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(e) - The Pravargya and the Upasada-Rites

The Pravargya rite is delt with separately in the Shrauta Sutras of the Apastamba, Katyayana and Baudhayana, but the Vaitana Shrauta Sutra describe it as a part of Agnishtoma-ritual like other Shrauta-Sutra, after the Atithyeshti-rite. As for the performance of the Pravargya, the Vaitana Shrauta Sutra says that it should not be performed by the yajamana performing the Soma-ritual for the first time, but if the yajamana kshtriya he can perform the Pravargya, if he so desires.[1] After having offered the prior oblations (Purastad-homa) for the Pravargya, the Brahma takes his seat in the south of the Garhapatya-fire[2].

As a part of Pravargya, the gharma-rite is performed. Before proceeding the gharma-rite, the Adhvaryu seeks permission from the Brahma by pronouncing the words ‘oh brahman, we want to perform the gharma-rite’. The Brahma grants the permission either loudly or in low voice[3]. According to the commentators, Somaditya, the either directions permitting the gharma-rite may be in the loud voice or alternatively, only the utterance of permission i.e. ‘Pracarata-gharman’, may be in the loud voice. After the permission of the Brahma the ‘gharma’ is heated and the Brahma sits besides the gharma. During the process of heating the gharma, the Vaitana has enjoined the worship of gharma by a certain mantras, nine in numbers[4].

It is important that no other Shrauta Sutra has adopted this style of giving the mantras in full which is adopted by the Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. It gives the initials of the mantras of the Atharvaveda only and gives in full the mantras other than the Atharvaveda mostly. The above said mantras are recited in the style of a Shastra[5] by reciting the half portion of the mantra, barring the Ahava[6] and the Pratigara[7] modes of pronunciation. Then the Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. enjoins the recitation of the mantrarucirasi[8], with the name ‘rucitam’.

The Brahma recites the mantrauttisthavapasyata...’[9] for the priests and the assistants who have milked the cow and the mantraupahvaye...’[10] for the cow whose milk is being used, while the offerings of the gharma are offered, the Brahma recites the mantras of the gharma-sukta. At the time of gharma the Hota utters the Vasat and Anuvasat calls, then the Brahma recites two atharvan mantras, which is called ‘vasatkara homa’. After the gharma offerings the remainder gharma is drunk by the yajamana, with the help of upayamani and the priests smell only. The Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. does not give details of partaking of the remainder but prescribes it to be followed in the same manner as in the case of partaking of yajina[11]. According to the Somaditya’s commentary, the partakers are Hota, Adhvaryu, Brahma and Agnidhra, who simply smell and the yajamana actually eats the gharmaremainder.

The yajamana and the priests purify themselves by sprinkling the water on each other by the pavitris, in the ‘ucchistha-khara[12]. At the end of the Pravargya the Hota recites the mantrasuyavasat....’ three times and Brahma offers the Samsthitahoma oblations[13].

There are three ‘upasadas’ of the Agnishtoma ritual and twelve of the Ahina ritual[14]. The Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. mentions three ajya offerings for Agni, Soma and Vishnu in the upasada ishti[15]. After these oblations the vasatkar is pronounced. All the acts done in the performance of the Atithyeshti, related to the rites of apyayana and nihnavana takes place in all the three upasadas[16] . When the Adhvaryu gives out the call ‘oh Agnidhra, do you recite the devapatni stotra’. The Agnidhra stands up near the Garhapatya fire facing the east and recites the devapatni stotra in a single breath. The commentator feels that the recitation of the devapatni stotra, is taken in confusion here, because in reference to the call of ‘subrahamanya’ the samcarana of the Brahma taken by mistake in the devapatnistotra. The Brahma recites three atharvan mantras[17], when the Subrahmanya priest performs the japa by three mantras. The commentator clarifies that the japa of these mantras performed invariably at the time of call for the Subrahmjanya. Then Mahavedi is constructed.

Footnotes and references:


Vaitana Sutra. 13. 26


Vaitana Sutra. 13. 25


Vaitana Shrauta Sutra.


Atharva Veda 19. 14. 1; 4. 1. 1; 4. 1. 2


Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. 13. 23; 14. 1; 15. 3; 16. 17; 17. 4; 17. 7.


Vaitana Sutra. 14. 1


Apastamba Shrauta Sutra. 15. 15;

Katyayana Shrauta Sutra. 26. 7. 14;

Shatapatha Brahmana. 14. 3. 1. 16


Atharva Veda 17. 1. 21


Atharva Veda 7. 75. 1


Atharva Veda 7.77.7


Vaitana Sutra. 14. 6


Vaitana Sutra. 14. 8


Vaitana Sutra. 14. 9


Vaitana Sutra. 15. 6


Vaitana Sutra. 15.1


Vaitana Shrauta Sutra. 15. 2


Vaitana Sutra. 15.4

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