By Swami Harshananda
Adbhuta Brāhmaṇa literally means wonderful or strange Brāhmaṇa.
Each of the four Vedas are broadly divided into two sections :
- Mantra - containing prayers and hymns.
- Brāhmaṇa - containing applications of these mantras in rituals
The Adbhuta Brāhmana forms the sixth chapter of the Sadvimśa Brāhmana, which itself is one of nine versions of the Sāmaveda Brāhmaṇas currently available. The first five chapters of the Sadvimśa Brāhmana deal with the ceremonies and rituals connected with the Somayāgnas. While the sixth chapter deals with a strange phenomena like ill-omens and the expiatory rites that help offset their effects. The sixth chapter is commonly referred to as "adbhuta".
There are references about the Sadvimśa Brāhmana originally consisting of only five chapters and the sixth i.e., the Adbhuta Brāhmana being appended to it later on. The Adbhuta Brāhmana deals with adbhuta-śāntis or appeasement of portents. This is further divided into twelve khaṇḍas or sections. The various portents describe the rites to perform for the appeasement of the gods like Indra, Yama, Varuṇa and Viṣṇu.
The list of portents range from the breaking or damage of household articles for no reason to natural calamities like earthquakes, destruction of crops and the fall of meteors. The list also mentions the happening of many unnatural and improbable phenomena. The śānti rites are usually sacrificial oblations with suitable mantras addressed to appease the deity.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore