Domestic Rituals of The Atharvaveda in The Paippalada Tradition of Orissa: Sridhara's Vivahadikarmapanjika (Volume I: Book One, Part One)

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Item Code: NAP124
Author: Arlo Griffiths & Shilpa Sumant
Publisher: Institut Francais De Pondichery
Language: Sanskrit and English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9782855392271
Pages: 172
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch X 7.0 inch
Weight 560 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

The Karmapanjika is a manual for the domestic rituals of the Paippalada tradition. Claiming to follow a Sutra of Paithinasi, the text was composed by an otherwise unknown Sridhara in Orisssa in the 16th century CE. His work is a precious late-medieval witness to the Atharvavedic tradition, preserving archaic features dating from the vedic period, but also showing much influence from various non-Vedic non-Vedic traditions that have been prevalent in this part of eastern India. The critical edition, which will be complete in three volumes, is based on six palm-leaf manuscripts written in Oriya script. This first volume contains an extensive introduction followed by the first nine chapters of text describe the general paradigms of domestic ritual in this tradition.

About the Author

Arlo Griffiths received his PhD in Sanskrit from Leiden University in 2004. After holding a position as lecturer in India Religious at the University of Groningen (2004-05), and holding the chair of Sanskrit at Leiden University (2005-08), he joined the EFEO in 2008 as Professor of Southeast Asian History. He was posted at the EFEO’s Jakarta Centre from 2009 through 2014, and now teaches in Paris and Lyons.

Shilpa Sumant received her PhD in Sanskrit from Tilak Maharashtra Vidhyapeeth (Pune) in 2007 . Since 2009, she is Sub-editor in the Sanskrit Dictionary Project of the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. Since 2014, she is a member of the Regulating Council of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and is one of the editors of its Annals.


The Vivahadikarmapanjika, or Karmapanjika, for short, that we have undertaken to edit and the nine chapters of whose text we present to readers in this volume, is a manual of the paddhati type apparently intended for the preservation of practical and theoretical knowledge of the performance of domestic rituals in the Atharvavedic tradition of the Paippalada Sakha. It was written in Orissa and represents a stage in the liturgical development of this tradition somewhere between that of its oldest knows text, the Paippaladasamhita of the Atharvaveda, which provides the basic collection of mantras for rituals performance in this tradition, and the living tradition of present-day Orissa to all likelihood a stage much more closely resembling the latter than the former extremity.

Our work on this text is an outcome of our respective doctoral research projects focusing on the Paippaladasamhita (defended in 2004,published as GRIFFITHS 2009) and on the development of vivaha, i.e. ‘marrige’ ritual from samhita to prayoga texts in the Atharvavedic tradition (defended in 2007). Peripheral to his search for manuscripts of the Paippaladasamhita, Griffiths had been collecting manuscripts of other Atharvavedic manuscripts in Orissa since 1999, and these included manuscripts of the Karmapanjika; his work on another important Atharvevedic text, the Kausikasutra, took him to Pune for the first time in 2000, to study with Prof. S.S Bahulkar, under whose guidance Sumant started her doctoral research in 2003. It was Prof. Bahulkar who introduced us to each other, and in whose company we undertook joint fieldwork in Orissa in May and June 2005. The idea of joining hands for an edition of the Karmapanjika was born during those unusually hot summer months.

Our initial interest in the text naturally arose from the perspective of our respective main research projects. From a casual perusal of the manuscripts, it soon became clear to Griffiths that this text was of considerable significance for the critical edition of the PS, and this led to his article GRIFFITHS 2003b, which contained the edition princeps of one chapter of the text. It also appeared that the text preserves authentic ancient elements peculiar to the Atharvavedic tradition, notably in the prescriptions for marriage ritual (GRIFFITHS 2004-05), and this fact heightened Sumant’s interest in the text. Since we have started editing the text in earnest, however, we have become gradually aware of a number of other factors which make the text interesting also from less particularist points of view. Although we entertain no aspirations that this text, now starting to be made generally accessible, will also attract attention among those who study Sanskrit literature, some of these factors will be exposed in our Introduction.

As we finalize this work to go to the press, we would like to record here our special debt of gratitude to Kunja Bihari Upadhyaya (Puri), who has been a consistently reliable source of information in our work since Arlo Griffiths first came to Orissa in1998. And to both of us since 2005. He had helped us gain access to several manuscripts used in this volume, in excellent scanned form; has illuminated aspects of modern ritual performance; has tirelessly investigated the identity of place names mentioned in the colophons of Orissa’s Paippalada manuscripts; has joined us on visits to modern villages; has acted as liaison with other member of his tradition; and has acted as liaison with other member of his tradition; and has showered his friendship on us in many other ways too.

Our friend M. Sanjeeb Kumar, employee of the Orissa State Museum, has likewise been an unfailing support in our attempts to acquire usable photographs of the manuscripts that underlie our work, both from his museum and from Brahmin village around Bhubaneswar. It is through him that we were able to commission the painting that adorns the cover of this book.

Over the years that we have worked, off and on, toward the publication of this book, we have been helped by many scholars, among whom we would like to thank here in particular Diwakar Acharya ,Gudrun Buhnemann, Dominic Goodall, Kengo Harimoto, Kei Kataoka and Somadeva Vasudeva. Our manuscript was evaluated anonymously by two scholars who made useful observations, many of which we have gratefully incorporated into the version that has now been printed. Thanks are due also to Hugo David and Carmen Sylvia Spiers who helped with the last round of proofreading.

We both owe gratitude to the J. Gonda fund of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences which awarded Advanced Study Grants to Shilpa Sumant in 2008 and 2015, that allowed her twice to spend six months of full-time work on the Karampanjika in Leiden at the International Institute of Asian studies.

Throughout our Introduction, we use the ‘ethnographic present’ in discussing the living Atharvavedic tradition of Orissa as we found it during the years that we made regular visits to Orissa. This period alas lies more than 10 years in the past today, and the past today, and the situation on the ground is likely to have changed in several ways. One thing that has changed, in 2011, is the name of the state and of its language, now officially Odisha and Odia. We have decided not to adjust our usage in this book which was largely written before 2011, and not only for the mere reason of chronology: since Oriya does not have a sound corresponding to the English combination sh, and since the letters di do not more accurately represent the sound of Oriya. (Indological transliteration: ri) than do the letters ri, the new spellings of the two names seem to us no better than the old ones.

Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to rectify some errors in the page and line numbering of our text edition that is automatically passed to our critical apparatus by the ledmac package. For reasons that remain unclear to us, the main apparatus on p. 46; and top layer of apparatus on p. 96 starts with a 12 that should be a 1. There are probably some other such imperfections that we have not noticed yet, and we hope that none of them will prove disturbing for readers.

Finally, we must clarify that only the first line of the Sanskrit title given to this volume has direct basis in the work or our author Sridhara. The expressions prathamo granth- prathamabhagasya prathamah khandha – sarvakarmasmanyavidhayah bahihsaladi prayascittantah are largely of our own making.



Within Vedic studies, the genre of texts to which the Karmapanjika belongs has only very rarely been the focus of attention. In the context of his discussion of authentically Vedic Sutra texts, GONDA (1977a: 653f.) has observed the following:

One would probably not be very wrong if one supposed that the need for briefs practical manuals stating in plain terms the details and technicalities of the sacrificial rites was felt already at an early period. Such an easier and practical literature, indispensable for officiants does indeed exist. For the greater part of later date and decidedly post-Vedic it is mainly represented by ‘guide-books’ (paddhati) and ‘practical courses of the procedures’ (prayoga). Though continuing far into modern times, it has mostly remained unpublished and consequently is – in spite of its intrinsic value and helpfulness in understanding the sutras –little known in the west.

We might add that it is in fact also little known in India, where this kind of literature falls entirely outside of the scope of University Sanskrit curricula.

The “intrinsic value” of which GONDA speaks seems to us to lie not only in throwing light on problems in the study of older texts belonging to the respective Vedic traditions, but also – perhaps even more so – in the documentation of a certain stage in the continuous process of ritual development from ancient Vedic to modern-day Hindu ritual, and – in the case of texts such as ours, which frequently cite a variety of texts outside of any Vedic tradition – in the documentation of the intellectual and religious milieu of the author; in other, very broad terms, the interest lies in the material provided by this literature for refining our picture of the general cultural history of India. This is all the more so, since it is a regrettable features of the history of Sanskrit scholarship that these “decidedly post –Vedic” – which means: decidedly Hindu – texts, if studied at all, have been studied only from the point of view of Vedic studies. Indeed, studies of medieval religious literature in general do not take these texts into account, although they are decidedly medieval and religious.

If we look at the Karmapanjika in particular, another factor that becomes relevant is its provenance from Orissa. The Sanskrit literature of Orissa is relatively less known than that of more prestigious centers of Sanskrit literary production, and this includes the study of Orissa’s Vedic tradition. In fact, by virtue of its uniqueness, the Paippalada tradition from which the Karmapanjika emanates is basically the only Vedic tradition of Orissa about which anything is known beyond the local level. Conversely those studies of medieval religious traditions of Orissa which do exist do not refer at all to the existence of contemporary literature composed in the local Vedic traditions. With the present volume, we hope to make a very modest beginning towards the process of filling this gap in general Indological knowledge, and specifically the knowledge of Orissa’s traditions of religious literature. Some examples of the kind of information of relevance to different aspects of the cultural history of India that we find in the Karmapanjika are included further on in this introduction.

A number of good studies and text editions of comparable works have appeared in recent decades, among which we may mention the text edition of a prayoga in the Rgvedic tradition of Maharashtra (JOG 1974); BUHNEMANN’S study (1988) of puja ritual based on vaidika paddhatis, also of Maharashtra; and KARTTUNEN’s publications (1989-90, 1998, 2001) on prayoga texts of the Nambudiri Jaiminiya samavedins of Kerala. The Atharvedic Saunaka tradition, whose texts have been preserved mainly in Gujarat and Maharashtra, has been particularly fortunate in that not its most important paddhati, Kesava’s manual based on the Kausikasutra (LIMAYE et al. 1982), but also an early medieval commentary on that same Sutra, the Darilabhasya, have appeared in critical editions (DIWEKAR el al. 1972), as has a large collection of early medieval ritualistic texts, the Atharvavedaparisistas, while several minor commentaries and manuals have begun to be studied as well. The special attention which the paddhati and prayoga texts of the Saunaka tradition have received provides a relatively fertile soil in which to sow the seeds of comparative studies of the latter-day history of Atharvavedic liturgy by studying a manual of the Paippalada tradition.

We have above referred to the Karmapanjika as a paddhati, and in this we follow both the terminology chosen by Durgamohan BHATACHARYA (1968: 23) for this specific text, and what seems to be common Indological usage. We stress nevertheless that while texts bearing the word paddhati in their title are known in the Paippalada tradition (see e.g. GRIFFITHS & SCHMIEDCHEN 2007: 147, 168, 220),our author calls his work a panjika. It is often assumed that the author’s choice of genre terminology in his title must be a direct reflection of the nature of the text. The respective editorial teams’ notes in their introductions to the Darila’s Kausikabhasya and Kesava’s Kausikapaddhati are cases in point. For the Kausikabhasya, DIWEKAR et al. (1972: xiv, n. 14) cite, without indication of source, something they call “the traditional definition of Bhasya”, and observe that Darila is generally true to this definition. For the Kausikapaddhati, LIMAYE et al. (1982: xiii, n. 1), quote the definition of the paddhati genre given by Rajasekhara in his Kavyamimasa, and seem tom imply that given by Rajasekhara in his Kavyamimamsa, and seem to imply that their characterization of the text as laying “greater emphasis on the explanation of the ritual in detail” would be in line with the quoted definition. The complete context of Rajasejhara’s definition is this:

We find here definitions both of paddhati and of panjika. Now in an important note at the outset of their edition of Vallabhdeva’s Raghupancika, GOODALL & ISAACSON (2003: xiii, n. 2) have cited this and three other author’s definition of panjika, pointing out that they are sometimes conflicting. In attempting to understand what our author may have understood a panjika to be, it is understand what our author may have understood a panjika to be, it is useful to observe his own specific indication at the opening of chapter 1 (2:6-7) that he was writing a work ‘in accordance with the sutra’, with the Sutra’, with the explanation that the Sutra in question is that of Paithinasi. This reference to a Sutra indeed recalls Rajasekhara’s definition of the paddhati. It might be interesting to investigate whether the use of panjika in this sense of paddhati was common in late medievak Orissa, or in India generally, but we have – partly due to lack of sources – decided that such an investigation falls beyond the scope of our present study.


Prefacevii Introductionxi 1. Genrexi 2.Manuscriptsxvi 3. Title and structurexxx 4. Date and author Sridharaxxxv 5. Glimpse from the textxli 6. Sridhara's grammatical usage1xxv 7. Sridhara's vocabularylxxxv 8. Sridhara's citation of mantrasxcii 9. Sridhara's sourcescviii 10.Our editorial methodcxxi 11. Our critical apparatuscxxxii Sanskrit Text Chapter 1. बहि: शालाशुभ विधि 1 Chapter 2. कुमारीदर्शनादिकर्मत्रयम्11 Chapter 3. अधिवासविधि 19 Chapter 4. पूर्वतन्त्रम् 49 Chapter 5. इधंहोमादिचरूपाकांतकर्म 101 Chapter 6. उत्तरतन्त्रम् 113 Chapter 7. द्विविधस्थण्डिलविधानम् 129 Chapter 8. नक्षत्रकल्पोतकतंत्रम् 133 Chapter 9. तंत्रप्रायसृवितानी137 References141 Table of contents of Karmapanjika chapter 1-9163

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