by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Brahma Begins the Yajna which is chapter 180 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the one hundred eightieth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The sages said:
3-5. But when he himself performs the Yajña what could have been his desire? Do tell us. Who were the Ṛtviks who performed the rites requisite for the Makha? Mention these. Our curiosity is great. What was the Dakṣiṇā (monetary gift) given by him to those Brāhmaṇas who had been employed as Adhvaryu? By whom was the worship carried out? Who was the Hotṛ? Who was the Agnīdhra priest? Who remained as Brahmā? Who was Udgātṛ? Who was the Ācārya in the Yajña rite?
6. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I shall explain unto you all the details regarding the Yajña that took place in such a wonderful manner.
7. The noble-souled one gave monetary gifts to the members of the assembly present there, namely the Ṛtviks and the excellent Brāhmaṇas.
8-9. All these things were carried out by Brahmā, the Lord of Devas, who performed the Yajña. He had unmeasurable splendour.
On coming to know that the Four-faced One was desirous of performing the Yajña, Lord Śatakratu came there to extend cooperation and help along with all the groups of Suras. So also came Lord Śaṃbhu with all the deities and Gaṇas (goblins and spirits, his attendants).
10. On seeing that all of them assembled there having resorted to the duties of mortals, Brahmā stood humbly with palms joined in reverence:
11-12. “O excellent Suras, welcome to you all; please do me a favour. Be pleased to be seated in the comfortable and pleasant seats in due order.
I am blessed and contented that you have all taken the trouble to come yourselves in the same manner as you take pains to go to all the Sattras on being invoked by Ṃantras.”
The Devas said:
13. O Lotus-born One, tell us quickly as to who has to do what part of the job on hand.
15. Make all the Kuṇḍas (holy pits) in their respective places. All the utensils, ladles, bowls etc., for the Yajña should be kept ready.
16. The Yūpas (sacrificial posts) should be fixed along with Caṣālakas (wooden rings on the top). They should be of the proper size. For the purpose of cooking the oven pits should be dug with the proper sizes and dimensions.
17. Ten thousand eight hundred Iṣṭakas (bricks) should be got ready quickly. Twigs should be stacked immediately.
18. The golden image of the Puruṣa should be made there itself.
Saying "So it shall be” Tvaṣṭṛ hastened out.
19. Then the Lotus-born Lord spoke to Bṛhaspati, the preceptor of Devas: “O Bṛhaspati, do fetch all the Ṛtviks qualified for the performance of the Yajña.
20. They should be sixteen in number. It is not proper to entrust this task to anyone else. O Śakra, you must always serve and attend to the Brāhmaṇas.
21. The massaging of their hands and feet should be done. If they are very tired their backs should be massaged duly. O Kubera, O presiding deity of wealth, the monetary gifts should be made at the proper time.
22. They can be given excellent garments, gold and all other things desired.
O Viṣṇu, supervision of what is to be done and what is not to be done is your duty.
23. You must attentively examine always whether the proper things have been duly completed or not.
May all the Guardians of the Quarters keep watch over all directions. The entry of goblins, ghosts and vampires as well as Rākṣasas should be checked.
24. If anyone expresses any desire to have anything, say cloth or cash, the superintendent of all the Yajñas should give them the respective things after due consideration.
26-27. In the meantime, Viśvakarman hurriedly came there and announced to the Lotus-born Lord: “The parlour for the Yajña and everything else commanded by you is fully provided (is ready), O Four-faced Lord.”
28-29. Then Bṛhaspati came and told Lord Pitāmaha: “O Lord, Brāhmaṇas to perform the rites of Yajña have been brought by me. The Brāhmaṇas are sixteen in number. Employ them as Ṛtviks, O Lord of Devas. Test them yourself so that the Yajña rite can be faultless.”
30. Then Brahmā saw them and tested them himself carefully. Then he employed them as Ṛtviks and duly honoured them.
The sages said:
31. O Sūta, do enumerate the names of all the Ṛtviks. Do mention which of them carried out which task.
37. These sixteen Ṛtviks collaborated for the fulfilment of the Yajña. They were respectfully rendered splendid through garments and ornaments.
38. After honouring everyone personally in the manner laid down in the Gṛhya Sūtras, Brahmā respectfully spoke to them:
39. “O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I seek refuge in you all. Do bless me for the initiation in the Yajña rite.”
Footnotes and references:
The list of sixteen priests required for sacrifices is enumerated in Āśvalāyana Śrauta Sūtra IV.1.6. Out of there Hotṛ, Udgātṛ, Brahmā and Adhvaryu are most important. For details about sacrifice vide Kane, HD.II.ii, ch. XXIX.