IxX IIVMNS OF THE ATHARVA-VEDA.
one body-priest, well capable of attending to the kingdom's needs in all manner of charms and sorcery, and thus filling the paurohitya creditably with the entire armament of the Veda of charms and sorcery, himself an Atharvavedin. If the king had about him no systematic theologian re- splendent in his ^atavidya, if there was no adherent of that ideal fourth Veda, the sarvavidya that looms above the trayi vidya, the remoter applicability of the jrauta-practices to the weal and woe of everyday life^ or confidence in the ability of hotar, adhvaryu, &c., to perform their duties correctly of themselves, would lead him to entrust the general supervision of the Vedic performances (in the nar- rower sense) to his Atharvan purohita. Thus the sweeping claim of the Atharvan priests may be founded at least upon a narrow margin of fact, and later the Atharvan priests are likely to have equipped themselves with a suffi- ciency of rather external and mechanical knowledge to perform the function of Brahman with a show of respecta- bility, witness the activity of the Brahman in the j-rauta- rites of the Vaitana-sutra. In very late times the ability of Atharvan priests to practise j^rauta-rites, and the canonicity of their j-rauta-manual, the Vaitana-sutra, were recognised by other Vedic schools, if the matter-of-fact references to that Sutra on the part of the commentators to Katyayana's vSrauta-sutras may be regarded as normal ; see Garbe in the preface to the edition of the Vait. Su., p. vi.
We may remark, however, that the entire question of
the relation of the AV. to jrauta-practices is a very obscure
point in the history of Vedic literature, it
the AV. to being assumed generally that the Atharvan
the 5iauta- ]-,^^ oria;inally nothing to do with the larger
ritual. ^ ^ ^ ..,.,,
Vedic ritual. The assumption in this broad form is at any rate erroneous, or defective. The existing Sawdiitas of the AV. contain mantras which could have had no sense and purpose except in connection with j'rauta- pcrformances. A series of formulas, e. g. like AV. VI, 47 and 48, has no meaning except in connection with the three daily pressures of soma (savana), and the Vait. Su.