Tāṇḍya-Mahābrāhmaṇa

This is one of the eight Brāhmaṇas of the Sāmaveda. It belongs to the Tāṇḍiśākhā, a recension attributed to the sage Taṇḍi. It is considered as the most important of the eight Brāhmaṇas of the Sāmaveda.

It is known by two other names, Pañcaviṁśa Brāhmaṇa (since it contains pañcaviṁśa or 25 chapters) and Prauḍha Brāhmaṇa (as it contains many prauḍha or advanced and difficult topics).

This Brāhmaṇa is assigned to the period 1400 B. C. and stated to be later than the Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa.

The first chapter deals with the method of selecting the ṛtviks (priests) in the Agniṣṭoma sacrifice. (See AGNIṢṬOMA for details.)

The second and the third chapters describe various kinds of stoma (a form of chanting the Ṛgvedic mantras) like trivṛtstoma, pañcadaśastoma and so on. (See STOMA for details.)

The fourth and the fifth chapters describe the Gavāmayana sacrifice, belonging to the sattra group. (See GAVĀMAYANA.)

The sixth chapter gives an account of three sacrifices Jyotiṣṭoma, Ukthya and Atirātra. (See under each title.)

The seventh chapter describes the three savanas, extraction of the soma juice from its creeper, three times during the day.

The eighth and the ninth are devoted entirely to the sāyaṁsavana, the third extraction.

The six chapters—tenth to the fifteenth—describe the Dvādaśāha sacrifice. (See DVĀDAŚĀHA.)

Ekāhas (Soma sacrifices that need only one day to perform) are the subject matter of the two chapters, the sixteenth and the seventeenth. (See EKĀHA.)

Ahīna sacrifices are described in the three chapters twenty, twenty-one and twenty-two. (See AHĪNA for details.)

A few Sattrayāgas are the subject-matter of chapters twenty-two to twenty-five. Here, the total number of yajamānas (sacrificers) who are also the priests, varies from 17 to 24. (See SATTRAYĀGA.)

Thus ends this Brāhmaṇa.

Some special features of this scripture may now be noted.

Names of several sāmans (mantras of the Sāmaveda) and their seers have been mentioned here.

Arguments for or against certain modes of sacrifice practised by the followers of various Vedic recensions like the Bhāllavis or Kauṣītakis are also given. Great emphasis has been laid on the performance of sacrifices. The fee to be paid to the priests consisted of animals like cows, horses and goats, and, silver or gold as coins or powder. The varṇa system had become well-established. But even the śūdras could become knowers of Brahman by austerity and singing of sāmans. Common people sometimes removed their king if he was a bad ruler.

There is a mention of the word ‘vrātya’ (17.1-4) which has given rise to several conjectures. It perhaps refers to those who did not undergo the traditional saṁskāras or sacraments even though they were eligible for the same. They have been called ‘hīna’ also.

In the last chapter (25.15.4) there is a reference to the Sarpasattra (a sacrifice) by the Sarpas (literally, serpents). They were probably followers of the serpent-cult.

A number of places of geographical significance have been mentioned. Some of them are: Sarasvatīmaṇḍala; Kurukṣetra; Yamunā river; Naimiṣāraṇya; Vinaśana (the place between Gaṅgā and Yamunā); Plakṣaprāsravaṇa (place of origin of the Sarasvatī river).

Names of several Vedic metres as also those of several priests of sacrifices are also mentioned.

On the whole, it can safely be said that this Brāhmaṇa was composed during a period when the Vedic sacrificial system had attained a high degree of perfection and popularity.