The particular position of the Brahmán among the priests of the classical Vedic ritual is evident. He has no special connection with one of the three main streams of the Veda: he does not (exclusively) recite the hymns of the Ṛgveda like the Hotṛ, sing the Sāmans1 of the Sāmaveda like the Udgātṛ, utter the ritual formulas of the Yajurveda like the Adhvaryu. Originally he had no Vedic corpus of his own; his association with the Atharvaveda seems to be secondary.2 Pañcaviṁśa Brāhmaṇa 18, 1, 23 calls him the indistinct (anirukta) among the priests. The same word anirukta may also refer to silence. However, the inactivity of the Brahmán relates to more than just sound;3 it also concerns the whole performance of the sacrifice. As in the case of the institutor of the sacrifice (the Yajamāna) his presence and attention shown by strict silence, apart from the incidental utterance of a formula, are essential. The Yajamāna is mainly passive, the Brahmán is rather passive, but attentive. Knowledge is the contribution of the Brahmán, which is only actualized under exceptional circumstances, when something goes wrong.
The characterization of this priest as given in the latest handbook, “Er sitzt, im Prinzip schweigend, im Süden, behütet das Opfer, überwacht die Tätigkeiten, Rezitationen usw., gibt die vom Adhvaryu erbetene Erlaubnis zu verschiedenen Handlungen und vollzieht, wenn Fehler gemacht werden, die Wiedergutmachungsriten” (Gonda 1960, 142), is hardly contestable. Different opinions, however, have been expressed on the original position of the Brahmán and on the essence of his function. It has been doubted whether brahmán in the Ṛgveda Saṁhitā already denotes the specific Brahmán priest.4
Since the brahmán is the person who deals with bráhman or bráhmans, the meaning assumed for the neuter bráhman may also determine the formulation of the relation between bráhman and brahmán.5 Moreover it is questionable whether the Brahmin in general, who may also be denoted by the term brahmán,6 has to do with the same bráhman as the specific Brahmán priest. On the other hand the Purohita, the Brahmin looking after the political, social and religious affairs of a particular king, has been associated with the Brahmán priest by some scholars;7 i.e. the Brahmán may also be interpreted as a special Brahmin, the king’s own Brahmin. Even if one assumes that originally Brahmán and Brahmin (Brāhmaṇa) were identical, a correct evaluation of the term brahmán remains connected with the interpretation of the neuter bráhman and of the development of its meaning.8
In this paper I will briefly discuss some of the opinions expressed. The main emphasis, however, will be laid on a sketch of the interrelation of the several qualifications and aspects of this priest, as they appear in the Vedic prose texts. In the classical, (probably) secondary systematization he is the fourth priest. His fourth position will be connected with the fourth item in Vedic classifications in general. Even if this systematization may be secondary, the functional aspects of the fourth priest need not be late.
In the Ṛgveda Saṁhitā the word brahmán occurs about fifty times. In most cases there is no clear reference to a special type of priest, which agrees with the quoted characterization of the Brahmán. The brahmán who seems to be different from the Brahmán priest, has been variously interpreted. In some instances brahmán seems to be identical with the brāhmaṇācchaṁsin-priest.9 Some scholars regard the brahmán of the Ṛgveda in most cases as the priest in general in opposition to the non-priest.10 As such brahmán would denote a member of the Brahman class with special reference to the ritual.
The relation between brahmán (= priest in general) and the Brahmán priest remains unclear in most publications. Some scholars assume that the Brahmán specialist has developed out of the brahmán generalist. Geldner (1892, 146) regards the specific Brahmán priest as older than the general Brahmin. See also Henry (1904, 37). According to Krick (1982),11 the Brahmán has a special antithetical relation with the Hotṛ or the Yajamāna (originally the same), in which the Brahmán functions as the guest and rival. His association with the southern fire and with the southern position in general might be a trace of the preclassical situation, which has disappeared: “Wenn auch der brahmán-Gast im Ritual nicht mehr der Gegenspieler des Yajamāna-Gastherrn ist, bleibt doch die Assoziation ‘Rivale’ mit dem Dakṣiṇāgni verbunden” (376). Even if one does not completely accept Krick’s ideas (based on Heesterman 1964 and other publications of the same author), it has to be admitted that the Brahmán has a definite relation with the Yajamāna, is not just one of the officiants and as such does not look like the product of a late development.
In the preceding lines the Brahmán specialists and the brahmán in general have been regarded from the point of view of ritualism. The corresponding neuter bráhman, however, mostly refers to poetry and poems in the Ṛgveda Saṁhitā, especially in the plural. Thieme (1952a) translates bráhman with “Gedicht.” The masculine brahmán consequently might be expected to denote the poet/reciter12 rather than the priest in general let alone the silent Brahmán priest.
Now it is true that poetry in the Ṛgveda Saṁhitā can hardly be dissociated from the ritual, but the poetical activities of the Brahmin cover only part of the ritual. Therefore it is strange that poetry should form the starting point for both the Brahmin and the Brahmán priest.
In post-Ṛgvedic literature13 the neuter bráhman mostly refers to the cosmic principle, the cosmic mystery and to knowledge of the cosmic-ritualistic correspondences (especially as preserved in Vedic literature) rather than to poems. According to most scholars this is a later development of the meaning of this term.14
From our treatment of the typifications of the Brahmán (based on the Brāhmaṇas) it will appear that he is related to the cosmic aspects of the bráhman concept.
This means that the following possibilities arise as to the original position of this priest:
- He is a rather late creation belonging to a period when bráhman had lost its original meaning “verse, formula, poem.”
- The Brahmán has neither to do with Vedic poems in general nor with the cosmic principle, but is the one who acts with magical charms (brahmāṇi).15
- Originally he was the producer of hymns and later on he got a different function.16
- In the oldest period bráhman could denote more than just poem and refer to a cosmic entity.
Against the first hypothesis speaks the occurrence of the term brahmán in some Ṛgvedic verses side by side with other specific priests.17 The fact that bráhman does not mean “magical charm” in the Ṛgveda, whereas the word brahmán already occurs in this text, indicates that we should not assume a Brahmán-sorcerer-priest associated with bráhman “charm.”
The third possibility might have a parallel in the Hotṛ priest who originally (as the etymology shows) poured out the oblations, but in the classical Vedic ritual only invokes the gods.18 However, it is difficult to prove that in the ṚV brahmán should exclusively mean “composer of hymns, poet.” On the other hand the cosmic implications of the term bráhman are also uncertain in the ṚV.
The only conclusion one may draw is that in a few instances brahmán seems to denote the Brahmán priest in the ṚV. His relation to poems as well as to the cosmic principle remains unclear. I.e. it is uncertain whether this Brahmán knows about the bráhman or is a maker of bráhmāṇi. It is also difficult to ascertain what is the relation between the Brahmán priest and the brahmán in general.19 Undoubtedly the Brahmán priest and the Brahman class have to be regarded in opposition to the king and the Kṣatriya class. Two points are of crucial importance in considering the original situation of the Brahmán: his relation to bráhman/bráhmāṇi and his functional opposition to the Yajamāna/Kṣatriya.
We will not enter here into a discussion of the hypothetical preclassical position of the Brahmán, but will try to analyse the available data. It seems then that the Brahmán priest and the brahmodya (the verbal contest) form a parallel in that both have to be connected with the singular bráhman (the object of knowledge and the subject of the debates) rather than with the plural bráhmāṇi (poems, hymns, magical charms, riddles).
1 The Brahmán as the Fourth Item
In the classical Vedic ritual the Brahmán is regarded as the fourth priest (after Hotṛ, Adhvaryu and Udgātṛ). As such he cannot be disconnected from the other fourth items which are found in the classifications of the Brāhmaṇas.
On the cosmic level this fourth item is associated with the moon, the nocturnal sky, death, the celestial (night) ocean as well as the primeval waters, chaos, the undifferentiated state, the asat (the undifferentiated chaos existing before the cosmos) situation, the supracosmic or precosmic sphere, Prajāpati, totality.20 The fourth world does not lie above heaven (i.e. the day-time sky) in a cosmographical sense. It lies “above” the third world in the classification only. Actually the fourth world is situated outside the triadic cosmos, which is the “tripartite visible universe” (Gonda 1966, 92). It is on a level with the threefold cosmos, because the nocturnal situation and the day-time form two equal parts. Moreover the nether world, which is mythologically identical with the nocturnal sky, represents the totality existing before the origin of cosmos. The fourth cosmic item and the threefold cosmos form a dualism.
Some aspects of the Brahmán considered in relation to the other three priests, agree with what has been described above. He also balances the other three items,21 is associated with totality22 and with non-differentiation.23
In the microcosmic (adhyātma) classification manas often forms the fourth and last item. It is always equated with the moon as well as with the Brahmán priest.24 It is characterized as aparimita (unlimited), ananta (endless) and anirukta (unexpressed), adjectives which also qualify yonder world, not necessarily to be taken as the third world.25 As far as it is regarded as undifferentiated, it agrees with the fourth world. It represents indistinctness as well as totality. The differentiation of the other vital powers or senses is controlled by manas, the general and co-ordinating activity. This central organ, involved in the activities of the other vital powers, supervises, but does not look or speak itself. Again agreements with the situation of the Brahmán may be noticed. In the same way as the Brahmán is ardhabhāj (sharing half) with regard to the other ṛtvijs (officiants, see n. 21), manas (mind) is ardhabhāj with regard to the other prāṇas (vital powers) (ṢaḍvB 1, 5).
So far about the microcosmic and cosmic counterparts of the ritualistic fourth item.
In my thesis (Bodewitz 1973, 87 ff.) I have discussed the fourth item in connection with the Anuṣṭubh metre and the Viśve Devas (the All-gods). There I observed that in numerical symbolism the principle of the element added to a totality plays an important role and that this element surpasses, summarizes and encompasses the entities of the preceding fixed series. The inclusive character of e.g. the fourth element appears in all kinds of classifications. Often totality26 is expressed or implied. E.g. the quarters of space (diśas) sometimes are the fourth item after the cosmic triad. On the one hand they are different from this triad, on the other they cover (and are present in) all the three levels of this cosmos. This means that totality, inclusiveness and non-differentiation are present in every fourth and last item of a classification. These aspects are not exclusively connected with yonder world, Prajāpati and supracosmic or precosmic undividedness and totality. The neuter bráhman as the fourth item after the threefold Veda shows the same characteristics.27
Turning now to the Brahmán priest, who is evidently a fourth priest after the well-known triad28 Hotṛ, Adhvaryu and Udgātṛ, we may try to explain several aspects of this priest in the light of what has been observed above. In the classificatory system of the Brāhmaṇas not only lists of coherent entities are drawn up; these lists counting a fixed number of items are also equated with each other. Now it might be possible that characteristics of the cosmic and microcosmic fourth items have been transferred to the fourth ritualistic item, the Brahmán priest. I.e., some qualifications of the fourth priest might give more information about the number four in classifications than about the actual position of this particular priest. However, I am under the impression that the prescientific logic of the Vedic classifications is rather cogent and that the common aspects of the fourth items are based on correct observation in most cases. This means that a common characteristic like e.g. totality and indistinctness does not only belong to the fourth item in general, but also applies to every single fourth (and final) item and that, in the case of the Brahmán priest, it gives information on the essential function of this item.
In this connection we have to criticize Bloomfield (1899, 51): “Whereas the Brāhmanical texts in general present times without end a cosmic Vedic triad …, the Atharvan writings, craving a cosmic base for their Veda, expand this into a tetrad or pentad, by the addition of Candramas, or Candramas and the waters.”29 Fourfoldness and the association of the fourth item with moon, night and waters have no exclusive connection with the Atharvaveda.30 Bloomfield’s statement (1899, 107) “The waters are the element of the Atharvan throughout” is not correct. In non-Atharvavedic texts the fourth metre Anuṣṭubh is equated with the waters (ŚāṅkhB 24, 4), with rain (PB 12, 8, 8) and with night (AB 4, 6) and it is called the metre of Soma (ŚāṅkhB 15, 2). The fourfold classification was already established before the Atharvavedins got the chance to claim the fourth Veda. The fourth position of the Brahmán priest in post-Ṛgvedic classifications is based on the addition of bráhman31 to the triad Ṛc, Yajus and Sāman rather than on the addition of the Atharvan texts to the threefold Veda, which outside the Atharva tradition took place rather late. The Atharvaveda was accepted and tolerated as fourth; bráhman was extolled as the fourth which includes and surpasses the mentioned triad.
We shall see that the qualifications of the Brahmán refer both to what he is supposed to do and to what he represents. In this connection the meaning of the neuter bráhman, which is represented, activated or produced by the Brahmán, is important. This bráhman can hardly be associated with hymns or poems (a current meaning of the word in the ṚV). It also does not seem to refer to the Atharvavedic magic formula, though magic may play a role in the expiations performed by the Brahmán. The Brahmaveda of the Brahmán is not the knowledge of the brahmavid who is skilled in magic spells, it is rather the brahmavidyā, the knowledge of the cosmic bráhman, the sarvavidyā,32 the knowledge of the universe or the total, universal knowledge in distinction to the knowledge of one particular Veda. Perhaps this brahmavidyā or sarvavidyā may be connected with the Ṛgvedic jātávidyā expressed by the Brahmán (ṚV 10, 71, 11).33
In the tripartite homology of the fourth world, manas (situated in the heart like the ātman) and the Brahmán priest (the heart of the sacrifice according to ŚB 12, 8, 2, 23), the bráhman concept with which this priest is associated hardly refers to sorcery and magic or to hymns. The bráhman of the Brahmán rather seems to have connections with the cosmic item of the tripartite homology. AB 2, 41, 6 equates moon and bráhman (candramā vai brahma). Knowledge about this can only be obtained by means of the microcosmic counterpart: manas. He whose manas is most qualified to have and to use this knowledge, seems to be the Brahmán priest, the mind of the sacrifice (BĀU 3, 1, 6).
Now I will discuss the following aspects of the Brahmán: his silence, his connection with the South, his complete knowledge and his expiatory function.
The silence of the Brahmán priest is in agreement with the significant aspects of his cosmic (adhidaiva) and microcosmic (adhyātma) counterparts. The microcosmic manas always forms a couple with, or stands in opposition to, vāc. It is called anirukta, which not only refers to indistinctness, but also literally to not being expressed by words. This manas implies knowledge, but also the mental approach. The adjective mānasa denotes the mental execution of the rites. It is to be observed that the Brahmán is not only silent, but also (rather) inactive. Actually he mentally performs the whole sacrifice and only where he observes disagreements between his mental sacrifice and the actual performance, he takes action.
The most specific mānasa element of the sacrifice is the silent oblation, the oblation which is accompanied with formulas not recited aloud, or which is performed without any formula. These oblations are sometimes the last of a series of two, three or more.34 As such they may be compared with other elements added to a specified totality such as the fourth priest and the fourth world, both characterized by silence as well.
In the case of such silent oblations the mantra, if existent at all, is recited manasā. The deity to whom the oblation is dedicated, is Prajāpati, the god of the fourth (or fifth) world, the world added to the triadic cosmos. Prajāpati is often associated with silence and manas. He also represents the neuter bráhman, which itself is anirukta like Prajāpati.35 He is identified with the Brahmán (TB 3, 3, 8, 3; GB 2, 3, 18; 2, 5, 8).
The Brahmán priest excellently suits the series of equations: manas, Prajāpati, anirukta, bráhman, undifferentiated totality, indistinctness, silence.36
The silence of the last oblation implies by its being anirukta that the undifferentiated totality (sarvam) of the deities is reached. No god is excluded. Compare the role of the Viśve Devas in final position. The silence of the fourth (and last) priest in the classical systematization may also aim at totality, secures totality (the symbol of yonder world) for the sacrificer in the same way as ritual acts which aim at the unlimited world should be unlimited themselves.37 By indistinctness the indistinct is won.
According to TS 7, 3, 1, 4 Ṛc, Yajus and Sāman (all in the plural) are parimita (limited), but bráhman (singular) has no anta.38 Probably bráhman here refers to the transcendental counterpart of diversified speech or nāmarūpa (individuality). For the distinction between the unexpressed bráhman and its concrete manifestation(s) see MaiU 6, 3 dve vāva brahmaṇo rūpe mūrtaṁ cāmūrtaṁ ca / atha yan mūrtaṁ tad asatyam / yad amūrtaṁ tat satyaṁ tad brahma (There are indeed two forms of the bráhman, material and immaterial. What is material is untruth; what is immaterial is truth, is bráhman). See also 6, 15 on the two rūpas (forms) of bráhman: kālaś cākālaś ca (time and non-time), the world differentiated by time and the undifferentiated, primeval world of eternity, which is not only precosmic, but also the supracosmic goal. The one is undifferentiated (akāla), the other differentiated (sakāla).39 The same text also states that brahman is ananta (endless) (6, 17; cf. TS 7, 3, 1, 4 above). See also BĀU 2, 3, 1 ff. on the mūrta (material) and the amūrta (immaterial) brahman. The opposition is between:
specialistic ṛtvijs (priests)
mūrtaṁ brahma (material)
amūrtaṁ brahma (immaterial)
The Brahmán priest, manas and silence form the means, the supracosmic totality, the transcendental, amūrtaṁ brahma, the goal.
3 The Brahmán and the South
All the actions of the Brahmán are connected with the South (see ĀpŚS 14, 8, 5–6). Mostly the Brahmán is supposed to guard the sacrifice against evil influences coming from the South, the quarter of death. Especially also on account of the relation between the Brahmán and the Purohita the protecting function of this priest has been generally emphasized. The fact that the Brahmán sits in the South and looks at the North has been observed.40 However, every action of this priest has southern aspects.
Still I believe that he does not primarily protect41 against the South, but rather represents the South and everything connected with it. Similarly the Dakṣiṇāgni, the southern fire, does not only ward off evil coming from that quarter. It also symbolizes one of the worlds in this universe. The Gārhapatya-fire represents the earth, the Āhavanīya-fire heaven and the Dakṣiṇāgni (in the form of a half-moon) the nocturnal sky. Mostly the cosmos of the day-time is a triad (and the Dakṣiṇāgni is also equated with the Antarikṣa, space between heaven and earth) and the nocturnal sky is then regarded as the fourth world, on a level with other fourth items like the Anuṣṭubh metre and the Brahmán priest. Sometimes, however, the Antarikṣa is left out and the Pitṛloka (world of the fathers) of the moon forms the third world. The moon, generally the symbol of the fourth world, is always equated with manas (mind), the adhyātma (microcosmic) counterpart of the Brahmán.
I doubt whether the Brahmán in the South should be regarded as representing death,42 one of the symbols of the fourth world.43 Of course the Brahmán priest may be interpreted within the framework of a dualistic approach and be associated with the Asuras,44 chaos and death in opposition to the Devas, cosmos and life. However, the central and controlling role of this priest in Vedic ritual seems to speak against this assumption.
The bráhman concept, which in my view determines the position of the Brahmán priest and which I consider to be cosmic, does not suit the antithetical interpretation. The fourth world, the counterpart of the Dakṣiṇāgni, does not only stand in opposition to this cosmos, it is also the element added to a fixed and specified series and as such it represents totality. The South may represent here the primeval world, the undifferentiated totality, the source of all creation, which is different from, and at the same time equal to, this creation.
The fourth world has negative as well as positive aspects. In the Brāhmaṇas enumerations of seven or even more worlds, precursors of the seven worlds of Hindu cosmology, are found. In these lists the fourth world (after the cosmic triad) is differentiated into several representatives of night and death.45 Above (i.e. in the classification higher than) these worlds, which seem to represent the negative aspects of the fourth world, these texts mention Brahman (6) and Nāka (7), the vault of heaven, resp. Brahman (7) and, in an other text, Suvar (9), Nāka (10). Perhaps the Brahmaloka transcends the dualism of day (worlds 1–3) and night (worlds 4–6), but it may also represent the positive aspect of the fourth world above the cosmic triad.46 In the later enumeration of seven worlds the seventh is the Satyaloka. On the one hand satya (truth) is often equated with ṛta (truth; cosmic order), a symbol of the fourth world,47 on the other hand it is also associated with bráhman. The fourth world of the later sevenfold series, the maharloka, is identified with bráhman in TU 1, 5, 1.
In view of this I propose to connect the South and the Brahmán priest with the positive aspects of the supracosmic worlds, i.e. with Bráhman.48 The Brahmán represents Bráhman. See JUB 3, 17, 6 (quoted in n. 22), where a śloka is found which applies to the Brahmán, described as the all-inclusive Bráhman. The fourth item in classifications, the fourth world, the supracosmic world, admits of more than one interpretation.49 As was observed above, the South and the southern fire50 may also be associated with the antagonist in a dualistic-agonistic interpretation. However, the role and the name of the fourth priest have transcendental rather than Asuric implications.
4 Complete Knowledge
The aspect of knowledge evidently may be connected with manas, which not only stands in opposition to vāc and then implies silence, but also to performance and execution, and as such represents design and knowledge. The Brahmán priest is not primarily an executive officiant. He knows what should be performed and, what is more important, the implications of this performance. I think that the knowledge of the Brahmán especially refers to the cosmic background of the rite. Discussions on this subject are called brahmodyas, explanations in prose texts brāhmaṇas. They deal with the relation between sacrifice and bráhman or only with bráhman.
The knowledge of the Brahmán is sometimes called complete.51 This completeness refers to the fact that the Brahmán is not a specialist like the other priests who are connected with their own Veda and only contribute to the totality of the Vedic sacrifice. The opposition between specialisation and universal knowledge is also present in the adhyātma (microcosmic) counterpart: the manas (mind) notices every impression and co-ordinates the action of the senses.
Perhaps on account of this overall knowledge the Brahmán is called “Oberpriester” by some scholars. It may be doubted whether this is correct.52 In the Vedic ritual he is not the active leader or conductor. He should know and notice everything and sometimes give his permission for a particular action. He does not primarily direct, but redresses. Where he participates in the sacrifice outside the expiations, e.g. in the brahmodyas, his role may be explained as based on his knowledge. The completeness of this knowledge is related to its indistinctness.
Totality is one of the characteristics of every fourth and final item, especially also of the fourth world. The knowledge of the Brahmán is complete, because it is the fourth vidyā (wisdom) after and above the trayī vidyā (threefold wisdom). This totality is the indistinct whole (sarva) rather than the sum of all the vidyās (viśva). In the same way as the original Brahmaveda was a rather abstract, elusive entity (cf. n. 31) rather than a concrete text or corpus of texts, the complete wisdom (sarvavidyā) of the Brahmán is unspecific. It includes the trayī vidyā but may cover more. It is the bráhman, which is more than “die Gesamtheit der überlieferten ṛc, sāman und yajus, des ‘dreifachen Wissens’ ” (Thieme 1952a, 120). The bráhman of the brahmodya refers to more than the transmitted Vedic knowledge. The Brahmán has universal knowledge and knows the implications of what happens in the universe.
The Brahmán has to signalize and correct the mistakes and mishaps in the ritual. This function has been differently explained.
He is called the doctor (bhiṣaj) of the sacrifice in the Brāhmaṇas. Caland (1900, 124) interprets the prehistorical Brahmán i.a. as “… der Zauberartzt. Er ist mit dem Shamanen der Nichtcultur-völker am besten au vergleichen.” More scholars have associated the healing, expiatory function of the Brahmán with magic and medicine especially in combination with the Atharvaveda and the original Purohita.
Thieme regards the development of the Brahmán purely from the point of view of poetical creativity and he explains the corrections of the priest in this context (see n. 16).
The bhiṣaj function should have had different aspects in the preclassical Vedic ritual according to Heesterman (1964, 4): “He is the bhiṣaj, the healer, of the ritual, but this must originally have referred to the healing of death.” I.e. the Brahmán takes over the burden of death from the Yajamāna.53 The change is rather great. The object and contents of his activities are entirely different in the preclassical ritual (acceptance of gifts) and in the classical Vedic ritual (redressing of faults).
In the period between the hypothetical, preclassical Vedic sacrifice and the association of the Brahmán priest with the Atharvaveda the Brahmán was the best qualified priest to correct the mistakes of the others, since his activity was not exclusively connected with one of the Vedas. It is hardly imaginable that an Adhvaryu should correct the Hotṛ or the Udgātṛ. Correction by their respective assistents seems to be out of the question. The generalist, the Brahmán, was the only one who could control the specialists.
Now expiations are not only required when a mistake has been made, but also in case something is going wrong due to external influences. It is uncertain how far the Brahmán as the protector of the sacrifice is the successor of the primitive magician.
As the manas (mind) of the sacrifice he is supposed to pay attention to everything which takes place and in that connection he has to signalize mishaps and to take measures, the more so since he is regarded as the sarvavid (all-knowing one).
Moreover sarva (all), one of the significant qualifications of the fourth and final item in the classifications, does not only denote totality, but also (as the etymology indicates) wholeness and unimpairedness. The Brahmán who is associated with sarva himself is the best healer. He can make the sacrifice whole, where it is broken. See ŚB 14, 3, 2, 2 sárvaṁ vaí pū́rṇáṁ sárveṇaivaìtád bhiṣajyati yát kíṁ ca vívṛḍhaṁ yájñasya “The all is the full, thereby he heals, by means of the all, whatever is broken of the sacrifice.”
The fourth world is also connected with satya (truth) and ṛta (truth; cosmic order). The correctness and good order of the sacrificial procedure rightly forms the concern of the fourth priest.
The function of the Brahmán priest in the classical Vedic ritual seems to be explainable within the framework of the classifications. Here every connection with (the production of) poems (bráhmāṇi) is missing. His silence, southern position, complete knowledge and expiatory function are to be associated with the fourth and final item of the classifications which is i.a. characterized by totality and indistinctness. The singular bráhman with which the Brahmán priest is connected seems to have cosmic or rather supracosmic aspects.
This does not mean that originally the significance of this priest may not have been different. Being a wise man the Brahmán can be interpreted as a kavi (poet), whose original products of wisdom indeed were hymns. The poetical aspect, however, should not be overestimated.
The fourth position of the Brahmán may be based on a late systematization. The priest as such does not seem to be due to a late development. His connection with the South (= moon = fourth world) may also point to a binal opposition. The sacrifice is directed towards the East. To the right (South) and the left (North) the representatives of two parties may have been situated. The preclassical stage, however, is still hypothetical and has not been extensively discussed in this paper. It is clear that in the originally rather simple sacrifice the Brahmán may have been one of two performers.54 It is also possible that the differentiation Kṣatriya-Brahmin has developed out of the pairs gṛhapati—brahmán (householder/leader of the sacrifice—Brahmán), hotṛ/yajamāna—brahmán (chief priest/institutor of the sacrifice—Brahmán), grāmaṇī—yajñanī (leader of the clan—leader of the sacrifice). Whether guest or professional, the Brahmán originally seems to have been the invited one. From the singular one who had a particular knowledge of the bráhman he became the generalist in the classical Vedic ritual in distinction to the specialist.