The Grihya Sutras, Part 2 (SBE30), by Hermann Oldenberg, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 314 p. 315
We shall explain the sacrifice.
Yagña, sacrifice, is an act by which we surrender something for the sake of the gods. Such an act must rest on a sacred authority (âgama), and serve for man's salvation (sreyoऽrtha). The nature of the gift is of less importance. It may be purodâsa, cake; karu, pulse; sâmnâyya, mixed milk; pasu, an animal; soma, the juice of the Soma-plant, &c.; nay, the smallest offerings of butter, flour, and milk may serve for the purpose of a sacrifice.
Yagña, yâga, yagana, and ishti are considered as synonymes.
The sacrifice is for the three colours or castes (varna), for Brâhmanas and Râganyas, also for the Vaisya.
Though the sacrifice is meant for the three castes, here called varna, i.e. colour, the third caste, that of the Vaisya or citizen, is mentioned by itself, while the two castes, the Brâhmanas and Râganyas (the Kshatriyas or nobles), are mentioned together. This is done because there are certain sacrifices (bahuyagamâna), performed by Brâhmanas and Râganyas together, in which Vaisyas take no part. In the Sâṅkhâyana-sûtras, I, 1, 3, also
the Vaisya is mentioned by himself. In Kâtyâyana's Sûtras, however, no such distinction is made. and we read, I, 6, Brâhmana-râganya-vaisyânâm sruteh. Women, if properly married, are allowed to participate in sacrifices, but no one is allowed to be accompanied by a Sûdrâ woman, even though she be his wife. Properly a Brâhmana should marry a wife of his own caste only. A Kshatriya may marry a woman of his own or of the Brâhmana caste. A Vaisya's proper wife should be taken from his own caste. See, however, Manu III, 12 seq.
The four castes, with the Sûdra as the fourth, are mentioned once in the Rig-veda, X, yo, 12. The opposition between Âryas and Sûdras occurs in the Atharva-veda, XIX, 62, &c., and in most of the Brâhmanas. In the Satapatha Brâhmana we read of the four castes, Brâhmana, Râganya, Vaisya, and Sûdra, and we are told that none of them vomits the Soma. Kâtyâyana excludes from the sacrifice the aṅgahîna, cripple, shanda, eunuch, and all asrotriyas, persons ignorant of the Veda, which would bar, of course, the whole class of the Sûdras, but they are also specially excluded. Concessions, however, had to be made at an early time, for instance, in the case of the Rathakâra, who is admitted to the Agnyâdhâna, &c. This name means chariot-maker, but Âpadeva, in his Mîmâmsâ-nyâya-prakâsa, remarks that, though rathakâra means a chariot-maker etymologically, it should be taken here as the name of a clan, namely that of the Saudhanvanas (MS. Mill 46, p. 13b). Deva, in his commentary on the Kâtyâyana-sûtras, makes the same remark. See also Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 12 seq. These Saudhanvanas, often identified with the Ribhus, are evidently the followers of Bribu, mentioned RV. VI, 45, 31; 33, and wrongly called Bridhu in Manu X, 107; see M.M., Hist. of A.S.L., p. 494. In the Sâṅkhâyana-Srauta-sûtras, XVI, 11, 11 (ed. Hillebrandt), he is rightly called Bribu. In later times Rathakâra is the name of a caste, and its members are supposed to be the offspring of a marriage between a Mâhishya and a Karanî. A Mâhishya is the son of a Kshatriya and a Vaisyâ,
a Karanî the daughter of a Vaisya and a Sûdrâ. Sudhanvan also is used in Manu X, 23, as the name of a caste, namely the offspring of fallen (vrâtya) Vaisyas.
Another exception is made in favour of a Nishâdasthapati, a Nishâda chieftain. If it meant a chieftain of Nishâdas, it might be meant for a Kshatriya who happens to be a chieftain of Nishâdas. Here it is meant for a chieftain who is himself a Nishâda, a native settler. He is admitted to the Gavedhuka sacrifice.
Again, although, as a rule, the sacrificer must have finished his study of the Veda and be married, a sacrifice is mentioned which a Brahmakârin, a student, may perform. The case thus provided for is, yo brahmakârî striyam upeyât, sa gardabham pasum âlabheta. As these sacrificers are not upanîta, and therefore without the sacred fires, their sacrifices have to be performed with ordinary fires, and the sacrificial offerings, the purodâsas, are not cooked in kapâlas, jars, but on the earth, while the avadânas (cuttings), heart, tongue, &c., are sacrificed in water, and not in fire. The Nishâda chieftain has to learn the necessary Vedic verses by heart, without having passed through a regular course of Vedic study. The same applies to women, who have to recite certain verses during the sacrifice.
That certain women are admitted to the sacrifice, is distinctly stated by Kâtyâyana, I, 1, 7, strî kâviseshât.
The sacrifice is prescribed by the three Vedas.
In order to know the whole of the sacrifice, one Veda is not sufficient, still less one sâkhâ (recension) only. The sacrifice is conceived as a whole, and its members (aṅgas) are described in different parts of the three Vedas.
By the Rig-veda, the Yagur-veda, the Sâma-veda (is the sacrifice prescribed).
The Darsa-pûrnamâsau, the new and full-moon sacrifices, are prescribed by the Rig-veda and the Yagur-veda.
The Agnihotra is prescribed by the Yagur-veda.
The Agnishtoma is prescribed by all.
By saying all, the Atharva-veda is supposed to be included, at least according to one commentator.
The Agnishtoma requires sixteen priests, the Pasu sacrifices six, the Kâturmâsyas five, the Darsa-pûrnamâsas four.
With the Rig-veda and Sâma-veda the performance takes place with a loud voice (ukkaih).
Even lines of the Yagur-veda, if they are contained in the Rig-veda and Sâma-veda, would have to be pronounced with a loud voice. Certain mantras, however, are excepted, viz. the gapa, abhimantrana, and anumantrana-mantras.
With the Yagur-veda the performance takes place by murmuring (upâmsu).
This murmuring, upâmsu, is described as a mere opus operatum, the words being repeated without voice and without thought. One may see the movements of the vocal organs in murmuring, but one should not hear them at a distance. If verses from the Rig-veda or Sâma-veda
occur in the Yagur-veda, they also have to be murmured. See Kâty. I, 3, 10.
With the exception of addresses, replies, choosing of priests (pravara), dialogues, and commands.
As all these are meant to be understood by others, they have therefore to be pronounced in a loud voice. The address (âsruta) is om srâvaya; the reply (pratyâsruta) is astu sraushat 1; the choosing of priests (pravara) is agnir devo hotâ; a dialogue (samvâda) is brahman prokshishyâmi, om proksha; a command (sampresha) is prokshanîr âsâdaya.
In the Sâmidhenî hymns the recitation is to be between (the high and the low tone).
The Sâmidhenîs are the hymns used for lighting the fire. One commentator explains antarâ, between, as between high tone (krushta) and the murmuring (upâmsu). Another distinguishes three high tones, the krushta (also called târa or krauñka), the madhyama, and the mandra, and assigns the madhyama to the Sâmidhenî hymns. The mandra notes come from the chest, the madhyama notes from the throat, the uttama notes from the head.
Before the Âgyabhâgas (such as the Âgya-portions at the Darsa-pûrnamâsa), and at the morning Savana (oblation of Soma), the recitation is to be with the soft (mandra) voice.
The pronunciation is loud, ukkaih, but soft, mandra. Satyavrata restricts this rule to the passages mentioned in Sûtra X. He also treats the second part of Sûtras XII, XIII, and XIV as separate Sûtras.
Before the Svishtakrit (at the Darsa-pûrnamâsa) sacrifice, and at the midday Savana, the recitation is to be with the middle voice.
In the remainder and at the third Savana with the sharp (krushta) voice 1.
The remainder refers to the Darsa-pûrnamâsa sacrifice, the three Savanas to the Soma sacrifice. Satyavrata takes all these rules as referring to the cases mentioned in Sûtra X.
The movement of the voice is the same.
In the three cases mentioned before, the voice moves quickly, when the words are to be pronounced high; slowly, when low; and measuredly, when neither loud nor low.
The Hotri-priest performs with the Rig-veda.
The Udgâtri-priest with the Sâma-veda.
The Adhvaryu-priest with the Yagur-veda.
The Brahma-priest with all.
'With all' means with the three Vedas, because the Brahma-priest, or superintendent of the whole sacrifice, must be acquainted with the three Vedas. Others would include the Atharva-veda.
When it is expressly said, or when it is rendered impossible, another priest also may act.
Vipratishedha is explained by asambhava and asakti.
The priestly office (ârtvigya) belongs to the Brâhmanas.
Sacrifices may be performed for Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and, in certain cases, even for others, but never by any but Brâhmanas. The reason given for this is curious,because Brâhmanas only are able to eat the remains of a sacrifice. See Satap. Br. II, 3, 1, 39; Kâtyâyana IV, 14, 11; also I, 2, 8, cont.
For all sacrifices the fires are laid once.
The sacrificial fires have to be arranged for the first time
by a peculiar ceremony, called the Agnyâdhâna. They are generally three (Tretâ), the Gârhapatya, the father; the Dakshina, the son; and the Âhavanîya, the grandson. The first laying of the Gârhapatya fire-altar takes place in spring for a Brâhmana, in summer for a Râganya, in winter for a Vaisya.
If it is said, guhoti, 'he sacrifices,' it should be known that sarpir âgya, melted butter, is meant.
Sarpis is here taken as an adjective, running; yad asarpat tat sarpir abhavat. Âgya is explained as navanîtavikâradravyagâtîyavakanah sabdah, i.e. a word signifying any kind of substance made of fresh butter.
In the Aitareya-Brâhmana I, 3, we read âgyam vai devânâm surabhi, ghritam manushyânâm, ayutam pitrînâm, navanîtam garbhânâm, 'Âgya is sweet or fragrant to the gods, ghrita to men, ayuta to the manes, navanîta to children.' Here the commentator explains that âgya is butter, when melted (vilînam sarpis), ghrita, when hardened. Ayuta, sometimes called astu, is butter, when slightly melted, nishpakva, when thoroughly melted. According to Kâtyâyana I, 8, 37, âgya is of different kinds. It may be simple ghrita, which, as a rule, should be made of the milk of cows. But in the absence of âgya, the milk of buffaloes (mâhisha), or oil (taila), or sesam-oil (gârtila), or linseed oil (atasîsneha), &c., may be taken.
If it is said, guhoti, it should be known that the Adhvaryu is meant as performer.
Though there is a man who offers the sacrifice, yet the actual homa, the throwing of butter &c. into the fire, has to be performed by the Adhvaryu priest.
Likewise, the spoon (guhû) as the vessel.
Guhû, the spoon, is so called because it is used for pouring out (guhoti, homa).
319:1 See Hillebrandt, Das Altind. Neu- and Vollmondsopfer, p. 94.
320:1 See on this, Rig-veda Prâtisâkhya 13, 17; Âsval. I, 5, 27; Sâṅkh. I, 14; Hillebrandt, l.c. p. 103.