It is for the first time that complete critical edition of the Satapatha-brahmana of the Kanva School of hte Sukla Yajurveda along with its English translation is published. This edition has taken into account the readings available in a few more manuscripts, besides those in the published edition in Telugu script, which were not available to Prof. Caland who brought out a critical edition of its first sevenr Kandas. It is also the first attempt at providing a complete English translation. No doubt the text of the Satapatha of the Madhyandina and Kanva School do not deffer much from kandas VIII to XVI and prof. Eggeling's translation of the former is available. The latter portion was felt necessary as a result of detailed discussions with traditional scholars who are actively engaged in Srauta sacrificial Performances.
Textual Notes to substantiate the choice of particular readings; a section under the heading Vimarsa discussing certain selected topics arising out of a study of the text; an exhaustive list of contents, Brahmanawise and Glossary of technical terms are some of the additional features of this attempt. The suggestions and guidance of traditional scholars who are experts in Srautayagas are the most important advantages of this edition.
Dr. C.R. Swaminathan hailed from an orthodox aristocratic family of Palghat, Kerala. He did his M.A. in Sanskrit in 1950 and obtained university under the able guidance of Dr. V. Raghavan; Ph. D. from Delhi University and Aharya from Darbhanga Sanskrit University.
He worked as Librarian in the oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. He then joined Government of India in 1961 as a lecturer in Sanskrit. For a brief spell of two years he was on deputation to His Majesty's Government of Nepal as Curator, National Archives, Nepal. He retired as Deputy Educational Adviser (Sanskrit) in 1985. After his retirement he worked as Consultant in IGNCA for four Years.
As Deputy Educational Adviser he was instrumental in initiating Adarsh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya Scheme; reprinting out of print Sanskrit works; initiating special incentives for preservation of the oral tradition of Vedic studies, and establishment of Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthana - an autonomous Trust, of the Government of India. He was also credited with starting a number of Veda Pathashalas in various parts of the country.
Besides several articles and Sanskrit poetic compositions, he has quite a few publications to his credit in English and Sanskrit including his Sanskrit dissertation : A Comparative study of Gita Bhasyas Published by the Sahitya Parishad, Luckonw, which is widely acclaimed as an excellent piece of critical scholarship.
As is now well-recognised, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts through its diverse programmes of research and publications, field work an documentation, seeks to recontextualise the arts within the larger dynamics of the natural and human environment. The methodology is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. As a primary prerequisite is the need to make accessible, in original and translation, texts that lay the foundations of the Indian artistic traditions and those others that are specific to particular arts. The Kalamulasastra Series, thus, concentrates on the 'textual' in relation to the traditions of oral transmission, as also contemporary practice. In the Series, early fundamental texts on music, such as, Matralaksanam, Dattilam, Brhaddesi as also comparatively late texts, e.g., Srihastamuktavali and Nartananirnaya, have already appeared. Also, Silparatnakosa and Mayamatam, vastu and silpa texts of the Orissan and Tamilian traditions have been published. Two texts belonging to the category of Agama and Purana,viz. Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha and Kalikapurane murtivinirdesah, have also been published. Now, we have pleasure in introducing the first volume of the Kanvasatapathabrahmanam, as twelfth in the Series. The present volume comprises only the first Kanda of the Brahmana. Subsequent volumes will present the remaining Kandas. While the texts on particular arts or a group of related arts, provide details of the principles of form and delineate intricacies of techniques, the foundations of these lie in the articulation of a world-view in the Vedas, the speculative thought of the Upanisads and the elaborate system of rites and rituals enumerated in the Brahmanas. The theory and technique of the particular arts is but a specific branch and flowering of a single unified vision. The world-view is embedded in the recognition of ceaseless movement of the universe where the parts are related to the whole, matter and energy are reciprocal and 'man' is only one amongst all living matter. Vedic hymns are considered as 'revelations' (Drsta) because they are inspired by an intuitive insight and 'flash'. Little wonder while the Sruti (the Vedic corpus) has remained immutable, its interpretation at the level of thought, intellection and systematised concretisation, have been many.
While the Upanisads speculate on the nature of the universe, and the relationship of the one and the many, the immanent and transcendental, the Brahmanas make concrete the world-view and the concepts through a highly developed system of ritual-yajna. This functions as a strategy for a continuous reminder of the inter-relatedness of man and nature, the five elements and the sources of energy. The rituals (yajnas)yoke together the different orders of time and space in specific duration, and thus establish a system of correspondences between the micro and the macro, the finite and infinite, the specific and the universal, the physical and the metaphysical. Physical space is demarcated and consecrated, the sala, altars are made, Sky, Earth, Sun and the Moon are invoked, fire is kindled, verses of Rg, Saman and Yajus are chanted, sung and recited, by different people, oblations are made of diverse substances through stylised movement and gestures. Through the ritual a spatial and temporal order is restored, individual identities are submerged in a collective purification. The Brahmanic ritual also is, in our contemporary language, a multimedia performance of a very high order. In this performative act lie the seeds of later temple architecture, musical forms, dance and drama. It is not without significance that the writer of the Natyasastra acknowledges debt to all the Vedas and states that the theatrical performance is a yajna.
Aesthetics and artistic practices are rooted in the functionality of ordinary and everyday life but its goal and ultimate objective is to evoke a state of bliss and experience, analogous but not identical, to the supreme mystical ananda. The ordinary is transubstantiated to the extraordinary, the laukika to the alaukika. For this purpose,at the level of structures, methodologies and techniques, the Brahmana texts and the practice of the yajna and its viniyoga serve as a model. The Brahmana texts thus serve as the foundation of artistic practice, as much as being texts of theology and liturgy or litany. The texts on the specific arts tacitly accept this as is evident from a reading of the early texts on the arts and an examination of the actual survivals.
So far, the Brahmana texts have been looked at and studied by those whose primary concern has been with cosmology, religion and ritual. It is only in the last decade that there has been a new and fresh interest in the study of art as ritual and ritual as artistic practice. In this context the re-edited publication of this fundamental text on ritual --- the Satapathabrahmanam - is both timely and relevant.
Julius Eggeling, Caland and other pioneers, had edited and translated the text. While Eggeling translated the Madhyandina recension, Caland carried on the work of editing and translating eight Kandas of the Kanvasatapathabrahmanam. Julius Eggeling who spent many decades of his life on this particular Brahmana, in an erudite introduction, says-‘…. In the whole range of literature few works are probably less calculated to excite the interest of any outside the very limited number of specialists, than the ancient theological writings of the Hindus, known by the name of Brahmanas. For wearisome prolixity of exposition, characterised by dogmatic assertion and a flimsy symbolism rather than by serious reasoning, these works are perhaps not equalled anywhere; unless, indeed, it be by the speculative vapourings of the Gnostics, than which, in the opinion of the learned translators of Irenaeus, 'nothing more absurd has probably ever been imagined by rational beings '. If I have, nevertheless, undertaken, at the request of the Editor of the present Series, what would seem to be a rather thankless task, the reason will be readily understood by those who have taken even the most cursory view of the history of the Hindu mind and institutions.
" As Eggeling continued the work, gradually but surely he began to recognise the value of the work. Not only was he impressed with the ritual (then called 'sacrifices') practices, but began to see the philosophic and mystical significance. He recognised that through the ritual (yajna), the `cosmos' was being renewed. The yajna in essence is refuelling the depleted energies - a resurrection of the dead elements. He began to appreciate why in the etymology of the Brahmanas it is born through movement. Hence it is yan + ja which is as much yajna. Eggeling then remarked that the periodical sacrifice is nothing else than a microcosmic representation of the ever-proceeding destruction and renewal of all cosmic life and matter." - (Introduction to Part IV) .
At the end of his arduous task requiring extraordinary patience, perhaps, Eggeling himself changed, for no longer was it a thankless task. The Brahmanas were no longer just a series of highly artificial system of sacrificial ceremonies, but were, instead, both mystical and concrete. Understandably, he concluded :
"And now my task is done, and I must take leave of this elaborate exposition of the sacrificial ordinances of Indian theology. For well-nigh a score of years the work has 'dragged its slow length along,' and during that time it has caused me - and, I doubt not, has caused some of my readers, too -not a few weary hours.
The Vedas form the earliest literature available to humanity, handed down by an unbroken oral tradition, throwing light on the religious, social and cultural life and aspirations of the people who inhabited the south and south-east Asian regions. The word 'Veda', is derived from the root vid, to know. The Veda refers to that group of expressions which enables us to know the ways and means of achieving the fourfold aims of human existence, namely dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity in material terms), kama (physical and mental happiness) and moksa (unmitigated spiritual bliss of ever-lasting nature). Another definition of the Veda is that which throws light on those means of emancipation or on those superhuman agencies who can help in the emancipation, which cannot be known or identified by the other two means of knowledge,viz. pratyaksa (perception) and anumana (inference). It is, in other words, a collection of sounds that reveal super-mundane matters or that which enables us to perceive the supra-sensual phenomena,
The Vedas consist of the mantras (also called Samhitas ) and the Brahmanas. Mantras include prayers to divine beings and also deal with the super-natural powers of those divine entities which have a sway over the living beings in this Universe, both in their genesis and in their behaviour. The mantras, by virtue of the potency of their sounds, are themselves believed to influence the atmospheric conditions and also divert the physical, psychical and metaphysical activities of living beings and bring about peace and harmony among human beings themselves and between human beings and nature.
The Brahmanas are in a sense, the earliest annotations of the mantras also called the Samhita portions. They contain some etymological derivations of words found in the latter, serve as manuals for the performance of Vedic sacrifices involving the usages of the mantras, dilate on some narratives and anecdotes to drive home the significance of particular statements of the Samhita and their usages in particular contexts, etc. In short, the Brahmanas reveal to us the nature of dharma (that unseen moral and spiritual merit or adrsta produced by such mental and physical activities that fall within the purview of righteousness), which would lead to the other three purusarthas or human goals, viz. artha, kama and moksa. The Samhita, on the other hand, reveals to us the divine entities to be propitiated for the earning of dharma, their nature and the various offerings that go to propitiate them.
Indian tradition holds both the Samhita and the Brahmana equally sacrosanct revelations of non-human origin. They are eternal collections of sounds revealed from time to time due to divine will. Jaimini, who, according to Indologists, antedates the Christian era, in his Mimamsa-sutras that lay down the guide-lines for the interpretation of the Vedas, has treated the Samhita and the Brahmana at par. He has not only accepted both as authentic Vedic texts but laid at rest all speculations regarding the apauruseyatva of the Brahmana part. He refers to an earlier scholar, by name Kasakrtsna, on whose lines, he claims to have planned his own sutras. That means, much earlier to Jaimini, the apauruseyatva of both the Samhita and Brahmana had come to stay as an accepted fact and both together had been held as the uncontrovertible source of the entire spectrum of valid knowledge, the sheet-anchor of later metaphysical speculations.
Of the four Vedas, the first three are considered specially important and are collectively called the Trayi vidya. This is because these three are indispensable for the performance of sacrifice or yaga. The hymns of the Rgveda, totalling 10,424 mantras are distributed over one thousand suktas (hymns) that are divided into ten Mandalas. These Rks are used in the chanting of Sastras or invocatory prayers in honour of deities like Indra, Agni, Varuna, etc. and in the uttering of yajyas and puronuvakyas at the times of actual offerings. The Yajus formulae in prose, refer to the details of the performance of the various istis and yagas and to the process of pressing Soma juice, etc. While collecting the pressed Soma juice in different cups or grahas for different gods, the Rk hymns set to music called Samans are sung. These Saman chants are called stotras. Both sastras and stotras (in Rks and Samans respectively) are in praise of the qualities and characteristics of various deities for whom the grahas are collected. The priests who handle these three Vedas and perform the rituals connected with these are respectively called Hotr , Adhvaryu and Udgatr. Besides these, there is the Brahma who is to monitor the entire sacrificial rituals and is supposed to be well-versed in the functions of the other three categories of priests. Each one of these four priests have three assistants, forming four ganas or groups. Thus the Hotr-gana includes (1) Hotr, (2) Maitravaruna, (3) Acchavaka (4) Gravastut. The Adhvaryu-gana consists of (1) Adhvaryu, (2) Pratiprasthatr, (3) Nestr and (4) Unnetr. The Udgatr-gana comprises of (1) Udgatr, (2) Prastotr, (3) Pratihartr and (4) Subrahmanya. The Brahma-gana includes (1) Brahma, (2) Brahmanacchamsin, (3) Agnidhra and (4) Potr.
The Yajurveda, which is most important from the point of view of sacrifice, is concerned with the techniques of conducting the yagas and its Brahmana parts explain the rationale behind each one of the technical details. The priest handling the Yajus part is called Adhvaryu denoting his role in the adhvara or sacrifice. The Yajurveda has two main divisions, namely the Sukla or white and the Krsna or black. There are three sakhas or schools of recitation of the Krsna-Yajurveda, called the Kathaka, the Maitrayaniya and the Taittiriya. The Brahmana portions of the first two are not available now. The Taittiriya Sakha has two divisions of Mantra and ,Brahmana but they are not exclusively of Mantras and Brahmanas respectively. There is an intermixture of the two and that is perhaps the reason for its being named Krsna or black.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Children’s Books (39)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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