English pronunciation : véda / Vētā / Vētam / Vēdham āyvukaḷ / ñāṉam Vaḷarcci Peṟa / Rikvēdaṁ / Rik vētam / Yajūr vētam / Sāma vētam / Atarvaṉa vētam /
Sanskrit संस्कृतम् : वेद /
Tamil தமிழ் : வேதா / வேதம் ஆய்வுகள் / ஞானம் வளர்ச்சி பெற / ரிக் வேதம் / யஜூர் வேதம் / சாம வேதம் / அதர்வன வேதம்
Bahasa Melayu : Rigvéda / Yajurveda / Sāmavéda / Atharvavéda / Malayalam : not_available / Telugu : రుగ్వేదం ( Rugvēdaṁ ) / యజుర్వేదం ( Yajurvēdaṁ) / సామవేదం ( Sāmavēdaṁ ) / అధర్వ వేదం ( Adharva vēdaṁ ) / Français : not_available
The Atharvavéda ( Sanskrit : अथर्ववेदः, Atharvavéda, a tatpurusha compound of atharvan, an ancient Rishi, and véda, meaning "knowledge" ) is a sacred text of Hinduism and one of the 4 Védas, often called the "fourth véda". According to tradition, the Atharvavéda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis known as the Atharvanas and the Angirasa, hence its oldest name is Ātharvāṅgirasa. In the Late Védic Gopatha Brāhmaṃā, it is attributed to the Bhrigu and Angirasa. Additionally, tradition ascribes parts to other rishis, such as Kauśika, Vasiṣṭha and Kaśyapa. There are two surviving recensions ( śākhās ), known as Śaunakīya ( AVS ) and Paippalāda ( AVP ).
The Atharvavéda Saṃhitā is the text 'belonging to the Atharvan and Angirasa poets. It has 760 hymns, and about 160 of the hymns are in common with the Rigvéda. Most of the verses are metrical, but some sections are in prose. It was compiled around 900 BCE, although some of its material may go back to the time of the Rigvéda, and some parts of the Atharvavéda are older than the Rigvéda though not in linguistic form.
The Atharvavéda is preserved in two recensions, the Paippalāda and Śaunaka. According to Apte it had 9 schools ( shakhas ). The Paippalada text, which exists in a Kashmir and an Orissa version, is longer than the Saunaka one; it is only partially printed in its two versions and remains largely untranslated.
Unlike the other 3 Védas, the Atharvavéda has less connection with sacrifice. Its first part consists chiefly of spells and incantations, concerned with protection against demons and disaster, spells for the healing of diseases, for long life and for various desires or aims in life.
The second part of the text contains speculative and philosophical hymns.
The Atharvavéda is a comparatively late extension of the "3 Védas" connected to priestly sacrifice to a canon of "4 Védas". This may be connected to an extension of the sacrificial rite from involving 3 types of priest to the inclusion of the Brāhmaṇ overseeing the ritual.
The Atharvavéda is concerned with the material world or world of man and in this respect differs from the other 3 Védas. Atharvavéda also sanctions the use of force, in particular circumstances and similarly this point is a departure from the 3 other Védas.
The Atharvavéda, while undoubtedly belonging to the core Védic corpus, in some ways represents an independent parallel tradition to that of the Rigvéda and Yajurveda. It incorporates much of the early traditions of healing and magic that are paralleled in other Indo-European literatures.
The Atharvavéda is less predominant than other Védas, as it is little used in solemn ( Shrauta (Śrauta) ) ritual. The largely silent Brāhmaṇ priest observes the procedures of the ritual and "heals" it with two mantras and pouring of ghee when a mistake occurs. An early text, its status has been ambiguous due to its magical character.
The Caraṇavyuha ( attributed to Shaunaka ) lists nine shakhas, or schools, of the Atharvavéda :
1. Paippalāda, regions south of the Narmada River
4. Śaunakīya, regions north of the Narmada River
Of these, only the Śaunakīya ( AVS ), present in Gujarat, and the Paippalāda ( AVP ) recension in coastal Orissa have survived. Both have some later additions, but the core Paippalāda text is considered earlier than most of the Śaunakīya. Often in corresponding hymns, the two recensions have different verse orders, or each has additional verses not in the other.
Saṃhitāvidhi, Śāntikalpa and Nakṣatrakalpa are some of the five kalpa texts adduced to the Śaunakīya tradition and not separate schools of their own.
Two main post-Saṃhitā texts associated with the AV are the Vaitāna Sũtra and the Kauśika Sũtra. The VaitanaSũtra deals with the participation of the Atharvavéda priest ( Brāhmán ) in the Shrauta (Śrauta) ritual, while the KauśikaSũtra contains many applications of Atharvavéda mantras in healing and magic. This serves the same purpose as the vidhāna of the Rigvéda and is of great value in studying the application of the AV text in Védic times. Several Upanishad or Upaniṣads also are associated with the AV, but appear to be relatively late additions to the tradition. The most important of these are the muṇḍaka and the praŚna Upanishad or Upaniṣads. The former contains an important reference to Śaunaka, the founder of the Shaunakiya shakha, while the latter is associated with the Paippalāda shakha.
It is conjectured that the core text of the Atharvavéda falls within the classical Mantra period of Védic Sanskrit at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE - roughly contemporary with the Yajurveda mantras, the Rigvédic Khilani, and the Sāmavéda.
The Atharvavéda is also the first Indic text to mention iron ( as Śyāma ayas, literally "black metal" ), so that scholarly consensus dates the bulk of the Atharvavéda hymns to the early Indian Iron Age, corresponding to the 12th to 10th centuries BC, or the early Kuru kingdom.
Tradition suggests that Paippalāda, one of the early collators, and Vaidharbhī, one of the late contributors associated with the Atharvanic text, lived during the reign of prince Hiraṇyanabha of the Ikshvāku dynasty.
Divisions and issues of note
• The Shaunakiya text is clearly divided into four parts: Kāṇḍas 1-7 deal with healing and general black and white magic that is to be applied in all situations of life, from the first tooth of a baby to regaining kingship. Kāṇḍas 8-12 constitute early speculation on the nature of the universe and of humans as well as on ritual and are thus predecessors of the Upanishad or Upaniṣads. They continue the speculative tradition of some Rigvédic poets. Kāṇḍas 13-18 deal with issues of a householder's life, such as marriage, death and female rivalry, as well as with the ambiguous vrātyas on the fringes of society and with the Rohita sun as an embodiment of royal power. Kāṇḍa 19 is an addition, and Kāṇḍa 20 is a very late addition containing Rigvédic hymns for the use of the Atharvanic Brāhmaṃācchamsin priest as well as for the enigmatic Kuntapa ritual of the Kuru kingdom of Parikshit. The Paippalada text has a similar arrangement into four parts ( Kāṇḍas 1-15, 16-17, 18, 19-20 ) with roughly the same contents.
• The Paippalada text begins with shan no devir abhistaye, the most common Brāhmayajna mantra. The Shaunakiya text begins with ye trishapt, which is in the second Sūkta in the Paippalada Saṃhitā.
• The popular Gopala Tapini Upanishad or Upaniṣads, among Nimbarka Sampradaya and Gaudiya Vaishnavism, belongs to Paippalada Saṃhitā.
• Jain and Buddhist texts are considerably more hostile to the Atharvavéda ( they call it Aggvāna or Ahavāna véda ) than they are to the other Hindu texts.
• The AV is the first Indic text dealing with medicine. It identifies the causes of disease as living causative agents such as the yatudhāna, the kimīdin, the krimi or kṛmi and the durṇāma. The Atharvans seek to kill them with a variety of incantations or plant-based drugs in order to counter the disease ( see XIX.34.9 ). This approach to disease is quite different compared to the trihumoral theory of Ayurveda. Remnants of the original Atharvanic thought did persist, as can be seen in SuŚruta's medical treatise and in ( Garuḍa purāṇa, karma Kāṇḍa - chapter: 164 ). Here, following the Atharvan theory, the Purāṇic text suggests germs as a cause for leprosy. In the same chapter, SuŚruta also expands on the role of helminths in disease. These two can be directly traced back to the Atharvavéda Saṃhitā. The hymn AV I.23-24 describes the disease leprosy and recommends the rajani auṣadhi for its treatment. From the description of the auṣadhi as a black, branching entity with dusky patches, it is very likely that it is a lichen with antibiotic properties. Thus the AV may be one of the earliest texts to record uses of the antibiotic agents.
• The Atharvavéda also informs about warfare. A variety of devices, such as an arrow with a duct for poison (apāskambha) and castor bean poison, poisoned net and hook traps, use of disease-spreading insects and smoke screens find a place in the Atharvavéda Saṃhitā ( e.g., hymns IX.9 and IX.10, the trisaṃdi and nyārbudi hymns ). These references to military practices and associated kṣatriya rites were what gave the Atharvavéda its reputation. In the Mahābhārata, there is a frequent comparison between weapons and the mantras of the heroes.
• Several regular and special rituals of the Aryans ārya are a major concern of the Atharvavéda, just as in the three other Védas. The major rituals covered by the AV are marriage in Kāṇḍa - XIV and the funeral in Kāṇḍa - XVIII. There are also hymns that are specific to rituals of the bhṛgu-aṅgirasas, vrātyas and kṣatriyas. One peculiar rite is the Viṣāsahi Vrata, performed with the mantras of the XVII Kāṇḍa in a spell against female rivals. The Vrātya rituals were performed by individuals who took on a semi-nomadic way of living and were generally roaming about in neighboring tribal territories to gain wealth in cattle by putting pressure on householders grihastha. Finally, there are some rituals aimed at the destruction of the enemies ( Abhicārika hymns and rites ), particularly found in chapters 1-7. While these support traditional negative views on the AV, in content, they are mirrored by several other hymns from the Rig as well as the Yajuṣes. Moreover, Abhicārika rites were an integral part of Védic culture, as is amply attested in the Brāhmaṃā literature. Thus, the Atharvavéda is fully within the classic Védic fold, though it was more specific to certain Brāhmán clans of priests. The development of the Abhichārika rites to their more "modern" form is clearly seen in the vidhāna literature. The author of the ṛgvidhāna provides passing reference to the development of similar rites in the AV tradition ( the references to the Āṅgirasa Krityās ). These rites reached their culmination in the Kauśika Sũtra and in some of the Pariśiṣṭas ( appendices ) of the Atharvan literature.
• Philosophical excursions are found in books 8-12. One of the most spectacular expressions of philosophical thought is seen in the hymn XII.I, the Hymn to goddess Earth or the Pṛthivī Sūkta used in the āgrayana rite. The foundations of Vaiṣeśika Darśana is expressed in the mantra XII.1.26 in which the atoms ( Pāṃsu ) are described forming the stone, the stones agglutinating to form the rocks and the rocks held together to form the earth. Early pantheistic thought is seen in the hymn X.7 that describes the common thread running through all manifest and non-manifest existence as the skaṃbha. This skaṃbha is described as what poured out of the Hiraṇyagarbha that was the precursor of the complex world in a very simple form ( X.7.28 ). ( Hiraṇyagarba ="The golden womb from which the Universe was formed." ) This Skambha is Indra, and Indra is the Skambha which describes all existence. The hymn also describes a pantheistic nature of the Védic gods ( X.7.38 ): skaṃbha is the heat ( tapaḥ ) that spreads through the universe ( Bhuvana ) as waves of water; the units of this spreading entity are the gods even as branches of one tree. This theme is repeatedly presented in various interpretations in later Hindu philosophies.
The Shaunakiya text was edited by Rudolf Roth and William Dwight Whitney ( Berlin, 1856 ), Shankar Pandurang Pandit in the 1890s ( Bombay ) and by Vishva Bandhu ( Hoshiarpur, 1960–62 ). Translations into English were made by Ralph Griffith ( 2 vols., Benares 1897 ), D. Whitney ( revised by Lanman, 2 vols, Cambridge, Mass. 1905 ), and M. Bloomfield ( SBE Vol XLII ); also see Bloomfield, "The Atharvavéda" in "Grundriss der Indoarischen Philologie", II ( Strasburg, 1899 ).
The bulk of the Paippalāda text was edited by Leroy Carr Barret from 1905 to 1940 ( book 6 by F. Edgerton, 1915 ) from a single Kashmirian Śāradā manuscript ( now in Tübingen ). This edition is outdated, since various other manuscripts were subsequently discovered in Orissa. Some manuscripts are in the Orissa State Museum, but many manuscripts are in private possession and are kept hidden by their owners. A few manuscripts were collected by Prof. Durgamohan BhattAchãrya of Bengal by deceiving their owners, as told by his son Dipak BhattAchãrya in 1968 (below), who describes the theft as valiant daredevilry :
... The knowledge of the villagers, in whose possession many important manuscripts remain, about their possession is often very hazy [...] Prof. BhattAchãrya secured a manuscript from an illiterate Brāhmiṇ on promise of return ...
Books 1–15 were edited by Durgamohan BhattAchãrya ( 1997 ). There is a provisional (unpublished) edition of book 20 by Dipak BhattAchãrya.
Book 2 was edited and translated by Thomas Zehnder ( 1999 ) and book 5 by Alexander Lubotsky ( 2002 ), and books 6-7 by Arlo Griffiths ( 2004 ).
Recitation style of the Atharvavéda
The current recitation style of this véda mostly resembles the Rigvédic one.
The Shaunaka Shakha of the Atharvavéda is recited in western Saurastra, at Benares, Gokarna and, after a recent introduction from Benares, also in South India ( Tirupati, Chidambaram, etc. ). The Gokarna version follows the northern style, which resembles the way the Mahārashtrians recite the Rigvéda Saṃhitā. In Varanasi, which derives its style from Gujarat, the way of recitation is little different. Similarly in South India, the Shaunaka Shaka is recited using the Rigvéda as a base, with minute variations in Kampa Svara.
The Paippalada Shakha of the Atharvavéda is recited in Orissa in Saṃhitā-patha, however not with typical Védic svara and in south Jharkhand districts by some migrants of Utkala Brāhmiṇs, while its Kashmir branch has been extinct for some centuries.
|Data Arrangement, Technical Arrangement & Graphics|
|• Master Murugan Chillayah - Silambam Academy|
|References ( Atharvavéda )|
|• Modak (1993) p.15|
|• Shaunakiya text was edited by Rudolf Roth and William Dwight Whitney (Berlin, 1856)|
|• Shaunakiya text was edited by Shankar Pandurang Pandit in the 1890s (Bombay)|
|• Shaunakiya text was edited by Vishva Bandhu (Hoshiarpur, 1960–62)|
|• Translations into English by Ralph Griffith (2 vols., Benares 1897)|
|• Translations into English by D. Whitney (revised by Lanman, 2 vols, Cambridge, Mass. 1905)|
|• Translations into English by M. Bloomfield (SBE Vol XLII)|
|• Bloomfield, "The Atharvavéda" in "Grundriss der Indoarischen Philologie", II (Strasburg, 1899)|
|• Paippalāda text edited by Leroy Carr Barret from 1905-1940 (book 6 by F. Edgerton, 1915)|
|• Books 1–15 edited by Durgamohan BhattAchãrya (1997)|
|• provisional (unpublished) edition of book 20 by Dipak BhattAchãrya|
|• Book 2 edited & translated by Thomas Zehnder (1999)|
|• Book 5 by Alexander Lubotsky (2002)|
|• Books 6-7 by Arlo Griffiths (2004)|
|• Zehnder (1999), p.19. Bhattacarya (2007, p. lxxv) ***HAVE SOME ISSUE / COMPLICATIONS OF DEBATE INSIDE***|