From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Maitrāvaruṇa literally means ‘belonging to Mitra and Varuṇa’.
A Vedic sacrifice needs four principal priests. They are:
Each one of these can have three assistants. Hence the total comes to sixteen, which is the maximum.
Maitrāvaruṇa is an assistant priest attached to the hotṛ. Hotṛ is the first of the four major priests, who are sometimes called ‘mahartvij’.
Maitrāvaruṇa's duty is to recite the hymns to the Vedic deities Mitra and Varuṇa at the prātassavana or morning pressing of the soma juice. Sometimes, he also gives instructions to other priests. He is associated with paśubandha sacrifices, sacrifices involving the immolation of paśus or animals also.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore