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World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) (17th : 2018)

Similes and Metaphors in the Agnihotra of Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa Das Gupta, Mau


The discussion on Agnihotra in Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa is strewn with numerous similes and metaphors, quite comparable to those used in other Brāhmaṇas during similar discussion. According to the Vedas, asceticism and sacrifice can give the gods and the sages the extraordinary ability to see the secret and enigmatic realities like sacred texts, rituals, and identities. The ordinary mortals cannot see that (cf. TS V.3.5.4, KS VIII.3; MS I.8.1; III.6.3; ŚB IV.2.1.26; AB I.6). The magic identifications are the central objects of the “pre-scientific science” of the Vedic rituals (Oldenberg 1919: 110ff.). In the Prāṇāgnihotra sacrifice, the concrete ritual acts are replaced by corresponding psychic acts in the mind of the sacrificer (Bodewitz 1973: 211ff). In the journey from the actual Agnihotra to the mental Prāṇāgnihotra, similes and metaphors play an important part to symbolize the offering, the deities, the sacrificer and the fire. Comparisons formed with particles like yathā or iva often occur in the Brāhmaṇas that point to the use of similes and metaphors as tools to build the ritual symbols and as keys to know their secret identity. This, according to the Brāhmaṇas, enables the knower to overpower the entities concerned. The present paper attempts to estimate the role of similes and metaphors in Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa in symbolizing the actual Agnihotra ritual to the mental sacrifice called “Prāṇāgnihotra.” It also tries to explore the innovative similes and metaphors in Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa that eventually were forgotten in the clichéd lists of upamā and rūpaka of Classical Sanskrit literature.

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