Srautakosa (Encyclopedia of Vedic Sacrificial Ritual Sanskrit and English) (In Eight Volumes)(An Old Book)


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From Volume I

Based on the Srautasutra belonging to the various Vedic Schools
The seven Havis-sacrifices together with the relevant Optional and Expiatory Rites and the Pitrmedha.


The Two Sections of the Srautakosa

A detailed statement regarding the scheme of the Srautakosa is embodied in the Preface to the Sanskrit Section, which is reproduced also in the present English Section. It will be seen from that statement that the English Section constitutes a necessary complement to the Sanskrit Section and that the two Sections together complete the Srautakosa. The Sanskrit Section comprises portions from the Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Aranyakas, relating to the various details of the Vedic sacrifices, which latter are arranged according to a specific plan. It also gives, under corresponding topics, the relevant portions from the, Baudhayana Srautasutra; The English Section closely follows the order of the treatment Of the Vedic sacrificial ritual adopted in the Sanskrit Section. •It first? Gives the literal translation in English of the Baudhayana Srautasutra as rearranged under various topics in the Sanskrit Section. The translation of each such portion from the BaudhSS relating to a sacrificial rite or a T group of rites is followed by the English translation of the portions from other Srautasutras relating to the corresponding rites or groups of rites. For reasons mentioned elsewhere, the Sanskrit originals of these portions from the Sutras (other than the BaudhSS) have not been included in the Sanskrit Section. While giving their English translation in the present Section, the following procedure has been adopted :

(i) After the BaudhSS, the other Srautasutras are treated in the following order: Bharadvaja, Apastamba, Satyasadha, Vaikhanasa, Manava, Varaha, Katyayana, Asvalayana, Sankhyayana, Latyayana, Drahyayana, Jaiminiya and Vaitana. Certain Grhya and other Sutras have also been taken into account wherever necessary.

(ii) Such portions from a particular Sutra, as agree with the corresponding portions from the BaudhSS _or any of the preceding Sutras, have not been translated. The aim has always been to draw attention to the points of divergence in respect of a sacrificial rite or a part of it to be found in different Sutras. The portions from the Srautasutras thus omitted in the translation have, however, been indicated by means of the sign (-). T Where there is complete identity between a particular Sutra on the one hand and the BaudhSS or any other preceding Sutra on the other, the sign (E) is used; where there is partial identity, the sign ( é ) is used. Though; there- fore, the Sutras other than the BaudhSS have not been translated in their entirety, it is quite possible, on account of the devices mentioned above, to reconstruct their whole ritual.

The English Section of the Srautakosa thus aims. at reproducing, in a systematic manner, all that the Srautasutras have to say about a particular ritual or a part of it. And the Sanskrit Section and the English Section together present, partly in Sanskrit and partly in English, the entire Vedic material pertaining to the various aspects of the complex sacrificial ritual, and thereby enable one to form a comparative estimate of the evolution of that ritual in the different Vedic schools.

The Vedic Ritual

It is proposed to include, in the last Volume of the Srautakosa, a fairly detailed essay on the various aspects of the theory and practice of Vedic sacrifice. A few general, observations may, however, be made at this stage. According to the ancient Purva Mimamsa tradition, the Veda is essentially kriyartha; that is to say, its main purpose is to lay down injunctions relating to the performance of sacrifice. The nature of sacrifice —which is, indeed, the only true Dharma—can, therefore, be adequately realised only through these Vedic injunctions. The Veda is claimed to be apauruseya. No human agency is believed to have been responsible for its creation. Naturally enough, sacrifice, which is supposed to be the principal subject-matter of the Veda, is also believed to be apauruseya. One cannot accordingly speak of the institution of sacrifice as having been devised by any human agency. Verily, it is as immemorial as the Veda itself. Traditionally, the study of the Veda is obligatory on all persons belonging to the first three social orders. So too is the performance of sacrifice which is enjoined by the Veda.

An important feature of the Vedic sacrificial ritual is that it is believed to aim at both the emancipation of the individual as well as the progress _of the society. Sacrifice not only conduces to the spiritual enlightenment and improvement of the sacrificer and the officiating priests, but it also proves to be a powerful means of promoting social solidarity and progress. In the history of the Vedic Aryans, there was a time when sacrifice had become the very centre of the social and cultural life of the entire community. 'It had, indeed, very significantly influenced almost every field of activity of the Vedic people. Naturally enough, therefore, the Vedic ritual constituted the main theme of a major portion of the Vedic literature. Though, according to the scriptures, only persons belonging to certain specific social orders were entitled to perform a sacrifice, so far as its actual performance was concerned, people belonging to all strata of the society were involved in it, in one way or another. Every responsible constituent of the Vedic community, accordingly, took a personal interest in the performance of a sacrifice-a fact which went a long way in promoting a kind of communal solidarity. The importance of Vedic sacrifice as a significant social force in the cultural history of ancient India can, therefore, be hardly overestimated. It may be further pointed out that it was the Vedic sacrificial ritual which had, in a sense, created the necessary background for the evolution of the philosophy of the Upanisads. A study of the institution of Vedic sacrifice is, therefore, very essential for a proper understanding and estimate of Vedic literature, religion and philosophy, and culture.

It is, however, not only from the point of view of the cultural history of ancient India that the study of Vedic ritual is important. Its study is important also from the larger anthropological point of view. For, the e ideology underlying the Vedic sacrifice marks a distinct stage in the evolution ‘of human thought as a whole.

Literature on Vedic Ritual

The literary basis of the Vedic ritual is, obviously, the Veda. The Veda comprises the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanisads. The Upanisads, which form the concluding portion of the Veda (Vedanta), are, however, not directly related to ritual practices. After the Veda proper are to be mentioned, in the present context, the Srautasutras, which deal with the Vedic sacrifice in a systematic and detailed manner, strictly following the Samhitas and the Brahmanas including the Aranyakas. It is, therefore, customary to regard the Srautasutras as a component part of the Vedic literature, though they do not claim to be apauruseya.

A close study of the Vedic literature shows that the literary tradition of several Vedic schools has been lost in course of time. Nevertheless, the tradition of the Vedic ritual practices as such has been preserved, through the centuries, in a fairly complete form. The credit for this must in the main belong to the Srautasutras and the various works on Purva Mimamsa which had been produced from time to time.

There had also been produced practical manuals on ritual, called Prayogas, for the use of the priests offic

Item Code: NAB862
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 1958
Publisher: Vaidika Samshodhana Mandala, Pune
Size: 9.5 inch X 7.0 inch
Pages: 4505
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 7.575 Kg