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meeting of the Congress of Religions at Oxford, which I was unavoidably prevented from attending, but at which Professor Macdonell very kindly read an abstract of the paper.

I have to express my heartiest thanks to the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society for accepting this translation for their series, and to Miss Hughes for the great trouble she has been so good as to take to secure its satisfactory production and to remove errors. Professor Eggeling, under whom I commenced to learn Sanskrit, has done me the honour of reading a proof and of making suggestions which I have been only too glad to accept.

London, September, 1908.



THE Mahāvrata in the form described in the Sankhāyana Āraṇyaka is the ceremonial performed on the second last day of the Gavamayana Sattra, a sacrifice extending over a year and symbolic of the year. As a form of the Agnistoma the ritual feature of the day is its division into three parts, the morning, midday, and evening pressings of the Soma and their accompanying Stotras of the Saman singers and Sastras of the Hotṛs. The Sastras alone are systematically dealt with in the Sankhāyana Āraṇyaka, though mention is made also of the corresponding Stotras. In the morning pressing there correspond to the Bahiṣpavamāna and to four Ajya Stotras the Ajya and Praüga Sastras of the Hotṛ and three Ajya Sastras of the Hotrakas. In the midday pressing there correspond to the Madhyandinapavamāna Stotra and four Pṛṣṭha Stotras the Marutvatiya and Nişkevalya Sastras of the Hotṛ and three Nişkevalya Sastras of the Hotrakas. In the evening pressing there correspond to the Ārbhavapavamāna Stotra and the Yajñāyajñīya Saman the Vaiśvadeva and Āgnimāruta Sastras.

These Śastras receive, however, very different shares of the attention of the writer of the Āraṇyaka, i and ii. After an introduction (i, 1) he devotes a single chapter to the Ajya and Praüga Sastras (i, 2), and one to the Marutvatiya Śastra (i, 3). He then describes and explains the ceremonies preceding immediately the Niskevalya Sastra or Mahad Uktha, which forms the essential and highest part of the ritual, commencing with the oblations of ghee (i, 4; 5), interpolating a legend of Viśvāmitra (i, 6), and concluding with the ceremonial of the mounting of the swing (i, 7; 8), which symbolizes the sun. The Mahad Uktha itself, in its full

detail, occupies nearly all the second book (ii, 1-17), and a concluding chapter (ii, 18) deals with the Vaiśvadeva and Agnimāruta Sastras.

The Aranyaka does not go into any detailed explanation of the ceremonies alluded to in i, 4; 5; 7; 8, and to understand the allusions it is necessary to refer to Śānkhāyana Śrauta Sūtra, xvii and xviii, of which a brief summary follows.

Preparations for the ceremony are commenced some days before it begins. For making a swing for the Hotṛ there are brought together two or three planks, preferably of Udumbara wood, an arm1 thick, an ell long, pierced at the corners; also two forked poles of over a man's height, a cross-bar and strong cords of Muñja grass, more than two fathoms long. For the Udgatr's seat Muñja or Darbha grass is used, and the feet are a span high, the other parts an ell. The Adhvaryu is given a bundle of Muñja or Kuśa grass, on which he stands and makes his responses. The other priests have only bṛsis (mats) a span high. A lute with a hundred strings is got ready, the body of Palāśa, the handle of Udumbara wood, or vice versa; it is covered with a red ox-hide, hairy side upmost, and as bow a naturally crooked reed with leaves is used. For the maidens who are to dance water-jugs are provided, and there is a variety of musical instruments 2 which are merely names to us. There are also four or six drums, two within and two without the Sadas. A horse and chariot are ready and a bow and three arrows for use by a king or other distinguished archer. The target consists of an entirely round skin hung up between two posts to the left of the Agnidhra. Behind the Agnidhra a hole is dug and covered with the skin of the sacrificial animal, which serves as the so-called 'earth-drum,' which is beaten with the tail of the sacrificial animal. The Śūdra presence of a woman and an Aryan 'bald head' is mentioned as antiquated and obsolete.3

1 None of these measures can be fixed with certainty; cf. Hopkins on Epic Measures, J.A.O.S., xxiii, 147 seq.; Z.D.M.G., lvi, 347.

2 Avaghaṭarika, alābuvīņā, ghāṭakarkarī, godhāvīṇākā, kāṇḍavīņā, picchora, etc. Cf. the list in Sāyaṇa's comm. on Aitareya Aranyaka, v, 1, 5, quoted from Apastamba.


Sānkhāyana Srauta Sūtra, xvii, 1–6.

In the evening before the rite begins, as usual, the place of the sacrifice is swept, fresh grass strewed, etc., and at night begins the Prataranuvāka litany, which has to be composed of a full thousand verses. An animal sacrifice is performed, either of one beast for Indra and Agni or of eleven,1 and in addition the beasts mentioned in the Āraṇyaka, i, 1. The utensils are, after the sacrifice is completed, carefully washed outside the Vedi and brought within the Sadas after the Samprasarpana, or 'gliding in,' of the celebrants is completed. No peculiarities occur in the ritual which follows the Agnistoma 2 until after the Marutvatiya Śastra,3 or just after the ending of the morning pressing, when the setting up of the swing takes place. Holes have to be dug, and the side-posts and the cross-bars are carpentered. The cross-beam is placed as high as the Hotṛ's forehead, or, if he is small, extended arms. The posts are rammed hard into the ground, and made secure by pressing in twigs, etc., and the swing seat is fastened firmly with the ropes, so as to be a span above the earth. Grass is strewed under it, and the right side may be a little elevated.

After the Mahendragrahas have been drawn off, the Adhvaryu goes in front of the Hotṛ's altar, and the Hotṛ then addresses to him the Praișa, Adhvaryu, now cease.' Then the Hotr leaves the Sadas, goes round the Agnidhra's altar, and, bending the right knee, takes with a ladle of Udumbara wood eight libations of ghee (i, 4), which he offers to the accompaniment of a Mantra apiece. He puts down the ladle, and, leaving the vicinity of the Agnidhra, stands in front of the Sadas 5 to the north of the Sruti, facing the east, and mutters the Parimāds (i, 4; 5). Then he pays reverence to the fire altar

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1 Śānkhāyana Śrauta Sūtra, xvii, 7, 7.

Now most fully and admirably described by Caland & Henry, L'Agnistoma, Paris, 1906, 1907.

3 For the morning Sastras and the Marutvatiya, see Śānkhāyana, xvii, 8; 9.

Ibid., xvii, 10-12, 5.

See plan in Eggeling, S.B.E., xxvi, followed in L'Agnistoma.

Sankhāyana Srauta Sūtra, xvii, 12, 6-15, 12. Other accounts of the ritual are given in Latyāyana Srauta Sutra, iii, 10-iv, 3; Katyāyana Śrauta Sūtra, xiii, 3; Tāṇdya Mahābrāhmaṇa, v, 5, 6; Taittiriya Samhita, vii, 5, 9; 10; Brāhmaṇa, i, 2, 6, 7 ; Aitareya Aranyaka, v. See Hillebrandt, Rom. Forsch., v, 299 seq.; below, pp. 73 seq.


in its several parts, and to the sun while in the sacrificial hut (i, 5). The Hotṛ then retires into the Sadas, goes behind the swing which is there, and takes hold of it, not again to let it go until he has mounted on and descended from it. He gives to the Adhvaryu instructions as to the exact mode of making responses, and to the Prastoty as to leaving out seven Stotriyas. The Adhvaryu begins the Mahāvrata Sāman, the Udgātṛ mounts his Udumbara stool, and the other priests sit on their mats. The Udgatṛ beats the big lute and the women their lutes. The drums, including the 'earth-drum' are beaten, and loud cries raised. Maids with water-pitchers on their heads dance thrice to the left, round the Mārjālīya altar, singing Oh, this is sweet, this is sweet!' and then thrice to the right in silence. The horse is yoked to the chariot on the right side of the Vedi, and an armed warrior, or the king, mounts, and, taking the bow and three arrows, encircles the Vedi to the right, piercing as he does so with his arrows the target, so that, however, the arrows remain fixed in the hide. Then the horse is unyoked. The Prastotṛ, if seven Stotriyas of the Stotra still remain, then signals to the Hotṛ with the words ā vela. The Hotr thereafter drags the seat of the swing towards him, and thrice breathes out and thrice in (i, 6 fin.). The Mantras at the end of i, 5, are spoken just before this,' when he touches simultaneously with his right hand the earth and the seat of the swing, when he lays his hand on the swing, and when he holds it in the air a span above the seat of the swing. After touching the swing with his breast alternately on the right and left sides, the Hotr slides over, stretches out his feet in front of him on the earth, and again breathes out and breathes in. He sits down, making a lap, on the swing seat, and with his right hand he touches the back part of the swing, repeating during the first Pratihāra a Mantra, and then breathes out and in. At the end of the Stotra the drums, including the earth-drum, are split up, all noise ceases, the dancing maids put down their jars on the Mārjālīya altar,

1 Comm. on Śānkhāyana, xvii, 15, 10-12; in 15, 13, the action of the Hotr as regards the swing is dealt with, there being, of course, nothing to correspond with the Āranyaka, i, 6, as a whole.

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