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Atharva Veda

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Atharva Veda

The Artharva-Veda is the "Knowledge of the [atharvans] (and Angirasa)". The Artharva-Veda or Atharvangirasa is the text 'belonging to the Atharvan and Angirasa' poets. Apte defines an atharvan as a priest who worshipped fire and Soma. The etymology of Atharvan is unclear, but according to Mayrhofer it is related to Avesta athravan (a-?rauuan); he denies any connection with fire priests. Atharvan was an ancient term for a certain Rishi even in the Rigveda. (The older literature took them as priests who worshipped fire).

The Atharva-Veda Sam.hita- has 760 hymns, and about 160 of the hymns are in common with the Rig-Veda. 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 Rig Veda, and some parts of the Atharva-Veda are older than the Rig-Veda.

The Atharvana-Veda is preserved in two recensions, the Paippala-da and S'aunaka. According to Apte it had nine schools (shakhas). The Paippalada version is longer than the Saunaka one; it is only partially printed and remains untranslated.

Unlike the other three Vedas, the Atharvana-Veda 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, and for long life.


The Caran.avyuha (attributed to Shaunaka) lists nine shakhas or Schools of the Atharvaveda:

1. paippala-da
2. stauda
3. mauda
4. s'aunakiya
5. ja-jala
6. jalada
7. brahmavada
8. devadars'a
9. cha-ran.avidya-

Of these, only the S'aunakiya (AVS) and the Paippala-da (AVP) recensions have survived. The core Paippala-da text is considered earlier than the S'aunakiya, but both also contain later additions and corruptions. In places where the S'aunakiya and the Paippala-da agree, it is likely the original version. Often, the two recensions in corresponding hymns have a different verse order, or either has additional verses missing from the other.
Additionally, from the Vis.n.u and Va-yu Puranas (older Hindu texts on the gods, goddesses and their histories) it may be possible to glean a few more ancient schools that were not listed in the Caran.avyuha.

These are:

* sumantu
* kabandha
* kumuda
* s'aulka-yana
* babhravya
* munjakes'a
* saindhava-yana
* naks'atrakalpa
* s'a-ntikalpa
* samahita-vidhi

At least some of these may have evolved into the other schools mentioned in the Caran.avyuha list. Sam.hita-vidhi, S'a-ntikalpa and Naks'atrakalpa are the five kalpa texts adduced to the S'aunakiya tradition and not separate schools of their own., 2003-2005. All Rights Reserved.
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