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Death spake unto the gods, “Surely, on this wise all men will become immortal, and what share will then be mine?” They spake, “Henceforward no one shall be immortal with the body: only when thou shalt have taken that body as they share, he who is to become immortal either through knowledge, or through holy work, shall become immortal after separating from the body.” Now when they said “either through knowledge, or through holy work,” it is this fire-altar that is the knowledge, and this fire-altar that is the holy work. And they who so know this, or they who do this holy work, come to life again when they have died, and, coming to life, they come to immortal life. But they who do not know this, or do not do this holy work, come to life again when they die, and they become the food of Death time after time.

The Shatapatha Brahmana is considered the first great work of Vedic literature written in prose and containing the oldest speculation on the Absolute Principle — that is, brahman. Written in Sanskrit, this anonymous work has been dated between the 6th and 8th centuries BC. While describing in great detail the preparation of altars, ceremonial objects, ritual recitations, and libations, the book also includes a creation myth and great flood story that find their parallels in both the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions.

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