The frequent glorification of the Kathas by Patanjali urged me, as early as 1930, to undertake a study of their literature and with that view I began to collect extracts and quotations of the lost Kathaka-Brahmana from Sanskrit literature, particularly from Kasmir Mss. in Sarada script. The text, in its present form, was complete in 1935, when duties of pressing urgency intervened and the publication of the work had to be deferred till now.
In 1920, Dr. Caland while editing a couple of extracts from the lost Kathaka-Brahmana, discussed, in detail, the literary aspect of the Katha problem. It was, of course, beyond the scope of his enquiry to go into such questions as "who were the Kathas ? how did they achieve pre-eminence about P5pini's time ? did they ever stir out of India ? and what were the causes of their decline ?"
The Introduction to the present work attempts some sort of answer to these questions and is, in, a way, designed to bring the historical aspect of the Katha problem to the forefront. And since, in the course of the present enquiry, I have, after a patient scrutiny of the cumulative evidence, ventured to equate the Indian Kathas with the Hattis or Hittites, the Khata or Khata of the Egyptian monuments, Khatta or Khate of the Assyrians, Kheta or Khitti of the Hebrews; and the Maitrayanas with the Mitannes, the problem of Katha-Maitrayanas is, at once, invested with an interest and importance peculiarly its own in the history of Indo-European people.
And although our information regarding the Katha is necessarily vague and fragmentary, our treatment of it discursive and diagrammatic, and our conclusions drawn there from only tentative and provisional, our main thesis may yet disclose, in outline, the very distinguished individuality of the Kathas and thus serve as a link in the provisional reconstruction of India's prehistoric glory; and if competent scholars could further the feasibility of the proposed equation of the Kathas with the Khatas' in the light of the fact that "the ancestors of the Sanskrit-speaking tribes of north-western India were living in the 15th century B.C. on the plateau of Asia Minor" a constructive approach will have, indeed, been made to the solution of the very intricate Hittite-Mitanni problem.
Commensurate with this greatness of the race there a rose a literature, which the Kathas adopted and nurtured in Vedic times. There are statements likely to establish that the Kathaka-Brahmana consisted of one hundred chapters. Their Srautasutra, of which the only known Patala is given in this Samkalana for the first time, may have had several such Patalas. Their Samhita, together with two Grhya-sutras is available; and we know from the Carana-vyuha that there is nothing which is not found in the Kathaka. But pre-eminent as the Katha race once was in deeds and literature, its decline, in both, was phenomenal, so much so that with their exit from the arena of the Vedic sacrifice their literature dwindled, with the result that their two basic works the Brahmana and the Srautasutra were altogether lost, surviving only in the form of a few quotations.
And if this survey of a large question, as a whole, should initiate even a few items of research, which, if done, will rectify omissions and urge some scholars-particularly in Kasmir-to attempt a discovery of the lost Kathaka-Brahmana and Srautasutra, my modest venture will have, indeed, been well worthwhile.
A word of acknowledgment. I have made the fullest possible use of the entire material, available in Lahore, bearing on the literature of the Kathas and the history of ancient India and Asia major and have gratefully acknowledged the fact in foot-notes. My debt to the European writers on these subjects is simply beyond measure.
Mahatma Hamsaraja, the founder of the great D. A. V. movement" and Prof. Dr. A. C. Woolner, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Panjab, were alive, when this work was undertaken. Each new extract included in this work filled the former's heart with joy, and the latter took the printed portion of the work along with him to Simla in the long vacation of 1932 and wrote a letter of appreciation from there. Both these patrons have now passed away and along with them has departed much of the glory of oriental studies in this province. In life and letters they were my guide : to them I am greatly beholden
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