Satapatha Brahmana

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

This is Satapatha Brahmana XIII.3.4 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 XIII, adhyaya 3.

Kanda XIII, adhyaya 3, brahmana 4

1. Verily, the horse is slaughtered for all the deities: were he to make it one belonging to Prajāpati (exclusively), he would deprive the deities who are co-sharers of their share. Having made ghee (to take the part of) portions (of the horse's body) he makes oblations[1] to the deities in mentioning them one by one with (Vāj. S. XXV, 1-9), 'The Grass (I gratify) with the teeth, the Lotus with the roots of the hair, . . . :' the deities who are co-sharers he thus supplies with their share. When he has offered the Araṇyenūcya (oblations)[2], he offers the last oblation to

Heaven and Earth; for all the gods are established in heaven and on earth: it is them he thereby gratifies. Now the gods and the Asuras were contending together.

2. They (the gods) spake, 'We are the Agnayaḥ Sviṣṭakṛtaḥ[3] of the horse (sacrifice); let us take out for ourselves a special share: therewith we shall overcome the Asuras.' They took the blood for themselves in order to overcome their rivals; when he offers the blood to the Sviṣṭakṛts, it is in order to overcome (his own) rivals; and the spiteful rival of him who knows this is undone by himself.

3. The first oblation (of blood) he offers[4] in the throat (gullet) of the Gomṛga[5]; for Gomṛgas are cattle, and the Sviṣṭakṛt is Rudra: he thus shields the cattle from Rudra, whence Rudra does not prowl after the cattle where this oblation is offered at the Aśvamedha.

4. The second oblation[6] he offers on a horse-hoof; for the one-hoofed (animals) are cattle, and the Sviṣṭakṛt is Rudra: he thus shields the cattle from Rudra, whence Rudra does not prowl after the cattle where this oblation is offered at the Aśvamedha.

5. The third oblation he offers in an iron bowl; for the people (subjects) are of iron[7], and the Sviṣṭakṛt is Rudra: he thus shields the people from Rudra, whence Rudra does not prowl after the cattle where this oblation is offered at the Aśvamedha.

Footnotes and references:


These oblations of ghee, apparently amounting to 132, are made, after the principal flesh-portions have been offered, viz. in the interval between the ghee oblation to Vanaspati (the lord of the forest, or the plant, Soma) and the Sviṣṭakṛt oblation, for which see part ii, pp. 208-9; each formula, as a rule, containing the name of some divinity, and that of some part of the body of the horse supposed to be represented by the ghee (by four ladlings of which the offering spoon is filled each time). Mahīdhara, apparently in accordance with the Brāhmaṇa, supplies 'priṇāmi (I gratify)' with each (complete) formula which then concludes with 'svāhā (hail)!' According to other authorities, however, these formulas are each to be divided into two separate dedicatory formulas:--'To the Grass hail! To the Teeth hail!' &c.--The last of the 132 oblations (with the formula, To Jumbaka, hail!') is, however, withheld for the present to be offered (or perhaps the formula alone is to be muttered) at the end of the purificatory bath (avabhṛtha) towards the end of the sacrifice on the third day.


The term 'araṇyenūcya' ('to be recited in the forest') we met before (IX, 3, 1, 24) as applying to the last of seven cakes offered to the Maruts immediately after the installation of Agni (the sacred fire) on the newly-built altar The formula used for that cake is the so-called Vimukha-verse, Vāj. S. XXXIX, 7. This p. 337 verse is followed in the Saṃhitā by a series of twenty formulas (ib. 8-9) of a similar nature to those referred to in the preceding note (i.e. consisting each of a deity and a part of the body of the horse--'Agni I gratify with the heart,' &c.), and these again by forty-two expiatory formulas ('To the hair, hail!' &c., ib. 10-13), ending with, 'To Yama, hail! To Antaka (the Ender), hail! To Death, hail! To (the) Brahman, hail! To Brahman-slaying, hail! To the All-gods, hail! To Heaven and Earth, hail!' These sixty-two formulas are used with as many ghee-oblations, which are to be performed immediately after the 131st of the previous set of oblations. Prior, however, again to the last of the forty-two expiatory oblations, (viz. the one made with 'To Heaven and Earth, hail!') there is another set of sixteen oblations (XIII, 3, 6, 1 seqq.), the so-called 'Aśvastomīyā āhutayaḥ' or 'oblations relating to the Stomas of the horse (sacrifice),' each of which has a complete couplet for its offering-formula (Vāj. S. XXV, 24-39). At the end of the three sets of oblations the term 'araṇyenūcya' is here extended by the author. At the end of the third set this succession of ghee-oblations is concluded with the last expiatory oblation, that to Heaven. and Earth; whereupon the ordinary flesh-oblation to Agni Sviṣṭakṛt is performed.


I.e. the (three) fires, the makers of good offering.


The formula for each of these three special blood-oblations--p. 338 offered immediately after the ordinary Sviṣṭakṛt oblation, and being, in fact, the special Sviṣṭakṛt of the Aśvamedha--is 'Agnibhyaḥ sviṣṭakṛdbhyaḥ svāhā, i.e. to the (three) Agnis, the makers of good offering, hail!'


'Gomṛga' is usually taken by the commentators, and in our dictionaries, as another name of the 'Gavaya,' variously called Gayāl, Bos Gavaeus, Bos frontalis, or Bos cavifrons, a species of wild cattle found in various mountain districts of India (especially on the eastern boundaries of Bengal, and in Malabar, as also in Ceylon), and frequently domesticated amongst the hill-tribes, by whom it is valued for its flesh and milk (cf. Colebrooke's paper, As. Res. VIII, p. 511 seqq.). The Gavaya itself is, however, as Colebrooke remarks, confounded by some Sanskrit writers with the 'Ṛśya,' which he takes to be the buck of the painted, or white-footed (or slate-coloured) Antelope, the Portax pictus (or Antelope picta), also called by the vernacular names of Nīlgau or (Mahr.) Nīlgāy, whilst the female is called 'rohit' in Sanskrit. All these three animals occur amongst the wild animals to be used as quasi-victims, but ultimately released on the second day of the Aśvamedha; and I am inclined to think that they are three different animals. To show that the Riśya and the Gavaya cannot be the same animals, Colebrooke already refers to the fact that three Ṛśyas (consecrated to the Vasus) and three Gavayas (to Bṛhaspati) occur as victims side by side in Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā XXIV (27 and 28); and in the same way a Gomṛga, sacred to Prajāpati and Vāyu, is mentioned immediately after, ib. 30; whilst another, sacred to Prajāpati, was, as we saw, one of the two animals tied along with the horse to the central stake (see XIII, 2, 2, 2). Taitt. S. II, 1, 10, 2, treating of the sacrifice of a Gomṛga to Vāyu, remarks that it is neither a domestic animal (or cattle, paśu) nor a wild one; and Sāyaṇa explains it as a cross between a female deer (or antelope, mṛgī) and a hull that has gone with his cows to graze in the forest; whilst, on Taitt. Br. III, 8, 20, 5, he leaves one to choose between its being a vicious bull (dhūrto balīvardaḥ), dangerous to men, or an animal 'of mixed breed, sprung from a cow and a male gazelle or antelope (gohariṇayoḥ, or possibly, from parent beasts of the bovine and antelope species).' In this latter passage, the editor p. 339 of the Brāhmaṇa (in the list of contents, p. 53) takes it to mean 'wild cattle (Nīlagāo gomṛga, erroneously explained as a cross between a deer and a cow),' which would be a probable enough explanation, if the Riśya were not the Nīlgau; whilst otherwise the animal might belong to some other species of bovine antelopes no longer found in India.


Whilst the first of these oblations must take place immediately after the ordinary Sviṣṭakṛt of the animal sacrifice, the second may be postponed till after the 'after-offerings'; and the third till after the 'Patnīsaṃyājas.' See also XIII, 5, 3, 8 seq.


That is, their value--as compared with that of the king or nobles, and the Brāhmaṇas--is that of iron, compared with that of gold and silver; cp. XIII, 2, 2, 19.

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