The Pravargya ceremony — Symbolizes the revival of the yearly sacrifice — Milk representing seed heated in Gharma or Mahâvîra — Mantras used on the occasion of pouring milk into it — The two creating the five, and the ten of Vivasvat — Indicate the death of the year after five seasons or ten months — The tradition about the sun falling beyond the sky — Annual Sattras — Their type, the Gavâm-ayanam or the Cows’ walk — Lasted for 10 or 12 months according to the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa — Two passages from the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ describing the Gavâm-ayanam — Mention to months’ duration of the Sattra, but give no reason except that it was an ancient practice — Plainly indicates an ancient sacrificial year of ten months-Comparison with the old Roman year of ten months or 304 days — How the rest of 360 days were disposed of by the Romans not yet known — They represented a long period of darkness according to the legend of the Dashagvas — Thus leading to the Arctic theory — Prof. Max Müller on the threefold nature of cows in the Vedas — Cows as animals, rain and dawns or days in the Ṛig-Veda — Ten months’ Cows’ walk thus means the ten months’ duration of ordinary days and nights — 350 oxen of Helios — Implies a night of ten days — The stealing of Apollon’s oxen by Hermes — Cows stolen by Vṛitra in the Vedas — Represent the stealing of day-cows thereby causing the long night — Further sacrificial evidence from the Vedas — Classification of the Soma-sacrifices — Difference between Ekâha and Ahîna — A hundred nightly sacrifices — Annual Sattras like the Gavâm-ayanam — Model outline or scheme of ceremonies therein — Other modifications of the same — All at present based upon a civil year — But lasted for ten months in ancient times — Night-sacrifices now included amongst day-sacrifices — The reason why the former extend only over 100 nights is yet unexplained — Appropriately accounted for on the Arctic theory — Soma juice extracted at night in the Atirâtra, or the trans nocturnal sacrifice even now — The analogy applied to other night-sacrifices — Râtrî Sattras were the sacrifices of the long night in ancient times — Their object — Soma libations exclusively offered to Indra to help him in his fight against Vala — Shata-râtra represented the maximum duration of the long night — Corroborated by Aditi’s legend of seven months’ sunshine — Explains why India was called Shata-kratu in the Purâṇas — The epithet misunderstood by Western scholars — Similarity between Soma and Ashvamedha sacrifices — The epithet Shata-kratu unlike other epithets, never paraphrased in the Vedas — Implies that it was peculiar or proper to Indra — Dr. Haug’s view that kratu means a sacrifice in the Vedas — Hundred forts or


puraḥ (cities) of Vṛitra — Explained as hundred seats of darkness or nights — Legend of Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha in the Avesta — Only a reproduction of Indra’s fight with Vṛitra — Tishtrya’s fight described as lasting from one to a hundred nights in the Avesta — Forms an independent corroboration of hundred nightly Soma sacrifices — The phrase Sato-karahe found in the Avesta — The meaning of the nature of Ati-râtra discussed — Means a trans-nocturnal Soma sacrifice at either end of the long night — Production of the cycle of day and night therefrom — Hence a fitting introduction to the annual Sattras — Marked the close of the long night and the beginning of the period of sunshine — Sattra Ati-râtra, night sacrifices and Ati-râtra again thus formed the yearly round of sacrifices in ancient times — Clearly indicate the existence of a long darkness of 100 nights in the ancient year — Ancient sacrificial system thus corresponded with the ancient year — Adaptation of both to the new home effected by the Brâhmaṇas, like Numa’s reform in the old Roman Calendar — The importance of the results of sacrificial evidence.

The legend of the Dashagvas, who completed their sacrifices during ten months, is not the only relic of the ancient year preserved in the sacrificial literature. The Pravargya ceremony, which is described in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (I, 18-12), furnishes us with another instance, where a reference to the old year seems to be clearly indicated. Dr. Haug, in his translation of the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa, has fully described this ceremony in a note to I, 18. It lasts for three days and precedes the animal and the Soma sacrifice, as no one is allowed to take part in the Soma feast without having undergone this ceremony. The whole ceremony symbolizes the revival of the sun or the sacrificial ceremony (yajña), which, for the time being, is preserved as seed in order that it may grow again in due time (Ait. Br. I, 18). Thus one of the chief implements used in the ceremony is a peculiar earthen pot called Gharma or Mahâvîra. Placing it on the Vedic altar the Adhvaryu makes a circle of clay called khara, because it is made of earth brought on the back of a donkey to the sacrificial ground. He places the pot on the circle and heats it so as to make it quite hot (gharma). It is then lifted by means of two shaphas (two wooden pieces), and then milking a cow, the milk is poured into the heated pot and mixed with the milk of a goat whose kid is dead. After


this has been done, the contents of the Mahâvîra are thrown into the Âhavanîya fire. But all the contents of the pot are not thus thrown away, for the Hotṛi is described as eating the remainder of the contents of the Gharma, which are said to be full of honey, full of sap, full of food and quite hot. The Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (I, 22) gives us a rational of this ceremony as follows “The milk in the vessel is the seed. This seed (in the shape of milk) is poured in Agni (fire) as the womb of the gods for production, for Agni is the womb of the gods.” This explanation proves the symbolic nature of the ceremony, and shows that the sun, the sacrifice or the year is thus preserved as seed for time, and then revived at the proper season. The Mantra or the verse, which is recited on the occasion of pouring the milk into the Mahâvîra is taken from the Ṛig-Veda VIII, 72 (61) 8, and it is very likely that the verse was selected not simply on account of mere verbal correspondence. The hymn, where the verse occurs, is rather obscure. But the verse itself, as well as the two preceding verses (VIII, 72 (61), 6-7-8) present no verbal difficulty and may be translated as follows: —

“6. And now that mighty and great chariot of his with horses (as well as) the line of his chariot is seen.”

“7. The seven milk the one, and the two create the five, on the ocean’s loud-sounding bank.”

“8. With the ten of Vivasvat, Indra by his three-fold hammer, caused the heaven’s bucket to drop down.”*

Here, first of all, we are told that his (sun’s) chariot, the great chariot with horses has become visible, evidently meaning that the dawn has made its appearance on the horizon. Then the seven, probably the seven Hotṛis, or seven rivers, are said to milk this dawn and produce the two. This milking is a familiar process in the Ṛig-Veda and in one place the cows of the morning are said to be milked from darkness

* Ṛig. VIII. 72, 6-8, — उतो नवस्य यन महदश्वावद योजनं बर्हद । दामा रथस्य दद्र्शे ॥ दुहन्ति सप्तैकामुप दवा पञ्च सर्जतः । तीर्थे सिन्धोरधि सवरे ॥ आ दशभिर्विवस्वत इन्द्रः कोशमचुच्यवीत । खेदया तरिव्र्ता दिवः ॥


(I, 33, 10). The two evidently mean day and night and as soon as they are milked, they give rise to the five seasons. The day and the night are said to be the two mothers of Sûrya in III, 55, 6, and here they are the mothers of the five seasons. What becomes after the expiry of the seasons is, described in the eighth verse. It says that with the ten of Vivasvat, or with the lapse of ten months, Indra with his three-fold hammer shook down the heavenly jar. This means that the three storing places of the aerial waters (VII, 101, 4) were all emptied into the ocean at this time and along with it the sun also went to the lower world, for sunlight is described to be three-fold in (VII, 101, 2 and Sâyaṇa there quotes the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ (II, 1, 2, 5), which says that the sun has three lights; the morning light being the Vasanta, the midday the Grîṣhma, and the evening the Sharad. The verse, therefore, obviously refers to the three-fold courses of waters in the heaven and the three-fold light of the sun and all this is. said to come to an end with the ten of Vivasvat The sun and the sacrifice are then preserved as seed to be re-generated some time after, — a process symbolized in the Pravargya ceremony. The idea of the sun dropping from heaven is very common in the sacrificial literature. Thus in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 18) we read, “The gods, being afraid of his (sun’s) falling beyond them being turned upside down, supported him by placing above him the highest worlds”;* and the same idea is met with in the Tâṇḍya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 5, 9, 11). The words “falling beyond” (parâchas atipâtât) are very important, inasmuch as they show that the sun dropped into regions that were en the yonder side. One of the Ashvin’s protégé is also called Chyavâna, which word Prof. Max Müller derives from chyu to drop. The Ashvins are said to have restored him to youth, which, being divested of its legendary form, means the rehabilitation of the sun that had dropped into the nether world. The Pravargya ceremony, which preserves

* Ait. Brâh. VI, 18.


serves the seed of the sacrifice, is, therefore, only one phase of the story of the dropping sun in the sacrificial literature and the verses employed in this ceremony, if interpreted in the spirit of that ceremony, appear, as stated above, to indicate an older year of five seasons and ten months.

But the Mantras used in the Pravargya ceremony are not so explicit as one might expect such kind of evidence to be. Therefore, instead of attempting to give more evidence of the same kind, — and there are many such facts in the Vedic sacrificial literature, — I proceed to give the direct statements about the duration of the annual Sattras from the well-known Vedic works. These statements have nothing of the legendary character about them and are, therefore, absolutely certain and reliable. It has been stated before that institution of sacrifice is an old one, and found amongst both the Asiatic and the European branches of the Aryan race. It was, in fact the main ritual of the religion of these people and naturally enough every detail concerning the sacrifices was closely watched, or accurately determined by the priests, who had the charge of these ceremonies. It is true that in giving reasons for the prevalence of a particular practice, these priests sometimes indulged in speculation; but the details of the sacrifice were facts that were settled in strict accordance with custom, and tradition, whatever explanations might be given in regard to their origin. But sometimes the facts were found to be so stubborn as to, defy any explanation, and the priests had to content themselves with barely recording the practice, and adding that “such is the practice from times immemorial.” It is with such evidence that we have now to deal in investigating the duration of the annual Sattras in ancient times.

There are many annual Sattras like Âdityânâm-ayanam, Aṅgirasâm-ayanam, Gavâm-ayanam, &c. mentioned in the Brâhmaṇas and the Shrauta Sûtras; and, as observed by Dr. Haug, they seem to have been originally established in imitation of the sun’s yearly course. They are the oldest of the Vedic sacrifices and their duration and other details have


been all very minutely and carefully noted down in the sacrificial works. All these annual Sattras are not, however, essentially different from each other, being so many different varieties or modifications, according to circumstances, of a common model or type, and the Gavâm-ayanam is said to be this type; (vide, com. on Âshv. S. S. II, 7, 1). Thus in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 17) we are told that “They hold the Gavâm-ayanam, that is, the sacrificial session called the Cows’ walk. The cows are the Âdityas (gods of the months). By holding the session called the Cows’ walk they also hold the Âdityânâm-ayanam (the walk of the Âdityas).”* If we, (therefore, ascertain the duration of the Gavâm-ayanam, the same rule would apply to all other annual Sattras and we need not examine the latter separately. This Gavâm-ayanam, or the Cows’ walk, is fully described in three places. Once in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa and twice in the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ. We begin with the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 17), which describes the origin and duration of the Sattra as follows: —

“The cows, being desirous of obtaining hoofs and horns, held (once) a sacrificial session. In the tenth month (of their sacrifice) they obtained hoofs and horns. They said, ‘We have obtained fulfillment of that wish for which we underwent the initiation into the sacrificial rites. Let us rise (the sacrifice being finished).’ Those that arose, are these, who have horns. Of those, who, however, sat (continued the session) saying, ‘Let us finish the year,’ the horns went off on account of their distrust. It is they, who are hornless (tûparâḥ). They (continuing their sacrificial session) produced vigor (ûrjam). Thence after (having been sacrificing for twelve months and) having secured all the seasons, they rose (again) at the end. For they had produced the vigor (to reproduce horns, hoofs, &c. when decaying). Thus

* See Dr. Haug’s Ait. Brâh. Vol. II, p. 287.


the cows made themselves beloved by all (the whole world), and are beautified (decorated) by all.”*

Here it is distinctly mentioned that the cows first obtained the fulfillment of their desire in ten months, and a number of them left off sacrificing further. Those, that remained and sacrificed for two months more, are called “distrustful,” and they had to suffer for their distrust by forfeiting the horns they had obtained. It is, therefore, clear, that this yearly Sattra, which in the Saṁhitâs and Brâhmaṇas is a Sattra of twelve months in imitation of the sun’s yearly course, was once completed in ten months. Why should it be so? Why was a Sattra, which is annual in its very nature and which now lasts for twelve months, once completed in ten months? How did the sacrificers obtain all the religious merit of a twelve months’ sacrifice by sacrificing for ten months only? These are very important questions; but the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa neither raises them, nor gives us any clue to their solution. If we, however, go back to the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ, the oldest and most authoritative work on the sacrificial ceremonies, we find the questions distinctly raised. The Saṁhitâ expressly states that the Gavâm-ayanam can be completed in ten or twelve months, according to the choice of the sacrificer; but it plainly acknowledges its inability to assign any reason how a Sattra of twelve months could be completed in ten, except the fact that “it is an old practice sanctioned by immemorial usage.” These passages are very important for our purpose, and I give below a close translation

* See Dr. Haug’s Ait. Brâh. Trans. Vol. II, p. 287.


of each. The first occurs in the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ (VII. 5, 1, 1-2),* and may be rendered as follows: —

“The cows held this sacrificial session, desiring that ‘being hornless let horns grow unto us.’ Their session lasted (for) ten months. Then when the horns grew (up) they rose saying, ‘We have gained.’ But those, whose (horns) were not grown, they rose after completing the year, saying ‘We have gained.’ Those, that had their horns grown, and those that had not, both rose saying ‘We have gained.’ Cow’s session is thus the year (year session). Those, who know this, reach the year and prosper verily. Therefore, the hornless (cow) moves (grazes) pleased during the two rainy months. This is what the Sattra has achieved for her. Therefore, whatever is done in the house of one performing the yearly Sattra is successfully, timely and properly done.”

This account slightly differs from that given in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa. In the Saṁhitâ the cows whose session lasted for twelve months, are said to be still hornless; but instead of getting vigor (ûrjam), they are said to have obtained as a reward for their additional sitting, the pleasure of comfortable grazing in the two rainy months, during which as the commentator observes, the horned cows find their horns an impediment to graze freely in the field, where new grass has grown up. But the statement regarding the duration of the Sattra viz., that it lasted for ten or twelve months, is the same both in the Saṁhitâ and in the Brâhmaṇa. The Saṁhitâ again takes up the question in the next Anuvâka (VII, 5, 2,

* Taitt. Sam. VII, 5, 1, 1-2


1-2 ),* and further describes the cows’ session as follows: —

“The cows held this sacrificial session, being hornless (and) desiring to obtain horns. Their session lasted (for) ten months; then when the horns grew (up), they said, ‘We have gained, let us rise, we have obtained the desire for which we sat (commenced the session).’ Half, or as many, of them as said, ‘We shall certainly sit for the two twelfth (two last) months, and rise after completing the year,’ (some of them had horns in the twelfth month by trust, (while) by distrust those that (are seen) hornless (remained so). Both, that is, those who got horns, and those who obtained vigor (ûrjam), thus attained their object. One who knows this, prospers, whether rising (from the sacrifice) in the tenth month or in the twelfth. They indeed go by the path (padena); he going by the path indeed attains (the end). This is that successful ayanam (session). Therefore, it is go-sani (beneficial to the cows).”

This passage, in its first part repeats the story given in the previous anuvâka of the Saṁhitâ and in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa with slight variations. But the latter part contains two important statements: firstly that whether we complete the sacrifice within ten months or twelve months the religious merit or fruit obtained is the same in either case, for both are said to prosper equally; and secondly this is said, to be the case because it is the “path” or as Sâyaṇa explains “an immemorial custom.” The Saṁhitâ is, in fact, silent as to the reason why an annual sattra which ought to, and as a matter of fact does, now last for twelve months could be completed in ten months;

* Taitt. Sam. VII, 5, 2, 1-2.


and this reticence is very remarkable, considering how the Saṁhitâ sometimes indulges in speculations about the origin of sacrificial rites. Any how we have two facts clearly established, (1) that at the time of the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ the Gavâm-ayanam the type of all annual Sattras could be completed in ten months; and (2) that no reasons was known at the time, as to why a Sattra of twelve months could be thus finished in ten, except that it was “an immemorial custom.” The Tâṇdya Brâhmaṇa IV, 1, has a similar discussion about Gavâm-ayanam, and clearly recognizes its two-fold characters so far as its duration is concerned. Sâyaṇa and Bhaṭṭ Bhâskara, in their commentaries on the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ, cannot therefore, be said to have invented any new theory of their own as regards the double duration of the annual Sattra. We shall discuss later on what is denoted by “cows” in the above passages. At present we are concerned with the duration of the Sattra; and if we compare the above matter-of-fact statements in the Saṁhitâ about the double duration of the annual Sattra with the legend of the Dashagvas sacrificing for ten months, the conclusion, that in ancient times the ancestors of the Vedic Aryas completed their annual sacrificial session in ten months, becomes irresistible. This duration of the Sattra must have been changed and all such Sattras made to last for twelve months when the Vedic people came to live in regions where such an annual session was impossible. But conservatism in such matters is so strong that the old practice must have outlived the change in the calendar, and it had to be recognized as an alternative period of duration for this Sattra in the Saṁhitâs. The Taittirîya Saṁhitâ has thus to record the alternative period, stating that it is an ancient practice, and I think it settles the question, so far as the duration of these Sattras in ancient times is concerned. Whatever reasons we may assign for it, it is beyond all doubt that the oldest annual Sattras lasted only for ten months.

But the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ is not alone in being thus unable to assign any reason for this relic of the ancient calendar, or the duration of the annual Sattra. We still designate


the twelfth month of the European solar year as December which word etymologically denotes the tenth month, (Latin decem, Sans. dashan, ten; and ber Sans. vâra, time or period), and we all know that Numa added two months to the ancient Roman year and made it of twelve months. Plutarch, in his life of Numa records another version of the story, viz., that Numa according to some, did not add the two months but simply transferred them from the end to the beginning of the year. But the names of the months clearly show that this could not have been the case, for the enumeration of the months by words indicating their order as the fifth or Quintilis (old name for July), the sixth or Sixtilis, (old name for August), the seventh or September and so on the rest in their order, cannot, after, it is once begun, be regarded to have abruptly stopped at December, allowing only the last two months to be differently named. Plutarch has, therefore, rightly observed that “we have a proof in the name of the last (month) that the Roman year contained, at first ten months only and not twelve.”* But if there was any doubt on the point, it is now removed by the analogy of the Gavâm-ayanam and the legends of the Dashagvas and Dîrghatamas. Macrobius (Saturnal Lib. I. Chap. 12) confirms the story of Numa’s adding and not simply transposing, two months to the ancient year of ten months. What the Avesta has to say on this subject we shall see later on where traditions about the ancient year amongst the other Aryan races will also be considered. Suffice it to say for the present that, according to tradition, the ancient Roman year consisted only of ten months, and like the duration of the Gavâm-ayanam, it was subsequently changed into a year of twelve months; and yet, so far as I know, no reason has yet been discovered, why the Roman year in ancient times was considered to be shorter by two months. On the contrary, the tendency is either to explain away the

* See Plutarch’s Lives, translated into English by the Rev. John and William Langhorne (Ward, Lock & Co.), p. 54, ƒ.


tradition some how as inconvenient, or to ignore it altogether as incredible. But so long as the word December is before us and we know how it is derived, the tradition cannot be so lightly set side. The Encyclopædia Britannica (s.v. calendar) records the ancient tradition that the oldest Roman year of Romulus was of ten months of 304 days and observes “it is not known how the remaining days were disposed of.” If, with all the resources of modern science at our command, we have not yet been able to ascertain why the oldest Roman year was of ten months only and how the remaining days were disposed of, we need not be surprised if the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ refrained from speculating on the point and contented itself with stating that such was the “path” or the old custom or practice handed down from generation to generation from times immemorial. The Arctic theory, however, now throws quite a new light on these ancient traditions, Vedic as well as Roman; and if we take the Gavâm-ayanam of ten months and the old Roman year of ten months as relics of the period when the ancestors of both these races lived together within the circum-polar regions, there is no difficulty of explaining how the remaining days were disposed of. It was the period of the long night, — a time when Indra fought with Vala, to regain the cows imprisoned by the latter and Hercules killed the giant Cacus, a three-headed fire-vomiting monster, who had carried off Hercules’ cows and hid them in a cave, dragging them backwards in order that the foot-marks might not be traced. When the Aryan people migrated southwards from this ancient home they had to change this calendar to suit their new home by adding two more months to the old year. But the traces of the old calendar could not be completely wiped off, and we have still sufficient evidence, traditional or sacrificial, to warrant us in holding that a year of ten months followed by a night of two months was known in the Indo-Germanic period — a conclusion, which is further confirmed by Teutonic myths and legends, gas explained by Prof. Rhys, whose views will be found summarized in a subsequent chapter.


The Taittirîya Saṁhitâ and the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa speak of the Gavâm-ayanam as being really held by the cows. Was it really a session of these animals? Or was it something else? The Aitareya Brâhmaṇa, we have seen, throws out a suggestion that “the cows are the Âdityas,” that is the month-gods, and the Cows’ session is really the session of the monthly sun-gods.* Comparative mythology now fully bears out the truth of this remarkable suggestion put forward by the Brâhmaṇa. Cows, such as we meet them in the mythological legends, represent days and nights of the year, not only in the Vedic but also in the Greek mythology; any we can, therefore, now give a better account of the origin of this sacrificial session than that it was a session of bovine animals for the purpose of obtaining horns. Speaking of cows in the Aryan mythology, Prof. Max Müller in his Contributions to the Science of Mythology (Vol. II. p. 761) writes as follows: —

“There were thus three kinds of cows, the real cows, the cows in the dark cloud (rain = milk), and the cows stepping forth from the dark stable of the night (the rays of the morning). These three are not always easy to distinguish in the Veda; nay, while we naturally try to distinguish between them, the poets themselves seem to delight in mixing them up. In the passage quoted above (I, 32, 11), we saw how the captive waters were compared to cows that had been stolen by Paṇi (niruddhâḥ âpaḥ Pâṇînâ iva gâvaḥ), but what is once compared in the Veda is soon identified. As to the Dawn, she is not only compared to a cow, she is called the cow straight out. Thus when we read, R.V. I. 92, 1. These dawns have made a light on the eastern half of the sky, they brighten their splendor, the bright cows approach, the mothers, the cows, gâvaḥ, can only be the dawns themselves, the plural of dawn being constantly in the Veda used where we should use the singular. In R.V. 1, 93, 4, we read that ‘Agnîshomau deprived Paṇi of his cows and found light

* See Aitareya Brâh. IV, 17.


for many.’ Here again the cows are the dawns kept by Paṇi in the dark stable or cave of the night, discovered by Saramâ and delivered every morning by the gods of light.”

“We read in R.V. I, 62, 3, that Bṛihaspati split the rock and found the cows.”

“Of Indra it is said, II, 19, 3, that he produced the sun and found the cows; of Bṛihaspati, II, 24, 3, that he drove out the cows, that he split the cave by his word, that he hid the darkness, and lighted up the sky. What can be clearer? The Maruts also, II, 34, 1, are said to uncover the cows and Agni. V, 14, 4, is praised for killing the friends, for having overcome darkness by light, and having found the cows, water and the sun.”

“In all these passages we find no iva or na, which would indicate that the word cow was used metaphorically. The dawns or days as they proceed from the dark stable, or are rescued from evil spirits, are spoken of directly as the cows. If they, are spoken of in the plural, we find the same in the case of the Dawn (uṣhas) who is often conceived as many, as in II, 28, 2, upâyane uṣhasâm gomatînâm, ‘at the approach of the dawns with their cows.’ From that it required but a small step to speak of the one Dawn as the mother of the cows, IV, 52, 2, mâtâ gavâm.”

“Kuhn thought that these cows should be understood as the red clouds of the morning. But clouds are not always present at sunrise, nor can it well be said that they are carried off and kept in prison during the night by the powers of darkness.”

“But what is important and settles the point is the fact that these cows or oxen of the dawn or of the rising sun occur in other mythologies also and are there clearly meant for days. They are numbered as 12 × 30, that is, the thirty days of the 12 lunar months. If Helios has 350 oxen and 350 sheep, that can only refer to the days and to the nights of the year, and would prove the knowledge of a year of 350 days before the Aryan separation.”

Thus the cows in mythology are the days and nights, or


dawns, that are imprisoned by Paṇi, and not real living cows with horns. Adopting this explanation and substituting these metaphorical cows for gâvaḥ in the Gavâm-ayanam, it is not difficult to see that underneath the strange story of cows holding a sacrificial session for getting horns, there lies concealed the remarkable phenomenon, that, released from the clutches of Paṇi, these cows of days and nights walked on for ten months, the oldest duration of the session known as Cows, walk. In plain language this means, if it means anything, that the oldest Aryan year was one of ten months followed by the long night, during which the cows were again carried away by the powers of darkness. We have seen that the oldest Roman year was of ten months, and the Avesta, as will be shown later on, also speaks of ten months’ summer prevailing in the Airyana Vaêjo before the home :was invaded by the evil spirit, who brought on ice and severe winter in that place. A year of ten months with a long night of two months may thus be taken to be known before the Aryan separation, and the references to it in the Vedic literature are neither isolated nor imaginary. They are the relics of ancient history, which have been faithfully preserved in the sacrificial literature of India, and if they were hitherto misunderstood it was because the true key required for their solution was as yet unknown.

But as stated in the previous chapter, a year in the circum-polar region will always have a varying number of the months or sunshine according to latitude. Although, therefore, there is sufficient evidence to establish the existence of, a year of ten months, we cannot hold that it was the only year known in ancient times. In fact we have seen that the legend of Aditi indicates the existence of the seven months of sunshine; and a band of thirty continuous dawns supports the same conclusion. But it seems that a year of ten months of sunshine was more prevalent, or was selected as the mean of the different varying years. The former view is rendered probable by the fact that of the Aṅgirases of various forms (virûpas) the Navagvas and the Dashagvas are said to be the


principal or the most important in the Ṛig-Veda (X, 62, 6), But whichever view we adopt, the existence of a year of seven, eight, nine, ten or eleven months of sunshine follows as a matter of course, if the ancient Aryan home was within the Arctic circle. Prof. Max Müller, in his passage quoted above, points out that the old Greek year probably consisted of 350 days, the 350 oxen of Helios representing the days, and 350 sheep representing the nights. He also notices that in German mythology 700 gold rings of Wieland, the smith, are spoken of, and comparing the number with 720 sons of Agni mentioned in I, 164, 11, he draws from it the conclusion that a year of 350 days is also represented in the German mythology. This year is shorter by ten days than the civil year of 360 days, or falls short of the full solar year by 15 days. It is, therefore, clear that if a year of 350 days existed before the Aryan separation, it must have been followed by a continuous night of ten days; while where the year was of 300 days, the long night extended over 60 days of 24 hours each. We shall thus have different kinds of long nights; and it is necessary to see if we can collect evidence to indicate the longest duration of the night known before the Aryan separation. Speaking of the cows or oxen of Helios, as stated in the passage quoted above, Prof. Max Müller goes on to observe: —

“The cows or oxen of Hêlios thus receive their background from the Veda, but what is told of them by Homer is by no means clear. When it is said that the companions of Odysseus consumed the oxen of Helios, and that they thus forfeited their return home, we can hardly take this in the modern sense of consuming or wasting their days, thought it may be difficult to assign any other definite meaning to it. Equally puzzling is the fable alluded to in the Homeric hymn that Hermes stole the oxen of Apollon and killed two of them. The number of Apollon’s oxen is given as fifty (others give the number as 100 cows, twelve oxen and one bull), Which looks like the number of weeks in the lunar year, but why Hermes should be represented as carrying off the whole herd


and then killing to, is difficult to guess, unless we refer it to the two additional months in a cycle of four years.”

In the light of the Arctic theory the puzzle here referred to is solved without any difficulty. The stealing away or the carrying off of the cows need not now he taken to mean simple wasting of the days in the modern sense of the word; nor need we attribute such stories to the “fancy of ancient bards and story tellers.” The legend or the tradition of stealing consuming, or carrying off the cows or oxen is but another form of stating that so many days were lost, being swallowed up in the long night that occurred at the end of the year and lasted, according to latitude, for varying period of time. So long as everything was to be explained on the theory of a daily struggle between light and darkness, these legends were unintelligible. But as soon as we adopt the Arctic theory the whole difficulty vanishes and what was confused and puzzling before becomes at once plain and comprehensible. In the Vedic mythology cows are similarly said to be stolen by Vṛitra or Vala, but their number is nowhere given, unless we regard the story of Ṛijrâshva (the Red-horse) slaughtering 100 or 101 sheep and giving them to a she-wolf to devour (I, 116, 16; 117, 18), as a modification of the story of stealing the cows. The Vedic sacrificial literature does, however, preserve for us an important relic; besides the one above noted, of the older calendar and especially the long night. But in this case the relic is so deeply buried under the weight of later explanations, adaptations and emendations, that we must here examine at some length the history of the Soma sacrifices in order to discover the original meaning of the rites which are included under that general name. That the Some sacrifice is an ancient institution is amply proved by parallel rites in the Parsi scriptures; and whatever doubt we may have regarding the knowledge of Soma in the Indo. European period, as the word is not found in the European languages, the system of sacrifices can be clearly traced back to the primeval age. Of this sacrificial system„ the Soma sacrifice may, at any rate, be safely taken as the oldest


representative, since it forms the main feature of the ritual of the Ṛig-Veda and a whole Maṇḍala of 114 hymns in the Ṛig-Veda is dedicated to the praise of Soma. A careful analysis of the Soma sacrifice may, therefore, be expected to disclose at least partially, the nature of the oldest sacrificial system of the Aryan race; and we, therefore, proceed to examine the same.

The chief characteristic of the Soma sacrifice, as distinguished from other sacrifices, is, as the name indicates, the extraction of the Soma juice and the offering thereof to gods before drinking it. There are three libations of Soma in a day, one in the morning, one in mid-day and the last in the evening, and all these are accompanied by the chanting of hymns during the sacrifice. These Soma sacrifices, if classed according to their duration, fall under three heads; (1) those that are performed in a single day, called Ekâhas, (2) those that are performed in more than one and less than thirteen days called Ahînas, and (3) those that take thirteen or more than 13 days and may last even for one thousand years, called Sattras. Under the first head we have the Agniṣhṭoma, fully described in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (III, 39-44), as the key or the type of all the sacrifices that fall under this class. There are six modifications of Agniṣhṭoma, viz., Ati-agniṣhṭoma, Ukthya, Shoḍashî, Vâjapeya, Atirâtra and Aptoryâma, which together with Agniṣhṭoma, form the seven parts, kinds or modifications of the Jyotiṣhṭoma, sacrifice (Ashv. S.S. VI, 11, 1). The modification chiefly consists in the number of hymns to be recited at the libations, or the manner of recitation, or the number of the Grahvas or Soma-cups used on the occasion. But with these we are not at present concerned. Of the second class of Soma sacrifices, the Dvâdashâḥa or twelve days’ sacrifice is celebrated both as Ahîna and Sattra and is considered to be very important. It is made up of three tryahas (or three days’ performances, called respectively Jyotis, Go, and Ayus), the tenth day and the two Atirâtras (Ait. Br. IV, 23-4). The nine days’ performance (three tryahas) is called Nava-râtra. Side by side with this,


there are, under this head, a number of Soma sacrifices extending over two nights or three nights, four nights, up to twelve nights, called dvi-râtra, tri-râtra and so on (Tait. Saṁ. VII, 1, 4; VII, 3, 2. Ashv. Shr. Sut. X and XI; Tân. Brâ. 20, 11, 24, 19). In the third class we have the annual Sattras and of these the Gavâm-ayanam is the type. Some Sattras which come under this class are described as extending over 1,000 years and a discussion is found in sacrificial works as to whether the phrase one thousand years signifies 1,000 real years, or whether it stands for 1,000 days. But we may pass it over as unnecessary for our purpose. The annual Sattras are the only important Sattras of this class, and to understand their nature we must see what a ṣhaḷaha means. The word literally denotes a group of six days (ṣhaṭ+ ahan) and is used to denote six days’ performance in the sacrificial literature. It is employed as a unit to measure a month in the same way as we now use a week, a month being made up of five ṣhaḷahas. The ṣhaḷaha, in its turn, consists of the daily sacrifices called Jyotis, Go, Âyus and the same three taken in the reverse order as Âyus, Go and Jyotis. Every ṣhaḷaha, therefore, begins and ends with a Jyotiṣhṭoma (Ait. Br. IV, 15). The ṣhaḷaha is further distinguished into Abhiplava and Pṛishṭhya, according to the arrangement of the stomas or songs sung at the Soma libations. An annual Sattra is in the main, made up of a number of ṣhaḷahas joined with certain special rites at the beginning, the middle and the close of the Sattra. The central day of the Sattra is called Vihuvân, and stands by itself, dividing the Sattra into two equal halves like the wings of a house (Tait. Br. I, 2, 3, 1); and the rites in the latter half of the session or after the Vihuvân day are performed in an order which is the reverse of that followed in forming the ceremonies in the first half of the sacrifice. The model annual Sattra (the Gavâm-anayam) thus; consists of the following parts: —


Parts Days
1. The introductory Atirâtra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
2. The Chaturviṁsha day, otherwise called the Ârambhaniya (Aît. Br. IV, 12), or the Prâyaṇîya (Tâṇḍ. Br. IV. 2), the real beginning of the Sattra . . . 1
3. Four Abhiplava, followed by one Pṛiṣhṭhya ṣhaḷaha each month; continued in this way for five months . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
4. Three Abhiplava and one Pṛiṣhṭhya ṣhaḷaha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
5. The Abhijit day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
6. The three Svara-Sâman days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
7. Vishnuvân or the Central day which stands by itself i.e., not counted in the total of the Sattra days
8. The three Svara-Sâman days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
9. The Vishvajit day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
10. One Pṛiṣhṭhya and three Abhiplava ṣhaḷahas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
11. One Pṛiṣhṭhya and four Abhiplava ṣhaḷahas each month continued in this way for four months . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
12. Three Abhiplava ṣhaḷahas, one Go-ṣhṭoma, one Âyu-ṣhṭoma, and one Dasharâtra (the ten days of Dvâdashâha), making up one month . . . . . . . 30
13. The Mahâvrata day, corresponding to the Chaturviṁsha day at the beginning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
14. The concluding Atirâtra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Total days: 360

It will be seen from the above scheme that there are really a few sacrificial rites which are absolutely fixed and unchangeable in the yearly Sattra. The two Atirâtras, the introductory and the concluding, the Chaturviṁsha and the Mahâvrata day, the Abhijit and the Vishvajit, the three Svara-Sâman days on either side of Viṣhuvân, the Viṣhuvân itself, and the ten days of Dvâdashâha, making up 22 days in all exclusive of Viṣhuvân, are the only parts that have any specialty about them. The rest of the days are all made up by Abhiplava and Pṛiṣhṭhya ṣhaḷahas which therefore constitute what may be called the elastic or the variable part of the yearly Sattra. Thus if we want a Gavâm-ayanam of ten months, we have only to strike off five ṣhaḷahas from the


parts marked 3 and 11 in the above scheme. The Adityânâṁ-ayanam is another modification of the above scheme in which amongst other changes, the ṣhaḷahas are all Abhiplava, instead of being a combination of Abhiplava and Priṣhṭhya; while if all the ṣhaḷahas are Priṣhṭhya, along with some other changes, it becomes the Aṅgirasâm-ayanam. All these modifications do not however, touch the total number of 360 days. But there were sacrificers, who adopted the lunar year of 354 days and therefore, omitted 6 days from the above scheme and their Sattra is called the Utsarginâm-ayanam (Tait. Sam. VII, 5, 7, 1, Tâṇḍya Brâh. V, 10). In short, the object was to make the Sattra correspond with the year adopted, civil or lunar, as closely as possible. But these points are not relevant to our purpose. The Brâhmaṇas and the Shrauta Sûtras give further details about the various rites to be performed on the Viṣhuvân, the Abhijit and the Vishvajit or the Svara-Sâman day. The Aitareya Araṇyaka describes the Mahâvrata ceremony; while the Atirâtra and the Chaturviṁsha are described in the fourth book of the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa. The Chaturviṁsha is so called because the stoma to be chanted on that day is twenty-four-fold. It is the real beginning of the Sattra as the Mahâvrata is its end. The Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 14) says, “The Hotṛi pours forth the seed. Thus he makes the seed (which is poured forth) by means of the Mahâvrata day produce off-spring. For seed if effused every year is productive.” This explanation shows that like the Pravargya ceremony, the Mahâvrata was intended to preserve the seed of the sacrifice in order that it might germinate or grow at the proper time. It was a sort of link between the dying and the coming year and appropriately concluded the annual Sattra. It will be further seen that every annual Sattra had an Ati-râtra at each of its ends and that the Dvâdashâha, or rather the ten days thereof, formed an important concluding part of the Sattra.

The above is only a brief description, a mere outline of the scheme of the annual Sattras mentioned in sacrificial works, but it is sufficient for our purpose. We can see from it that


a civil year of 360 days formed their basis, and the position of the Viṣhuvân was of great importance inasmuch as the ceremonies after it were performed in the reverse order. I have shown elsewhere what important inferences can be drawn from the position of the Viṣhuvân regarding the calendar in use at the time when the scheme was settled. But we have now to consider of times which preceded the settlement of this scheme, and for that purpose we must describe another set of Soma sacrifices included under the general class of Sattras. It has been stated above that side by side with the Dvâdashâha, there are Ahîna sacrifices of two nights, three nights, etc. up to twelve nights. But these sacrifices do not stop with the twelve nights’ performance. There are thirteen nights’, fourteen nights’, fifteen nights’, and so on up to one hundred nights’ sacrifice called Trayodasha-râtra, Chaturdasha-râtra and so on up to Shata-râtra. But since the Ahîna has been defined to be a sacrifice extending over not more than twelve or less than thirteen days, all the night-sacrifices extending over a period longer than twelve-nights are included in the third class, viz., the Sattras. If we, however, disregard this artificial division, it will be found that along with the Ekâha, the Dvâdashâhaand the annual Sattras, there is a series of, what are termed, the night-sacrifices or sattras extending over a period of time from two to one hundred nights, but not further. These night-sacrifices or Ratri-sattras are mentioned in the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ, the Brâhmaṇas and the Shrauta Sûtras in clear terms and there is no ambiguity about their nature, number, or duration. The Taittirîya Saṁhitâ in describing them often uses the word Râtriḥ (nights) in the plural, stating, that so and so was the first to institute or to perceive so many nights meaning so many nights’ sacrifice, (viṁshatim râtriḥ, VII. 3, 9, 1; dvâtriṁshatam râtriḥ VII, 4, 4, 1). According to the principle of division noted above all night-sacrifices of less than thirteen nights’ duration will be called Ahîna, while those extending over longer time up to one hundred nights will come under Sattras; but this is, as remarked


above, evidently an artificial division, and one, who reads carefully the description of these sacrifices, cannot fail to be struck by the fact that we have here a series of night-sacrifices from two to a hundred nights, or if we include the Ati-râtra marked in this series, we have practically a set of hundred nightly Soma sacrifices, though, according to the principle of division adopted, some may fall under the head of Ahîna and some under that of Sattras.

Now an important question in connection with these Sattras is why they alone should be designated “night-sacrifices” (râtri-kratus), or “night-sessions” (râtri-sattras)? and why their number should be one hundred? or, in other words, why there are no night-sattras of longer duration than one hundred nights? The Mîmâṁsakas answer the first part of the question by asking us to believe that the word “night” (râtriḥ) is really used to denote a day in the denomination of these sacrifices (Shabara on Jaimini VIII, 1, 17). The word dvi-râtra according to this theory means two days’ sacrifice, and shata-râtra a hundred days’ sacrifice. This, explanation appears very good at the first sight, and as a matter of fact it has been accepted by all writers on the sacrificial ceremonies. In support of it, we may also cite the fact that as the moon was the measurer of time in ancient days, the night was then naturally more marked then the day, and instead of saying “so many days” men often spoke of “so many nights,” much in the same way as we now use the word “fort-night.” This is no doubt good so far as it goes; but the question is why should there be no Soma sacrifices of a longer duration than one hundred nights? and, why a gap, a serious gap, is left in the series of Soma sacrifices after one hundred nights Sattra until we come to the annual Sattra of 360 days? Admitting that “night” means “day,” we have Soma sacrifices lasting from 1 to 100 days; and if so where was the harm to complete the series until the yearly Sattra of 360 days was reached? So far as I know, no writer on sacrificial ceremonies has attempted to answer this question satisfactorily. Of course adopting the


speculative manner of the Brâhmaṇas we might say that there are no Soma sacrifices of longer than one hundred nights’ duration, because the life of a man cannot extend beyond a hundred years, (Tait. Br. III, 8, 16, 2). But such an explanation can never be regarded as satisfactory, and the Mîmâṁsakas, who got over one difficulty by interpreting “night” into “day,” have practically left this latter question untouched, and therefore, unsolved. In short, the case stands thus: — The sacrificial literature mentions a series of 99 or practically one hundred Soma sacrifices, called the “night-sacrifices”; but these do not form a part of any annual Sattra like the Gavâm-ayanam, nor is any reason assigned for their separate existence, nor is their duration which never exceeds a hundred nights, accounted for. Neither the authors of the Brâhmaṇas nor those of the Shrauta Sûtras much less Sâyaṇa and Yâska give us any clue to the solution of this question; and the Mîmâṁsakas, after explaining the word “night” occurring in the names of these sacrifices as equal to “day” have allowed these night-sacrifices to remain as an isolated group in the organized system of Soma sacrifices. Under these circumstances it would no doubt appear presumptuous for any one to suggest an explanation, so many centuries after what may be called the age of the Sattras. But I feel the Arctic theory which, we have seen, is supported by strong independent evidence, not only explains but appropriately accounts for the original existence of this isolated series of a hundred Soma sacrifices; and I, therefore, proceed to give my view on the point.

It seems to me that if the word râtri in Atî-râtra is still understood to mean “night,” and that if the Ati-râtra sacrifice is even now performed during the night, there is no reason why we should not similarly interpret the same word in Dvi-râtra, Tri-râtra &c. up to Shata-râtra. The objection, that the Soma juice is not extracted during the night, is more imaginary than real; for as a matter of fact Soma libations are made in the usual way, during the Ati-râtra sacrifice. The Ati-râtra sacrifice is performed at the beginning and the end


of every Sattra; and all the three libations of Soma are always offered during the three turns, or paryâyas, of the night. The Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 5), in explaining the origin of this sacrifice, tells us that the Asuras had taken shelter with the night and the Devas, who had taken shelter with the day, wanted to expel them from the dark region. But amongst the Devas, Indra alone was found ready and willing to undertake this task; and entering into darkness, he with the assistance of Metres, turned the Asuras out of the first part of the night by the first Soma libation, while by means of the middle turn (paryâya) of passing the Soma-cup, the Asuras were turned out of the middle part and by the third turn out of the third or the last part of the night. The three Soma libations, here spoken of, are all made during the night and the Brâhmaṇa further observes that there is no other deity save Indra and the Metres to whom they are offered (Cf. Apas. Sh. Su. XIV, 3, 12). The next section of the Brâhmaṇa (IV, 6) distinctly raises the question, “How are the Pavamâna Stotras to be chanted for the purification of the Soma juice provided for the night, whereas such Sutras refer only to the day but not to the night?” and answers it by stating that the Stotras are the same for the day and the night. It is clear from this that Soma juice was extracted and purified at night during Ati-râtra sacrifice and Indra was the only deity to whom the libations were offered in order to help him in his fight with the Asuras, who had taken shelter with the darkness of the night. That the Ati-râtra is an ancient sacrifice is further proved by the occurrence of a similar ceremony in the Parsi scriptures. The word Ati-râtra does not occur in the Avesta, but in the Vendibad, XVIII, 18, (43)-22 (48), we are told that there are three parts of the night and that in the first of these parts (trishvai), Fire, the son of Ahura Mazda, calls upon the master of the house to arise and put on his girdle and to fetch clean wood in order that he may burn bright; for, says the Fire, “Here comes Azi (Sans. Ahi) made by the Daêvas (Vedic Asuras), who is about to strive against me and wants


to put out my life.” And the asme request is made during the second and the third part of the night. The close resemblance between this and the three paryâyas of the Ati-râtra sacrifice does not seem to have been yet noticed; but whether noticed or not it shows that the Ati-râtra is an ancient rite performed during the night for the purpose of helping Indra, or the deity that fought with the powers of darkness, and that such sacrificial acts as putting on the girdle (kosti) or squeezing the Soma, were performed during this period of darkness.

Now what applies to the sacrifice of a single night may well be extended to cases where sacrifices had to be performed for two, three or more continuous nights. I have already shown before that the ancient sacrificers completed their sacrificial sessions in ten months and a long night followed the completion of these sacrifices. What did the sacrificers do during this long night? They could not have slept all the time; and as a matter of fact we know that the people in the extreme north of Europe and Asia do not, even at present sleep during the whole of the long night which occurs in their, part of the globe. Paul Du Chaillu, who has recently (1900) published an account of his travels in The Land of the Long Night, informs us (p. 75) that although the sun went below the horizon for several days in the Arctic regions, yet during the period “the Lapps could tell from the stars whether it was night or day, for they were accustomed to gauge time by the stars according to their height above the horizon, just as we do at home with the sun”; and what the Lapps do now, must have been done by the oldest inhabitants of the circum-polar regions. It is, therefore, clear that the ancient sacrificers of the Aryan race could not have gone to sleep after sacrificing for ten months. Did they then sit idle with their hands folded when Indra was fighting for them with the powers of darkness? They performed their sacrifices for ten months with a view to help Indra in his war with Vala; and just at the time when Indra most needed the help of invigorating songs and Soma libations, are we to suppose


that these sacrificers sat idle, gave up the sacrifices and left Indra to fight with Vala alone and single-handed as best as be could? The whole theory of sacrifices negatives such a supposition. Therefore, if the Arctic theory is true, and if the ancestor of the Vedic Ṛiṣhis ever lived in a region where the darkness of the night lasted for several days (a day being taken as a measure of time equal to 24 hours), we naturally expect to find a series of nightly Soma sacrifices performed during the period, to help the gods in their struggle with the demons of darkness; and as a matter of fact, there are in the Vedic sacrificial literature, a number of sacrifices which, if we include the Ati-râtra in it, extend from one to a hundred nights. The Mîmâṁsakas and even the authors of the Brâhmaṇas, who knew little about the ancient Arctic home, have converted these night-sacrifices into day-sacrifices; but the explanation evidently appears to be in vented at a time when the true nature of the Râtri-kratus or Râtri-sattras was forgotten, and it does not, therefore, preclude us from interpreting these facts in a different way. I have already stated above that if we accept the explanation of the Mîmâṁsakas, we cannot explain why the series of the night-sacrifices should abruptly end with the Shata-râtra or a hundred nights’ sacrifice; but by the Arctic theory we can explain the fact satisfactorily by supposing that the duration of the long night in the ancient home varied from one night (of 24 hours) to a hundred continuous nights (of 2400 hours) according to latitude, and that the hundred nightly Soma sacrifices corresponded to the different durations of the night at different places in the ancient home. Thus where the darkness lasted only for ten nights (240 hours) a Dasha-râtra sacrifice was performed, while where it lasted for 100 nights (2400 hours) a Shata-râtra sacrifice was necessary. There are no sacrifices after the Shata-râtra because a hundred continuous nights marked the maximum duration of darkness experienced by the ancient sacrificers of the race. We have seen that the legend of Aditi indicates a period of seven months’ sunshine; join to it the Dawn and the Twilight of 30


days each, and there are left three months, (or if we take the year to consist of 365 days, then 95 days), for the duration of the long continuous night, — a result which remarkably corresponds to the longest duration of the night-sacrifices known in the Vedic literature. The Dawn marked the end of the long night, and could not; therefore, be included in the latter at least for sacrificial purposes. In fact separate sacrifices are enjoined for the Dawn in sacrificial works; and we may, therefore, safely exclude the long Dawn from the province of the nightly sacrifices, and the same may be said of the period of the long evening twilight. A hundred nights’ sacrifice thus marked the maximum duration of darkness during which Indra fought with Vala and was strengthened by the Soma libations offered to him in this sacrifice. As there is no other theory to account for the existence of the night-sacrifices, and especially for their number, to wit, one hundred, these sacrifices may be safely taken to indicate the existence of an ancient year approximately divided into seven months’ sunshine, one month’s dawn, one month’s evening twilight and three months’ long continuous night.

There are other considerations which point out to the same conclusion. In the post-Vedic literature we have a persistent tradition that Indra alone of all gods is the master of a hundred sacrifices (shata-kratu), and that as this attribute formed, so to say, the very essence of Indraship, he always jealously watched all possible encroachments against it. But European scholars relying upon the fact that even Sâyaṇa prefers, except in a few places (III, 51, 2) to interpret shata-kratu, as applied to Indra in the Ṛig-Veda, as meaning, not “the master of a hundred sacrifices,” but “the lord of a hundred mights or powers,” have not only put aside the Purâṇic tradition, but declined to interpret the word kratu in the Ṛig-Veda except in the sense of “power, energy, skill, wisdom, or generally speaking, the power of body or mind.” But if the above explanation of the origin of the night sacrifices is correct, we must retrace our steps and acknowledge


that the Purâṇic tradition or legend is, fater all, not built upon a pure misunderstanding of the original meaning of the epithet shata-kratu as applied to Indra in the Vedic-literature. I am aware of the fact that traditions in the post-Vedic literature are often found to have but a slender basis in the Vedas, but in the present case we have something more reliable and tangible to go upon. We have a group, an isolated group of a hundred nightly Soma sacrifices and as long as it stands unexplained in the Vedic sacrificial literature it would be unreasonable to decline to connect it with the Purâṇic tradition of Indra’s sole mastership of hundred sacrifices, especially when in the light of the Arctic theory the two can be so well and intelligibly connected. The hundred sacrifices, which are regarded as constituting the essence of Indraship in the Purâṇas, are there said to be the Ashvamedha sacrifices and it may, at the outset, be urged that the shata-râtra sacrifice mentioned in the sacrificial works is not an Ashvamedha sacrifice. But the distinction is neither important, nor material. The Ashvamedha sacrifice is a Soma sacrifice and is described in the sacrificial works along with the night-sacrifices. In the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ (VII, 2, 11) a hundred offerings of food to be made in the Ashvamedha sacrifice are mentioned, and the Taittirîya Brâhmaṇa (III, 8, 15, 1) states that Prajâpati obtained these offerings “during the night,” and consequently they are called Râtri-homas. The duration of the Ashvamedha sacrifice is again not fixed, inasmuch as it depends upon the return of the horse and in the Ṛig-Veda (I, 163, 1) the sacrificial horse is identified with the sun moving in waters. The return of the sacrificial horse may, therefore, be taken to symbolize the return of the sun after the long night and a close resemblance between the Ashvamedha and the night-sacrifices, which were performed to enable Indra to fight with Vala and rescue the dawn and the sun from his clutches, may thus be taken as established. At any rate, we need not be surprised if the Shata-râtra Soma sacrifice appears in the form of a hundred Ashvamedha sacrifices in the Purâṇas. The tradition is substantially the


same in either case and when it can be so easily and naturally explained on the Arctic theory, it would not be reasonable to set it aside and hold that the writers of the Purâṇas created it by misinterpreting the word Shata-kratu occurring in the Vedas.

We have seen that shata-kratu as applied to Indra is interpreted by Western scholars and in many places even by Sâyaṇa himself, as meaning the lord of a hundred powers. Sâyaṇa now and then (III, 51, 2; X, 103, 7) suggests or gives an alternative explanation and makes Indra “the master of a hundred sacrifices”; but Western scholars have gone further and discarded all other explanations except the one noted above. It is, therefore, necessary to examine the meaning of this epithet, as used in the Ṛig-Veda, a little more closely in this place. If the word kratu in shata-kratu be interpreted to mean “might” or “power,” the numeral shata, which strictly denotes “a hundred,” will have to be taken as equivalent to “many” or “numerous” inasmuch as no definite set of a hundred powers can be pointed out as specially belonging to Indra. That the word shata may be so interpreted is evident from the fact that adjectives like shata-nîtha (I, 100, 12) and shatam-ûti (I, 102, 6; 130, 8), as applied to India in the Ṛig-Veda, are found in other places in the form of sahasra-nîtha (III, 60, 7), and sahasram-ûti (I, 52, 2). Again Indra’s arrow is once called shata-bradhna and also sahasra-parṇa in the same verse (VIII, 77, 7); while Soma is represented as going in a hundred ways (shata-yâman) in IX, 86, 16, and a few hymns after it is said to be sahasra-yâman or going in a thousand ways (IX, 106, 5). Even the adjective shata-manyu which Sâyaṇa interprets as meaning “the master of a hundred sacrifices” in X, 103, 7, has its counterpart, if not in the Ṛig-Veda at least in the Sâma-Veda which reads sahasra-manyu for sahasra-muṣhka in Ṛig-Veda VI, 46, 3. This shows that the Vedic bards considered shata (a hundred) and sahasra (a thousand) as interchangeable numerals in some places and if the numeral shata in shata-kratu had been of the same character, we should naturally have met with a paraphrase


of the epithet as sahasra-kratu somewhere in the Vedic literature. But although the epithet shata-kratu, as applied to Indra, occurs about sixty times in the Ṛig-Veda and several times in other Vedic works, nowhere do we find it paraphrased as sahasra-kratu, which shows that the Vedic bards did not feel themselves at liberty to alter or paraphrase it as they liked., The adjective amita-kratu is applied to Indra in I, 102, 6; but as amita does not necessarily mean more than “one hundred,” it does not follow that on this account we should give up the ordinary meaning of shata in shata-kratu. If the word kratu had nowhere been used in the Ṛig-Veda to denote a sacrifice, we may have been justified in interpreting shata-kratu in the way suggested by Western scholars. But, as observed by Dr. Haug, when Vasiṣhtha prayed to Indra (VII, 32, 26) “Carry, O Indra! our sacrificial performance (kratum) through, just as a father does to his sons (by assisting them). Teach us, O thou, who art invoked by many that we may, in this turn (of the night) reach alive the (sphere of) light (jyotis),”* the prayer in all probability refers to the sacrificial performance (kratu) held for the purpose of enabling the sacrificers to safely reach the other end of the night. In fact, it refers to the Ati-râtra sacrifice and the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 10) quotes and interprets it in the same way. Sâyaṇa in his commentary on the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa though not in the Ṛig-Veda Bhâṣhya, also takes the same view; and as the Ati-râtra sacrifice is referred to expressly by its name in the Ṛig-Veda (VII, 103, 7) it is not at all unlikely that a verse referring to this Soma sacrifice should occur in other hymns. Hence if there are passages where kratu can be taken to mean “a sacrifice” there is no reason why the epithet shata-kratu be not understood to mean “the master of a hundred sacrifices” as suggested by the Purâṇic tradition.

* See Dr. Haug’s Ait. Br. (IV, 10), Trans. Vol. II, p. 274, and the translator’s note thereon. Dr. Haug thinks that the verse (Ṛig. VII, 32, 26 ) evidently refers to the Ati-râtra feast, for which occasion it was in all likelihood composed by Vasiṣhṭha.


Another fact which favors this interpretation, is that in the Ṛig-Veda Indra is described as destroying 90, 99 or 100 fortresses or cities (puraḥ) of his enemies (I, 130, 7; II, 19, 6; VI, 31, 4; II, 14, 6). Now deva-purâḥ, which means “the fortresses of the gods,” has been interpreted to mean “days” in the description of the dash râtra sacrifice in the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ VII, 2, 5, 3-4; and if deva-purâḥ means “days,” the purâḥ (cities, fortresses) of Shambara may well be taken to mean “nights.” This view is confirmed by the statement in the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa previously quoted, which says that the Asuras found shelter with the night, or in other words, the darkness of the night was, so to say, their fortress. Indra’s destroying a hundred forts of Shambara is, therefore, equivalent to his fighting with the enemy for a hundred continuous nights, a period during which the ancient sacrificers offered him Sonia libations in order that he may be better prepared for the struggle with Vala. The destruction of 99 or 100 forts of the enemy, a group of a hundred nightly sacrifices, the nine and ninety rivers (sravantîḥ) which Indra is described as crossing during his fight with Ahi (I, 32, 14), and a hundred leather straps with which Kutsa is said to have bound down Indra to his sacrifice in the Tâṇdya Brâhmaṇa IX, 2, 22, and from which he is invoked to free himself in Ṛig. X, 38, 5, are but so many different kaleidoscopic views of the same idea which makes Indra and Indra alone the lord of a hundred sacrifices; and if we take all these together they undoubtedly point out to the existence of a hundred continuous nights in the ancient home of the ancestors of the Vedic people. In V, 48, 3, “a hundred,” moving in the abode of Indra are said to turn on and turn off the course of ordinary days when Indra strikes Vṛitra with his bolt;* and I think we have

* Ṛig. V, 48, 3, — आ गरावभिर अहन्येभिर अक्तुभिर वरिष्ठं वज्रम आ जिघर्ति मायिनि । शतं वा यस्य परचरन सवे दमे संवर्तयन्तो वि च वर्तयन्न अहा ॥


here a distinct allusion either to a hundred sacrifices performed or to a hundred continuous nights required for securing a complete victory over the powers of darkness in the nether world, and which nights (or rather one long night of hundred days) may well be described as breaking off and bringing back the succession of ordinary days and nights, inasmuch as the long night immediately follows and precedes the period of sunshine in the Arctic regions.

But a far more striking corroboration of the above view is furnished by certain passages in the Avesta which describe the fight of Tishtrya with the demon of draught called Apa osha or “the burner” in the Parsi scriptures. In the Ṛig-Veda the fight of Indra with Vṛitra (Vṛitra-tûrya) is often represented as “a struggle for waters” (up-tûrya), or as “the striving for cows” (go-iṣhṭi), or “the striving for day” (div-iṣhṭi) and Indra is said to have released the cows or waters, and brought on the dawn or the sun by killing Vṛitra (I, 51, 4; II, 19, 3). Now India, as Vṛitra-han, appears as Verethraghna in the Avesta; but the fight for waters is therein ascribed not to Verethraghna but to Tishtrya, the star of rain. It is he, who knocks down Apaosha and liberates the waters for the benefit of man, “with the assistance of the winds, and the light that dwells in the waters.” In short Tishtrya’s conquest over Apaosha is an exact parallel of Indra’s conquest over Vṛitra as described in the Ṛig-Veda; and as the legends are interpreted at present, they are said to refer to the breaking up of the clouds and the bringing on of the rains on the earth. Tishtrya being supposed to be the star of rain. But this theory fails to account for the fact how the recovery of the dawn and the rising of the sun, or the bringing on of light, were included amongst the effects of Indra’s victory over Vṛitra. It will be shown in the next chapter that the struggle for waters has very little to do with rain, and that the fight for waters and the fight for light are really synchronous, being two different versions of the same story. In short, both of these legends really represent the victory of the powers of light over darkness. Shuṣhṇa or “the scorcher”


is one of the names given to Indra’s enemy in the Ṛig-Veda (I, 51, 11), and the result of the conflict between Indra and Shuṣhṇa is the release of the waters, as well as the finding of the morning cows (VIII, 96, 17), and the winning of the sun (VI, 20, 5). Apaosha is thus Shuṣhṇa under a different garb, and the only difference between the two legends is that while Indra is the chief actor in the one, Tishtrya is the chief hero in the other. But this difference is immaterial inasmuch as the attributes of one deity are often transferred, even in Ṛig-Veda, to another. The Avestic legend of Tishtrya is, therefore, rightly understood by Zend scholars to be a reproduction of the Vedic legend of Indra and Vṛitra.* Now, in the Tir Yasht, Tishtrya is represented as eventually overcoming Apaosha with the help of the Haoma sacrifice offered to Tishtrya by Ahura Mazda (Yt. VIII, 15-25). The fight is carried on in the region of the waters, the sea Vouru-Kasha, from which Tishtrya is described as rising up victorious after defeating Apaosha (Yt. VIII, 32). Daêva Apaosha is again said to have assumed the form of a dark horse, while Tishtrya is represented as opposing him in the form of a bright horse, hoof against hoof (Yt. VIII, 28), and eventually coming up victorious from out of the sea Vouru-Kasha, like the sacrificial horse rising from the waters in the Ṛig-Veda (I, 163, 1). But the passage most important for our purpose is the one in which Tishtrya informs Ahura Mazda as to what should be done in order to enable Tishtrya to overcome his enemy and to appear before the faithful at the appointed time. “If men would worship me,” says Tishtrya to Ahura Mazda, “with a sacrifice in which I were invoked by my own name, as they worship the other Yazatas with sacrifices in which they are invoked by their own names, then I should have come to the faithful at the appointed time; I should have come in the appointed time of my beautiful immortal life, should it be one night, or two nights, or fifty, or a hundred nights,” (Yt. VIII, 11).

* See Darmesteter’s Trans. of Zend-Avesta Part II, (Vol. XXIII S. B. E. Series), p. 12. He remarks that Tishtrya’s legend is “a refacimento of the old storm-myths.”


As Tishtrya appears before man after his battle with Apaosha, the phrase “appointed time” signifies the time during which the battle is fought and at the termination of which Tishtrya comes to the faithful; and the passage, therefore, means (1) that the “appointed time,” when Tishtrya was to appear before man after fighting with Apaosha, varied from one night to a hundred nights and (2) that Tishtrya required to be strengthened during the period by Haoma sacrifices in which he was to be invoked by his own name. We have seen above that a hundred nightly Soma sacrifices were offered to Indra by the ancient Vedic sacrificers to enable him to secure a victory over Vṛitra and that Indra was the only deity to whom the libations were offered in these sacrifices. The legend of Tishtrya and Apaosha is, therefore, an exact reproduction of Indra’s fight with Vṛitra or Vala; and with his correspondence before us, we should feel no hesitation in accepting the view stated above regarding the origin of the Shata-râtra sacrifice. Neither Darmesteter nor Spiegel explains why the appointed time for the appearance of Tishtrya is described as “one night, or two nights, or fifty or a hundred nights,” though both translate the original in the same way. The legend also forms the subject of chapter VII of the Bundahish, but there, too, we find no explanation as to why the appointed time is described as varying from one to a hundred nights. It is, however, suggested by some that the appointed time may refer to the season of rains. But rains cannot be said to come after “one night, two nights, or fifty, or a hundred nights,” and the latter expression would therefore, be utterly inappropriate in their case; nor, as stated above, does Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha represent only a struggle for rain, since we know that it is a struggle for light as well. We have also seen that the existence of night-sacrifices in the Vedic literature, extending over one, two, three, or ten, or a hundred nights, indicates the long darkness during which Indra fought with Vala; and the coincidence between this fact and the “appointed time,” of Tishtrya cannot be regarded as accidental. The legends


are undoubted in identical character, and taking the one to illustrate the other, the only conclusion deducible from them is that, a hundred nights was regarded to be the maximum duration of the fight between Indra and Vala, or Tishtrya and Apaosha, so far as the ancestors of the Indo-Iranian people were concerned, and that the sea Vouru-Kasha, or the ocean “encompassed with darkness,” as the Ṛig-Veda has it (II, 23, 18), was the scene of this battle between the powers of light and darkness. We also learn from them that the hero of the battle, whether he was Indra or Tishtrya, stood in need of help, derived from the performance of the sacrifices specially offered to him during the period; and that as a matter of fact such sacrifices were performed in ancient times. The word shata-kratu does not occur in the Avesta, but in the Ashi Yasht (Yt. XVII, 56) “a ram of hundred-fold energy” (maeshahe satokarahe) is spoken of; and considering the fact that in the Bahram Yasht (Yt. XIV, 23) “a beautiful ram, with horns bent round” is said to be one of the incarnations of Vere-thraghna, and that Indra is also described as appearing in the form of a ram in the Ṛig-Veda (VIII, 2, 40), it is very probable that the phrase sato-karahe maeshahe refers to Vere-thraghna in the Ashi Yasht, and like the epithet shata-kratu, the adjective sato-karahe means not “possessed of hundred powers,” but “the master of a hundred deeds or sacrifices.” There is thus a very close correspondence between the Vedic and the Avestic ideas on this subject, and this strengthens the conclusion that the night sacrifices in the Vedic literature had their origin in the existence of a long continuous night of varying durations in the original home of the Vedic people. We can now also satisfactorily explain why Tishtrya is described (Yt. VIII, 36, vide Spiegel’s Trans.) as “bringing hither the circling years of men.” It is the Avestic parallel of the Vedic story of the Dawn setting in motion “the ages of men, or mânuṣhâ yugâ,” discussed in the last chapter, and stews that when Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha, or India’s war with Vala, was over, the new year commenced with the long dawn, followed by the months of sunshine varying from


seven to eleven in number, according to the latitude of the place.*

In the light of what has been stated above, we can now better understand the original nature and meaning of the Ati-râtra sacrifice. It is a nightly sacrifice, performed during the night, even at present, and the Mîmâṁsakas have not succeeded in converting it into a day-sacrifice. So far it is all right; but the question is why should the sacrifice be called Ati-râtra? The prefix ati (corresponding with Latin trans) ordinarily denotes “something beyond” “something on the other side, or at the other end,” and not “something pervading, extending, or spreading the whole extent of anything.” Even Sâyaṇa in his commentary on VII, 103, 7, the only place where the word Ati-râtra occurs in the Ṛig-Veda, explains it to mean “that which is the past or beyond the night” (râtrim atîtya vartate iti ati-râtraḥ), and Rudradatta in his commentary on the Âpasthamba Shrauta Sûtra (XIV, 1, 1), gives the same explanation. The Ati-râtra therefore, denotes a trans nocturnal sacrifice that is, performed at either end of the night. Now according to the Aitareya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 5),

* The passage about Tishtrya’s connection with the year is noticed by Mr. Meherjibhai Nosherwanji Kuka, M.A., in his essay “On the order of Parsi months,” published in the Cama Memorial Volume (p. 58), and of which he was kind enough to send me a separate copy.
       The passage is in the Tir Yasht, § 36: — “Tishtrîm stârem raevantem kharenanghuantem yazamaide, yim yâre-chareṣho maṣhyehe Ahuracha khratu-gûto aurunacha gairiṣhâcho sizdaracha ravascharâto uziyoirentem hisposentem huyâiryâicha danghve uzjasentem duzyâiryâicha, kata Airyâo danghâvo huyâiryâo bavâonti.” Spiegel translates it thus, “We praise the star Tishtrya, the shining, the majestic, who brings here the circling years of men.” Darmesteter takes yâre-chareṣho &c., with the words following, viz., uziyoirentem hisposentem, and translates, “We praise Tishtrya &c., whose rising is watched by men, who live on the fruits of the year.” According to Dastur Erachji Mleherjirana (see his Yasht bâ mâeni), the meaning of the whole paragraph, in which this passage occurs, is: — “We praise Tishtrya, &c, who maketh the year revolve in accordance with the notions of the mountaineers and the nomads. He riseth and is visible towards the regions where there is no correct calculation of the year.”
       But whatever the difficulties of interpretation may be, one thing seems to be quite clear from this passage, viz., that Tishtrya was the star by which the year was reckoned. In the Tir Yasht § 5, springs of water are said to flow at the rising of Tishtrya, who in § 16 is described as “mingling his shape with light,” or “moving in light,” § 46. All these incidents can be satisfactorily explained if we suppose that, after Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha, lasting for 100 nights at the longest; the aerial waters, which communicated motion to the sun and other heavenly bodies (see Faravardin Yasht 53-58) and which lay still or stagnant during the time, were set free to move again along the path made by Mazda, bringing on with them the light of the sun and thus commencing the new year after the long winter night in the Arctic region. The simultaneous character of the motion of waters, the commencement of the new year, and the winning of light after Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha, can be explained only in this way, and not by making the legend refer to the rainy season (see the discussion about “waters” in the next chapter). The Pairika Duz-yairya, or the Bad Year, which Tishtrya is said to break asunder, is on this theory, the wearisome dark Arctic night.


the Ati-râtra sacrifice is performed for the purpose of driving out the Asuras from the darkness of night; and the Tâṇḍya Brâhmaṇa (IV, 1, 4-5) tells us that Prajâpati, who first perceived the sacrifice, created from it the twin of day and night (aho-râtre). It follows from this that the Ati-râtra was performed at the close of such night as give rise-to the ordinary days and nights, or, in other words, the regular succession of days and nights followed its performance. This can only be the case if we suppose that the Ati-râtra was performed at the end of a long continuous night in regions where such night occurred. With us in the temperate or the tropical zone, ordinary days and nights regularly succeed each other throughout the year without any break, and it is meaningless, if not absurd, to speak of the cycle of day and night as produced from a particular night in the year. Again, on the theory of a daily struggle between light and darkness the Asuras must be turned out of darkness every night, and strictly speaking the performance of the Ati-râtra is necessary on every one of the 360 nights of the Sattra. But as a matter of fact the Ati-râtra is performed only at the beginning and the end of the Sattra; and even then the regular Sattra is said


to commence on the Chaturviṁsha and close on the Mahavrata day, and not on the concluding Atirâtra day. It seems, therefore, that the performance of the Ati-râtra was not originally intended to drive away the Asuras from only the first of 360 nights over which the Sattra now extends. For in that case there is no reason why the Asuras were not required to be expelled from everyone of the 360 nights. It follows, therefore, that the Ati-râtra or the traps-nocturnal sacrifice refers to some night not included in the regular nights of the Gavâm-ayanam. It is true that the Ati-râtra is performed at the beginning and the end of every Sattra and in one sense it is therefore, a trans-sattra or ati-sattra sacrifice. But that does not account for the name Ati-râtra as the Sattra is not held during night. We must, therefore hold that the two Ati-râtras were originally performed not at the beginning and the end of a Sattra but at the beginning and the end of a night which occurred or intervened between the last and the first day of the Sattra. When this night ended with an Ati-râtra the usual Sattra began and as the sun was above the horizon during the period producing the regular succession of days and nights no Ati-râtra was needed during the Sattra, for as stated in the Taṇḍya Brâhmaṇa the object of the Ati-râtra was gained. But the Sattra closed with the long night and the Ati-râtra had therefore again to be performed at the end of the Sattra to drive the Asuras from this night. I have shown before that we have direct and reliable authority in the Taittirîya Saṁhitâ to hold that the Gavâm-ayanam was once completed in ten months or 300 days and it was therefore appropriately closed with and introduced by an Ati-râtra. The word Ati-râtra is thus rationally explained, for the sacrifice was performed at the beginning and the close of the long night and, was therefore, adequately called a trans-nocturnal sacrifice. Between these two Ati-râtras came all the night-sacrifices mentioned above, offered exclusively to Indra. The old Gavâm-ayanam of ten or less than ten months, the Ati-râtra or the trans-nocturnal, the Râtri-kratus and Râtri-sattras, or nightly Soma sacrifices of two, three, &c., up to a hundred continuous nights’ duration,


and lastly the Ati-râtra, to be again followed by the Gavâm-ayanam, thus formed the complete yearly round of sacrifices performed by the primeval ancestors of the. Vedic people; and each of these sacrifices had originally the same place in the yearly round as is indicated by the root-meaning of its name.* But when the year of ten months was converted into one of twelve to suit the altered conditions of the new home, the Gavâm-ayanam expanded into a performance of 360 days, and the elastic nature of the greater portion of the performance, as pointed out above, permitted the change to be easily carried out. But though the annual Sattra expanded in this way, encroaching upon the night-sacrifices of the long night, which were no longer needed, the Ati-râtra was retained as an introductory sacrifice and was incorporated in the ceremonies of the Sattra itself. Thus the two Ati-râtra sacrifices, which were originally performed, as shown by the etymology, at the two termini of the long night, came to be converted into the introductory and concluding sacrifices of the annual Sattra; and if the word Ati-râtra had not been retained, we could not have got any clue to reveal to us the-story of its changing fortune. But the night-sacrifices, the Râtri-kratus or Râtri-sattras, which were performed during the long night between the two Ati-râtras, were no longer needed and. their nature came to be soon misunderstood, until at last the Mîmâṁsakas finally made room for them in the class of daily Soma sacrifices, partly under Ahînas and partly under Sattras, by means of the equation that râtri (night) is equal to aho-râtre (day and night) in the sacrificial literature. How this change was carried out is a question beyond the scope of this book; but I may- here state that, in my opinion, it was the authors of Brâhmaṇas,

* The time here assigned to the Râtri-sattras appears to have been known to the Shrauta Sûtras, or in the Lâṭyâyana Shrauta Sûtra VIII, 2, 16, we read that “After the year (annual sacrificial session) is over, the Soma should be purchased during the Râtri-sattras,” evidently showing that the Râtri-sattras came at the end of the yearly Sattras.


or the Brahmavâdins who preceded them, that had to perform the difficult task of adapting the ancient sacrificial calendar to the changed conditions of their new home, somewhat after the manner of Numa’s reform of the ancient Roman calendar. The sacrifice was the main ritual of the Vedic religion, and naturally enough the priests must have tried to preserve as much of the old sacrificial system as they possibly could in adapting it to the new conditions. The task was by no means an easy one, and those that find fault with the Brâhmaṇas as full of fanciful speculations must bear in mind the fact that an ancient and sacred system of sacrifices had to be adapted to new conditions, by assigning plausible reasons for the same, at a time when the true origin of the system was almost forgotten. The Brâhmaṇas could not have indulged in free speculations about the origin of the rites and ceremonies mentioned by them, had the latter originated in their own time, or in days so near to them that the real traditions about the origin of these ceremonies could be preserved intact. But so long as these traditions were fresh, no explanation was probably needed; and when they became dim, their place had to be supplied by plausible reasons based on such traditions as were known at the time. This throws quite a new light on the nature and composition of the Brâhmaṇas: but as the discussion is not pertinent to the subject in hand, we cannot enter into it more fully in this place.

We have now reviewed the leading features of the system of Soma sacrifices as described in the Vedic literature, so far as our purpose is concerned, and seen that by the aid of the Arctic theory, some hard facts therein, which have been hitherto incomprehensible, can be easily and naturally explained. A history of the whole sacrificial system from the point of view indicated above is a work quite outside the pale of this book; but so far as we have examined the subject and especially the question about the isolated group of a hundred nightly Soma sacrifices, I think, we have sufficient evidence therein to warrant us in holding that these sacrifices


are a relic of the ancient times when the ancestors of the Vedic Ṛiṣhis performed them with the object of helping Indra to fight with the powers of darkness. It has been already shown in the first part of this chapter that the Gavâm-ayanam or the “Cows’ walk” like the Roman year, once lasted only for ten months; and a series of suitable night-sacrifices is a natural supplement to such sessions. Both are relics of ancient times, and taken along with the evidence regarding the existence of a long dawn of thirty days and of the long day and night discussed in previous chapters, they conclusively establish the existence of an ancient home of the ancestors of the Vedic people in the circum-polar region. The sacrificial sessions of the Navagvas and the Dashagvas, the legend of Dîrghatamas growing old in the tenth month, the tradition about the ancient year of five seasons, or the yoking of seven or ten horses to the chariot of the sun, all go to strengthen the same view; and the Avestic passages regarding the duration of Tishtrya’s fight with Apaosha, the Purâṇic tradition about Indra’s being the master of a hundred sacrifices or the destroyer of a hundred cities, the existence of a series of one hundred nightly Soma sacrifices, which, though obsolete long since, could not have found place in the sacrificial works as Râtri-sattras, unless they were ancient sacrifices performed, as their name indicates, during night, — these and many other minor facts noticed before, further corroborate, if corroboration be needed, our theory regarding the original home of the Aryans near the North Pole. It must, however, be stated here that I do not wish to imply in any way that the numerous sacrificial details found in the later Vedic literature were in vogue or were known in these ancient times. On the contrary I am prepared to believe that in all probability these ancient sacrifices were very simple in character. I he ancient priests probably went on sacrificing from day today and afterwards from night to night, without any idea that the system was capable of giving rise to various rigid annual Sattras. The sacrifice was the only ritual of their religion;


and howsoever simple such sacrifices might have been in ancient times, it was almost a matter of duty, at least with the priests, to perform them every day. It was also a means, as remarked by me elsewhere, to keep up the calendar in ancient times, as the yearly round of sacrifices closely followed the course of the sun. It is from this latter point of view that the ancient sacrificial system is important for historical or antiquarian purposes, and I have examined it above in the same light. This examination, it will be seen, has resulted in the discovery of a number of facts which lead us directly to, and can be satisfactorily explained only by the theory of the original Arctic home; and when our conclusions are thus supported by the hymns of the Ṛig-Veda on the one hand, and the sacrificial literature on the other, I think, we need have no doubt about their correctness.