By Swami Harshananda
Ekāgnikāṇḍa literally means ‘section dealing with a person having one fire’.
Significance of Kalpasutras
The Vedāṅgas or ‘limbs of the Vedas’ are important subsidiary works that help the student of the Vedas not only to understand them but also perform the various rites mentioned therein correctly. The Kalpasutras are one of the six such Vedāṅgas.
The Āpastamba Kalpasutras is one of the oldest among the Kalpasutras. It belongs to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. The 25th and the 26th praśnas or prapāṭhakas or sections of this work are together called Ekāgnikānda or Mantrapātha. Sometimes it is shown as the 31st and the 32nd section also. There is a well-known commentary by Haradatta Miśra (A. D. 1100) on the Ekāgnikānda.
The word might have it's roots from the fact that all the rites and rituals dealt here concern an average householder keeping one fire (= eka + agni), the gārhapatya fire or the gṛhyāgnī.
The first chapter comprises 131 mantras spread over 18 khaṇḍas or sections. The second section has 356 mantras in 22 khaṇḍas. Almost all the topics described here belong to the field of dharmaśāstras.
Concept of Ekāgnikānda
Ekāgnikānda describes the sanskāras or sacraments of:
- Vivāha - marriage
- Upanayana - investiture with the sacred thread and allied rites
- Samāvartana - graduation from the guru-kula
- Śrāddhas - obsequial rites
- Rites connected with a pregnant mother and the new born child
- Rites connected with the building of a new house
- Offering of cooked food prepared from the first agricultural crop
- Various kinds of japa
- Several religious rituals to offset the evils that befall one in life
- Other rituals to get desires fulfilled
- Few other minor rites
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore