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The Grihya Sutras, Part 1 (SBE29), by Hermann Oldenberg, [1886], at

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p. 152 p. 153




MOST of the questions referring to the Grihya-sûtra of Âsvalâyana will be treated of more conveniently in connection with the different subjects which we shall have to discuss in our General Introduction to the Grihya-sûtras. Here I wish only to call attention to a well-known passage of Shadgurusishya, in which that commentator gives some statements on the works composed by Âsvalâyana and by his teacher Saunaka. As an important point in that passage has, as far as I can see, been misunderstood by several eminent scholars, I may perhaps be allowed here to try and correct that misunderstanding, though the point stands in a less direct connection with the Grihya-sûtra than with another side of the literary activity of Âsvalâyana.

Shadgurusishya 1, before speaking of Âsvalâyana, makes the following statements with regard to Âsvalâyana's teacher, Saunaka. 'There was,' he says, 'the Sâkala Samhitâ (of the Rig-veda), and the Bâshkala Samhitâ; following these two Samhitâs and the twenty-one Brâhmanas, adopting principally the Aitareyaka and supplementing it by the other texts, he who was revered by the whole number of great Rishis composed the first Kalpa-sûtra.' He then goes on to speak of Âsvalâyana—'Saunaka's pupil was the venerable Âsvalâyana. He who knew everything he had learnt from that teacher, composed a Sûtra and announced (to Saunaka that he had done so) 2.' Saunaka then destroyed his own Sûtra, and

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determined that Âsvalâyana's Sûtra should be adopted by the students of that Vedic Sâkhâ. Thus, says Shadgurusishya, there were twelve works of Saunaka by which a correct knowledge of the Rig-veda was preserved, and three works of Âsvalâyana. Saunaka's dasa granthâs were, the five Anukramanîs, the two Vidbânas, the Bârhaddaivata, the Prâtisâkhya, and a Smârta work 1. Âsvalâyana, on the other hand, composed the Srauta-sûtra in twelve Adhyâyas, the Grihya in four Adhyâyas, and the fourth Âranyaka: this is Âsvalâyana's great Sûtra composition 2.

Here we have an interesting and important statement by which the authorship of a part of the Aitareyâranyaka, which would thus be separated from the rest of that text, is ascribed, not to Mahidâsa Aitareya, but to an author of what may be called the historical period of Vedic antiquity, to Âsvalâyana.

But what is the fourth Âranyaka to which this passage refers? Is it the text which is now set down, for instance, in Dr. Râgendralâla Mitra's edition, as the fourth Âranyaka of the Aitareyinas?

Before we give an answer to this question, attention must be called to other passages referring, as it could seem, to another part, namely, the fifth part of the Âranyaka.

Sâyana, in his great commentary on the Rig-veda, very frequently quotes the pañkamâranyaka as belonging to Saunaka. Thus in vol. i, p. 112, ed. Max Müller, he says: pañkamâranyaka aushnihatrikâsîtir iti khande Saunakena sûtritam surûpakritnum ûtaya iti trîny endra sânasim rayim iti dve iti. There is indeed in the fifth Âranyaka a chapter beginning with the words aushnihi trikâsîtih, in which the words quoted by Sâyana occur 3. Similar quotations, in

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which the fifth Âranyaka is assigned to Saunaka, are found in Sâyana's commentary on the Âranyaka itself; see, for instance, p. 97, line 19, p. 116, line 3.

Thus it seems that the authorship of both the fourth and the fifth Âranyaka was ascribed to teachers belonging to the Sûtra period of Vedic literature, viz. to Saunaka and to Âsvalâyana respectively. And so we find the case stated by both Professor Weber, in his 'Vorlesungen über indische Literaturgeschichte 1,' and Dr. Râgendralâla Mitra, in the Introduction to his edition of the Aitareya Âranyaka 2.

But we must ask ourselves: Are the two books of the Âranyaka collection, ascribed to those two authors, really two different books? It is a surprising fact that Shadgurusishya, while speaking of Âsvalâyana's authorship of the fourth book, and while at the same time intending, as he evidently does, to give a complete list of Saunaka's compositions, does not mention the fifth Âranyaka among the works of that author. In order to account for this omission the conjecture seems to suggest itself that Shadgurusishya, when speaking of the fourth Âranyaka as belonging to Âsvalâyana, means the same work which Sâyana sets down as the fifth, and which he ascribes to Saunaka. At first sight this conjecture may seem perhaps rather hazardous or unnatural; however I believe that, if we compare the two texts themselves which are concerned, we shall find it very probable and even evident. What do those two Âranyaka books contain? The fourth is very short: it does not fill more than one page in the printed edition. Its contents consist exclusively of the text of the Mahânâmnî or Sakvarî verses, which seem to belong to a not less remote

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antiquity than the average of the Rig-veda hymns. They can indeed be considered as forming part of the Rig-veda Samhitâ, and it is only on account of the peculiar mystical holiness ascribed to these verses, that they were not studied in the village but in the forest 1, and were consequently received not into the body of the Samhitâ itself, but into the Âranyaka. They are referred to in all Brâhmana texts, and perhaps we can even go so far as to pronounce our opinion that some passages of the Rig-veda hymns themselves allude to the Sakvarî verses:

yak khakvarîshu brihatâ ravenendre sushmam adadhâtâ Vasishthâh (Rig-veda VII, 33, 4).
rim tvah posham âste pupushvân gâyatram tvo gâyati sakvarîshu (Rig-veda X, 71, 11).

So much for the fourth Âranyaka. The fifth contains a description of the Mahâvrata ceremony. To the same subject also the first book is devoted, with the difference that the first book is composed in the Brâhmana style, the fifth in the Sûtra style 2.

Now which of these two books can it be that Shadgurusishya reckons as belonging to the 'Âsvalâyanasûtraka?' It is impossible that it should be the fourth, for the Mahânâmnî verses never were considered by Indian theologians as the work of a human author; they shared in the apaurusheyatva of the Veda, and to say that they have been composed by Âsvalâyana, would be inconsistent with the most firmly established principles of the literary history of the Veda both as conceived by the Indians and by ourselves. And even if we were to admit that the Mahânâmnî verses can have been assigned, by an author like Shadgurusishya, to Âsvalâyana,—and we cannot admit

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this,—there is no possibility whatever that he can have used the expression 'Âsvalâyanasûtrakam' with regard to the Mahânâmnîs; to apply the designation of a Sûtra to the Mahânâmnî hymn would be no less absurd than to apply it to any Sûkta whatever of the Rik-Samhitâ. On the other hand, the fifth book of the Âranyaka is a Sûtra; it is the only part of the whole body of the Âranyaka collection which is composed in the Sûtra style. And it treats of a special part of the Rig-veda ritual the rest of which is embodied in its entirety, with the omission only of that very part, in the two great Sûtras of Âsvalâyana. There seems to me, therefore, to be little doubt as to the fifth Âranyaka really being the text referred to by Shadgurusishya, though I do not know how to explain his setting down this book as the fourth. And I may add that there is a passage, hitherto, as far as I know, unnoticed, in Sâyana's Sâma-veda commentary, in which that author directly assigns the fifth Âranyaka not, as in the Rig-veda commentary, to Saunaka, but to Âsvalâyana. Sâyana there says 1: yathâ bahvrikâm adhyâpakâ mahâvrataprayogapratipâdakam Âsvalâyananirmitam kalpasûtram aranyedhîyamânâh pañkamam âranyakam iti vedatvena vyavaharanti.

Instead of asserting, therefore, that of the two last Âranyakas of the Aitareyinas the one is ascribed to Saunaka, the other to Âsvalâyana, we must state the case otherwise: not two Âranyakas were, according to Sâyana and Shadgurusishya, composed by those Sûtrakâras, but one, viz. the fifth, which forms a sort of supplement to the great body of the Sûtras of that Karana, and which is ascribed either to Saunaka or to Âsvalâyana. Perhaps further research will enable us to decide whether that Sûtra portion of the Âranyaka, or we may say quite as well, that Âranyaka portion of the Sûtra, belongs to the author of the Srauta-sûtra, or should be considered as a remnant of a more ancient composition, of which the portion studied in the forest has survived, while the portion

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which was taught in the village was superseded by the more recent Âsvalâyana-sûtra.

There would be still many questions with which an Introduction to Âsvalâyana would have to deal; thus the relation between Âsvalâyana and Saunaka, which we had intended to treat of here with reference to a special point, would have to be further discussed with regard to several other of its bearings, and the results which follow therefrom as to the position of Âsvalâyana in the history of Vedic literature would have to be stated. But we prefer to reserve the discussion of these questions for the General Introduction to the Grihya-sûtras.


153:1 See Max Müller's History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 230 seqq.; Indische Studien, I, 102.

153:2 This seems to me to be the meaning of sûtram kritvâ nyavedayat; p. 154 the case is similar to that where a pupil goes on his rounds for alms and announces (nivedayati) to his teacher what he has received. Prof. Max Müller translates these words differently; according to him they mean that Âsvalâyana 'made a Sûtra and taught it.'

154:1 Comp. Prof. Bühler's article in the Journal As. Soc. of Bengal, 1866, pp. 149 seqq.

154:2 Dvâdasâdhyâyakam sûtram katushkam grihyam eva ka katurthâranyakam keti hy Âsvalâyanasûtrakam.

154:3 See p. 448 of Dr. Râgendralâla Mitra's edition in the Bibliotheca Indica.

155:1 2nd edition, p. 53: Obwohl wir für das vierte Buch des letztern (i.e. of the Aitareya Âranyaka) sogar die directe Nachricht haben, dass es dem Âsvalâyana, dem Schüler eines Saunaka angehört, so wie auch ferner für das fünfte Buch desselben dieser Saunaka selbst als Urheber gegolten zu haben scheint, nach dem was Colebrooke Misc. Ess. I, 47 n. darüber berichtet.

155:2 P. 11: If this assumption be admitted, the proper conclusion to be arrived at would also be that the whole of the fifth Book belongs to Saunaka, and the whole of the fourth Book to Âsvalâyana. P. 12: The writings of both Âsvalâyana and Saunaka which occur in the Âranyaka, etc.

156:1 See Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya II, 12, 13.

156:2 Thus Sâyana, in his note on V, 1, 1, says: Nanu prathamâranyakepi atha mahâvratam Indro vai Vritram hatvetyâdinâ mahâvrataprayogobhihitah, pañkamepi tasyaivâbhidhâne punaruktih syât. nâyam doshah, sûtrabrâhmanarûpena tayor vibhedât. pañkamâranyakam rishiproktam sûtram, prathamâranyakan tv apaurusheyam brâhmanam. ata eva tatrârthavâdaprapañkena sahitâ vidhayah srûyante, pañkame tu na ko py arthavâdosti . . . . aranya evaitad adhyeyam ity abhipretyâdhyetâra âranyakandentarbhâvyâdhîyate.

157:1 Sâma-veda (Bibl. Indica), vol. i, p. 19.

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