Satapatha Brahmana

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

This is Satapatha Brahmana X.5.1 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 1st brahmana of kanda X, adhyaya 5.

Kanda X, adhyaya 5, brahmana 1

1. The mystic import of this Fire-altar, doubtless, is Speech; for it is with speech that it is built: with the Ṛc, the Yajus and the Sāman as the divine (speech); and when he (the Adhvaryu) speaks with human speech, 'Do ye this! do ye that!' then also it (the altar) is built therewith.

2. Now, this speech is threefold--the Ṛk-verses, the Yajus-formulas, and the Sāman-tunes;--thereby the Fire-altar is threefold, inasmuch as it is built with that triad. Even thus, then, it is threefold; but in this respect also it is threefold, inasmuch as three kinds of bricks are put into it--those with masculine names, those with feminine names, and those with neuter names; and these limbs of men also are of three kinds--those with masculine names, those with feminine names, and those with neuter names.

3. This body (of the altar), indeed, is threefold; and with this threefold body he obtains the threefold divine Amṛta (nectar, immortality). Now all these (bricks) are called 'iṣṭakā (f.),' not 'iṣṭakaḥ (m.),' nor 'iṣṭakam (n.):' thus (they are called) after the form of speech (vāc, f.), for everything here is speech--whether feminine (female), masculine (male), or neuter--for by speech everything here is obtained. Therefore he 'settles' all (the bricks)[1] with, 'Aṅgiras-like lie thou steady (dhruvā, f.)!' not with, 'Aṅgiras-like lie thou steady (dhruvaḥ, m.)!' or with, 'Aṅgiras-like lie thou steady (dhruvam, n.)!' for it is that Speech he is constructing.

4. Now, this speech is yonder sun, and this (Agni, the Fire-altar) is Death: hence whatsoever is on this side of the sun all that is field by Death; and he who builds it (the Fire-altar) on this side thereof, builds it as one held by Death, and he surrenders his own self unto Death; but he who builds it thereabove, conquers recurring Death, for by his knowledge that (altar) of his is built thereabove.

5. This speech, indeed, is threefold--the Ṛk-verses, the Yajus-formulas, and the Sāman-tunes the Ṛk-verses are the orb, the Sāman-tunes the light, and the Yajus-formulas the man (in the sun); and that immortal element, the shining light, is this lotus-leaf[2]: thus, when he builds up the Fire-altar after laying down the lotus-leaf, it is on that immortal element that he builds for himself a body consisting of the Ṛk, the Yajus, and the Sāman; and he becomes immortal.

Footnotes and references:


See VI, 1, 2, 28; VII, 1, 1, 30.


Viz. the lotus-leaf deposited in the centre of the altar-site, before the first layer is laid down, see VII, 4, 1, 7 seqq., where, however, it is represented as symbolising the womb whence Agni (the fire-altar) is to be born.

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