The term śāntyudaka, meaning pacifying water, often translated as “holy water”, denotes the substance, as well as the rite that is succinctly prescribed by the Kauśikasūtra (KauśS) 8.23-9.11. More detailed descriptions of the rite are given by the commentator Keśava, the Atharvanīya Paddhati (AthPaddh), a so-called commentary on the KauśS and the prayogas. The usage of the pacifying water and the rite for its preparation are specific to Atharvavedic ritualism. Its employment is at length mentioned in the KauśS . the propitiatory water is used in various actions, in domestic and public rituals alike, with the aim of consecrating, appeasing and removing the evil spirits .
The rite for the preparation of the pacifying water is explained. “Now” means the state of being subsequent. “[The priest] prepares the pacifying water while [the sacrifier ] touches [him] [from behind]” (KauśS 53.5-6). He should touch from behind by means of grass. Then “wearing new cloths”. “The priest is wearing new cloths” (Keśava on KauśS 9.8). “He prepares the pacifying water in a copper vessel” (KauśS 9.8). With the hymn 16.1 he pours the water in a continuous flow in the copper vessel (cf. Keśava on KauśS 9.9). In the flow, he pours outside the copper vessel some warm water. He skips over some water out of the flow. In this pacifying water he pours the pacifying [plants] and the pacifying waters. He pours rice and/or81 barley. These pacifying [plants] are said to be of two kinds in the Gopatha Brāhmaṇa: ones denoted by the words “related to Atharvan”, and ones denoted by the words “by those related to Angīras”. “For he, indeed, has prepared the pacifying water with the plants belonging to Atharvan and those belonging to Angīras ”, it is said in the brāhmana (GoBr 1.2.18). The ones belonging to Atharvan are mentioned in the Kauśika Sūtra. Those belonging to Angīras are mentioned in the Vaitāna Sūtra: kapu, viparvā, rodākā, vakkāvatī, nāḍā, nirdahaṁtī (VaitS 5.10), thus the terms connected to Angīras are mentioned in the Vaitana Sūtra. Here, those desired in respect of the rite should be taken: the domestic [fire], agnihotrī and so on. The names of the plants such as citi and so on related to Atharvan are mentioned in the Kauśika Sūtra. The statement is thus done by the learned Keśava, the author of a commentary. Now, the teacher prepares the pacifying water in the copper vessel, [holding it] in the right hand, [with] the pacifying plants and the pacifying waters together. Here is the example. At first the priest asks the brahman priest. He touches [and asks]“[Are there] all the waters [and] plants?” The brahman says: “Yes, they are all.” What does “all” mean? “With all the plants, such as citi and so on” (Keśava on KauśS 9.8), with all the waters such as Gangā, etc, with stagnant water such as the sea, etc, “with all sort of waters collected from pilgrimage places, such as Prabhāsa, etc” (Keśava on KauśS 9.8). This is the meaning. “The priest says: “Oṁ, impelled by Bṛhaspati, may I do [the rite]?”. Then the brahman says: “Ohṁ, do thou, impelled by Savitar!”. Once given the permission he performs the rite for the preparation of the pacifying water” (Keśava on KauśS 9.8). [The brahman] causes [the priest] to proclaim the plants, such as citi, etc. The pacifying [plants]: citi, prāyaścitti, śamī, śamikā, śavanśā, śāmyavākā, talāśā, palāśa, vāśā, , śimbala, sipunā, i.e. karī, darbha grass, apāmārga, ,valmīkamvapā, tips of dūrvā grass, rice, and barley. If one does not find something from these plants, he should use rice and/or barley as a substitute. Paithīnasi, the author of a commentary, [has] this statement. “[He recites] twice the sāvitrīmantra (RV 3.62.10) [and] twice śan no devī (1.6.1)” (KauśS 9.7). Why twice? “In the beginning and the end of śāntyudaka he should recite RV 3.62.10 and ŚS 1.6.1. As [says] the commentary: At the beginning he recites RV 3.62.10 and ŚS 1.6.1, and at the end RV 3.62.10 and ŚS 1.6.1.” (Keśava on KauśS 9.7). Thus says the statement of Keśava, the author of the commentary. He should recite “twice śan no devī (1.6.1) together with the sāvitrī (RV 3.62.10)”, thus is the opinion of Dārila, the commentator (Dārila on KauśS 9.7). Then the author of KauśS. According to the digest Siddhasukśamī (??): “Three [are] the writers of a commentary: Dārila, Rudra, and Bhadra.” The order [of the hymns recited] [is ascertained] in the śloka from this [digest]. Then, as there are two groups beginning with 1.4, he should perform [the rite] with either the long or the short one. Or elsewhere he performs [the rite] with the four groups. The pratīkas of the [second] group are enumerated: one stanza of RV 3.62.10, one stanza of ŚS 1.6.1, 1.4, śaṁbhumayobhū in the order 1.5 and 1.6 ,the hymn 1.33, śamtātī i.e. the hymn 4.13 –, one verse of 7.66, one verse of 7.67, one verse of 7.68.3, one verse of 7.69, [and] 11.698. [These last (i.e. 7.60[which] are given in replay in the beginning of the ritual of preparing the holly water. The use of the 69) are] consecutive hymns having the same purport. As long as one recites, he should avoid [the verse] 11.6.23. Now, as to the subject of the first shaving the hymn 1.4 should be added, then 11.6.23, again RV 3.62.10 and ŚS 1.6.1. Then, holding [the boy] for the sake of pacification, he pours [some available] pacifying water in the pacifying water with the hymn 6.10. Again [with the hymn] 6.10 he be sprinkles even the fire. Again, with the hymn of three verses 6.10 he sprinkles the fire, with each verse. Then he makes the boy to sip the water and sprinkles around with each verse. In the first tonsure he adds the hymn 2.28. Similarly, in the subject of the initiation he should add 3.8. In the subject of vratamoksha [the hymn] of four verses 7.89 is added. Afterwards [the verse] 11.6.23 in all these instances. It should be done as per the instruction. In the situation when a tooth is shaking and when it is falling, RV 3.62.10 should be added. If in the eleventh day from the cremation he performs the rite for releasing a bull, he should first do the rite for the preparation of the pacifying water. In all other rites of releasing a bull, [and also] in all the rites for obtaining prosperity, wealth, [and] heaven one should avoid the rite for the preparation of the pacifying water.
Time and place
Now the place and the time of the performance are being described. These two should be understood as explained by the teacher elsewhere. As [it is prescribed] in the fifth [chapter of the KauśS], in the rite of the cow immolation: “ Having seated to the west of the sacred fire, facing the east, [the priest] prepares the pacificatory water, touching [the cow] [from behind by means of a stick or a blade of grass] “ (KauśS 44.3). And as [it is prescribed] in the seventh [chapter of the KauśS], in the rite of the first shaving: “Having offered the obligatory purastādhomas and the two ājyabhāgas, having seated to the west of the sacred fire, facing the east, [the priest] prepares the pacificatory water, while [the sacrifier] touches [him] [from behind]” (KauśS 53.5-6). “He even besprinkles thrice the sacred fire [on one hand], and he sprinkles around thrice, makes the sacrifier to sip thrice and besprinkles thrice [the utensils]” (KauśS 53.8-9). Therefore, in general, when there is no specific mention [of a procedure] (anādeśa) it should be prepared in all atharvanic karmas respectively.