 1 (p. 590), he presses the skin down upon the two press-boards while muttering this formula. The Kāṇva text argues somewhat differently,--ime evaitat phalake āhur iti haika āhus tad u kim ādriyeta yad athaite bhidyeyātām eveme haiva dyāvāpṛthivyāv etasmād vajrād udyatāt saṃrejete,--'Some say those two boards are thereby meant; but who would care if they should get broken; for it is rather those two, heaven and earth,' &c.?


The pressing of the Upāṃśu-graha--also called the 'small' pressing, distinguished from the 'great pressing' (mahābhiṣava) for the subsequent cups or libations (graha)--consists of three turns of eight, eleven, and twelve single beatings respectively. Before each turn Nigrābhyā water is poured upon the Soma plants by the sacrificer from the Hotṛ's cup. After each turn of pressing the Adhvaryu throws the completely-pressed stalks into the cup, and when they have become thoroughly soaked, he presses them out and takes them out again; this being the 'gathering together' referred to above. At the same time he mutters the Nigrābha formula (paragraph 21); after which the pressed-out juice, absorbed by the water, is poured into the Upāṃśu vessel in the following manner. Before the pressing the Pratiprasthātṛ had taken six Soma-stalks, and put two each between the fingers of his left hand. After each turn of pressing he takes the Upāṃśu vessel with his right hand and holds one pair of the Soma-stalks over it (or, according to others, all six at the same time), through which (as through p. 245 a strainer) the Adhvaryu then pours the Soma-juice from the pressing-skin into the vessel. After the third turn the pressing-stone itself is put into the Hotṛ's cup, either with or without the muttering of the Nigrābha formula. According to the commentary on Kāty. IX, 4, 27, the Soma-juice is transferred from the skin to the Upāṃśu cup, by the straining-cloth being made to imbibe the juice and then being pressed out so as to trickle down through the plants between the Pratiprasthātṛ's fingers. The description given by Haug, Ait. Br., Transl. p. 489, is somewhat different.


The interpretation of this formula is very doubtful. The author evidently takes 'arīḥ' as nom. plur. of 'ari' (= ārya); but it does not appear how he takes 'niṣpara,' while Mahīdhara explains it by 'pūraya (give him, Soma, his fill).' The St. Petersburg Dict. suggests that 'niṣpara' may mean 'come out!' and that 'arīḥ' seems to be a nom. sing. here. I take the last part of the formula to mean, 'May he (Soma) win (or, perhaps, join) the longing (waters)!' p. 246 some of the Nigrābhyā water being poured on the Soma at each turn of pressing; and small stalks of Soma being, besides, thrown into the Hotṛ's cup containing that water. As to the first part of the formula, it may perhaps mean, 'Well, pour out (or, pour forth, intrans.).' Professor Ludwig, Rig-veda IV, p. xvi, thinks that 'niṣpara' is a correction of the Taitt, reading 'nishvara,' which Sāyaṇa interprets, 'O mother (Soma), come out (from the stalks, in the form of juice),' and according to the Sūtra quoted by him, the sacrificer is at the same time to think of the wife he loves.


That is, when they perform the Soma-sacrifice.


This is the traditional meaning (sukhayitṛ) assigned to marḍayitṛ (the merciful, comforter); but it is not quite clear how the author of the Brāhmaṇa interprets it.

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