The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, Part III
VI, 2, 3. Third Brāhmaṇa
1. Now, the gods said, 'Meditate ye!'--whereby, no doubt, they meant to say, 'Seek ye a layer (for the fire-altar)! 'Whilst they were meditating,
2. Agni said to him (Prajāpati), 'I will step nigh!'--'Wherewith?'--'With cattle!'--'So be it!' He thereby doubtless meant to say, 'with the cattle-brick;' for that cattle-brick is the same as the dūrvā-brick: hence the dūrvā-brick is laid so as not to be separated from the first naturally-perforated one; hence also not separated from this earth are the plants, the cattle, the fire,--for not separated (from the earth) he (Agni) stepped nigh with this (brick).
3. They said, 'Meditate ye yet!' whereby no doubt they meant to say, 'Seek ye a layer! seek ye (to build) from hence upwards!' Whilst they were meditating, Indra and Agni, and Viśvakarman saw the air, as a second naturally-perforated layer: hence he lays on that (brick) by means of Indra and Agni, and Viśvakarman.
4. Vāyu said to them, 'I will step nigh!' Wherewith!'--'With the regions!'--'So be it!' He thereby doubtless meant to say, 'with the regional (bricks):' hence on the second naturally-perforated one the regional ones are laid, without being separated from it; and hence not separated from the air are the regions, the wind; for not separated therefrom he (Vāyu) stepped nigh with this (brick).
5. They said, 'Meditate ye yet!'--whereby no doubt they said, 'Seek ye a layer! seek ye (to build) from hence upwards!' Whilst they were meditating, Parameṣṭhin saw the sky, as a third naturally-perforated layer: whence it is by Parameṣṭhin (the most high) he lays on that (brick).
6. Yonder Sun said to him, 'I will step nigh!'--'Wherewith?'--'With a space-filling (brick).'--'So be it!'--Now he (the sun) indeed is the space-filler: 'by (mine own) self,' he thus means to say. Hence the third naturally-perforated one is laid on so as not to be separated from the space-filling one; and hence yonder sun is not separated from the sky, for not separated therefrom did he step nigh with this (brick).
7. These six deities forsooth became all this (universe), whatsoever exists here. The gods and the Rishis said, 'Those six deities forsooth have become all this (universe): bethink ye yourselves how we also may share therein!' They said, 'Meditate ye!' whereby doubtless they meant to say, 'Seek ye a layer! seek ye how we also may share in this! Whilst they were meditating, the gods saw a second, the Ṛṣis a fourth, layer.
8. They said, 'We will step nigh!'--'Wherewith?'--'With what is over and above these worlds!'--'So be it!' Now what there is above the earth on this side of the air, therewith the gods stepped nigh, that is this second layer; and what there is above the air on this side of the sky, therewith the Rishis stepped nigh, that is this fourth layer.
9. Now when they said, 'Meditate ye (cetayadhvam)!' they doubtless meant to say, 'Seek ye a layer (citim icchata)!' and inasmuch as meditating (cetay) they saw them, therefore they are 'layers' (citayaḥ).
10. Prajāpati saw the first layer: Prajāpati assuredly is its (spiritual) ancestry. The gods saw the second layer: the gods assuredly are its ancestry. Indra and Agni, and Viśvakarman saw the third layer: they assuredly are its ancestry. The Ṛṣis saw the fourth layer: the Rishis assuredly are its ancestry. Parameṣṭhin saw the fifth layer: Parameṣṭhin assuredly is its ancestry. And, verily, whosoever so knows that (spiritual) ancestry of the structures (layers of the fire-altar), his structures are indeed possessed of an ancestry, possessed of relations (or, of mystic significance, bandhu).
Footnotes / commentary:
The author here connects the causal verb 'cetay' (to reflect) with 'ci,' to pile, to build; or rather with 'citim ish,' to desire building (an altar).
See p. 155, note 8.
Or, that (layer), the three naturally-perforated bricks occupying the centre of the first, third, and fifth layers of the altar, these bricks are, as it were, the representatives of the respective layers. This first svayam-ātṛṇṇā brick is laid down with the formula, 'May Prajāpati settle thee!' See VII, 4, 2, 6.
A stalk of Dūrvā (Dūb) grass--Panicum (or Cynodon) dactylon, or Agrostis linearis--is laid upon the first naturally-perforated brick (which again lies on the man of gold) in such a way that the root lies upon it and the tops hanging down to the ground. 'Its flowers in the perfect state are among the loveliest objects in the vegetable world, and appear through a lens like minute rubies and emeralds in constant motion from the least breath of air. It is the sweetest and most nutritious pasture for cattle, and its usefulness, added to its beauty, induced the Hindus in the earliest ages to believe it was the mansion of a benevolent nymph.' Sir W. Jones, Works, vol. v, p. 78. Professor R. Wallace, in his 'India in 1887,' gives an excellent illustration of this famous grass. He remarks (p. 282) that it has a wonderful power of remaining green, being the grass of all Indian grasses which retains its succulence throughout the extreme heat of summer.'
That is to say, immediately after (the earth-brick had been laid on).
This second naturally-perforated brick, representing the air, forms the centre of the third layer of the altar. See VIII, 3, 1, 1 seq.
That is, the bricks marking the regions, or quarters (diśyā); five of these are laid down immediately after the self-perforated one, in the four directions from it, two of them being laid on the south. See VIII, 3, 1, 11.
Viz. without being separated from the layer which the second svayam-ātṛṇṇā represents. They would seem to lie about a foot away from the central brick; but as no other special brick lies between them, they may on that account be considered as not separated from it.
The third svayam-ātṛṇṇā, though considered as forming part of the fifth layer, is really laid on the top of it or rather on the 'punaściti'--an additional pile of eight bricks laid over the central, gārhapatya-like, portion of the fifth layer (cf. VI, 6, 1, 14, with note *3*). It is laid down with the formula 'May the Most High settle thee!'--and on it the fire is subsequently placed. See VIII, 7, 3, 13 seq.
See p. 153, note *1*.
The laying down of the last svayam-ātṛṇṇā (together with the likewise perforated 'vikarṇī') is immediately preceded by the filling up of the fifth layer with the 'space-filling' bricks, only one of which has the common formula pronounced over it. See VIII, 7, 2, 1 seq.
Viz. in this universe, and, as a representation thereof, in this fire-altar.
In the foregoing 1-5 paragraphs only those three layers, which have a 'naturally-perforated' brick in the centre, viz. the first, third, and fifth layers, were mentioned. The author now remarks on the two other layers, representing as it were the space between the three worlds.
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