Vedic civilization/EB 1911

Vedic civilization/EB 1911


(Encyclopedia Britannica 1911, s.v. Sanskrit) [] [] [] []


The term "veda" "knowledge, (sacred) lore" embraces a body of writings the origin of which is ascribed to divine revelation (shruti, literally "hearing"), and which forms the foundation of the Brahmanical system of religious belief. This sacred canon is divided into three or (according to a later scheme) four co-ordinate collections, likewise called Veda: (I) the Rig-veda, or lore of praise (or hymns); (2) the Samaveda, or lore of tunes (or chants); (3) the Yajurveda, or lore of prayer (or sacrificial formulas); and (4) the Atharvaveda, or lore of the Atharvans. Each of these four Vedas consists primarily of a collection (samihita) of sacred, mostly poetical, texts of a devotional nature, called mantra. This entire body of texts (and particularly the first three collections) is also frequently referred to as the "trayi vidya", or threefold wisdom, of hymns (rik), tune or chant (saman), and prayer (yajus), the fourth Veda, if at all included, being in that case classed together with the Rik.


The Brahmanical religion finds its practical expression chiefly in sacrificial performances. The Vedic sacrifice requires for its proper performance the attendance of four officiating priests, each of whom is assisted by one or more (usually three) subordinate priests, viz.: (I) the Hotar (or hotr i.e. either sacrificer, or invoker), whose chief business is to invoke the gods, either in short prayers pronounced over the several oblations, or in liturgical recitations (~astra), made up of various hymns and detached verses; (2) the Udgatar (udgatri), or chorister, who has to perform chants (stotra) in connection with the hotars recitations; (3) the Adhvaryu, or offering priest par excellence, who performs all the material duties of the sacrifice, such as the kindling of the fires, the preparation of the sacrificial ground and the offerings, the making of oblations, &c.; (4) the Brahman, or chief priest, who has to superintend the performance and to rectify any mistakes that may be committed. Now, the first three of these priests stand in special relation to three of the Vedic Samhitas in this way: that the Samhitas of the Samaveda and Yajurveda form special song and prayer books, arranged for the practical use of the udgatar and adhvaryu respectively; whilst the Rik-samhita, though not arranged for any such practical purpose, contains the entire body of sacred lyrics whence the hotar draws the material for his recitations. The brahman, however, had no special text-book assigned to him, but was expected to be familiar with all the Samhitas as well as with the practical details of the sacrificial performance. It sometimes happens that verses not found in our version of the Rik-samhita., but in the Atharvavedasamhita, are used by the hotar; but such texts, if they did not actually form part of some other version of the Rikas, Sayana in the introduction to his commentary on the Rik-samhita assures us that they did, were probably inserted in the liturgy subsequent to the recognition of the fourth Veda.


The several Samhitas have attached to them certain theological prose works, called Brahmana, which, though subordinate in authority to the Mantras or Samhitas, are like them held to be divinely revealed and to form part of the canon. The chief works of this class are of an exegetic nature, their purport being to supply a dogmatic exposition of the sacrificial ceremonial and to explain the mystic import Of the different rites and utterances included therein.

Aranyakas and Upanishads

More or less closely connected with the Brahmanas (and in a few exceptional cases with Samhitas) are two classes of treatises, called Aranyaka and Upanishad. The Aranyakas, i.e. works "relating to the forest", being intended to be read by those who have retired from the world and lead the life of anchorites, do not greatly differ in character and style from the Brahmanas, but like them are chiefly ritualistic, treating of special ceremonies not dealt with, or dealt with only imperfectly, in the latter works, to which they thus stand in the relation of supplements. The Upanishads, however, are of a and purely speculative nature, and must be looked upon as the first attempts at a systematic treatment of metaphysical questions. The number of Upanishads hitherto known is very considerable (about 170); but, though they nearly all profess to belong to the Atharvaveda, they have to be assigned to very different periods of Sanskrit literature — some of them being evidently quite modern productions. The oldest treatises of this kind are doubtless those which form part of the Samhitas, Brahmanas and Aranyakas of the three older Vedas, though not a few others which have no such special connection have to be classed with the later products of the Vedic age.

Different recensions

As the sacred texts were not committed to writing till a much later period, but were handed down orally in. the Brahmanical schools, it was inevitable that local differences of reading should spring up, which in course of time gave rise to a number of independent versions. Such different text-recensions, called "shakha" (i.e. branch), were at one time very numerous, but only a limited number have survived. As regards the Samhitas, the poetical form of the hymns, as well as the concise style of the sacrificial formulas, would render these texts less liable to change, and the discrepancies of different versions would chiefly consist in various readings of single words or in the different arrangement of the textual matter. But the diffuse ritualistic discussions and loosely connected legendary illustrations of the Brahmanas offered scope for very considerable modifications in the traditional matter, either through the ordinary processes of oral transmission or through the special influence of individual teachers.


Besides the purely ceremonial matter, the Brghmanas also contained a considerable amount of matter bearing on the correct interpretation of the Vedic texts; and, indeed, the sacred obligation incumbent on the Brahmans of handing down correctly the letter and sense of those texts necessarily involved a good deal of serious grammatical and etymological study in the Brhmanical schools. These literary pursuits could not but result in the accumulation of much learned material, which it would become more and more desirable to throw into a systematic form, serving at the same time as a guide for future research. These practical requirements were met by a class of treatises, grouped under six different heads or subjects, called Vedangas, i.e. members, or limbs, of the (body of the) Veda. None of the works, however, which have come down to us under this designation can lay any just claim to being considered the original treatises on their several subjects; they evidently represent a more or less advanced stage of scientific development.

Though a few of them are composed in metrical form — especially in the ordinary epic couplet, the "anushtubh shloka", consisting of two lines of sixteen syllables (or of two octosyllabic padas) each — the majority belong to a class of writings called "sutra", i.e. string, consisting of strings of rules in the shape of tersely expressed aphorisms, intended to be committed to memory. The Stras form a connecting link between the Vedic and the classical periods of literature. But, although these treatises, so far as they deal with Vedic subjects, are included by the native authorities among the Vedic writings, and in point of language may, generally speaking, be considered as the latest products of the Vedic age, they have no share in the sacred title of "shuti" or revelation. They are of human, not of divine, origin. Yet, as the production of men of the highest standing, profoundly versed in Vedic lore, the Sutras are regarded as works of great authority, second only to that of the revealed Scriptures; and their relation to the latter is expressed in the generic title of Smriti, or Tradition, usually applied to them.

The six branches of Vedic science, included under the term Vedanga, are as follows:

# "Shiksha", or Phonetics. The privileged position of representing this subject is assigned to a small treatise ascribed to the great grammarian Panini, viz, the "Paniniya shiksha", extant in two different (Rik and Yajus) recensions. But neither this treatise nor any other of the numerous shikshas which have recently come to light can lay claim to any very high age. Scholars, however, usually include under this head certain works, called "Pratishakhya", i.e. "belonging to a certain "shakha" or recension", which deal minutely with the phonetic peculiarities of the several Samhitas, and are of great importance for the textual criticism of the Vedic Samhitas.
# "Chhandas", or Metre. Tradition makes the "Chhandas-sutra" of Pingala the starting-point of prosody. The Vedic metres, however, occupy but a small part of this treatise, and they are evidently dealt with in a more original manner in the Nidana-sutra of the Samaveda, and in a chapter of the Rik-pratishakhya. For profane prosody, on the other hand, Pingala's treatise is rather valuable, no less than 160 metres being described by him.
# "Vyakarana", or Grammar. Panini's famous grammar is said to be "the" Vedanga; but it marks the culminating point of grammatical research rather than the beginning, and besides treats chiefly of the post-Vedic language.
# "Nirukta", or Etymology. Yaska's "Nirukta" is the traditional representative of this subject, and this important work certainly deals entirely with Vedic etymology and explanation. It consists, in the first place, of strings of words in three chapters: (1) synonymous words; (2) such as are purely or chiefly Vedic; and (3) names of deities. These lists are followed by Yaska's commentary, interspersed with numerous illustrations. Yasaka, again, quotes several predecessors in the same branch of science; and it is probable that the original works on this subject consisted merely of lists of words similar to those handed down by him.
# "Jyotisha", or Astronomy. Although astronomical calculations are frequently referred to in older works in connection with the performance of sacrifices, the metrical treatise which has come down to us in two different recensions under the title of Jyotisha, ascribed to one Lagadha, or Lagata, seems indeed to be the oldest existing systematic treatise on astronomical subjects. With the exception of some apparently spurious verses of one of the recensions, it betrays no sign of the Greek influence which shows itself in Hindu astronomical works from about the 3rd century of our era; and its date may therefore be set down as probably not later than the early centuries after Christ.
# "Kalpa", or Ceremonial. Tradition does not single out any special work as the Vedanga in this branch of Vedic science; but the sacrificial practice gave rise to a large number of systematic sutra-manuals for the several classes of priests. The most important of these works have come down to us, and they occupy by far the most prominent place among the literary productions of the sutra-period. The Kalpa-sutras, or rules of ceremonial, are of two kinds: (I) the Srauta-sutras, which are based on the "shruti", and teach the performance of the great sacrifices, requiring three sacrificial fires; and (2) the Smrta-sutras, or rules based on the "smiti" or tradition. The latter class again includes two kinds of treatises: (1) the Grhya-sutras, or domestic rules, treating of ordinary family rites, such as marriage, birth, namegiving, &c., connected with simple offerings in the domestic fire; and (2) the "Samayacharika-" (or "Dharma-") "sutras", which treat of customs and temporal duties, and are supposed to have formed the chief sources of the later law-books. Besides, the Shrauta-sutras of the Yajurveda have usually attached to them a set of so-called "Shulva-sutras", i.e. rules of the cord, which treat of the measurement by means of cords, and the construction, of different kinds of altars required for sacrifices. These treatises are of special interest as supplying important information regarding the earliest geometrical operations in India. Along with the Sutras may be classed a large number of supplementary treatises, usually called Parishishta (παραλιπομενα), on various subjects connected with the sacred texts and Vedic religion generally.

After this brief characterization of the various branches of Vedic literature, we proceed to take a rapid survey of the several Vedic collections.



A. "Rigveda". The "Rigveda-samhita" has come down to us in the recension of the "Shakala" school. Mention is made of several other versions; and regarding one of them, that of the "Bashkalas", we have some further information, according to which it seems, however, to have differed but little from the Shakala text. The latter consists of 1,028 hymns, including eleven so-called "Valakhilyas", which were probably introduced into the collection subsequently to its completion. The hymns are composed in a great variety of metres, and consist, on an average, of rather more than 10 verses each, or about 10,600 verses altogether. This body of sacred lyrics has been subdivided by ancient authorities in a twofold way, viz, either from a purely artificial point of view, into eight "ashtakas" of about equal length, or, on a more natural principle, based on the origin of the hymns, and invariably adopted by European scholars, into ten books, or "mandalas", of unequal length. Tradition (not, however, always trustworthy in this respect) has handed down the names of the reputed authors, or rather inspired seers ("rishi"), of most hymns. These indications have enabled scholars to form some idea as to the probable way in which the Rik-samhita originated, though much still remains to be cleared up by future research.

Mandalas ii.-vii. are evidently arranged on a uniform plan. Each of them is ascribed to a different family of rishis, whence they are usually called the six family-books: ii., the Grtsamadas; iii., the Vishvamitras or Kushikas; iv., the Vamadevyas; v., the Atris; vi., the Bharadvajas; and vii., the Vasishthas. Further, each of these books begins with the hymns addressed to Agni, the god of fire, which are followed by those to Indra, the Jupiter Pluvius, whereupon follow those addressed to minor deities — the Vishve-Devas ("all-gods"), the Maruts (storm-gods), &c. Again, the hymns addressed to each deity are arranged in a descending order, according to the number of verses of which they consist.

Mandala i., the longest in the whole Sarnhita, contains 191 hymns, ascribed, with the exception of a few isolated ones, to sixteen poets of different families, and consisting of one larger (50 hymns) and nine shorter collections. Here again the hymns of each author are arranged on precisely the same principle as the family-books. Mandalas viii. and ix., on the other hand, have a special character of their own. To the Samaveda-samhita, which, as we shall see, consists almost entirely of verses chosen from the Rik for chanting purposes, these two mandalas have contributed a much larger proportion of verses than any of the others. Now, the hymns of the eighth book are ascribed to a number of different rishis, mostly belonging to the Kanva family. The productions of each poet are usually, though not always, grouped together, but no other principle of arrangement has yet been discovered. The chief peculiarity of this mandala, however, consists in its metres. Many of the hymns are composed in the form of stanzas, called "pragatha" (from "ga", to sing), consisting of two verses in the "brihati" and "satobrhati" metres; whence this book is usually known under the designation of Pragathas. The other metres met with in this book are likewise such as were evidently considered peculiarly adapted for singing, viz, the "gayatri" (from "ga", to sing) and other chiefly octosyllabic metres. It is not yet clear how to account for these peculiarities; but further research may perhaps show either that the Kanvas were a family of "udgatars", or chanters, or that, before the establishment of a common system of worship for the Brahmanical community, they were accustomed to carry on their liturgical service exclusively by means of chants, instead of using the later form of mixed recitation and chant. One of the rishis of this family is called "Pragatha Kanva"; possibly this surname "pragatha" may be an old, or local, synonym of udgatar, or perhaps of the chief chanter, the so-called "Prastotar", or precentor. Another poet of this family is "Medhatithi Kanva", who has likewise assigned to him twelve hymns in the first and largest groups of the first book. The ninth mandala, on the other hand, consists entirely of hymns (114) addressed to Soma, the deified juice of the so-called moon-plant ("Sarcostemma viminale", or "Asclepias acida"), and ascribed to poets of different families. They are called "pavamani", "purificational", because they were to be recited by the hotar while the juice expressed from the soma plants was clarifying. The first sixty of these hymns are arranged strictly according to their length, ranging from ten down to four verses; but as to the remaining hymns no such principle of arrangement is observable, except perhaps in smaller groups of hymns. One might, therefore, feel inclined to look upon that first section as the body of soma hymns set apart, at the time of the first redaction of the Samhita, for the special purpose of being used as "pavamanyas", the remaining hymns having been added at subsequent redactions. It would not, however, by any means follow that all, or even any, of the latter hymns were actually later productions, as they might previously have formed part of the family collections, or might have been overlooked when the hymns were first collected. Other maiitlalas (viz. i. viii. and x.) still contain four entire hymns addressed to Soma, consisting together of 58 verses, of which only a single one (x. 25, 1) is found in the Samaveda-samhita, as also some 28 isolated verses to Soma, and four hymns addressed to Soma in conjunction with some other deity, which are entirely unrepresented in that collection.

Mandala x. contains the same number of hymns (191) as the first, which it nearly equals in actual length. The hymns are ascribed to many rishis, of various families, some of whom appear already in the preceding marndalas. The traditional record is, however, less to be depended upon as regards this book, many names of gods and fictitious personages appearing in the list of its rishis. In the latter half of the book the hymns are clearly arranged according to the number of verses, in decreasing order — occasional exceptions to this rule being easily adjusted by the removal of a few apparently added verses. A similar arrangement seems also to suggest itself in other portions of the book. This mandala stands somewhat apart from the preceding books, both its language and the general character of many of its hymns betraying a more recent origin. In this respect it comes nearer to the level of the Atharvaveda-samhita, with which it is otherwise closely connected. Of some 1350 Rik-verses found in the Atharvan, about 550, or rather more than 40%, occur in the tenth mandala. In the latter we meet with the same tendencies as in the Atharvan to metaphysical speculation and abstract conceptions of the deity on the one hand, and to superstitious practices on the other. But, although in its general appearance the tenth mandala is decidedly more modern than the other books, it contains not a few hymns which are little, if at all, inferior, both in respect of age and poetic quality, to the generality of Vedic hymns, being perhaps such as had escaped the attentions of the former collectors.

It has become the custom, after Roth's example, to call the Rik-samhita (as well as the Atharvan) an historical collection, as compared with the Samhitas put together for purely ritualistic purposes. And indeed, though the several family collections which make up the earlier maodalas may originally have served ritual ends, as the hymnals of certain clans or tribal confederacies, and although the Samhita itself, in its oldest form, may have been intended as a common prayer-book, so to speak, for the whole of the Brahmanical community, it is certain that in the stage in which it has been finally handed down it includes a certain portion of hymn material (and even some secular poetry) which could never have been used for purposes of religious service. It may, therefore, be assumed that the Rik-samhita contains all of the nature of popular lyrics that was accessible to the collectors, or seemed to them worthy of being preserved. The question as to the exact period when the hymns were collected cannot be answered with any approach to accuracy. For many reasons, however, which cannot be detailed here, scholars have come to fix on the year 1000 B.C. as an approximate date for the collection of the Vedic hymns. From that time every means that human ingenuity could suggest was adopted to secure the sacred texts against the risks connected with oral transmission. But, as there is abundant evidence to show that even then not only had the text of the hymns suffered corruption, but their language had become antiquated to a considerable extent, and was only partly understood, the period during which the great mass of the hymns were actually composed must have lain considerably farther back, and may very likely have extended over the earlier half of the second millenary, or from about 2000 to 1500 B.C.

As regards the people which raised for itself this imposing monument, the hymns exhibit it as settled in the regions watered by the mighty Sindhu (Indus), with its eastern and western tributaries, the land of the five rivers thus forming the central home of the Vedic people. But, while its advanced guard has already debouched upon the plains of the upper Ganga and Yamuna, those who bring up the rear are still found loitering far behind in the narrow glens of the Kubha (Cabul) and Gomati (Gomal). Scattered over this tract of land, in hamlets and villages, the Vedic Aryas are leading chiefly the life of herdsmen and husbandmen. The numerous clans and tribes, ruled over by chiefs and kings, have still constantly to vindicate their right to the land but lately wrung from an inferior race of darker hue; just as in these latter days their Aryan kinsmen in the Far West are ever on their guard against the fierce attacks of the dispossessed red-skin. Not unfrequently, too, the light-colored Aryas wage internecine war with one another — as when the Bharatas, with allied tribes of the Panjab, goaded on by the royal sage Vishvamitra, invade the country of the Trtsu king Sudas, to be defeated in the ten kings battle, through the inspired power of the priestly singer Vasishtha. The priestly office has already become one of high social importance by the side of the political rulers, and to a large extent an hereditary profession; though it does not yet present the baneful features of an exclusive caste. The Aryan housewife shares with her husband the daily toil and joy, the privilege of worshipping the national gods and even the triumphs of songcraft, some of the finest hymns being attributed to female seers.

The religious belief of the people consists in a system of natural symbolism, a worship of the elementary forces of nature, regarded as beings endowed with reason and power superior to those of man. In giving utterance to this simple belief, the priestly spokesman has, however, frequently worked into it his own speculative and mystic notions. Indra, the stout-hearted ruler of the cloud-region, receives by far the largest share of the devout attentions of the Vedic singer. His ever-renewed battle with the malicious demons of darkness and drought, for the recovery of the heavenly light and the rain-spending cows of the sky, forms an inexhaustible theme of spirited song. Next to him, in the affections of the people, stands Agni ("ignis"), the god of fire, invoked as the genial inmate of the Aryan household, and as the bearer of oblations, and mediator between gods and men. Indra and Agni are thus, as it were, the divine representatives of the king (or chief) and the priest of the Aryan community; and if, in the arrangement of the Samhita, the Brahmanical collectors gave precedence to Agni, it was but one of many avowals of their own hierarchical pretensions. Hence also the hymns to Indra are mostly followed, in the family collections, by those addressed to the Vishve Devas (the "all-gods") or to the Maruts, the warlike storm-gods and faithful companions of Indra, as the divine impersonations of the Aryan freemen, the "vish" or clan. But, while Indra and Agni are undoubtedly the favorite figures of the Vedic pantheon, there is reason to believe that these gods had but lately supplanted another group of deities who play a less prominent part in the hymns, viz. Father Heaven (Dyaus Pitar, Ζευς πατηρ, Jupiter); Varuna (probably ουρανος), the all-embracing (esp. nocturnal) heavens; Mitra (Zend. Mithra), the genial light of day; and Savitar, the quickener, and Surya (ηελιος), the vivifying sun.

Brahmanas of Rigveda

Of the Brhmanas that were handed down in the schools of the Bahvrichas (i.e. "possessed of many verses"), as the followers of the Rigveda are called, two have come down to us, viz. those of the Aitareyins and the Kaushitakins. The "Aitareya-brahmana"

[Edited, with an English translation, by M. Haug (2 vols., Bombay, 1863). An edition in Roman transliteration, with extracts from the commentary, has been published by Th. Aufrecht (Bonn, 1879).] and the "Kaushitaki-" (or "Sankhayana-") "brahmana" evidently have for their groundwork the same stock of traditional exegetic matter. They differ, however, considerably as regards both the arrangement of this matter and their stylistic handling of it, with the exception of the numerous legends common to both, in which the discrepancy is comparatively slight. There is also a certain amount of material peculiar to each of them. The Kaushitaka is, upon the whole, far more concise in its style and more systematic in its arrangementfeatures which would lead one to infer that it is probably the more modern work of the two. It consists of thirty chapters ("adhyaya"); while the Aitareya has forty, divided into eight books (or pentads, "panchaka"), of five chapters each. The last ten adhyayas of the latter work are, however, clearly a later additionthough they must have already formed part of it at the time of Panini (c. 400 B.C. ?), if, as seems probable, one of his grammatical sutras, regulating the formation of the names of Brahmanas, consisting of thirty and forty adhyayas, refers to these two works. In this last portion occurs the well-known legend (also found in the Shankhayana-sutra, but not in the Kaushitaki-brahmana) of Shunahshepa, whom his father Ajigarta sells and offers to slay, the recital of which formed part of the inauguration of kings. While the Aitareya deals almost exclusively with the Soma sacrifice, the Kaushitaka, in its first six chapters, treats of the several kinds of "haviryajna", or offerings of rice, milk, ghee, &c., whereupon follows the Soma sacrifice in this way, that chapters 7-10 contain the practical ceremonial and 11-30 the recitations ("shastra") of the hotar. Sayana, in the introduction to his commentary on the work, ascribes the Aitareya to the sage Mahidasa Aitareya (i.e. son of Itara), also mentioned elsewhere as a philosopher; and it seems likely enough that this person arranged the Brahmana and founded the schcol of the Aitareyins. Regarding the authorship of the sister work we have no information, except that the opinion of the sage Kaushitaki is frequently referred to in it as authoritative, and generally in opposition to the Paingya — the Brahmana, it would seem, of a rival school, the Paingins. Probably, therefore, it is just what one of the manuscripts calls it — the Brahmana of Sankhayana (composed) in accordance with the views of Kaushitaki.

Each of these two Brahmanas is supplemented by a forestbook, or Aranyaka. The "Aitareyaranyaka" is not a uniform production. It consists of five books ("aranyaka"), three of which, the first and the last two, are of a liturgical nature, treating of the ceremony called mahvrata, or great vow. The last of these books, composed in stra form, is, however, doubtless of later origin, and is, indeed, ascribed by native authorities either to Shaunaka or to Ashvalayana. The second and third books, on the other hand, are purely speculative, and are also styled the "Bahvricha-brahmana-upanishad". Again, the last four chapters of the second book are usually singled out as "the Aitareyopanishad", ascribed, like its Brhmana (and the first book), to Mahidasa Aitareya; and the third book is also referred to as the "Samhita-upanishad". As regards the "Kaushitaki-aranyaka", this work consists of fifteen adhyayas, the first two (treating of the mahavrata ceremony) and the seventh and eighth of which correspond to the first, fifth, and third books of the Aitareyaranyaka respectively, whilst the four adhyayas usually inserted between them constitute the highly interesting "Kaushitaki (brahmana-) upanishad", of which we possess two different recensions. The remaining portions (9-15) of the Aranyaka treat of the vital airs, the internal Agnihotra, &c., ending with the "vamsha", or succession of teachers.

utras of Rigveda

Of Kalpa-sutras, or manuals of sacrificial ceremonial, composed for the use of the hotar priest, two different sets are in existence, the Ashvalayana and the Sankhayana-sutra. Each of these works follows one of the two Brahmanas of the Rik as its chief authority, viz, the Aitareya and Kaushitaka respectively. Both consist of a Shrauta and a Grihya-sutra. Ashvalayana seems to have lived about the same time as Panini (ca. 400 BC.) his own teacher, Shaunaka, who completed the Rik-pratishakya, being probably intermediate between the great grammarian and Yaska, the author of the Nirukta. Shaunaka himself is said to have been the author of a Shrauta-sutra (which was, however, more of the nature of a Brahmapa) and to have destroyed it on seeing his pupil's work. A Grihya-sutra is still quoted under his name by later writers. The Ashvalayana-shrauta-sutra consists of twelve, the Grihya of four, adhyayas.

Regarding Katyayana still less is known; but he, too, was doubtless a comparatively modern writer, who, like Ashvalayana, founded a new school of ritualists. Hence the Kaushitaki-brahmana, adopted (and perhaps improved) by him, also goes under his name, just as the Aitareya is sometimes called Ashalayana-brahmana. The Katyayana shrauta-sutra consists of eighteen adhyayas. The last two chapters of the work are, however, a later addition, while the two preceding chapters, on the contrary, present a comparatively archaic, brahmana-like appearance. The Grihya-sutra consists of six chapters, the last two of which are likewise later appendages. The Sambavya Grihya-sutra, of which a single MS. is at present known, seems to be closely connected with the preceding work. Professor Buhler also refers to the Rigveda the Vasishthadharmasutra, composed of mixed sutras and couplets.

A few works remain to be noticed, bearing chiefly on the textual form and traditionary records of the Rik-samhita. In our remarks on the Vedangas, the Pratishakhyas have already been referred to as the chief repositories of shiksha or Vedic phonetics. Among these works the Rik-pratishakhya occupies the first place. The original composition of this important work is ascribed to the same Shakalya from whom the vulgate recension of the (Shakala) Samhita takes its name. He is also said to be the author of the existing padapatha (i.e. the text-form in which each word is given unconnected with those that precede and follow it), which report may well be credited, since the pada-text was doubtless prepared with a view to an examination, such as is presented in the pratishakhya, of the phonetic modifications undergone by words in their syntactic combination. In the Pratishakhya itself, ~gkalyas father (or ~,fikalya the elder) is also several times referred to as an authority on phonetics, though the younger ~kalya is evidently regarded as having improved on his father's theories. Thus both father and son probably had a share in the formulation of the rules of pronunciation and modification of Vedic sounds. The completion or final arrapgement of the Rik-pratishakhya, in its present form, is ascribed to Shaunaka, the reputed teacher of Ashvalayana. Shaunaka, however, is merely a family name ("descendant of Shunaka"), which is given even to the rishi Gritsamada, to whom nearly the whole of the second mandala of the Rik is attributed. How long after Shakalya this particular Shaunaka lived we do not know; but some generations at all events would seem to lie between them, considering that in the meantime the Shakalas, owing doubtless to minor differences on phonetic points in the Samhita text, had split into several branches, to one of which, the ~,ai~ira (or Saiiiriya) school, Shaunaka belonged. While Shakalya is referred, to both by Yaska and Panini, neither of these writers mentions Shaunaka. It seems, nevertheless, likely, for several reasons, that Panini was acquainted with Shaunaka's work, though the point has by no means been definitely settled. The Rik-pratishakhya is composed in mixed shlokas, or couplets of various metres, a form of composition for which Shaunaka seems to have had a special predilection. Besides the Pratishakhya, and the Grihya-sutra mentioned above, eight other works are ascribed to Shaunaka, viz., the Brihaddevata, an account, in epic shlokas, of the deities of the hymns, which supplies much valuable mythological information; the Rig-vidhana, a treatise, likewise in epic metre, on the magic effects of Vedic hymns and verses; the Pada-vidhna, a similar treatise, apparently no longer in existence; and five different indexes or catalogues (anukramani) of the rishis, metres, deities, sections (anuvaka) and hymns of the Rigveda. It is, however, doubtful whether the existing version of the Brihaddevata is the original one; and the Rigvidhana would seem to be much more modern than Shaunaka's time. As regards the Anukramanis, they seem all to have been composed in mixed shlokas; but, with the exception of the ~Anuvgknukramani, they are only known from quotations, having been superseded by the Sarvanukramani, or complete index, of Katyayana. Both these indexes have been commented upon by ~Sha4guruishya, towards the end of the 12th century of our era.



B. Sama-veda. The term "saman", of uncertain derivation, denotes a solemn tune or melody to be sung or chanted to a "rich" or verse. The set chants ("stotra") of the Soma sacrifice are as a rule performed in triplets, either actually consisting of three different verses, or of two verses which, by the repetition samhlt, a of certain parts, are made, as it were, to form three. The three verses are usually chanted to the same tune; but in certain cases two verses sung to the same tune had a different saman enclosed between them. One and the same saman or tune may thus be sung to many different verses; but, as in teaching and practising the tunes the same verse was invariably used for a certain tune, the term "saman," as well as the special technical names of samans, are not infrequently applied to the verses themselves with which they were ordinarily connected, just as one would quote the beginning of the text of an English hymn, when the tune usually sung to that hymn is meant. For a specimen of the way in which samans are sung, see Burnell, "Arsheyabrahmana", p. xlv. seq.

The Indian chant somewhat resembles the Gregorian or Plain Chant. Each saman is divided into five parts or phrases ("prastava", or prelude, &c.), the first four of which are distributed between the several chanters, while the finale ("nidhana") is sung in unison by all of them.

In accordance with the distinction between "rich" or text and "saman" or tune, the saman-hymnal consists of two parts, viz, the "Samaveda-samhita", or collection of texts ("rich") used for making up saman-hymns, and the "Gana", or tune-books, song-books. The textual matter of the Samhita consists of somewhat under 1600 different verses, selected from the Rik-samhita, with the exception of some seventy-five verses, some of which have been taken from Khila hymns, whilst others which also occur in the Atharvan or Yajurveda, as well as such not otherwise found, may perhaps have formed part of some other recension of the Rik. The "Smaveda-samhita" is divided into two chief parts, the "purva-" (first) and the "uttara" (second) "archika". The second part contains the texts of the saman-hymns, arranged in the order in which they are actually required for the stotras or chants of the various Soma sacrifices. The first part, on the other hand, contains the body of tune-verses, or verses used for practising the several samans or tunes upon — the tunes themselves being given in the "Grama-geya-gana" (i.e. songs to be sung in the village), the tune-book specially belonging to the Purvarchika. Hence the latter includes all the first verses of those triplets of the second part which had special tunes peculiar to them, besides the texts of detached samans occasionally used outside the regular ceremonial, as well as such as were perhaps no longer required but had been so used at one time or other. The verses of the Purvarchika are arranged on much the same plan as the family-books of the Rik-samhita, viz, in three sections containing the verses addressed to Agni, Indra and Soma ("pavamana") respectively — each section (consisting of one, three, and one adhyayas respectively) being again arranged according to the metres. Hence this part is also called "Chhandas-" (metre) "archika". Over and above this natural arrangement of the two archikas, there is a purely formal division of the texts into six and nine "prapathakas" respectively, each of which, in the first part, consists of ten decades (dashat) of verses. We have two recensions of the Samhita, belonging to the Ranayaniya and Kauthuma schools, the latter of which is but imperfectly known, but seems to have differed but slightly from the other. Besides the six prapathakas (or five adhyayas) of the Purvarchika, some schools have an additional "forest" chapter, called the "Araniyaka-samhita", the tunes of which — along with others apparently intended for being chanted by anchorites — are partly contained in the "Aranya-gana". Besides the two tune-books belonging to the Purvarchika, there are two others, the "Uha-gana" ("modification-songs") and "Uliya-gana", which follow the order of the Uttararchika, giving the several sgmanhymns chanted at the Soma sacrifice, with the modifications the tunes undergo when applied to texts other than those for which they were originally composed. The Saman hymnal, as it has come down to us, has evidently passed through a long course of development. The practice of chanting probably goes back to very early times; but the question whether any of the tunes, as given in the Ganas, and which of them, can lay claim to an exceptionally high antiquity will perhaps never receive a satisfactory answer.


The title of "Brahmana" is bestowed by the Chhandogas, or followers of the Samaveda, on a considerable number of treatises. In accordance with the statements of some later writers, their number was usually fixed at eight; but within the last few years one new Brahmana has been recovered, while at least two others which are found quoted may yet be brought to light in India. The majority of the Smaveda-brahmanas present, however, none of the characteristic features of other works of that class; but they are rather of the nature of sutras and kindred treatises, with which they probably belong to the same period of literature. Moreover, the contents of these works — as might indeed be expected from the nature of the duties of the priests for whom they were intended — are of an extremely arid and technical character, though they all are doubtless of some importance, either for the textual criticism of the Samhita or on account of the legendary and other information they supply. These works are as follows:
#the "Tandhya-maha-" (or "Praudha-") "brahmana", or "great" Brahmana — usually called "Panchavimsha-brahmana" from its consisting of twenty-five adhyayas — which treats of the duties of the udgatars generally, and especially of the various kinds of chants;
#the "Shadvimsha" or twenty-sixth, being a supplement to the preceding work — its last chapter, which also bears the title of "Adbhuta-brahmana", or book of marvels, is rather interesting, as it treats of all manner of portents and evil influences, which it teaches how to avert by certain rites and charms;
#the Saniavidhana,4 analogous to the l1/2igvidhana, descanting on the magic effects of the various smans; (4) the A rsheya-brhma~ia, a mere catalogue of the technical names of the s~mans in the order of the Prvrchika, known in two different recensions;
# the Devatdhyaya, which treats of the deities of the samans;
# the Ghhandogya-brahma~za, the last eight adhygyas (3To) of which constitute the important Chhandogyopanishad;
# the Sarnhitopanfshad-brahmatla, treating of various subjects connected with chants;
# the Vai~-ths-brahmapa, a mere list of the Sfimaveda teachers. To these works has to be added, the Jaiminiya- or Talavakara-brahma~ia, which, though as yet only kn. own by extracts, i seems to stand much on a level with the Brahmanas of the Rik and Ya1urveda. A portion of it is the well-known Keiia- (or Talavakara-) upanishad,1 on the nature of Brahma, as the supreme of deities.


If the Samaveda has thus its ample share of Brahmaoa-literature, though in part of a somewhat questionable character, it is not less - richly supplied with stra-treatises, some of which prob Sama- ably belong to the oldest works of that class. There are veda- three Srauta-sutras, which attach themselves more or l, ess sutras. closely to the Panchavirn~a-brghmana: Maiakas Arsheya kalpa, which gives the beginnings of the smans in their sacrificial 2 Ed. J. Vidyasagara (1881); also, with German translation, K. Klemm (I894).

order, thus supplementing the Arsheya-brahmai.ia, which enumerates their technical names; and the Srauta-stras of Latyayana8 and Drahyaya~za, of the Kauthuma and Rnoyaniya schools respectively, which differ but little from each other, and form complete manuals of the duties of the udgatars. Another stra, of an exegetic character, the Anupada-sutra, likewise follows the Panchavirp4a, the difficult passages of which it explains. Besides these, there are a considerable number of stras and kindred technical treatises bearing on the prosody and phonetics of the sgma-texts. The more important of them arethe 1~?iktantra, apparently intended to serve as a Pratifgkhya of the Sgmaveda; the Nidana-stra, i a treatise on prosody; the Push pa- or Phulla-stra, ascribed either to Gobhila or to Vararuchi, and treating of the phonetic modifications of the rich in the sgmans; and the Samatantra, a treatise on chants of a very technical nature. Further, two G~-ihya-stras, belonging to the Samaveda, are hitherto known, viz, the Drahyayana-grihya, ascribed to Khrgdira, and that of Gobbila n (who is also said to have composed a ~rautasutra), with a supplement, entitled Karmapradipci, by Katygyana. To the Smaveda seems further to belong the Gaulama-dharniatastra,2 composed in stras, and apparently the oldest existing compendium of Hindu law.


C. Yajur-veda. This, the sacrificial Veda of the Adhvaryu priests, divides itself into an older and a younger branch, or, as they are usually called, the Black (krishna) and the White (shukla)

Black Yajurveda

Tradition ascribes the foundation of the Black Yajurveda to the sage Vaiiampflyana. Of his disciples three are specially named, viz. Katha, Kalfipin and Yhska, the last of whom again is stated to have communicated the sacrificial science to Tittiri. How far this genealogy of teachers may be authentic cannot now be determined; but certain it is that in accordance therewith we have three old collections of Yajustexts, viz, the Kathaka, the Kalapaka or Maitrayani Samhita and the Taittiriya-samhita The Kathaka and Kalapaka are frequently mentioned together; and the author of the great commentary on Panini once remarks that these works were taught in every village. The Kathas and Kal~pas are often referred to under the collective name of Charakas, which apparently means wayfarers or itinerant scholars; but according to a later writer (Hemachandra) Charaka is no other than Vailampgyana himself, after whom his followers would have been. thus called, From the Kathas proper two or three schools seem early to have branched off, the Pr~chya- (eastern) Kathas and the Kapishthala-Kathas, the text-recension of the latter of whom has recently been discovered in the Kapishthala-katha-samhita, and probably also the Charaya~iya-Ka~has. ,The Kal~pas also soon became subdivided into numerous different schools. Thus from one of Kalgpins immediate disciples, Haridru, the Flnridraviyas took their oi-)gin, whose text-recension, the Ilridravf ha, is quoted together with the Kathaka as early as in Ygskas Nirukta; but we do not know whether it differed much from the original Kalapa texts. As regards the Taittiriya-sarnhita, that collection, too, in course of time gave rise to a number of different schools, the text handed down being that of the Apastambas; while the contents of another recension, that of the Atreyas, are known from their Anukramaoi, which has been preserved.

The four collections of old Yajus texts, so far known to us, while differing more or less considerably in arrangement and verbal points, have the main mass of their textual matter in common. This common matter consists of both sacrificial prayers (yajus) in verse and prose, and exegetic or illustrative prose portione (brahmana). A prominent feature of the old Yajus texts, as compared with the other Vedas, is the constant intermixture of textual and exegetic portions. The Charakas and Taittiriyas thus do not recognize the distinction between Samhita and Brhmana in the sense of two separate collections of texts, but they have only a Samhita, or collection, which includes likewise the exegetic or Brahmana portions. The Taittirlyas seem at last to have been impressed with their want of a separate Brahmana and to have set about supplying the deficiency in rather an awkward fashion: instead of separating from each other the textual and exegetic portions of their Samhita, they merely added to the latter a supplement (in three books), which shows the same mixed condition, and applied to it the title of Taittiriya Brahmana. But this work is manifestly of a supplementary nature, a portion of it may perhaps be old, and may once have formed part of the Samhita, considering that the latter consists of seven ashtakas, instead of eight, as this term requires, and that certain essential parts of the ceremonial handled in the Brahmana are entirely wanting in the Samhita. Attached to this work is the Taittiriya-dra~iyaka, i in ten books, the first six of which are of a ritualistic nature, while of the remaining books the first three (7-9) form the Taittiriyopanishad (consisting of three parts, viz, the Sikshflvalli or Sarnhitopanishad, and the Anandavalli and Bhriguvalli, also called together the Vruoiupanishad), and the last book forms the Narayaoiya- (or Ygjiki-) upanishad.

The Maitrayani Samhita, the identity of which with the original Kalapaka has been proved pretty conclusively by Dr L. v. Schroder, who attributes the change of name of the Kglfipa-Maitrfiyaiiiyas to Buddhist influences, consists of four books, attached to which is the Maitri- (or Maitraya~si) upanishad. The Kathaka, on the other hand, consists of five parts, the last two of which, however, are perhaps later additions, containing merely the prayers of the hotar priest, and those used at the horse-sacrifice. There is, moreover, the beautiful Katha- or Ka (haka-upanishad,4 which is also, and more usually, ascribed to the Atharvaveda, and which seems to show a decided leaning towards Sankhya-Yoga notions.

White Yajurveda

The defective arrangement of the Yajus texts was at last remedied by a different school of Adhvaryus, the Vajasaneyins. The reputed originator of this school and its text-recension is Yjfla Samh1~a valkya VAjasaneya (son of Vjasani). The result of the rearrangement of the texts was a collection of sacrificial a/ui- mantras, the Vajasaneyi-samhita, and a Brahmana, the Shatapatha. On account of the greater lucidity of this arrangement, the Vajasaneyins called their texts the White (or clear) Yajurveda, the name of Black (or obscure) Yajus being for opposite reasons applied to the Charaka texts. Both the Saiphitg and Brahmaoa of the Vajasaneyins have come down to us in two different recensions, viz, those of the Mad hyandina and K~zva schools; and we find besides a considerable number of quotations from a Vajasaneyaka, from which we cannot doubt that there must have been at least one other recension of the Satapatha-brahmana. The difference between the two extant recensions is, on the whole, but slight as regards the subject-matter; but in point of diction it is quite sufficient to make a comparison especially interesting from a philological point of view. Which of the two versions may be the more original Cannot as yet be determined; but the phonetic and grammatical differences will probably have to be accounted for by a geographical separation of the two schools rather than by a difference of age. In several points of difference the Kgnva recension agrees with the practice of the Rik-sarphitg, and there probably was some connection between the Yajus school of Knvas and the famous family of rishis of that name to which the eighth ma~ala of the l~ik is attributed.

The VPjasaneyi-sa1~ihita5 consists of forty adhyflyas, the first eighteen of which contain the formulas of the ordinary sacrifices. The last fifteen adhyflyas are doubtless a later additionas may also be the case as regards the preceding seven chapters. The last adhy~ya is commonly known under the title of Vgjasaneyi-sarnhitfl (or Iiavasya-) upanishad. Its object seems to be to point out the fruitlessness of mere works, and to insist on the necessity of mans acquiring a knowledge of the supreme spirit. The sacrificial texts of the Adhvaryus consist, in about equal parts, of verses (rich) and prose formulas (yajus). The majority of the former occur likewise in the Rik-sarphitA, from which they were doubtless extracted. Not infrequently, however, they show considerable discrepancies of reading, which may be explained partly from a difference of recension and partly as the result of the adaptation of these verses to their special sacrificial purpose. As regards the prose formulas, though only a few of them are actually referred to in the ~ik, it is quite possible that many of them may be of high antiquity.

The Shatapatha Brahmana, or Brghma pa of a hundred paths, derives its name from the fact of its consisting of 100 lectures (adhyflya), which are divided by the Mfldhyandinas into fourteen by Br~hn, ana the Kflpvas into seventeen books (kgnda). The first nine of White books of the former, corresponding to the first eleven of Va/ui the Kflpvas, and consisting of sixty adhyflyas, form a -ye ~ kind of running commentary on the first eighteen books of the Vflj.-Sarphita; and it has been plausibly suggested by Professor Weber that this portion of the Brflhmapa may be referred to in the Mah~bhfishya on P14. iv. 2, 60, where a ~atapatha and Ed. R. Mitra, Bibi. md.; H. N. Apte, Anand. Ser. (1898).

a Shash~i-patha (i.e. consisting of 60 paths) are mentioned together as objects of study, and that consequently it may at one time have formed an independent work. This view is also supported by the circumstance that of the remaining five books (1 0-14) of the MAdhyandinas the third is called the middle one (madhyama); while the Kapvas apply the same epithet to the middlemost of the five books (1 2-16) preceding their last one. This last book would thus seem to be treated by them as a second supplement, and not without reason, as it is of the Upanishad order, and bears the special title of Brihad- (great) ra~zyaka; the last six chapters of which are the Brihadrai.iyaka-upanishad, the most important of all Upanishads. Except in books 6-10 (M.), which treat of the construction of fire-altars, and recognize the sage Sgpclilya as their chief authority, Yfljflavalkyas opinion is frequently referred to in the ~atapatha as authoritative. This is especially the case in the later books, part of the Bj-ihad-arapyaka being even called Ygjfiavalkiya-kgi2cla. As regards the age of the Satapatha, the probability is that the main body of the work is considerably older than the time of Pflpini, but that some of its latter parts were considered by Pfipinis critic Katygyana to be of about the same age as, or not much older than, Piinini. Even those portions had probably been long in existence before they obtained recognition as part of the canon of the White Yajus.

The contemptuous manner in which the doctrines of the Charakaadhvaryus are repeatedly animadverted upon in the Shatapatha betrays not a little of the "odium theologicum" on the part of the divines of the Vajasaneyins towards their brethren of the older schools. Nor was their animosity confined to mere literary warfare, but they seem to have striven by every means to gain ascendancy over their rivals. The consolidation of the Brahmanical hierarch and the institution of a common system of ritual worship, which called forth the liturgical Vedic collections, were doubtless consummated in the so-called Madhya-desha, or midland, lying between the Sarasvati and the confluence of the Yamung and Ganga; and more especially in its western part, the Kuru-kshetra, or land of the Kurus, with the adjoining territory of the Panchalas, bet~en the Yamuna and Ganga. From thence the original schools of Vaidik ritualism gradually extended their sphere over the adjacent parts. The Charakas seem for a long time to have held sway in the western and north-western regions; while the Taittiriyas in course of time spread over the whole of the peninsula south of the Narmadfl (Nerbudda), where their ritual has remained pre-eminently the object of study till comparatively recent times. The Vajasaneyins, on the other hand, having first gained a footing in the lands on the Iwer Ganges, chiefly, it would seem, through the patronage of King Janaka of Videha, thence gradually worked their way westwards, and eventually succeeded in superseding the older schools north of the Vindhya, with the exception of some isolated places where even now families of Brahmans are met with which profess to follow the old Samhitas.


In Kalpa-sidras the Black Yajurveda is particularly rich; but, owing to the circumstances just indicated, they are almost entirely confined to the Taittiriya schoel. rhe only Srauta-sUtra of a Charaka school which has hitherto been recovered is Sutras of that of the Manavas, a subdivision of the Maitrayapiyas. YalurThe Manava-f rauta-st i-al seems to Consist of eleven 1-u a. books, the first nine of which treat of the sacrificial ritual, while the tenth contains the ~ulva-sutra; and the eleventh is made up of a number of supplements (pari-iishta). The Manava-grihya-sutra is likewise in existence; but so far nothing is known, save one or two quotations, of a Mdnava-dharma-stra, the discovery of which might be expected to solve some important qtiestions regarding the development of Indian law. Of sUtra-works belonging to the Kathas, a single treatise, the (Chryanlya-) Ka (haka-grihya-su/ra, is known; while Dr Jolly considers the Vishpu-smriti,1i a compendium of law, composed in mixed stras and flokas, to be nothing but a Vaish~ava recast of the kg~haka-dharma-sutra, which, in its original form, seems no longer to exist. As regards the Taittirlyas, the Kalpastra most widely accepted among them was that of Apastamba, to whose school, as we have seen, was also due our existing recension of the Taittiriya-sarnhita. The A pastamba-kalpa-stra consists of thirty pralna (questions); the first twenty-five of these constitute the ~rauta-sutra;i~ 26 and 27 the GJ-ihya-sutra;14 28 and 29 the Dharma-stra ;15 and the last the ~ulva-sutra. Professor Buhler has tried to fix the date of this work somewhere between the 5th and 3rd centuries B.c.; but it can hardly yet he considered as, definitely settled. Considerably more ancient than this work are the 8The text, with ~ankaras commentary, and an English translation, published byE. Rer, Bibi. md.

Baudhyana-kalpa-sutra, i which consists of the same principal divisions, and the, of which, however, only a few portions have as yet been discovered. The Hiranyakeii-sitra, f which is more modern than that of Apastamba, from which it differs bu~ little, is likewise fragmentary, as is also the Vaikhgnasa-sutra; while several other Kalpa-sutras, especially that of Laugakshi, are found quoted. The recognized compendium of the White Yajus ritual is the.~rauta-stra of Katyyana,4 in twenty-six adhyayas. This work is supplemented by a large number of secondary treatises, likewise attributed to Katygyana, among which may he mentioned the Charana-vyuha, a statistical account of the Vedic schools, which unfortunately has come down to us in a very unsatisfactory state of preservation. A manual of domestic rites, closely connected with Katygyanas work, is the Katiya-grihya-sutra, ascribed to Praskara. To Katygyana we further owe the Vajasaneyi-prati.fakhya,7 and a catalogue (anukrama~zI) of the White Yajus texts. As regards the former work, it is still doubtful whether (with Weber) we have to consider it as older than Paoini, or whether (with Goldstucker and M. Muller) we are to identify its author with PI. oinis critic. The only existing Pratiiakhya of the Black Yajus belongs to the Taittiriyas. Its author is unknown, and it confines itself entirely to the Taittiriya-sarphit, to the exclusion of the J3rghrna9a and Ara~yaka.


D - Atharva-veda. The Atharvan was the latest of Vedic collections to be recognized as part of the sacred canon. That it is Atharva- also the youngest Veda is proved by its language, which veda- both from a lexical and a grammatical point of view, marks an intermediate stage between the main body of 8~ the Rik and the Brhmana period. In regard also to the nature of its contents, and the spirit which pervades them, this Vedic collection occupies a position apart from the others. Whilst the older Vedas seem clearly to reflect the recognized religious notions and practices of the upper, and so to speak, respectable classes of the Aryan tribes, as jealously watched over by a priesthood deeply interested in the undiminished maintenance of the traditional observ~ces, the fourth Veda, on the other hand, deals mainly with all manner of superstitious practices such as have at all times found a fertile soil in the lower strata of primitive and less advanced peoples, and are even apt, below the surface, to maintain their tenacious hold on the popular mind in. comparatively civilized cornmunities. Though the constant intermingling with the aboriginal tribes may well be believed to have exercised a deteriorating influence on the Vedic people in this respect, it can scarcely be doubted that superstitious practices of the kind revealed by the Atharvan and the tenth book of the l~ik must at all times have obtained amongst the Aryan people, and that they only came to the surface when they received the stamp of recognized forms of popular belief by the admission of these collections of spells and incantations into the sacred canon. If in this phase of superstitious belief the old gods still find a place, their character has visibly changed so as to be more in accordance with those mystic rites and magic performances and the part they are called upon to play in them, as the promoters of the votarys cabalistic practices and the averters of the malicious designs of mortal enemies and the demoniac influences to which he would ascribe his fears and failures as well as his bodily ailments. The fourth Veda may thus be said to supplement in a remarkable manner the picture of the domestic life of the Vedic Aryan as presented in the Gr-ihya-sutras or house-rules; for whilst these deal oniy with the orderly aspects of the daily duties and periodic observances in the life of the respectable householder, the Atharvaveda allows us a deep insight into the obscurer relations and emotions of human life; and, it may with troth be said that the literary diligence of the Hindus has in this instance preserved a document of priceless value for the institutional history of early India as well as for the ethnological history of the human race (M. Bloomfield). It is worthy of note that the Atharvaveda is practically unknown in the south of India.9

This body of spells and hymns is traditionally associated with two old mythic priestly families, the Atharvans and Angiras, their names, in the plural, serving either singly or combined (AtharvgniThe ~ulva-sfltra has been published, with the commentary of Kapardisvamin, and a translation by G. Thibaut, in the Benares Pandit (1875). The Dharma-sutra has been edited by E. Hultzsch (Leipzig, 1884), and translated by G. Buhler, S.B.E. xiv.

The work has been published by W. D. Whitney, with a trans. lation and a commentary by an unknown author, called Tribhgshyaratna, i.e. jewel of the three commentaries, it being founded on three older commentaries by Vararuchi (? Kfityfiyana), Mghisheya aud Atreya.

girasas) as the oldest appellation of the collection. The two families or classes of priests are by tradition connected with the service of the sacred fire; but whilst the Atharvans seem to have devoted themselves to the auspicious aspects of the fire-cult and the performance of propitiatory rites, the Angiras, on the other hand, are represented as having been mainly engaged in the uncanny practices of sorcery and exorcism. Instead of the Atharvans, another mythic family, the Bhj-igus, are similarly connected with the Angiras (Bhrigvangirasas) as the depositaries of this mystic science. In course of time the lore of the Atharvans came also to have applied to it the title of Brahmaveda; a designation. which was apparently meant to be understood both in the sense of the Veda of the Brahman priest or superintendent of the sacrifice, and in that of the lore of the Brahma or sacred (magic) word, and the supreme deity it is supposed to embody. The current, text of the Atharva-sarnhitai apparently the recension of the Saunaka schoolconsists of some 750 different pieces, about five-sixths of which is in various metres, the remaining portion being in prose. The whole mass is divided into twenty books. The principle of distribution is for the most part a merely formal one, in books i.-xiii. pieces of the same or about the same number of verses being placed together in the same book. The next five books, xiv.-xviii., have each its own special subject:

xiv. treats of marriage and sexual union; xv., in prose, of the Vratya, or religious vagrant; xvi. consists chiefly of prose formulas of conjuration; xvii. of a lengthy mystic hymn; and xviii. contains all that relates to death and funeral rites. Of the last two books no account is taken in the Atharva-pr~tiiakhya, and they indeed stand clearly in the relation of supplements to the original collection. The nineteenth book evidently was the result of a subsequent gleaning of pieces similar to those of the earlier books, which had probably escaped the collectors attention; while the last book, consisting almost entirely of hymns to Indra, taken from the l~iksalphitg, is nothing more than a liturgical manual of recitations and chants required at the Soma sacrifice; its only original portion being the, ten so-called kuntapa hymns (I 27-136), consisting partly of laudatory recitals of generous patrons of sacrificial priests and partly of riddles and didactic subjects.

The Atharvan has come down to us in a much less satisfactory state of preservation than any of the other Samhitas, and its interpretation, which offers considerable difficulties on account of numerous popular and out-of-the-way expressions, has so far received comparatively little aid from native sources. Less help, in this respect, than might have been expected, is afforded by a recently published commentary professing to have been composed by Sya~a Acharya; serious doubts have indeed been thrown on the authenticity of its ascription to the famous Vedic exegetic. Of very considerable importance, on the other hand, was the discovery in Kashmir of a second recension of the Atharva-saiphitg, contained in a single birch-bark MS., written in the ~grad character, and lately made available by an excellent chromo-photographic reproduction. This new recension, u ascribed in the colophons of the MS. to the Paippalada school, consists likewise of twenty books (ki~a), but both in textual matter and in its arrangement it differs very much from the current text. A considerable portion of the latter, including the whole of the eighteenth book, is wanting; while the hymns of the nineteenth book are for the most part found also in this text, though not as a separate book, but scattered over the whole collection. The twentieth book is wanting, with the exception of a few of the verses not taken from the Rik. As a set-off to these shortcomings the new version offers, however, a good deal of fresh matter, amounting to about one-sixth of the whole. From the Mahgbhashya and other works quoting as the beginning of the Atharva-saiphitg a verse that coincides with the first verse of the sixth hymn of the current text, it has long been known that at least one other recension must have existed; but the first leaf of the Kashmir MS. having been lost, it cannot be determined whether the new recension (as seems all but certain) corresponds to the one referred to in those works.

The only Brahmatia of the Atharvan, the Gopatha-brahmana,12 is doubtless one of the most modern and least important works of its class. It consists of two parts, the first of which contains cosmogonic speculations, interspersed with legends, mostly adapted from other Brghmaoas, and general instructions on religious duties and observances; bra mana. while the second part treats, in a very desultory manner, of various points of the sacrificial ceremonial.

Edited by Professors Roth and Whitney (1856); with Syanas commentary, by Shankar P. Pandit (4 vols., Bombay, I895f 898). index verborum, by Whitney, in J. Am. Or. S. vol. xii., Eng. trans. by R. H. T. Griffith (in verse) (2 vols., Benares, 1897); by W. D. Whitney (with a critical and exegetical commentary), revised and edited by Ch. R. Lanman (2 vols., Harvard Or. Ser., 1905) ; and (with some omissions) by M. Bloomfield, S.B.E. vol. xlii.; cf. also Bloomfield, The Atharvaveda, in BuhlcrsEncycl. (1899).

The first account of a copy of it was given by Professor R. v. Roth, in his academic dissertation, Der Atharvaveda in Kaschmir (1875). The reproduction on 544 plates, edited by M. Bloomfield and R. Garbe (Baltimore, 1901).

1he Kalpa-sutras belonging to this Veda comprise both a manual of irauta rites, the Vaitana-slra,1 and a manual of domestic rites, the Kauiika-stra2 The latter treatise is not only the Atharva- more interesting of the two, but also the more ancient, veda-, being actually quoted in the other. The teacher Kaulika auras. is repeatedly referred to in the work on points of ceremonial doctrine. Connected with this Stra are upwards of seventy Pariiishtas, or supplementary treatises, mostly in metrical form, on various subjects bearing on the performance of grihya rites. The Ijist strawork to be noticed in connection with this Veda is the Saunaklya Chaturadhyayik,4 being a Pratiiakhya of the Atharva-sarphit, so called from its consisting of four lectures (adhyaya). Although Saunaka can hardly be credited with being the actual author of the work, considering that his opinion is rejected in the only rule where his name appears, there is no reason to doubt that it chiefly embodies the phonetic theories of that teacher, which were ftfterWards perfected by members of his school. Whether this Saunaka is identical with the writer of that name to whom the final redaction or the Sakalapratiiakhya of the Rik is ascribed is not koown; but it is worthy of note that on at least two points where Skalya is quoted by Pa0ini, the Chaturadhy~yi, ka seems to be referred to rather than the Rik-pratiiakhya. Saunaka is quoted once in the Vajasaneyi-pratiiakhya; and it is possible that Ktyayana had the Chaturadhyayika in view, though his reference does not quite tally with the respective rule of that work.

Another class of writings already alluded to as traditionally connected with the Atharvaveda are the numerous Upanishads u ~,, which do not specially attach themselves to one or other of the Saiphits or Brhma~as of the other Vedas. The s a s. Atharva~a-upanishads, mostly composed in lokas, may be roughly divided into two classes, viz, those of a purely speculative or general pantheistic character, treating chiefly of the nature of the supreme spirit, and the means of attaining to union therewith, and those of a sectarian tendency. Of the former category, a limited numbersuch as the Praina, Mundaka, and Maoclukya-upanishads have probably to be assigned to the later period of Vedic literature; whilst the others presuppose more or less distinctly the existence of some fully developed system of philosophy, especially the Vedanta or the Yoga. The sectarian Upanishads, on the other hand — identifying the supreme spirit either with one of the forms of Vishi: iu (such as the Narayana, Nrisirp~a-tapaniya, Rama-tapaniya, Gopaiatpaniya Upanishads), or with Siva (e.g. the Rudropanishad), or with some other deity — belong to post-Vedic times.

ee also

Vedic period


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