Rituals have a very important place in the religious and social life of man in any country. The Vedic people had developed certain rituals the performance of which was thought to be the most sacred and essential duty of all. In the time of the Brahmanas this concept had reached its culmination. Due to differences in the methods of performance of the rituals many recensions came into vogue and the adherents of these recensions laid more emphasis on their own recensions. A particular class of work dealing with Vedic rituals following the principle of brevity was composed under the nomenclature Kalpasutras. But with a considerable gap of time many of the works of this class fell into oblivion and they are not available today.
The Vadhula Srautasutra belonging to the krsna Yajurveda is an important work in the Srauta-literature. Its tenor and style are unique and the treatment of the subject is more copious than that of other Srautasutras. Sometimes it treats such materials which are not found in any of the Srautasutras. Unfortunately, it could not invite attention of the scholars because of unavailability of the sufficient manuscript material. It was prof. Caland who for the first time tried to bring out its edition. He, however, did not succeed in this task. He could only publish some of its extracts in Acta Orientalia vols II, IV, and VI. Its complete edition was a desideratum. Prof. B.B. Chaubey of Vishveshvaranand Vishva Bandhu Institute of Saskrit and Indological studies, Panjab university, HOshiarpur accepted the challenge and undertook this project in 1975, working very hard for a considerable long period he brought it to completion. The entire Vadhula Srautasutra along with an exhaustive introduction and two appendices is now before the scholars. With the publication of this volume an unknown Vedic Sakha, namely, Vadhula Sakha has come to light.
It is hoped that this edition of the Vadhula Srautasutra will be widely welcomed by the Vedic scholars.
One of the striking features of recent Vedic studies and research may be said to have been the varied and voluminous work relating to Vedic ritual which has been done in India and abroad. This work has been accomplished in three main directions, namely of (1) critical editions and exegesis of Vedic ritual texts, particularly the Srautasutras; (2) studies on the nature and performance of Vedic sacrifice; and (3) speculations regarding what may be called the philosophy or the inner meaning of Vedic sacrifice. Some basic ritual texts have been newly brought to light. One may, for instance, point to the critically edited complete text of the Jaiminiya-Brahmana. Since the discovery by Burnell, in the region round about Mangalore, of a few fragments of this Brahmarna, some work relating to it had been done by Whitney, Oertel, Caland, and Raghuvira. But it was given to Raghuvira and Lokesh Chandra to publish the complete critical edition of that work. Perhaps no other Vedic text has, in recent times, evoked as many critical studies-ritualistic, mythological, linguistic, philosophical, etc.-as the Jaiminiya-Brahmana. Among the new editions or reprints of the Srautasutras (whole or in part, and in Some cases with commentaries) published during the last few years may be mentioned the Asvalayana (Delhi, 1984.85; Calcutta, 1989), the Katya, ana (Delhi, 1990), the Jaiminiya (Agnistomasya sutram, Helsinki, 1981), the Drahyayana (Madras, 1982; Allahabad, 1983), the Nidana (Delhi, 1971), the Baudhayana (New Delhi, 1982), the Manava (Delhi, 1985), the Latyayana (New Delhi, 1982; Varanasi, 1984), the Varaha (Poona, 1988), the Vaikhanasa (New Delhi, 1989), and the Sankhayana (New Delhi, 1981). English translations have been made available of the Asvalayana (Poona, 1986), the Katyayana (Poona, 1978),the Manava (Delhi, 1985), and the Sankhayana (Delhi, 1980). Besides some individual Sulbasutras, a work containing the texts of the four Sulbasutras-the Baudhayana, the Apastamba, the Katyayana, and the Manava-was published at Allahabad in 1979. Two monographs by Axel Michaels-one containing a concordance of the four main Sulbasutras, a synoptic table of contents based on the Baudhayana-Sulbasutra, and a discussion of the relationship between these specifically geometric texts and the Srauta-literature in general and the other being a comprehensive Sulbasutra word-index (Wiesbaden, 1978 and 1983) also deserve notice in this context. It is encouraging to see that, with all this editorial and exegetical work, scholars are still anxious to revise many of these texts, as has become evident from the recently published Vedic Texts: A Revision.
Some very thought-provoking studies about the various constituents of Vedic sacrifice have been published during the last few years. It has, for instance, been suggested that the literal meaning of the mantra is not part of the ritual with which it is connected; its ritual meaning is its viniyoga. In a sense, the mantras are older than language itself; they are the vestiges of something different from language which originated for a different purpose and in response to a different challenge. The rationalization of ritual by characterizing it as 'symbolic'. etc., has to be rejected. Essentially, ritual is activity and is performed for its own sake. Other points pertaining to the Vedic- ritual which are discussed include kalpaikatva, daksina (whet her expressing the cosmic circulation of the 'goods of life' or just a contractual payment for the liturgical services rendered), and the paribhasas in the Srautasutras. One also comes across papers exclusively devoted to the elucidation of the nature and functions of individual priests like the Brahman, the Maitravaruna, the Acchavaka, and the Potr. A special mention needs to be made here of the Vedic sacrifice performed under the sponsorship of an international committee at Panjal in Kerala in April 1975 and the two sumptuous volumes edited by Staal in that connection. The Trikandamandana of Bhaskara Misra (between 1000 A.D. and 1250 A.D.), an English translation and study of which was published in 1987, gathers together all the modifications in the Vedic sacrificial rites approved up to its time in order to consolidate the Apastamba ritual practice.
As for the inner meaning of Vedic ritual, a reference may just be made to the view which Heesterman has persistently advanced. Heesterman avers that originally the Vedic sacrifice was fiercely agonistic and violent. It purported to forcing access to the transcendental world through a controlled but always dangerous manipulation of death and destruction. However, in the course of its development there emerged a diametrically opposed version of sacrifice. Sacrifice was a medium between the human and the transcendental worlds, but this idea was later developed into the notion that sacrifice was knowledge that pointed the way to transcendence.
As if to confirm the appropriateness of his family-name, Professor Chaubey also has, in his own way, participated in the exuberant activity relating to Vedic studies which I have briefly sketched out above. He seems to have envisaged his course with sagacity. I still remember one of his early papers presented at the 24th session of the All-India Oriental Conference in which he had dealt with the accentuation of the Satapatha-Brahmana. He had pointed out that in that Brahmana, there were only two accents, Udatta and Anudatta, and that the Udatta which resulted from the coalescence of Udatta and Anudatta was called bhasika svara. He later elaborated this point in his edition of the Bhasikasutra of Katyayana (with the commentaries of Mahasvamin and Anantabhatta) which he claimed (against the views of Weber and Caland) to be an authentic work. In this context one may also mention Chaubey's Hindi monographs Vaidika-svarita- mimamsa and Vaidika-svarabodha. About myth and reality in the Rgveda (with special reference to Indra-Vrtra myth), Chaubey speaks of myth as a vehicle of historical truth, myth as a vehicle of philosophic truth and myth as a vehicle for expressing imagery. Generally he seems to be inclined to accept the naturalistic (nairukta) interpretation of myths. Through mythology, the RV. seers have tried to express their religioaesthetic consciousness in the presence of nature. In another paper Chaubey has commented in some detail upon the mastery of Madhucchandas over the theory and practice of poetry (though the date which he has proposed for that seer may not be found acceptable by many). Visvamitra in Vedic and post- Vedic Literature, which Chaubey has edited, seeks to shed considerable light on the muItisplendoured personality of an important Vedic and Pauranic character. His sketch of the Trtsus is also quite interesting. According to him, the Trtsus were very ancient people of India, occupying the territory between the Parusni and the Yamuna. In the RV-period, they were closely related to the Bharatas though,(as Chaubey suggests not very convincingly) they were some- times at war with them. In an earlier paper, presented to the 25th session of AIOC, Chaubey has tried to reconstruct Indian culture in the times of Yaska on the basis of his etymologies as also of the names, etc., mentioned by him.
In recent years, Chaubey seems to have developed a special interest in Vedic ritual. In a paper presented at the 34th session of the All-India Oriental Conference, he has sought to- identify the principles of nomenclature of Vedic mantras. Elsewhere, while elaborating the nature and methods of Brahmanic interpretation, he speaks of such devices employed by those texts as viniyoga, hetu, nirvacana, bandhu, rupa, and rupasamrddhi. In his treatment of the institution of sacrifice in its sociological perspective, he considers topics like sacrifice and women, participation in sacrifice of other family members, relatives, and servants, participation in sacrifice of all varanas, participation of kings and officials, etc., and concludes that the institution of Sacrifice was more a sociological organization than a religious one. In another brief paper, Chaubey has posed the question, "What does the Asuras' performance of sacrifice allude to in Vedic literature?"
It was in 1975 that one day I happened to see in our Institute's. Mss collection a transcript of the Vadhulagrhyakalpa- vyakhya in three volumes. It was already in my notice that Caland had published in Acta Orientalia Vols II, IV and VI some 262 small and big extracts from the Vadhulasutra. Out of 262 extracts 82 belonged to the Vadhula-Srautasutra and 180 to the Vddhula-Anvakhvyana- Brahmana. Those extracts were utilised in the fourth volume of the Vedic Word Concordance published by the VVRI, Hoshiarpur. While utilising these extracts no distinction was being made whether a particular extract belonged to the VadhSS or to the Vadh Anv. Br. All words occurring in those extracts were entered under the name Vadhu Srau. When I compared those extracts published in the AO with the text of the Ms. in my hand, I found that the published extracts were very meagre. Moreover, they belonged to both the Srautasutra and the Anvakhyana Brahmana, whereas the Ms., besides having these two types of texts, also contained the Grhyasutra-text in the beginning. Caland did not publish any extract from the Grhyasutra-text. A critical edition of these three types of texts of the Vadhulas was a desideratum. To meet this desideratum I made up in my mind to critically edit and publish all the three texts of the Vadhulas, separately. First I took up the edition of the VadhSS and accordingly started copying work of the text.
In the course of time it came to my notice through an article of Michael Witzel that he had also planned to prepare a critical edition of the VadhSS and the VadhBr. I discussed this matter with Dr. B.R. Sharma, the then Director-Professor of the Institute. He told me that Witzel had some other important projects in his hand at that time, so it would be better that I should continue my project. In coherence to his advice I continued the work and by the end of 1979 I was able to pre-pare a complete base-copy of the text. In the last week of January 1980 I went to Poona to attend a seminar on 'Vedic Interpretation' organised by the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona. There I met Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar of Madras, a renowned scholar of Vedic rituals, who had also come to attend the said seminar. When I showed him my base-copy of the VadhSS he was very happy. He appreciated very much my this endeavour of critically editing the text of the VadhSS, a long-felt need. After returning to Madras he passed on this information to Harold F. Arnold, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of California. Berkeley, working under his guidance on 'Comparative study of the Darsapurnamasa sacrifices in the Srauta Iiterature', who also intended to include an edition of the Darsapurnamasa-sections of the VadhSS. Having received the information that I was critically editing the vadhss, Arnold wrote a letter dated 9th April, 1980 with a view to having some specific informations about my edition. The contents of his letter were as follows-
"Agnihotram has told me that you are working on an edition of the Vadhulasutra and have, in fact, completed your manuscript of it. Since I am also working with this sutra I would like to ask you a few question about your edition:
(i) Have you included the commentary and the Paddhati in your edition? If so in what form, along with sutras or separately?
(ii) When do you expect your edition to be published? Since I am emphasizing the Vadhulasutra in my dissertation it would obviously be a great boon to me to be able to use your critical printed edition rather than my copy of the manuscript.
(iii) Do you expect your edition to be published within the next year?
(iv) I had intended to include an English translation of the Darsapuranamasa-sections in my study. Have you included a translation in your edition? If not, do you have any plan to do a translation in the future? If not, I would be interested in eventually doing a translation of the complete Vadhula Srauta- sutra, since its age makes it one of the most important Srauta- sutras, and only parts of it have appeared in any European languages and almost none of it in English."
This letter of Arnold convinced me beyond any doubt that the work of the critical edition of the VadhSS was of unique importance and that its publication was of dire need to the scholars in the field of religion and philology in general and Vedic ritual in particular. This helped me immensely in concentrating my attention on this work.
Subsequently, in the 30th session of the AIOC held at Vishva Bharati, Santiniketan on Nov. 1-3, 1980, while presenting my paper' A Fresh light on the vadhSS’ I made an announcement that my critical edition of the VadhSS was complete and the same would be published within the next year. As a matter of fact, the base-copy, prepared by me, was almost complete and the major collation work had also been finished. Only press-copy was to be prepared. Introduction, indices, etc, are generally prepared after the text has been printed.
I wanted to get this important text published under the Panjab University Indological Series of the Institute under which my critical edition of the Bhasikasutra' was atready published. Accordingly, I requested the then Acting Director to accept this text for publication under the said Series. I handed over my base-copy to the office on 30.4.81 for preparing estimates, etc., and to get necessary approval of the Vice Chancellor for the purpose. In the meantime, under the impression that the Institute would definitely undertake the publication of this important work, while presenting a paper 'A Critical Appraisal of the A gnyadhana with special reference to the VadhSS’ to the fifth World Sanskrit Conference held at Varanasi on October 21-26, 1981, I announced once again that the work had been accepted by the Panjab University for its publication under the P.U. Indological Series, and it was hoped that the same would be out within the next year. But to my great surprise after one year the University expressed its unability to extend assistance to this project, with effect that I had to search for another agency to undertake the work for publication. In the meantime I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Kashikar in Pune in 1982 and discuss with him the problems regarding the critical edition of the VadhSS and its publication. During his discussion with me I found that he was, more or less, expecting a critical edition of the VadhSS together with a German translation and notes from Michael Witzel relying on his paper referred to above. On my clarifying to him that after hearing the announcement about the completion of my edition Witzel had stopped working on the text altgether, he gave me some very vital and useful suggestions which proved to be a significant guideline for my Work.
1. Discovery of Mss of the Vadhula Srautasutra
The Vadhula Srauta Sut a (VadhSS) is one of the earliest works in the Srauta literature. This important work could not draw the attention of the Vedic scholars for dint of non-availability of sufficient manuscript material. It was not mentioned even by name in most of the books on the history of Vedic literature. Prof. Max Muller had referred to this work by the name Vathulasutra without giving any account of it. Not a single work belonging to the Vadhula recension has come to light so far. It was Prof. Caland who for the first time worked on the Vadhula Sutra and gave detailed information about the Vadhula recension and its literature in four communications, published in the Acta Orientalia.
In the beginning of 1920, Caland came to know through the Report on the working of the Peripatetic party of the Govt. Private Manuscripts Library, Madras (1916-1919) the existence of a Ms. Called Vadhulaka'pavyakhya. Very soon he got a Ms. in Grantha script which was not very intelligible to him. However, he studied it and gave, for the first time, a detailed information about the Vadhula Sutra. The Ms consisted of three different parts. viz., (1) Kalpagamasamgraha of Aryadasa or Acaryapada, (2) a very detailed part of the Prayogasandarbha or Prayogakalpana of Sivasrona and (3) a smaller part containing Karikas. This Ms. consisting of three parts was first thought by Caland to be a commentary on the Vadhula Sutra. But this was too ambiguous to give a clear picture of the commentary. Caland's own observation about the text is ‘we will be disappointed if we hope that a Vyakhya is before us and we have to substract the VadhSS out of it’. According to Caland, the Kalpagamasamgraha, which is almost complete, does not cite the Sutra-text every time followed by its exposition. But it deals only with the difficult parts and expressions and liturgical controversies (nigadasiddhavarjam, sandigdhan vakyarthan vicarayisyamah). This piecemeal treatment of the Kalpagamasamgraha is supplemented by the second part, viz., the Prayogasandarbha in which rites are presented more continuously. Prof. caland, however, realized that this Prayogasandarbha was not the commentary of the vadhSS as such, but a Prayoga. He expressed his view that if both the texts, viz., Kalpagamasamgraha and Prayogasandarbha agree completely then only it would be decided whether there was an actual Sutra text. About the scope of the material of the two parts of the Ms. Caland also expressed his view that while in the Vyakhya part of the Srautasutra he had the Kalpagamasamgraha complete; in the Prayoga, on the other hand, presentation of the material upto first five Prapahatkas and a big part of Agnistoma which runs parallel to the first Prapathaka and the first three Anuvakas of the second, found scope. The last part of the Ms. Covered the Vyakhya of the Grhyasutra. Regarding this part Caland expressed his view that there was a lot of confusion there, and to get any kind of idea to be formed about that part of the Sutra-text, was difficult. However, Caland tried his best to go through a considerable portion of the text and brought into light many important information about the so far unknown Vadhula recension of the Krsna Yajurveda. He also made a commendable work by pointing out some of the typical linguistic and ritualistic peculiarities of the VadhSS. He published the results of his study in a paper ‘Uber das Vadhulasutra’. In the conclusion of the paper Caland expressed his view that the vadhSS is very important for our knowledge in old Indian ritual as well as for the language of the day, as for example, is the Vaikhansasa Srauta Sutra. He also expressed his hope that the Pandits or European scholars in Govt. of Madras would be able to bring out the actual VadhSS and make it available to him. He was very much optimistic about the availability of the text of the VadhSS. He expressed his view that since the Vyakhya has been found this hope cannot be far off.
To his great pleasure, after a year, someone in Madras found an exhaustive fragment of the Vadhulasutra written in Grantha script and Soon a Devanagari copy of the same was made available to Caland. After receiving this Ms. Caland was very happy and he expressed his view that he was now in a position to bring a closer knowledge of this important text to his colleagues in deciphering and examining closely many questions that study of Vyakhya had given occasion to. This newly picked up Ms was a big fragment of the entire work consisting of the first six Prapathakas complete and one big part of the seventh. It covered Agnadheya, Darsapurnamasesti, Yajamana, Caturmasya, Pasubandha and a part of Agnistoma. May be the text has been correctly handed down it contains unfortunately small and big gaps which can be covered, to some extent, by comparing the parallel passages in other texts. This Ms, according to Caland, gives nowhere number of Prapathakas, Anuvakas and Patalas. This lacuna can be filled because the Vyakhya as well as the Prayoga, according to Caland, give the number of Prapathakas and Anuvakas. In the Ms there is another criterion which helps to fix the end of the Patalas. As in the case of BaudhSS, beginning words of a Patala are found in the end of the preceding Patala and stand repeated. The Sutrakara, as per Vyakhyakara, closes an Anuvaka similarly. According to Caland the newly found text without doubt is the text which Vyakhya and Prayoga depend upon. However, the citations credited to this Sutra by Mahadeva in his Vaijayanti, a commentary on the Hiranyakesisutra, are not found in this text of the Vadhulasutra. Caland believes that firstly some of the citations are not taken from the chapters available to him and secondly, it can also be conjectured that the text Mahadeva used for his Vaijayanti was some other text closer to Vadhulasutra, that was available to him.
Caland realized the importance of the Vadhulasutra and expressed his ardent desire that it would be for the greatest significance in the matter of information in ritual literature that a complete copy was retrieved. He also contemplated that the Pandits of Madras might do their efforts so that his wish of finding a complete text of the Vadhulasutra would surely be fulfilled. On the basis of the Ms available to him. He published only some smaller and other longer citations (22 in all) which appeared to him striking on account of their contents and style In the second communication Caland, besides giving 22 citations from the Ms of the Vadhulasutra available to him, gave some more information about the Vadhula recension and its relation with other recensions of the krsna Yajurveda. He also gave information about morphological, syntactical and other peculiarities of the Vadhulasutra, and a glossary of the important peculiar words occurring in the text.
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