Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/267

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Among the most important duties of the new householder is the regular daily offering of the five great sacrifices (mahā-yajna), which are the sacrifice to the Veda (brahma-yajna), or Vedic recitation; the offering to the gods (deva-yajna) of melted butter in fire (homa); the libation (tarpaṇa) to the Manes (pitṛi-yajna); offerings (called bali) deposited in various places on the ground to demons and all beings (bhūta-yajna); and the sacrifice to men (manushya-yajna), consisting in hospitality, especially to Brahman mendicants. The first is regarded as by far the highest; the recitation of the sāvitrī, in particular, at morning and evening worship, is as meritorious as having studied the Veda. All these five daily sacrifices are still in partial use among orthodox Brahmans.

There are other sacrifices which occur periodically. Such are the new and full moon sacrifices, in which, according to the Gṛihya ritual, a baked offering (pāka-yajna) is made, while, according to the Çrauta ceremony, cakes (puroḍāça) are offered. There is, further, at the beginning of the rains an offering made to serpents, when the use of a raised bed is enjoined, owing to the danger from snakes at that time. Various ceremonies are connected with the building and entering of a new house. Detailed rules are given about the site as well as the construction. A door on the west is, for instance, forbidden. On the completion of the house, which is built of wood and bamboo, an animal is sacrificed. Other ceremonies are concerned with cattle; for instance, the release of a young bull for the benefit of the community. Then there are agricultural ceremonies, such as the offering of the first-fruits and rites connected with ploughing. Mention is also made of offer-