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

This is Satapatha Brahmana XIII.8.4 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 8.

Kanda XIII, adhyaya 8, brahmana 4

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

1. They now fix pegs round it[1],--a Palāśa (Butea frondosa) one in front,--for the Palāśa is the Brahman (n.): he thus makes him go to the heavenly world with the Brahman for his leader;--a Śamī (Prosopis spicigera) one on the left (north corner), in order that there may be peace (śam) for him;--a Varaṇa (Crataeva Roxburghii) one behind, in order that he may ward off (vāraya) sin from him;-and a Vṛtra-peg[2] on the right (south corner) for sin not to pass beyond.

2. On the right (south) side they then dig two somewhat curved (furrows[3]), and fill them with milk and water,--these, indeed, are two inexhaustible streams (that) flow to him in the other world;--and seven (they dig) on the left (north) side, and fill them with water, for sin not to pass beyond, for indeed sin cannot pass beyond seven rivers[4].

3. They[5] throw three stones each (into the northern furrows), and pass over them, with (Vāj. S. XXXV, 10; Ṛg-v. X, 53, 8): 'Here floweth the stony one: hold on to each other, rise, and cross over, ye friends: here will we leave behind what unkind spirits there be, and will cross over to auspicious nourishments;'--as the text so its import.

4. They cleanse themselves with Apāmārga plants[6]--they thereby wipe away (apa-marg) sin-with (Vāj. S. XXXV, 11), 'O Apāmārga, drive thou away from us sin, away guilt, away witchery, away infirmity, away evil dreams!'--as the text so its import.

5. They bathe at any place where there is water. With (Vāj. S. XXXV, 12), 'May the waters and plants be friendly unto us!' he takes water with his joined hands,--for water is a thunderbolt: with the thunderbolt he thus makes friendship,--and with, 'Unfriendly may they be unto him who hateth us, and whom we hate!' he throws it in the direction in which he who is hateful to him may be, and thereby overthrows him.

6. And if it be standing water, it makes their (the bathers’) evil stop; and if it flows, it carries away their evil. Having bathed, and put on garments that have never yet been washed, they hold on to the tail of an ox[7], and return (to their home),--for the ox is of Agni's nature: headed by Agni they thus return from the world of the Fathers to the world of the living. And Agni, indeed, is he who leads one over the paths (one has to travel), and it is he who leads these over.

7. They proceed (towards the village) muttering this verse (Vāj. S. XXXV, 14), 'From out of the gloom have we risen[8] . . .'--from the gloom, the world of the Fathers, they now indeed approach the light, the sun. When they have arrived, ointments for the eyes and the feet are given them: such, indeed, are human means of embellishment, and therewith they keep off death from themselves.

8. Then, in the house, having made up the (domestic) fire, and laid enclosing-sticks of Varaṇa wood round it, he offers, by means of a sruva-spoon of Varaṇa wood, an oblation to Agni Āyushmat[9], for Agni Āyushmat rules over vital power: it is of him he asks vital power for these (the Sacrificer's family). [Vāj. S. XXXV, 16,] 'Thou, Agni, causest vital powers to flow: (send us food and drink, and keep calamity. far from us),' serves as invitatory formula.

9. He then offers, with (Vāj. S. XXXV, 17), 'Long-lived be thou, O Agni, growing by offering, ghee-mouthed, ghee-born: drinking the sweet, pleasant cow's ghee, guard thou these, as a father does his son, hail!' he thus says this so that he (Agni) may guard and protect these (men).

10. The sacrificial fee for this (ceremony) consists of an old ox, old barley, an old arm-chair with head-cushion--this at least is the prescribed Dakṣiṇā, but he may give more according to his inclination. Such, indeed, (is the performance) in the case of one who had built a fire-altar.

11. And in the case of one who has not built a fire-altar, there is the same mode of selecting the site (for the sepulchral mound) and the same performance save that of the fire-altar. 'Let him use pebbles (instead of bricks[10]) in the case of one who keeps up a sacrificial fire,' say some, 'they are just what those pebbles used at the Agnyādheya are[11].' 'Let him not use them,' say others; 'surely they would be liable to weigh heavily upon one who has not built a fire-altar.' Let him do as he pleases.

12. Having fetched a clod from the boundary, he[12] deposits it (midway) between (the grave and the village), with (Vāj. S. XXXV, 15), 'This I put up as a bulwark for the living, lest another of them should go unto that thing: may they live for a hundred plentiful harvests, and shut out death from themselves by a mountain!'--he thus makes this a boundary between the Fathers and the living, so as not to commingle; and therefore, indeed, the living and the Fathers are not seen together here.

Footnotes and references:


According to Kāty. Sr. XXI, the pegs are driven in immediately after the measuring, and prior to the sweeping, of the site of the tumulus; and this must certainly be the case, seeing that the cords by which the site is enclosed (XIII, 8, 1, 19) are fastened to the pegs.


The exact meaning of 'vṛtra-śaṅku' is doubtful. Kāty. Śr. XXI, 3, 31 has 'deha-śaṅku' instead, to which the commentary assigns the rather improbable meaning of 'stone-pillar,' in favour of which he refers to IV, 2, 5, 15 of our Brāhmaṇa--'Soma, in truth, was Vṛtra: the mountains and stones are his body; 'whence he makes 'vṛtra' = 'aśman' (stone).


Or narrow trenches or ditches--kuṭile karṣū, Kāty. XXI, 4, 20. They are apparently semicircular, probably with their open part towards the grave.


These seven furrows are straight, running from west to east; thus separating the grave from the north, the world of men.


That is, the Adhvaryu and the members of the Sacrificer's family.


Lit. 'cleansing-plants' or 'wiping-plants,' Achyranthes aspera; also called the burr-plant (Birdwood), a common hairy weed found all over India, and much used for incantations and sacrificial purposes.


That is to say, one of them takes hold of the tail, whilst the others follow in single file, each holding on to the one walking in front of him. Prof. Weber, Ind. Stud. IX, p. 21, note, refers to the somewhat analogous practice of tying to the left arm of a dead man the tail of the anustaraṇī-cow slain at the funeral sacrifice, whereby the deceased is supposed to be led safely--across the river Vaitaraṇī (Styx); see Sāy. on Ṣaḍv. Br., as quoted Ind. Stud. I, p. 39; cf. also Colebrooke, Misc. Essays, second ed., p. 192--to the world of the Fathers. According to Katy. XXI, 4, 24 the ceremony of taking hold of the tail is performed with the verse, Vāj. S. XXXV, 53, 'For our well-being we hold on to the ox, sprung from Surabhi: even as Indra to the gods, so be thou a saving leader unto us!'


See XII, 9, 2, 8.


I.e. imbued with vital power, long-lived.


See XIII, 8, 3, 6.


See II, 1, 1, 8 seqq.


Viz. the Adhvaryu, according to Mahīdhara on Vāj. S. XXXV, 15. According to Katy. XXI, 4, 25, this ceremony takes place whilst they are on their way back from the grave to the village; as indeed appears from the order in which the formula used appears in the Vāj. Saṃhitā. It is difficult to see why the author should not have given it in its right place, unless it was done with a view to a good conclusion to the Kāṇḍa, or because he really wished it to he done after the performance of the offering. It is scarcely necessary to assume that this Kaṇḍikā is a later addition, perhaps based on the Kāṇva recension.

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