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Snod, Ad - The Construction of the Vedic Fire Altar

Snod, Ad - The Construction of the Vedic Fire Altar

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The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar∗

Adrian Snodgrass

The Hindu temple is an imago mundi; its configuration is a semblance of the cosmogenetic procedure of finite space from the Infinite; it is also a similitude of the production of time from Eternity. The cosmogonic procession from Unity to multiplicity, through the deployment of the directions of space from the Centre, is commonly expressed by the symbolism of a heavenly sacrifice. The reintegrative Return of multiplicity to Unity is, in turn, expressed in terms of terrestrial sacrifice. This is formulated in Brahmanic literature and physically expressed in the construction of the Vedic fire altar. The Vedic fire altar is the prototype of the Hindu temple, which assimilates its meanings.1 The construction of the Altar is a reconstruction of time; the temple incorporates this symbolism.

In the beginning Prajāpati, the Lord of Progeny (prajā), who was One, desiring offspring, emptied himself out into existence.2 Prajāpati is
∗ [This article is a revised version of chapter 16 of A. Snodgrass, Architecture, Time and Eternity: Studies in the Stellar and Temporal Symbolism of Traditional Buildings 2Vols., Śata-Piṭaka Series Indo-Asian Literatures Vol.356, New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan, 1990. Republished here by kind permission of the author.] 1 See S. Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1946, p.72 ff. (New edition, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2002). 2 ‘Now this Person (puruṣa) Prajāpati desires, ‘May I be more (than one), may I be reproduced’. He toiled, he practised austerity…He created the Waters out of the Word (vāc)…He desired, ‘May I be reproduced from the Waters…Thence an egg arose. He touched it. ‘Let it exist! Let it exist and multiply!’, so he said…And that which was the shell became the earth’ (Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa VI.1.2.1 ff, tr. J. Eggeling, 5 Vols., London, Clarendon, 1882; herein ŚB). Cf. M. Eliade, A History of Religious Ideas Vol.1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries, London: Collins, 1979, p.228; J. Gonda, Les Religions de l’Inde 2Vols., Paris: Flammarion, 1962, p.227.

Eye of the Heart 2, Bendigo: La Trobe University, 2008


Levi. p. 4 3 Eye of the Heart 2. ‘Prajāpati was unable to rise with his joints loosened.6.3. 8 ŚB X.2: Metaphysics. or emanation (visṛj.11. Hermann.68.1898. p. p. Chandra.227 ff.6. “asunder.35. Vira & L. A. the full moon and the new moon. A History of Religious Ideas Vol.2. etc. is mortal. gods and men. Les Religions de l’Inde 2Vols.’8 The Year is mortality and ‘beyond the Year lies the immortal.’3 Prajāpati’s disjointing is a sacrifice (yajña). 1943. 1977. 9 ŚB X.” who are the separate entities of the sensible world. 19 ff.3. the Year: ‘Now Prajāpati is certainly the Year. dismembered into manifestation. and afraid of his mortality: ‘Prajāpati. Having emptied himself out into time.Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom Unity. and the beginnings of the seasons. the deadly toll of time.. ŚB I. 1978. On the sacrifice. 1954. see S.4.. New York: Arno.1. Bendigo: La Trobe University. N. having created all he felt like one emptied out and was afraid of death. the gods must reverse Prajāpati’s sacrificial act and must rejoin his dismembered joints.6. 1943a.. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. New York.4. the Year. 6 ŚB I. Nagpur. Princeton. dawn and twilight). and ‘the gods were afraid of this Prajāpati. Gonda.. the whole and unified body of Prajāpati is severed and disjointed: ‘After Prajāpati had emitted the living beings.4.1935.3. the Year. La Doctrine du Sacrifice dans les Brāhmaṇas. His emptying out. P. Princeton University Press.J. “to flow” and vi.. Eliade. his “children” are the fragmented and discrete parts of the world of differentiation and separateness.. Hanoi-Paris. the Ender.2.227 ff.’9 To conquer mortality. 2008 62 . The Jaiminīya-Brāmaṇa of the Saṁveda (Sanskrit).’6 Prajāpati.109 ff.107 ff. cf.’7 Prajāpati is time.” expressing dispersion) is a passage from integral concentration of the One to the decomposed dispersion of the multiple.4 The cosmogenesis is a sacrifice of Prajāpati’s body into the world. and his joints are the two joinings of day (that is. herein Barabudur. tr. 1958. 7 ŚB X. p. R. and Prajāpati is Ātman5 and the unmanifested Unity-Totality.144 ff. reprinted in one volume.2. He is also time.3. his joints were disjointed. Hinduism and Buddhism. from sṛj. 5 Jaiminīya Brāmaṇa I. Paris. p. Barabudur: Ésquisse d’une histoire du bouddhisme fondée sur la critique archéologique des texts 2Vols. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. Coomaraswamy.35. Mus. By passing into his “children.1.2. has created all living beings and things. but time is also death. Death. ‘Ātmayajña: Self Sacrifice’ in Selected Papers Vol. VII. Philosophical Library. and the gods healed him by (the ritual of) the agnihotra.

Multiplicity is immolated. ŚB X. Man’s performance of the ritual of sacrifice repeats the archetypal and primordial Sacrifice. The body and self of the sacrificer. The Symbolism of the Stūpa.6.3. the concomitant of fractioned time. is overcome when the gods rebuild the body of the Year in the fire altar.’10 The gods reassembled Prajāpati by building up the fire altar according to instructions given them by Prajāpati: Prajāpati then spoke: “Lay ye down 360 enclosing stones and world-filling (bricks). disintegrated here.6.: Cornell Univervity. making himself many so as to enter into his offspring in whom he is swallowed up and hidden. But the production of the multiple is the production of mortality: both Eternity and perpetuity are fragmented.800 and ye will be laying down all my forms and will become immortal” …11 The sacrificer (the self offerer).Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar strengthening his joints. The significance of the numbers is given in the following. What the gods did “in the beginning. lay ye down 10. 1985. Bendigo: La Trobe University. doubtless. the victim or Holocaust.12 Prajāpati unceasingly spends himself in ever-proceeding sacrifice and by this sacrifice the world passes into existence. is reflected in the ritual as in a mirror.47 f.4. But mortality. The sacrificer disjoins the mere-seeming cohesion of the partite sacrifice so as to reveal its impartible essence. inversely. so does he free himself from his mortal body. is a mimesis of the primordial act of the gods whereby time and death were vanquished.36. and for all existent things time must have a stop. The sacrifice is a reversal of the cosmo-generative process whereby the manifold proceeds from the One. “This my (new) body is procured thereby”. 2008 63 . which is the production of the universe. or of his ritual surrogate. which is one and whole.13. Whereas Prajāpati divides himself. N. His performance of the agnihotra. so in their turn his progeny empty themselves out.Y.2. are taken apart at the terrestrial level to be reassembled supernally. Eye of the Heart 2. in which he builds up the altar as the body of the Year. And even as a snake frees itself from its skin.3.” man repeats. is reintegrated above.8. The dismemberment of Prajāpati. 12 ŚB X1. Unity restored. Ithaca. The oblation. is he who knows.13 The sacrifice is 10 11 ŚB I. 13 Snodgrass. p. dismembering here for a remembering there.

7. The rite pertains to the suūtrātman or “Breath-thread” doctrine.3. The horse’s snuffling or exhalation is the blowing of the Gale of the Spirit. Les Religions de l’Inde 2Vols. The horse represents Prajāpati and the Sun16 and the bricks of the first layer of the altar are Prajāpati's progeny. On the symbolism of the horse’s snuffling upon the bricks of the altar and the concepts it engenders such as the doctrine of the extromission of the senses to their objects from a central point of Consciousness.112 ff.387. 18 Taittirīya Upaniṣad V. 1977.3. 17 ŚB VII. p. all the beings of the worlds. see Coomaraswamy.8. makes it snuffle at these bricks. passim. herein TU]. 16 Prajāpati is the Year. The year is nothing other than the sun moving on the ecliptic.41.12. In the first part of the ritual a horse is made to approach the site and snuffle upon the first layer of bricks.: Harvard University Press. R. the Year is nothing other than the stationary Sun. p.1: Art & Symbolism.15 lasts a year. the Year. The building of the fire altar is a sacrifice. 2008 64 . 1940. and he is also the Sun.J. according to which we are all connected to the Sun-source by a ray of spiritual Light or thread of Breath.. The doctrine is a recurrent theme in the writings of Coomaraswamy. pp. London: Oxford University Press. by which all living things are enspirited: ‘Just as he. ‘The Sun-kiss’. note 28. The Symbolism of the Stūpa.6. 143. since Prajāpati is the Year. 1882. the rite of constructing the fire altar.. the priest. pp. The rite is described in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa. dispersed and exhausted in the production of time.254. Snodgrass. 231 d. Princeton University Press. V. p. The following. B. is reconstituted and rearticulated in the ritual of constructing the altar: ‘This Prajāpati (the Year) who became disjointed is now the same fire altar built formerly. and cf. is a repetition of materials in Snodgrass. A. Harvard Oriental Series 32.. The Symbolism of the Stūpa. The Thirteen Principle Upaniṣads 2nd ed..47 ff. Hume. p. E. 1931.’18 ŚB II. p. coincident with the raying of light from the Sun.’17 and ‘so bestows the Breath indeed upon them. Bendigo: La Trobe University.1. so yonder Sun strings to himself these worlds upon a thread. The body of Prajāpati.g. 1925.1. See e. The Hindu Temple. 15 14 Eye of the Heart 2. so similarly. Cambridge Mass. Krarnrisch.1.3. N. The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upaniṣads.Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom a dismembering of partite time and a reassembling of the impartite Year. p. Selected Papers Vol.68 ff.4 tr.47 ff.. Princeton.2. in the main.2. See Eggeling. Journal of American Oriental Society 60. Gonda. it is a rebuilding of integrated and divisionless Eternity.’14 The agnicayana. Keith.

4.2. p. Bendigo: La Trobe University. and the year is Agni. The altar is also an image of the Year. Architecture.21 The Sun and the Waters are a progenitive pair whose union produces Prajāpati. Eliade. 25 The human head is of someone “killed in battle or by a thunderbolt” (Āpastambīyaśrautasūtra. and as a sign of this production a Golden Man. p. La Pensée Chinoise.231)...1. representing the five seasons and the five directions: ‘.26 The erection of the altar is a mimesis of the construction of the cosmos.1. p. Its erection is a reconstruction of Time. see M.M.20 the lotus leaf is the primordial Waters.23 is built into the altar.1. Granet. Next a tortoise. TU V.15.Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar The first layer of the altar having thus been enlivened. an image of Prajāpati.1.2.1. the altar is “time materialized. 1957.”27 There are 720 enclosing bricks. a ram and a goat.E.2. the altar. 27 Mus.’ 23 ŚB VII. TS V. 20 19 Eye of the Heart 2.’19 and it is immortality. M. Is. ‘Centre du monde.4. and so similarly for all its components. temple.1. 26 ŚB VI. 1950.7.1 ff. Each of its component parts has a cosmic reference. maison’ in Symbolisme cosmique des monuments religieux. London: Harvill.1. quoted by Gonda. the immortal Person (puruṣa) of the sacrifice is next laid down upon the golden plate. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.7. Les Religions de l’Inde Vol. Images and Symbols. a golden plate is laid down upon a lotus leaf. p.5. the side walls are Midspace.. the nights are the stones surrounding it and there are 360 of them because there are 360 nights in the ŚB VII. As Paul Mus says.8. of five layers consists the fire altar (Agni).. The water used for mixing the clay of the bricks is primeval Water. Series Orientale Roma 14. Paris: Albin Michel. 360 for the days and 360 for the nights in the year: The altar of fire is the Year.O. 22 In Chinese mythology the tortoise is an imago mundi. The plate is the Sun: ‘The same man who is in that (Sun’s) disc. the clay is the Earth.’24 The heads of sacrificial animals are built into the layers: a human head.372. five seasons are a year.1. 24 ŚB VI. it is he whom he now lays down (on the altar). symbol of the cosmos22 and the vital sap of the world. Agni’s womb.2.25 and the heads of a horse. The altar is an imago mundi. p.384. Barabudur.68. 21 ŚB V11. Time and Eternity. Ch.30 ‘The Symbolism of the Chinese Hall of Light. 1961.8. and above this five layers are constructed.5. Snodgrass. 2008 65 . this is explicit in the account of the Lo-Shu number diagram that was inscribed on the tortoise that came to Yü the Great. See A.. an ox.25.

The three Vedas together have 10. 32 ŚB VI.2. The 10.42.4. skin.4.2.4. 1882. 30 ŚB X.31 The altar has five layers. note 1. Hillsdale N. speech.17. Paris: Gallimard.1.30.3. being a multiple of 25. The day and the night are divided into 15 parts each. ŚB X.800 bricks. the altar) . note 2.18.). Each of these two groups of five qualities is identified with the five layers of the altar. H. and five seasons make a year.30 which is the total number of syllables in the Ṛg Veda and the number of years in a manvantara or total world cycle.4.43. Formes Traditionelles et cycles Cosmique. 1970. 31 Guénon. which are the seasons: . 29 28 Eye of the Heart 2. There are 360 stones so that 360 x 1200 = 432. and see Eggeling. passim. 2008 66 . See ŚB X.2. the days are the yajuṣmati (self-perforated) bricks. sight and hearing). and there are 360 days in the year. for there are 360 of them.Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom year.28 The altar contains 10. by 80.34 ŚB X. which number is obtained by multiplying Études Traditionelles. and the year is Agni (that is.15. 354.. Bendigo: La Trobe University.17 ff.000 = 2 × 432.800 in the year).32 and that Prajāpati who became relaxed is the year. Eggeling. idem.1. breath. Barabudur. ŚB X. See Mus.8.29 When the enclosing wall is being constructed 1200 syllables are recited at the laying of each brick. pp. D. corresponding to the 15 days of the waxing moon and the 15 days of the waning moon making up the lunation month.. that is. On the predilection for calculations involving the number 80.000 syllables are built into the altar. of five layers consists the fire altar.22 [Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles. which is the number of hours in the year (the day having 30 hours (muhūrta) of 48 minutes. pp. Cf. on the method for determining the number 360. the number of sections in the Vedas.Y. 1882. tr.4..800 × 80 = 864. p. the number of hours in the day and in the night. 5. see Eggeling. flesh.800 bricks of the altar also correspond to the 10.000 syllables. the number of verses formed of five feet (pada) of eight syllables. 33 The tanūs are the two groups of five qualities or “powers” which constitute the “inherent body” or bodily self of Prajāpati (ŚB VI.920 the number of years in a precession of the equinoxes.10.18. and those five bodily parts (tanū)33 of his which became relaxed are the seasons.800 paṅktis of the Ṛg Veda.. Fohr. ‘Quelques remarques sur la des cycles cosmiques’. There are five tanūs that are mortal (hair. and five are those layers: when he builds up the five layers he thereby builds him up with the seasons. 1938.1. for there are five seasons. 112. p. 2003].: Sophia Perennis. bones and marrow) and five that are immortal (mind. 34 ŚB VI.2. giving a total of 30 x 360 = 10.

south. where they are described as eight forms of Śiva.37 These eight forms of Agni are the regents of the eight directions of space. The child Agni entered into these forms in turn. the ox to Indra. for five in number are the regions and five those layers: when he builds up the five layers he builds up Prajāpati with the regions. XV.Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar The piling up of the altar thus replicates the course of the year. horse. Bhava. east. who occupies the centre: when Agni enters into these forms he unifies them within himself.19. who is at once the Fire and the Altar. Agni represents there constructed unity of the dispersed world. Aśani. which is a reduced image of the Great Year.38 They are subsumed within the single form of Agni.36 As soon as he was born Agni began to howl because he had no name. is the son of Prajāpati. The following considerations are elaborated in Mus. 2008 67 . an ox. Bendigo: La Trobe University. The five layers are also identified with the five directions: …and those five bodily parts of his. “Give me yet a name. the ram to Tvastṛ and the goat to Agni. Ugra. But Prajāpati recognized Agni in the five animals and prepared to sacrifice them to the five gods of the directions: the man to Viśvakarman. are the regions (the four directions and the zenith). The myth establishes that Agni.47 ff. the Dawn. The Symbolism of the Stūpa.35 Thus the fire altar has five layers which correspond simultaneously to the five directions (north. 36 35 Eye of the Heart 2. These ŚB VI. p.8 ff.18-19. the directions are reintegrated within their centre. Mahān Deva and Īśāna. Perceiving Agni’s wholeness and desiring it for himself.3. Prajāpati pursued Agni. p. 38 With the exception of Mani. ox. the seasons. Barabudur. ‘La réconstruction de Prajāpati et l’unité de l’universe’.” But the infant god was not satisfied and said. Given in ŚB VI. the list of names is that of the eight regent gods in the cardinal and intercardinal directions given in the later Hindu texts. identified with Prajāpati.1. Ch.495 ff. engendered in Uṣas. and so Prajāpati called him Rudra. who hid by splitting himself into five parts and entering into five animals—a man. Snodgrass. Cf.1.1. the horse to Varuṇa.” and Prajāpati gave him seven more names: Sarva. Paśupati. a ram and a goat. which became relaxed. The correlations are ritually established by the five animal heads—man. ram and goat—that are immolated within the layers. “Howler. west and the centre) and the five seasons. who is replaced by Bhima. a horse.2. 37 ŚB VI.

Prajāpati began to have second thoughts. the Maker of all things. If he sacrificed these portions to the gods of the directions and of divided 68 Eye of the Heart 2. Indra rules the south and summer and the centre and the fifth season are given over to Viśvakarman. Winter Tvaṣṭṛ Ram N Autumn Varuṇa Horse W Centre Fifth Season Viśvakarman Man E Spring Agni Goat S Summer Indra Ox Fig. As he was preparing to sacrifice the five animals containing the hidden portions of Agni. Bendigo: La Trobe University. with the associated seasons. Tvastṛ is in the north. Varuṇa governs the west and the autumn. and the five sacrificial animals. the gods who are the divided parts of Agni. The five gods form a pentagram of the spatial and temporal world. They are his emanations. and they are the five divided portions of the body of Prajāpati. 2008 .Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom five gods are regents of the directions and the seasons: Agni is the god who governs the east and the spring. whose four faces turn towards the four cardinal points and who is identified with Prajāpati himself and with his cosmo-productive activity. “emptied out” into the world. the direction of winter. The cross of the directions. the dispersal of his original unity into multiplicity. they constitute a schema of the quincuncial divisions of space and of time. the Architect and Creator.1.

their Religions and Institutions 5 Vols. in imitation of Prajāpati.6. but at the same time built up the five-layered altar. these (five) layers are the seasons. Vol.40 and thereby with a direction and a season. identifying each layer with an animal. is the unified Year. London. and thus made himself whole again.. the sacrificial ŚB VI. Prajāpati creates all living creatures. ŚB VI.16.5. space and time.’43 Agni. Bendigo: La Trobe University. within the Principle whence they derive. The five animals are the five parts of Agni. the disjointed god decided to sacrifice the five animals to the unified Agni. The five animals. ‘Assuredly. time reconstructed in Eternity. He therefore seized the five animals and sacrificed them. By incorporating them within the single altar Prajāpati built a single. By building up the five layers and sacrificing one of the five animals at each layer. animals and men. 1968.”44 and from his breaths he “creates” the five sacrificial animals immolated within the layers of the altar. the performer of the ritual.’41 In the agnicayana ritual of constructing the altar—which is Agni— the builder re-enacts the myth. “For different deities. 43 ŚB V1.11. 2008 69 .I. The altar is the image of time unified in the Timeless. For them he lays down five homes: and seeing that. the five layers. He began to realise that to sacrifice the five animals to the regents of the directions and the five seasons would be a fatal error.36.1. he would affirm their dispersal and thus reinforce his own division. He reunifies the scattered parts of the two coordinates of the sensible world. but I myself desire Agni’s forms. from his “breaths. for there are those five Agnis. and thereby regain his own wholeness. pp.15. The sacrifice would merely enhance his own exhaustion. reintegrates Agni’s five parts.1.1. 42 ŚB VI. the altar. and Agni is the year.Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar time..1. 1868-1874. which are the directions and the seasons. Agni turns unto him. well then. indeed. Agni became Prajāpati’s own self: ‘(the victims) are five. I will sacrifice them as (the objects of my) desire”. ‘He thought. 41 ŚB VI. whole Agni—with whom he identified himself. 40 39 Eye of the Heart J. I mean to sacrifice now. VI. the five seasons make a year. 24 & 28.16.2.’42 and ‘The fire altar has five layers.2 ff. Muir. 44 ŚB VII. (each layer is a season).’39 Thus thinking.8.2. to wit.1.. Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the people of India.1.

Building the animals into the altar is a reassembling of the dismembered parts of his body. which had been fragmented and dispersed in the cosmogenesis.’46 The being. Built into the altar the animals are unified. The building ritual identifies the sacrificer.228. They are the waves that swallow everything. the ram his ear. the body of Prajāpati.58 ff. p. is reassembled (samskṛ) in the altar. Les Religions de l’Inde 2Vols. the altar and Prajāpati: the extent of the base is that of the outstretched arms of the sacrificer. the indwelling Spirit. which overflow and pour out to perceive spatial and temporal extension. discontinuous and deprived of cohesion.Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom victims. p. The construction of the altar signifies that the “breaths” of his senses. as are the directions and the times they signify. is reconstituted and rearticulated—healed—by the sacrificial ritual of constructing the altar: ‘This Prajāpati who became disjointed is now the same fire altar built formerly. are the disjunct portions of Prajāpati’s body: the man is Prajāpati’s self (ātman). 46 ŚB II..236. the ox is his breath.47 Days and nights are the arms of Death that squeeze man. who is a portion of Prajāpati’s body.3.. p.45 In this way the directions. 49 Ibid. The body of Prajāpati.48 Partite and divided. times.3. The building of the altar is the integration of all of these. the bricks 45 The theme of the outflowing of the senses to their objects and their withdrawal to the central Inner Controller is developed in Snodgrass. The Symbolism of the Stūpa. the doctrine is concerned with the reunification of fractured time within the Present that eternally abides at the innermost centre of everyman.6. the horse is his eye. Bendigo: La Trobe University. disorder and death. dispersed. Prajāpati.4. and the goat his voice. which are the portions of space and time. The creature and the creation are both subject to time—and time is the destroyer: the Year is Death. is likewise scattered. are withdrawn back to the source of their dispersal. who was dismembered in the beginning. the being partakes of desolation. 47 ŚB X. 48 Gonda. identified with the directions of space and the divisions of time.1. are identified.49 The construction rite restores Prajāpati’s lost unity and by the rite the sacrificer is likewise made whole again. The building of the altar is a sacrificial act. man’s sensing of the outside world.3. By constructing it the sacrificer identifies himself with Prajāpati. 2008 70 . Eye of the Heart 2.

1905).15). Whitney & C. 1973. Retracing the course of Prajāpati’s descent into the world he returns from multiplicity to unity. Burckhardt.7. sent forth by him to do his bidding. He passes beyond space and time. tr. eternal and indivisible Essence of man and the cosmos. the gods inhabited man’ (Atharva Veda XI. tr.10. the delegations and extensions of the power of the Spirit..R. The Golden Man. Hume. p. the navel (nābhi) is a square with the dimensions of the span of his hand. represents the immolated sacrificer. Sacred Art in East and West. and ‘They are neither in the sky nor on earth: whatever breathes. Cf. is reborn. the sacrificial fire and the God to whom the sacrifice is offered. built into the courses of the altar. The Spirit indwells man and so likewise do the powers of the Spirit: ‘Having made him their mortal house. the holocaust. therein they are’ (ŚB IX.5. Auboyer. p. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp.4 (tr.14.20-21.1.90. and attains immortality. 51 Ibid.144. W. A History of Religious Ideas Vol. The gods who sacrifice Puruṣa are the Intelligences (“Angels”) or “distributive essences” (vibhūtaya) (Aitareya Āranyaka II.2. H. Sacred Art in East and West: Its Principles and Methods. Original Sanskrit Texts Vol. Griffith. The Hindu Temple. Eliade. tr. In his essence he is Puruṣa.1. 1949. ‘The Jaiminīya or Talavakāra Upaniṣad Brāhmaṇa’. Anecdota Oxoniensia Aryan Series 9.2ff. ‘All these gods are in me’ (Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa I.50 When the sacrificer builds the altar he is renewing himself in unity. 1909.Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar are the length of his foot.. the liturgical elements. Nikhilananda. 2008 71 . tr. repr. A.68. p.). The Hyms of the Ṛg Veda 2Vols. D.337. Bhagavad Gita X. B. the gods. Journal of the American Oriental Society 16. Selected Papers Vol. Cambridge Mass. the castes.. 50 Eye of the Heart 2. Oertel. Le trōne et son symbolisme dans l’Inde ancienne. 1896. From his dismembered body proceed the animals.18b.1. Paris: Falmmarion.1. p. New York. the sky and the earth. R. Lanman. London: Perennial Books. 1963. pp. the equinoctial and solstitial points—are correlated with the five directions and with the five parts of the cosmic body of Prajāpati. In an alternative version of the cosmogonic myth it is Puruṣa who is scattered into manifestation.8.224. 1967. Muṇdaka Upaniṣad 11. tr. Puruṣa is sacrificed by the gods (deva) at the beginning of the world. Bendigo: La Trobe University. 233. p. p. By the performance of the sacrifice he is reintegrated. the unchanging. In analogous ways the sacrificer is identified with the sacrificial animal and with the consuming fire: the officiant is the altar. 52 Ṛg Veda X..1. 1931). Keith. Burckhardt.. Krarnrisch.2: Metaphysics. They are the powers of the soul. Harvard Oriental Series 7-8. 1944) whose operation is our consciousness (Coomaraswamy.79-260). Muir.51 Prajāpati is Unity or Being fragmented into the diversity and flux of manifestation. the Person.17 ff.52 By way of the five layers of the altar the five divisions of the year— the centre.367 ff. J.

mind. he dies. where it is taught that when these functions cease man becomes dumb. but when breath is withdrawn. the mind. and being composed thereof. 1931) and Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad VI. *p. we have seen. the ear is the four directions of space. to the Centre: spatial extension is brought back to the geometric centre. into the moon by his mind. ear and breath—are identified one by one with the layers of the altar. and the breath. “56 By ritual means the sacrificer is identified with the altar. the eye is the sun. the sun. into the quarters by his ear.57 To construct the altar is to return the scattered parts of Prajāpati. into the sun by his eye. and into the wind by his breath. which latter is his supreme form. eye. the central day of the ceremonies. the eye.55 The passage concludes by stating that at death he who understands the doctrine passes into fire by his speech.7-14 (tr. Those who practice the sacrificial ritual come to realise this identification of the “breaths” or faculties with those of the universe and likewise realise their reconstitution within the Unity which the altar represents: at his death he does not perish.1. blind. and the breath is the wind.8. since the other forms are sustained by and dependent upon it. and the bodily elements and mental faculties of the person performing the ritual are withdrawn to the centre of his being. the ear. Barabudur. His five “breaths”—voice. mad or deaf. the quarters and the wind.7-15 (tr. the navel (nābhi) of the altar. 57 Cf. Compare this doctrine with that given in Chandogya Upaniṣad V. the mind is the moon.3. which in their turn are identified with the directions and the seasons and with fire. The five “forms” of Agni are identified with “powers” belonging to the performer of the ritual:53 Agni is the voice.54 The text then indicates cosmic equivalents: the voice is fire. Barabudur. Hume. but returns to the One.3.144 ff. is identified part by part with the total body of the universe. 1931). 55 ŚB X. which. the body of the cosmos. 56 ŚB X.3. These three centres coalesce 53 54 Mus. temporal duration is reconcentrated at the viśuvat. Bendigo: La Trobe University. 2008 72 .1-6. the moon. the “immortal centre.*p. he is identified with that one among their divinities who corresponds and is at peace.3. Hume.Eye of the Heart: A Journal of Traditional Wisdom The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa specifies other correlations.” which is coincident with the centre of Prajāpati. Mus. Eye of the Heart 2.146.

and on the person of the sacrificer. it is a diagram of the world as it abides in the equilibrium of stasis. ‘Centre du monde.. the days and nights—into a single. See Mus. its construction brings together the directions and all times—the seasons. for not only does it embody the days and nights and seasons of the year but it is also oriented according to the four cardinal directions. in the mandala that prefigures the plan of the Hindu temple time is transmuted into space. brought back to Unity. on the universe.97 & pp. Barabudur. It is the coalescence of all space and all time within a compounded Unity.733-789. Gonda. reintegrated. Les Religions de l’Inde 2Vols. *p. The mandala shows the world as the similitude of the timeless. the months. *p. 59 58 Eye of the Heart 2. the disjointed and dispersed fragments are reintegrated within a punctual Now. 2008 73 . reintegrated whole. As in the Vedic Fire Altar. temple. p. and whatever operates for one operates for all: the construction rites performed in space are simultaneously performed in time. maison’.59 ‘The altar is imbued with the substance of the world.68. each governed by a season.Snodgrass: The reconstruction of time in the Vedic fire altar in the rite. 60 Mus. p. in which all times are seen as so many successive projections of the eternal Instant. Barabudur.58 The altar is the image of the universe in both its spatial and its temporal aspects.112. The divisions of time are made whole.234.’60 it is the hypostasis of the cosmos. Eliade. and exercise their influence on the celestial powers. The mandala abstracts the sequential and successive from the cycles of becoming and renders them in their instantaneity. Bendigo: La Trobe University.

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