Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa

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c.10th–7th centuries bce)

The Brāhmaṇa attached to the White Yajurveda (the Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā). The largest, most variegated, and most important of the Brāhmaṇas, it exists in two recensions preserved by, respectively, the Mādhyaṃdina śākhā (from the Vājasaneyī Mādhyaṃdina Saṃhitā), and the Kāṇva śākhā (from the Vājasaneyī Kāṇva Saṃhitā). The first five of the fourteen sections of the Mādhyaṃdina are associated with the ṛṣi Yajñavalkya, and appear to have originated in eastern India; the next four sections deal with the agnicayana under the authority of the ṛṣi Śāṇḍilya, and are of northwestern origin; the last section is composed of an Āraṇyaka, which includes, and culminates in, the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad. Like all Brāhmaṇas, the Śatapatha's function is to explicate Vedic ritual (including, inter alia, a lengthy discussion of the aśvamedha), but it also contains much theological, cosmological, and mythological material, and is a major source of information about the nature of Brahmanical religion and society during this period.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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