Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar (Set of 2 Big Volumes with Two CDs)

$205.00

Availability: In Stock

Qty :

    share :
Volume I

 

From the Jacket

The first volume of Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar contains a discussion of the place of the Agnicayana in the Vedic srauta tradition, its textual loci, traditional and modern interpretations of its origins and significance and an overview of the Nambudiri Vedic tradition. The bulk of the volume, written in close collaboration with C.V. Somayajipad and M. Itti Ravi Nambudiri, is devoted to a detailed description of the 1975 twelve-day performance, richly illustrated with tipped-in photographs, mostly in colour and almost all by Adelaide de Menil. There are numerous text illustrations, tables and maps. The mantras are published in Devanagari and translation.

The second volume, edited with the assistance of Pamela MacFarland, contains contributions by an international galaxy of scholars on archeology, the pre-Vedic Indian background, geometry, ritual vessels, music, Mudras, Mimamsa, a survey of Srauta traditions in recent times, the influence of Vedic ritual in the Homa traditions of Indonesia, Tibet, China, Japan and related topics. There are translations of the relevant Srauta Sutras of Baudhyayana (together with Caland's text) and the Jaiminiya (with Bhavatrata's commentary) as well as the Kausitaki Brahmana; and a survey of the project with an inventory of the films and tape recordings made in 1975.

Frits Staal, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and South Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, studied at the Universities of Amsterdam and Madras (Ph.D.), as well as Banaras Hindu University. He taught at Amsterdam, London, MIT and elsewhere before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1968. He is the author of 14 books on Nambudiri Veda Recitation, Indian Philosophy, Logic and Linguistics, Sanskrit Grammar, Ritual, Mantras and the Human Sciences; more than 125 articles and two films, one (with Robert Gardner) on the 1975 Agnicayana performance entitled "Altar of Fire" which is now available in video-format from Mystic Fire, New York.

 

Back of the Book

Due to the energetic perseverance of Professor Staal... he succeeded in fully recording one of the most complicated Vedic rituals, that of he Fire Altar. The present work gives a complete record of this ritual according to the interpretations of the ancient manuals current among the Nambudiri Brahmin community. Apart from the unique documentary value of this venture, Agni points to new ways of looking at and studying the Veda and its ritual, as well as its transmission over the centuries.


J.C. Heesterman
Institute Kern

Almost immediately after the completion of this historic Atiratra-Agnicayana, an eagle flew over the ritual enclosure and an hour later, the first monsoon rains came pouring down. In ancient India these were auspicious signs that guaranteed that the sacrifice was successful. Today there is no need for such signs. For future generations will look with admiration on what has been achieved here. With this epoch-making initiative, Frits Staal and his collaborators have earned the gratitude of the history of civilization.


Klaus Mylius

All of us, Indologists, historians of religion or of culture, ethonologists, and linguists, are indebted to Frits Staal for his decades of inspired studies among his Nambudiri friends. With Agni, a work of surpassing beauty and intelligence, he has joined a scholarly lineage established by Albrecht Weber four generations ago, a sakha dedicated to advancing our understanding of the Vedic ritual heritage and its civilizational matrix.

 

David M. Knipe
Journal of Asian Studies, 1986

Preface

IN 1955 I VISITED for the first time a traditional Nambudiri Brahmin home in a small village in southwest India. We sat on the verandah, which was spotlessly clean. Hospitality is a virtue common all over Asia, but my hosts' generosity was overwhelming. Delicious vegetarian dishes were served by the eldest son-mounds of rice surrounded by preparations made from a variety of vegetables, spices, pickles, and fruits, among which I recognized cocoanut, ginger, mango, and banana. I ate all these from a banana leaf on the floor by myself, watched with undisguised curiosity by the male members of the family. Earlier, I had bathed in a corner of the garden where numerous buckets of water were made available. These were followed by a towel and a mundu, the garment of unbleached cotton that the Malabar District Gazetteer describes as "a white cloth tied round the waist, tucked in on the right side, and hanging loose to the ground." I sometimes saw women's eyes through a window; more rarely, an elephant in the compound. At that time, though a student of the Vedanta, or "End of the Vedas," I knew little about the Vedas. I considered them ancient and distant, and it would hardly have occurred to me to connect them with my charming hosts. As it turned out, they spent most of their time bathing or engaged in Vedic ritual when I was not sharing their company.

During my second visit I was armed with a tape recorder, an upright Philips machine of ample weight and dimensions, which Professor van Buitenen had used in Poona, and which belonged to the Netherlands Organization for Pure Research (Z.W.O.). My heart sank whenever a little boy carried it on his head across a river. I recorded Kathakali and other Malayalam songs, a concerto by a famous singer, and increasing amounts of Vedic re- citation and chant. One result of these early researches was my book Nambudiri Veda Recitation, published in 1961.

Visits to Kerala of irregular duration followed in more rapid succession. In 1962 I was accompanied by J. E. B. Gray of the School of Oriental and African Studies. We made complete recordings, lasting some thirty hours, of the Rgveda recitations, Samaveda chants, and Yajurveda formulas that accompany the Agnistoma, a ritual celebration that lasts five days. We did not witness any such ritual. The Brahmins recited and chanted for our tape recorder, and the occasion was to them like a general rehearsal. We tried to gain access to a real performance, but none was at hand, and we would not have been allowed in any case. One Nambudiri offered to organize a faithful imitation of the ceremony, to be performed for our sakes, but we declined.

In the sixties, some leading Nambudiris became concerned about the weakening and possible disappearance of their Vedic traditions. At the same time I began to urge that their largest ceremony, the twelve-day Atiratra- Agnicayana, which had occurred in 1956 and had never been witnessed by outsiders, should be performed once more so that it could be filmed and recorded. After years of intermittent discussion, in which Professor EUR. Sreekrishna Sarma and Dr. Asko Parpola participated, the Nambudiris agreed. They asked only that in exchange for being given the privilege of attending, filming, and recording the performance, scholars help defray the cost of the ritual. The Agnicayana was performed from April 12 to 24, 1975. The circumstances that led to this performance are related in greater detail in the second volume of this book ("The Agnicayana Project": Part III, pages 456-475).

Over the decades, while I was beginning to penetrate the riches of their Vedic heritage, I made many Nambudiri friends and came to know them better. I found them sincere, straightforward, and disinclined to take them- selves too seriously. After initial reluctance, they are eager to explain the intricacies of their recitations, chants, and ceremonies; they never claim knowledge they don't really possess; they will not preach or become pompous, and express no interest in coming to America. Though no longer adverse to modernization, they remain attached to their simple habits. Stripped of former privileges, they have preserved their ability to practice the art of living. This book is offered to them with the wish that material progress will not destroy that rare ability.

Agni is not only fire and the name of a God, but also the name of the Agnicayana ceremony itself, and the name of the bird-shaped altar constructed during that ceremony. This book deals with Agni in all these forms. It is not a book primarily made from books, but derives, in the first place, from my Nambudiri friends. It would be difficult to list all those who have helped to make it possible over the years. The expertise described in the following pages is extensive and varied, and is embodied in a sizable section of the community. For example, in the course of the long Agnicayana ceremony, the ritual implements of another rite (the pastoral Pravargya) have to be put on the altar in the shape of a man. One person knew precisely how this should be done. When the chief priest was about to perform the rite, PLATE 85 he appeared and demonstrated it.

Without being able to thank all, let me pay tribute to four Nambudiris upon whom I have always relied and who, at the time of writing, are in their seventies. Two of them have directly collaborated with me in the present volume, especially in its Part II: Cherumukku (Cerumukku) Vaidikan Vallabhan Somayajipad and Muttatukkattu Itti Ravi Nambudiri.

Cherumukku Vaidikan, or C.V. as he is respectfully called, occupies a central position in the ritual realm of the Kg- and Yajurveda. He is the leading force of one of the two Vaidika families who continue to perform the large rituals. He carries his knowledge lightly, but his authority is unquestioned.

He has a formidable mind, combined with an efficiency that is rare. He arranged for the Agnistoma recordings of 1962, and when the preparations for the 1975 performance (originally planned for 1974) were about to collapse, the situation could only be saved-and was saved-through his power and decisive action.

Itti Ravi, as he is affectionately called, is the undisputed master of the Jaiminiya Samaveda, the school of Samaveda that survives primarily among the Nambudiris. He has devoted his life to the maintenance of the tradition of these chants: he reconstructed from his memory, with the help of his pupils, those that were on the verge of being forgotten, had them recorded whenever there was an opportunity, and committed them to writing. Thanks to his constant activity the materials are now at hand, and the only unpublished school of the Vedas is ready for publication. It was my good fortune to meet Itti Ravi during my first visit to Kerala. Ever since, I have learned and recorded from him. The extent of his knowledge is as phenomenal as the length of his breath.

One of my oldest friends is Matampu Narayanan Nambudiri, B.A., and B.L. After early training in his native Yajurveda, he took to the study of law and became an advocate. Like C.V. and Itti Ravi, he was politically active and took part in the Nambudiri Yogaksema Mahasabha, an organization concerned with the modernization of the Nambudiri caste system. Since he was opposed to animal sacrifice and refused to attend rites that involved such sacrifice, the 1975 performance was the first of its kind that he witnessed. His Gandhian attitude did not diminish his enthusiasm for Vedic culture, and this zeal, combined with a modern outlook, made him a valuable ally in bridging the gaps between my plans and reality, and between sometimes opposing factions.

The doyen of Nambudiri scholars is Erkkara Raman Nambudiri. In 1966, he recited the Kausitaki Brahmana for its editor, E. R. Sreekrishna Sarma. In 1976 his book Amnayamathanam, "The Kindling of Tradition," was published in Malayalam. Another book on ekaha, ahina, and sattra is about to appear. As long as Erkkara failed to support, for respectable reasons our desire to film a Vedic ritual, there was nothing that could be done out it. However, it is characteristic of him that when he changed his mind and came to feel that there is merit in having on film and tape what otherwise that be irretrievably lost, he also assumed full and active responsibility. In spite of his indifferent health, he consented to be present inside the sacrificial enclosure throughout the ceremonies, so that all could benefit from his knowledge and wide experience. The 1975 performance was organized by Cherumukku Vaidikan and Itti Ravi Nambudiri. Their responsibilities and roles will become apparent in e course of this work. Our collaboration at the writing stage is easily described. The description of the performance in Part II of the present volume was written in drafts that were separately submitted to C.V. and Itti Ravi for their scrutiny. They then sent me their corrections and additions. Many of these exchanges took place through correspondence, but fortunately I have been able to sit at their feet again in the course of this work, and after the manuscript had begun to take shape. These sessions were not eon- fined to the correction of what I had written. They induced me to reorganize the material so as to express its structure more clearly, and to incorporate new facts and insights. For example, much of the information on measurements and the ritual enclosure in the "Preliminaries" (Part II) derives from days spent with Itti Ravi in 1977. Late in 1978, the Smithsonian Institution enabled me to go to India once more and to consult with my collaborators for the last time before the manuscript would be completed. Some of the additional results of this trip are presented in three chapters of Part III (in the second volume). As a result of our close and extended collaboration I can now assert with confidence, that Part II of the book exhibits a major part of C.V.'s and ltd Ravi's combined knowledge of the ritual. The occurrence of their names on the title page is therefore not merely decorative. At the same time, I alone am responsible for mistakes that remain.

My indebtedness to others, hardly less numerous, is for support that has also been indispensable. When the Nambudiris had decided to permit the performance to be studied and documented, an international committee was set up, consisting of Professors R. N. Dandekar and C. G. Kashikar (Poona), Klaus Mylius (Leipzig), Asko Parpola (Helsinki), V. Raghavan (Madras), F. R. Sreekrishna Sarma (Tirupati), J. A. B. van Buitenen (Chicago), and myself as chairman. Dr. Parpola initiated the correspondence, which soon grew into formidable proportions. We invoked the assistance of Vedic scholars all over the world, and the response was invariably positive. Among the enthusiastic supporters was Dr. Pierre Rolland, whose tragic and untimely death occurred in 1974.

The first preparations began to take shape. Dr. Kashikar provided a 30- page description of the Agnicayana, based upon srauta sutras, sulba sutras, and prayogas. Dr. Parpola provided a list of the saman chants from Jaiminiya sources, which was later supplemented and extended by Itti Ravi. Cherumukku Vaidikan gave an oral description, in Malayalam, of the sequence of rites to Professor Sreekrishna Sarma, who translated this into English in a pamphlet of 21 pages. Professor J. C. Heesterman from Leiden visited Berkeley during January-March, 1975, lectured on the Agnicayana section (Chapter 10) of Baudhayana Srauta Sutra, and helped me to prepare a booklet of instructions for the cameramen. Mr. J. E. B. Gray, London, prepared from our recordings a full transcript of the recitations of the Soma-pressing day. I wrote a general pamphlet-on the study of Vedic ritual, to be used in approaching foundations.

I felt strongly that the filming and recording should not be done by Sanskrit scholars, but be in professional hands. Thus started the research for technical assistance and, at the same time, financial support. I have always hated begging for money, which has become a very time-consuming part of all large scholarly projects. Financial support was particularly hard to obtain in the seventies for projects that were not fashionable, or were considered to lack practical utility or "relevance."

Operating from Berkeley-with the advice and assistance of Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer, and with the help of the administrative staff of the Center and the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies-I approached numerous foundations and individuals, generally without tangible result. Fortunately, we were assisted not only by the members of the executive committee, but also by other scholars from all over the world. I should like in particular to mention the active participation of Professors A. Scharpe (Belgium), C. von Furer-Haimendorf and J. E. B. Gray (England), N. Nakada and N. Tsuji (Japan), J. Gonda and J. C. Heesterman (Netherlands), T. Asch and E. C. Dimock (U.S.A)., and W. Rau (West Germany).

I am especially indebted to the Smithsonian Institution, The Rock Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, not only because their contributions were the largest, but also because they sustained their interest in the project and continued to support us on later occasions.

In the meantime, the Government of India had been approached through the Indian Consulate-General in San Francisco, the Indian Embassy in Washington, Dr. Dandekar and Dr. Raghavan. Following the enthusiastic support of Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, the Government of India expressed great interest in the project and agreed to provide the necessary permissions and facilitate the importation of equipment.

The rupee grant from the Smithsonian Institution, authorized by the Government of India, was administered through the American Institute of Indian Studies. Mr. P. R. Mehendiratta of the Institute put all the facilities of his office at our disposal and helped with the administration of the project, its financial implementation, and the processing of numerous documents. His participation in the project started in 1974, and he continued to provide background support from New Delhi throughout the actual performance. A detailed financial report on the rupee grant was prepared at his Delhi office. Some information on our budgets will be provided in the account of "The Agnicayana Project" in the second volume.

Late in 1974, I secured the participation of Professor Robert Gardner of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University. Henceforward the direction of films and still photography, and indeed the supervision of the entire visual and sound effort, was in his hands. Gardner and I visited Kerala in December 1974, made the final arrangements, concluded agreements with the performers, and initiated a period of active consultation and cooperation that continued without interruption for the next four months.

When the performance started on April 12, 1975, I began to realize that there were many basic things I did not know. I came to understand only then what is meant when we say that ritual is "activity" (karman). Ritual is not a thing that can be easily understood if one only has access to texts. More importantly, whatever texts may say, language does not explain such activity. It is we who ask for explanations in terms of linguistic expressions. For the ritualists, action comes first, and action, which includes recitation and chant, is all that counts. Now, however, a curious convergence became apparent, for the same holds for cameramen, photographers, and sound engineers. Textual scholars will find it hard to understand how much I learned about Vedic ritual by seeing how Robert Gardner, who until then had known nothing about it, set about to film it. Despite the time we had spent preparing for the event, the rites generally took me by surprise. We could not enter the ritual enclosure, and it was not always possible to see clearly. Earphones enabled me to hear what was going on inside while it was being recorded on tape. All in all, I was often lost. In confusion, I would look for Gardner, who was always where the action was, filming it with his assistants there, while Adelaide deMenil was doing the still photography. I am grateful to them, therefore, not only for providing massive documentation, but also for making me see.

While most of the films were shot by Gardner and Kevin Burke, they were assisted for sound by Kunju Vasudevan Nambudiripad and Professor M. Narayanan Nambudiripad, who, unlike all non-Nambudiris, could enter the enclosure. The film crew consisted, in addition, of Mankada Ravi Varma and Sarwesh Kumar, Most of the still photographs were taken by Adelaide deMenil, and a fair number by Dr. Parpola and Dr. Ikari. Professor Edmund Carpenter assisted with the technical organization, made sketches and measurements of sacrificial implements, and collected information of various kinds. Professors N. A. Jairazbhoy, F. Carpenter, and myself were in charge of the sound recordings, sometimes helped by other visitors, e.g., Dr. Romila Thapar. More detailed information about our equipment and mode of operation will be provided in the second volume.

We returned with almost 80 hours of recorded tape, 20 hours of color film, more than 4,000 still photographs (color and black/white), a set of sacrificial implements (now in my Berkeley office), and abundant notes, sketches, and drawings. The first need was for an inventory of these materials. Back in Berkeley I began with the 20 hours of film. I had access to a balky Moviola editing console for less than a month, and prepared 78 pages of tentative annotations with the assistance of Harold Arnold, my wife Saraswathy, and (for the Pravargya) Wayne Surdam. The first draft of the annotations was completed by August, 1975, and an abridged outline is published below (Part V, in the second volume). These annotations were used in preparing the 45-minute film "Altar of Fire," produced by Robert Gardner and myself and released early in 1977. In the meantime I also learned to find my way in the mass of tapes and photographs, though until now there has not been sufficient time to prepare a proper catalogue.

The way was now paved for writing up the results. During 1976-1977, this work was made possible through the assistance of a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I started with an analysis of the background, which resulted in Part I of the present volume ("The Agnicayana Ritual"). In this part, limited use is made of the data collected in India. Though my primary inclination is to work in the field, this first part could not have been written had I not been in residence at Berkeley. Our Berkeley Campus not only provides incessant intellectual stimulation, but its athletic facilities preserved my ability to transport books, films, and tapes, and prevented me from getting stiff when spending long hours at my desk. Also Berkeley still houses some of those almost legendary scholars who combine insight with the unfailing control over large masses of facts. A telephone conversation with Edward Schafer, for example, provides precise answers to numerous questions in a matter of minutes. Our library would yield such information only m-udng1y and after weeks or months of frustration.

I am therefore especially grateful to some of my Berkeley colleagues: Professors Murray B. Emeneau and George L. Hart of South Asian Studies for things Dravidian; J. K. Anderson, Thomas Rosenmeyer, and Michael Naler of Classics for Greek; Leonard Lesko and Martin Schwartz of Near Eastern Studies for Egyptian and Indo-Iranian, respectively; Edward H. Schafer of Oriental Languages and Raymond N. Tang of the East Asiatic Library for Chinese. Robert F. Heizer of Anthropology has taught me most of what I now know about fire by generously providing a pile of off prints. Lewis and Lois Lancaster have helped me with Buddhism and pottery, respectively, and Margaret Lock has assisted me with Shamanism. Ned K. Johnson and his associates at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology-Mercedes S. Foster and Steve Bailey-have informed me about birds. Joseph H. Peck, Jr., of the Museum of Paleontology, has helped me with fossil ammonites. Richard Reeder of the Department of Geology and Geophysics identified the "chicken-fish" pebbles.

From outside the Berkeley campus I also received a great deal of assistance, especially in connection with publications. For this I should like to thank Robert Gardner and his assistant Hope Norwood at Harvard, J. E. B. Gray in London, Jeff Masson in Toronto, Don B. Griffin in Tuscaloosa, and Barbara Miller and Dorothy Norman in New York. My indebtedness to the articles that appear in Part III of the second volume will be apparent at the appropriate place. Special interest attaches to the translation of the 10th chapter of Baudhayana Srauta Sutra by Yasuke Ikari and Harold Arnold in Part IV of the second volume.

In preparing the text of Part II, which constitutes the bulk of the first volume, I derived much help from all the articles and documents that had been prepared, and from the numerous Vedic texts and related publications, with which Vedic scholars are already familiar. However, the following description is principally based upon the materials we brought back from India. With the help of my own field notes I went repeatedly through our recordings, films (now available as videotape cassettes), and photographs. Whenever there was a discrepancy between the ancient texts and our own field data, I recorded the latter, checking explicitly with Cherumukku Vaidikan[or Itti Ravi if' there seemed to be any reason for doubt. The reader should not jump to the conclusion, therefore, that unfamiliar forms are "mistakes," even if elementary rules of the language seem to be disregarded, as for example in agnaye idam na mama, "this is for Agni, not for me" (see below page 47).

While the Atiratra-Agnicayana unfolded itself in my mind in all its splendor and perplexity, the manuscript began to grow. Dr.Ruth-Inge Heinze helped me to edit the manuscript and typed large portions of it in exemplary fashion. Ruth Suzuki typed the latter portions with fantastic speed and accuracy. My wife Saraswathy helped me in matters of style. Yvonne Kins, Helen Tu, Keith Jefferds, and Pamela MacFarland assisted in numerous ways, including style, references, and books. Adrienne Morgan prepared the illustrations in the text and the maps-a difficult task that she executed with expertise and imagination, as a glance at Figures 27-36, for example, will show.

A difficult dilemma was whether to include in the description of the ritual the text and translation of the numerous recitations and chants. A simple alternative would be to merely refer to them by means of the numerous abbreviations customary among Vedists. It might be argued that, since the participants do not often understand them, it would be best to delete the texts. Be that as it may, they certainly know them. To omit them and confine oneself to references would not only give the book the appearance of a telephone directory, it would also do an injustice to the perfomance, and be useless to nonspecialists. I accordingly decided to provide something, and the next question was whether to provide texts, translations, or both. To omit the original form, which is ritually significant, would almost be sacrilege. Moreover, most readers, when presented with Sanskrit forms, would want to know their meaning. In the case of many of the chants, and recitations such as the sadasin, "the sixteenth," there is no meaning, and so there was no problem. In the remaining cases, the great majority, I reluctantly decided to provide the text together with a translation into English. In preparing the texts I was helped by Pamela MacFarland, Professors R. N. Dandekar and T. N. Dharmadhikari, Poona, and Professors F.R. Sreekrishna Sarma and S. Sankaranarayanan, Tirupati.

In translating the texts I received a great deal of assistance. My first thanks go to Professor Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, who helped me with translations from the Rgveda. Neither of us is a specialist in Indo-European, one requirement for the traditional Vedic philologist. Both of us feel, however (as she says in the Introduction to her Anthology from the Rgveda: Penguin Classic, 1981) that "there is so much in the Rgveda to interest and excite non-Vedists, it seems a shame to let it go on being the treasure of a tiny, exclusive group, hidden as it is behind the thorny wall of an ancient and cryptic language." The difficulties, however, are formidable: "As a result, there are places where the reader may be puzzled. Good. The hymns are meant to puzzle, to surprise, to trouble the mind; they are often just as puzzling in Sanskrit as they are in English."

One of the main features of the Atiratra-Agnicayana-its huge dimensions-made itself felt in connection with the translations. Wendy could not cover more than a relatively small portions because of her other commitments and the daunting distance between Berkeley and Chicago. I decided, there fore to follow exiting translations in many cases, even though they are often unsatisfactory. I changed them whenever I felt I knew how they should be changed, and in all cases sought to improve their readability. This applies especially to Keith's translation of the Taittiriya Samhita, which is in biblical English. The Rgveda translation by Geldner is in German and that by Renou, almost complete, in French. Several other texts have been translated by others, and some have remained untranslated. All required a lot of work.

In polishing the English translations I was helped by several students: Dennis Lahey, Wayne Surdam, and especially Pamela MacFarland. When the work was nearing completion, I learned that Professor Stanley Insler of Yale was translating the Rgveda and had completed nearly half of it. He graciously offered to look through my translations, not only of the Rgveda, but of all the recited texts. Again, the mass of the material constituted a stumbling block. Stanley scrutinized more than half the translations, and offered me corrections and suggestions for improvement. He spent a great deal of time, but it became clear that he could not complete the work without sacrificing every other task in which he was engaged. It is also frustrating for a skilled translator to correct the efforts of an unskilled colleague instead of offering fresh translations of his own. Fortunately, there were several verses and hymns of the Rgveda that Professor Insler had already translated. Adding numerous others, he has given me permission to include and publish here for the first time the following Rgvedic verses that underlie the 29 stuti chants of the Atiratra:

Stanley Insler has also contributed the translation of the text of the first sastra recitation by the hota priest (RV 8.48.3-4; 3.29.8; 2.9.1-2) and the varunapraghasa verses (RV 10.176.2-4; 3.29.4; 6.15.16; 3.29.8; 2.9.1-2) recited by the hota during the Carrying Forth of Agni (Episode 20). Stanley's translation are recognized at a glace: he use "thy," "thou," and "thee," where I would have "you". These discrepancies happen to illustrate the gap between Rgveda and Yajurveda, which is of the same order as that between Shakespeare and contemporary American literature.

I am grateful to all who have helped me with the considerable amount of translation Agni has required. Excluding the translations by Stanley Insler, I bear the final responsibility for the form in which the translations now appear. In conclusion, I would like to adopt, and extend to the Yajurveda what van Buitenen said in his description of the Pravargya (1968, 54):
"My colleagues will understand that my renderings ... do not pretend in any way to be definitive. There is hardly a line in the 1gveda which does not present its own problems... It was my intention at least to show what kind o