A History of Sanskrit Literature/Chapter 9
As the Upanishads were a development of the speculative side of the Brāhmaṇas and constituted the textbooks of Vedic dogma, so the Çrauta Sūtras form the continuation of their ritual side, though they are not, like the Upanishads, regarded as a part of revelation. A sacred character was never attributed to them, probably because they were felt to be treatises compiled, with the help of oral priestly tradition, from the contents of the Brāhmaṇas solely to meet practical needs. The oldest of them seem to go back to about the time when Buddhism came into being. Indeed it is quite possible that the rise of the rival religion gave the first impetus to the composition of systematic manuals of Brahmanic worship. The Buddhists in their turn must have come to regard Sūtras as the type of treatise best adapted for the expression of religious doctrine, for the earliest Pāli texts are works of this character. The term Kalpa Sūtra is used to designate the whole body of Sūtras concerned with religion which belonged to a particular Vedic school. Where such a complete collection has been preserved, the Çrauta Sūtra forms its first and most extensive portion.
To the Rigveda belong the Çrauta manuals of two Sūtra schools (charaṇas), the Çānkhāyanas and the Āçvalāyanas, the former of whom were in later times settled in Northern Gujarat, the latter in the South between the Godāvarī and the Kṛishṇā. The ritual is described in much the same order by both, but the account of the great royal sacrifices is much more detailed in the Çānkhāyana Çrauta Sūtra. The latter, which is closely connected with the Çānkhāyana Brāhmaṇa, seems to be the older of the two, on the ground both of its matter and of its style, which in many parts resembles that of the Brāhmaṇas. It consists of eighteen books, the last two of which were added later, and correspond to the first two books of the Kaushītaki Āraṇyaka. The Çrauta Sūtra of Āçvalāyana, which consists of twelve books, is related to the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa. Āçvalāyana is also known as the author of the fourth book of the Aitareya Āraṇyaka, and was according to tradition the pupil of Çaunaka.
Three Çrauta Sūtras to the Sāmaveda have been preserved. The oldest, that of Maçaka, also called Ārsheyakalpa, is nothing more than an enumeration of the prayers belonging to the various ceremonies of the Soma sacrifice in the order of the Panchaviṃça Brāhmaṇa. The Çrauta Sūtra composed by Lāṭyāyana, became the accepted manual of the Kauthuma school. This Sūtra, like that of Maçaka, which it quotes, is closely connected with the Panchaviṃça Brāhmaṇa. The Çrauta Sūtra of Drāhyāyaṇa, which differs but little from that of Lāṭyāyana, belongs to the Rāṇāyanīya branch of the Sāmaveda.
To the White Yajurveda belongs the Çrauta Sūtra of Kātyāyana. This manual, which consists of twenty-six chapters, on the whole strictly follows the sacrificial order of the Çatapatha Brāhmaṇa. Three of its chapters (xxii.-xxiv.), however, relate to the ceremonial of the Sāmaveda. Owing to the enigmatical character of its style, it appears to be one of the later productions of the Sūtra period.
No less than six Çrauta Sūtras belonging to the Black Yajurveda have been preserved, but only two of them have as yet been published. Four of these form a very closely connected group, being part of the Kalpa Sūtras of four subdivisions of the Taittirīya Çākhā, which represented the later sūtra schools (charaṇas) not claiming a special revelation of Veda or Brāhmaṇa. The Çrauta Sūtra of Āpastamba forms the first twenty-four of the thirty chapters (praçnas) into which his Kalpa Sūtra is divided; and that of Hiraṇyakeçin, an offshoot of the Āpastambas, the first eighteen of the twenty-nine chapters of his Kalpa Sūtra. The Sūtra of Baudhāyana, who is older than Āpastamba, as well as that of Bhāradvāja, has not yet been published.
Connected with the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā is the Mānava Çrauta Sūtra. It belongs to the Mānavas, who were a subdivision of the Maitrāyaṇīyas, and to whom the lawbook of Manu probably traces its origin. It seems to be one of the oldest. It has a descriptive character, resembling the Brāhmaṇa parts of the Yajurveda, and differing from them only in simply describing the course of the sacrifice, to the exclusion of legends, speculations, or discussions of any kind. There is also a Vaikhānasa Çrauta Sūtra attached to the Black Yajurveda, but it is known only in a few MSS.
The Çrauta Sūtra of the Atharva-veda is the Vaitāna Sūtra. It is neither old nor original, but was undoubtedly compiled in order to supply the Atharva, like the other Vedas, with a Sūtra of its own. It probably received its name from the word with which it begins, since the term vaitāna ("relating to the three sacrificial fires") is equally applicable to all Çrauta Sūtras. It agrees to a considerable extent with the Gopatha Brāhmaṇa, though it distinctly follows the Sūtra of Kātyāyana to the White Yajurveda. One indication of its lateness is the fact that whereas in other cases a Gṛihya regularly presupposes the Çrauta Sūtra, the Vaitāna is dependent on the domestic sūtra of the Atharva-veda.
Though the Çrauta Sūtras are indispensable for the right understanding of the sacrificial ritual, they are, from any other point of view, a most unattractive form of literature. It will, therefore, suffice to mention in briefest outline the ceremonies with which they deal. It is important to remember, in the first place, that these rites are never congregational, but are always performed on behalf of a single individual, the so-called Yajamāna or sacrificer, who takes but little part in them. The officiators are Brahman priests, whose number varies from one to sixteen, according to the nature of the ceremony. In all these rites an important part is played by the three sacred fires which surround the vedi, a slightly excavated spot covered with a litter of grass for the reception of offerings to the gods. The first ceremony of all is the setting up of the sacred fires (agni-ādheya), which are kindled by the sacrificer and his wife with the firesticks, and are thereafter to be regularly maintained.
The Çrauta rites, fourteen in number, are divided into the two main groups of seven oblation (havis) sacrifices and seven soma sacrifices. Different forms of the animal sacrifice are classed with each group. The havis sacrifices consist of offerings of milk, ghee, porridge, grain, cakes, and so forth. The commonest is the Agnihotra, the daily morning and evening oblation of milk to the three fires. The most important of the others are the new and full moon sacrifices (darçapūrṇa-māsa) and those offered at the beginning of the three seasons (chāturmāsya). Besides some other recurrent sacrifices, there are very many which are to be offered on some particular occasion, or for the attainment of some special object.
The various kinds of Soma sacrifices were much more complicated. Even the simplest and fundamental form, the Agnishṭoma ("praise of Agni") required the ministrations of sixteen priests. This rite occupied only one day, with three pressings of soma, at morning, noon, and evening; but this day was preceded by very detailed preparatory ceremonies, one of which was the initiation (dīkshā) of the sacrificer and his wife. Other soma sacrifices lasted for several days up to twelve; while another class, called sattras or "sessions," extended to a year or more.
A very sacred ceremony that can be connected with the soma sacrifice is the Agnichayana or "Piling of the fire-altar," which lasts for a year. It begins with a sacrifice of five animals. Then a long time is occupied in preparing the earthenware vessel, called ukhā, in which fire is to be maintained for a year. Very elaborate rules are given both as to the ingredients, such as the hair of a black antelope, with which the clay is to be mixed, and as to how it is to be shaped, and finally burnt. Then the bricks, which have different and particular sizes, have to be built up in prescribed order. The lowest of the five strata must have 1950, all of them together, a total of 10,800 bricks. Many of these have their special name and significance. Thus the altar is gradually built up, as its bricks are placed in position, to the accompaniment of appropriate rites and verses, by a formidable array of priests. These are but some of the main points in the ceremony; but they will probably give some faint idea of the enormous complexity and the vast mass of detail, where the smallest of minutiæ are of importance, in the Brahman ritual. No other religion has ever known its like.
As the domestic ritual is almost entirely excluded from the Brāhmaṇas, the authors of the Gṛihya Sūtras had only the authority of popular tradition to rely on when they systematised the observances of daily life. As a type, the Gṛihya manuals must be somewhat later than the Çrauta, for they regularly presuppose a knowledge of the latter.
To the Rigveda belongs in the first place the Çānkhāyana Gṛihya Sūtra. It consists of six books, but only the first four form the original portion of the work, and even these contain interpolations. Closely connected with this work is the Çāmbavya Gṛihya, which also belongs to the school of the Kaushītakins, and is as yet known only in manuscript. Though borrowing largely from Çānkhāyana, it is not identical with that work. It knows nothing of the last two books, nor even a number of ceremonies described in the third and fourth, while having a book of its own concerning the sacrifice to the Manes. Connected with the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa is the Gṛihya Sūtra of Āçvalāyana, which its author in the first aphorism gives us to understand is a continuation of his Çrauta Sūtra. It consists of four books, and, like the latter work, ends with the words "adoration to Çaunaka." The chief Gṛihya Sūtra of the Sāmaveda is that of Gobhila, which is one of the oldest, completest, and most interesting works of this class. Its seems to have been used by both the schools of its Veda. Besides the text of the Sāmaveda it presupposes the Mantra Brāhmaṇa. The latter is a collection, in the ritual order, of the mantras (except those occurring in the Sāmaveda itself), which are quoted by Gobhila in an abbreviated form. The Gṛihya Sūtra of Khādira, belonging to the Drāhyāyaṇa school and used by the Rāṇāyanīya branch of the Sāmaveda, is little more than Gobhila remodelled in a more succinct form.
The Gṛihya Sūtra of the White Yajurveda is that of Pāraskara, also called the Kātīya or Vājasaneya Gṛihya Sūtra. It is so closely connected with the Çrauta Sūtra of Kātyāyana, that it is often quoted under the name of that author. The later law-book of Yājnavalkya bears evidence of the influence of Pāraskara's work.
Of the seven Gṛihya Sūtras of the Black Yajurveda only three have as yet been published. The Gṛihya of Āpastamba forms two books (26-27) of his Kalpa Sūtra. The first of these two books is the Mantrapāṭha, which is a collection of the formulas accompanying the ceremonies. The Gṛihya Sūtra, in the strict sense, is the second book, which presupposes the Mantrapāṭha. Books XIX. and XX. of Hiraṇyakeçin's Kalpa Sūtra form his Gṛihya Sūtra. About Baudhāyana's Gṛihya not much is known, still less about that of Bhāradvāja. The Mānava Gṛihya Sūtra is closely connected with the Çrauta, repeating many of the statements of the latter verbally. It is interesting as containing a ceremony unknown to other Gṛihya Sūtras, the worship of the Vināyakas. The passage reappears in a versified form in Yājnavalkya's law-book, where the four Vināyakas are transformed into the one Vināyaka, the god Gaṇeça. With the Mānava is clearly connected the Kāṭhaka Gṛihya Sūtra, not only in the principle of its arrangement, but even in the wording of many passages. It is nearly related to the law-book of Vishṇu. The Vaikhānasa Gṛihya Sūtra is an extensive work bearing traces of a late origin, and partly treating of subjects otherwise relegated to works of a supplementary character.
To the Atharva-veda belongs the important Kauçika Sūtra. It is not a mere Gṛihya Sūtra, for besides giving the more important rules of the domestic ritual, it deals with the magical and other practices specially connected with its Veda. By its extensive references to these subjects it supplies much material unknown to other Vedic schools. It is a composite work, apparently made up of four or five different treatises. In combination with the Atharva-veda it supplies an almost complete picture of the ordinary life of the Vedic Indian.
The Gṛihya Sūtras give the rules for the numerous ceremonies applicable to the domestic life of a man and his family from birth to the grave. For the performance of their ritual only the domestic (āvasathya or vaivāhika) fire was required, as contrasted with the three sacrificial fires of the Çrauta Sūtras. They describe forty consecrations or sacraments (saṃskāras) which are performed at various important epochs in the life of the individual. The first eighteen, extending from conception to marriage, are called "bodily sacraments." The remaining twenty-two are sacrifices. Eight of these, the five daily sacrifices (mahāyajna) and some other "baked offerings" (pākayajna), form part of the Gṛihya ceremonies, the rest belonging to the Çrauta ritual.
The first of the sacraments is the puṃsavana or ceremony aiming at the obtainment of a son. The most common expedient prescribed is the pounded shoot of a banyan tree placed in the wife's right nostril. After the birth-rites (jāta-karma), the ceremony of giving the child its names (nāma-karaṇa) takes place, generally on the tenth day after birth. Two are given, one being the "secret name," known only to the parents, as a protection against witchcraft, the other for common use. Minute directions are given as to the quality of the name; for instance, that it should contain an even number of syllables, begin with a soft letter, and have a semi-vowel in the middle; that for a Brahman it should end in -çarman, for a Kshatriya in -varman, and a Vaiçya in -gupta. Generally in the third year takes place the ceremony of tonsure (chūḍā-karaṇa), when the boy's hair was cut, one or more tufts being left on the top, so that his hair might be worn after the fashion prevailing in his family. In the sixteenth year the rite of shaving the beard was performed. Its name, go-dāna, or "gift of cows," is due to the fee usually having been a couple of cattle.
By far the most important ceremony of boyhood was that of apprenticeship to a teacher or initiation (upanayana), which in the case of a Brahman may take place between the eighth and sixteenth year, but a few years later in the case of the Kshatriya and the Vaiçya. On this occasion the youth receives a staff, a garment, a girdle, and a cord worn over one shoulder and under the other arm. The first is made of different wood, the others of different materials according to caste. The sacred cord is the outward token of the Ārya or member of one of the three highest castes, and by investiture with it he attains his second birth, being thenceforward a "twice-born" man (dvi-ja). The spiritual significance of this initiation is the right to study the Veda, and especially to recite the most sacred of prayers, the Sāvitrī. In this ceremony the teacher (āchārya) who initiates the young Brahman is regarded as his spiritual father, and the Sāvitrī as his mother.
The rite of upanayana is still practised in India. It is based on a very old custom. The Avestan ceremony of investing the boy of fifteen with a sacred cord upon his admission into the Zoroastrian community shows that it goes back to Indo-Iranian times. The prevalence among primitive races all over the world of a rite of initiation, regarded as a second birth, upon the attainment of manhood, indicates that it was a still older custom, which in the Brahman system became transformed into a ceremony of admission to Vedic study.
Besides his studies, the course of which is regulated by detailed rules, the constant duties of the pupil are the collection of fuel, the performance of devotions at morning and evening twilight, begging food, sleeping on the ground, and obedience to his teacher.
At the conclusion of religious studentship (brahma-charya), which lasted for twelve years, or till the pupil had mastered his Veda, he performs the rite of return (samāvartana), the principal part of which is a bath, with which he symbolically washes off his apprenticeship. He is now a snātaka ("one who has bathed"), and soon proceeds to the most important sacrament of his life, marriage. The main elements of this ceremony doubtless go back to the Indo-European period, and belong rather to the sphere of witchcraft than of the sacrificial cult. The taking of her hand placed the bride in the power of her husband. The stone on which she stepped was to give her firmness. The seven steps which she took with her husband, and the sacrificial food which she shared with him, were to inaugurate friendship and community. Future abundance and male offspring were prognosticated when she had been conducted to her husband's house, by seating her on the hide of a red bull and placing upon her lap the son of a woman who had only borne living male children. The god most closely connected with the rite was Agni; for the husband led his bride three times round the nuptial fire—whence the Sanskrit name for wedding, pari-ṇaya, "leading round "—and the newly kindled domestic fire was to accompany the couple throughout life. Offerings are made to it and Vedic formulas pronounced. After sunset the husband leads out his bride, and as he points to the pole-star and the star Arundhatī, they exhort each other to be constant and undivided for ever. These wedding ceremonies, preserved much as they are described in the Sūtras, are still widely prevalent in the India of to-day.
All the above-mentioned sacraments are exclusively meant for males, the only one in which girls had a share being marriage (vivāha). About twelve of these Saṃskāras are still practised in India, investiture being still the most important next to marriage. Some of the ceremonies only survive in a symbolical form, as those connected with religious studentship. Among the most important duties of the new householder is the regular daily offering of the five great sacrifices (mahā-yajna), which are the sacrifice to the Veda (brahma-yajna), or Vedic recitation; the offering to the gods (deva-yajna) of melted butter in fire (homa); the libation (tarpaṇa) to the Manes (pitṛi-yajna); offerings (called bali) deposited in various places on the ground to demons and all beings (bhūta-yajna); and the sacrifice to men (manushya-yajna), consisting in hospitality, especially to Brahman mendicants. The first is regarded as by far the highest; the recitation of the sāvitrī, in particular, at morning and evening worship, is as meritorious as having studied the Veda. All these five daily sacrifices are still in partial use among orthodox Brahmans.
There are other sacrifices which occur periodically. Such are the new and full moon sacrifices, in which, according to the Gṛihya ritual, a baked offering (pāka-yajna) is made, while, according to the Çrauta ceremony, cakes (puroḍāça) are offered. There is, further, at the beginning of the rains an offering made to serpents, when the use of a raised bed is enjoined, owing to the danger from snakes at that time. Various ceremonies are connected with the building and entering of a new house. Detailed rules are given about the site as well as the construction. A door on the west is, for instance, forbidden. On the completion of the house, which is built of wood and bamboo, an animal is sacrificed. Other ceremonies are concerned with cattle; for instance, the release of a young bull for the benefit of the community. Then there are agricultural ceremonies, such as the offering of the first-fruits and rites connected with ploughing. Mention is also made of offerings to monuments (chaityas) erected to the memory of teachers. There are, moreover, directions as to what is to be done in case of evil dreams, bad omens, and disease.
Finally, one of. the most interesting subjects with which the Gṛihya Sūtras deal is that of funeral rites (antyeshṭi) and the worship of the Manes. All but children under two years of age are to be cremated. The dead man's hair and beard are cut off and his nails trimmed, the body being anointed with nard and a wreath being placed on the head. Before being burnt the corpse is laid on a black antelope skin. In the case of a Kshatriya, his bow (in that of a Brahman his staff, of a Vaiçya his goad) is taken from his hand, broken, and cast on the pyre, while a cow or a goat is burnt with the corpse. Afterwards a purifying ablution is performed by all relations to the seventh or tenth degree. They then sit down on a grassy spot and listen to old stories or a sermon on the transitoriness of life till the stars appear. At last, without looking round, they return in procession to their homes, where various observances are gone through. A death is followed by a period of impurity, generally lasting three days, during which the relatives are required, among other things, to sleep on the ground and refrain from eating flesh. On the night after the death a cake is offered to the deceased, and a libation of water is poured out; a vessel with milk and water is also placed in the open air, and the dead man is called upon to bathe in it. Generally after the tenth day the bones are collected and placed in an urn, which is buried to the accompaniment of the Rigvedic verse, "Approach thy mother earth" (x. 18, 10).
The soul is supposed to remain separated from the Manes for a time as a preta or "ghost." A çrāddha, or "offering given with faith" (çraddhā), of which it is the special object (ekoddishṭa), is presented to it in this state, the idea being that it would otherwise return and disquiet the relatives. Before the expiry of a year he is admitted to the circle of the Manes by a rite which makes him their sapiṇḍa ("united by the funeral cake"). After the lapse of a year or more another elaborate ceremony (called pitṛi-medha) takes place in connection with the erection of a monument, when the bones are taken out of the urn and buried in a suitable place. There are further various general offerings to the Manes, or çrāddhas, which take place at fixed periods, such as that on the day of new moon (pārvaṇa çrāddha), while others are only occasional and optional. These rites still play an important part in India, well-to-do families in Bengal spending not less than 5000 to 6000 rupees on their first çrāddha.
From all these offerings of the Gṛihya ritual are to be distinguished the two regular sacrifices of the Çrauta ritual, the one called Piṇḍa-pitṛi-yajna immediately preceding the new-moon sacrifice, the other being connected with the third of the four-monthly sacrifices.
The ceremonial of ancestor-worship was especially elaborated, and developed a special literature of its own, extending from the Vedic period to the legal Compendia of the Middle Ages. The Çrāddha-kalpa of Hemādri comprises upwards of 1700 pages in the edition of the Bibliotheca Indica.
The above is the briefest possible sketch of the abundant material of the Gṛihya Sūtras, illustrating the daily domestic life of ancient India. Perhaps, however, enough has been said to show that they have much human interest, and that they occupy an important place in the history of civilisation.
The second branch of the Sūtra literature, based on tradition or Smṛiti, are the Dharma Sūtras, which deal with the customs of everyday life (sāmayāchārika). They are the earliest Indian works on law, treating fully of its religious, but only partially and briefly of its secular, aspect. The term Dharma Sūtra is, strictly speaking, applied to those collections of legal aphorisms which form part of the body of Sūtras belonging to a particular branch (çākhā) of the Veda. In this sense only three have been preserved, all of them attached to the Taittirīya division of the Black Yajurveda. But there is good reason to suppose that other works of the same kind which have been preserved, or are known to have existed, were originally also attached to individual Vedic schools. That Sūtras on Dharma were composed at a very early period is shown by the fact that Yāska, who dates from near the beginning of the Sūtra age, quotes legal rules in the Sūtra style. Indeed, one or two of those extant must go back to about his time.
The Dharma Sūtra which has been best preserved, and has remained free from the influence of sectarians or modern editors, is that of the Āpastambas. It forms two (28-29) of the thirty sections of the great Āpastamba Kalpa Sūtra, or body of aphorisms concerning the performance of sacrifices and the duties of the three upper classes. It deals chiefly with the duties of the Vedic student and of the householder, with forbidden food, purifications, and penances, while, on the secular side, it touches upon the law of marriage, inheritance, and crime only. From the disapprobation which the author expresses for a certain practice of the people of the North, it may be inferred that he belonged to the South, where his school is known to have been settled in later times. Owing to the pre-Pāṇinean character of its language and other criteria, Bühler has assigned this Dharma Sūtra to about 400 B.C.
Very closely connected with this work is the Dharma Sūtra of Hiraṇyakeçin; for the differences between the two do not go much beyond varieties of reading. In keeping with this relationship is the tradition that Hiraṇyakeçin branched off from the Āpastambas and founded a new school in the Konkan country on the south-west (about Goa). The lower limit for this separation from the Āpastambas is about 500 A.D., when a Hiraṇyakeçin Brahman is mentioned in an inscription. The main importance of this Sūtra lies in its confirming, by the parallelism of its text, the genuineness of by far the greatest part of Āpastamba's work. It forms two (26-27) of the twenty-nine chapters of the Kalpa Sūtra belonging to the school of Hiraṇyakeçin.
The third Dharma Sūtra, generally styled a dharma-çāstra in the MSS., is that of Baudhāyana. Its position, however, within the Kalpa Sūtra of its school is not so fixed as in the two previous cases. Its subject-matter, when compared with that of Āpastamba's Dharma Sūtra, indicates that it is the older of the two, just as the more archaic and awkward style of Baudhāyana's Gṛihya Sūtra shows the latter to be earlier than the corresponding work of Āpastamba. The Baudhāyana school cannot be traced at the present day, but it appears to have belonged to Southern India, where the famous Vedic commentator Sāyaṇa was a member of it in the fourteenth century. The subjects dealt with in their Dharma Sūtra are multifarious, including the duties of the four religious orders, the mixed castes, various kinds of sacrifice, purification, penance, auspicious ceremonies, duties of kings, criminal justice, examination of witnesses, law of inheritance and marriage, the position of women. The fourth section, which is almost entirely composed in çlokas, is probably a modern addition, and even the third is of somewhat doubtful age.
With the above works must be classed the well-preserved law-book of Gautama. Though it does not form part of a Kalpa Sūtra, it must at one time have been connected with a Vedic school; for the Gautamas are mentioned as a subdivision of the Rāṇāyanīya branch of the Sāmaveda, and Kumārila's statement that Gautama's treatise originally belonged to that Veda is confirmed by the fact that its twenty-sixth section is taken word for word from the Sāmavidhāna Brāhmaṇa. Though entitled a Dharma Çāstra, it is in style and character a regular Dharma Sūtra. It is composed entirely in prose aphorisms, without any admixture of verse, as in the other works of this class. Its varied contents resemble and are treated much in the same way as those of the Dharma Sūtra of Baudhāyana. The latter has indeed been shown to contain passages based on or borrowed from Gautama's work, which is therefore the oldest Dharma Sūtra that has been preserved, or at least published, and can hardly date from later than about 500 B.C.
Another work of the Sūtra type, and belonging to the Vedic period, is the Dharma Çāstra of Vasishṭha. It has survived only in inferior MSS., and without the preserving influence of a commentary. It contains thirty chapters (adhyāyas), of which the last five appear to consist for the most part of late additions. Many of the Sūtras, not only here, but even in the older portions, are hopelessly corrupt. The prose aphorisms of the work are intermingled with verse, the archaic trishṭubh metre being frequently employed instead of the later çlokas of Manu and others. The contents, which bear the Dharma Sūtra stamp, produce the impression of antiquity in various respects. Thus here, as in the Dharma Sūtra of Āpastamba, only six forms of marriage are recognised, instead of the orthodox eight. Kumārila states that in his time Vasishṭha's law-book, while acknowledged to have general authority, was studied by followers of the Rigveda only. That he meant the present work and no other, is proved by the quotations from it which he gives, and which are found in the published text. As Vasishṭha, in citing Vedic Saṃhitās and Sūtras, shows a predilection for works belonging to the North of India, it is to be inferred that he or his school belonged to that part. Vasishṭha gives a quotation from Gautama which appears to refer to a passage in the extant text of the latter. His various quotations from Manu are derived, not from the later famous law-book, but evidently from a legal Sūtra related to our Manu. On the other hand, the extant text of Manu contains a quotation from Vasishṭha which actually occurs in the published edition of the latter. Hence Vasishṭha's work must be later than that of Gautama, and earlier than that of Manu. It is further probable that the original part of the Sūtra of a school connected with the Rigveda and belonging to the North dates from a period some centuries before our era.
Some Dharma Sūtras are known from quotations only, the oldest being those mentioned in other Dharma Sūtras. Particular interest attaches to one of these, the Sūtra of Manu, or the Mānavas, because of its relationship to the famous Mānava dharma-çāstra. Of the numerous quotations from it in Vasishṭha, six are found unaltered or but slightly modified in our text of Manu. One passage cited in Vasishṭha is composed partly in prose and partly in verse, the latter portion recurring in Manu. The metrical quotations show a mixture of trishṭubh and çloka verses, like other Dharma Sūtras. These quoted fragments probably represent a Mānava dharma-sūtra which supplied the basis of our Mānava dharma-çāstra or Code of Manu.
Fragments of a legal treatise in prose and verse, attributed to the brothers Çankha and Likhita, who became proverbial for justice, have been similarly preserved. This work, which must have been extensive, and dealt with all branches of law, is already quoted as authoritative by Parāçara. The statement of Kumārila (700 A.D.) that it was connected with the Vājasaneyin school of the White Yajurveda is borne out by the quotations from it which have survived.
Sūtras need not necessarily go back to the oldest period of Indian law, as this style of composition was never entirely superseded by the use of metre. Thus there is a Vaikhānasa dharma-sūtra in four praçnas, which, as internal evidence shows, cannot be earlier than the third century A.D. It refers to the cult of Nārāyaṇa (Vishṇu), and mentions Wednesday by the name of budha-vāra, "day of Mercury." It is not a regular Dharma Sūtra, for it contains nothing connected with law in the strict sense, but is only a treatise on domestic law (gṛihya-dharma). It deals with the religious duties of the four orders (āçramas), especially with those of the forest hermit. For it is with the latter order that the Vaikhānasas, or followers of Vikhanas, are specially connected. They seem to have been one of the youngest offshoots of the Taittirīya school.
Looking back on the vast mass of ritual and usage regulated by the Sūtras, we are tempted to conclude that it was entirely the conscious work of an idle priesthood, invented to enslave and maintain in spiritual servitude the minds of the Hindu people. But the progress of research tends to show that the basis even of the sacerdotal ritual of the Brahmans was popular religious observances. Otherwise it would be hard to understand how Brahmanism acquired and retained such a hold on the population of India. The originality of the Brahmans consisted in elaborating and systematising observances which they already found in existence. This they certainly succeeded in doing to an extent unknown elsewhere.
Comparative studies have shown that many ritual practices go back to the period when the Indians and Persians were still one people. Thus the sacrifice was even then the centre of a developed ceremonial, and was tended by a priestly class. Many terms of the Vedic ritual already existed then, especially soma, which was pressed, purified through a sieve, mixed with milk, and offered as the main libation. Investiture with a sacred cord was, as we have seen, also known, and was in its turn based on the still older ceremony of the initiation of youths on entering manhood. The offering of gifts to the gods in fire is Indo-European, as is shown by the agreement of the Greeks, Romans, and Indians. Indo-European also is that part of the marriage ritual in which the newly wedded couple walk round the nuptial fire, the bridegroom presenting a burnt offering and the bride an offering of grain; for among the Romans also the young pair walked round the altar from left to right before offering bread (far) in the fire. Indo-European, too, must be the practice of scattering rice or grain (as a symbol of fertility) over the bride and bridegroom, as prescribed in the Sūtras; for it is widely diffused among peoples who cannot have borrowed it. Still older is the Indian ceremony of producing the sacrificial fire by the friction of two pieces of wood. Similarly the practice in the construction of the Indian fire-altar of walling up in the lowest layer of bricks the heads of five different victims, including that of a man, goes back to an ancient belief that a building can only be firmly erected when a man or an animal is buried with its foundations.
Finally, we have as a division of the Sūtras, concerned with religious practice, the Çulva Sūtras. The thirtieth and last praçna of the great Kalpa Sūtra of Āpastamba is a treatise of this class. These are practical manuals giving the measurements necessary for the construction of the vedi, of the altars, and so forth. They show quite an advanced knowledge of geometry, and constitute the oldest Indian mathematical works.
The whole body of Vedic works composed in the Sūtra style, is according to the Indian traditional view, divided into six classes called Vedāngas ("members of the Veda"). These are çikshā, or phonetics; chhandas, or metre; vyākaraṇa, or grammar; nirukta, or etymology; kalpa, or religious practice; and jyotisha, or astronomy. The first four were meant as aids to the correct reciting and understanding of the sacred texts; the last two deal with religious rites or duties, and their proper seasons. They all have their origin in the exigencies of religion, and the last four furnish the beginnings or (in one case) the full development of five branches of science that flourished in the post-Vedic period. In the fourth and sixth group the name of the class has been applied to designate a particular work representing it.
Of kalpa we have already treated at length above. No work representing astronomy has survived from the Vedic period; for the Vedic calendar, called jyotisha, the two recensions of which profess to belong to the Rigveda and Yajurveda respectively, dates from far on in the post-Vedic age.
The Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (vii. 1) already mentions çikshā or phonetics, a subject which even then appears to have dealt with letters, accents, quantity, pronunciation, and euphonic rules. Several works bearing the title of çikshā have been preserved, but they are only late supplements of Vedic literature. They are short manuals containing directions for Vedic recitation and correct pronunciation. The earliest surviving results of phonetic studies are of course the Saṃhitā texts of the various Vedas, which were edited in accordance with euphonic rules. A further advance was made by the constitution of the pada-pāṭha, or word-text of the Vedas, which, by resolving the euphonic combinations and giving each word (even the parts of compounds) separately, in its original form unmodified by phonetic rules, furnished a basis for all subsequent studies. Yāska, Pāṇini, and other grammarians do not always accept the analyses of the Padapāṭhas when they think they understand a Vedic form better. Patanjali even directly contests their authoritativeness. The treatises really representative of Vedic phonetics are the Prātiçākhyas, which are directly connected with the Saṃhitā and Padapāṭha. It is their object to determine the relation of these to each other. In so doing they furnish a systematic account of Vedic euphonic combination, besides adding phonetic discussions to secure the correct recitation of the sacred texts. They are generally regarded as anterior to Pāṇini, who shows unmistakable points of contact with them. It is perhaps more correct to suppose that Pāṇini used the present Prātiçākhyas in an older form, as, whenever he touches on Vedic sandhi, he is always less complete in his statements than they are, while the Prātiçākhyas, especially that of the Atharva-veda, are dependent on the terminology of the grammarians. Four of these treatises have been preserved and published. One belongs to the Rigveda, another to the Atharva-, and two to the Yajur-veda, being attached to the Vājasaneyi and the Taittirīya Saṃhitā respectively. They are so called because intended for the use of each respective branch (çākhā) of the Vedas.
The Prātiçākhya Sūtra of the Rigveda is an extensive metrical work in three books, traditionally attributed to Çaunaka, the teacher of Āçvalāyana; it may, however, in its present form only be a production of the school of Çaunaka. This Prātiçākhya was later epitomised, with the addition of some supplementary matter, in a short treatise entitled Upalekha. The Taittirīya Prātiçākhya is particularly interesting owing to the various peculiar names of teachers occurring among the twenty which it mentions. The Vājasaneyi Prātiçākhya, in eight chapters, names Kātyāyana as its author, and mentions Çaunaka among other predecessors. The Atharva-veda Prātiçākhya, in four chapters, belonging to the school of the Çaunakas, is more grammatical than the other works of this class. Metre, to which there are many scattered references in the Brāhmaṇas, is separately treated in a section of the Çānkhāyana Çrauta Sūtra (7, 27), in the last three sections (paṭalas) of the Rigveda Prātiçākhya, and especially in the Nidāna Sūtra, which belongs to the Sāmaveda. A part of the Chhandaḥ Sūtra of Pingala also deals with Vedic metres; but though it claims to be a Vedānga, it is in reality a late supplement, dealing chiefly with post-Vedic prosody, on which, indeed, it is the standard authority.
Finally, Kātyāyana's two Anukramaṇīs or indices, mentioned below, each contains a section, varying but slightly from the other, on Vedic metres. These sections are, however, almost identical in matter with the sixteenth paṭala of the Rigveda Prātiçākhya, and may possibly be older than the corresponding passage in the Prātiçākhya, though the latter work as a whole is doubtless anterior to the Anukramaṇī.
The Padapāṭhas show that their authors had not only made investigations as to pronunciation and Sandhi, but already knew a good deal about the grammatical analysis of words; for they separate both the parts of compounds and the prefixes of verbs, as well as certain suffixes and terminations of nouns. They had doubtless already distinguished the four parts of speech (padajātāni), though these are first mentioned by Yāska as nāman, or "noun" (including sarva-nāman, "representing all nouns" or "pronouns"), ākhyāta, "predicate," i.e. "verb"; upasarga, " supplement," i.e. "preposition"; nipāta, "incidental addition," i.e. "particle." It is perhaps to the separation of these categories that the name for grammar, vyākaraṇa, originally referred, rather than to the analysis of words. Even the Brāhmaṇas bear evidence of linguistic investigations, for they mention various grammatical terms, such as "letter" (varṇa), "masculine" (vṛishan), "number" (vachana), "case-form" (vibhakti). Still more such references are to be found in the Āraṇyakas, the Upanishads, and the Sūtras. But the most important information we have of pre-Pāṇinean grammar is that found in Yāska's work.
Grammatical studies must have been cultivated to a considerable extent before Yāska's time, for he distinguishes a Northern and an Eastern school, besides mentioning nearly twenty predecessors, among whom Çākaṭāyana, Gārgya, and Çākalya are the most important. By the time of Yāska grammarians had learned to distinguish clearly between the stem and the formative elements of words; recognising the personal terminations and the tense affixes of the verb on the one hand, and primary (kṛit) or secondary (taddhita) nominal suffixes on the other. Yāska has an interesting discussion on the theory of Çākaṭāyana, which he himself follows, that nouns are derived from verbs. Gārgya and some other grammarians, he shows, admit this theory in a general way, but deny that it is applicable to all nouns. He criticises their objections, and finally dismisses them as untenable. On Çākaṭāyanas theory of the verbal origin of nouns the whole system of Pāṇini is founded. The sūtra of that grammarian contains hundreds of rules dealing with Vedic forms; but these are of the nature of exceptions to the main body of his rules, which are meant to describe the Sanskrit language. His work aimost entirely dominates the subsequent literature. Though belonging to the middle of the Sūtra period, it must be regarded as the definite starting-point of the post-Vedic age. Coming to be regarded as an infallible authority, Pāṇini superseded all his predecessors, whose works have consequently perished. Yāska alone survives, and that only because he was not directly a grammarian; for his work represents, and alone represents, the Vedānga "etymology."
Yāska's Nirukta is in reality a Vedic commentary, and is older by some centuries than any other exegetical work preserved in Sanskrit. Its bases are the Nighaṇṭus, collections of rare or obscure Vedic words, arranged for the use of teachers. Yāska had before him five such collections. The first three contain groups of synonyms, the fourth specially difficult words, and the fifth a classification of the Vedic gods. These Yāska explained for the most part in the twelve books of his commentary (to which two others were added later). In so doing he adduces as examples a large number of verses, chiefly from the Rigveda, which he interprets with many etymological remarks.
The first book is an introduction, dealing with the principles of grammar and exegesis. The second and third elucidate certain points in the synonymous nighaṇṭus; Books IV.-VI. comment on the fourth section, and VII.-XII. on the fifth. The Nirukta, besides being very important from the point of view of exegesis and grammar, is highly interesting as the earliest specimen of Sanskrit prose of the classical type, considerably earlier than Pāṇini himself. Yāska already uses essentially the same grammatical terminology as Pāṇini, employing, for instance, the same words for root (dhātu), primary, and secondary suffixes. But he must have lived a long time before Pāṇini; for a considerable number of important grammarians' names are mentioned between them. Yāska must, therefore, go back to the fifth century, and undoubtedly belongs to the beginning of the Sūtra period.
One point of very great importance proved by the Nirukta is that the Rigveda had a very fixed form in Yāska's time, and was essentially identical with our text. His deviations are very insignificant. Thus in one passage (X. 29. 1) he reads vāyó as one word, against vā yó as two words in Çākalya's Pada text. Yāska's paraphrases show that he also occasionally differed from the Saṃhitā text, though the quotations themselves from the Rigveda have been corrected so as to agree absolutely with the traditional text. But these slight variations are probably due to mistakes in the Nirukta rather than to varieties of reading in the Rigveda. There are a few insignificant deviations of this kind even in Sāyaṇa, but they are always manifestly oversights on the part of the commentator.
To the Sūtras is attached a very extensive literature of Pariçishṭas or "supplements," which seem to have existed in all the Vedic schools. They contain details on matters only touched upon in the Sūtras, or supplementary information about subjects not dealt with at all by them. Thus, there is the Āçvalāyana Gṛihya-pariçishṭa, in four chapters, connected with the Rigveda. The Gobhila saṃgraha-pariçishṭa is a compendium of Gṛihya practices in general, with a special leaning towards magical rites, which came to be attached to the Sāmaveda. Closely related to, and probably later than this work, is the Karma-pradīpa ("lamp of rites"), also variously called sāma-gṛihya- or chhāndogyagṛihya-pariçishṭa, chhandoga-pariçishṭa, Gobhila-smṛiti, attributed to the Kātyāyana of the White Yajurveda or to Gobhila. It deals with the same subjects, though independently, as the Gṛihya saṃgraha, with which it occasionally agrees in whole çlokas.
Of great importance for the understanding of the sacrificial ceremonial are the Prayogas ("Manuals") and Paddhatis ("Guides"), of which a vast number exist in manuscript. These works represent both the Çrauta and the Gṛihya ritual according to the various schools. The Prayogas describe the course of each sacrifice and the functions of the different groups of priests, solely from the point of view of practical performance, while the Paddhatis rather follow the systematic accounts of the Sūtras and sketch their contents. There are also versified accounts of the ritual called Kārikās, which are directly attached to Sūtras or to Paddhatis. The oldest of them appears to be the Kārikā of Kumārila (c. 700 A.D.).
Of a supplementary character are also the class of writings called Anukramaṇīs or Vedic Indices, which give lists of the hymns, the authors, the metres, and the deities in the order in which they occur in the various Saṃhitās. To the Rigveda belonged seven of these works, all attributed to Çaunaka, and composed in the mixture of the çloka and trishṭubh metre, which is also found in Çaunaka's Rigveda Prātiçākhya. There is also a General Index or Sarvānukramaṇī which is attributed to Kātyāyana, and epitomises in the Sūtra style the contents of the metrical indices. Of the metrical indices five have been preserved. The Ārshānukramaṇī, containing rather less than 300 çlokas, gives a list of the Rishis or authors of the Rigveda. Its present text represents a modernised form of that which was known to the commentator Shaḍguruçishya in the twelfth century. The Chhandonukramaṇī, which is of almost exactly the same length, enumerates the metres in which the hymns of the Rigveda are composed. It also states for each book the number of verses in each metre as well as the aggregate in all metres. The Anuvākānukramaṇī is a short index containing only about forty verses. It states the initial words of each of the eighty-five anuvākas or lessons into which the Rigveda is divided, and the number of hymns contained in these anuvākas. It further states that the Rigveda contains 1017 hymns (or 1025 according to the Vāshkala recension), 10,580½ verses, 153,826 words, 432,000 syllables, besides some other statistical details. The number of verses given does not exactly tally with various calculations that have recently been made, but the differences are only slight, and may be due to the way in which certain repeated verses were counted by the author of the index.
There is another short index, known as yet only in two MSS., called the Pādānukramaṇī, or "index of lines" (pādas), and composed in the same mixed metre as the others. The Sūktānukramaṇī, which has not survived, and is only known by name, probably consisted only of the initial words (pratīkas) of the hymns. It probably perished because the Sarvānukramaṇī would have rendered such a work superfluous. No MS. of the Devatānukramaṇī or "Index of gods" exists, but ten quotations from it have been preserved by the commentator Shaḍguruçishya. It must have been superseded by the Bṛihaddevatā, an index of the "many gods," a much more extensive work than any of the other Anukramaṇīs, as it contains about 1200 çlokas interspersed with occasional trishṭubhs. It is divided into eight adhyāyas corresponding to the ashṭakas of the Rigveda. Following the order of the Rigveda, its main object is to state the deity for each verse. But as it contains a large number of illustrative myths and legends, it is of great value as an early collection of stories. It is to a considerable extent based on Yāska's Nirukta. Besides Yāska himself and other teachers named by that scholar, it also mentions Bhāguri and Āçvalāyana as well as the Nidāna Sūtra. A peculiarity of this work is that it refers to a number of supplementary hymns (khilas) which do not form part of the canonical text of the Rigveda.
Later, at least, than the original form of these metrical Anukramaṇīs, is the Sarvānukramaṇī of Kātyāyana, which combines the data contained in them within the compass of a single work. Composed in the Sūtra style, it is of considerable length, occupying about forty-six pages in the printed edition. For every hymn in the Rigveda it states the initial word or words, the number of its verses, as well as the author, the deity, and the metre, even for single verses. There is an introduction in twelve sections, nine of which form a short treatise on Vedic metres corresponding to the last three sections of the Rigveda Prātiçākhya. The author begins with the statement that he is going to supply an index of the pratīkas and so forth of the Rigveda according to the authorities (yathopadeçam), because without such knowledge the Çrauta and Smārta rites cannot be accomplished. These authorities are doubtless the metrical indices described above. For the text of the Sarvānukramaṇī , which is composed in a concise Sūtra style, not only contains some metrical lines (pādas), but also a number of passages either directly taken from the Ārshānukramaṇī and the Bṛihaddevatā, or with their metrical wording but slightly altered. Another metrical work attributed to Çaunaka is the Ṛigvidhāna, which describes the magical effects produced by the recitation of hymns or single verses of the Rigveda.
To the Pariçishṭas of the Sāmaveda belong the two indices called Ārsha and Daivata, enumerating respectively the Rishis and deities of the text of the Naigeya branch of the Sāmaveda. They quote Yāska, Çaunaka, and Āçvalāyana among others. There are also two Anukramaṇīs attached to the Black Yajurveda. That of the Ātreya school consists of two parts, the first of which is in prose, and the second in çlokas. It contains little more than an enumeration of names referring to the contents of its Saṃhitā. The Anukramaṇī of the Chārāyaṇīya school of the Kāṭhaka is an index of the authors of the various sections and verses. Its statements regarding passages derived from the Rigveda differ much from those of the Sarvānukramaṇī of the Rigveda, giving a number of totally new names. It claims to be the work of Atri, who communicated it to Laugākshi. The Anukramaṇī of the White Yajurveda in the Mādhyaṃdina recension, attributed to Kātyāyana, consists of five sections. The first four are an index of authors, deities, and metres. The authors of verses taken from the Rigveda generally agree with those in the Sarvānukramaṇī. There are, however, a good many exceptions, several new names belonging to a later period, some even to that of the Çatapatha Brāhmaṇa. The fifth section gives a summary account of the metres occurring in the text. It is identical with the corresponding portion of the introduction to the Sarvānukramaṇī, which was probably the original position of the section. There are many other Pariçishṭas of the White Yajurveda, all attributed to Kātyāyana. Only three of these need be mentioned here. The Nigama-pariçishṭa, a glossary of synonymous words occurring in the White Yajurveda, has a lexicographical interest. The Pravarādhyāya, or "Chapter on Ancestors," is a list of Brahman families drawn up for the purpose of determining the forbidden degrees of relationship in marriage, and of indicating the priests suitable for the performance of sacrifice. The Charaṇa-vyūha, or "Exposition of the Schools" of the various Vedas, is a very late work of little importance, giving a far less complete enumeration of the Vedic schools than certain sections of the Vishṇu- and the Vāyu-Purāṇa. There is also a Charaṇa-vyūha among the Pariçishṭas of the Atharva-veda, which number upwards of seventy. This work makes the statement that the Atharva contains 2000 hymns and 12,380 verses.
In concluding this account of Vedic literature, I cannot omit to say a few words about Sāyaṇa, the great mediæval Vedic scholar, to whom or to whose initiation we owe a number of valuable commentaries on the Rigveda, the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa and Āraṇyaka, as well as the Taittirīya Saṃhitā, Brāhmaṇa, and Āraṇyaka, besides a number of other works. His comments on the two Saṃhitās would appear to have been only partially composed by himself and to have been completed by his pupils. He died in 1387, having written his works under Bukka I. (1350-79), whose teacher and minister he calls himself, and his successor, Harihara (1379-99). These princes belonged to a family which, throwing off the Muhammadan yoke in the earlier half of the fourteenth century, founded the dynasty of Vijayanagara ("city of victory"), now Hampi, on the Tungabhadrā, in the Bellary district. Sāyaṇa's elder brother, Mādhava, was minister of King Bukka, and died as abbot of the monastery of Çṛingeri, under the name of Vidyāraṇyasvāmin. Not only did he too produce works of his own, but Sāyaṇa's commentaries, as composed under his patronage, were dedicated to him as mādhavīya, or ("influenced by Mādhava"). By an interesting coincidence Professor Max Müller's second edition of the Rigveda, with the commentary of Sāyaṇa, was brought out under the auspices of a Mahārāja of Vijayanagara. The latter city has, however, nothing to do with that from which King Bukka derived his title.