Yajna Upakaranas (यज्ञोपकरणानि)

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Ukha © Vaidik Samshodhan Mandal, Pune

Yajna Upakaranas (Samskrit: यज्ञोपकरणानि) deals with the specialized implements, containers and utensils (upakaranas) used during the conduct of yajnas. A large number of specialized storage vessels, buckets, leather bags for storing liquids, spoons and ladles, mixing vessels, strainer, sieves, grinding stones, mortar and pestle, knives, winnowing baskets, pounders are a few common names of utensils of various types used since ancient times. They are made of metals or wood mostly, as revealed by the archaeological excavations in many sites of India. The ample references of these upakaranas in Vedas are mentioned as required instruments or implements for the performance of yajnas such as Somayaga, Asvamedha yajna and Pashuyajnas which were quite elaborate.

Introduction

The knowledge of making utensils, instruments and implements for both common and specialized activities of bharatiya jivana vidhana dates back to hoary antiquity. The Rigveda mentions the use of a large number of utensils used during yajnas. Later the Grhya and Shraura vaidika yajnas enshrined in the Sutras employed an enormous number of utensils of rigidly specified design and structure.

It is interesting to note that preparing these vessels or implements would require the knowledge of ganita shastra, geometry, and of metallurgy and alloys which appears to be of advanced nature.

Containers used in the Yajnas[1][2]
Name Descrption
1 Patra wooden vessels, placed in pairs on the yajnika grass, and of five kinds (upamsu-, urdhva-, rtu-, sukra- and manthi-) for different uses
2 Sambharani wooden vessel in which is placed the wet, pounded soma stalks
3 dronakalasa bucket-type vessel covered with a filter to receive strained soma juice
4 putabhrt clay trough to hold prepared soma juice
5 Chamasa oblong tub with handle, of ten types, for use by different priests for various purposes, such as; holding soma, drinking soma (by the priest); holding sacred water; and holding food in the vow rite
6 agrayanasthali vessel to receive strained soma juice in the agricultural rite when new fruits are eaten
7 sarava earthen dish holding water with which a new mother is sprinkled
8 pinvana two milk vessels
9 sarpirdhana bowl for butter
10 Idapatra and pranitapranayana deep oblong container with a flat rim to hold ghee
11 ninahya earthen waterpot buried in the ground to keep its contents cool

The rites for somayajna were performed three times a day, and employed twelve main vessels for various types of cooking, like sthalipaka, cooking in a pot, and sutagrava, roasting on a spit. The pravargya rite, which is part of the somayajna, required the making each time of a special, round, fired clay vessel with a wide mouth called a mahavira which is heated intensely in the course of the rite.

For the Ajamedha yajna (a pashu yajna) where a goat is given as an offering, a special clay cauldron called the gharma had to be made for cooking the meat.

The asvamedha yajna where a horse is offered in yajna, also called for a huge square clay cauldron termed the ukha for cooking the flesh, and hollow metal skewers for roasting certain organs after their dissection.

Ovens, Baking, Roasting[1]
Name Description
1 Chulli Clay Oven
2 Kuplu and Bhrastra clay oven again
3 Shula skewer of wood on which certain animal organs were roasted
4 gaarhapatya and kapalas potsherd for taking purodasa

In contrast to the potter’s wheel that was in use to turn clay in the Indus Valley, these large clay vessels had all to be kneaded by hand to exacting schedules using certain special clays (e.g. from an ant-hill, or from a place snouted open by varaha). The purodasa cake of rice or barley flour to be baked in a flat clay vessel with a specific number of hollows of various shapes for different purposes.

Strainers, Ladles, Spoons[1]
Name Description
1 paavitra strainer made of sheep's wool for filtering soma juice
2 karotara a strainer
3 sruk collective term for large wooden ladles used for libations, with a yoni-shaped bowl ending in a lip
4 juhu, dhruva, upabhrt, pracharani a sruk, kinds of wooden ladles
5 darvi a small ladle with a long, slim handle and a tiny lipless bowl fo sprinkling libations
6 sruvi or sruva, tragbila, vitasti is similar to a darvi
7 pariplava spoon without a handle for drawing out soma
8 havani a spoon, used e.g. by the agnihotr
9 grahani spoon, used e.g. to hold the prasadiya of butter and buttermilk
10 pariplupatra and antardhana a ladle
11 prasaka a decanting vessel with a long handle and a large cup-like bowl

Many objects from these Vedic times, such as chulli, darvi, grahani, shula are instantly recognisable as being in use even today.

Not surprisingly, some of these vessels, like the drona, kumbha, halasa, ghata, sarava and sthali later became volume measures.

Fire was raised by friction between pieces of wood, and a perpetual fire was kept going in pots called kumpatti. Into this was poked a stick called sulundu, sometimes tipped with sulphur.

Fire Utensils[1]
Name Description
1 Arani a spindle (worked with a length of string) and a

wooden board with a friction hole

2 sata two large vessels for carrying embers
3 parishasa tongs to lift the gharma from the fire
4 upavesana wooden pokers for stirring the fire and for removing embers
5 dhrshti a pair of pokers used to stir the fire and to remove embers

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bag, A. K. (1997) History of Technology in India, Vol. 1, From Antiquity to c. 1200 A.D. New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy. Chapter: Technology of Food by K. T. Achaya (Pages 448 - )
  2. Courtesy: Vaidika Samshodhana Mandala, Pune.