Gosava and Bovine Mimesis in Ritual-Part 2

Potentially disturbing content ahead. The following article discusses a rite the details of which are bound to disturb some Hindu readers. It is plainly not for everyone.

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to śrī mānasa-taraṃgiṇī for helping me with the translation of JB 2.113.8: “sā yemāṃ….” and taking the time to explain the nuances to me.

  1. Recapitulation

This article must be read in conjunction with part 1 of this series, here. However, the summary of the key preliminary points raised in part 1 is presented as follows for the reader’s convenience.

i. In section 2 of part 1, we looked at the anaḍutsūkta of the śaunakīya Atharvaveda (4.11) which is the oldest source used in this discussion. The hymn did not discuss any imitation per se, but revolved around a narrative of Indra’s manifesting as the bull (4.11.2).

ii. If not similarities, we saw, in the numbered points in sections 2 and 3, noteworthy correspondences between the traditions of the anaḍutsūkta and the gosava rite as described in taittiriya brāhmaṇa 2.7.6 as well as pañcaviṃśa brāhmaṇa 19.13, such as the centrality of prajāpati and parameṣṭhin in all three texts. Another example would be the ‘pouring of milk-streams’ meme, used as an imagery in anaḍutsūkta (4.11.4) and performed as a ritual act of unction (abhiṣeka) over the performer’s head (see section 2 point iii, section 3, point iv).

iii. We also looked into the concept of svārājya in section 3, right after the numbered points in section 2. The concise and subtle comparison drawn, in taittiriya brāhmaṇa, between the uninhibited behaviour of cattle and the unbounded independence one obtains in being a sovereign was also noted by us. The concept of svārājya seems to have been gradually transforming from that with a worldly understanding of sovereignty in terms of political power, into one with soteriological underpinnings (i.e. the question of boundless freedom in the afterlife)

iv. Lastly, in section 4, we looked at taittiriya brāhmaṇa which seems to be one of the earliest textual traditions of bovine mimesis or even animal imitation in general. Though TB does not directly relate to the gosava rite, it is significant for consideration in the context of understanding the idea of bovine mimesis (imitation of cattle, kine). Furthermore, it has clearly influenced the pāśupata sutras.


  1. The jaiminīya account of Gosava

Having seen the brief summary of points of part 1, we can now look at the account of the gosava rite as presented in the much-dreaded jaiminīya text (This jaiminīya brāhmaṇa is a brāhmaṇa text proper and not to be confused with the jaiminīya upaniṣad brāhmaṇa which is often treated as a āraṇyaka). The original passage of 2.113 will be presented, followed by a literal translation. (Will be adding a far more detailed translation with explanation for the grammatical technicalities as soon as possible. It is almost done.)

In the immediately following translation without explanation, the words in square brackets would be words to be read as part of the text but are not actually found in the original but inserted by me for the sole purpose of making the sentence readily comprehensible and logical in English. The words in circular brackets are explanatory.

athaiṣa gosavaḥ /1/ svargakāmo haitena yajeta /2/

Now this is [the] gosava /1/ [He who is] heaven desiring, indeed by that [gosava], let him sacrifice /2/

sa vā eṣa ṣaṭtriṃśo bhavati /3/ ṣaṭtriṃśadakṣarā vai bṛhatī /4/

That [gosava] is this [which] has ṣaṭtriṃśa [stoma] /3/ [Of] thirty-six syllables, indeed, [is] the bṛhatī [metre] /4/

bṛhatī svargo lokaḥ sāmrājyaṃ /5/ bṛhatyāmeva tatsvarge loke sāmrājye pratitiṣṭhanto yanti /6/

The bṛhatī is heavenly world-sovereignty /5/ In the bṛhatī, verily, they establish; in the heavenly world, in sovereignty, they move /6/

bṛhatyu ha vā imānsarvāṃ llokānakṣarairvyāpnoti daśabhirevākṣarairimaṃ lokaṃ vyāpnoti daśabhirantarikṣaṃ daśabhiramuṃ caturbhirdiśo dvābhyāmahorātre  /7/

The bṛhatī, also, indeed, by [means of the] syllables, pervades all these worlds; by, verily, ten syllables, this world it (the bṛhatī) pervades; by ten [syllables], the atmosphere; by ten that [world, heaven], by four the directions; by two day and night /7/

sā yemāṃllokānvyāpnoti tayemāṃllokānvyāpnavānīti /8/

She who pervades these worlds; through her, these worlds, I shall pervade, thus [he should think]/8/

tasya stotraṃ stotraṃ caturaścaturastrivṛto’bhisaṃpadyate /9/ trivṛtaṃ vā anye stomā abhisaṃpadyante trivṛtsvargaṃ lokam /10/

Of that, the stotraṃ; the stotram becomes four [sets of] trivṛt [stomas] /9/ trivṛt or other stomas they become [but] the trivṛt is the heavenly world. /10/

sa yathā kṣiprāśvena caturyujā yatra jigamiṣettadgacchedevamevaitena svargaṃ lokaṃ gacchati /11/

As if speedily conveyed by a yoke of four [trivṛt stomas], wherever he wants to go, to there, let him go; verily, in that way, to the heavenly world he goes /11/

tasyobhe bṛhadrathantare sāmanī bhavata svargye svargasya lokasya samaṣṭyai /12/

Of that, there is both the bṛhat and rathantara saman-s; [being/relating to] heavenly/heaven, [it is] for the attainment of the heavenly world /12/

sa ukthyo bhavati prajā vai paśava ukthāni /13/ prajā vai paśava svargo loka svargasyaiva lokasya samaṣṭyai /14/

It has an ukthya; offspring and cattle are songs of praise /13/ Offspring and cattle are the heavenly world; [It is] verily for the attainment of the heavenly world /14/

tasya dvādaśa sahasrāṇi dakṣiṇā bhavanti dvādaśa māsāssaṃvatsarassaṃvatsara svargo loka svargasyaiva lokasya samaṣṭyai /15/

Of that, there are twelve-thousand [cattle] as the sacrificial fee; twelve months are the year, the year is the heavenly world; [it is] verily for the attainment of the heavenly world /15/

tasya vratam /16/

The observance of the [Gosava] /16/

upa mātaram iyād upa svasāram upa sagotrām /17/ upāvahāyodakam ācāmed upāvahāya tṛṇāny āchindyāt /18/

Near/towards the mother let him go; near the sister, or a clanswoman /17/ Bringing [himself] near, the water let him sip [directly with his mouth] and having leaned down close [to the ground] he should cut grass [with his teeth] /18/

yatra yatrainaṃ viṣṭhā vindet tat tad vitiṣṭheta /19/ anaḍuho ha lokaṃ jayati /20/

Wherever he may seek out to excrete [faeces], there let him excrete /19/ The world of the draft-ox, verily, he wins /20/

tena haitena janako vaideho iyakṣāṃ˙cakre /21/

Thus, indeed by this [gosava], Janaka Vaideha had desired to sacrifice /21/

tam u ha brāhmaṇā abhito niṣeduḥ /22/

Him, indeed, the brāhmaṇa-s were sitting around /22/

Sa ha papraccha ka stoma iti /23/ sa hovāca sudakṣiṇaḥ kṣaimir nāyaṃ trivṛd evāhur iti /24/

He asked them: “What is the stoma [for the gosava]?” /23/ Sudakṣiṇa, the son of Kṣema, said thus, “This is not the trivṛt [stoma] alone” /24/

˙tasya kiṃ vrataṃ kā dakiṣiṇā iti /25/ tasmā u haitat provāca /26/

“Of that [gosava], what is the observance? What is the [sacrificial] fee?”, thus [asked Janaka] /25/ To that one (Janaka), verily, he said this: /26/

sa hovāca ud evāsya dakiṣiṇā āśaṃse vrataṃ tv evāsya nodāśaṃsa iti /27/ teno ha sa nopadadharṣa yaṣṭum /28/

The [sacrificial] fee I wish [to pay] for, the observance I do not wish for /27/ Thus, indeed, he did not dare to sacrifice [at the gosava] /28/

teno ha puṇyakeśo yaudhenir īje śaibyo rājā /29/ taṃ ha sabhāyām eva viṣṭhā viveda /30/

On that account, indeed, puṇyakeśa, son of yodhena, sacrificed [at the gosava]; [he is the] king of the Śibi /29/ He, indeed, in the assembly, felt the urge to excrete [feces] /30/

sa ha tad evodāvṛṇāna uvāca sthavirayajño vāva kilāyam āsa /31/ sthavira evānena yajñena yajeta /32/

He, verily, right there [at the assembly] excreted [and] said: An elderly man [‘s] sacrifice, certainly, definitely, this was [to be] /31/ An elderly man, alone, by [means of this] yajña [the gosava], should sacrifice /32/

sthavirasya hy evedaṃ sarvam anujñātam iti /33/

[In respect] of an elderly man, indeed, all this is permitted, thus [stated puṇyakeśa] /33/

sa haiṣa sthavirayajña eva /34/ tena haitenottaravayasye yajeta /35/

That is indeed an elderly man [‘s] sacrifice /34/ Thus, even so, in the last years [of one’s life], let him sacrifice /35/

//End of Translation

Now, the above account offers a variant of the gosava rite that is strikingly different when contrasted against the versions found in taittiriya brāhmaṇa 2.7.6 and pañcaviṃśa brāhmaṇa 19.13 which we saw in part 1. While the above account may be very shocking to some readers, let us, with patience dissect the account of gosava as presented in the jaiminīya.

Firstly, one may take into consideration the hypothesis by mlecchas such as Caland that the jaiminīya account of gosava is descriptive of the “primitive” version of the rite before a civilized ārya society abandoned these “barbaric” aspects and transformed the rite into something acceptable. However, a close reading of the jaiminīya text does not seem to bear out this hypothesis.

i. The text itself seems to be a composite of two distinct parts, with the first part consisting of verses from 2.113.1 (athaiṣa gosavaḥ) to 2.113.15 (tasya dvādaśa…..svargasyaiva lokasya samaṣṭyai) and the second part consisting of the rest of the verses, from 2.113.16 (tasya vratam) to 2.113.35 (sa haiṣa… haitenottaravayasye yajeta). The first part (2.113.1-2.113.15) of the jaiminīya account seems to be a reworking of the typical gosava rite as embodied in the taittiriya and pañcaviṃśa texts, retaining a certain few elements found in the latter two texts while eschewing many other, key components of the rite.

ii. The jaiminīya text mentions the ṣaṭtriṃśa stoma as the one to be used in 2.113.3 (sa vā eṣa ṣaṭtriṃśo bhavati) and the use of both the bṛhat and rathantara sāman-s in 2.113.12 (tasyobhe bṛhadrathantare sāmanī bhavata). These, as we have seen in part 1, are found in the taittiriya and pañcaviṃśa accounts of gosava. Refer to PB 19.13.5: ubhe bṛhadrathantare bhavatas and TB regarding the employment of both sāman-s. With respect to the stoma to be used, refer to PB 19.13.10: sarvaḥ ṣaṭtriṃśastena gosavaḥ as well as TB To this extent, it does seem that a skeletal framework of the rite, in so far as the liturgy is concerned (sāman-s and stoma), has been largely retained by the jaiminīya-s. One can only say, ‘largely retained’ as even the liturgical aspect of gosava is not fully intact. For instance, in the 2.113.9, the ṣaṭtriṃśa stoma is not to be chanted in the conventional manner but instead as four trivṛt stoma-s (tasya stotraṃ stotraṃ caturaścaturastrivṛto’bhisaṃpadyate).

To appreciate this, the reader should note that the trivṛt stoma consists of (trivṛt meaning threefold three verses repeated in each of three turns/paryāya) a total of nine verses). Instead of chanting the thirty six verses within the three paryāya-s, a nine-versed trivṛt stoma is chanted within the three paryāya-s and four such trivṛt stoma-s are performed. This peculiar liturgical structure (of four trivṛt stoma-s) is metaphorically described in 2.113.11 as a yoke of four [horses] (sa yathā kṣiprāśvena caturyujā) by means of which the performer of the rite is speedily conveyed to the heavenly world. This is a beautiful example of how non-liturgical aspects of a ritual are embedded in the structure of the liturgy or the hymn. Another example of that would be the sāmidhenī chant as discussed by the ārya here and here.

iii. However, several other, key elements are completely absent in the jaiminīya account, which can be found in the taittiriya and pañcaviṃśa accounts. In both of these texts, an abhiṣeka rite is enjoined where milk is poured over the sacrificer’s head (PB 19.13.7 pratiduhābhiṣicyate, TB The unction is performed at the time of chanting of the bṛhat sāman (PB 19.13.8 bṛhataḥ stotra pratyabhiṣicyate, TB and to the south of the āhavanīyāgni on unraised, flat ground. Furthermore, the deities, prajāpati and parameṣṭhin are totally absent in the jaiminīya text whereas they are mentioned in the other two (PB 19.13.3 prajāpatir hi svārājyaṃ parameṣṭhī svārājyam, TB Most fundamentally, the term, ‘svārājya’ is conspicuously and completely missing in the jaiminīya while, on the other hand, it is the stated objective in PB and TB. Instead, the desired goal of the jaiminīya text is svarga loka (the heavenly world, i.e. heaven). This disappearance of svārājya explains the absence of the rite of sitting to the south of the āhavanīya fire on unraised ground (TB, PB 19.13.9: anuddhate=not lifted up ground, locative form of anuddhata) as the purpose of sitting on such flat ground was that there should be nothing interposing (such as a hump on uneven ground)  between earth and the performer of the gosava, so as to facilitate attainment of svārājya, or sovereignty. It hardly requires much imagination to understand the correspondence (bandhutā) between earth (over which power is exercised) and the attainment of that sovereign power, i.e. svārājya. The sitting on unraised ground would have been clearly an irrelevant rite for the jaiminīya-s who contemplated the attainment of the other world and not sovereignty in the kṣatra sense of the term.

However, we may note that, notwithstanding the absence of any reference to svārājya in the jaiminīya account, there is a reference to ‘sāmrājya’ (JB 2.113.5 bṛhatī svargo lokaḥ sāmrājyaṃ), albeit sāmrājya in the heavenly, other world. Although sāmrājya is not mentioned in the pañcaviṃśa version, the taittiriya and kāthaka passages on the gosava (both being śākhā-s belonging to the kṛṣṇa yajurveda) do refer to the concept, with the latter being more explicit. TB and kāth.B 37.6 designate the vājapeya as the ‘samrāṭsava’ that confers sāmrājya upon the performer whereas the gosava rite confers svārājya. While the taittiriya text equates prajāpati with svārājyam (TB, the kāthaka equates prajāpati with sāmrājya (prajāpatis sāmrājyaṃ parameṣṭhī) and then goes on to repeat the ‘svārājyam gaureva’ phrase found in the taittiriya text, which we discussed in detail in part 1. It was noted there that this equation of cattle and svārājya may offer an insight into the transformation of the gosava rite, paving the way for the incorporating the practice of imitating the unrestrained behaviour of cattle, although the taittiriya brāhmaṇa itself does not instruct any such imitative practice. Coming back to the jaiminīya text at hand, Bhaṭṭa Bhāskara, in his commentary on taittiriya śruti, comments on ‘svārājyam gaureva’ as to how svārājya is verily the svatantra one enjoys in brahmaloka. That comment is perhaps more apt for the jaiminīya passage which speaks of sāmrājya in svarga loka. It is possible that the jaiminīya account of gosava was influenced by the kṛṣṇa yajurvedin-s.

iv. From the points numbered, i-iii, it would seem that the first part of the jaiminīya text (2.113.1-15) was carefully constructed using material from the existing gosava passages found in other brāhmaṇa texts while modifying the traditional account as necessary. The rather conspicuous omission of references to prajāpati (who could be as easily equated with svarga as he is with svārājya) and the “substitute” measure of the rather artificial insertion of bṛhatī metre personified as a goddess jointly point towards the conclusion that the jaiminīya variant of gosava was indeed the later one, deliberately differentiating itself from its precursors.

v. A reading of the second part (2.113.16-35), starting with “tasya vratam”, seems to suggest that it was probably yet another, even later, element deliberately grafted onto the first part. One notes the sudden, total absence of ‘svarga’ and its related terms (svarga loka) as well as derivatives and an unexpected and novel reference to ‘anaḍuha loka’ at 2.113.20 (anaḍuho ha lokaṃ jayati). From purely a textual criticism perspective, it is irrelevant if anaḍuha loka is the svarga to be attained for that would be a question for the vedabhāṣyakāra-s, the brahmavādin-s.

vi. It has to be noted that the execution of the rite by puṇyakeśa yaudhena, the ruler of Śibi, is the only recorded instance of the jaiminīya variant of gosava being performed, with the possible exception of a narrative from the brahmāṇḍa purāṇa 2.36-64 involving dīrghatamas. Furthermore, there is no explicit reference to the incest element in the puṇyakeśa narrative or even any of the other acts (drinking water directly from the source or cutting grass with one’s teeth without hands) except excreting faeces. Towards the end of the jaiminīya text at 2.113.31-32, the qualification of the rite by puṇyakeśa stipulates that only an elderly person can perform the rite and the very last line of the text, 2.113.35 states that it is to be done in the final stage of one’s life (uttaravayasye). This raises an interesting ambiguity. On one hand, this qualification of gosava could be a way to circumvent the deviant sexual element as some have understood it. For if the stated acts were intended to constitute imitation of a bull, the performance by a very old man would logically be the imitation of a bull of advanced age that has lost its libido and virility and would not be able to indulge in actual intercourse.

On the other hand, the actual text suggests contrarily, stating at 2.113.33 that all those aforementioned transgressive acts are allowed for the elderly man (sthavirasya hy evedaṃ sarvam anujñātam), suggesting that they were all to be performed in the literal sense and no exemption was intended. However, looking at the wording of the contentious injunction at 2.113.16, even if literal interpretation was employed, it is possible that actual intercourse was probably never meant but merely sexually approaching the woman (“upa mātaram iyād…”). Even approaching a woman if she was a mother, sister or a sagotrā was deemed to be improper as was eating grass from the ground or sipping water directly from the source or excreting in any place without discretion. So, what is the meaning of the statement that these acts were “allowed” (anujñātam) for the old man? In my opinion, puṇyakeśa was probably making a reference to senility and the indifference to norms an elderly man and lack of control such a man may experience at an advanced age. Such acts may have been considered justifiable in the context of senility. It has to be mentioned that the only two other texts referring to these transgressive acts (āpastamba śrautasūtra 22.13.1-3, hiraṇyakeśi śrautasūtra 17.5.25-26) do not mention this “old age” qualification at all.


  1. Gosava in the śrautasūtra-s

Now, we will briefly lay out whatever material is present in the śrautasūtra-s directly pertaining to the gosava rite. As there are too many texts to consider, translation will not be provided but only brief notes.

baudhāyana śrautasūtra 18.7:

gosavena yakṣyamāṇo bhavati sa upakalpayate’yutaṃ dakṣiṇāḥ suvarṇarajatau ca rukmau parṇamayaṃ pātraṃ pratidhugabhiṣecanāya


tasya ṣaḍdīkṣāḥ ṣaḍupasadaḥ

samānamābhiṣekasya kālādabhiṣekasya kāle yajamānāyatane kṛṣṇājinamātraṃ vederanuddhataṃ bhavati

tadyajamānaṃ prāñcamupaveśya suvarṇarajatābhyāṃ rukmābhyāṃ paryupāsya parṇamaye pātre pratidhugānīya bṛhata stotraṃ pratyabhiṣiñcati revajjātaḥ sahasā vṛddhaḥ kṣatrāṇāṃ kṣatrabhṛttamo vayodhāḥ | mahānmahitve tastabhānaḥ kṣatre rāṣṭre ca jāgṛhi | prajāpatestvā parameṣṭhinaḥ svārājyenābhiṣiñcāmi

devasya tvā savituḥ prasave’śvinorbāhubhyāṃ pūṣṇo hastābhyāṃ sarasvatyai vāco yanturyantreṇa gosavenābhiṣiñcāmīti

samunmṛṣṭe samutkrośantīti samānamā mukhasya vimārjanāt

sa eṣa gosavaḥ ṣaṭtriṃ śaḥ sarva ukthya ubhayasāmāyutadakṣiṇaḥ

pavamāne kaṇvarathaṃtaraṃ kurvanti


apastamba śrautasūtra 22.12.17-20:

gosavena ṣaṭtriṃśenokthyena rathaṃtarasāmnā br̥hatsāmnobʰayasāmnā vā svārājyakāmaḥ /17

kaṇvaratʰaṃtaraṃ pavamāne /18

ayutaṃ dakṣiṇā /19

dakṣiṇenāhavanīyamanuddʰate vedyai br̥hataḥ stotraṃ pratyabʰiṣicyate pratidʰuṣā revajjātaḥ sahasā vr̥ddʰaḥ kṣatrāṇāṃ kṣatrabʰr̥ttamo vayodʰāḥ / 20a

mahānmahitve tastabʰānaḥ kṣatre rāṣṭre ca jāgr̥hi / 20b

prajāpatestvā parameṣṭhinaḥ svārājyenābʰiṣiñcāmīti /20c

apastamba śrautasūtra 22.13.1-3

teneṣṭvā saṃvatsaraṃ paśuvrato bʰavati /1

upavahāyodakaṃ pibettr̥ṇāni cāccʰindyāt / 2a

upa mātaramiyādupa svasāramupa sagotrām /2b

yatrayatrainaṃ viṣṭhā vindettadvitiṣṭheta /3


hiraṇyakeśi śrautasūtra 17.5.21-26

gosavenokthyena br̥hadrathaṃtarasāmnā svārājyakāmaḥ /21

ayutaṃ dakṣiṇā /22

dakṣiṇenāhavanīyam anuddhate vedyai pratidhuṣā māhendrastotraṃ pratyabhiṣicyate // revaj jātaḥ sahasā vr̥ddhaḥ \ kṣatrāṇāṃ kṣatrabhr̥ttamo vayodhāḥ / \ mahān mahitve tastabhānaḥ \ kṣatre rāṣṭre ca jāgr̥hi / \ prajāpates tvā parameṣṭhinaḥ svārājyenābhiṣiñcāmi \\ iti /23

gosaveneṣṭvā saṃvatsaraṃ dvādaśāhaṃ vā govrato bhavati /24

upa mātaram iyād upa svasāram upa sagotrām upa nigāyodakaṃ pibati tr̥ṇāni vā cchinatti /25

yatrayatrainaṃ viṣṭhā vindet tatratatra vitiṣṭhito ‘pavagāhaṃ gaurīva siṣam /26


mānava śrautasūtra

ṛṣabhagosavāvindra sya 17

ṛṣabho | yaḥ kāmayetarṣabha iva samānānāṃ syāmiti sa etena yajeta 18

ubhayasāmā rathaṃtarapṛṣṭhaḥ 19

pūrvo gaurāṅgirasaḥ 20

gosavena yajeta pārameṣṭhyakāmaḥ śrīrājyakāmo vā 21

ukthya ubhayasāmā bṛhatpṛṣṭho | ‘yutaṃ dakṣiṇā 22

gāvo bhago gāva indro me achāngāvaḥ somasya prathamasya bhakṣaḥ 23a

imā yā gāvaḥ sa janāsa indra ichāmi hṛdā manasā cidindram 23b

iti māhendra kāle vācayitvā pārameṣṭhyāyeti yathākāmaṃ pratiduhā pariṣiñcati 23c


śāṅkhāyana śrautasūtra 14.15

go.savena.paśu.kāmo.yajeta /

ṣaṭ.triṃśat.stomena /

ṣaṭ.triṃśad.akṣarā.bṛhatī /

bārhatāḥ.paśavaḥ /

paśūnām.eva.āptyai /

ṣaṭ.triṃśat.sahasrā.dakṣiṇā.gosavasya /

ayutam.vā /

ukthyo.yajñaḥ /


āśvalāyana śrautasūtra 9.8

AsvSS_9.8/12: go.sava.vivadhau.paśu.kāmaḥ./ (ṛtu.Yāja)


vaitāna śrautasūtra 8.1

gosavābhiṣecanīyayoḥ <yuñjanti bradhnam aruṣam [śs. 20.26.4-6] iti /4

gosavavivadhavaiśyastomeṣu <indraṃ vo viśvatas pari [śs. 20.39.1, 3] ā no viśvāsu havya indraḥ [śs. 20.104.3-4] iti /10

Note: The references in square brackets, 20.26.4-6, 20.39.1-3 & 20.104.3-4 refer to verses from the atharvaveda saṁhitā of the śaunakīya śākhā.


kātyāyana śrautasūtra 22.11.6-11

ukthyo gosavo’yutadakṣiṇaḥ 6 vaiśyayajña ityeke 7 sarājāno viśo yaṃ puraskurvīrantsa etena yajeta 8 sthaṇḍile’bhiṣicyate pratiduhā-”havanīyasya dakṣiṇataḥ 9 sthapatirityenaṃ brūyuḥ 10



A few salient points to note:

i. Based on the taittiriya brāhmaṇa 2.7.6, the baudhāyana śrautasūtra mentions the typical features such as the anointing of the sacrificer with milk (pratidhugabhiṣecanāya), the ṣaṭtriṃśa stoma, the usage of both saman-s (ubhayasāma), the use of the kaṇvarathaṃtara in the pavamāna stotra and sitting on unraised ground (vederanuddhataṃ), but also enjoins the use of gold and silver (suvarṇarajatau) sheets (rukmau interpreted by C.G.Kashikar as sheets), the use of a pot filled with parṇa (Kashikar translates this as Butea Frondosa leaves rather instead of leaves although the term can mean both) into which the milk is later poured. It also supplies the mantras to be used for the abhiṣecanīya rite (anointing of the sacrificer with milk).


ii. Both the apastamba and hiraṇyakeśi mention the transgressive elements mentioned in the jaiminīya brāhmaṇa in addition to the usual elements of the gosava rite. Interestingly, the normal elements of the gosava are found in the 12th kaṇḍikā while the transgressive ones are all listed at the beginning of the 13th kaṇḍikā before introducing the marutstoma. My speculation is that these verses may have been interpolated after the taittiriyakas of the apastambiya and hiraṇyakeśi sects had arrived in the south and interacted with the jaiminīyas, who, by some accounts, seem to be the earliest brāhmaṇas to reach the south.


iii. The rgveda śrautasūtra, the śāṅkhāyana and āśvalāyana put a strange spin on it, stating that the gosava is performed by him who desires cattle (paśu kāmo) although the śāṅkhāyana does mention a couple of typical elements of the rite such as the ṣaṭtriṃśa stoma and the sacrificial fee  (dakṣiṇā) of a myriad/ten thousand cows (ayutam). It does raise the question in someone of little learning as myself as to why someone who could afford to give away thousands of cows for the fee would need to perform the gosava as he desires cattle.


iv. The kātyāyana sūtra supplies an instance of a rather interesting usage for the gosava rite where it is stated that some opine it being akin to a vaiśyayajña and it is stated that a vaiśya or sthapati may become the chieftain of a particular people/viś. One such possible instance is provided by the ārya, here. The term in kātyāyana, “sarājāno” was initially confusing but I found it to be an irregular/alternative reading of “svarājānaḥ” from lāṭyāyana śrautasūtra 8.7.4, where it occurs in the context of the bṛhaspatisava: yaṃ brāhmaṇāḥ svarājānaḥ puraskurvīran sa bṛhaspatisavena yajeta. The precise meaning remains unclear but the following rendition seems to be most probable: “Whoever may lead (yam puraskurvīran, literally, to place infront, ātmanepada, optative, 3rd person) brāhmaṇas ruling themselves (svarājānaḥ=sva+rājān), i.e. leaderless,  let him sacrifice (yajeta, 3rd person, optative) by [means of] the bṛhaspatisava.” Similarly, the kātyāyana must be speaking of a situation where a people/viś are without a chief and the person desiring to lord over them is instructed to perform the gosava. Surely, a rite that is capable of conferring the svārājya of prajāpati and parameṣṭhin on one would be most apt to give legitimacy to the rulership of a non-kṣatriya such as a vaiśya or sthapati.

To be continued…

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