Description of Agni in the Sama Vedas

This are my favorites quotes about Agni in the Sama Vedas that contains a good description of Agni, the fire God.

The powerful Agni, the immortal, the parent of wealth, and who is dear to us as a friend.

0 Agni, our purifier and our creator, liberally bestow on us, in reputable ways, food-increasing wealth, such as may make us honor, such as is desired by many and is attended with the highest fame.

Secure the approbation of your own Agni, the lord of sacrifices, the causer of grief, the invader of the gods, the faithful offered of sacrifice for the two worlds, which existed before the clouds, yet without vitality, and who shines with golden radiance.

Agni traverses, by his own mighty, the two worlds, and when he sends down rain he uses his mighty roaring to extend from the farthest to the rest extremity of heaven ; and, great in might, he grows later still in the (ethereal) abode of waters.

Thou, 0 Agni, like the Sun which is white, and another which is red ; thou manifested in the two forms of day and night, and art landed like the canopy of heaven. 0 possessor of food, you preserve the understanding of all men. 0 nourishing, grant that we may receive prosperity-causing presents this sacrifice.

Agni, hast been solemnly ordained by the gods to be invited to all sacrifices performed in the world inhabited by men.

The purifying (Agni); encircled by his white radiant along with the priests, capes from all sin ; arid like the Sun all pure, and brilliant, he shines out from behind the rainy cloud, thou with the seven priests, encircle all created form.

Agni, the trainer of happiness

To summarize, this is how Agni is described in the Sama Veda.

  • Immortal
  • A friend
  • Creator
  • Purifier
  • Lord of sacrifices
  • Causer of grief
  • Invader of the gods
  • Like the Sun
  • Possessor of food
  • White radiant
  • Brilliant
  • Shines
  • Trainer of happiness

The Sa’ma Veda, Translation by J. Stevenson, 1906

Wine in vedic litteratur

History of wine

In Vedism but also in Ayurveda, Sura (wine) has been worshiped by gods and honored by priests. In vedic rites, wine is used for the success of the sacrifice (the sautramani sacrifice_. It is an excellent solace to the gods who call it nectar and to the forefathers who call it ‘svadha’. Wine is the splendid brilliance of the Asvin twin gods. It is the power of Sarasvati, the prowess of Indra. In the vedic litteratur, wine is know as Soma, a sacred drink that only Gods and some can digest.

The Proper Set up for Drinking Wine (from Charaka Samhita) :

« The drinker should have previously processed his body (with external as well as internal procedures) and should be pure.
He should be perfumed, wearing clean apparel scented strongly according to the season.
He should be wearing various attractive garlands, gems and ornaments.
He should have worshiped the gods and brahmanas and have touched good auspicious things.
Then he should sit or recline comfortably on a bed or seat which is well covered with a bed sheet and which has a pillow, flowers and filled with fragrance of incense.
Then he should drink wine from vessels of gold, silver, precious stones or other clean and well-made vessels.
He should be attended by favorite ladies who are proud of their beauty and youthfulness.
After having worshiped the gods, chanted the blessing hymns and pouring the wine mixed with water in the ground meant for other needy beings. »

Charaka Samhita, Volume II, Edited by Gabriel Van Loon

Wine is called enjoyable ‘sura’ (wine) by the gods, demons, gandharvas, yaksas, raksasas and human beings. It is why wine must be used very carefully by humans.

Moon-Plant Sacrifice in Sama Vedas

The Samhita of the Sama Veda consists of a series of verses telling the story of the moon-plant sacrifice which is also named Somayaga. The Sama Veda is composed of different prayers to the deities who are supposed to honor the ceremony with their presence.

The ceremony starts by preparing the moon-plant juice. The first thing to be done is to collect the moon-plant (sarcostema viminalis) and the arani-wood in a moon-light night,  for kindling the sacred fire. The plant has to be harvest at the top of a mountain. The moon-plants must be plucked up from the roots. The juice is mixed with water, then strain and pour in a vessel. The juice, already diluted with water is further mixed with barley, clarified butter, and the flour of a grain. It is now allowed to ferment it till a spirit is formed. Only deities can drink this juice because it’s a very intoxicating liquor. Some Brahmins used to drink this juice for weeks during a special ceremony even this juice can bring to death.

0 lndra, this morning accept our sacrifice, accompanied with rice, curds, sweet cakes, and praises.

This well-pressed moon-plant juice, mixed with sour curds, is for Indra.

References : India and Its Inhabitants By Caleb Wright, 1853 / The Sa’ma Veda Traduction By J. Stevenson, 1906