One Fire, Three Fires, Five Fires: Vedic Symbols in Transition Author(s): David M.

Knipe Reviewed work(s): Source: History of Religions, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Aug., 1972), pp. 28-41 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 30/10/2012 23:13
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prthivi.. Kathaka-samhita. 1970. 2 ChU. October 23. 28 . hears for the first time about the journey of the self (purusa) after death. varsa.. Atharvaveda-samhita. The five offerings are sraddhd. anna. Why An earlier version of this article was presented as a paper to the Asian Religions' section of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in New York. KS. He discovers that the cosmos is really five great sacrificial fires in which the gods make a series of offerings. R1gveda-samhita.. VEDIC IN SYMBOLS TRANSITION ONE In the famous "five-fire doctrine" of Chandogya-upanisad 5. Taittiriya-samphita.... Satapatha-brahmana. Knipe THREE FIRE. Gautama is informed.1 Gautama. BAU. the garbha. Pancavimsa-brahmana. will be born some ten months later and... parjanya. will live until it makes its appointment with the (funeral) fire "from which he came." then rain in the "earth" fire to produce "food." and finally semen in the "woman" fire to complete the journey with a new embryo. AV. upanisad. and yosd. TB. FIVE FIRES: FIRES. Maitrayani-samhita. Chandogya-upanisad. PB. and VS.. and retas..David M. has just been put down in the local assembly for his inability to answer five far-out questions. Taittiriya-brFhmana.. Aitareya-brahmana. purusa. The five fires are loka. ?B. then soma in the Parjanya fire to produce "rain. Taittiriya-upanisad. TS. the establishment graduate. the conservatively learned father whose son. This final ritual product.."2 Now the curious thing about this teaching of the divine ritual production of a new being is the matter of five sacrificial fires.4-9. Vajasaneyi-samhita. RV. The gods offer "faith" in the "heaven" fire in order to produce soma. 1 The following abbreviations will be employed for frequently cited Vedic texts: AiB. ChU..." then food in the "man" fire to produce "semen. soma. BrhadaranyakaKausitaki-brahmana. 5. MS. Svetaketu. TU. KB.

. attains this.msity . propounds a different five-staged journey of the self after death. etc. the sacrificial animal is fivefold. vijnina-. He who knows this. The Taittiriya-upanisad. relies for its great srauta ritual schema upon three fires that are at once the projection of the sacrificer's single household fire. but also as the five great elementsearth. mano-.History of Religions five. 4 TU. 1. 6. Prasnaupanisad 4. prdna-. First among the latter's three series is the well-known list of five vital breaths. when the Vedic doctrine of sacrifice seems largely to be dependent upon trivalent forms. is of a threefold form (rupa). a prefiguration of the influential "five sheaths" (panca-kosa-) doctrine of the Paingala-upanisad. for example. air. BAU. is fivefold.1. there is collected an aphoristic list of three pentadic series each to explain the fivefold (pankta) nature of material objects (adhibhitam) and of the self (dtman). plural inflections in one-word citations such as this are replaced by a hyphen. pentadic expressions and systems are present in most Vedic and upanisadic texts.8 has tejas for jyotis. 5 is a unique statement. water. and bliss are attained in succession. breath. 29 . and when the brahmanical system. a person [purusa] is fivefold. Vedanta-sutras. 5 sa esa pdhkto yajiah pdnktah pasuh pdnktah purusah pdhktam idam sarvamryad idam kim ca / tad idam sarvam dpnoti ya evam veda. has agni. panca mahdbhutdni prthivi vdyur dkdaa dpo jyot. identical to his "Self-to-be" ? In fact. and light. ever preoccupied with the creation of new beings from old and the proper establishment of man in the universe. when the whole range of ancient Indian expressions demonstrates a predilection for triads modeled upon the triadic cosmos. an innovation in upanisadic numerical symbolism? On the contrary.17 declares "this sacrifice is fivefold [pdnkta].7).. Everything.4 Elsewhere (TU. the selves (dtman-)3 consisting of food. if not equitably distributed among them. Indra. knowledge. which derives the five in succession from the dtman to make a fivefold purusa. insists ChU. 2. On leaving this world. we find the same Gautama.4. In another important upanisad.8.3 defines the dtman not only as Brahma. and all the gods. and ananda-maya.1-5. all this world. now transfigured to an articulate and esoterically knowledgeable father-guru. 2. while TU. categorically declaring to 8vetaketu an orthodox triad of elements as the essential basis of all beings. identical to his "self." and a replication of the triadic cosmos.. 1. The series here is anna-. whatever there is.6 3 For the benefit of the general reader. Does this suggest that the "five-fire doctrine" in ChU. 6. although one in origin. if we turn to the very next lesson of the Chandogya text. space (dkdsa). thought.."5 And Aitareyaupanisad 3. Prajapati.

Cosmogony. such as allusions to the fivefold sacrifice (yajnam . Elsewhere. KS.3-5).29 the five directions (pradis-) are mentioned. vital breaths (prdna-).10. In 9. MS. KS. bandhu-. Three Fires.) with the pentadic winds (vdta-). and on the grandest of srauta scales. paicadhi. 1.1. Nor is there a lack of pentads in the samhitas. sampad-. etc.5. 1. the painkti meter). 30 .15. Although each brahmana reveals such expressions.8. the agnicayana demonstrates the fivelayered macro-microcosmic correspondence. one-third of which is devoted to the agnicayana (the ritual construction of and speculation upon the five-layered fire altar).) nature of man (AiB. according to TS. PB. 2. 39. five quarters. was a fivefold process.13. Viraj (8. some twenty-five references to the "five peoples" (or 7 pancabhir dhdtd vi dadhdv idam yat. that is preoccupied with pentavalent symbolisms. To this brahmana and its rites we shall return.117. meters or syllables (e.10. pancin. Kapisthala 8. On the other hand.3.13. . etc. etc. it is above all the Satapatha-brahmana.7.). the sacrifice (yajia).5) or white-footed sheep (3. in the rites for renewing the sacred fires. 1. pancavidha. 1. etc. 14. regions or directions (dis-). A mystical series of five (pahkti) seems also to be indicated by 10. lacking as they do the liturgical context and selfanalysis of many later texts.86. The Atharvaveda also reveals a share of pentadic rites and speculations. and those that occur.2-5.1-2. as in the combinations of five grain-cake offerings (on limbs and navel) of the sacrificial goat (9. The Rgveda itself is more reluctant than the ritual texts to reveal pentadic expressions.6. the sacrifice (yajna) itself being declared fivefold (TS. or in speculations upon such divinities as the androgynous primordial being. etc.g. 2.12.1. pacaydmam) in 10.15.10). 5. 8. five peoples. in the Taittiriya-samhita version as in the Satapatha-brahmana.124. seasons (rtu-).52.. cf.26. and again obliquely in 2.6) begins by establishing ghee as the cosmic ground for the five winds. are characteristically susceptible to more than one interpretation.. Five Fires Centuries earlier the brahmanas had made statements concerning the "fivefold" (pdhkta.4 and 10.29). The five directions may be implied in the obscure verse 1. five seasons. The sacrificer's part in the new-and-full-moon rites (TS.5. on to the very five layers (dhdtu-) or forms (rupa-) of the cosmos itself. MS.One Fire. 4.4.10)..57 (and MS. the sacrificer represents himself in five grain-cake offerings on five potsherds. his cosmic correspondences (niddna-. KS.

and paica mdnusah. B. a resumption of the preexistent fivefold space-time. there are pancayatana temples with four shrines surrounding a fifth central one. and especially the Pfaicaratra sect. Even the sacred texts themselves may be constructed pentadically. we see that the Chandogya five-fire doctrine. Samkhya-Yoga. This is important not only for our understanding of Vedic rites and speculations.. Then. s." a conception found elsewhere as well. the ritual use of the five jewels (panca-ratna) or five sacred leaves (paica-pallava). is by no means a unique departure from orthodox tripartite man-firesacrifice-cosmos homologies. as well as the later srdddha-. plus the pair ndda and bindu. Brahma. In the context of myth and iconography. in Buddhism. from the samhitas to the upanisads. panca krstaya4. or their counterparts.9 Such later 8 See A.3). and n. such as pancayatanapujd. although p?ij has long since replaced yajna. for it is precisely upon such a fivefold structure (pentavalent man. There are also the famous five "M's" of tantric ritual (paicamakdra). but also for making sense of the significant legacy of pentadic symbols and expressions in early Hinduism. vol. there come first to mind the classical five daily sacrifices (paica-yajna. cosmos) that the above mystico-liturgical passages appear to center. Man's final sacrifice (antyesti) or funeral. creates a familiar mystical series. located at the "five directions" (cf. has regional variants. AV. but there is not space to discuss them here. Basic paicdyatana to the five deities (Visnu Siva. as in the case of the puranas with their traditional five topics. Macdonell and A.) may be celebrated with the use of five stones. and occasionally the five-stranded bramanical thread (panca-vata) in place of the usual three-stranded one. fire.g. The meditational division of the syllable om into a. A. there are the five faces (pancdnana) of Siva and Brahma in a type of orientation pancavarga with the fifth face toward the zenith. Architecturally. Some appear to indicate a mythical or historical set of five Aryan tribes (Yadus. etc. too. u. Keith. races." that is.v. the five eyes (panca-caksus) of the Buddha. five colors. 9 Important series or groups of fives (paicavarga. 1. Druhyus. panca carsanyah. 3. and the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata as an expressive pancavarga. five combinations of the deities in each of the five directions. See also the pafcasastras of the Vaisnavas. "paica-jandh. and technically the khdlsa is said to exist "where five are gathered. Ritually speaking. some regional variants including the ascension of a fivestepped platform.or pancaka-) are everywhere. One of the five." for various opinions and the citations for the term and its counterparts. that demonstrate the tenacity of the fivefold structure of man and sacrifice. sacrifice.History of Religions tribes.8 Thus.or mahdyajna-) of orthoprax Hinduism. however innovative for upanisadic prefigurations of samsdra.24. In Samkhya-Yoga and in the ascetic traditions. The marriage samskdra also has a share of pentadic symbols. Pentads also occur in Sikh rites. devayajna (devapfjd). who is also frequently depicted with five rays of light emanating from his head. Most important in sectarian Hinduism are the explanations for the five-staged manifestations of supreme being (e. Jainism. The divine 31 . the five breaths have ritual significance as do the five heating fires (paica-tapas) of the ascetic. etc. there are the five ritual products of the cow (paica-gavya). involves symbols of five and reveals the fact that "death" itself is a literal return to "fiveness. while other references may be to mankind in general. panca ksitayah. etc. 1912). Vedic Index of Names and Subjects (London: J. Anus. nations?) occur throughout the ten mandalas. P&rus). the five foods of immortality (paincmrta). Murray. the vyiha doctrine of the Paficaratras) or the five actions (pancakrtya) by which the sacred projects itself. Turvasas.

including fire. J. along with his contemporary Caland. Hopkins. 284-309. 528-29. in his brief remarks on "The IndoEuropean Numeral for 'five' and Hittite panku. are the principles that operate in the growth and formation of these symbols and the religious statements and notions they seek to convey. Keith. See also Abbott's Appendix E. J. "Numbers (Aryan). neglected by hermeneutics. THE IMAGERY OF "X PLUS ONE" It is remarkable. as we have seen. There is also the lesser known Fivefold Path. 1932)." ibid. E. displayed and/or brahmanical partition of the sacrificial body (animal. see n. no more remarkable in themselves than the triads. Hastings (Edinburgh: T. spar4a. The paica-mahdpdtaka. the declaration of the five colors (panca-varna) corresponding to the five gross elements. the organs of action and of sense (pancendriya). "The Power of the Cardinal Points.10 who. of course. that the Buddha passed through the five forms of existence (apparently a parallel of the post-samhita panca-jana-) and was therefore Pafcagatisamatikranta. Abbott. Clark.. Heesterman et al. It is imperative for historians of religion to review the Vedic substrata and perceive essential religious structures and meanings."' in Pratiddnam. human. the pancangika-magga of the Pali texts. At the other end of the Indian chronology. karma-. rupa. C. the chapter on "The Power of Numbers" in J. the fundamental code of the Buddhists. At the monastic level the Buddha also advised the proper use of the paicabala. 1968). and so forth. and the five vows of the Jains. Pentads occur in the ethical texts as well." Journal of the American Oriental Society 16 (1896):275-81. Polome. pp. discusses the hand with its five fingers as the basis for the proto-Indo-European system of 32 . 10 A. Muslim." Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. the five forces.. divine) into five. and gandha) produce the five gross elements (mahdbhfta-. assembled a great deal of information on contemporary Hindu. pp. the five aggregates (skandha-) that make up what the non-Buddhist calls the individual became a point of departure for every school of metaphysics. What should be noteworthy. that the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics article on number symbolism by Keith. Although the Buddhists did not include dkdsa among the mahdbhata-. Here he follows E. 9:407-13.are. and Manu discusses as well the five life-destructive kitchen implements. We recall. 98-101.'all. ed. Five Fires pancavarga. rasa. and prdna-) distinct from the sthula-sarira's single series of five bhita-. are well known. "Numerical Formulae in the Veda and Their Bearing on Vedic Criticism. after a rough century's harvesting with the implements of the textual critics. is part of the background of upanisadic elaborations. The Keys of Power: A Study of Indian Ritual and Belief (London: Methuen. ed. for which expiation must be made. especially since large and fertile areas of the Vedic corpus have lain fallow. too. which also omits five. 1917). or heptads so frequently encountered in the same schools or sects and their literatures. both following the brahmanical pattern. considering our foregoing review. Three Fires. The five subtle elements (tanmdtra-) of the Sam. the "five deadly sins" of the dharma-sastras (also known to the Buddhists). while some Vedanta traditions explained the suksma-sarira as a threefold set of pentads (jidna-. (The Hague: Mouton & Co. however. B. and assorted village and regional beliefs and practices concerning "five." but made no attempt to connect them with anything beyond current popular articulation. tetrads.One Fire. pp.khyan tradition (sabda. such as the paica-slla. allowing but four. and these are continued with fivefold divisions of the subtle as well as the gross elements. demonstrating a clear continuity with Vedic cosmology and ontology. & T. 6 above). W.

with its lengthy introductions and notes.). discusses "three" and "seven" at length but ignores "five" entirely. 14 A. ou sont du moins. pp. decomposes dans certains passages en deux parties. 11 H. the sacred totality that is Prajapati (KB. 1919). 1883).Veda (Paris: F. as with the thirteenth month being the "total" year (AB. Oldenberg's sections on "die Zahlen"11 and "das eine und die drei Opferfeuer" 12 are of little use where understanding five is concerned. 15 Ibid.History of Religions the greatest acumen of any Western scholar in the full literary expanse of sruti. 13 Including P. including a stringent imposition of the characters of Agni and Soma and a male-female dichotomy upon the Vedic ideology." I am indebted to Alfred Hiltebeitel for bringing this article to my attention. we must go back to Bergaigne's "l'arithmetique mythologique"14 for some fundamental insights into the Vedic world view. G. p. his understanding of Vedic man's quest for cosmic orientation and an interpretation of the correspondences that the numeration and offers parallels in Bantu and Nama. two of his insights concern us here-first. pp. the formation of sacred numbers by a principle that we shall label "x plus one": Plusieurs des nombres mythologiques du Rg-Veda paraissent s'etre formes par addition d'une unite a un nombre deja consacre. Die Religion des Veda. ce qui revient au meme pour l'etude des conceptions religieuses des Rishis. and his focus upon the Rgveda in splendid isolation from its ritual and speculative textual colleagues. La religion vedique d'apres les hymnes du Rig.13 Actually. 46-50. the latter a Hottentot language in which the numeral "five" is also the word for "whole.15 And second. seventeen (sixteen plus one). 1923). as with the transcendent half-month that again comprises a new. complete year. dont l'une est un nombre consacre et l'autre l'unite. 33 . Despite his preoccupation with a few favored themes. but he does relate Hittite panku. 2:114-56. 12 H. And Eggeling's twenty years of labor on the 8atapatha-brahmana translation. 123. 4th ed. left the basic pentadic symbolism of the agnicayana for the probing of others.). Among the familiar examples of the extension of the principle into the brahmanas are the numbers thirteen (twelve plus one). 345-51. Bergaigne's great effort deserves far more attention than it has received. 1935). Oldenberg. (Stuttgart: J. twenty-five (twenty-four plus one). and the same is true of the works of Hillebrandt and Macdonell. Bergaigne. Bergaigne was the first to articulate clearly and comprehensively the Vedic doctrine of cosmic correspondences. Vorwissenschaftliche Wissenschaft: Die Weltanschauung der Brdhmana-Texte (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Mus's remarks in the preface and elsewhere in his Barabudur (Paris: Paul Geuthner." Sanskrit panca does not enter his discussion.. Cotta'sche. In particular. In general. Vieweg. "all." originally an adjective and often used substantively to express "totality. Oldenberg. whole.

34-39. One need only consult the "offerings to the numbers" utilized in the asvamedha (TS. pp. 129 ff. "The Number Sixteen.. van Buitenen. J. Conn. B.One Fire." in Change and Continuity in Indian Religion (The Hague: Mouton & Co.. and the number seventeen is the nearly private domain of Prajapati. the size of the number is irrelevant. and "The Large Atman. pp.e. 176-77. where numbers from one to 100 and 1. Translation and Commentary (The Hague: Mouton & Co." 18Although his point is clear. Letterkund. x plus one equals totality) is of greater significance than its size. 71 (Amsterdam. Held.17 In his "Excursus on the Symbolism of Numbers" it is Heesterman who ventures to say that numbers are "neutral" and "have no specific value in themselves. 1935)." 16 Among the few who have appreciated and utilized Bergaigne's contributions at these points have been the prolific Vedic scholars in the Netherlands. pp. Five Fires Rgveda establishes between the five directions and the "five races.R. the dyads through the pentads and septads. ed. pp.. J.000 to "ten hundred thousand million.2. have deliberately private experiences to reveal. the successors to Caland. Three Fires.. F. four. and passim.." But we must also recognize that the series most frequently resorted to in Vedic expression. Bender (New Haven. 123 ff. that the formation of a number (i. Norman Brown. pp. "The Three Strides of Visnu. Visnu admits a mystical relationship to the series three. with Text. 240. 1962). and pentads precisely because they declare the ontology and cosmic orientations of Vedic man.: American Oriental Society. C. Ibid. J. I beg to differ on the matter of neutrality. Gonda. "wurde als ein brahman (heilige Formel) geehrt. 18 Heesterman. some are decidedly more "equal" than others. The Maitrdyanzya Upanisad: A Critical Essay. 115-30. The Ancient Indian Royal Consecration (The Hague: Mouton & Co. 137-51. The Mahdbhdrata: An Ethnological Study (London: Kegan Paul. "Die Zahlenreihe. tetrads. Trubner. B. 7. Afd. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. Heesterman. J.. They are there because they are departures from unity. for example." History of Religions 4 (1964): 103-14." in Indological Studies in Honor of W. 1962). As a number is in itself neutral. N. and five have priority in Vedic texts. Trench. 125-27. 1957). G." as Oldenberg expressed it.. 34-35. It is apparent that a Vedic delight in numerical symbolism and the doctrine of homologies combine to assure an incredible fluidity in the application of numerology within the rites and speculations.. There is little doubt that three. Kuiper. . It is the point of our essay here that the major religious expressions of the Vedic texts reveal these basic triads. It is readily apparent that specific numbers have special mythico-ritual spheres of influence.11-20). 1965). 1965): 130-31. for example. 17 See. E." with only moderate omissions. are praised. and The Savayajnas. J. But if all numbers are (neutrally) equal. pp. 34 16 . A.

cannot precisely disclose). "four" is the horizontal cosmos. TRANSCENDENCE OR SUBORDINATION Three is of course the dyad plus one and. pp. were forced to surrender. Indra said dvau.5. then the true expression of five is. the unitive source that lies beyond the pale of human perception (RV. a totality succeeding duality. said eka. 7. and Indian expressions are a constant reminder that this should be so. "Two: Its Significance in the Rgveda. 114-17. is one into the zenith. 139-40. with all three worlds and all four quarters. a cynosure that four. orientation for ascension.19 But it is also mythically true 19 See Kuiper. no further homology can be allowed. If the religious statement of three is ascension. pp. The facility of five lies in this expansion and comprehension: at its center it expands the verticality of the triad.History of Religions each in a special mode. the cosmos in plan. Kramrisch. "two" (masculine). and the asuras matched it with ekcd. It is our contention here that each of the basic triadic. and. On the "primordial totality" see also M. helpless without a correspondent to panca."one" (feminine). 1.6-16 relates a myth to seize this point exactly.5. and pentadic series makes a unique statement. 35 . and the asuras. 1965). one that provides transcendent closure to the world view. Indra. The center of five then is in communication. and the asuras doggedly countered with dve.4. Eliade. it surpasses the orientational values of the tetrad. "two" (feminine). after he ranges from earth to heaven. and the competition took the form of matching numerical pairs. "five" (masculine and feminine). Mephistopheles and the Androgyne (New York: Sheed & Ward. having previously failed to decide a physical one. and "five" is quite simply both at once and therefore the most complete expression of all. Satapatha-brahmana 1. still discernible within the convolutions and contradictions of the texts. S. in the same volume. and therefore correspondence (bandhu). 109-36.155. gamesman for the gods. tetradic. stretching to the four points of space. reaching outward. the cosmos envisioned in elevation. The devas and asuras became engaged in a verbal contest. reaching as it does to the third and highest world. and by the very declaration of a protected and integrated center." pp. into the total mystery. The match continued through "threes" and "fours" until the moment when Indra uttered panca. a navel (ndbhi. At such a point of comprehension. and of four orientation.99. as we shall see. "Wide-striding" Visnu's third step. therefore.1). "Three" is the vertical cosmos. "one" (masculine).

" the mid-space. arms. 6. There is then perhaps another dimension to consider in "x plus one. In RV. the hotr.) three seasons (spring. the absolute creative power. Vac has three parts that are hidden (guhd)." If we look to "four. heaven and earth. Now antariksa can scarcely be a "totality" that encompasses. extended themselves by a "manifest" fourth without disturbing their primordial integrity. Vac. But the feet/lftdra varna have no deity and no season. Similarly. between the heaven that was "propped up" and the earth that was "spread out. Three Fires. and rains). are augmented by a diminutive fourth. in the cosmogonic Purusasfukta (RV.1. and sdman-. Later. The transcendent or unmanifest fourth. we can see other vulnerable tetrads. there occurred between this pair that was no longer one. Five Fires that. It is a gap. and Visve Devah ) and (in TB. that is to say. and loins that produce the upper three varna-. Purusa. Matching the three upper parts of the god and the three upper social classes of men are three deities (Agni.6-11 provide illustrations of the incompleteness of such a fourth.90). are all hidden triads that have. adhvaryu. "x plus a subordinate or interstitial one" as well as "x plus a transcendent one.1. the fourth mahartvij whose supervisory capacity demonstrates his summation of and superiority over the other three. just as brachmansummarizes and surpasses the rc-.One Fire. on the other hand.45.164. the classical set of "four vedas" is really an artificial construction by those who appended the Atharvaveda-samhita to an existing triadic canon. while a fourth (turiya). only a fourth of Purusa's real extent is manifest. the mouth. succeeds. obviously debased. and brahman. significant Vedic or Hindu series of fours that reveal an essential triad complemented by a subordinate fourth. summer. yajus-. The addition of a subordinate fourth to a cosmic triad is easily illustrated. after That One (tad ekam) became two. is human speech. and udgdtr. in the same manner as Visnu's third invisible stride. the feet that are the source of the lowly suidra class. 10. 36 . in the set of darama-. 1. it is remarkable to see how this bifurcation took effect." the number that completes the triad as well as the number of primary orientation to the quarters of the earth. For example. 7. the upper three parts of the primordial sacrifice victim." that is. is illustrated in Vedic ritual by the role of the brahman. In that manifestation. the samnydsin displays such a transcendent role in a (fourth) stage of life that is literally a 20 TS.20 With this model. In various discussions of cosmogony. in creation.1. the atmosphere (antariksa).4-5 and TB. and completes the duality of heaven and earth. a breathing space. an interstice. Indra.

as "the fourth (state)" of the yogin who attains total reintegration and the transcendence of conscious states." man and woman. centering fifth-five can also be a formation of (1) an extended triad. 1961). sarnjnd. is not here assigned to the east. 111. 20 above. The Theory and Practice of the Mandala (London: Rider. and suvas).5. in addition to being the figure of terrestrial orientation par excellence -a tetrad plus the completing.18. both within the sacrificer's own body: prdna.22 On the other hand. summer. 22 Again. for parallels of Vac as the fourth sound beyond the vydhrti-. e. in the Hindu caturvarga. 4 above). and vydna and gdrhapatya. bhuvas. five-fire doctrine. on mahas as the transcendent fourth beyond the vydhrti-. and dhavaniya are the two essentially correlative triads. the supreme breath.g. 117. and vaisya classes are assigned. We have already witnessed with our point of departure in the ChU. the three great ritual utterances (bhir. Alex Wayman.can be seen as a triad (vedand. and the vanaprastha. and for other upanisadic tetrads from TU. as in the example in n. 2.23 21 See also van Buitenen. taking the TU. 1. and autumn. After the brahmana. has pointed out that the five Buddhist skandha.(n.. the grhastha. the triad with a transcendent pair is illustrated in the psycho-physical series of the five "sheaths" or kosa.8 declares the correspondence between the five breaths and the five ritual fires. the supreme quarter and the locale of the offering fire. One notes that traditional priorities have been changed. rathakdra in the rains and "all varna-" in the cool season (is'ira). atmosphere. and samskdra) with extensions at each end (ripa and vijnina). as prdna. See also G. 23 Another type of "extension" may also be considered. appended by uddna/sabhya fire and samanad/vasathya fire. vijndna-maya and dnandamaya surmount the anna-maya. And turiya is well known. of Columbia University. artha. respectively. "Large Atman. and heaven. In a communication to me on this subject. So. too. and turiya as the psychical fourth beyond jdgrat. daksindgni. heart. illustrations occur with comparative hierarchies for guidelines. were appended below the triad of cosmic fires. or (2) an expanded triad. prdna-maya. Bharadvaja-srauta-sfitra 5. mano-maya series. 37 . heaven-atmosphere (in the guise of "Parjanya")-earth. rajanya. the three aims of life (kdma. svapna. summer (or winter). to the invisibility that lies beyond the brahmacdrin. either (a) three plus a transcendent pair or (b) three plus a subordinate pair.2 gives the seasons when members of the varna. moksa is the transcendent aim over and above the trivarga. such a pentad constructed by extending an accepted triad: in that case. brahmarandhra as the microcosmic fourth beyond sexual organs.should set up their srauta fires. in which. and brain. The common series of five seasons may also reveal such a reduction to an essential triad (spring. and susupti. a subordinate pair of divine "fires.1-4. with no further definition. Baudhayana-dharma-sutra 2. seem to be artificially tacked on. the spring. the next two." p. Tucci. and autumn or rains) with a subjacent pair." it is apparent that many of the pentads we reviewed above are also vulnerable in that an essential tripartition is barely concealed within them. brdhman as the macrocosmic fourth beyond earth. dharma).8 listing. apdna.History of Religions return to the unmanifest.21 Turning again to "five. This means that. p. three opened up to include two insertions.

the assembled fire altar thus permitting the 38 . "light") triad. And the goat. the offering fire (dhavaniya) is heaven (cf." respectively. and heaven. FIVE IS THREE IS ONE It is in the clarity.1. Three Fires. The animal victim. represents the sacrificer. Vedic man himself. is a tripartite body.. 10. the triadic cosmos. too. 32.VS.4. this time spaced out to allow vdyu ("wind" or "air") and dpas ("water") in the second and fourth "levels. 18. two limbs or "wings. like the sacrificer. The domestic fire (gdrhapatya) is the earth.5) stresses this ascension theme of the triad with the sacrifice of a goat and five rice offerings.1. Most expressive of all the rites that display this unity in trinity in fivefoldness is the agnicayana. At the same time. SB. in the order in which they occur in Aitareya-upanisad 3. growth.9). the prophylatic fire (dakcsingni) is atmosphere. can be seen in the five elements themselves (n.1.36. 6 above). We see again.9).3." At the same time.4). The sacrifice victim is laid out in plan with a navel (ndbhi) or central body (dtman) surrounded by an oriented tetrad of a head.3. and all three being "fire.20. his innards. The goat. the major srauta rites maintain the visibility of the essential triadic skeleton: Agni is threefold (RV. The mysterious five steps (panca paddni) upward from the navel of rta are in the primary Vedas already a subject of speculative contrast with the three steps (trini paddni) upward (cf.2) and has three sacred locations (RV. mid-space.3). he simultaneously represents Agni.40.3. and his back corresponding to earth. the design of orientation for ascension is prominent. 2. In setting out his sacrificial fires (the agnyddhdna). Five Fires The third type of hidden triad. 3. the fivefold structure of the agnyddhdna is underscored (SB.2. RV. man is also tripartite fire. his breast. A long Atharvaveda-samhita hymn (9. and continuity of the doctrine of sacrifice that we may best perceive the meaning of this "spacedout" pentadic stepladder to the beyond. the three classes of men. and the one that best illustrates the expansive character of the pentad when employed as a kind of axis mundi linking the lowest and highest modes of being. and his own sacrifice-self. 4. as in the Atharvavedic goat sacrifice or the agnyddhdna. the victim is declared "fivefold" and an integrator of the quarters. the earthdkdsa-heaven (jyotis. as sacrifice-being. as unity. 2. 2. is "heaven bound" (svar-ga).One Fire. 12. Persistently. mid-space. including the five ingredients and the fivefold nature of the attendant animal sacrifice (as in AV.1.1. the ceremonial reconstitution in five sections (in plan)24 and five layers (in elevation) of Agni24 Again. AV. above).2). Since man is "in yajiabandhu" with Agni (RV." and a tail.13.

4. cf.30. animal. tortoise. The skeletal nature of courses one. The five layers are in SB. boar. 29-33. expressions as that of 10.1. wood. although still derivative from such SB.3. and it is the task of the agnirahasya.. food (=soma. crab. The construction. 6. soma substitutes. Taittiriya-samhita 4. the eagle who flies to and from heaven) homology to be declared. These svayamdtrnnd. 5.2 concerns itself with the search for Agni25 in preparation for the agnicayana and affords a variation in 3 Offering fire HEAVEN | 5 Soma (food) I 2 Southern fire ATMOSPHERE | | 4 Plant (wood) \ . istakd.series in the TU. 55. its symbolic declarations. in heaven). pp. courses) ?" asks 8B.33. to permit the sight of heaven. in mid-space). For the continuation of this speculation on the pentadic purusavidhah in the upanisads (TU. where the triad of worlds becomes a pentad by the addition of a transcendent pair of citi-. respectively. see van Buitenen. ChU. or course of bricks). of the TU. rat. interfering with neither breathing nor sighting through.2. 2." particularly in connection with the search for Agni. Thus. 1 2 Animal 1 Earth anthropomorph-bird (syena. mole. Maitrayaniya-upanisad 6.4. the "animal" and "plant" layers have become interstices expanding the triad. antelope. The implication is that layers two and four are ephemeral stuff.2. according to TS. goat. passim. and five is reinforced by the references to "naturally perforated" bricks. to explain such correspondence. the cosmic Person who once projected (dismembered) himself into being.11-13).2. This speculation appears in a part of the Maitrayaniyaupanisad understood by van Buitenen to be older than the TU. 25 One of the more intriguing but unstudied motifs in Vedic myth-ritual is that of the "earth diver.1. gold (= sun. Maitrdyaniya Upanisad.8. etc. series.1.2.History of Religions Prajapati.5. is paralleled in the Maitrayaniyaupanisad: a vertical triad is extended from its pentadically defined base into a vertical pentad by the addition of the transcendent pair (4) dtmavid and (5) brahman. Zoological figures (ant.are placed at the center of three of the five layers in order to allow the sacrifice person "to breathe" and also. 1 3 Sun (gold) 1 1 Domestic fire EARTH I FIG. the prefiguration of the paicakosa. 39 . the mystery of the fire altar. equivalent to (4) vijidnamaya dtman and (5) dnandamaya dtman. three. and its skeleton of the normal three-fire system and three-leveled cosmos appear in figure 1. lotus) form a cosmogonic complex that explains the findings of a micropresence and from it the establishment of a foundation (pratisthd) of earth upon the primeval waters.31 declared as earth. how does it happen that he is five (bricks. "If Agni is one (sacrificial brick. For example.1. 6.) and botanical symbols (soma.

A. we have the following pentad: earth (clay dug up by a boar). is an anthropomorphic. Manava. Astonishingly. Three Fires. i.e. urvdzi?ta. the statement here." 27 We have made no mention of pentadic symbols older than the Rgvedic expressions. B. Animals vohufrydna 1. then continues with the praise of the fires barazisavah. the fire that strikes the demon spanjagrya who hinders rainfall (cf. Heaven barszisavah urvdzista 4. is parallel to the reconstitution of Agni-Prajapati. There is little to suggest proto-Indo-European substrata. the further elaboration in the Pahlavi Bundahisn 18) opens with a standard invocation of Fire.1. and food. cosmic order. and loins modeled from the three clay balls.1. for Baudhayana the milk is the fifth ingredient and is addressed when placed as "the seed of Prajfpati. the son of Ahura Mazda. the fire of lightning in the clouds. Five Fires this pentadic tower. the Avesta. then.26 These five substances are the components of the clay that is ritually lumped together to form three balls and. 56-57) actually specifies only the first four of these ingredients. with its head. and the fire that works on earth. and Katyayana all supply goat's milk. trunk. since we have noted that Vedic and then Hindu myths. water. Plants 2. if our analysis of the five substances in series is not mistaken. and food (goat's milk). it is an assembly of five to make three to make one. however. the iconic mahdvira figure. Respectively. But Baudhayana. 1968].One Fire. truth. the atmospheric waters: 3. 4. the layers are established on a lotus leaf "afloat" on a black antelope skin: earth (clay from an anthill). vohufrydna. Videvdat 19. It requires no stretch of the imagination to see that we have here the five ingredients collected in the cosmogonic search for Agni in TS. unlike that well-known hierarchy of the ams'a spanta(in which fire is specifically in correspondence with asa. the fire in the bodies of men and animals. van Buitenen.2 and the same pentadic series. If we are meant here to understand a hidden correspondence between gold and the earth procured from an anthill (the classical nuggets mined by ant miners ?). from the bottom up. that we discussed in the agnicayana and the pravargya myth-rites. Earth spani?ta Thus. His creation. pattern assigns gold (the sun) as the representative of the atmospheric mid-space. The Pravargya: An Ancient Indian Iconic Ritual Described and Annotated [Poona: Deccan College. in heaven.. a soma substitute). rites. Water vdzista 2. The mahdvira pot. and speculations develop an increasing proliferation of fivefold symbols while holding onto the preeminent triadic and unitive structures. animal (hairs from a goat or black antelope). with water in the atmospheric (third) level and gold in the second level. with parts rearranged. Still another variant of this ritual collection of layers is that of the sitras which set out the details of the pravargya. plants. pp. gold (anthill earth). while in general displaying far less interest than the Rgveda in pentadic expressions. The {B. gold. consequently. while in the Yasna it is the rain clouds. Atmosphere 3.135). Earth 1. does suddenly deliver in the midst of all the favored triadic formulas a precise cosmogonic speculation based upon a hierarchy of five fires! This occurrence creates an intriguing problem. vdzista. these are the fire that is before the Lord. plants (putika. Yasna 17. and 40 . the fire in trees and plants. Heaven 5.27 26 Apastamba-srautasfitra 15. In order. dtar. and spsnista.8-14 (see J. trileveled cosmos.1-10 (cf.

the former attempts to reconcile the hidden triad by declaring that "they [the three parts of Agni] become five through the correspondences [te paica sampadd bhavanti . is that fire is in all the cosmic elements. amounts to an affirmation of his very presence in every element. and the five bodily parts all were collected to establish the one great fire signaling a return to the mystery of unmanifest being.History of Religions Again.52.25). with a highest "king of fires" that could be seen as transcendent fourth. the "collecting" and reassembly of Agni (and the sacrificer and the cosmos). 28 Svetasvatara-upanisad 2.50) and from his nature as Purusa with one spirit in five places (VS. the five regions (space). a drama as complicated as the agnicayana itself. the five elements. the five victims (mankind). 23.11 if.D. Ann Arbor. 23.12: prthvpypyatejo'nilakhe samutthite pancdtmake yoga-gune pravrtte / na tasya rogo na jard na mrtyuh prdptasya yogdgni-mayam sariram. University of Chicago. See chap. 41 . 8B. To realize his unity. to return to the Satapatha-brahmana and the agnicayana. Mich.. and there is no death for him whose body is made of the one fire of yoga. The sacrificer then has become one fire (Agni). The great rite dissolves then into a recognition that the "search" for Agni. or the myth-ritual collecting of sixteen (or seventeen) fires. There is not space here to discuss other important dimensions such as the Iranian correspondence of three hierarchical fires and social classes. 2 of my Tapas and Correspondence: The Religious Significance of Heat in Ancient India (Ph. 1971..1.). diss.]" (6. He has collected and controlled and transcended the fivefoldness. This is precisely the Vedic statement regarding Agni. 13.5. . returned from his nature as Visnu with one body in three places (VS.28 justice).2. cf.3. the five seasons (time). the five breaths. University Microfilms.).

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