I have great pleasure in introducing to the world of scholars the work Darsapurnamasa.(A Comparative Ritualistic study) by Dr. (Mrs) Urmila Rustagi. The work represents in the main the thesis submitted by Mrs. Rustagi under the same title for the Ph.D. degree of the University of Delhi. It discusses in eleven chapters the Dargapiirnamasa sacrifices with all the wealth of details found in old texts. She has systematically entered into her subject. She has first said something with regard to sacrifice in general, then dwelt on the grauta sacrifices and finally come up on the Dar4apfirnamdsa sacrifices. Since the rules and regulations of the performances vary from text to text she had to attempt a comparative study which she has carried out successfully.
Dr. Rustagi has brought to bear on her work a critical and analytical approach which cannot but impress a reader. She has been very thorough in her treatment all through.
In spite of the large corpus of literature on the Veda, the study of its ritualistic component leaves much to be desired. The present work will fulfill the long-felt desideratum in this regard. Every major s2crifice mentioned in old texts needs a thorough and systematic study on the lines of our author. For blazing a new trail she deserves our full plaudits.
I am sure the work will be well received by scholars and that it will be followed by many similar works from the pen of Dr. (Mrs) Crmila Rustagi.
One of the most outstanding characteristics of the Vedic age is the importance given to the performance of 'yajnas'. This word `yajnas' is translated into English as 'sacrifice' or 'ritual'. Neither of the two really expresses the full idea conveyed by the term `yajnas'. Yajnas comprises many rites according to the nature and occasion of a particular yajna. These rites are really the essential actions connected with the yajnas. In the Bhagavadgita, Lord Krsna says, "The Prajapati created the people along with the yajnas and told them "by this you will prosper, for, this is the wish-yielding cow for you. You please the gods by this and they will please you (by fulfilling your desires) and thus pleasing each other you both will prosper."'
This statement in the Gird is a pointer towards the importance of yajnas in the ancient Indian life. A close examination of the ancient scriptures tells us how the people of those days combined religion with life inseparably. Every thought, word and deed was supposed to have its effect on the life of the individual and his surroundings. Every, action in the life of an individual was supposed to be an offering to God Almighty and hence a `yajna'. These yajnas were classified according to the occasion of their respective performances. Some of them were to be performed daily such as Agnihotra etc.? some others only on the particular days of the month such as Darga-rarnam5.sa etc. and still others were to be performed for the attainment of some special desire of the individual concerned such as Pertrakamesti etc. There are other yajnas also which are to be per- formed to celebrate one's greatness such as Injasilya, Agvamedha etc. The ancient Rsis who were well aware of the intricacies of kaman nature laid down rules and regulations for the performances of each and every one of these `yajnas' in their most minute details. These rules concern every single act that goes to constitute the yajna, beginning with the collecting of materials, choosing the place and such other things, till the final act of cleaning every utensil, used and returning to the usual normal life. In laying down these rules and regulations, the ancient sages have kept in view not only the cleanliness, purity and sanctity of the mind and body of the person who performs the sacrifice but also of every person, place and thing that is connected in any way with the yajna.
These yajnas were being performed for centuries and naturally many gradual changes must have set in even unnoticed in the method of these performances, according to the change of time, place and people. This possibility is supported by the differences of rules found in the innumerable texts of the saihhitas, brahmanas and scrautasutras. In this modern age in which people pride themselves in their scientific approach to everything known and unknown, these `yajnas' have almost lost their place in the life of the people. `I he common man is neither aware of nor interested in these religious performances, which have come to be considered as nonsensical and based on meaningless superstition. At such a time, a probe into these rituals as laid down by the ancient teachers seems to be relevant, if only to see how far true or otherwise are the charges against them.
In the present book I have taken the Dana and Purnarnasa sacrifices for my studies. The two Dargaparnamasa sacrifices belong to the group called occasional (Naimittika) and the rites that constitute these, seem to be fairly typical as far as the yajnas in general are concerned. A study of these rites as presented in the different texts shall be very useful to the interested student in tracing the changes of these performances through the ages and also in gathering valuable information about the contemporary society to some extent.
Though at three places I could find some work done on the Dargaparnamasa sacrifices, yet a detailed study is seen nowhere. Kifijavadekara, in his book `Darapfirnamasa-prakaiah' has dealt with these sacrifices but he has taken only the Apastamba-grauta sutra and its various commentaries for their basis. Similarly, Madhusficlana Sharma has taken up these sacrifices in his book `Yajfia Sarasvati' but there too, a minute and detailed study is not found. grauta-koga of Vedic-sarhsodhana mandala„ Poona, on the other hand, gives
a detailed account of the procedure of performance of different rites of Darsapurnamasa and other sacrifices. This Koga has referred to almost all the texts of the sarmhitas, brahmanas and srautasutras, but it has in it only the Sanskrit extracts and their English translation dealing with a particular sacrifice. While studying this Kola, one cannot be clear about the differences in various rites, performed through the ages. In other words, this Koa lacks in the comparative study of these sacrifices. Also, it does not throw any light on the importance and peculiarities of any sacrifice. Thus, finding no elaborate and detailed study on these sacrifices I was inspired to take up this topic for my thesis and consequently have tried to go into the minutest details of the Darsapurnamasa sacrifices.
In the present bock, it has been my Endeavour to make use of all available material. Almost all the printed texts and the commentaries and translations available on them have been taken into account. For Katyayana Hautra Parisista, Varaha. Parisista (Pra-yascitta) and Latyayana Sutra Sara I have consulted the secondary source i.e. the Sraita kosa.
Out of the two sakhas namely Madhyandiniya and Kaniviya of the satapatha-Brahmana, everywhere I have referred to the former one except where the two sakhs differ.
This book consists of eleven chapters. The first chapter deals w.ith the sacrifices in general with special reference to the sutra-sacrifices and their general characteristics. As a typical and archetype sutra-sacrifice, the Darsapurnamasa sacrifices have been taken up for study. Incidentally the names Darga and Parnamasa are explained in detail, and the synonyms Kuha, Sinivali, Ralca and Annmati also are dealt with. The question of reversed order in e compound name of these two sacrifices also is discussed here.
Of the two, the Purnamasa yajna is taken up for study, this beast the first in order of performance. The rites are more or less CSC same in both these yajnas and so each rite has been taken up fir discussion in a common way. Only the differences in the performance, if any, have been specially pointed out. The second chapter Ekes this point clear and deals with the preparatory rites of both the sacrifices. The Diksagrahana by the sacrificer, the adhvaryu's adding fuel to the sacred-fires, KuSaharana, etc. are the preparatory files before the actual Pnrnamasa sacrifice and these are to be per-formed on the previous day which is called Upavasatha. The additional? rites of vatsapakarana and sayamdoha, which are to be performed on the Upavasath day before Darsa-sacrifice, are also dealt with in this chapter.
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