Routledge

Satapatha Brahmana: Rajasuya, the Royal Consecration in Vedic India

Introduction: Due to its translation in five volumes of the “Sacred Books of the East” (1882-1900), the Satapatha Brahmana, “The Brahmana of Hundred Paths”, became the best known text of late Vedic Brahmanas. It is a genuine textbook not only for religious studies of rituals and myths, e.g. of the Deluge of Manu, the Vedic version of the Near Eastern myth and of the biblical Ark of Noah. The often very detailed description of rituals are also an important source for the study of Vedic society and processes of early state formation as depicted, for instance, in royal sacrifices like the Asvamedha (horse sacrifice) and the Rajasuya, the royal consecration. The quoted text describes an essential part of the Rajasuya, the “ratnin offererings” (ratninām havīmsi) during which the raja visits with sacrificial offerings the houses of twelve ratnins (“jewels”) in twelve successive days. As they consist not only of dignitaries like the commander of the army, the royal priest and the chamberlain, but also of the village headman, charioteer, surveyor of the dicing hall and the  hunter etc. it has rightly been pointed out that the ratnin list lacks a clear-cut system. But, at the same time, it comprises most likely a comprehensive list of the “royal” dignitaries and members of the patrimonial household of a local raja, thus providing a significant document of emerging state formation in late Vedic north India.  
(see also AHOI, ch. 1, section The Role of the King)

(quoted from The Satapatha Brahmana, translated by J. Eggeling, part III (V,3,1,1-13), Oxford 1894, pp. 59-65)

 

Satapatha Brahmana: Rajasuya, the Royal Consecration in Vedic India

Introduction: Due to its translation in five volumes of the “Sacred Books of the East” (1882–1900), the Satapatha Brahmana, “The Brahmana of Hundred Paths”, became the best known text of late Vedic Brahmanas. It is a genuine textbook not only for religious studies of rituals and myths, e.g. of the Deluge of Manu, the Vedic version of the Near Eastern myth and of the biblical Ark of Noah. The often very detailed description of rituals are also an important source for the study of Vedic society and processes of early state formation as depicted, for instance, in royal sacrifices like the Asvamedha (horse sacrifice) and the Rajasuya, the royal consecration. The quoted text describes an essential part of the Rajasuya, the “ratnin offerenings” (ratninām havīmsi) during which the raja visits with sacrificial offerings the houses of twelve ratnins (“jewels”) in twelve successive days. As they consist not only of dignitaries like the commander of the army, the royal priest and the chamberlain, but also of the village headman, charioteer, surveyor of the dicing hall and the hunter etc. it has rightly been pointed out that the ratnin list lacks a clear-cut system. But, at the same time, it comprises most likely a comprehensive list of the “royal” dignitaries and members of the patrimonial household of a local raja, thus providing a significant document of emerging state formation in late Vedic north India.
(see also AHOI, ch. 1, section The Role of the King)
[…]

Third Adhyâya. First Brâhmana.

1. Having taken up both (the Gārhapatya and Āhavanīya) fires on the two kindling-sticks, he goes to the house of the Commander of the army, and prepares a cake on eight potsherds for Agni Anīkavat; for Agni is the head (anīka) of the gods, and the commander is the head of the army: hence for Agni Anīkavat. And he, the commander, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated (or quickened), and him he makes his own faithful (follower). The sacrificial fee for this (jewel-offering) consists in gold; for Agni’s is that sacrifice, and gold is Agni’s seed: therefore the sacrificial fee consists in gold.
2. And on the following day, he goes to the house of the Purohita (the king’s court chaplain), and prepares a pap for Brihaspati; for Brihaspati is the Purohita of the gods, and that (court chaplain) is the Purohita (‘praepositus’) of that (king): hence it is for Brihaspati. And he, the Purohita, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful follower. The sacrificial fee for this is a white-backed bullock; for to Brihaspati belongs that upper region, and there above lies that path of Aryaman (the sun): therefore the fee for the Bārhaspatya (oblation) is a white-backed (bullock).
3. And on the following day he prepares a cake on eleven potsherds for Indra at the dwelling of him who is being consecrated (the king); for Indra is the Kshatra (ruling power), and he who is consecrated is the Kshatra: hence it is for Indra. The sacrificial fee for this is a bull, for the bull is Indra’s own (animal).
4. And on the following day, he goes to the dwelling of the Queen, and prepares a pap for Aditi; for Aditi is this Earth, and she is the wife of the gods ; and that (queen) is the wife of that (king): hence it is for Aditi. And she, the Queen, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for her that he is thereby consecrated, and he makes her his own faithful (wife). The sacrificial fee, on her part, is a milch cow; for this (earth) is, as it were, a milch cow: she yields to men all their desires; and the milch cow is a mother, and this (earth) is, as it were, a mother: she bears (or sustains) men. Hence the fee is a milch cow.
5. And on the following day, he goes to the house of the Sûta (court-minstrel and chronicler), and prepares a barley pap for Varuna ; for the Sûta is a spiriter (sava), and Varuna is the spiriter of the gods: therefore it is for Varuna. And he, the Sûta, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated; and him he makes his own faithful (follower). The sacrificial fee for this one is a horse, for the horse is Varuna’s own.
6. And on the following day, he goes to the house of the Headman (Grāmanī), and prepares a cake on seven potsherds for the Maruts; for the Maruts are the peasants, and the headman is a peasant; therefore it is for the Maruts. And he, the headman, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful follower. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a spotted bullock, for in such a spotted bullock there is abundance of colours; and the Maruts are the clans (or peasants), and the clan means abundance; therefore the sacrificial fee is a spotted bullock.
7. And on the following day he goes to the house of the Chamberlain (kshattri), and prepares a cake on either twelve, or eight, potsherds for Savitri; for Savitri is the impeller (prasavitri) of the gods, and the chamberlain is an impeller: hence it is for Savitri. And he, the chamberlain, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he thereby is consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful (follower). The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a reddish-white draught-bullock; for Savitri is he that burns yonder, and he (the sun) indeed moves along; and the draught-bullock also moves along, when yoked. And as to why it is a reddish-white one ;—reddish-white indeed is he (the sun) both in rising and in setting: therefore the sacrificial fee is a, reddish-white draught-bullock.
8. And on the following day he goes to the house of the Charioteer (samgrahītri), and prepares a cake on two potsherds for the Asvins; for the two Asvins are of the same womb; and so are the chariot fighter and the driver (sārathi) of the same womb (standing-place), since they stand on one and the same chariot: hence it is for the Asvins. And he, the charioteer, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful follower. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a pair of twin bullocks, for such twin bullocks are of the same womb. If he cannot obtain twins, two bullocks produced by successive births (of the same cow) may also form the sacrificial fee, for such also are of the same womb.
9. And on the following day he goes to the house of the Carver (bhāgadugha), and prepares a pap for Pûshan, for Pûshan is carver to the gods; and that (officer) is carver to that (king): therefore it is for Pûshan. And he, the carver, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels; it is for him that he is thereby consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful follower. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a dark-grey bullock: the significance of such a one being the same as at the Trishamyukta.
10. And on the following day, having brought together gavedhukâ (seeds) from the houses of the Keeper of the dice (akshâvâpa) and the Huntsman (govikartana), he prepares a gavedhukâ pap for Rudra at the house of him who is consecrated. These two, while being two jewels (of the king), he makes one for the purpose of completeness. And as to why he performs this offering,—Rudra is hankering after that (cow) which is killed here in this hall; now Rudra is Agni (fire), and the gaming-board being fire, and the dice being its coals, it is him (Rudra) he thereby pleases. And verily whosoever, that knows this thus, performs the Râgasûya, in his house that approved (cow) is killed. And he, the keeper of dice, and the huntsman, are (each of them) assuredly one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for these two that he is thereby consecrated, and these two he makes his own faithful followers. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) is a bicoloured bullock—either one with white fore-feet, or a white-tailed one, —a claw-shaped knife, and a dice-board with a horsehair band; for that is what belongs to those two.
11. And on the following day he goes to the house of the Courier, and having taken ghee in four ladlings, he offers the ghee to the way, with, ‘May the way graciously accept of the ghee, hail!’ For the courier is to be dispatched, and when dispatched goes on his way: therefore he offers the ghee to the way. And he, the courier, assuredly is one of his (the king’s) jewels: it is for him that he is thereby consecrated, and him he makes his own faithful follower. The sacrificial fee for this (jewel) consists in a skin-covered bow, leathern quivers, and a red turban, for that is what belongs to him.
12. These are the eleven jewels (ratna) he completes ; for of eleven syllables consists the Trishtubh, and the Trishtubh is vigour: it is for the sake of vigour that he completes the (eleven) jewels. Then as to why he performs the oblations of the Ratnins: it is their king he becomes; it is for them that he thereby is consecrated, and it is them he makes his own faithful followers.
13. And on the following day he goes to the house of a discarded (wife), and prepares a pap for Nirriti;—a discarded wife is one who has no son. He cooks the pap for Nirriti of black rice, after splitting the grains with his nails. He offers it with (Vâg. S. IX, 35), ‘This, O Nirriti, is thy, share: accept it graciously, hail!’ For a wife that is without a son, is possessed with Nirriti (destruction, calamity); and whatever of Nirriti’s nature there is in her, that he thereby propitiates, and thus Nirriti does not take possession of him while he is consecrated. The fee for this (oblation) consists of a black, decrepit, diseased cow; for such a one also is possessed with Nirriti. He says to her (the wife), ‘Let her not dwell this day in my dominion!’ thus he removes evil from himself.
[...]


The
SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
translated by
VARIOUS ORIENTAL SCHOLARS
and edited by
F. MAX MÜLLER
(quoted from the Satapatha Brahmana, translated by j. Eggeling, part III (V,3,1,1−13), Oxford 1894, pp. 59−65)

 

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