By Swami Harshananda
Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa is one of the eight Brāhmaṇas of the Sāmaveda. It belongs to the Tāṇḍiśākhā, a recension attributed to the sage Taṇḍi. It is considered as the most important of the eight Brāhmaṇas of the Sāmaveda. It is known by two other names, Pañcavimśa Brāhmana and Praudha Brāhmana.</ref>Since it contains many praudha or advanced and difficult topics.</ref> This Brāhmaṇa is assigned to the period 1400 B. C. and stated to be later than the Taittiriya Brāhmana.
Contents of Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa
- The first chapter deals with the method of selecting the ṛtviks in the Agniṣṭoma sacrifice.
- The second and the third chapters describe various kinds of stoma like trivṛtstoma, pañcadaśastoma and so on.
- The fourth and the fifth chapters describe the Gavāmayana sacrifice, belonging to the sattra group.
- The sixth chapter gives an account of three sacrifices:
- The seventh chapter describes the three savanas, extraction of the soma juice from its creeper, three times during the day.
- The eighth and the ninth sections are devoted entirely to the sāyamsavana, the third extraction.
- Chapters tenth to the fifteenth describe the Dvādaśāha sacrifice.
- Ekāhas are the subject matter of the two chapters, the sixteenth and the seventeen.
- Ahīna sacrifices are described in the chapters twenty to twenty-two.
- A few Sattrayāgas are the subject matter of chapters twenty-two to twenty-five. Here, the total number of yajamānas who are also the priests, varies from 17 to 24. Thus ends this Brāhmaṇa.
Special Features of Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa
Some special features of this scripture may now be noted:
- Names of several sāmans and their seers have been mentioned here.
- Arguments for or against certain modes of sacrifice practiced by the followers of various Vedic recensions like the Bhāllavis or Kauṣitakis are also given.
- Great emphasis has been laid on the performance of sacrifices.
- The fee to be paid to the priests consisted of animals like cows, horses and goats, and, silver or gold as coins or powder.
- The varṇa system had become well-established.
- But even the śudras could become knowers of Brahman by austerity and singing of sāmans.
- Common people sometimes removed their king if he was a bad ruler.
- There is a mention of the word ‘vrātya’ which has given rise to several conjectures. It perhaps refers to those who did not undergo the traditional saṅskāras or sacraments even though they were eligible for the same. They have been called ‘hīna’ also.
- In the last chapter there is a reference to the Sarpasattra by the Sarpas. They were probably followers of the serpent-sect.
- A number of places of geographical significance have been mentioned.
- Some of them are:
- Names of several Vedic meters and also those of several priests of sacrifices are also mentioned.
On the whole, this Brāhmaṇa was composed during a period when the Vedic sacrificial system had attained a high degree of perfection and popularity.
- Since it contains pañcavirñśa or 25 chapters.
- Ṛtviks means priests.
- Stoma is a form of chanting the Rgvedic mantras.
- Ekāhas is the Soma sacrifices that need only one day to perform.
- Yajamānas are the sacrificers.
- Sāmans means mantras of the Sāmaveda.
- Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa 17.1-4
- Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa 25.15.4
- It is a sacrifice.
- It means serpents.
- Vinaśana is the place between Gaṅgā and Yamunā.
- It is the place of origin of the Sarasvatī river.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore