SHASTRAS

VEDIC EDUCATION

The PratiShakhyas is the supplementary literature of the Vedas. PratiShakhyas are those texts, which discuss the pronunciation of syllables, the syntax and inflexions in different Vedas in detail. Different schools of thought came into existence, founded by sages to reach a consensus in different tones of syllables, and to perpetrate their thoughts and traditions. He who learns to recite the Vedas from one school of thought is said to belong to that respective tradition. It is at this time that the inception of the Gotra Pravar took place.

After a long time period of time, to protect the respective customs and to commemorate them, PratiShakhya texts were written. The two things covered in these texts are education and Grammar.

Until recently, all the PratiShakhyas of all the branches of Vedas were adhered to. But now, Rik PratiShakhya created by Shaunak of the Shakal branch of Yajurveda, Vajasaneya Pratishakya of Vajasenya branch, author by Katyayana. Sama Pratishakhya authored by Pushpamuni of Samaveda, Atharva Pratishakhya of Atharvaveda or Shaunikiya Chaturadhyayi are available.

There are 3 chapters, 6 patals and 103 Kandikas in Shaunak's Rik Pratishakya. Another text which is a supplementary text named 'Upalekha Sutra' is also seen. Firstly it was Vishnu Putra who had written its commentary. Seeing this Uvratacharya wrote a comprehensive commentary on it.

One can see discussions of Atreya, Sthavir, Kaudinya, Bharadwaj, Valmiki, Agniveshya (Agni Veshyayan) in the Taitereya Praatishakhya. But one does not come across discussions related to Taitereya Aranyaka or Taitereya Brahmana in either of the chapters, the commentaries of Atreya, Marisheya and Vararuchi which are not available now. From these old commentaries, Kartikeya wrote a comprehensive commentary named 'Tribhashya'.

There are 8 chapters in Katyayana's Vajasenaya Pratishakhya. The first chapter discusses the NOUN, the second 'TONES OF SYLLABLES' and from the third to the fifth, 'Sanskaras' are discussed. The different pronunciations of the verb are discussed in the sixth and seventh chapters while in the eighth chapter 'rules related to recitation of Vedas' are discussed. One can come across different opinions and discussions of Shakyayan, Shakarya, Gargya, Kashyap, Dalamya, Jatukarna, Shaunak, Upashivi, Kanva and Madhyadin in this text. In the first chapter one can also see the explanations related to Vedas and commentaries.

The Sama PratiShakhyas comprises 10 chapters. In the first two chapters there is a brief discussion related to the Sama Samuhu (compilation of mantras) i.e. Dashratra, Samvatsar, Ekaha, Aheena, Satra, Prayashchitta, Kshudra, Parvanusara and Stotruja.

In the third and the fourth chapter of the Pratishakhya procedural advises/sermons are given related to Shrut Arha Bhava and Prakriti Bhava in the Sama.

The fifth chapter discusses the Vriddha and Avriddha Bhava. The sixth chapter discusses where the Sama Bhakti Samuha (incantations) should be sung and where they should not be sung. The eighth chapter throws light on the extinct Vedic texts and changes taken place in syllables at different places.


The Bhavakathan (meanings) is discussed in the 9th chapter while the 10th chapter enumerates the decisions (Krishtakrishta) and the salient features.

There are 2 Atharva PratiShakhyas which have come into light. One of them is Shaunakiya Chaturadhyayika in which following 6 points have been discussed.
1) The objective of this text, introduction and features.
2) Vowels and consonants, Uddatradi Laxan, Pragridya, Alphabets, structure/syntax, compound syllables, Yama, Abhinidhana, Nasikya, Swar Bhakti Sfotan, Karshana and index of syllables.
3) Samhita Prakarana.
4) Krama Nirnaya.
5) Pada Nirnaya.
6) Self-study and its necessity.

Some of the Sutras from the PratiShakhyas are very old and ancient while some of them are composed after Panini's Sutras. Pandit Satyavrat is of the view that 'Sama PratiShakhya created by Pushpa is much older than Panini Sutras. In fact it is older than the oldest known philosophy of Mimansa because:

TATHA CHA SAMAGAA ABDHUHU VRIDDHAM TANAVYMAAHA BHAVATI

This quotation from the Sama Pratishakhya is interspersed in the 'locative case' Mala (chain) of the Mimansa philosophy.

Some scholars opine that the author of Vajasaneya Pratishakya, Katyayana and the author of Panini Sutra, Vartikkar Katyayana both are one. In the same way as he has criticized Panini in the Vartik, as well as in the Pratishakhya.

This confirms that Panini Sutra is older than Vajasaneya Pratishakhya.

Pratishakhya mostly comprises of pedagogical contents and the quantity of grammar pales in comparison. In fact there is hardly any detailed metaphors of Grammar in the PratiShakhyas although one can see scientific analysis of all this in the Shaunikiya Shiksha at length.

Teaching has been an important part of the Vedas which comprehensively discuss the pronunciation of syllables, tones and vowel marks etc. A lot of emphasis has been laid on the pronunciation by the Vedic sages. Pronunciation is of utmost importance in the Shrutis but the significance of the recitation of the mantras is something different altogether.

DUSHTAHA SHABDAHA SWARTO VARNATO VA MITHYA PRAYUKTO NA TVAM ARTHA MAHA |
SA VAGA VAJRO YAJMANAM HINASTI YATHENDRA SHATRUHU SWARTO APARAA DHAATA ||

which means that when the syllables or the vowels/consonants develop defects or are polluted due to inappropriate pronunciation and diction and do not convey the anticipated meaning then it assumes the form of a sentence composed by the most 'incompatible and misleading' words that destroy the person. Alike the defect in the tone of the word 'Indrashastra' accrued in the murder of Vritra.

When Indra killed Vishwarupa then Sad Trashta began a ritual. In this ritual one had to recite the mantra "INDRASHASTRO VIVARDHASVA" whose anticipated meaning was 'Want a child who shall be the enemy of Indra.' Here there is a difference between the compound formations Bahubrihi and Tatpurusha.

When this incantation was used to destroy Indra, the last words are recited in a high pitch but out of ignorance Twashta recited the first word in the high pitch, through which the meaning construed or comprehended was "We want a child towards whom, Indra is hostile."

Accordingly the child born to Twashta was killed by Devraj Indra. In the ancient times, the Shaunakiya Shiksha was treated with equal respect on par with the Vedas.

Panini has quoted the view point of the author of Shabdendu Shekhar who has praised Shaunakiya Shiksha and has opined that it is equally beautiful as the Vedas as
"SHAUNAKADIBHYA SHA CHANDISI" | The Shabdendu Shekhar comments on the Panini Sutra 'Chandasi Kim?' Shaunakiya Shiksha is the last chapter in the Vedas.

Hence one can construe that the basic aim of Shiksha is the perfect and impeccable pronunciation of the Vedas.

KALPA

Among all the literatures related with the 'Vedangs', 'Kalpa' holds a very prominent and primary place. 'Kalpa' means the scripture, which contains the systematic imagination of all the activities as described in the 'Vedas'. So the 'Kalpas' are the 'precept scriptures' which systematically describe about the various religious activities and ceremonies like 'Yagya' (oblation), marriage and sacred thread ceremony etc propounded by the Vedas.

These aphorisms or precepts are considered as ancient as its contents have direct relation with the 'Brahmans' and 'Aranyakas'. 'Etareya Aranyak' contains numerous statements which are in fact, in the forms of precepts or aphorisms and which are considered to have been created by 'Ashwalayan' and 'Shaunak'.

'Yagya' (oblation) was the main religious activity of the Vedic Aryans according to the traditions prevalent during the 'Brahmana period' but because of its expanse and vastness, the necessities of precise and systematic scriptures were felt for the use of the performers of the 'Yagya' (oblation).

'Kalpa Sutras' were created to meet this demand and in all the branches of the Vedas.

Kalpa Sutra is mainly of four types:-
1) SHRAUT SUTRA:- It contains the description of various religious rites as mentioned in the 'Brahmans' and also the various oblations performed in the sacrificial fire.

2) GRIHYA SUTRA:- It contains the detailed description about the various oblations performed in the household like sacred thread ceremony, marriage, 'Shraadh' etc.

3) DHARMA SUTRA:- It contains the detailed description about the duties of all the four castes i.e. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. The duties of the king are especially emphasized. It is considered as the main 'Kalpa Sutra'.

4) SHULVA SUTRA:- It contains the methods of constructing the 'Altar' of the oblation which are based on the ancient geometrical science of the Aryans and which are considered to be very scientific.

The main subject of the Shraut Sutra is the description of the various oblations as propounded by the Vedas. The names of these Vedas are as follows:-

a) SOMYAGYA, b) VAAJAPEYA, c) RAJSUYA, d) ASHWAMEDHA etc

According to the 'Shraut Sutra' all the rituals of the oblations are performed only after igniting fire. Hence great emphasis has been given on the selection of the sacrificial fire and its re-ignition in some special circumstances. Due to their complexities the Shraut Sutras do not find any interest in the general people but their religious importance is incomparable.

Rigveda has two 'Shraut Sutras'- Ashwatayan and Shankhayan. In both of them various oblations are described which are performed by the performer with a specific purpose.

There are twelve chapters in the Ashwalayan Shraut Sutra. It is a well known fact that sage Ashwalayan was sage Shaunak's disciple and it is also believed that the last two chapters of the 'Etareya Aranyak' were the works of both of them.

Similarly the 'Shankhayan Shraut Sutra' has eighteen chapters and it has detailed description of the methods of performing the various oblations. 'Shankhayan Shraut Sutra which is related with the 'Brahmana' seems to be most ancient of all the 'Shraut Sutras' going by the contents and style of narration and it also has similarities with the 'Brahmana' to some extent. The last two chapters of its eighteen chapters are believed to be a later edition and which have similarities with the first two chapters of the 'Kaushitaki Aranyak' in its contents.

SHUKLA YAJURVEDIYA KALPASUTRA:
There are two 'precept scriptures' on the Shukla Yajurveda- a) Katyayan Shraut Sutra and b) Paraskar Grihya Sutra

The knowledge of the contents of 'Katyayan Shraut Sutra' is essential for understanding the 'Shraut Sutra'. Katyayan Shraut Sutra is considered as a scripture representing the Shraut Sutra. Katyayan Shraut Sutra has been written in the mode of the precepts and aphorisms and is classified into 26 chapters which has a detailed description of the various types of oblations.

The first chapter of Katyayan Shraut Sutra' which consists of ten 'Kandikas' (subdivisions) describes about the characteristics of the various subjects related with oblations.

The second and third chapters which consist of eight 'Kandikas' each give the complete description of the oblations performed on the 'dark moon' and 'full moon' days. The first 'Kandika' of the second chapter gives information about the initial ceremonies and the last Kandika of the third chapter sheds light on the 'main ceremonies' or the 'main oblations'. The fourth chapter which consists of 15 'Kandikas' describe about the various oblations like 'PINDA PITRA YAGYA', 'DAKSHAYAN YAGYA', 'SHRAUT YAGYA' and 'AGNIHOTRA YAGYA' respectively.

The fifth chapter which consists of 13 Kandikas describes  the oblations and rites performed during the month of 'Chaturmasya' in great detail.

The sixth chapter which consists of 10 'Kandikas' describes about the methods of sacrificing animals.

From the seventh to the tenth chapter, there is a complete description of 'AGNISHTOMA YAGYA'. The seventh and eighth chapter contain the various ceremonies which are performed prior to the performance of 'AGNISHTOMA YAGYA', the ninth chapter contains the various rituals performed during the early morning and the tenth chapter describes about the various rituals performed during the noon time and during the evening time.

The eleventh chapter contains the detailed description of the works of a sacrificial priest named Brahma and the importance of his works.

Similarly the twelfth chapter contains the description about the 'DWAADASHAAHA YAGYA', the thirteenth chapter about the 'GAWAMAYAN YAGYA', the fourteenth chapter about the 'VAAJAPEYA YAGYA' and the fifteenth chapter contains the description about the 'RAAJASUYA YAGYA'.

From the sixteenth chapter to the eighteenth chapter there is a detailed description about the selection of the sacrificial fire (agnichayan).

Similarly the nineteenth chapter contains the detailed description about 'SAVTARAMANI', the twentieth chapter about the ASWAMEGHA, the twenty-first chapter about the 'PURUSHMEGHA', the 'SARVAMEGHA' and 'PITRAMEGHA YAGYA'.

The subject matters of the chapters from twenty second to twenty fourth are 'EKAHA' (oblation completed in one day), 'AHEEN' (oblation which gets completed within two to eleven days) and 'SATRA YAGYA'. The base of this section is 'TANDAYA MAHABRAHMAN' which is considered to be the main 'Brahmana' of the SAMAVEDA and hence has been appropriately adjusted in the 'SHUKLA YAJURVEDIYA BRAHMAN'.

The twenty-fifth chapter describes about the various methods of atonement for the mistakes committed during the process of oblation.

The last chapter (26th chapter) describes about 'PRAVARGYA' (classification of all the subjects).

PARASKAR GRIHYA SUTRA: The Grihya Sutra of Shukla Yajurveda is also known as Paraskar Grihya Sutra. It has been divided into three 'Kandas'.

The first 'Kanda' contains the description of 'Awasathya-Agni'. (name of a special kind of sacrificial fire) and its conception, marriage ceremony, conception of a child and 'ANNAPRASHAN' (a ceremony in which a child is given for the first time rice cooked in milk) rite which is performed on the return of the disciple to his household after finishing his studies), 'Panchamaha Yagya' (five essential duties of a householder), 'Shravanakarm' (listening to the scriptures) and Sita Yagya.

The third and the last Kanda contains the description about 'Shraadh' (act of devotion to the names) and atonement for the mistakes committed during the 'Shraadh' etc.

KRISHNA YAJURVEDA: The following 'Shraut Sutras' are available which are related to 'Krishna Yajurveda'. They are:-

  1. Baudhayan Shraut Sutra.
  2. Apastamba Shraut Sutra.
  3. Hiranyakeshi Shraut Sutra or Sanyashadha.
  4. Vaikhanus Shraut Sutra.
  5. Bhardwaj Shraut Sutra.
  6. Manav Shraut Sutra.

The first five of these Sutras are related to the branch of 'Taitereya' and the last one is related to the branch of 'Maitrayani'. Baudhayan Shraut Sutra and Apastamba Shraut Sutra have the complete details of all the four precept scriptures (sutra grantha) of the Kalpa i.e. Shraut, Grihya Dharma and Shulva.

SAMVEDIYA KALPASUTRA: Among the 'Kalpa sutras' which are related with 'SAMVEDA ARSHEYA KALPA is considered to be the supreme. A sage by the name of Mashak is supposed to be the creator of this Kalpa Sutra. This enormous scripture contains eleven chapters. The main objective of this text is to show as to which 'Sama' (versus of Samaveda) is to be sung in which oblation.

There are three types of SOM YAGYA. They are as under:-

  1. EKAHA:- which gets completed within a day.
  2. AHEENA:- which gets completed within two days to eleven days.
  3. SATRA:- which takes at least twelve days and at the most one year for completion.
Arsheya Kalpa is related to 'Tandya-Maha-Brahman' i.e. the order in which it describes about the oblations of the Samavediya Brahmana, the same order has been initiated by this Kalpa Sutra. The applications of different modes of the singing of 'Samas' (verses of Samveda) during the performance of Soma Yagya is described in detail and is the specialty of the Arsheya Kalpa.

NIRUKTA


THE EXPOSITIONS OF VEDAS

Among the six organs or divisions of the Vedas, ‘Nirukta’ (undeclared) is incomparable. Today, this very ‘Nirukta’ written by sage ‘Yask’ is the representative scripture of the ‘Vedang’ (organ of the Veda).

There are altogether fourteen chapters in ‘Nirukta’ out of which the first twelve chapters from the beginning are the main chapters and the two chapters in the end are given in the form of appendixes or supplementaries. These last two chapters can not be considered as a subsequent addition because sage ‘Uvvat’ in his annotation of ‘Yajurveda’ has taken excerpts from the Nirukta. Both he and sage ‘Sayan’ are well acquainted with the chapters of ‘Nirukta’. This goes to prove that the Nirukta is more ancient than the time when both these sages existed.

‘Nirukta’ is the commentary of ‘Nighantu’. In ‘Nighantu’ are compiled the difficult and complex terms of the Vedas. There are difference of opinions regarding the actual numbers of Nighantu. Only one ‘Nighantu’ is available nowdays. Some scholars are of the views that ‘Nidhantu’ is created by none other than ‘Yask’, but followers of ancient tradition. According to the Mahabharat (Ch-342) of Moksha dharm Shlokas 86-87) sage Kashyap is the creator of ‘Nighantu’.

Therefore going by the statement made in the Mahabharat it seems that it was the creation of ‘Prajapati Kashyap’ during the Mahabharat period. There are five chapters in ‘Nighantu’. The first three chapters from the beginning are called ‘Naighantukand’, the fourth and the fifth chapter are called ‘Naigam kand’ and ‘Daivatkand’ respectively.

The first chapter contains words connected with nature and natural elements like earth. The second kand consists of root-words or mono-words.

The word ‘Naigam’ means the impossibility to know about the exact meaning of the words and their nature.

In ‘Daivat-kand’ is described the appearances of the deities and their abodes.

‘Nirukta’ tells us about the etymological expressions of words & its derivations. The meaning varies according to the etymological expressions.

The important of the ‘Nirukta’ created by Yask is very great. In the very beginning of his literart composition sage Yask has illustrated about the principle of ‘Nirukta in a scientific way. During his time the meanings of Vedas were interpreted on the basis of diverse opinions, which were as follows.

  1. Adhidaivat
  2. Adhyatm
  3. Aakhyan Samay
  4. Ethihasikah
  5. Naidanah
  6. Nairuktah
  7. Parivrajahah
  8. Yagyikah

These above mentioned various opinions shed light on the history of different contemplation’s of the Vedas.

Sage Yask had a great impact on many commentators of the Vedas in due course of time. Sage Sayan accomplished his commentaries of the Vedas after contemplating on his very system. Yask’s processes are also accepted and followed by the linguists of modern age. Being the sole representative of the ‘Nirukta’, the importance of Yasks volume is great.

Although ‘Nirukta’ is itself is a commentary of the Vedas, but still, it is so complex at certain places that even the most learned commentators fail to understand its real meaning. Moreover the exact chapter of ‘Nirukta’ are nor available traditionally. Along with the difficult language which the ‘Nirukta’ contains its chapters are so complex at certain places that even a great annotator like Durgacharya experienced difficulty in understanding it. Because of its complex nature many scholars, before Vikram have tried their hands at writing commentaries on it.

COMMENTATORS OF ‘Nirukta’

1) DURGACHARYA: Durgacharya is one of the most ancient commentator of the ‘Nirukta’, but he is certainly not the first one to do so. Numerous commentaries of earlier annotators are mentioned in his volume.

2) SKAND MAHESHWAR: This commentary is very ancient and scholarly. Commentary on the Rigveda is also available.

IMPORTANCE OF NIRUKTA

The term ‘Nirukta’ has been described by sage Sayanacharya in the following way

‘ARTHAVABODHE NIRPEKSHATAYA PADJATAM YATRA TAT NIRUKTAM”

Meaning: The collection of independent words which helps in understanding their meaning are called Nirukta.

Durgacharya is of the opinion that ‘Nirukta’ is supreme among the ‘Vedangs’ and volumes because it helps us to understand the meaning of the words. The meaning of the word is of primary importance and the word itself is of secondary importance. Grammar is nothing but the study of the words. In ‘Kalps’ (part of Veda treating of rituals) the proper use of the Mantras in the vedic ceremonies are described. The mantra is used only in such situation where the words contained in that mantra is capable of expressing themselves completely. Therefore ‘Kalpa’ too helps in gaining knowledge of mantras meaning.

‘Nirukta’ is of greater value than ‘Kalpa’ because it helps in understanding the meanings of words, in all of their probable permutations and combinations, where as ‘Kalpa’ helps to understand the meanings of mantras, which themselves consist of words.

Although the study of grammar also helps in understanding the characteristics of words but I can not interpret the meaning of words as deeply as ‘Nirukta’. Therefore the study of the ‘Nirukta’ is very necessary to understand the Vedas. It is a supplementary science of Grammar.