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Paippalada Samhita of The Atharvaveda (Volume Four)

About the Book

The Paippalada-Samhita of the Atharvaveda has abundant philosophical material and seems to have been relatively close to the common people. Its decline might have been related to that and the rise of the Saunakiya-Samhita as the main text of the Atharvaveda. A mutilated and hugely corrupt birch-bark Sarada-script manuscript of the A VP had been known from the seventies of the nineteenth century.

After years of search, Durgamohan Bhattacharyya discovered complete and much better manuscripts in the Oriya script on which the present edition is based. The discovery was held as 'one of the greatest events in Indology' (Ludwig Alsdorf). Durgamohan Bhattacharyya (d.1965) edited the first four kandas (Sanskrit College, 1964, 1970) resulting in a 'precious store of material. .. being spread out before our eyes' (Karl Hoffmann), but did not have the opportunity to complete the work.

The book consists of twenty kandas. The first three volumes of the present Asiatic Society edition comprising kandas 1-15 with 3771 verses in 510 hymns, kanda 16 with 1363 verses in 155 hymns, and kandas 17 and 18 with 496 verses in 55 hymns and 663 verses in 82 hymns respectively were published in 1997, 2008 and 2011.

The final two kandas (19th and 20th) presented in this volume consist of 911 and 655 verses in 56 and 65 hymns.

About the Author

Dipak Bhattacharya's (b. 1940) work with the Paippalada-Samhita began in 1964 with the translation (Bhavan 's Journal XI.2) of a new hymn of the text (9.4) and has continued. He was awarded the 'Co1ette Caillat Prix' for the year 2009 by the Institute de France for his previous works on the first and the second volume of the Paippalada- Samhita (Asiatic Society 1997 and 2008) and to aid him in carrying out work on the remaining volumes. He was fortunate to have continuous advice from late Professor F. B. J. Kuiper while editing a part of the Paippalada-Samhita as a ZWO Fellow (1981-82) at Leiden. His publications on Indology are more than fifty and include, apart from the four volumes of the Paippalada-Samhita, two books on Vedic philology and the edition of collections and papers on various branches of Indology. Bhattacharya retired as Professor of Sanskrit, Visva Bharati in 2005 after serving there for twenty-seven years.


We are happy to present this publication of the fourth volume of the Paippalada-Samhita of the Atharvaveda consisting of its nineteenth and twentieth kanda, the trca and the ekarcca, edited by Professor Dipak Bhattacharya. This completes the present edition of the text started in the nineties of the last century.

It has been a long drawn task. The original publication started with late Professor Durgamohan Bhattacharyya as the editor, the discoverer of the palm-leaf manuscripts of the Paippalada-Samhita in the fifties and the sixties of the last century, with a set of manuscripts containing the first five kandas. Unfortunately the editor died in harness leaving his work incomplete. That edition ran up to the fourth kanda.

The Asiatic Society took up the task of publishing the text in the nineties. Apart from the twelve manuscripts discovered by Durgamohan Bhattacharyya the present publication takes aid from an additional manuscript copy and from also one of Pandit Nanaji Kale of Sholapur.

Bhattacharya endowed the edition with an exhaustive critical apparatus reporting internal variants and also some external ones from other Vedic texts, particularly the sister Saunakiya- Samhita, and also made some exegetical comments apart from justifying his selection. The Introduction too is informative particularly about the comparative structure of the parallel Atharvaveda Samhitas as well as their attitude to some social elements like the Vratyas in comparison with the later contemptuous outlook of the Manu- Samhita that reflects a changed position about acculturation.

I believe that with both its Introduction and edited text the edition will prove to be a valuable addition to Indological studies keeping with the rich academic tradition of the Asiatic Society set by its illustrious Founder.


1. The contents of the present volume and its Saunakiya parallels

This fourth volume of the Paippalada-Samhita comprising its nineteenth and twentieth kandas completes the text of the Samhita in its present edition whose previous volumes appeared in 1997, 2008 and 20.11.

The two kandas of this volume correspond to the sixth and the seventh kanda of the AV5. In the Orissa manuscripts they are called trca-kanda and ekarcca-kanda respectively. So also AV5 6 and 7 according to the Pancapatalika and the Brhatsarvanukramanika (Introd. Vol. 3 : xlviii-xlix). Normally three rks form a hymn in the sixth kanda of the AV5. The unity of meaning in its three verses is often noted in the corresponding verses of the AVP, but, barring one hymn 09.11), it takes fifteen or more verses that is five or more trca units to form a hymn (called kandika in the Orissa tradition) in the AVP. Things are similar with the ekarcca kanda too. The general AVS norm of one verse hymn in its seventh kanda, often not observed though, is absent in the AVP's ekarcca-kanda where the average ten verse hymn prevails.

I examined a few AVP 19 and 20 hymns (§6 and § 9b) to find out if they gave evidence of any compositional unity so that we could determine which of the two hymn-structures of the AVP and the AV5 had been the original one. The results of the examination, though not exhaustive, seemed positive for the AVP. There are 911 and 633 mantras in 56 and 65 hymns in the two AVP kandas of this volume. These make 1544 mantras in 121 hymns. The Ccorresponding kandas of the AV5, its 6th and 7th, have 454 and 286 mantras in 142 and 123/118 hymns respectively. The four volumes of the AVP thus give [verse/hymn (kandal] 3771/5100-15),1363/15506),1159/13707-18) and 1544/12109- W) that is 7837 verses in 923 hymns. A kanda-wise break up stands as follows.

The subject matter of the hymns in the present volume is usually the householder's ritual. Though one sees many of them in the first five kandas and also in the not-so-clear ten kandas (6-15) that follow them, the occurrence of such material in the nineteenth and the twentieth naturally makes one suspect that these had entered into the tradition later as additional material. It may be so, but these are by no means supplementary matter like the khilas of the RV. They had found place' as AV material before Pippalada arranged all the mantras known to him into a single text. The twenty kanda Paippalada-Samhita came into being with them, a matter already discussed by me.! In this regard they might stand in the same relation to the other books of the AVP as the tenth and the first mandala stand to the family books of the Rgveda. One has also to note that unlike with the Sakala-Samita of the Rgveda these late entries have been placed not on the flanks of the AVS but in its interior. Another noticeable factor is that compositionally, stylistically and also in thought development the trca and ekarcca kandas exhibit independence. Whether we consider the trca hymns of the AVS or the larger hymns of the AVP with many trcasas original, both exhibit compositional ritual employment peculiarities. The cosmogonic hymns of these kandas too offer new material. We shall have occasion to see these more minutely in 9 below.

The contents of the two parallel trca and ekarcca kandas have been placed in tables for comparison and critically analysed. (§II-§5). The purpose of the exercise was to see how far a comparison threw light on the history of the two Samhitas. For, since there are two corresponding kandas in the AVS, though with less than half the material found in the AVP (below Table II=kanda correspondence chart), it is natural to assume that these two kandas had been at least partially composed before the would-be Saunakiyas parted with the mainstream tradition. One has to determine the amount of common material with which the would-be AVS had parted away and of post-parting accretions. Moreover the claimed original position of the AVP as the mainstream Atharvaveda and its slipping down from that position'', though already brought to light, could not be avoided in the discussion. The comparison could render help in determining the identity of the mainstream tradition that is to say to verify if it is the AY5 that had detached itself from mainstream while the AVP itself developed as the mains as claimed by us.

The classification of the material in the comparative (§2-§5) requires some attention. The normal classification rituals, Srauta or the householder's, pertains to the occasion performance. There are three such types, namely, compulsorily regular (nitya), caused by some event (naimittikal and option) performed when one so desires (kamya). That classification serve little purpose in our comparative tables. One, purposes of the comparison is to determine the nature difference of the two Samhitas. One does not find any attitudinal difference in the scriptures on the basis of the aforementioned types. Moreover, while none of the types Atharvavedic rites are nitya they strongly differ a themselves regarding their aim. A broad classification according to aim is 'agreeable' (santika-pausmika) distasteful (abhicarika) These two aspects are also known atharvana or santa and angirasa or ghora. The latter ones witchcraft. One may better refer to the two as non-violet violent witchcraft. A preliminary examination confirm hymns pertaining to witchcraft and associated with the to cause harm to others is lesser in number in the AVS. This is also often a moot point in the related sastric work Dharmasastras and ritual sutras. That means an ethical is involved. Hence their character according to the classification of the Angirasakalpa, particularly whether they are of the abhicarika or santika-pausika type, had to be marked.

Other points in classification do not concern the intrinsic character of the material but the nature of their occurrence or –non –occurrence partial or complete, identical or with variants in the two Samhitas whether they are exclusive material or occur outside the corresponding AV Kanda - that too in the AV itself outside etc. The comparison, thus, tries to assess the amount exclusion, alienation, if any, and its cause.


  Foreword vii
  संक्षेपा IX
  Abbreviation xi
  Signs in the Text xiii
  Additional Note xiv
  Introduction xv
1 The contents of the present volume and its saunakiya parallels xv
2 comparison with tubular Presentation of the material of the two trca-kandas xxv
3 Observations on the relation of the AVP and AVS trca-kandas xliv
4 Comparison with tabular presentation of the material of the two ekarcca-kandas xlvii
5 observations on the compared mateirla of the trca-and ekarcca-kandas lv
6 The hymn structures of the trca- and ekarcca kandas lxvi
7 The Paippalada-samhita as the main Atharvaveda lxvi
8 The Decline of AVP lxviii
9 disagreeable elements in the AVP: overview lxxxiii
10 Glimpses of the history of atharvavedic migration xcvi
11 on the execution of this edition c
12 Manuscripts used for this edition cii
  Acknowledgement civ
  Bibliography cv
  उनविश काण्ड 1401
  विश काण्ड 1627


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