Sage Ushasti instructs

Sage Ushasti learnt that the king was performing a yaga and

went to meet him because he knew a priest would be needed

to perform the yaga. But by the time he arrived, the yaga had

already commenced and there were already three priests

there. Three priests are necessary for performance of the

yaga: prastota — initiator, udgata — chanter and pratiharta

—concluder.Ushasti asked the priests if they knew to which deity they were chanting their respective mantras, said M.K. Srinivasan in a discourse.

If they chanted the mantra without knowing this, their

heads would fall of, warned Ushasti. The rule is that if a

vidwan is present and the priests chant without knowing the

name of the deities, then their heads will fall of. So now the

three priests could not chant the mantras, because Ushasti, a

vidwan, was present. The king asked Ushasti who he was and the sage introduced himself. The king said that he had in fact been looking for Ushasti to conduct the yaga, but had been unable to locate him. That is why he had started his yaga with the other three priests. He then requested Ushasti to perform the yaga. But Ushasti declined the ofer. He said:

“Let them perform what they have started. I will inform them

about the deities they are addressing.”

The prastota requested Ushasti to instruct him. Ushasti

said that the deity to whom his mantras were addressed was

Prana. Ushasti told the Udgata that the mantras he chanted

were addressed to Aditya. He told the pratiharta that the

deity he was addressing was food (anna). All these deities

are pervaded by Paramatma.

Though he taught the three priests, Ushasti generously

accepted the same fee that was paid to them.