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What is Satapatha Brahmana in Hinduism?

Satapatha Brahmana is a section of the Vedas and it deals with religious rites and procedures. It is found in the Shukla Yajurveda. The name Satapatha because it contains 100 lessons.  It is believed that the Satapatha Brahmana was composed around 2000 BC.

Satapatha Brahmana is a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. It narrates about sacrifices like Darsa-Pournamasa, Vajapyea, Rajasuya, Cayana, Saturamani and Ashwamedha.

The character of the sacrifices and various other aspects of sacrifices are dealt in detail.

A complete list of things needed and how to perform a sacrifice is found in the text. A few chapter headings from performing Darsapurnamaseshti:
  • Vow of Abstinence
  • Preparation of offerings
  • Leading forth of Pranitah
  • Taking out of rice for the cakes
  • Preparation of strainers and consecration of the rice by sprinkling the lustral water
  • Husking and grinding of the rice
  • Putting on the potsherds
  • Preparation and baking of the cakes
  • Preparation of altar
  • Samishayugas, or throwing way of the grass bush
  • Lines of enclosure
  • Cleaning spoons…
Each and every yajna is presented in such a detailed manner.

The text devotes an entire chapter to the study and dissemination of Knowledge.

The important teaching – Aham Brahamasmi – I am the infinite is found in the text.

It is in the Satapatha Brahmana that the conception of Brahman has acquired a great significance as the supreme principle which is the moving force behind the gods.

Verily, in the beginning, this universe was Brahman. It created the gods, and having created the gods, it made them ascend these worlds: Then the Brahman itself went up to the sphere beyond. Having gone up to the sphere beyond, it considered, ‘How can I descend again into these worlds?’ It then descended again by means of these two, Form and Name. Whatever has name and form extends this universe. These indeed are the two great forces of Brahman; and verily, he who knows these two great forces of Brahman becomes himself a great force.

In the Satapatha Brahmana, it is mentioned that the dead pass between two fires which burn the evil doers but let the good go by. It is also said that everyone is born again after death, is weighed in a balance, and receives reward or punishment as per his/her works on earth.

Notes taken from A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1 By Surendranath Dasgupta