« AnteriorContinuar »
ding and other customs of the Germans and other races.' Differences in detail, however, there must have been; for the Sutras themselves do not agree in minor points; and it is even probable that there were various cults existing side by side among the people, and that the Sutras were simply compilations from them.2
The most important. of the house-rites were those used in honoring the 'Fathers.' Besides the regular oblations, there were various special offerings, including several prescribed for state occasions, such as the birth of a son or a wedding; and it was highly improper to neglect them. Those intended to accompany any event in the family life were 'luck-offerings.' The regular offerings were regarded as absolutely necessary for the well-being of the dead until the third generation, so that it was of the utmost importance that every 'twice-born' should have a son.
The traditional rites of the Çrauta-Sutras require for their observance not only a number of priests but also other fires,-two regularly, the 'oblation-fire' and the 'See AH., pp. 3-10. 2 Cf. AH., pp. 16 and 20.
The word pitṛyajña, 'manes-offering,' occurs in a late hymn of the Rik, x. 16, 10, showing that such sacrifices were common before the close of the Vedic period.
'The immediate ancestors for three generations constituted a class by themselves, as distinguished from the remote saintly forefathers. The dead were supposed to dwell upon the earth, or in the air, for some time as 'ghosts' before reaching the third heaven, in spite of Agni's work as tuxorouros; and it is even said, in places, that the fathers are upon earth, the grandfathers in the sky, and the great-grandfathers in heaven. On the other hand, a daily Çrāddha-literally, 'Faith-offering,' i.e., an offering to the manes accompanied by gifts of food, etc., to deserving persons-is elsewhere said to raise a departed father to the rank of a pity, if continued for a year; but a shorter period is also allowed, provided a certain number of sacrifices is completed. The authorities differ; and the Craddhas, if Vedic, were probably not known by that name. By a curious parallel, among the orthodox Jews, at the present day, the 'prayer for the dead' is offered daily by a son, for a year, in order that, by this means, he may raise the spirit of his departed father out of Hades into Heaven. The Catholics make use of masses for a similar purpose.
'southern-fire,'-in addition to the 'house-fire,' used in the house rites; and there is reason for believing that both practices are very old.1 In the later ritual, not less than two priests seem to have been employed, as a rule, for a sacrifice; and the Soma-sacrifice required as many as sixteen or seventeen.2 Selections from the Rik, the Saman, and one of the Vajur-Vedas, were used in this sacrifice, in addition to certain instructions distinctly given; for the mantras, or Vedic texts, were murmured, since they were supposed to possess greater power if so spoken. The Soma-sacrifice was probably Indo-Iranian, and the plant was pressed, or bruised, for the oblation, in the early morning, at noon, and after sunset. The original form of the sacrifice may never be known; for many generations of priests
1 While it is doubtful whether brahmán is the same word as Lat. flamen (see S&J., pp. 415-416), it must be conceded that wherever there are rites there must be those who perform them; but the performance of religious rites is a priestly act, and those who do this must be, to that extent, priests. Some sort of a fire-cult must certainly have existed in Indo-European times (cf. EH., pp. 109–110), and it is clear that there were Atharvans, or 'fire-priests,' in Indo-Iranian days. Priests, then, and sacred fires there must have been in the very early Vedic period; and, while the priests were probably appointed to serve, and the priestly class may have gradually developed from the practice of having sons continue in their fathers' office, the hymns of the Rik contain evidence that the sacrifice had already become sufficiently developed before the close of the Vedic period to have its functions distributed among different classes of priests. See SBE., xii., Introd., pp. xi.-xii. and xv. The importance which the priestly office had already acquired is shown by the fact that "Agni's priesthood is the most salient feature of his character. He is in fact the great priest, as Indra is the great warrior. But though this phase of Agni's character is so prominent from the beginning to the end of the R-V., it is of course from a historical point of view comparatively recent, due to those mystical sacerdotal speculations which ultimately led to the endless sacrificial symbolism of the later ritual texts." AM., p. 97.
2 According to the Sūtras, the sacrificer must belong to one of the three upper castes, and a similar restriction must have prevailed in Vedic times before caste became established; for the conquered inhabitants seem to have been excluded from the sacrifice. See above, liv., Oct., 1897, p. 616. 3 See AH., 58, pp. 97-104. 4 See AH., p. 15.
had probably had a hand in perfecting the ritual before the Sutras were compiled:1 yet it is safe to assume that it consisted of at least two parts,-the offering of Soma and the use of hymns,2 a part of which, the Sāmans, were chanted. But it is more than likely that the sacrifice included, as in the later ritual, smothered victims and water from a running stream; for the Iranian sacrifice also consisted of two parts,-prayers or spells and offerings,-and the latter included not only Haoma but also "holy meat" and "holy water." 3
Many other sacrifices there were in the later ritual, and they must have had their germs in the Vedic practices. They include the kindling of two, three, or five, holy fires by friction (the common people could start them from an old altar fire); the rekindling of the fires for luck of some kind; daily morning and evening offerings of milk; new and full moon sacrifices, including the pinḍapitṛyajña, 'cake-manes-offering,' i.e., cakes for the dead offered on the afternoon of the day of the new moon; special sacrifices at the beginning of the seasons; 10 first-fruit offerings; " numerous sacrifices for special occasions, like the birth of a son, to secure some wish; 12 and animal sacrifices.13
These were of two kinds,-true animal sacrifices and those connected with libations of Soma. The victims included oxen, cows, sheep, goats, horses, and even men.14
1 Cf. AH., p. 103. 2 Cf. footnote 4, p. 310.
See SBE., iv., Introd., p. lxix.; and ib., xxvi., Introd., p. xxiv., and pp. 12, 23, 41-42, and 162-226.
* See AH., ?? 59-85, pp. 105-166, given in detail in the footnotes below. Cf. SBE., vols. xii., xxvi., xli., xliii., and xliv. $59, pp. 105-109. See SBE., xii., pp. 274-276.
660, p. 109.
862, pp. 111-114. See SBE., xii., pp. 1-2 and 6-7.
11 65, PP.
12 66, p. 120. 1367, pp. 121-124.
14 See O., pp. 302-317, 353-370, and 473-475; and B., pp. 34-38 and 5760. Human sacrifice was probably Indo-European. S&J., 421-422. Cf. EH., p. 196.
Numerous tame and wild animals were also used, in certain cases, as accessories. The 'altar' proper, as distinguished from the 'great-altar' and the 'high-altar' of the Soma-sacrifice, was covered with sacrificial grass,-grasses of various kinds were extensively used in their rites,—and the implements for the sacrifice were put in their proper places. A sacrificial post, to which the victim was to be bound, was then set up east of the 'oblation-fire.'" After the victim had been washed or sprinkled with water 3 and a firebrand had been carried around it to drive away the 'spooks,' it was either smothered or strangled with a noose. It was then cut up for the sacrifice, according to prescribed rules. The Agnistoma, 'Agni-praise,' was the basis of all the other Soma sacrifices. It required several days for its completion, the Soma-pressing taking place on the last. The victim was a goat." Other Soma sacrifices extended the pressing over from one to twelve days or more. The morning pressing was said to be for the Vasus, 'Good-ones'; the noon pressing for the Rudras, 'Howlingones' or 'Ruddy-ones'; and the evening pressing for the Adityas, 'Sons-of-Aditi.' In the later ritual, there were sacrifices whose rites extended up to a full year, or more.10 Such were the gavāmayana, 'cows'-course,'" and the açva1SBE., xxvi., pp. 156-162. Cf. AH., pp. 126-128.
2 In many instances, however, eleven other posts could be used, one of which lay on the ground, while the remaining ten were set up in a row, five to the north and five to the south of the first one (l. c., pp. 176-177, 221, and 475); and, in the açvamedha, twenty-one posts were similarly set up. AH., p. 151.
SBE., l. c., pp. 181-183. AH., p. 122. 4 Ib. SBE., xxvi., pp. 186-187. L. c., p. 190. AH., p. 152. L. c., § 68, pp. 124-134.
Two, three, four, and even eleven victims, were used in Soma sacrifices. L. c. and § 70, pp. 136-137. SBE., xxvi., pp. 218-222 and 397, footnote 2.
8 AH., §§ 71-75, pp. 137-149. Cf. SBE., xxvi., l. c., and pp. 402, footnote 2, 418, and 428, footnote 2.
Ib., p. 350. Cf. R-V., x., 125, I.
10 AH., $$ 79-81, pp. 154-159.
11A Soma sacrifice. SBE., 1. c., pp. 426-428. AH., § So, pp. 157-158.
medhá, 'horse-sacrifice.' The latter, however, though doubtless in a simpler form, was one of the oldest elements of the Hindu ritual. It was the prerogative of princes and was very expensive and elaborate. Many animals were included in the final sacrifice, which was always, to some extent, a tribal event and included extensive feasting. The puruṣamedha,3 'man-sacrifice,' differed from the 'horsesacrifice' chiefly in the victim; but it could be offered by a Brahman as well as by a prince. Further than the puruṣamedha, sacrifice could not go, except in a combination called the sarvamedha,' 'all-offering.' The Sutras contain other rites, including directions for preparing a 'fire-altar'; but they are of minor importance, for the most part.
The sacrifice ultimately became the all-important observance in the Hindu religious rites. It doubtless had its advocates from the start, as the hymns had theirs; and it is not unlikely that the long struggle for the supremacy, which was carried on between the military and priestly classes, involved also the question whether the sacrifice or the hymns should occupy the chief place in their formal services. Brahmanism did not prevail until the narrow Brahmanical view of the extreme importance of the outward form of the sacrifice, including the exact pronunciation of every word,—a change in the accent might alter the meaning and ruin the sacrifice,-had been generally accepted; nor did it prevail until caste had been established: but this presupposes a highly artificial state of so1 AH., §76, pp. 149–152.
"The name A'çvamedha, ‘(Man)-who-has-performed-the-horse-sacrifice,' occurs in R-V., v. 27.
L. c., $$ 69, 82, and 84-85, pp. 134-136, 159, and 165-166.
• L. c., §83, pp. 161-165.
iSee K., pp. 43-44; M., i., pp. 259–261; ib., v., p. 112; and R-V., i. 83, iv. 25, vi. 23, x. 42 and 160, etc.
Skeptics, however, had already appeared. See M., I. c.; and K., and note 168. See EH., p. 188, footnote 1; and AH., p. 98.