Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Satapatha Brahmana  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Satapatha Brahmana Part V (SBE44), Julius Eggeling tr. [1900], at




13:2:2:11. Verily, this--to wit, the Asvamedha--is the king of sacrifices. But, indeed, the Asvamedha is the Sacrificer, (for) the sacrifice is the Sacrificer: when he (the priest) binds victims to the horse (or, at the horse-sacrifice), he then, indeed, takes hold 3 of the sacrifice at the sacrifice.

13:2:2:22. 'A horse, a hornless he-goat, and a Gomriga 4'

p. 299

these they bind to the central stake: thereby, indeed, he (the priest) sharpens the front of his (the Sacrificer's) army 1, whence the front of the king's army is sure to become terrible.

13:2:2:33. A black-necked (he-goat), sacred to Agni, in front (of the horse) to its forehead 2: the original (hall) fire he makes it, whence the king's hall-fire is sure to be (efficient) 3.

p. 300

13:2:2:44. An ewe, for Sarasvatî, beneath the (horse's) jaws: he thereby makes women to be dependent, whence women are sure to be attendant upon man.

13:2:2:55. Two (he-goats), black on the lower part of the body 1, for the Asvins, (he ties) to the front legs: he thereby lays strength into the front legs, whence the king is sure to be strong in the arm 2.

13:2:2:66. A dark-grey (he-goat) for Soma and Pûshan at the (horse's) navel: a foothold he makes this one; for Pûshan is this (earth): it is thereon he establishes himself.

13:2:2:77. A white one and a black one, for Sûrya and Yama, on the flanks: a suit of armour he makes those two: whence the king, clad in mail, performs heroic deeds.

13:2:2:88. Two, with shaggy hind thighs, for Tvashtri, to the hind legs: he lays strength into the thighs, whence the king is sure to be strong in his thighs.

13:2:2:99. A white one, for Vâyu, to the tail,--an elevation he makes this one, whence people in danger betake themselves to an elevated place 3;--a cow wont to cast her calf, for Indra, the ever active, in order to associate the sacrifice with Indra;--a dwarfish one for Vishnu; for Vishnu is the sacrifice: it is in the sacrifice he (the Sacrificer) thus finally establishes himself.

13:2:2:1010. These, then, are the fifteen 'paryaṅgya' (body-encircling) 4 animals,--for fifteenfold is the

p. 301

thunderbolt, and the thunderbolt means manly vigour: with that thunderbolt, manly vigour, the Sacrificer now repels evil from in front 1 (of the sacrifice).

13:2:2:1111. And fifteen (victims), indeed, are (bound) to each of the other (stakes);--for fifteenfold is the thunderbolt, and the thunderbolt means manly vigour: with that thunderbolt, manly vigour, the Sacrificer now repels evil on both sides 2 (of the sacrifice).

13:2:2:1212. As to this they say, 'Does he really repel evil by these?' And, indeed, he does not make up the complete Pragâpati, and does not here gain everything.

13:2:2:1313. Let him rather bind seventeen animals to the central stake 3; for seventeenfold is Pragâpati, and the Asvamedha is Pragâpati,--thus for the

p. 302

obtainment of the Asvamedha. And sixteen (victims he binds) to each of the other (stakes), for of sixteen parts (kalâ) consists all this 1 (universe); all this (universe) he thus gains.

13:2:2:1414. 'How is he to appease 2 these?' they ask. 'Let him appease them with the Bârhaduktha verses 3, "Enkindled, anointing the lap of the faithful(f.) . . .;" for Brihaduktha, the son of Vâmadeva, or Asva, son of Samudra, saw these very (verses) to be the âprî-verses of the horse: it is by means of these we appease it,' so they say. But let him not do so; let him appease it with the Gâmadagna verses; for Gamadagni is Pragâpati, and so is the Asvamedha: he thus supplies it with its own deity; let him therefore appease (the victims) with the Gâmadagna verses 4.

13:2:2:1515. Now some make the invitatory-formulas and the offering-formulas (to be pronounced) separately for the 'paryaṅgyas,' saying, 'For these we find (formulas)--for the others, on account of not finding any, we do not use them 5.' Let him not do so;

p. 303

for the horse is the nobility (chieftain), and the other animals are the peasantry (clan); and those who do this really make the peasantry equal and refractory to the nobility; and they also deprive the Sacrificer of his vital power. Therefore the horse alone belongs to Pragâpati 1, and the others are sacred to the gods: he thus, indeed, makes the peasantry obedient and subservient to the nobility; and he also supplies the Sacrificer with vital power.

13:2:2:1616. The slaughtering-knife of the horse is made of gold, those of the 'paryaṅgyas' of copper, and those of the others of iron; for gold is (shining) light, and the Asvamedha is the royal office: he thus bestows light upon the royal office. And by means of the golden light (or, by the light of the gold), the Sacrificer also goes to the heavenly world; and he, moreover, makes it a gleam of light shining after him, for him to reach the heavenly world.

13:2:2:1717. But, indeed, the horse is also the nobility; and this also--to wit, gold--is a form (symbol) of

p. 304

the nobility: he thus combines the nobility with the nobility.

13:2:2:1818. And as to why there are copper (knives) for the 'paryaṅgyas,'--even as the non-royal kingmakers, the heralds and headmen, are to the king, so those 'paryaṅgyas' are to the horse; and so, indeed, is this--to wit, copper--to gold: with their own form he thus endows them.

13:2:2:1919. And as to why there are iron ones for the others,--the other animals, indeed, are the peasantry, and this--to wit, iron--is a form of the peasantry: he thus combines the peasantry with the peasantry. On a rattan mat (lying) north (of the Âhavanîya) they cut the portions of the horse(-flesh); for the horse is of anushtubh nature, and related to the Anushtubh is that (northern) quarter: he thus places that (horse) in its own quarter. And as to (his doing so) on a rattan mat,--the horse was produced from the womb of the waters 1, and the rattan springs from the water: he thus causes it to be possessed of its own (maternal) womb.


298:3 Ârabhate prâpnoti, comm.; it might also be rendered by 'he enters upon the sacrifice.'

298:4 This (and the identical passage XIII, 5, 1, 13) looks like a quotation, as if quoted from Vâg. S. XXIV, 1; where are p. 299 likewise found the references to the other victims and their places, in paragraphs 2-9. Possibly, however, the 'iti' may be used here with a kind of 'deiktic' force (cf. the similar use in XIII, 2, 8, 1); if, indeed, it does not simply refer to 'gomriga,' i.e. 'the animal called Gomriga.' (lit. 'bovine deer'), regarding which see note on XIII, 3, 4, 3.--Though the victims to be immolated on this day are first dealt with in this and the following Brâhmanas, their slaughter only takes place at the usual time at every Soma-sacrifice, viz. after the Sarpanam (XIII, 2, 3, 1 seqq.), the chanting of the Bahishpavamâna Stotra, and the drawing of the Âsvina-graha. On the present occasion these ceremonies are preceded by the drawing of the Mahiman cups of Soma (see XIII, 2, 11, 1 seqq.); whilst the chant is followed by the driving up of the victims, and the putting to of the horse, and the driving to the water, treated of in XIII, 2, 6, 1 seqq.

299:1 Harisvâmin takes this to mean that he makes the (sacrificial) horse, i.e. the king, alone the head of the army,--râgabhûtam apy asvam senâmukham ekam karotîty arthah.

299:2 According to the comments on Vâg. S. XXIV, 1, and Kâty. XX, 6, 4, a rope is wound round the horse's body in the same way as it is done with a bottle-gourd (lagenaria vulgaris), and it is to this rope that these so-called 'paryaṅgyâh (circumcorporal),' or victims surrounding the (horse's) body, would then be tied.

299:3 The commentator explains 'bhâvuka' by 'sâdhur bhavati;' and he adds that this is important inasmuch as numerous magic rites, such as rites for insuring success and averting evil (sântikapaushtika), and incantations (âbhikârika) are performed thereon. It is the name here assigned to this, the Âvasathya, fire, viz. 'pûrvâgni' or, original fire--with its secondary meaning 'front-fire'--which is seized upon by the author for symbolically identifying it with the victim fastened in front (or to the front) of the horse.

300:1 Mahîdhara takes 'adhorâma' to mean 'white-coloured on the lower part of the body.'

300:2 The word 'bâhu' means both 'arm' and 'front leg.'

300:3 That is, a mountain, a palace, high ground, &c., comm. ('vâyur hi skandhasyokkhrita ity abhiprâyah').

300:4 Here the encircled horse itself, and the other two victims p. 301 tied directly to the central stake, are improperly included in the term 'paryaṅgya.'

301:1 Viz. inasmuch as the sacrificial stake to which the horse is tied (and hence the victims fastened thereto) is the so-called 'agnishtha' stake, or the one standing opposite to (directly in front of) the Âhavanîya fire.

301:2 Viz. inasmuch as these other stakes stand in a line to the north (left) and south (right) of the central stake. Whilst, in the case of a simple 'ekâdasinî' (cf. III, 7, 2, 1 seqq.) there would be five stakes on each side of the central one, at the Asvamedha there are to be twenty-one stakes, or ten on either side of the central stake. See XIII, 4, 4, 5 seqq.

301:3 These seventeen victims do not include the twelve paryaṅgyas which are tied to different parts of the horse's body, but only to those which are actually tied to the central stake,--viz. the horse and its two immediate neighbours (paragraph 2), then twelve victims (enumerated Vâg. S. XXIV, 2, beginning with three victims of different shades of red, rohita), and lastly two beasts belonging to two sets of eleven victims finally superadded to the sets of fifteen victims tied in the first place to the stakes. Cf. note on XIII, 2, 5, 2.

302:1 Regarding this division into sixteen parts, as applied to man, the animal, and the universe, see Weber, Ind. Stud. IX, p. 111 with note.

302:2 Or, 'what Âprîs (appeasing verses) is he to pronounce over them?' These verses are pronounced as the offering-formulas (yâgyâ) at the fore-offerings of the animal sacrifice. See part ii, p. 185, note 1.

302:3 Viz. Vâg. S. XXIX, 1-11.

302:4 Viz. Vâg. S. XXIX, 25-36, beginning, 'Enkindled in the house of man this day, a god, thou worshippest the gods, O Gâtavedas.'

302:5 The commentator takes this to mean that, inasmuch as these paryaṅgyas--here improperly including the horse itself and the two other victims of Pragâpati at the central stake--are assigned to commonly invoked deities, formulas relating to these would easily p. 303 be found; whilst in the case of the other twelve victims tied to the central stake (see p. 301, note 3), as well as those of the other stakes--though they, too, are assigned to definite deities--some of their deities (as in the case of three a year and a half old heifers assigned to Gâyatrî, Vâg. S. XXIV, 21), are such as to make it difficult to find suitable formulas for them:--eteshâm asvâdînâm pragâpatvâdikâ yâgyânuvâkyâs tâh kim iti na prithak kurmah; itareshâm rohitâdînâm na vindâmah, tryavayo gâyatryâdayo devatâs taddevatyâs ka durlabhâ lakshanopetâ yâgyânuvâkyâ ity abhiprâyah.

303:1 The invitatory-formula and offering-formula are, however, pronounced once for the 'paryaṅgyas' (including the horse) in common, whilst a second pair of formulas are used for the other victims in common.

304:1 See VI, 1, 1, 11 (V, 1, 4, 5).

Next: XIII, 2, 3. Third Brâhmana