Understanding Veda Karmakanda (Path of Rituals) (Vol. 2 Srauta Karma)

Item Code: IDK704
Author: G K Kannan
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 8172760795
Pages: 288
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 350 gm
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Book Description

Shri G. K. Kannan, now 73 old, had served in various capacities as an engineer till 1981. After retirement he went on an extensive pilgrimage. He had an opportunity right from his young age to come into contact with Mahatmas and great religious personalities like the Kanchi Paramacharya, Ramana Maharshi, Chinmayananda, Sivananda Saravati and many others. Similarly the writings of Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Subramanya Bharati and others had also their own effect in moulding his life. For understanding the meaning of various Hindu rituals, he was deeply indebted to the teaching of Kanchi Paramacharya in particular. During 1996 and 1997 he personally attended various Vaidikayajnas in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, particularly in rural areas and collected valuable information from the presiding priests themselves.

Gita says that by pleasing Devas through yajnas, they in turn nourish the mankind through rain, food etc. Mankind is advised not to break this cycle.

In Hinduism, there are 40 samskaras (purificatory rites). They are divided into three groups:

a) A hnika Karmas (Daily rites) like Sandhya and five Mahayajnas.

b) Grhya Karmas beginning from conception right upto funeral rites like Garbhadhana, Upanayana, Vivaha and Antyeshti.

c) Srauta Karmas i.e. Haviryajnas and Somayajnas.

Ahnika Karmas and Grhya Karmas have been dealt with by the present author in Vol. I published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1997 under the title "Under-standing Veda Karma Kanda Vol. I Grhya Karma".

The present volume by the same author, Shri G.K. Kannan, deals with Srauta Yajnas. The book is divided into four sections a) Basics of Srauta Karmas, b) Havir Yajnas, c) Soma Yajnas and d) Agni Cayanas.

Thus out of the 40 obligatory purificatory rites Samskaras, 26 are Grhya Karmas dealt with in Vol. I and Srauta Karmas dealing with 7 Havir Yajnas and 7 Soma Yajnas are dealt with in this volume.

This present volume deals with the basics of Srauta Karmas. Havir Yajnas, Soma Yajnas and Agnicayanas. The Prakriti for Ishti is Darsa-Purna-Masa. The Prakriti for Havir Yajnas having animal sacrifices is Nirudha Pasu-Bandha. The Prakrti for Soma Yajnas is Agni-shtoma. The requisites for a yajna are sacrificer, Priests, Deity, altar, oblation materials, Tyaga (renunciation) and sacrificial implements. Soma is the King of plants. The various deities mentioned in the text are only the different attributes and aspects of the same one Deity. Materials for sacrifice are either liquid, semi-liquid or solid. Sacrificial instruments are as many as about 35. Metres like Gayatri etc. have their Devata and symblols. The Samans which are sung have their names and attributes. In Havir Yajnas, there are seven obligatory Yajnas, Kariri Ishti is performed for rainfall. There are some other sacrifices also like Rajasuya etc. which are dealt with in sruti.

The last section deals with Agnicayana or fire piling. Often these Cayanas are mystical evolution of creation of universe, based on legends of Mantras or Brahmanas.

The author of this book has dealt with this subject in the form of questions-answers and given detailed analysis of each subject in simple pithy language. These vedic yajnas are rare now-a-days and the general reader has only a faint idea about them. Even though the author is not a performing priest, the information collected here is very authentic as the author has minutely attended these sacrifices and obtained authentic details from experts performing priests.

The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has great pleasure in publishing this work which the author has prepared with great care and accuracy and given detailed information about the subject.

Publisher's Note

The Vedas form the foundation of Hindu Dharma and Indian culture. They are distinguished alike for their language and literature. They are looked upon, not as compositions of human skill. But intuitions of the human mind. They are the gifts to mankind of seers, who attuned themselves to the Supreme. They are apaurusheya, not of human origin. They are anadi (without beginning) ananta, (many) and sanatana, (eternal).

There are four Vedas, the classification of which is attributed to Krshna dvaipayana, who is also hailed as Veda Vyasa. Each Veda is divided into four parts viz. Samhita, Brahmana. Aranyaka and Upanishad. Excluding the Upanishads, which contain the philosophical thought of our ancients, the rest is collectively known as Karmakanda. The hymns of the 'Samhita' part are chanted at the yajnas or Yagas, which are elaborately dealt with in the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas.

Four hundred sacrifices are said to be mentioned in the Vedas. Out of these 21 are required to be performed at least once in one's lifetime. These form part of the 40 samskaras which are elaborated in the Kalpa Sutras and the Dharma Sutras. These sacrifices fall into two broad categories – Srauta and Smarta.

Explaining the importance of the 'Karmakanda', the Mahaswami of Kanchi, Paramapoojya Sri Chndrasekharendra Saraswati, has observed: "The Vedas and the Vedanta are not at variance with one another. The Karmakanda prepares us for Vedanta or Jnanakanda. The former has to do with this world and with many deities and its adherents are subject to the three gunas. But it is the first step to go beyond the three gunas and to severe oneself from worldly existence. If we perform the rites laid down in the Karmakanda, keeping in mind their true purpose, we shall naturally be qualifying for the Jnanakanda." (Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life, a Bhavanas's publication.)

His Holiness was the source of inspiration to the author of this book. He explains, in the form of questions and answers in four sections: a) Basics of Srauta Karmas, b) Havir Yajnas, c) Soma Yajnas and d) Agni Cayanas.

As we step on to our 61st year of service in the cause of India's Ageless Culture, Education, Art and Moral Values, the Bhavan prayerfully offer this volume as its humble mite to foster Sanatana Dharma-Indian Culture.

Back of the Book

Born in Tiruchirpalli on 24th September 1926, G.K. Kannan joined Railways in 1945. He served in various capacities till 1981 and voluntarily retired as Assistant Signal & Telecommunication Engineer, Mysore, During the service, he was a member of Railway Engineers Trritorial Army. Consequently he had occasion to enter Bangladesh (Sylhet Sector) during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict. This personal experience of the tragedy of war had its own effect. After retirement, he went on an extensive pilgrimage of India, including Himalayan trekking to visit temples situated in high altitude remote corners. He was also associated with social services work in the cause of handicapped children, children, whose parents are life-convicts and leprosy patients. Etc. at Sri Perumbudur and Tenkasi.

Due to divine grace, he had the opportunity, right from an young age, to come into direct contact with great Mahatmas and have their blessings in various forms, like personal conversations/Pada namaskara/Participation in Pada Yatras/honorary service as Administrative Manage/Touch/Sight/Lectures, etc.

The Paramacarya of Kanchi Mamakoti Peetam, Sathya Sai Baba, Ramana Maharshi, Chinmayananda, Sivananda Sarasvati, Yogi Ram Surat Kumar are notable among them. The writings of J. Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, Sri. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and Vivekananda, Subramanya Bharati had their own effect in moulding the writer.

In trying to understand the path of rituals, lectures and reports of lectures of Paramacaryal had a deep influence, resulting in this Brahma Yajna debt discharge act.

Understanding Veda, Karma Kanda in 2 Volumes is his maiden venture.


Publisher's Notexi
1Aim & Methodology1
Introduction – Aim – Methodology – Unity in diversity
Pramanas – 3 Types of Karmas – 40 Obligatory Karmas
3Place of Srauta-Yajnasin Samskaras7
Child – boyhood – manhood – middle age – retirement – sum up.
4Essential Requirements Of A Yajna9
Yajamana – Rtvij – Devata – Altar – Havis – Tyaga – Sacrificial tools
5Priests and Their Duties13
6Vedic Gods16
Introduction – Indra – Agni – Soma – Rudra – Vishnu – Brhaspati – Aditi – Mitra Varuna-Maruts – Savitr-Visvedevas – asvins – Ushas – Pushan – Vayu – DyavaPrthivi – Yama – Tvashtr – Rbhus – Goddesses – Deities relating to function, place, abstract qualities – sum up – Evil forces - Gandharvas
7Guide Lines For Understanding Deities34
Introduction – Principles of successive events – husband & wife relationship – Lord aspect – stressing a particular attribute – cow as deity – manliness – purificatory aspect – deity and victims – nuances of prayers – one God
8Vedic Psyche regarding Animal Sacrifice40
Pas cattapa feelings and atonment acts – modern cruelty
6Vedic Gods16
9Relevance of Mantras In Samskaras43
Modern tendency of distraction – external purity – integration and purity on 3 planes through Mantras.
10Oblation Materials46
Liquid – semisolid - solid
11Sacrificial Implements47
12Rationale of Various Chandas Samans Etc.49
details about Chandas, Samans, Stomas, Prshta-Stotras, - Their attributes – numerals – Kapalas – Legends interlinking their birth.
13Contents Of Rg-Veda-Samhita57
Introduction – division of texts
14Contents of Taittiriya - Samhita59
Introduction – division of 7 Kandas and the Subjects – Arsheya Patha Kramas of 5 Kandas and the subjects – summary of subjects as per Kandnukrama.
15Contents of Vajasaneyi - Samhita66
Introduction – division of 40 Adhyaya and contents
16Contents of Sama-Veda68
Introduction – division into Purvarcika and Uttararcika – different type of Ganas – Vedic seers
17Contents of Atharva - Veda71
Introduction – division into 20 Kandas and summary of subjects.
18Why Taittiriya – Sakha References Given74
19General Back Ground76
Introduction – 7 obligatory Yajnas – sacred implements - Altar
Introduction – Karyakrama – details of Preliminary day – details of principal day – imprint on Hindu custom.
General – Aupasana Agni – Srauta Agni – time sequential Angas of 1st day and 2nd day – Punara dheya (rekindling)
General – sequential Angas – Agniupasthana – Prayas citta – Brahmana interpretation of micro macro scale.
23Agrayana - Ishti90
24Catur - Masya91
Introduction-Va isvadevaparva – Varuna praghasa parva-Sakamedha parva-Sunasiriya parva.
25Nirudha – Pasu - Bandha95
Introduction – Salient Angas – Legends and their influence on format.
26Kauliki Sautramani102
27Other Kamya-Ishtis103
a) Nakshatra - Ishti103
Astronomy Astrology - stars
with their devatas. Havis, benefits
b) Pasu-Bandha-Kamya
c) Kamya-Ishtayah
d) Karirishti (rain spell)108
Introduction – salient Angas -
Significance of black colour
e) Divah - Syenah109
f) Apagha109
28The Broad Format of Soma-Yajnas111
sequence in brief of Soma-Yajna from Day 1 to 5
29Various Ishtis In Soma113
Ishti in connection with Diksha – starting the Journey – welcoming Soma-Connecting the head of hte Yajna to the body – homage – ceremonial transference of Agni and Soma – final purificatory bath – abandoning the sacrifical ground.
30Civil Engineering Aspects119
Choosing the site – collecting materials – construction of bamboo shed, great Altar-shed for Havirdha na carts – resonant holes – Yupa etc.
Introduction – physical purification – Ishti – wearing consecratingmaterials-imitating new born – Legends regarding nails, hair, eye salves, darbha, deer skin, deer horn, intermediate Diksha
32Transfer of Agnis127
Garhapatya – Ahavaniya – Dakshina – Sabhya – Avasathya Agnis – transferring Ahavaniya Agni Procedures
33Soma Aspect of Yajna131
Starting with the journey – purchase – transport – reception – homage – brief details of 4th & 5th day
34Legends and Soma Grahas133
Legend connected with optinal and obligatory Soma grahas – impact of legend on other Angas like Prasarpana – Altar – offerings – unity of priest and Yajamana – purodasa – Yupa – Soma barter – guarding soma stalks.
35Paribhasha and Basics of Soma-Graha143
General – technical terms of different waters, pressings, Soma storing vessels, cups and goblets, drawing of Soma, oferings – standard procedure – various Purodasa.
36Complete Karya-Krama151
1st ay sequences- Diksha etc.
2nd day sequences – Soma stalks
3rd day sequences – Marking altar
4th day sequences – Agnishomiya - Yaga
5th day sequences – drawing of Soma-Savaniya
Yaga Madhyamdina Savana – Tritiya Savana – tail end of Yajna
37Different Samsthas of Agnishtoma170
Model – Ukthya – Shodasin – Athyagnishtoma – Vajapeya – Ati-Ratra – Aptoryama – modification factors
Basic principles – Dvadasaha model – Dasasha-Shadaha
40Sattra - Yajna178
Three types – Model GavamAyana – Ratri-Sattra
41Sava - Yajna180
42Special Yajnas in Brief181
A) Rajasuya,
B) Asvamedha,
C) Purusha - Medha
43Introduction and Different Cayanas184
A. Savitram
B. Naciketam
C. Vaisva - Srjam
D. Catur-Hotriam
44Maha-Agni-Cayana (Purusha-Suktam)189
Introduction – central theme of Purusha Suktam – sequence of Angas – explanation of symbolisation – Sun's movement – Modern day Karya - Krama
(Surya-Namaskara Mantras)197
Legend of creation – Sequence of Angas – other points in T. A. Prasna I
46Present Modifications.199
Then and now due to time, space, finance and practicability.
47Modern Karya-Krama202
Agnishtoma – Aptoryama with AgniCayana
48Encouraging Factors in Bringing Out Vol.II.208
Evaluation of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – Appreciation by a learned person well-versed in Srauta Yajnas – useful books – Participation of the Writer in modern time Yajnas.
Appendix1. Glossary of Samskrta words211
2. Sketches of Vedi255
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