असौ वै लोकोऽग्निर्गौतम; तस्यादित्य एव समित्, रश्मयो धूमः, अहरर्चिर्, दिशोऽङ्गाराः, अवान्तरदिशो विस्फुलिङ्गास्; तस्मिन्नेतस्मिन्नग्नौ देवाः, श्रद्धां जुह्वति; तस्या आहुत्यै सोमो राजा संभवति ॥ ९ ॥
asau vai loko’gnirgautama; tasyāditya eva samit, raśmayo dhūmaḥ, ahararcir, diśo’ṅgārāḥ, avāntaradiśo visphuliṅgās; tasminnetasminnagnau devāḥ, śraddhāṃ juhvati; tasyā āhutyai somo rājā saṃbhavati || 9 ||
9. That world (heaven), O Gautama, is fire, the sun is its fuel, the rays its smoke, the day its flame, the four quarters its cinder, and the intermediate quarters its sparks. In this fire the gods offer faith (liquid oblations in subtle form). Out of that offering King Moon is born (a body is made in the moon for the sacrificer).
‘That world, O Gautama, is fire,’ etc. The fourth question is being answered first. The order, of the question is broken, because on the solution of this question depends that of the others. That world, heaven, O Gautama, is fire. We are enjoined to look upon heaven, which is not fire, as fire, as in the case of man and woman later on. Of that fire, heaven, the sun is the fuel, because of the kindling, for heaven is illumined by the sun. The rays its smoke, because of the similarity of rising from the fuel, for the rays emanate from the sun, and smoke, as we know, comes out of the fuel. The day its flame, because both are bright. The four quarters its cinder, because both represent a pacified state. The intermediate quarters its sparks, because they are scattered like sparks. In this fire of heaven, possessed of such attributes, the gods, Indra etc., offer faith as an oblation. Out of that offering King Moon, King of the Manes and Brāhmaṇas, is horn.
Now who are the gods, how do they offer oblations, and what is this oblation called faith? We have just touched on this point elsewhere in our introductory remarks on this section (p. 886). In order to ascertain the six things referred to by the words, ‘But certainly you do not know the departure of these two oblations,’ etc., certain things have been stated in the portion dealing with the Agnihotra. These are some of the statements: ‘These two oblations of the Agnihotra, after being offered, depart. They enter the sky, of which they make an Āhavanīya fire, with air as its fuel, and the sun’s rays its white oblation. They offer libations to the sky and depart from there. They enter heaven, of which they make an Āhavanīya fire, with the sun as its fuel,’ and so on (Ś. XI. vi. ii. 6-7). Of course these oblations of the Agnihotra depart together with their accessories. Whatever accessories they are known to possess here, such as the Āhavanīya fire, fuel, smoke, cinder, sparks and the articles of oblation, they take along with them as they leave this world for heaven. There, although everything is in an undifferentiated state during the dissolution of the world, those ingredients retain their separate existence in an extremely subtle form—the fire remaining as fire, the fuel as fuel, the smoke as smoke, the cinder as cinder, the sparks as sparks and the articles of oblation as articles of oblation such as milk. That ceremony of the Agnihotra with its accessories, which never ceases to exist, but remains in a subtle form known as the Apūrva, reappears in its old form at the time of manifestation, by making use of the sky etc. as the Āhavanīya fire and so on as before. The ceremony of the Agnihotra is like that even to-day.
Thus the nature of those six things beginning with the departure of the oblations and ending with the departure of the sacrificer for the next world, has been ascertained earlier in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, in the portion dealing with rites, and it has been stated that it is with a view to eulogising those two oblations of the Agnihotra that the whole universe has been described as being the development of the Apūrva of those oblations. But here the object is to describe the results of the sachficer’s rites and to enjoin meditation on the five fires beginning with the fire of heaven, as a means to attaining the northern way, in order that he may enjoy the results of specific rites; hence the meditation on heaven as fire etc. is introduced. It should be noted that those forms of the vital force in the body that serve as priests in the Agnihotra here, become Indra etc. on attaining their form relating to the gods, and they serve as priests there, offering oblations in the fire of heaven. They (as a part of the sacrificer) performed the Agnihotra here with a view to attaining its results, and it is they who, at the time of reaping the results, also become priests in different places in the next world, assuming suitable forms, and being called by the name of gods. The liquid substances too, which, forming a part of the Agnihotra ceremony, are here poured into the Āhavanīya fire and are devoured by it, assume an invisible, subtle form and accompany the agent, the sacrificer, to the other world, going through smoke etc. first to the sky and thence to heaven. When those subtle liquid substances—which are the effects of the act of offering, form a part of the Agnihotra, and are known as ‘faith’—enter heaven with the agent, to construct a new body for him in the lunar sphere, they are said to be offered as oblations. Entering heaven, they produce a body for the agent in the lunar sphere. This is referred to in the passage: The gods offer faith. Out of that offering King Moon is born; for the Śruti says, ‘Faith is water’ (Tai. S. I. vi. viii. i).
The question was, ‘Do you know after how many oblations are offered water rises up possessed of a human voice and speaks?’ (par. 2). In order to answer it, the statement has been made: ‘That world is fire.’ Therefore it is clear that the liquid substances which form a part of the sacrifice and produce the body of the agent are designated as ‘faith.’ ‘Water’ only is mentioned as rising up possessed of a human voice, on account of the preponderance of liquid elements in the body, not that the other four elements are absent in it. The formation of the body is due to the performance of the Agnihotra, and liquid substances are a part of it. Hence water (as typifying liquids) is the most important factor in the formation of the body. This is another reason why it is spoken of as ‘rising up possessed of a human voice,’ for everywhere it is the sacrificer who has a rebirth. So, although in the portion dealing with the Agnihotra the six things such as the departure of the two oblations have been mentioned so as to glorify the oblations of the Agnihotra alone, yet all Vedic rites such as the Agnihotra are meant; for after introducing rites with five factors, which are connected with the wife and fire, it has been said, ‘The world of the Manes (is to be won) through rites’ (I. v. 16.). It will also be stated later on, ‘While those who conquer the worlds through sacrifices, charity and austerity,’ etc. (par. 16).