Home > Kalākośa > Kalāsamālocana Series > List of Books > Prakrti Series > Vedic, Buddhist and Jain Traditions


[ Previous Page | Contents of the Book | Next Page ]

 Bhtas in Vedic Rituals and Literature

N. Dharmadhikari

According to the Vedic tradition, there are five elements (bhtas) - pthiv, pa, tejas, vyu and ka. The bhtas are inextricably linked to the Vedic concept of cosmology and ritual.

The Aitareya Up. (3.3)1 gives a list of five bhtas while Taittirya Up. (2.1)2 relates the order of their creation. The Prana Up. (2.2; 4.8),3 Chndogya Up. (1.1.2)4 etc. also enumerate them. Skhyas5 accord sanction to them.

Formation and frame of Vedic sacrifice were conceived by the master-minds, the is, the seers, when they constantly observed and meditated upon the ever rotating disciplined cycles of the universe, which they understood as cosmos and not chaos. The ancient Vedic ritualistic texts rightly state that the sacrifice is a prototype6 or dramatisation of the game of universe, the creation  of Prajpati, and that the sacrifice is a royal7 road leading to ta, the cosmic law.

The five bhtas are cosmic elements. If the cosmic prototypes are thought to be manipulated through sacrifice, the bhtas must be found playing an important role in the frame and sacrifice.

Deep investigations into Vedic sacrifice reveals that the entire sacrificial procedure is scheduled round the Loka, i.e., space-encompassing bhtas and round the Kla, i.e., Time.

We are concerned here, with the bhtas. Loka or its collateral dialectic form u-loka8 (V, I.936, II. 30.6, III. 2.9. etc.) (which may be an abridged form of uru-loka) originally may mean - 'the wide open space'.

Further the three or seven worlds - i.e., vyhtis viz. bh, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satyam, covered by the  wide space, are secondarily known as Lokas.



Bh represents the global planet, as well as  the basic element - pthiv - earth. Bh or pthiv is seen in its physical, deified and metaphysical forms in Vedic rituals.

Mait. S., I.8.59 enjoins to recite three vyhtis viz., bh, bhuva, sva before each offering in sacrifice, because, according to this Sa=mhit, these three vyhtis are raised to the position of Brahman, the eternal Truth.

In dhna rite (depositing fires), the materials viz., gravel, saline soil, the soil from mole-hill and ant-hill, the earth dug up by a boar (with his snout) are placed on the ved-ground. These materials are called prthiva-sambhras.

In this context, the Taittirya Br. (I.1.3) narrates a myth of the birth of Pthiv10 as follows: in the beginning this water was indeed a surge (arram). Prajpati, practising penance (for further creation) became weary. Incidentally he saw a lotus-leaf floating on the surge. He thought - must there be some substratum wherein the stalk of lotus, stands firm. He assumed a form of a boar and dived deep. He reached the earth below. He rammed into it and emerged. He spread it on the lotus leaf. Since it was spread it (aprathayat), it became known as Pthiv.

Thus, in placing the earth dug by a boar, on the Ved-ground, the Adhvaryu as if places the earth brought out by Prajpati. In that he verily dramatises the role  of Prajpati.

This myth summarily reminds us of the myth of varha-incarnation appearing in Puras.

For the performance of sacrifices, Pthiv is the very substratum, for it forms an altar for sacrifice. According to TS, the sacrifice is the navel of the world and the ved - the altar11 ground is the furthest end of Pthiv. Since the sacrifice is performed on it, the ved - the earth - is called devaketra.12

In Agniciti, a svayam-t - i.e., a self-perforated pebble is placed on the altar being piled. TS, 5.2.8 identifies this pebble with Pthiv.13 The formula for placing this pebble (TS, 4.2.9) reveals that it is being placed by Prajpati14 and that it is Aditi - all sustaining, a sustainer of all the world.

Prajpati15 once desired to pile the fire-altar. Pthiv said to him, "you shall not  pile the fire-altar on me; you shall burn me excessively; and I getting burned, will shake you apart, you will fall into a sorrowful state". Prajpati replied - "I shall so pile as it will not burn you execessively". He touched the earth, made it a brick and set it down to prevent execessive burning. This implies the role of the cosmic Pthiv in the ritual of Agni.

In placing the Retasic iaks,16 TS, 5.5.4 narrates a myth conveying that the Pthiv and dyu are born of the seed of fire. Thus the virj brick represents the earth and the svarj, the sky.

Thus Pthiv and sky of cosmos  are represented by the two bricks in the Agni-rite.

I is one of the important rites in ii and pau sacrifices, wherein I is identified with Pthiv.

gnidh priest partakes of a portion from I, addressing it with the term 'mother earth'17 (VS, II.10; TBr., 3.7.6, Kt, S, 3.4.1).

I, i.e., pthiv is sometimes personified as a Pn;18 or devah19 (heavenly cow).

In the famous Pthiv20 skta of Atharva Veda, (12.1.1-63), Pthiv is frequently referred to as mother.

According to the Nyya -system of Philosophy, the Pthiv element is endowed with a specific characteristic, viz. gandha - smell. The gandha21 of Pthiv is referred to in this skta (vide AV, 12.1.23-25).

Kauika Stra employs this skta in many rituals - e.g.22 grahya (24.24),23 protection of town or city (38.12-16), pacifying24 earth-quakes  (98.1) etc. (Cf. also Vaitna S, 12.6, ntikalpa, 17.5, 18.8).

I, i.e., Pthiv is associated with dyau - the sky. In grayaa-ii,25 the cake baked on one potsherd, or clarified butter (jya) is offered to dyvpthiv jointly (Br., 2.4.3, Kt S, 4.6.5,7). According to Br, eka-kapla, i.e., one pot-sherd represents Pthiv.

In Vaivadeva parvan26 of Cturmsya sacrifice also, a cake oblation is offered to dyvpthiv jointly. \Oblations are offered to dyvpthiv in certain kmyeis and kmya pau sacrifices.27

It is regarded by the utis, that the dyvpthiv28 the earth and sky were close together - not separated in the beginning of creation. The oblations jointly offered to them may mark this mile-stone in the concept of the  process of creation.

utis further state that, while separating;29 the earth and sky said to each other, due to execessive love and affection - (Syaa, TBr, 1.1.3 - snehtiayt   that they should share together what is worthy of sacrifice. What of sky worthy of sacrifice was placed in this earth that became - a - the saline soil. What of this earth was worthy of sacrifice, was placed in the sky. That became the black spot on the moon. When the adhvaryu places the a in the ved -  he should also think of yonder black on the moon. By that he places on the ved, what is worthy of both, i.e., of earth and of sky. In this connection it may be noted that the clay of ant-hill deposited on the ved, is actually the pthiv element. It is identified with the earth by Br.30

It may also be noted that in Vedic rituals, dyau and pthiv  are constantly mentioned in the forms of father and mother.31 The joint oblation to dyvpthiv and their character of being united may have further formed a base for the concept of Ardhanrvara form of 'Ivara.

Pthiv is found identified with citr32 sacrifice performed by one who desires cattle. It is also identified with the Hot, priest,33 with Vmabht34 brick placed on the Uttaraved in Agniciti; with Vravantya Sman,35 with nidhana,36 the last part of sman, with svayam-t37 pebble, with prta-savana,38 with dakia-havirdhna,39 with rathantara,40 chandas, with the first41 layer of Agniciti, with pryay ii42 and finally also with prajpati.43 These identifications, though sometimes formed arthavda, indicate how Pthiv commanded high respect from ritualists.

Pthiv is more significantly identified with goddess Aditi.44

A caru (oblation of cooked rice) is offered to Aditi for one who is about to engage in war.45 Aditi is this very earth. The yjy and puronuvky46 verses, for this caru offering to Aditi, are very significant. Aditi, i.e., pthiv is, in these verses regarded as the mother of those who follow the holy cosmic law, since she is a protector of holy order. Aditi the pthiv  is regarded as a divine-ship, full of good oars, giving good protection - the ship that leakes not, hence dependable to convey across.


T.    Br. enjoins to offer caru to Aditi47 and Punarvas  in the context of Nakatrei. In the yjynuvky verses related to this oblation, the Aditi,48 Pthiv is called a nourishing (mother) of beings and giving firm foundation to them. Bha]a Bhskara here derives the word Aditi from aya 'to go'.49

The Pthiv is once  called Sarpa-rj,50 the queen of moving objects. Bhaa Bhskara while commenting on TS, derives this word from sp,51 to move, and states that 'the Pthiv is a queen amongst those who have assumed movement (sarpasya gatimata).

Further sarpa-rj is a technical name of certain verses (TS, 1.5.3) bhmir bhmn . . . etc.) utilised for depositing the fire in the mound of grhapatya, in Agnydhna rite (p S, 5.27.9-11). In this context, it will be interesting to note that the grhapatya is often identified with bh, i.e., Pthiv. atapatha Br. further states that the mound52 of the grhapatya fire-place  is circular, because this pthiv is also circular.

Prana Up.53 refers to the deity presiding over Pthiv. The deity is responsible to pull down the apna in a purua. akarcrya while commenting on this passage explains that the Pthiv favours a man by pulling down the apna in his  body. Otherwise  he may either  have faltered/become unsteady/hesitant in his movement or gone up in space. This may hint at the gravitational force of Pthiv.

The Vedic texts specifically hold the view that Pthiv54  is a source of vegetation and food. Peace/happiness (nti) is brought on earth due to vegetation and food.55 If the god Mahdeva kills the cattle, it is due to polluted vegetation56 (T Br., 6.9.9).

With these discussions, one may safely conclude that, Pthiv, besides its global shape, was known to Vedic ritualists and seers in the form of 'element' also. They deified it and visualised it in its essential form of Brahman also.



According to utis, 'water' appears to be the first essential cosmic principle. gveda57 states that ll this was water in the beginning, not distinguished from darkness which wrapped  it'. TBr.58 corroborated this view, saying - 'in the beginning water was indeed a surge'.

          Next to breath, water is an animating cosmic element, a primordial liquid, vivifying organism. After air, it is the first need of a living creature, a basic factor for existence. Br.59 therefore states s long as there is water in vital airs, so long man speaks with speech'. TS60 also prays water for obtaining long life and lusture.

According to T61 (7.3.2), Agni  is an antecedent form and sun the later. Water is a compound and lightning is the joining element. Mait S62 further divides water in three places - in sky, earth and mid-region.

The Vedic seers possessed a deep awareness of the medicinal characteristics of waters.

V63 sheds sufficient light on medicinal quality of waters. The hymn considers water as the reservoir of all curative medicines and of nectar. It invokes waters which the cows drink and declares the intention to offer oblations to deities presiding over the flowing waters. VS64 describes the medicinal use of waters in clear terms, saying - "O water, which we have drunk, become refreshing in our belly. May you be pleasant to us by  driving away diseases and pains - O divine immortal waters". The verses are utilised for touching one's navel after drinking liquid in a sacrificial procedure.

This hydro-therapy finds its climax in Atharva  veda. AV65 hymns (6.23; 24 & 57) are exclusively devoted to medicinal use of waters.

AV prays waters to obtain cure from ketrya, i.e., incurable diseases.

AV describes the various sources of waters and addresses them as ayaka=m-kara, i.e., dispeller of diseases and as - bhiagbhyo bhiaktar -  more healing than any other healer.

None of the recipes except raw water68 can quench the thirst. In this sense only, Yska in his Nirukta referred to water as containing all tastes.

Like Agni and Vyu, pa (waters) also serve as a purifying agent. KS.69 declared in clear terms, that waters are purifiers. In the rituals of I, Proka70 waters are utilised for purification.

Agirasas,71 leaving for heaven, placed in the waters, the dk and tapas. The sacrificer therefore takes bath in waters at trtha (ford). This is related by TS, 6.1.1. The formula for sprinkling on the sacrificer and for his bath (TS ,1.2.1)72 are prayers to waters for purifications.

After a bath at consecration, the sacrificer is required to sip the water. He thereby becomes pure within.73

TS, 5.6.1. collects thirteen74 formulae, all addressed to waters, in connection with the kumbhehaks in Agni-rite. One of the formulae compares the blissful savour of water with the mother's75 milk. The related Brhmaa (TS, 5.6.2), while commenting on the formulae, declare that,76 the waters are ambrosia,  therefore they sprinkle with water, him, who has fainted  - (Cf. Bhaa Bhskara here, - avatntam mrchitam).

In the Tnnaptra offerings (in Soma sacrifice) the ghee and ladle come near the Soma, placed on sand, near havanya fire place. Soma becomes afraid of them, for gods once made the ghee a weapon and ladle arms and had struck him. The tviks sprinkle the frightened soma with waters and make him swell. Mait S77 here remarks that - ll sprinkle him with water who has fainted'.

For preparation of ukh pot (of clay), one has to dig the earth. In digging he acts harshly on earth. He therefore pours water on the pit and says78 - 'the  waters are for appeasing' - verily with waters be appeased, thus he calms her pains.

In a similar context Mait S79 states that 'the waters are tranquilizer for the disturbed'.

Waters cause the plants to grow. TS states80 - 'where there are waters, the plants take root (and where plants take root, cattle find support through them)'.

If the drops of milk fall down on earth, while milking a cow, one should pour water over the drops - for, as Mait S81 states - waters avert pain, they are restoration/cure, they are medicine. Wherever the waters fall on earth, the excellent plants grow abundantly.

Impressed by the unique characteristics of water, Syaa, commenting on V, 82 I.161.9 states - 'there exists no better element83 other than water which is more benificent to the living beings. Hence waters are supreme'.

In the context of placing Nakatreaks in Agniciti, TS84 and Mait S  prescribe - 'waters are the deities, which preside over Prvh constellation; and Vivedev over Uttarh'. Mait S85 further states that waters themselves are Vivedev.

Varua86 is also regarded to be a deity presiding over waters, and is associated with the atabhiak87 constellation. Here the name atabhiak is self-explanatory.

Indra,88 desired to be sturdy and steady. He offered a puroa  to (i)Varua, (ii) the constellation atabhiaj, and (iii) bhiaj. He became sturdy and steady. Thus Varua, with the divinity and waters, is related to medicine and cures; even in ritualistic performances.

Every Soma-sacrifice concludes with Avabhtha ii, in which a cake is offered to Varu[a. All the offerings in this ii are offered in waters, because according to TS,89 Varua dwells in waters. In this ii the sacrificer beholds the waters and murmurs a verse, meaning - "O Varua, the ruler, you possess hundreds90 or thousands of medicines." According to Br, the Avabhtha bath is a whirlpool91 in the waters and that indeed is either Varua's son or brother. That whirlpool in water is praised in the Avabhtha, with the verses  prominently addressed to waters.92    

In a Soma-sacrifice Vasatvar waters are drawn from a flowing stream and not from a stagnant pool. TS says that the stagnant waters are seized by Varua.93 The flowing waters are therefore pure, the stagnant impure. Thus what is covered is also seized by Varua.

A dreadful drop is also caused by the wrath of Varua. A94 sacrifice is offered to him for atonement.

Thus the two aspects of Varua - the cosmic ruler95 and a deity presiding over waters are interrelated with each other, due to their medicinal and curing qualities. The wrath of Varua also works through (impure) waters.



Out of five bhtas Tejas may be regarded as a dominating bhta. Tejas, the broader aspect of Agni is always seen rising from its physical, i.e., material state to divine height and from the divine height to the metaphysical light, which is its essential characteristic.

All the Ghya Sa=mskras, from conception to cremation, and all the rauta rites beginning from Agnydhna to Antyei are performed in constant associ-ation with Agni, which is never missed.

In the rite of Agnydhna, the Fire is churned out, from the lower and upper enkindling logs called aras, representing Urva and Purravas, the  female and male forms.  According to Vedic tradition, the seer Atharvan was held responsible for inventing the engendering of fire by the device of churning. All further sacrifices are performed with libations offered on this fire.

TS prescribes a cake (puroa) baked on twelve potsherds to be offered to Vaivnara.96 Yska states that the Agni in mid-region and that in heaven is named as Vaivnara, and Agni on the earth is Vaivnara, which is born of the upper two fires.97 The fire of lightning, i.e., vaidyuta and the Agni of ditya, the sun, are the fires of mid-region and heaven - respectively. These   Agnis appear to be physical, but are deified, since the libation is offered to a deity Vaivnara Agni, born of upper two Agnis, who are also divine. According to Yska, there are only three divinities. viz, (i) Agni  - whose sphere is earth, (ii) Vyu or Indra, whose sphere is mid-region, and (iii) Srya - whose sphere is heaven. It means that Vyu or Indra is regarded by him, as a form creating Agni in mid-region. Yska therefore repeatedly warns that one should not think that there is only one fire which is on the earth. There are fires in upper two regions98 also.

In the Krri, performed for rains; a cake is offered to Agni, Maruts and Srya; (the deities of three regions) because, as TS states - Agni  thence causes the rains to arise, the Maruts lead it out when produced, when yonder Sun moves low with his rays, then it rains.99

This view is corroborated by T which describes that - Agni100 (on earth) is a former form, ditya - the Sun is a latter form; water in mid-region is a compound and the lightning is the uniting force.

In the mid-region, Agni assumes the speed of wind. This is described in V.101

While commenting on this verse, Syaa explains that this fire is Vaidyuta. He further states, only Agni knows how to expel waters from the clouds.102 The three sacrificial fires viz. Dakina, Grhapatya and havanya, therefore represent the three regions.103

In daily Agnihotra, therefore, a libation is offered to Agni in the evening and to Srya in the morning.104 Occasionally in Parjanyei, it is offered to the deity of mid-region.

V, X 88.6 states105 -  the head of all, i.e., Sun becomes Agni during night, then at the rising, Agni is born as a Sun.

TBr. also concurs with this view when it states that Agni106 enters in sun in the morning and the sun into Agni in the evening. Thus the Agni on earth and the sun in the third region are  identified with each other.

In Vedic ritual tradition, Agniciti is an important rite, which is generally augmented to Soma-sacrifices, wherein Agni is identified with Rudra, having two aspects, viz. benevolent and malevolent.107

Prayja and Anyja oblations in ii, are offered to different forms of Agni. In Pau sacrifice, the Yjy verses, termed as prs, are utilised in praise of the various forms of Agni. Thus Agni is deified in various forms.108

Now, while leaving his residence on journey, the sacrificer - the yajamna requests Agni to exchange their names, until he returns, with the words109 - 'the name that first, O all knower (Agni), my father and mother bestowed upon me aforetime - do thou bear it, until I return. O Agni, may I bear thy name. My name and thine - O Jtavedas, which like men changing garments, we bear, let us exchange'.

Sacrificer's this prayer brings about his heart-felt feelings towards Agni. To him, Agni is not only a physical element but something beyond that,  with whom he can communicate and establish with him, some sort of personal relations, nay identify his soul with Agni.

The Sacrificer wishing to pile an altar, first symbolically deposits his sacrificial fire in his own person with the words - 'In me I first take Agni - the immortal Agni, who has entered into mortals, within the hearts, may we enclose him in our tman. May he not abandon us and go afar'.110

After having thus deposited Agni in himself the sacrificer proceeds for piling the Agniciti. Br. here remarks 'being111 about to construct fire altar, he takes Agni,  in his own self. . . . when he constructs Agniciti after taking Agni into his ownself, he causes Agni to be born from Agni, the immortal from immortal'.

Br., X.1.4.14 puts a question - what is done here in  constructing an Agniciti, whereby the sacrificer wins over the re-birth? The answer is - well, he who builds an altar, becomes Agni . . . . Agni indeed is immortal, etc.112

Even with two Agnihotra offerings, to the two Jyotis - viz. Agni and Srya, the sacrificer is said to be relieved of cycles of births. This is promised by Br, - which  says - 'This is the release from death in the Agnihotra and verily he who knows that release from  death in the Agnihotra is freed from death.113

V114 therefore rightly states that this flame is immortal in  mortals.

Agni is therefore concerned here in the form of the Vedntic immortal tman. That is why Agni at places is referred to as Prajpati115 or Brahman.

ᡴkhyana Br. states - 'the Purua, made known in ditya is Indra. He is Prajpati. He is Brahman.116

The epithets of Agni like Jtavedas - meaning all knower, or kavikratu - having the intuition of a prophet - also aim at praising Agni in its Divine or Omniscient form.

Sun is the presiding deity of sva; the yonder world, the Vedic heaven. In fact, the srya is the tm of moving and stable world.117 It is an inexhaustible source of energy. According to V, the sun is a perpetual flame.118

While commenting on the formula119 of TS, I.6.6, both the commentators viz., Bhata Bhskara120 and Syaa121 unanimously describe the inner Purua in srya as an entrance to salvation.

gveda aims to point out that Agni is indicative of immortality - when it enjoins - 'Make122 the altar ready, set the Agni in blaze, let we two (i.e., the sacrificer and wife) perform a sacrifice, which is indicative of immortality'.

The altar here appears to be an inner one where Divine force is to be kept ablaze. It is there the sacrifice of awakening of the consciousness to immortality is performed.

Agni in Vedic tradition is not only a material physical element. It transcends its physical character. Even its physical state appears to be controlled by its metaphysical essential.


Air  or wind plays an important role in the environment. Accordingly, the Vedic is recognised air as a vital cosmic constituent and included it in five elements.124 Vyu is referred to as a deity presiding over the mid-region.125

The concept of Vedic sacrifice is supposed to be an outcome of cosmological reflections of is. It is maintained that Adhvaryu sets the sacrifice in motion with Vta and finally he bestows it again in Vta.126

The Vta-offerings are enjoined at least in Pravargya,127 Agniciti128 and Krr ii.129

In Pravargya Vyu is referred to as the soul of sacrifice.130 In the formulae for vta-offerings in Agniciti, vta  is addressed as a=mbhu131 and Mayobh, i.e., bringing welfare and happiness.

The formulae and Brhmaa for Vta-offerings in krr and placing vyavy brick in Agniciti reveal the rain bringing character of vyu.132

Incidentaly it may be pointed out that Durgcrya on Nirukta, X.1 divided Vta in four categories of which the last brings the rains.133

Thus the role of wind in   bringing rains was observed by Vedic is. It is not at all necessary to dilate on the point of necessity of rains for the livelihood of all living organisms on earth.

That the pure, unpolluted air is a source of health, happiness and consequently of long life, was also observed by the Vedic is. Two small gvedic sktas; X. 188134 and X. 137,135 may be regarded important from this point of view.

In V, X.186, Vta is referred to as causing welfare and happiness. The i is also emotional to this element that he addresses Vta as his father, brother and friend. Vta is a store-house of ambrosia for him. He prays for it and requests it to blow with its medicinal qualities.

V, X.137 divides the wind into two categories, the one bringing vigour  and the other blowing away the evil. Since vta is the Universal medicine, he prays the wind to blow with its medicinal qualities.

Further TS and Maitt S positively state that whatever smells ill, is spread out in a windy place, for Vyu is its purifier.136 This is seen in the context of drawing aindravyava-graha of Soma. The myth137 is as follows :

The gods wished to slay Soma. They could not kill him, because Vyu the breath had pervaded the Soma from within. The gods directed vyu to leave Soma and take to the resort of the gods. Vyu did so. The gods then killed Soma. The Soma so killed became foul. The gods were disgusted due to the foul smell. Vyu then said - I shall make him palatable and delicious. Vyu entered Soma from within. He thus made Soma delicious. Hence they spread the fermentation Soma in a windy place . . . . Syaa commenting on this passage is more explicit.

On account of this purifying nature, Vyu, i.e., wind appears to be identified with Yaja - the sacrifice. This is the view of Ch. Up.138 The wind acquires this quality of purifying the ill-smelled things through its  ever-moving and constantly active character.139

Any material over which the wind does not blow belongs to Varua.140  Varua is a deity which covers and consequently does not allow fresh air to enter.

A knot of bag containing paddy for Puroa is therefore loosened with a formula141 - Uru-vtya (TS, 1.1.4) - 'be widely open to wind'. TBr. further states - 'one who enters a covered or enclosed place, enters darkness'.142 This suggests that the wind purifies the material which has become foul due to storage.

Thus according to vedic is, Air inherits the intrinsic quality of neutralising pollution.

Pra the breath may be regarded as one of the vital forms of air.

143Once, the breath and sense-organs, disputed about their superiority. They went to Brahma who said - one of you is the most excellent, after whose departure the body is thought to be worse off. Vk, Caku, rotram and even Manas departed from the body by turn. Still the body persisted. Then as the breath was about  to  depart, even as a mighty horse of Sindu land, might pull up the pegs to which his feet are tied, even so did it pull out those organs together. They said, "Venerable Sir, do not you go out. We shall not be able to live without you". They confirmed that their firm basis lies in Pra,144 i.e., vital Air.

This allegorical discourse appears in B. Up., 6.17.13 and also in Ch. Up.,

B. Up., 3.7.2145 corroborates this view when it states that - By air, as by thread, this world, the other world, and all beings are held together. . . therefore, when a person dies, his limbs are loosened. For they were held together by air before  his death.

Thus the Vedic is were so fully aware of the medicinal qualities and the intrinsic essentiality of this environmental element, that they eulogized it to the extent that it forms an integral part of Prajpati.146

They also prayed that the wind147 should blow sweet for  one who wishes to offer sacrifice.


While delineating pthiv, I have already portrayed few characteristics of dyau - i.e., sky. The word loka (as stated earlier) originally means the space and secondarily the worlds. The word ka denotes space.

In Agnciti the lokap the space-filler-bricks - are placed on the fire altar -  with the formula148 'fill the space, fill the holes' etc.

149The ctvla, i. e., a pit, dug in earth, towards the north-east of the ved, in sacrifices is identified with ka by JU, 1.5.5.

Sadasya is regarded as a seventeenth tvij in the Soma-sacrifices and is related to ka by ]Savi=ma Br.

Thus ka, according to ]]Sa Br.  is placed in the midst of bhtas. Therefore, they give a seat to sadasya in the midst of sadas-pal.150

A sacrificer in all the three pressings of Soma-sacrifice seeks permission of the priests for partaking Soma from camasas.

While seeking permission from Sadasya-priest he identifies him with ka in the morning pressing, with the ka in eye in the midday pressing and with ka in the body, in the third pressing.151

Sacrificer, while requesting the priests to accord sanction to the sacrificial ground (devayajam), identifies sadasya with ka.152

When the sacrificer offers (daki) to Sadasya, he should say - 'O sadasya, I offer myself (tmnam) to you'. Verily ka is tm, he therefore gives ka to Sadasya. As long as ka does not decrease, his gifts also do not wane. This is stated by Jbr.153

Thus the identification of sadasya and the gift, with ka points out the unwaning characteristic of widely spread ka.

In the context of Vaivnara-vidy, as propounded in Br, Mahla Jbla identifies Vaivnara154 with ka which is plenteous. Syaa, commenting on this passage states - bahutvam kasya, sarvagatatvt. Thus plenteousness, the special characteristic of ka, has been noted here by Br.

Further JBr. identifies ka with purua155 and finally Purua with Prajpati.

It is well-known that kha, i.e., ka, according to the Upaniads, at a particular stage of upsan, is identified with Brahman.156

Thus, all the bhtas in ritual tradition are not regarded only as material or physical   elements, they really transcend their physical character. They are deified and raised to the status of Prajpati or Brahman.

This is corroborated by the Upaniads when they state that all the bhtas are controlled by their metaphysical essential character.

Kena Up.157 describes that vyu could not blow and Agni could not burn, even a blade of grass, when the immortal element withdrew from them. Thus the bhtas according to this Upaniad are activated only because the immortal element pervades them. It means that matter, the Prakti, can work only if an  essential element has entered into it.

Yjavalkya158 in his Bhadrayaka Up. has further elaborated this point, when  he states that the tman dwells in the elements, is within them, whom the elements do not know, whose body is elements, who controls them from within. He is the inner controller, the immortal.

This may explain why electrons, protons and neutrons in atoms of the so-called physical elements move and rotate, and thereby show the characteristic  of the sentient.


[ Previous Page | Contents of the Book | Next Page ]

HomeSearchContact usIndex

[ Home | Search  |  Contact UsIndex ]

 [ List of Books | Kalatattvakosa | Kalamulasastra | Kalasamalocana ]

1995 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi