Opinion

The Saptapadī Rite of the Hindu Wedding: A Modern Commentary

Of all the Hindu saṃskāras (or ‘rites of passage’ as they are popularly translated), marriage has been one of the most important (1) and the Hindu wedding as a cultural heritage is one of the most visible and iconic cultural symbols of India (e.g., the ‘big fat Indian wedding’). While the Hindu wedding is comprised of numerous customs, rituals, and ceremonies, let us focus on the Saptapadī rite (literally: ‘the seven steps’), which is arguably the most important and indispensable element of the Hindu marriage ceremony from a religious perspective. Throughout the dharmaśāstra tradition, if there is any rite that is uniquely and distinctively the mark of a Hindu wedding, it is the Saptapadī alone. It is held that the seventh step of the Saptapadī is the irrevocable moment of marriage in Hinduism (comparable to the Christian priest’s oral pronouncement of the couple as ‘husband and wife’ as a point of no return), at which point the marriage becomes permanent and indissoluble. Continuing in the spirit of the dharmaśāstra (2), Section 7 of the Hindu Marriages Act, 1955 asserted that a Hindu wedding becomes complete and binding when the seventh step of the Saptapadī is taken.

At its core, the Saptapadī rite consists of the couple taking seven steps in a north-easterly direction in a straight line (either on seven heaps of rice, or betel leaves, or unmarked points) accompanied with seven terse Sanskrit mantras. Yet, behind its simplicity lies an abiding sentiment that stretches back at least three thousand years, and which still resonates strongly with the modern world as intensely as it did at the time. While the meaning and sense of the cryptic mantras are known to the ācāryas who work with prayogaśāstra (the śāstra of ritual), it is rarely understood by the celebrants themselves or by the wider Hindu community. Translations of Hindu vivāha (marriage) rituals tend to stick to the literal sense of the one-word mantras (‘food,’ ‘energy,’ etc.), and consequently fail to grasp the sentiment enshrined within the brevity because they neglect to look at the overarching Vedic symbolisms which frame the Saptapadī. This article therefore undertakes a hermeneutic analysis and forms a modern English-language commentary on the Saptapadī mantras and how they may be understood in the 21st century, both in India as well as globally.

The Saptapadī is often confused with the ‘saat phere’ (literally: ‘seven turns’) that is now also an iconic association of the Hindu wedding. The ‘saat phere’ is the more recognizable rite where the bride and the groom walk around the consecrated fire seven times. Indeed, this imagery of a richly decorated couple walking around the consecrated fire is a globally recognized symbol of Hinduism and the Hindu wedding in particular. But while the Saptapadī may be traced to the Vedic traditions, the ‘saat phere’ are derived from regional and folk customs that were later codified into the smṛtis. The confusion stems from the fact that the Veda actually prescribes only four circumambulations or pradakṣiṇas around the consecrated fire (we priests refer to it as ‘3+1’ or ‘tin aur ek’ as a mnemonic) (3) as a rite which is separate from the Saptapadī. The discrepancy has usually been resolved by yājñikas (ritualists) in different ways in different parts of India. In Bengal, for instance, the bride is carried around the groom seven times in a clockwise direction (‘saat paak’) before the yajña begins, so the ‘three and one’ pradakṣiṇas during the yajña do not pose much of a problem. In northern India, the priest is ritually bound to obey the Vedic rule of ‘three and one’ pradakṣiṇas, yet regional custom and popular expectations demand the visible performance of seven pradakṣiṇas. I had once assisted at a wedding in Mathura where a frantic mother of a bride had insisted to the chief ācārya to ‘not miss the saat phere’. Amused by this, I had leaned in and asked him privately what he would do. “It is of course three and one”, he had said with a chuckle, “but here we make the bride circle the fire three times when she arrives at the ritual enclosure, so the total comes to seven.” Among other ritual styles to bring the total to seven include the mandated ‘three and one’ pradakṣiṇas led by the groom and three extra ones led by the bride.

From the Prayogaśāstra point of view, the above solutions are absolutely correct even if they may sound arbitrary on the part of ritualists. It is often missed by many observers (including most Hindus) that the source of dharma is not the Vedas exclusively; dharma derives from multiple sources, with varying degrees of authority and applicability. There exists a ‘counter-Abrahamic’ anxiety and insecurity – plausibly intensified due to colonial vestiges – to try and legitimize every aspect of Hindu dharma by tracing back to an element in the Vedas (as with the ‘religions of the Book’). But the evolving and assimilating character of Hinduism does not subtract from its provenance, but rather highlights its unique and versatile ability among the world religions to preserve culture difference. The English translation and commentary on the Hindu wedding by R. C. Prasad (1993) (4), which goes to extreme lengths to demonstrate that the seven pradakṣiṇas are traceable to the Vedic sources, reveals this anxiety. Prasad errs in thinking that the practice exists because the śāstra says it; on the contrary, the dictum he cites is itself a recognition and legitimatization of existing custom and not a directive (5). Ācārya Rāmakṛṣṇa in his Saṃskāragaṇapati (6) clearly says ‘netarathāvṛtti’ (p. 306), indicating that there are no more pradakṣiṇas beyond the fourth. The paddhati of Ācārya Rāmadatta similarly stresses that the lājahomapāṇigrahaṇa, and pradakṣiṇa are three-fold: specifically, ‘agnipradakṣiṇatrayam ca sampadyante’, the fourth being implied.

Interestingly though, the widespread confusion between and conflation of the two is actually a great opportunity to observe Hinduism’s syncretic tendencies. Great variation has been observed in Hindu rituals and customs across India over the millennia. It is important to stress that these variations do not refer to one correct ‘Vedic’ version and the rest as corrupting influences, as philology-minded Indologists often tend to think. It is beyond the scope of this article to articulate these regional variations as they exist across the Indic sphere; indeed, dharmaśāstrins and prayogaśāstrins have steered clear of any such enumerative tendency on that point. I will follow that spirit in recognizing the validity of the difference in customs. This article therefore does not seek to invalidate any such customs where they differ, but merely to shed light on the Vedic paradigm.

The Gṛhyasūtras (7) highlight the importance of regional and local customs vis-à-vis the ‘higher law’ of the Veda. The Āśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra 1.7.1-2, for instance, insists on the binding importance of grāma-dharma (local customs) as well as janapada-dharma (which Ācārya Gārgya Nārāyaṇa explains as deśācāra or regional customs). Ācārya Harihara, commenting on the Pāraskara Gṛhyasūtra 1.8.11-13, highlights that it is not merely śruti and smṛti which should be followed, but also local as well as regional customs. Pāraskara (1.8.13) recognizes explicitly that for domestic matters these can be valid sources of dharma (‘grāmaḥ pramāṇam iti śruteḥ’). Thus, the Gṛhyasūtras often only state the elements common across variations. Āśvalāyana states this explicitly (‘yat tu samānaṃ tad vakṣyāmaḥ’): Ācārya Gārgya Nārāyaṇa explains that such rituals follow a common framework plus their regional elaborations, and that these Gṛhyasūtras (including the Dharmaśāstra) texts are taken to when a conflict arises between these regional variations, and not as a first recourse.

In other words, a Hindu is not necessarily bound to obey a directive solely because a śāstra text enjoins it and reduces a life of dharma to the minutiae of rule-following. Dharma is not known primarily from books, commandments, or written instructions; and the purpose of the dharmaśāstra is not to lay down a uniform positive law or ‘revealed’ canon that is unilaterally enforced on the people. Instead, dharma is recognized as being already present and known through the plural intersections of deśa-jāti-kula (country, community, and family) producing differing adhikāra (eligibility and applicability) in different people and situations for following such exhortations, and it is to resolve conflicts between norms that we turn to the authority and wisdom of the dharmaśāstra. Furthermore, just because a custom has been traditionally followed does not mean it is worthy of adherence (i.e., not every custom is recognized as a dharma). Ācārya Harihara is careful to distinguish this from simply conforming to societal demands or to the wishes of a majority; on the contrary, it is dharma only when it is sadācāra (virtuous or good conduct) that is praised by the learned, even if it is followed by a numerical minority.

The assimilating nature of the dharmaśāstra as well as the ingenuity and flexible spirit demonstrated by the yājñikas in crafting acceptable harmonizations reveal the micro-processes by which Hinduism has – not unlike the Ship of Theseus – maintained an unbroken continuity. This reflects on the Indic tendency to preserve difference and variety, assimilating a mosaic of sociocultural subjectivities under an overarching Brahmanical paradigm, rather than uprooting them in favour of an imposed catholicity. Visible difference – and misguided or malafide claims of the ‘invented’ or ‘syndicated’ character of Hinduism based on apparent and superficial discontinuities – belies a deeper, invisible unity that runs through the centuries and millennia, visible only to those who look with the unprejudiced eye.

The Saptapadī is a ritual that take place in structured conjunction with the lājahoma (offering of fried grains into the consecrated fire) and the pāṇigrahaṇa (the taking of the bride’s hand by the groom). The exact order of these three differ according to different śākhās (recensions of the Veda and the respective communities who adhere to them). The Saptapadi mantras (8) themselves vary slightly among the śākhās. The Vājasaneyi śākhā (of the Śuklayajurveda), which I shall use as my reference, employs ‘ekam iṣe, dve ūrje, trīṇi rāyaspoṣāya, catvāri māyobhavāya, pañcapaṣubhyaḥ, ṣaḍṛtubhyaḥ, sakhe saptapadā bhava sā mām anuvratā bhava’ (‘the first for food’, ‘the second for strength’, ‘the third for wealth and prosperity’, ‘the fourth for comfort and happiness’, ‘the fifth for animals and progeny’, ‘the sixth for the seasons’, ‘friend, be of the seven steps, be devoted to me’). Other śākhās within each Veda also bear very slight differences (9) which have been incorporated into the translation here.

Translations of the Saptapadī typically do not go beyond translating the bare word (like ‘iṣa’ as ‘food’). Prayogaśāstrins typically gloss these with single words as well (‘iṣe annāya’ as one ācārya tersely glosses, ‘for the sake of iṣa means for the sake of food’), but while that is clarifying to specialists, it goes not shed light for non-specialists or lay Hindus. For instance, why is the wish for food relevant here? Is it merely a prayer for nourishment, or does the Saptapadī’s context add something special to this prayer? Therefore, I have chosen to anglicize the mantras to bring out the entire sense through comparable and relatable English prose. For this, I have consulted the major Gṛhyasūtras and the commentaries thereon (by the pūjya Ācāryas Gārgya Nārāyaṇa, Harihara, Sāyaṇa (10), Guṇaviṣṇu, Haradatta (11), Dārila, Keśava, Bhavadevabhaṭṭa) as well as the Prayogaśāstra texts — Saṃskāradīpaka [12], Saṃskāramīmāṃsā [13], Saṃskāragaṇapati, and Saṃskāraratnamālā [14] — to glean the veridical sense of the Saptapadī. The sections on the fifth and seventh steps form an original ṭīkā (gloss) by the present author.

Nearly all commentators, including Ācārya Nityānanda Parvatīya (Saṃskāradīpaka: 152) and Ācārya Rāmacandra Kinjavadekar (Saṃskāramīmāṃsā: 71), gloss the first four as being prayers for food, strength, wealth and prosperity, and comfort and happiness. But their deeper implication is explained in Ācārya Guṇaviṣṇu who recognizes the principle of ‘samānatva’ (equality, commonness, uniformity) as in ‘samānādhikāra’ or ‘samānasāmarthyā’ (uniformity in eligibility, rights, and abilities). The Saptapadī mantras therefore pray for commonness of resolve and uniformity of attainment in the same spirit as the Saṃjñāna Sūkta of the Ṛgveda X.191.4: ‘samānī va ākūtiḥ samānā ḥrdayāni vah samānam astu vo manaḥ yathā vaḥ susahāsati’ (‘united be your aspirations, united be your hearts, may your minds come to union, so that you may join in agreement’).

For the fifth through the seventh, the meanings depend on the numerical symbolism. Numbers become sacred in Vedic ritual symbolism because of natural correspondences with that number; to invoke the number becomes an indirect or veiled (parokṣa) allusion to the natural occurrence. Thus, the ‘pañca paśubhya’ (or ‘pañca prajābhya’ for some śākhās) is notable because the Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 14.28 speaks of the number five being associated with the bhūta or beings (although Ācārya Mahīdhara adds the meaning of five mahābhūta as well). This is further made clear in the Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa 6.1.2.17-19 where the number five becomes associated with all beings because of their possessing a body (made of five things: hair, skin, flesh, bone, and marrow) and enthused with the five-fold prāṇa or life-breath (comprised of prāṇa, apāna, udāna, samāna, vyāna). Alluding to a slightly different symbolism (as the two Yajurvedas often tend to do), the Taittirīya Brāhmāna 3.9.8.1-3 (among other places) speaks of the five animals fit for sacrifice in a yajna: man, horse, cow, goat, and sheep. During the Brahmodya, as part of the sacrificial riddle posed to the Brahmā priest at the Aśvamedha (Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 23.51-52), the Udgātā asks: ‘keṣvantaḥ puruṣa ā viveśa? kānyantaḥ puruṣe arpitāni?’ (“Into what things has the Puruṣa entered? And what things are reposed within the Puruṣa?”), to which the Brahmā replies: ‘pañcasvantaḥ puruṣa ā viveśa tānyantaḥ puruṣe arpitāni’ (“Into five things has the Puruṣa entered. Five things are contained within the Puruṣa”). Ācārya Mahīdhara explains this riddle in this way: the Puruṣa is the Self which has permeated the five-fold life-breath, and the five gross elements are contained within the cosmic Purusa. If we consider the above symbolisms in tandem with the mantra used to bless the bride (Ṛgveda 10.85.43-44 mantraliṇgāt) ‘śaṃ no bhava dvipade śaṃ catuṣpade’ (“Be favourably disposed towards our two-footed and four-footed beings”), it becomes clear that reference to the two-footed ‘prajā’ and the four-footed ‘paśu’ is more appropriately read as a benediction upon all living beings.

The sixth step establishes a concordance with the six seasons. As Ācārya Guṇaviṣṇu puts it, its intent is ‘cirakālajīvanāya’ (‘for all time’). In other words, the sixth step prays for companionship through the good times as well as the bad, the pleasant spring as well as the harsh winter, likening it to the constancy of the year despite its changes.

The seventh step establishes a concordance with the ‘saptahotā’, the seven priests. Ācārya Haradatta, commenting on the Kṛṣṇayajurvedīya Ekāgnikāṇḍa (Sarma & Sastri 2010: 9), cites the Taittirīya Brāhmāna 1.3.6 (‘tasmātsaumyasyādhvarasya yajñakratoḥ saptahotrāḥ prācīrvaṣaṭkurvanti’) to explain that the ‘saptahotā’ (seven invoking priests) refer to Soma sacrifices where the Hotā, Maitrāvaruṇa, Brāhmaṇacchaṃsin, Potā, Neṣṭā, Acchāvaka and Āgnidhrīya collectively utter the Vaṣaṭ call (the holy Vaṣaṭkāra). The Ṛgveda 2.1.2 has a slightly different list with the Adhvaryu and the Brahmā as the last two instead. This septimal symbolism therefore refers to the excellence of the highest grade of Vedic sacrifices and the couple’s aspiration to keep striving for such excellence (niḥśreyasa).

At the end of the seven mantras, nearly all the śākhās concur in recognizing ‘sakhya’ or ‘maitrī’ (loving and devoted friendship) as the supreme attainment of the Saptapadī, using the appellation ‘saptapadā’ (one who has stepped through the seven steps), and pray that this bond may never be unyoked from. Such is the paradigmatic association of the Saptapadī with friendship that Pāṇini cites the term ‘sāptapadīnam’ as meaning ‘sakhyam’ (a friendship like that of the seven steps). The Ṛgveda 10.8.4 speaks of Agni having yoked together the heaven and earth, the night and day through the seven steps to create an alliance (‘mitram’). In the Ṛgveda 8.69.7, the ṛṣi Priyamedha Āṇgirasa compares himself and Indra as being companions of the seven steps to characterize their close bond.

Finally, the symbolism of the seven is perhaps most recognizable in the Yajurveda (Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.5.3.2–3 and Vājanaseyi Saṃhitā 17.79) as associated with the sādṛśya (likeness) of Agni and symbolizing the very essence of all yajña: ‘sapta te agne samidhaḥ sapta jihvāḥ sapta ṛṣayaḥ sapta dhāma priyāṇi sapta hotrāḥ saptadhā tvā yajanti’ (‘Seven, O Agni, are your kindlers, seven are your tongues, seven are the ṛṣis, seven are your dwellings, seven-fold do the seven priests worship you!’). This mantra accompanies the pūrṇāhuti, symbolizing ‘pūrṇatā’ or wholeness, which represents the ‘sarvam’ (the indivisible Brahman) and alludes to the fullness or completeness that the Saptapadī’s bond represents. The seven ṛṣis – the seven stars of the sky – circumambulate closest to the pole star (dhruva-nakṣatra), never deviating or losing their way, forever fixed in the heavens, like the ancient brahmiṣṭha ṛṣis of yore seated around the fire-altar. At the end of the Saptapadī, the groom entreats the bride to look up at the skies and behold the pole star (dhruva-darśana), and in so doing, gives us the final piece of the Saptapadī’s cosmic symbolism. Just like sighting the seven stars gradually orients us towards the fixed and immoveable pole star, each of the seven steps gradually lead forth towards an immoveable and unperishing human bond: an abiding symbol of immorality (amartyatā) and permanence (nitya) in a mortal (mriyamāna) and impermanent (anitya) world.

Saptapadī
‘The Seven Steps’

(Anglicized by Pārāsharya)

(1) ekam iṣe (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me in food and nourishment. Whatever food I partake of for my nourishment, may it be of nourishment for you too. May you never remain in deprivation whilst I gain in health. May Viṣṇu lead you along the first step!

(2) dve urje (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me in vigour and strength. Whatever I partake of for my refreshment, may that be refreshing to you too. May you never be deprived of vigour whilst I gain in strength. May Viṣṇu lead you along the second step!

(3) trini rāyaspoṣāya (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me in the pursuit of wealth and prosperity. Whatever I possess and safeguard for the sake of my prosperity, may that be for the sake of your prosperity too. May my pursuit of wealth never be at the expense of your prosperity. May Viṣṇu lead you along the third step!

(4) catvāri mayobhavāya (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me in the pursuit of happiness and pleasure. Whatever I do for the sake of comfort and happiness, may it bring you comfort and happiness too. May my pleasure never be at the expense of your happiness. May Viṣṇu lead you along the fourth step!

(5) pañca paśubhyo (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me in the flourishing of kin and kine. May our progeny be long-lived and prosperous and may our animals multiply. May Viṣṇu lead you along the fifth step!

(6) ṣaḍ ṛtubhyo (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

Be united with me for all seasons: the pleasant spring as well as the harsh winter. May we remain companions through sunshine and storm. May I never abandon you in your dark times, nor forget you in my bright times. May Viṣṇu lead you along the sixth step!

(7a) sakhe saptapadā bhava sā mām anuvratā bhava (viṣṇustvā nayatu)

(7b) sakhyan te gameyam sakhyan te mā yoṣā sakhyan te māyosthyāḥ

(a) Be a friend to me – consecrated by the seven steps – forever devoted to me. May Viṣṇu lead you along the seventh step! (b) May I attain to your loving friendship; may you never be parted from my loving friendship, nor I ever unyoked from yours.

We hope that this anglicized form of the Saptapadī may be of service to all of Hindudom, especially for the English-speaking Hindu diaspora around the globe. May all remain established in dharma (dharmiṣṭhāḥ bhavantu sarve); may they never be unyoked from their cultural heritages.

(I dedicate this article to my dear friends Rishav and Jāgyashilā, ‘yajamāna and yajamāna-patnī’)

References:

1. See Kane (1941: 427). The complete volumes of P. V. Kane are recommended for a fuller understanding of the dharmaśāstra tradition. See Kane, Mahamahopadhyaya Pandurang Vaman. (1930, 1941a, 1941b, 1953, 1958, 1962, 1973). History of dharmasastra: Ancient and medieval religious and civil law (5 volumes). Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

2. See (1) Yājñavalkyasṃrtiḥ (with the Mitākṣarā commentary of Vijñaneṣvara), M. N. Dutt (trans.) and R. K. Panda (ed.). (2011). Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan; and (2) Mānavadharmaśāstra (with the commentaries of Medhātithi, Sarvajñanārāyaṇa, Kullukabhaṭṭa, Rāghavānanda, Nandana, and Rāmacandra). (1886). Bombay: Ganpat Krishnaji’s Press.

3. The first have a similar structure, while the fourth is different.

4. See Prasad, R. C. (1993). The Vivāha: The Hindu Marriage Saṃskāras (Pt. Bhaiyaram Sarma). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.

5. Prasad (1993) goes into a tirade to establish that the traditional interpretation of the shastra is mistaken and takes recourse to the Padmapurāṇa to show that the Vedic injunction must apparently be understood otherwise (1993: 85-87), which turns out to be the afore-mentioned Mathura ācārya’s solution. What Prasad misses in fact is that not every element of Hindu ritual needs to trace back to an implication in the Veda itself. Predictably, he runs counter to the primary text itself which he has translated (1993: 128) which clearly states Ācārya Rāmadatta’s rule of three pradakṣiṇas. Prasad furthermore cites a passage (1993: 129) from the Rājamārtaṇḍa but appears to mistranslate ‘saptamandalesu […] varah kanyam prakramayet’ incorrectly as ‘seven steps round the sacred fire at the marriage ceremony’. The correct sense is pointed out by Ācārya Bhavadeva Bhaṭṭa who explains: ‘jāmātā prāgudīcyāṃ diśi vadhuṃ saptabhirmantraiḥ saptasu maṇḍalikāsu sapta padāni nayet’, that is, the groom leads the bride in a north-easterly direction with the seven mantras through seven steps on seven designated spots, which shows that this is not to be confused with the parikrama. See (1) Śyāmācaraṇa Tarkaratna Vidyāvāridhi (ed.). (2015) Sri-Bhavadeva-Paddhati (4e). Kolkata: Benimadhab Shil’s Library; and (2) Misra, Pandit Vayunandana Misra. (n.d.). Vivahapaddhati (with Hindi commentary of Pandit Agninarayana Misra). Varanasi: Samskrta Pustakalaya.

6. Saṃskāraganapati of Paṇḍita Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa (eds. Nyāyācārya Kāvyatīrtha Paṇḍita Śrī Dhundhirāja Sāstrī and Vedācārya Paṇḍita Śrī Mārtanda Śāstrī). (1936). Benares: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

7. See (1) Āpastambagṛhyasūtra (with the commentaries Anākulā of Haradattamiśra and Tātparyadarśana of Sudarśanācārya), (ed.) A. Chinnaswami Sastri. (1928). Benares: Vidya Vilas Press; (2) Pāraskaragṛhyasūtram (with the commentaries of Harihara and Gadādhara), (ed.) Brahmanand Tripathi. (2015). Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; (3) Āśvalāyanagṛhyasūtra (with the commentary of Gārgya Nārāyaṇa), (eds.) Rāmanārāyaṇa Vidyāratna and Ānandacandra Vedāntavāgīśa. (1986). Calcutta: The Asiatic Society; (4) Singh, Thakur Udaynarayan Singh (ed.). (n.d.). Gobhilagṛhyasūtram Sāmavedīyam (with the commentary of Satyavrata Sāmaśrami Bhaṭṭācārya). Benares: Jyotish Prakash Press; (5) Gobhilīyagṛhyakarmaprakāśikā, (eds.) Ācārya Sannidhānam Sudarśana Śarmā and Dr. N. R. Saumyanārāyaṇan. (2012). Tirupati: Shri Venkateshvara Vishvavidyalaya; (6) Atharvavedīya Kauśikagṛhyasūtram (with the commentaries of Dārila and Keṣava), (trans.) Shri Thakur Udaynarayan Singh. (2009). Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

8. See Śāṇkhāyana Gṛhyasūtra 1.14.6, Āśvalāyana Gṛhysūtra 1.7.19, Pāraskara Gṛhyasūtra 1.8.1-2, Khādira Gṛhyasūtra 1.3.26, Gobhila Gṛhyasūtra 2.2.11, Hiraṇyakeśin Gṛhyasūtra 1.6.20.9 & 1.6.21.1-2, and Āpastamba Gṛhyasūtra 2.4.16-17.

9. The Ṛgvedins use ‘iṣa ekapadī, ūrja dvipadī, rāyaspoṣāya tripadī, māyobhavyāya catuṣpadī, prajābhaḥ pañcapadī, ṛtubhyaḥ ṣaṭpadī, sakhā saptapadī bhava sā mām anuvratā bhava’ as in the Āśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra 1.71.19. The Sāmavedins use ‘ekam iṣe, dve ūrje, trīṇi vratāya, catvāri māyobhavāya, pañca paśubhyaḥ, ṣaḍ rāyaspoṣāya, sapta saptabhyo hotrābhyaḥ, sakhā saptapadī bhava sakhyaṃ te gameyam sakhyaṃ te mā yoṣāḥ sakhyaṃ te māyoṣṭhyāḥ’ as in the Gobhila Gṛhyasūtra 2.2.11 (Chandogya Brahmana 1.2.6-13). The Kṛṣṇayajurvedins use ‘ekam iṣe, dve ūrje, trini vratāya, catvāri mayobhavāya, pañcapaṣubhyaḥ, ṣaḍṛtubhyaḥ, sapta sakhāya, sakhā saptapadā bhava sakhāyau saptapadā babhūva sakhyam te gameyam sakhyātte mā yoṣam sakhyānme mā yoṣṭāḥ’. Only the Atharvavedins differ markedly from the others: ‘iṣe tvā, ūrje tvā, rāyaspoṣāya tvā, saubhāgyāya tvā, sāmrājyāya tvā, saṃpade tvā, jīvātave tvā, sakhā saptapadī bhava’ (food, strength, prosperity, good fortune, sovereignty, wealth, long life, friendship) with the suffix ‘sumaṇgali prajāvati susīma’ (Kausika Grhyasutra 10).

10. See Chāndogyabrāhmaṇa (with the commentaries of Guṇaviṣṇu and Sāyaṇa), (ed.) Durgamohan Bhattacharyya. (1958). Calcutta: Sanskrit College.

11. See Ekāgnikāṇḍa (with the commentary of Haradattamiśra), (eds.) Vedācārya Sannidhānaṃ Sudarśana Śarmā and Dr. Mullapūḍi Sītārāmaśāstri. (2010). Tirupati: Shri Venkateshvara Vishvavidyalaya.

12. See Saṃskāradīpaka of Mahamahopadhyaya Nityananda Panta Parvatiya (ed. Ramchandra Panaslikar Sastri in 3 parts). (1946, 1950, 1951). Benares: Vidya Vilas Press.

13. See Saṃskāramīmāṃsā of Sarasvatībhūṣaṇa Vāmana Rāmacandra Sāstrī Kinjavḍekar. (1918). Poona: Chitra Shala Press.

14. See Saṃskāraratnamālā of Bhaṭṭa Gopinātha Dīkṣita (ed. Hari Narayan Apte). (1899). Poona: Anandashram Press.


Author : Sahishnu Bhattacharyya ‘Parasharya’ is a Hindu ritualist of the Shukla Yajurveda tradition (Mādhyandina shakha) and works with kalpa and prayoga (study of ritual). He is currently an independent scholar specializing in existential phenomenology and interdisciplinary approaches to subjectivity, especially at the intersections of society, politics, culture, and religion.

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