Recently I had a chance to examine a manual of domestic rituals belonging to my smārta yajurveda (YV) teacher which he uses for reference and consults as needed. It was in grantha script and was published more than a century back. I was looking at the sections on vicchinna agnissandhāna and sthālīpāka. What immediately stood out was the differences with my tradition despite the fact that we all were followers of āpastamba school. The differences could not be brushed away due to smārta-vaiṣṇava differences. Sure it is there in the form of (a) additional oblation to viṣṇu as paramātmā, (b) keshvādi homa and (c) sarvebhyo brāhmaṇebhyo namaḥ replaces sarvebhyaḥ śrīvaiṣṇavebhyo namaḥ.
Determined to reconstruct an Ur ritual, I consulted few more texts –
- my grandfather’s handwritten ritual procedure notebook which my father still uses for nitya and naimittika duties. This is the text I used while I was a brahmacārin for sandhyopāsanā and samiddhādhāna. This was in a hybrid grantha-tamil script.
- Notes I’ve taken fro my family priest when I received the instructions of performing the same
- 2 Modern publications on the same topics in devanāgari for smārtas
- A manual gifted to me by my ṛgvedic (RV) teacher which is admittedly of limited use in reconstructing yajurvedic practice. We also had prolonged discussions on the topic which indeed was useful in clarifying certain points. This is again a smārta text.
Our tradition indeed stood separate, especially in vicchinna agnissandhāna. All the smārta texts had 2 core oblations only to agni in some cases additional one to viṣṇu . The ājya was supposed to be drawn 4 times before offering. In ours there is a single drawing but a whole series of additional oblations. They were to agni ayasa, agni vasunItha, agni tantumān, mindāhuti, agni jātavedas, agnīndrā-bṛhaspati-aśvibhyaḥ, agnī-varuṇau and indra harivant. In the sthālīpāka, the cooked rice is offered to agni, sūrya and agni sviṣṭakṛt which majority of the texts seem to have. My YV teacher’s manual had additional offerings to indra and prajāpati.
This ritual has only one priest – the brahmā. The yajamāna is supposed to perform the duties of the hotā and ask permissions from brahmā before certain actions and brahmā gives appropriate responses. My YV teacher’s text has such details. For e.g., the performer asks “aupāsanaṃ ādhāsye” and brahmā responds oṃ ādhatsva. Perceptive readers would immediately notice the similarity of brahmā’s responses in śrauta ritual.