pAvamAnis in general sense refer to those mantras that are used in purificatory rituals. The ninth maNDala of shAkalya shAkhA of Rig veda has sUktas or hymns entirely attributed to the deity soma pavamAna. This maNDala is variously called pavamAna maNDala. This started out with a kernel of kashyapa family book, as kashyapas were soma only priests. This is borne out by the AprI sUkta (hymn 5) in which pavamAna is the primary deity throughout, as opposed to the AprI hymns of other Rishi family books with the usual set of AprI deities – agni narAshamsa, agni tanUnapAt.h, idhma (fuel), barhis (sacrificial grass), daivI dvAras (divine doors), day and night, the twin hotA priests, the devis (ilA/sarasvati/bhArati, with optional mahI), tvaShTA, vanaspati and indra .
The actual ritual application of the mantras from this maNDala is in various somayAgas. The individual hymns themselves are called pavamAnis. Rig vedins use the first 67 sUktas in a purificatory ritual. They call the set of all mantras in gAyatrI meter as pavamAna sUkta.
Apastamba (dharmasUtra 1.2.2) refers 67.21 to 67 as the pAvamAnis which he prescribes to be used in a prAyaschitta ritual for a dvija whose father and grandfather have not undergone upanayana. He uses harsh words like ‘smashAna – funeral ground’ for those kinds of people. These first of these 7 is attributed to vasiShTha maitrAvaruNi and the next 6 to pavitra Angirasa and/or vasiShTha maitrAvaruNi. These 7 mantras bear a structural resemblence to the so called pavamAna sUktaM of kR^iShNayajurveda. The yajurvedIya pavamAna sUkta is a composite comprising 4 mantras from taittiriya saMhita (5.6.1-4) starting with hiraNyavarNAH shuchayaH and remaining from taittiriya brAhmaNa (1.4.8) starting with pavamAnaH suvarjanaH.
The samhitA mantras are used in agnichayana ritual during the piling of kumbheShTakas – water pot bricks. The brAhmaNa mantras are used to purifying the dIkishita yajamAna in somayAga with kusha grass. In grihya rituals, Apastamba prescribes the hiraNyavarNAH verses to be used while washing the bride such that the waters flow through a gold piece tied with a darbha string on her forehead. Nevertheless, this form of the pavamAna sUkta is famous and used in various rituals. Some examples:
– As general prAyaschitta/purificatory rites where homa of white tila (seasame) and ghee are offered with trisuparNa mantras from taittiriya AraNyaka, pavamAna is recited on a water pot with kusha grass and after the recitation, the water is sprinkled on oneself.
– For minor offences, it is recited on a water pot and a head bath is taken with that water
– like gajashAnti, a royal ritual as per baudhAyana seshasUtra where an abhiSheka of the royal elephant is done with these verses after a homa is performed. The homa consists of offerings of boiled rice and ghee with ghR^ita sUkta, of ghee to rudra with 5 mantras starting with namaste rudra manyava (rudraprashna). Balis are offered to bhUtas and the elephant is made to eat the remains of the homa food with Ayushya sUkta.
– Agama applications where the mUrtis of deities like viShNu and shiva are bathed with these verses.
Parallels of pAvamAnis of pavitra Angirasa with yajurveda version:
1. pavamAnah so adya nah pavitreNa vicharShaNih| yah potAsa punAtu naH || (RV version from 9.67.22)
pavamAnaH suvarjanaH | pavitreNa vicharShaNiH| yaH potA sa punAtu mA || YV version
2. yat te pavitramarchiShyagne vitatamantarA | brahma tena punIH naH || RV
yat te pavitramarchiShi | agne vitatamantarA | brahma tena punImahe || YV
and so on.
Parallels of of hiraNyavarNa verses with yajur and atharva veda
1. hiraNyavarNAH shuchayaH pAvakA yAsu jAtaH kashyapo yAsvindraH | agniM yA garbhaM dadhire virUpAH tA na ApaH shaGGsyonA bhavantu | YV
hiraNyavarNAH shuchayaH pAvakA yAsu jAtaH savitA yAsvindraH | yA agniM garbhaM dadhire suvarNAH tA na ApaH shaM syonA bhavantu | AV shaunakha shAkhA – 1.33