Soma in Vedic Mythology and Ritual (study)

by Anjana Chakraborty | 2017 | 51,491 words

This thesis is called: A study of the evolution of Soma in vedic mythology and ritual. It represents a thorough discussion on the characteristics of Vedic Gods, Soma and Vedic rituals. As the ritual plays a very important role in Rigveda it is only natural that Soma, the plant, the juice of which is so much used in the ritual is deified as one of ...

Chapter 3(c) - Ritvika (Priest)—Four groups of Priests

Four or generally sixteen or seventeen, though master of the Vedas, neither too young nor too old, with clear and loud voice and physically fit are employed in it[1]. In the Somayaga four groups of priests are required which are headed by Hota, Udgata, Adhvaryu and Brahma. Hota is the main Rigvedic priest and his assistants are Maitravaruna, Acchavaka, Gravastut.

Samavedic main priest is Udgata and his three assistants are Prastota, Pratiharta and Subrahmanya. Adhvaryu is the Yajurvedic main priest and Pratiprasthata, Neshta, Unneta are his assistant priest. Atharvavedic main priest is Brahma and has assistants are Brahmanacchamsi, Agnidhra and Pota[2]. Except these sixteen priests one priest named sadasya should also be there. The presence of all the sixteen priests is not essential in other yagas. Somayaga is the only yaga where the presence of all the sixteen priests is necessary[3].

In the Somayaga presence of one priest is necessary named Camasadhvaryu. One who fills up the camasa with somarasa at the time of ahuti is called Camasadhvaryu. This priest should act as an assistant in the yaga. Hota is the invoker and he invites the Deities in the sacrificial ground. In Somayaga, Hota recites the anuvakya and yajyamantras and utter the vasatkara. In different savannas he should recite shastras along with his assistants; Hota should also recite the mantras in the prataranuvaka ceremony.

Adhvaryu performs the main and important works of the yaga. Without his order no work can be performed. In Somayaga he offers oblation of somarasa taking it in a patra named ‘graha’. The presence of Udgata and his three assistants are necessary in Somayaga only because in this yaga the sastras and stotras are recited and sung by them. The Brahma is the protector and supervisor of the yaga. He performs his duties as sacrificial priest with the three fold knowledge that means, by virtue of the knowledge of all the Vedas. The Brahma is also termed as abhibhavaka or guardian of the yaga in the Brahmana literature[4]. Brahma’s position was very high in the yagas that it was believed that only silent sitting of Brahma makes the yaga successful without any mistake. In the Somayaga, Maitravaruna recite the shastras in the madhyandina savana for the Deities Maitravaruna.

Footnotes and references:

[2]:

Ashvalayana Shrauta Sutra  4.1.6

[4]:

Shatapatha Brahmana.1.7.4.18

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