Satapatha Brahmana
  • Adhiraja

    The word adhirāja (adhiraja) does not merely define a king ruling over a populated geographical locale. Rather adhirāja is a king who has conquered even other kingdoms and has established his indisputable power. In one particular hymn of Ṛgveda (Rigveda), the second incantation reads as a prayer, “Let all four directions bow down to me, […]

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  • Adhvaryu

    At the outset of yajña (yajna) ceremonies, the priest of Ṛgveda (Rigveda), or ṛtvika (ritwika) used to execute the functions of both the priest and the hotā (hota) or the performer of the yajña. [See Ṛtvika, Hotā] Later, when the rituals of a yajña became more intricate, four priests or ṛtvika of Caturveda (Chaturveda) were appointed separate vedic tasks. […]

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  • Aditi – 2

    One of the one thousand names of Śiva (Shiva). Devī (devi) Aditi is the wife of Prajāpati (Prajapati) Kaśyapa (Kashyapa); she is a mother goddess. Mahādeva (Mahadeva) is the creator of the universe, the begetter/progenitor of gods, and hence he is considered to be a form of Aditi, the maternal figure, and also referred to as […]

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  • Agni – 1

    Agni is the Sanskrit word for ‘fire’. Agni is one of the foremost among the Vedic deities. In regard of the number of Vedic hymns (sūkta; sukta) attributed to the deities, Agni comes only second to Indra (almost two hundred hymns have been dedicated to Agni). Since Agni’s deeds and actions are mainly observable on […]

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  • Agnihotra

    Pṛśni (Prishni), the wife of Savitā (Savita), a representative form of Sūrya (Surya), gave birth to a sacrificial rite of immense significance known as agnihotra.  Agnihotra has been compared to the grinding of teeth of yajñavaraha (yajnavaraha), the sacrificial boar conceptualised as the mythical presiding deity of a yajña (yajna).  Bhāgavatapurāṇa (Bhagavatapurana) opines, while commenting on the […]

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  • Agnikshetra

    The plot of land that spreads out towards the east of the large elevated altar constructed for conducting yajña (yajna) is known as agnikṣetra (agnikshetra). A fire in the shape of a falcon needs to be lit and maintained within this plot of land. Owing to the importance of this fire or agni, this plot […]

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  • Ahuti

    The offering of havi or ghṛta (ghrita, ghee) or any other element dedicated to a specific Deity, along with the utterence of mantra, is called Āhuti (Ahuti). At first, ghee contained in a pot should be heated with Gārhapatya Agni (one kind of fire). Then the Adhvaryu (the Yajurvedic priest) has to fill up the […]

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  • Anda

    Commonly the term aṇḍa (anda) means ‘egg’ or ‘a bird’s egg’ to be specific. In a famous verse in Ṛgveda (Rigveda) we find a figure of speech based on comparison: “As a bird brings out its progeny breaking the egg…” — āṇḍeva bhitvā śakunasya garbham. This comparison considers the egg  or aṇḍa as another womb of the bird. In a […]

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  • Anjanaparvata – 1

    A mountain called Trikakuda or Traikakuda has been referred to more than once in Atharvaveda and other Vedic literatures. Maybe the name was inspired by a presence of three peaks of the mountain (Sanskrit kakuda means ‘hump’ or ‘projection’). Atharvaveda was the first book to call this Trikakuda Hills Añjanaparvata (Anjanaparvata) —devāñjana traikakudaṃ pari mā […]

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  • Asandi

    Āsandī (Asandi) is the Vedic name for the wooden platform used for sitting. The term, however, is not mentioned in Ṛgveda (Rigveda), but in Atharvaveda, āsandī is mentioned as a seat used during a marriage-ritual– yathāsandyāmupadhāne. In Atharvaveda, there is also a description of āsandī (asandi) used as a siting platform for vrātyajana (vratya jana; […]

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  • Atithi – 1

    Since the Ṛgvedic (Rigvedic) period, Indian culture has conceived of the guest (atithi) as one who must be treated with respectful and humble hospitality and offered food and shelter. The host should do everything within his power to please the guest. Any yajña (yajna) would require fire (agni; imagined as the Fire-god), therefore fire has been […]

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  • Atri – 1

    Atri was one of the six supreme patriarch ṛṣi (rishi; sage) — like Marīci (Marichi) and Aṅgirā (Angira) — who were born at the onset of the Creation. Many legends are associated with the birth of these six prime sages, and the great sage Atri is no exception. The foremost of these legends is that all […]

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  • Atri – 5

    One of the major names of Śiva (Shiva) featuring in the Aṣtottara Sahasranāma (Ashtottara Sahasranama) verse [an incantation recounting one thousand and eight names of Śiva] is Atri. Elucidating this appellation Śiva, Nīlakaṇṭha (Nilakantha) the commentator of Mahabharata observes — atriḥ atrigotrāpatyatvād budhaḥ/ tena sarvagrahasvarūpītyarthaḥ. While, according to Nīlakaṇṭha, atri may be taken to illustrate the quintessence of […]

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  • Ekasringa – 2

    Hiraṇyākṣa (Hiranyaksha), elder brother of the demon-king Hiraṇyakaśipu (Hiranyakasipu), plunged the earth into Pralayasamudra (the ocean of great deluge). God Viṣṇu (Vishnu) assumed the form of Ekaśṛṅga Varāha(Ekasringa Varaha; a swine with one horn) and slaying Hiraṇyākṣa (Hiranyaksha), he rescued the earth , holding it at the top of his single horn. So he came […]

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  • Indrota

    Indrota was an ancient ṛṣi (rishi; sage). He was a sage belonging to the vaṁśa (vamsa; clan or genealogical line) of Śunaka (Sunaka), so he was famous as Indrota Śaunaka (Saunaka). In the legend described in Śāntiparva of Mahābhārata, it is said that Indrota became the priest of the yajña (yajna) performed by the ancient […]

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