[Advaita-l] Query about a passage from taittirIya AranyakaM

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 18 05:55:02 CST 2015

I am presenting here the Rigvedic viewpoint on narAshamsa devatA.

The Nirukta says:

नराशंसो यज्ञ इति कात्थक्यः। नरा अस्मिन् आसीनाः शंसन्ति। अग्निरिति शाकपूणिः।
नरैः प्रशस्यो भवति।
According to this description, narAshamsa is either the Yajna itself or
agni. It is clearly stated here that this narAshamsa, who is agni, is to be
praised by men. Seated men praise him.

Where exactly in a Yajna is narAshamsa praised? To answer this, we have to
look at a set of hymns in the Rigveda called the AprI hymns. These are
recited by the hotA during the animal sacrifice (pashu yAga). One of the
deities praised in some of these AprI hymns is narAshamsa. As part of the
sacrifice, these AprI hymns are recited during the 11 prayAja homas. The
relevant shruti for this is: एकादशावदानान्यवद्यति दश वै पशोः प्राणाः
आत्मैकादशः (तै. सं. ६-३-१०-२).

The peculiarity about the AprI hymns is that a YajnakartA must only use the
AprI sUkta assigned to his Gotra, not others. For example, a YajnakartA
belonging to the KAshyapa Gotra must use the Rigvedic  hymn 9.5  (ninth
maNDala, fifth sUkta) as the AprI sUkta.

There are ten AprI suktas spread across the maNDalas of the Rigveda. Of
these, four are said to be in praise of narAshamsa, two are said to be in
praise of both narAshamsa and tanUnapAt, and four are said to be in praise
of tanUnapAt.


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