From the Jacket
Apastamba Samanya Sutra (or Yajnaparibhasa Sutra) is a part (XXXIV. 1-4) of the Apastamba Srauta Sutra. Some of the rules of interpretation given in our text apply to the Apastamba Srautasutra in particular, whereas the others apply to the Vedic system of ritual in general. They provide clues to the abbreviations and unspecified details, determine relative importance of various elements of a sacrifice, and decide how the details of a model sacrifice may be extended to other similar sacrifices. In this way, this text, though small, gives a very good introduction to the study of Vedic ritual, for it instructs the general system and structure of the Vedic sacrifices. In the present volume, the text is published with translation and exposition, which may be useful not only to the students of the Vedas, but also to the readers of other disciplines interested in the subject.
About the Author
Samiran Chandra Chakrabarti (b. 1940), Fellow of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, son of late Nibaran Chandra Chakrabarti, secured 1st class and stood first in both B. A. Hons. In Sanskrit (C. U.). He was also Eshan Scholar. He obtained his Ph. D. degree in Sanskrit from C. U. he was formerly Head of the Dept. of Sanskrit, Professor and Director of the School of Vedic Studies, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta; presently, he is a Guest Lecturer in German, Calcutta University; Honorary Visiting Professor, Centre for Indoloical Studies and Research, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta.
Prof. Chakrabarti's contributions do not speak in terms of numbers but in point of quality. His publications include The Paribhasas in the Srautasutras, Some Aspects of Vedic Studies (Ed), Buddhism and World Culture (Ed), the Value system as reflected in the Veda: Concept of Purusarthas, Brahmanasamgraha and many papers in felicitation volumes and journals of India and abroad.
He was awarded Griffith Memorial Prize in Humanities, Calcutta University, 1983; an Award from M. S. Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratisthan, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2000; Rising Personalities of India Award, International Penguin Publishing House, Delhi, 2003; Sanskrit Day Award 2004, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Calcutta.
Vedic ritual is a subject little known and much less understood by modern readers. Elaborate Vedic sacrifices are rarely performed nowadays; only a very limited number of Vedic ritualists are still there who have been keeping up the tradition. The ritual texts too seem to fail to attract the attention of the majority of modern scholars. "It is conceivable that the emphasis on relevance (which means that scholars should follow the whims of others rather than their own)", as observed by Staal, "has prevented people from taking ritual seriously and paying adequate attention to its rich detail and real intricacies".
Staal regards ritual and grammar, two disciplines belonging to the Vedangas, as the earliest Indian sciences and thinks that "it is in respect of sciences of man such as ritual and grammar that the Indian contributions have not only been outstanding, but probably unique" (Science of Ritual, p. 36), though he knows "there are people who would not regard grammar as a science - not to mention anything as unscientific as ritual".
The term ritual is sometimes used to mean the discipline, "the science of ritual", recorded, in the Vedic realm, in the Srauta and to some extent also in the Grhya Sutras. Apastamba's Samanya-Sutra or Yajnaparibhasa-Sutra, mainly comprising some principles of interpretation or metarules, is a brief but useful text for understanding the structure and general nature of the Vedic sacrifices. "These metarules [of the Apastamba Srauta Sutra] are", in the words of Staal, "succinctly expressed in simple Sanskrit, and deserve to be quoted if only because they constitute a perfect introduction to the study of Vedic ritual".
The Asiatic Society of Kolkata has decided to publish this text together with English translation and exposition and I am thankful to the authorities for asking me to present a lucid exposition of the Sutras, so that even readers of other disciplines who may like to acquaint themselves with the structure and basic principles of Vedic sacrifices from an original source may comprehend the subject. It will be my reward if this book shall spring up a new interest in my readers for a wider and deeper study of the discipline.
I take this opportunity to record my sincere thanks to Srimati Mandira Dasgupta for typesetting of this book.
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