The Agnistoma Somayaga in the Shukla Yajurveda

by Madan Haloi | 2018 | 109,416 words

This page relates ‘Part 4.9: Carrying forward of the Agni and Soma’ of the study on the Agnistoma Somayaga as described in the Shukla Yajurveda (dealing with Vedic Rituals). The Agnistoma sacrifice (lit. “praise of Agni”) connects god with men and is performed in the spring season. It is the model of all the Soma sacrifices and forms a large and complicated ceremony preceded by four preliminary ritualistic days. This thesis deals with all the details involved in the Agnistoma sacrifice.

Part 4.9: Carrying forward of the Agni and Soma

[Full title: Rites Performed on the Fourth Day: (h) Carrying forward of the Agni and Soma (agnīṣoma-praṇayana)]

Then comes the rites related to the Agnīṣomapraṇayana ritual. The Adhvaryu starts the ritual with ceremonial activities such as spreading of the sacrificial grass around the fires, placing together the vessels, scattering of water, pouring out of the ghee and then he proceeds for uttaraparigraha.[1]

Karka in his commentary on Kātyāyana states that the word uttaraparigraha means the rites such as digging etc—

uttaraparigrahādiśabdena ca khananādi draṣṭavyam/[2]

Whenever the Adhvaryu sprinkles water inside the mahāvedī he should sprinkle the same up to the region of the antaḥpātya peg. Thereafter he issues a direction to the Āgnīdhra to bring the barhiṣ. In the place near the antaḥpātya peg, all the vessels are placed.[3] Vidyadhar states that the barhiṣ of the cart, the stones, droṇakalaśa i.e., a pitcher for preserving the soma juice , the soma vessels , four Idhmas , twoVapāśrapaṇīs etc. are placed near the peg.[4] Then he sprinkles water on the idhma, mahāvedī and on the barhiṣ[5]. The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa states that the sacrificial grass is spread in the mahāvedī in the afternoon.[6] The sacrificer and the wife have already been given fast-milk in the morning. Here in the after noon the Adhvaryu gives the rest of the fast-milk contained in the vrata vessel to the sacrificer and his wife. Thereafter the priests enter the prācīnavaṃśa śālā and the fire wood is placed on the śālādvārya fire.[7] Kātyāyana has recorded all these information in a few Sūtras adding that in the afternoon, the prastara is not scattered on the vedī.[8] Again, Karka as well Vidyadhar say it that the fire wood is placed on the śālādvārya i.e., the old āhavanīya fire and from this the fire of āgnīdhradhiṣṇya is created by carrying it to the dhiṣṇya of the Āgnīdhra priest.[9] Thite clarifies it that all these rites are done by the Adhvaryu.[10] Then the Adhvaryu melts the ghee on the fire, cleans the offering ladle, the sacrificer places the soma on his lap.[11] Kātyāyana too states that having performed the rites such as putting of ghee on the fire, cleaning of the offering ladle, lifting the ājyasthālī from the fire , the rites such looking at the melted ghee by the wife of the sacrificer, taking seat by the sacrificer in the western side of the śālādvārya fire and placing the soma on his lap etc. are performed.[12] Thereafter the Adhvaryu scatters the dust of the foot print somakrayaṇī cow in the western side of the śālādvārya fire. Some opine that the dust of the foot print of the cow should be divided into four parts and one part should be used in scattering in the western part of the śālādvārya fire, the second part should be used as the under layer of the āhavanīya fire, again the third part as the under layer for the āgnīdhra fire and the fourth part in the rite of the anointment of the axel, but the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa does not support it.

After having completed these rites, the Adhvaryu purifies the ghee and take four scoops in the juhū and pours it in the upabhṛt ladle. He scoops pṛṣadājya five times.[13] Pṛṣadājya refers to clarified butter mixed with sour milk.[14] Kātyāyana states that both the ghee and prokṣaṇī water are purified in the place near the antaḥpātya peg and after this the Adhvaryu scoops up ghee for the animal sacrifice. The offering ladles made full by the Adhvaryu are held by the other priests in order to bring it to the āhavanīya fire.[15] The persons having blood relation with the sacrificer touch him from behind. If anyone is found absent, then the sacrificer leaves him out in the rite called anvārambha i.e., touching each other from behind.[16] The Adhvaryu covers the sacrificer and his relatives with a cloth.[17] It may be stated here that according to Āpastamba the sacrificer touches the Adhvaryu, the wife touches the sacrificer, and the others such as the sons, brothers etc. of the sacrificer touch the wife of the sacrificer.[18]

In addition to this comes the libation made by the pracaraṇī ladle. Mahīdhara in his commentary on the Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā mentions that the pracaraṇī ladle is a ladle like the juhū.[19] Sāyaṇa as well as Vidyadhar says that due to the engagement of the other ladles in other rites, the ladle by which libation is made is called pracaraṇī.[20] Eggeling states that as the offering ladle and the upabhṛt have already been filled up by ghee, hence this libation is made by the pracaraṇī ladle.[21] The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa states that the Adhvaryu makes this libation with the prescribed yajuṣ formula.[22] But, Kātyāyana states that as the fire wood has already been placed on the the śālādvārya fire the Adhvaryu with the help of the pracaraṇī ladle, makes the libation on the burning idhma.[23]

During this time, he utters the following formula—

tvaṃ soma tanūkṛdbhyo dveṣobhyo’nyakṛtebhya uru yantāsi varūthaṃ svāhā/[24]

This libation is named in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa[25] as well as by Āpastamba[26] as vaisarjanahoma.The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa states that it is called so because by making this libation, the sacrificer puts away the things he has been given during his consecration. From the commentary of Sāyaṇa, it is clear that after the vaisarjanahoma, the black antelope’s skin, mekhalā etc. are given up by the sacrificer. Even, he gives up his vow after the libation. Thus, due to the acts of giving up things, the libation is called so.[27] The Adhvaryu again makes another libation with prescribed formula.[28]

The formula runs as follows—

juṣāṇo apturājyasya vetu svāhā/[29]

After having made the libation related to the vaisarjanahoma, the kindled idhma is held on the underlayer upayamanī in order to carry it to the āgnīdhrīya shed i.e., maṇḍapa. Then the Adhvaryu orders the Hotṛ to recite for the fire to be carried forward (praṇayana)to the āgnīdhrīyadhiṣṇya and for the soma to be carried forward. Or, he may ask only to recite for the fire being carried forward.[30] Then they proceed forward with the soma pressing stones, droṇakalaśa, Grahas i.e., cups belonging to Vāyu, Idhmas , the enclosing sticks of kārṣmarya wood, prastara of aśvavāla grass,two Vidhṛties of sugarcane, the barhiṣ used earlier, two Vapāśrapaṇīs , two cords, two Araṇis , the wood to be placed under the lower araṇi, two Vṛṣaṇas.[31] Kātyāyana clearly states that they all proceed towards the āhavanīya fire.[32] Sāyaṇa makes it clear that the Grahas belonging to Vāyu means all the soma vessels belonging to Vāyu. Droṇakalaśa is the vessel for preserving the soma juice, barhiṣ is used in the Ātithyeṣṭi, vapāśrapaṇī refers to two sticks used in roasting the omentum in the ensuing animal sacrifice, two Vṛṣaṇas refer to two Darbhas used to produce fire.[33] Then the Adhvaryu leads the sacrificer to recite a yajuṣ formula while they are about to move.[34]

The formula to be uttered by the sacrificer runs as follows—

agne naya supathā rāye asmānviśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān/ yuyodhyasmajjuhurānameno bhūyiṣṭhām te nama uktiṃ vidhema//[35]

The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa mentions that they proceed towards the āgnīdhrīya shed and the Adhvaryu places the fire on the āgnīdhrīyadhiṣṇya of the āgnīdhrīya shed i.e., āgnīdhrīyamaṇḍapa.[36]

Kātyāyana states that they proceed by the northern side of the sadas.[37] Thereafter, the Adhvaryu makes a libation on the fire of the āgnīdhrīyadhiṣṇya.[38]

During this time he utters the following formula—

ayaṃ no agnirvarivaskṛṇotvayaṃ mṛdhaḥ pura etu pravindan/ ayaṃ vājānjayatu vājasātavayaṃ śatrūnjayatu jarhṛṣāṇaḥ svāhā//[39]

Thus the first part of the ritual of Agnīṣomapraṇayana is completed. After the libation, the materials such as the stones, the droṇakalaśa and the Grahas belonging to Vāyu etc are placed in the same place.[40] But, Kātyāyana is of the opinion that after the placing of the above mentioned materials, the libation is made.[41] On the otherhand, Karka in his commentary on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra opines that after the libation, the materials are placed.[42] Again,Vidyadhar puts his view that this libation is made by the pracaraṇī ladle.[43] With the remaining materials, they proceed towards the āhavanīya fire and place these in the northern part of the āhavanīya.[44] Kātyāyana adds here that they carry the materials excluding the ghee and the soma by proceeding through the northern part.[45] Karka mentions that the priests move by the north of the āgnīdhra fire.[46] The Adhvaryu is prohibited from moving between the Dhiṣṇyas . His way is fixed through the north of the āgnīdhra fire whenever he needs it.[47] The Adhvaryu holds the prokṣaṇī water in order to sprinkle on the materials which have been placed in the northern part of the āhavanīya fire. He first sprinkles the water on the idhma and then the altar. Someone gives him the barhiṣ and sprinkles them with the water. The prastara of aśvavāla grass is bound with the barhiṣ and taking the prastara, he scatters the barhiṣ in a single layer.[48] Kātyāyana is of the opinion that the Adhvaryu sprinkles water in the idhma and scatters the barhiṣ in the northern part of the khara or in the western part of the uttaravedī.[49] Having performed it, he places the enclosing sticks around the āhavanīya fire. Again, having placed the enclosing sticks, he puts the kindling sticks on the āhavanīya fire. Having placed first the middle enclosing stick, he places the southern and the northern enclosing sticks uttering prescribed formula with each act. The Adhvaryu touches the first enclosing stick with the kindling stick and offers it to the fire. Second time, he does not touch the enclosing stick with the kindling stick and thus he places it on the fire. After this, he looks at the āhavanīya fire and mutters the yajuṣ formula sūryastvā...etc.[50]

The whole formula runs as follows—

sūryastvā purastāt pātu kasyaścidabhiśastyai/[51]

Performing all these rites, the Adhvaryu again having placed the kindling sticks on the fire, makes a libation on the āhavanīya fire.[52]

During this time, he utters this formula—

uru viṣṇo vikramasvoru kṣayāya naskṛdhi/ ghṛtaṃ ghṛtayone piba prapra yajñapatiṃ tira svāhā//[53]

As the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa states after having placed the kindling sticks on the fire, this libation should be made.

Accordingly Kātyāyana mentions it optionally thus—

purastād vā samidhāvādhāyeti śruteḥ/[54]

Next to this, the rite of placing the soma creeper on the southern havirdhāna cart is performed. After the above mentioned libation, the Adhvaryu puts down the offering ladle or other utensils connected with the libation and, he touches the water and then he makes the entry of the soma into the havirdhāna shed. In the middle enclosed place of the southern havirdhāna cart, a black antelope’s skin is placed and on the skin, he puts the soma creeper with a prescribed formula.[55]

The formula runs as follows—

deva savitareṣa te somastaṃrakṣasva mā tvā dabhan/[56]

Sāyaṇa states that the Adhvaryu puts the offering ladle on the barhiṣ of the western part of the uttaravedī.[57] The sacrificer having released his hand from the soma, worships it with a yajuṣ formula.[58] Vidyadhar while commenting on the concerned Sūtras of the Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra, makes it clear that during the placing of the soma by the Adhvaryu, the sacrificer touches the Adhvaryu from behind and thus through the priest he indirectly touches the soma and after this he takes away his hand from the soma and worships the soma.[59] The formula to be applied here runs as follows–etattvaṃ deva soma devo devā/ upāgā idamahaṃ manusyān saha rāyaspoṣeṇa/[60] Having finished the rites inside the havirdhāna shed, the sacrificer comes out from the shed uttering a yajuṣ formula. Thereafter, he offers kindling stick into the āhavanīya fire with a formula and and releases his fingers which he had kept down into a fist since his consecration rite. His wife too does the same but without any formula.[61]

The formulae to be uttered by the sacrificer during his coming out from the havirdhāna shed and putting the kindling stick in the fire are—

(a) svāhā nirvaruṇasya pāśān mucye/,

(b) agne vratapāstve vratapā yā tava tanūrmayyabhūdeṣā sā tvayi yo mama tanūstvayyabhūdiyaṃ sā mayi/ yathāyathaṃ nau vratapate vratānyanu me dīkṣāṃ dīkṣāpatiramaṃstānu tapastapaspatiḥ/ respectively.[62]

As stated by Kātyāyana, before releasing his fingers, the sacrificer should touch the madantī water.

The wife too does the same by offering a kindling stick on the gārhapatya fire without formula. The madantī water is poured in the cātvāla pit.[63] Till this rite no one could utter the name of the consecrated sacrificer. But, after the rites of releasing the hands, offering of kindling stick on the āhavanīya fire, they all can utter his name. Again the restriction of eating the remnant of his food too is lifted from now on. So others can partake his food.The sacrificer no longer needs drink the fast-milk and can partake the remnants of the oblation.[64] After this occur the rites of animal sacrifice to be performed to Agni and Soma , the offering of the sacrificial bread to the same deity.[65] The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa mentions that to whom the animal belongs, the sacrificial bread too belongs to the same god.[66] It is noteworthy that the cake is made on eleven potsherds.[67]

Footnotes and references:


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.23.


Karka on ibid.,8.6.23.




Vidyadhar Sharma on ibid.,8.6.25.


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.6.26


cf., so’parāhṇe vediṃ stīrstvā... / Sāyaṇa on Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


cf., ardhavrataṃ pradāya, samprapadyante/ idhmamabhyādadhāti/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.27-28.


cf.,... idhmasya śālādvārya ādhānam/ Karka on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.6.28; cf.,... śālādvārye praṇayanīyasya idhmasya ādhānaṃ kuryāt āgnīdhrīyāgneḥ praṇayanārtham/ Vidyadhar Sharma on ibid.


Thite, op.cit.,Vol.1, p.326, under sūtra 8.6.30


cf., ājyamadhiśrayati/ srucaḥ sammārṣṭi/ upasthe rājānaṃ yajamānaḥ kurute/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.29.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, 3.6.3. 4-6.


F. Max Muller (ed.), Julius Eggeling(eng.trans.), op.cit, Part. 2, Books 3&4 , p.156, fn. 3


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.30-33.


cf., tasmādyo’pivrataḥ syāt so’nvārabheta /yadyu’nyatra carennādriyeta/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.6.34,36


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.35.


Āpastamba Śrautasūtra , 11.10.14.


[??] . cf., juhūriva homasādhanā kācitsruk pracaraṇītyucyate/ Mahīdhara on Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.35.


cf., juhvā vyāpṛtatvāt pracaraṇyā homaḥ/ Sāyaṇa on Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; cf. anyāsu vyāpṛtāsu tayā pracaryata iti pracaraṇī nāma pālāśī sruk juhūreva / Vidyadhar Sharma on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.1.


F. Max Muller (ed.), Julius Eggeling(eng.trans.), op.cit., Part. 2, Books 3&4 , p.157, fn.1


cf., atha juhoti-tvaṃ soma.../ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


cf., pradīptamidhmaṃ tvaṃ someti pracaraṇyābhijuhoti/ Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.1.


cf., sa yadidaṃ sarvaṃ visṛjate-tasmād vaisarjanāni nāma/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Āpastamba Śrautasūtra , 11.17.15.


Sāyaṇa on Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


cf., athāptave dvitīyāmāhutiṃ juhoti-juṣāṇo.../ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,, Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.2.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.35(c)


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.3.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.4; Vidyadhar Sharma on ibid., 8.7.5


Sāyaṇa on Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,


cf., tadāyatsu vācayati -agne naya.../ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.5.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.36.


cf., āgacchantyāgnīdhram/tamāgnīdhre nidadhāti/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.6.


cf., sa nihite juhoti atha …/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.37.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.6.7-8.


cf., tāni ca homottarakālam/ Karka on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.7


Vidyadhar on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.9.


cf.,... athetaramādāyāyanti/ taduttareṇāhavanīyamupasādayanti/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.9.


cf., āgnīdhrīyamuttareṇa parikramyā.../ Karka on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.9.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.10.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.12-13.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa ,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 2.8.1-4.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 2.5(b)


cf., abhyādhāya samidhau/, atha juhoti -uro viṣṇo.../ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.13.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.38.


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.14.


cf., sa dakṣiṇasya havirdhānasya nīḍe kṛṣṇājinamāstṛṇāti/ tadenamāsādayati “deva savita...”/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.15.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.39(a)


Sāyaṇa on Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


cf., athānusṛjyopatiṣṭhate etat tvaṃ …/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.16.


Vidyadhar Sharma on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.16-17; Karka on Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.16.


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.39(b)


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā , 5.39


Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.17-19.


Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,; Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,8.7.20-22


cf., agnīṣomīyo’taḥ paśuḥ/ taddaivatyaḥ paśupurodāśaḥ/ Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra , 8.7.23-24.


cf., yaddevatyaḥ paśurbhavati, taddevatyaṃ purodāśamanunirvapati/ Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa,


cf., paśudevatāyai purodāśa ekādaśakapālaḥ/ Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra ,6.7.16.

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