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Katyayana Srauta Sutra: Rules for the Vedic Sacrifices

Katyayana Srauta Sutra: Rules for the Vedic Sacrifices
Item Code: NAB860
Author: H.G. Ranade
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: (Sanskrit Text with English Translation and Explanation)
Edition: 1978
Pages: 680 (49 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 745 gms

The Srautasutras in Sanskrit form a well-marked group of works, forming the major part of the Vedanga called Kalpa. Dealing with the Vedic ritual in a systematic and concise manner, they differ from Veda to Veda and in case of a given Veda from one Sakha to another. The Vedic affiliation of a Srautasutra determines its main interest in the sacrifice, namely the duties of the officiating priest belonging to the Veda, while the differences in the Sakhas pertain to minor variations in the performance of the ritual.

The Srautasutras belonging to the Yajurveda naturally deal with the performance of sacrifices from the view-point of the Adhvaryu and as such are me fullest because of the prominent role played by that priest in the ritual, whose presence is required in nearly the sacrifices. It is only in late works called the Prayogas that we get complete view of the Vedic ritual as a whole but they are mostly confined to one or the other type of sacrifice and are wholly dependent on the earlier Srautasutras. Among the Srautasutras of the Yajurveda, two appear to be the fullest namely those of Apastamba and Katyayana, and the later one is more systematic and possesses a good commentorial tradition in comparison with the former. Hence it is a little strange that this work has not been translated in any European language so far even though it was published before others with good commentarial material by Weber.

Translation of the Sutra-works of Sanskrit is usually a difficult task due to their extreme brevity and that of a Srautasutra is still more so because of the complexity of its subject matter. Dr. H. G. Ranade, a member of the Editorial staff of the Sanskrit Dictionary on Historical Principles at the Deccan College, Pune, has now offered to the interested reader a complete and faithful translation of the Srautasutra of Katyayana, which is both accurate and readable. Without making it too literal and too complicated by the use of technical devices, the author has rightly made it easily understandable by all who are interested in Indology in general and Vedic ritual in particular. Besides adding the text of the sutras, which will make constant reference to the other editions unnecessary and by adding the necessary passages from the Samhita and the Satapathabrahmana and further references to other Srautasutras wherever necessary, the author has supplied all that is needed by both the Sanskrit scholar and an interested general reader in this regard. The brief introduction gives the bare outlines of the sacrificial types and important tokens dealt with in the text, which will help the reader to follow the details with case. On the whole, Dr. Ranade has rendered a signal service to scholars working in this field a field and I recommend the book to all such persons with confidence.

Introduction I

Unlike its Black counterpart, the White Yajus school has only one Srauta Sutra namely the Katyayana Srauta Sutra (Katyss) B There are in all fifteen recensions of the White Yajurveda according to the Caranavyuha (Kandika 2). The Katyss, however, seems to be keeping only two recensions in view viz. the Kanva and the Madhyandina.

It is an accepted fact that the literature of the White Yajuryeda i.e. the Vajasaneya Samhita (VS), the Kanva Samhita ,KS), the Madhyandina and the Kanva Satapatha Brahmana (MSB) , (KSB) , is more systematically arranged than that of the Black Yajus school where the Mantra and Brahmana portions are fused together. The Katyss likewise plays a very significant role and maintains the same order of presentation and line of thinking in the ritualistic discussions as the SB which has proved to be a kind of ritualistic commentary on the Vajasaneya Samhita. However it has shown a clear tendency to fall in line with the Srauta Sutras of the Black Yajurveda, especially the Baudhayana Srauta Sutras, either through a process of adopting their ritualistic details along with its own under the provision of vibhasa option’ or by softening the stricter rules of the Satapatha Brahmana. Yet, while adopting the former course, the Sutra maintains the Brahmana-prescriptions as ‘upadesa’ ‘precept and shows higher regard for the time-honoured tradition, (a comparative study of a few rites of the Darsapuranamasa isti, namely from Vratopayana entering upon the vow to the Vedikarana preparation of the altar, has been made by the author in his paper "Some Darsapurnamasa rites in the SB and the KatySS", p. 121, Deccan College Bulletin Vol. xxxv-1, 1975, proving these conclusions.)

Another noteworthy aspect of the KatySS is that its Sutras, especially the Paribhasa sutras in the first chapter, have a similarity, in some cases a verbal similarity with the Jaiminiya Sutras which form the foundations of the Mimamsa School of the Indian thought. (cf. KatySS 1.4.16 and JaimiSu. 6.3.39; KatySS 1.5.6 and others noted by Vidyadhara in his introduction to the text of the IQaty§3S. with a Comm. Varanasi, 1931). The style of discussion therein with the statement of Purvapaksa ‘the prima facie view` and the Uttarapaksa ‘reply’ is typical and clearly shows an advancement over the same of the Black Yajus Srauta Sutra.

This translation of the Katyayana Srauta Sutra is primarily based on the commentaries of Karka, Yajnikadeva, Vidyadhara and the one called ‘Samksiptasara’ edited. by A. Weber in his critical Edition of the text. The Paddhati-s of Devayajnika and others are also occasionally consulted. Sufficient attention is also paid to the remarks made by the Baudhayana Srauta Sutra (24.1) and Hermann Oldenberg (Paraskara Grhyasutra, SBE xxix tr. pt. I, p. 263•66) speaking about the general principles for understanding the Vedic ritualistic literature and trans slating them. According to the BaudhSS the sacrifice should be understood through five factors: Samhita, Brahmana, Pratyaya (experience in the field), Nyaya (general principles in the day to day practice) and Samstha ‘conclusion’. Oldenberg wants the translator to be conscious about the entire Vedic tradition before accepting the interpretation of the commentator. The main aim; however is to offer to the reader a clear and simple meaning of each Sutra independently. An attempt is made as far as possible to reconstruct the sacrificial tradition of the White Yajurveda in its entirity by giving cross references to the VS, VSK, SB and KSB.

The material is illustrated by means of the charts and plates showing the actual employment of the vast sacrificial apparatus in the actual performance. This is a modest departure from the usual practice of presenting the sketches of the equipment in isolation of the environment.

The pictures included here deal in greater details with the Isti Sacrifice which in one sense is the basic pattern for all the Srauta Sacrifices. It must be made clear that the Sakha they represent is the Black Yajurveda. They will however be useful to understand the comparative position of the White recension.

At the end it must be mentioned that the translation is an Humble attempt to understand the original text and that any Display of very deep scholarship is outside the scope of this work. The author has tried to offer newer interpretations to some of the words such as ‘aksadhur’, ‘punar utsrsta’ and ‘upahuta’ etc. However, the complicated language and style of some sutras un— mistakably present some genuine problems and one has to take many things as understood or implied; ‘anyartham darsanam na punar grahanat’ 1.4.6, ‘nabhidaghnam sadah’ 8.6.1, ulukhalasya retahsigvelayam aratnimatrasruteh 17.4.21 are a few of this type to quote.

Despite this the author will feel himself amply rewarded it his endeavour at the translation is found useful for studying the subject in further details.


The Srauta Sutra of Katyayana describes the nature of several srauta sacrifices which are divided in three categories Isti, Pasu and Soma depending on that they follow. Following is the survey of these pattern sacrifices:

Darsapurnamasa Isti

The Sari sutra is expected to perform this sacrifice, which is a Pattern for all kinds of Isti sacrifices, in two parts —namely the Darsa Isti and Purnamasa Isti- after he has duly set up the sacred fires (Adhana). The Purnamasa Isti is performed in the first place, on the Full-moon day and consists of three main oblations a cake on eight potsherds to Agni, a low voice oblation of clarified butter to Agnisoma and a cake on eleven potsherds to Agnisoma). The Darsa Isti takes place then on the New- moon day and it has also three oblations [a cake on eight pot- sherds to Agni, an oblation of curds to Indra and an oblation of milk to Indra in case there is a provision of Sannayya. If not, there in a low voice oblation of clarified butter to Visnu or Agnisoma it cake on twelve potsherds to Indragni beside the oblation to Agni. The two Istis are normally performed on two days. But the Full-moon rites can be adjusted in only one day. Thus the rites of adding fuel etc. are performed on the Full-moon day and the main oblations are offered on the Pratipad. Or all these rites can be performed on the Pratipad itself. There are two Agharas, five fore-offerings and two Ajyabhagas to be offered before the main oblations. After the main oblations there is then the Svistakrt oblation and three After-offerings. These are followed by the offerings related to the Patnisamyaja. Daksinagnihoma and Barhir—homa etc. In addition to these the Darsa- Isti consists of rice-ball-offerings to the manes. The rite requires four priests namely the Adhvaryu, Hotr, Brahman and Agnidhra beside the Sacrificer and his wife. The priestly fee for it is the rice boiled on the southern fire. One is normally expected to continue the performance of the Isti sacrifice for thirty years.

Nirudhapasubandhah (The Animal sacrifice)

This sacrifice is to be performed every year during the rainy season. It may optionally be performed twice a year namely at udagayanarambha and daksinayanarambha respectively. The victim is a he-goat offered either to Indragni or the Sun-god or to Prajapati. The Maitravaruna is the sixth priest in addition to the five required for the Varunapraghasa. The Agnisomiya-rite of the Soma sacrifice is the model for this sacrifice. The cake offered at the animal sacrifice belongs to the same divinity to which the animal (part) is offered. There are eleven fore and after offerings respectively. The priestly fee for the animal sacrifice is an animal: bull etc. or a milchcow or an object of the priest`s choice see ch. VI.

The Soma Sacrifice

The Soma sacrifice is supposed to be performed in two possible sequences. It may either follow the regular performance of the Darsapurnamasa Isti etc. or it may be performed without these being there just after setting up the sacred fires in the sprint; season. The main oblation consists of the juice pressed out from the Soma plant. Since the Soma plant itself is untraceable, the `Putika is normally used as its substitute. The sacrifice is performed with a very elaborate procedure and takes five days to complete the same. The number of priests is sixteen (four each of the four groups belonging to the different Vedas ; Rc, Sama, Yajus and Atharva). There is a hierarchy in each ol these groups and the priestly fees are distributed pro- portionately. This Jyotistoma sacrifice is the model for all the Soma sacrifices having one ‘sutya’ pressing day. The same sacrifice is known by four names depending on the nature of praise it ends with. The first of them is the Agnistoma since the Agnistomasaman is chanted at its end. The following three Ukthya, Sodasin and Atiratra are its modifications and they end with the stotras of the same names respectively. Each of these 1slon•:ls is further followed by the recitation of the relevant sastra (normally a group of Rcs).

The procedure of the main (sutya) day (which is the last of die live—day programme) consists of three sessions: morning, midday and evening. Each of these has the task of pressing out the Soma juice, filling them into various cups and offering them to the particular divinities. Side by side continues the chanting and recitation of different stotras and sastras.

In the morning and midday sessions there are Stotras and five sastras each and in the evening they have two Stotras and two sastras. The first of the Stotras in each of these sessions is known as a pavamana – in the morning it is the Bahispavamana, in the midday Madhyandina-pavamana and in the evening it is the Arbhava-pavamana – and the rest as Ajya/Prstha and Agnistoma respectively. The Prastotr, Udgatr and Pratihartr are engaged in chanting the Stotras. The second sastra of the morning session is called ‘Prauga’ sastra and the three subsequent are the ‘ajya’ sastras. In the midday session the first one is known as ‘Marutvatiya and the second one ‘Niskevalya’. In the evening the first one is the Vaisvadeva sastra and the second i.e. last one is the Agnimaruta. The Hotr, Maitravaruna, Acchavaka and the Gravastut are in charge of the recitation. The morning session commences with the ‘prataranuvaka’ morning recitation of some selected Rcs by the Hotr.

The killing of a he—goat and offering its specific parts to Agni along with the pasupurodasa is also an important feature nl the sutya day. The procedure for this rite is based on the shine laid down for the Agnisomiya animal sacrifice performed on the previous day.

The priestly fees are distributed during the midday session after performing a special rite known as Daksina-homa. The offering of the Soma-juice through the goblets performed by the Camasadhvaryus along with some of the grahas offered by the Adhvaryu and the gliding movement; of the priests are some more interesting features of the sutya day.

The programme for the first four days is as follows: On the first day (which is normally the sukla ekadasi in the spring) the Sacrificer begins the rites with the Abhyudayika and then selects the priests. The Somapravaka is selected first who later contacts the other sixteen priests and obtains their consent for officiating in the ensuing Sonia sacrifice. They are then selected (with Madhu-parka) by the Sacrificer in his house. Then they consign the to the two Arani woods and go to the sacrificial ground, where they construct the sacrificial hall and the vihara and deposit the fires in the respective fire-pans after churning out the fire from the Arani woods. This is followed by the rites of shaving of hair and bath of the Sacrificer (and his wife). The Diksaniyesti is then performed with a cake on eleven pot- sherds to Agnavisnu. The rites of Diksa are gone through there- after (application of butter, folding of fingers etc.). There are then Audgrabhana—oblations, Krsnajinadiksa and announcement by the priests ‘the Sacrificer is consecrated the rites of Maha vira—sambharana and yupacchedana are also performed on the same day. The Sacrificer and his wife are to subsist only on the Vrata-milk for the first three days and for the last two he is to eat only the remaining portions of the oblations. He is to live with restrain on his behaviour.

On the second day there is first the Prayaniyesti with a caru to Aditi and clarified butter offered to Pathya svasti, Agni, Soma and Savitr. The carusthalli and the stirring stick used for this purpose are kept at a secure place (at the end of the Isti) for being used at the Udayaniya Isti at a later stage. Then follows the purchasing of the Soma-stalk and bringing it to the sacrificial hall. An Isti in honour of the guest (i.e. the king Soma) is offered at this stage consisting of a cake on nine pot-sherds to Visnu. Here on wards the Sacrificer and his wife have to use the Madanti water whenever they have any rite to perform by means of the water. The Atithya Isti is followed by the Tanunaptra rite in which the officiating priests touch the clarified butter and take an oath of working together without clashes till the completion of the sacrifice.

It the Sacrificer is performing the Soma sacrifice for the first time he may or may not perform the rite called Pravargya, at this stage. Inn case he decides to perform; the officiating priests prepare two gravel mounds to the north of the Garhapatya and Ahavaniya respectively and place the two Mahavira pots on the Asandi to the south of the Ahavaniya. One of these pots is filled with clarified butter and heated on the fire made out of the Munja grass on the mound set up to the south of the Garhapatya while various chants arc sung and mantras recited. The Rauhina-cakes are also offered in a particular order. They offer the southern Rauhina-cake first. Then having milked out the milk of a she-goat and a cow they pour the she-goat’s milk in the highly heated clarified butter in the Mahavira pot producing thereby a big flash of light. The milk of the cow is then poured into the Mahavira. This is followed by the offering of the northern Rauhina-cake into the Ahavaniya. Thereafter is performed the Upasad isti with clarified butter offered to Agni, Soma and Visnu respectively by means of a sruva. Both of these rites are again performed in the afternoon of the second day, in the morning and afternoon of the third day and both together in the morning itself of the fourth day.

The main task of the third day, besides the offering of the Pravargya and Upasad Istis, is the preparation of the ‘great alter` consisting of the various sheds: Sadas, Havirdhana, Agnidhra, Marjaliya, Samitra and the Uttaravedi platform etc. The fourth day is mainly devoted to the Agnisoma-pranayana, the Agnisomiya animal sacrifice and the collection of the Vasativari waters in the evening. If the Sacrificer has any victim to offer for removing his durbrahmanatva he is welcome to do so before the Agnisomiya rites.

The rites of the Soma sacrifice are concluded at the end of the fifth day’s performance with the Avabhrtha hath followed by the Udayaniya and Udavasaniya Istis.

Dvadasaha Some Sacrifice

The Dvadasaha (twelve-day) sacrifice is recognized both as a ‘sattra’ as well as a ‘ahina’ Soma sacrifice. All the officiating priests are to act as Sacrificers in this sacrifice. The seventeenth priest is known as Grhapati and he is supposed to perform all the duties of the Sacrificer. But the consecratory rites are to he gone through by all the priests. lf it is of the Ahina type it may have one or more Sacrificers and others have to act as other priests and receive priestly fees, since the sattra has no provision for the distribution of the priestly fees.

The performance has twelve days each for the consecration rites, Upasad Istis and the Sutyas respectively. It may or may not be associated with the ‘piling of the fire-altar`. The Adhvaryu and his assistants carry out the task of initiating the other officiating priests and their wives in a particular order for the sake of the sattra-performance.

The animal victims for the Savaniya days are either those offered to lndragni as in the Agnistoma or those prescribed under the ‘stomayana’ or ekadasini with the twelfth one offered to Agni again.

The arrangement of the Soma sacrifices for the twelve days is as follows: The first day is called the Prayaniya day and the Atiratra sacrifice is performed on that day; then there is the performance of the Prsthya Sadaha (6 days) and three Chandoma sacrifices. The eleventh day is known as ‘Avivakya’. The twelfth is again an Atiratra regarded this time as the Udayaniya. The performance of the first eleven days is closed with the Patnisamyaja rites.

The Dvadasaha has the Atigrahya Sodasin and the Amsuadabhya as the additional cups. Depending on the priority of certain cups the Dvadasaha is further divided into two kinds viz. the Vyudha and the Samudha. The Vyudha order has the ‘aindravayava’ cup drawn at the first place on the Prayaniya and Udayaniya. From the remaining days on the first day the Maitravaruna cup is drawn first, on the second the Sukra cup, on the third and the fourth the Agrayana cup, on the fifth day the aindravayava, on the sixth and seventh the Sukra, on the eighth the Agrayana and on the ninth and tenth the Aindravayava cup.

A thousand Brahmins are fed on this occasion.


Introduction I & II i-viii
Abbreviations ix
Synopsis of the chapters xi-xvi
English Translation of the Sutras with plates 1-656
Bibliography i-iii
Index x-xii
Sample Pages

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