saptAsyA san paridaya: | tri: sapta: samida: krtA: | deva yad yajnam tanvAnA: | abadhnan purusham paSum || 7 ||
(asya) For this sacrifice (sapta) seven were (paridaya:) the
sheathing logs, the fences. (tri:sapta) Thrice-seven, that is
twenty one (samida:) the samit-wood firebrands (krtA:) made,
(yad yajnam) for the sacrifice for which (devA:) the gods
as (tanvAnA:) as performers of the sacrifice (abadhnan) bound
(purusham) the purusha (paSum) as the beast of sacrifice.
The yAgAgni, the sacred fire of the sacrifice, is invoked on a vedi, or altar, that is always sheathed, or fenced. sAyaNA gives us this: ``aishTikasyAvAhavanIyasya traya: paridaya: uttaravedikAstraya: AdityaSca saptama: paridhi pratinidhi rUpa:''. Three fences are in the uttaravedi part, three in the AvAhanIya, and Aditya is the seventh sheath, or fence.
Nothing had been created at this point. So what were the paridi-s? The seven chandas-s, or metres, gAyatri, trishTup, brhatee, pankti, ushNuk, anushtup, and jagatI may be the seven here. However, later verses would seem to go against this hypothesis. The chandas-s seem to be later creations, as the basis of speech. The maitrAyaNi upanishad suggests prthvi (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vAyu ( air), AkASa (space), ahamkAra (ego), and buddhi (intellect) as these seven. The five elements or panchabhUtas among these, (prthvi, ap, tejas, vAyu, AkASa), along with the five subtle principles or tanmAtras, the five active senses or karmendriyas, the five discerning senses or jnAnendriyas, combined with anta:karaNam, darkening, are said to be the twenty one samit firebrands, in the painkI brAhmaNa.
tam yajnam barhishi prokshan | purusham jAtam agrata: | tena devA ayajanta | sAdhyA RshayaS ca ye || 8 ||
(tam) That (purusham) purusha (yajnam) of the sacrifice,
(jAtam) who was (agrata:) in the beginning, (sAdhyA:) those
achievers (prokshan) sprinkled him with holy water (barhishi)
on the sacrificial bed of straw. (tena) By this means (devA
RshayaS ca) did the gods and the seers (ye) who where,
Here is the Purusha himself bound as the beast of sacrifice. This beast has to be sanctificed, on a sacred bed of straw, with holy water. The word barhis indicates this straw. According to the Yogaratna, virAt (the all), barhis and prakriti are synonyms. In this sense, all of nature is the stage for this sacrifice, and Purusha the sacrifice to be offered. He was firstborn and foremost of creation. The word sAdhyA: according to Ranganathamuni includes all devas, RSHis, suras, and dwellers of Vaikuntha. However, in other places, it has been interpreted to mean something like an analogue to ``bodhisattva'' -- those who have the potential of freedom from time, but have not yet actually achieved it. In the sense that SAdhyam indicates possibility of achievement, I tend towards this view.
tasmAd yajnAt sarvahuta: | sambhRtam prshadAjyam | pashUGs tAGS cakre vAyavyAn | AraNyAn grAmyAs ca ye || 8 ||
(tasmAt) From that (yajnAt) rite (sarvahuta:) called sarvahut
(sambhrtam) was gathered (prshad-Ajyam) ghee mixed with
yogurt. From this (cakre) were created (pashoon) beasts,
(vAyavyAn) denizens of the air, (AraNyAn) denizens of the
woods, (grAmyAn) and denizens of the villages.
There is no holding back in the sRshTi yajna, it is ``sarva-hut'', the offering of all. At yajnas, what is called by sources like Renou and LeMee as ``the clotted fat'' or ``the oil of the sacrifice'', curds mixed with ghee (clarified butter) was collected. Ranganathamuni is of the opinion that for this yajna, the prshadAjyam was ``potency'' of wondrous hue (prANijanana hetu-bhUtam vicitravarNam jagatkAraNa hetu bhUtam vIryam prshadAjyam bhavati) --- appearing as a means by which animals might be born, of wondrous hue, a potency that appeared as a means of the cause of the world --- this was the prshadAjyam, the seed of all creation. The exact synonym of semen, retas, is not mentioned, but I think that in this case we may safely assume this is what is meant. With this did Brahma create the birds, and wild and tame animals.
tasmAd yajnAt sarvahuta: | Rca: sAmAni jajnire | chandAGMsi jajnire tasmAt | yajus tasmAd ajAyanta || 9 ||
(tasmAt yajnAt sarvahuta:) From that Sarvahut rite (Rca:)
the Rg veda mantras and (sAmAni) sAma veda mantras
(jagnyire) were got. FRom that did (chandAmsi) did the metres
too (jagnyire) come forth. (tasmAt) From that were (yaju:) the
yajur veda mantras (ajayata) born.
sAyaNa gives this derivation for sarvahut: ``sarvAtmaka puruSHo yasmin yajne hooyate so ayam sarvahuta:'' -- that yajna in which Purusha, the soul of all, is offered as sacrifice, that rite is sarvahut. Of the Vedas, the Rg concerns itself with recited hymns, in praise of nature and its deities, such as Agni, Indra, the Adityass,the Maruts, and so on. The sAma chants are those of song, the basis of music. Yajus, the Veda of the adhvaryu priests, is that of the methods, and formulas for the rite. Along with these comes forth chandas, the metre or rhythm of hymning.
tasmAdashvA ajAyanta | ye ke cobhayAdata: | gAvoham jagnyire tasmAt | tasmajjatA ajAvaya: || 10 ||
(tasmAd) From that (ajAyanta) were born (asvA:) horses,
and beings with (eke ca) only one and (ubhayAdata:) two
rows of teeth. (gAva:) Cattle (jagnyire) were made (tasmAt)
from that. (tasmAt) From that (jAta) were born (ajA:) goats
and (Avaya:) sheep.
The most common interpretation I have seen for ``ye ke cobhayAdata'' is all animals with two rows of teeth. The one here, I have seen only in aNNa's Tamil translation. However, it appeals to me as innately right. As for animals with one row of teeth, I cannot think of any except whales with their baleen. Someone with a better knowledge of zoological orthodonty may be able to help me here =). All the animals specifically mentioned here, presumably had been tamed, and were counted as wealth in Rg Vedic society.