Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/199

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all but twelve are taken bodily from the established text of the Rigveda without any change. The matter borrowed from the Rigveda in the other books shows considerable varieties of reading, but these, as in the other Saṃhitās, are of inferior value compared with the text of the Rigveda. As is the case in the Yajurveda, a considerable part of the Atharva (about one-sixth) consists of prose. Upwards of fifty hymns, comprising the whole of the fifteenth and sixteenth, besides some thirty hymns scattered in the other books, are entirely unmetrical. Parts or single stanzas of over a hundred other hymns are of a similar character.

That the Atharva-veda originally consisted of its first thirteen books only is shown both by its arrangement and by its subject-matter. The contents of Books I.-VII. are distributed according to the number of stanzas contained in the hymns. In Book I. they have on the average four stanzas, in II. five, in III. six, in IV. seven, in V. eight to eighteen, in VI. three; and in VII. about half the hymns have only one stanza each. Books VIII.-XIII. contain longer pieces. The contents of all these thirteen books are indiscriminately intermingled.

The following five books, on the contrary, are arranged according to uniformity of subject-matter. Book XIV. contains the stanzas relating to the wedding rite, which consist largely of mantras from the tenth book of the Rigveda. Book XV. is a glorification of the Supreme Being under the name of Vrātya, while XVI. and XVII. contain certain conjurations. The whole of XV. and nearly the whole of XVI., moreover, are composed in prose of the type found in the Brāhmaṇas. Both XVI. and XVII. are very short, the former containing nine hymns occupying four printed pages, the latter consist-