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Usasti Cākrāyaṇa

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Uṣasti Cākrāyaṇa was an young brāhmaṇa priest who lived in the Ibhyagrāma[1] Once the crops of that area were destroyed by hailstorms resulting in a severe famine. Uṣasti secured a few forest beans that were being eaten by a mahout and then managed to go to the place where a king was performing a sacrifice. Seeing that the priests like the prastotā, the udgātā and also the pratihartā[2] were ignorant of the deities connected with the mantras they were to chant, he challenged them to reveal the same. When they fell silent, the king enquired who he was. On knowing his identity, the king was happy since he had been searching for him, without success, to assist in his sacrifice. At the request of the king, Uṣasti Cākrāyaṇa accepted the responsibility of completing the sacrifice.

Later on, at the specific requests of the three priests he taught them the three deities: Prāṇa for prastāva; Āditya for udgītha and Anna for pratihāra. Prastāva, udgītha and pratihāra are the first three of the five fundamental steps in the singing of a sāma chant. The whole episode appears in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad.[3]


  1. Ibhyagrāma is a village inhabited by mahouts.
  2. Pratihartā was the priests representing the Sāmaveda.
  3. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 1.10; 1.11
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore