Sāyaṇāchārya – his life and works

This article is an excerpt from (वेदभाष्यभूमिकासंग्रहः) by Padmabhūṣaṇa Sri Ācāraya Baladeva Upādhyāya (Ex-director, Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi). The book is a compilation of all available Sāyaṇāchārya’s introductions to his commentaries upon the Vedic Saṁhitas.Sāyaṇāchārya – his life and works

This article is an excerpt from Veda Bhāṣya Bhūmikā Saṁgraha (वेदभाष्यभूमिकासंग्रहः) by Padmabhūṣaṇa Sri Ācāraya Baladeva Upādhyāya (Ex-director, Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi). The book is a compilation of all available Sāyaṇāchārya’s introductions to his commentaries upon the Vedic Saṁhitas.

This article forms the English introduction to the book, and gives, an excellent summary of the life and works of Sāyaṇāchārya, both historical and critical. Additionally, this introduction provides, in the author’s own words, “some additional comments upon the premier position of Sāyaṇāchārya as one of the important authorities upon the traditional exegesis of Veda”

INTRODUCTION

It is with very great pleasure that we are presenting herewith the complete text of sāyaṇāchārya’s all available introductions to his commentaries upon the various Samhitas of the Vedas. No apology is indeed needed and hence we are offering none for the publication of such a work. It is no wonder that so far only his introduction to the R̥g Veda-Bhāṣya has been known to the scholar and published at many places. It is only the R̥g Veda-Samhita which has attracted the greatest number of scholars who have tried to illuminate many dark corners by focusing all the force of their erudition and application. The other Samhitas have not been able to command an equal amount of interest. The reason is not only this that the R̥g Vedic texts are the oldest and are directly or indirectly sources of all others, but, have also the ground for their cold neglect the difficulties in understanding and appreciating the subtleties of their import and the intricacies of their interpretation due mainly to the lack of specialised knowledge so much needed for assimilating the wealth of traditional scholastic lore gathering around them.

We cannot but be sincerely grateful to those magnanimous and selfless souls who have devoted their precious time and energy to the study of the Vedas. But at the same time we feel and realise—and that is no ingratitude towards them—that after all the scholarly and ingenious attempts to bring out the real import and signification of the Vedic texts, there is something left out, last sight of or dismissed supreme Indifference. But that ‘something’ is and must be vital to all true Hindu hearts. The fundamental point of difference between the attitude of western scholar reared and fostered from his very cradle with the glories of Greece and Rome and a true Hindu imbibing from the first day of his existence the undying traditions of the Sapta-sindhu and the āryāvarta is, undoubtedly, in spite of all attempts to shake off the feelings of prejudice and predilection, the frame of mind, the structure of heart and the constitution of the soul. What wonder can there be if a pandit of the old orthodox school happens to be terribly shocked when he finds the dearly loved child of Veda treated in a step motherly manner and where a little coaxing wou1d have put it in genuine spirits, there the surgeon’s knife is freely used. The real crux of such a seemingly insuperable indifference of method Is this that the westerner looks upon the Veda as something shorn of all associations and environments which have, in course of ages, gathered round it and are to a Hindu mind organically inseparable. To him the Veda, bereft of all traditional associations, is something inconceivable. Fresh phantoms of farfetched associations raised up with the want of powerful scholarship with the help of sounds of chance similarity happen to him mere creatures of fanciful imagination. He deems it a low grade of hopeless degeneration to exchange his living traditions for the ghost of self-sufficient scholarship which are still matters of doubtful existence.

But unfortunately the depositories of ancient Vedic lore have been long getting smaller and smaller in number. The advent of modern method of education, though quite opportune and useful in certain respects, has brought in its trail a feeling of disdain in the hearts of the generation for everything old add indigenous. To add to the unenviable sad plight of the Vedic studies very particularly, a new method, appearing an attractive and novel modus operandi and being advocated in learned circles as a true outcome of critical faculty, soon came into vogue. The method, in itself, is quite harmless and in fact, it has been particularly in its truly philological and mythological aspects quite successfully applied and appreciated even by the ancients. But to the dire detriment of efficient education and superior scholarship, it has been fondly handed either by those who were innocently ignorant of the basic realities and fundamental actualities or by those whose visions have been hopelessly perverted and distorted by unsuitable and uncongenial education. Sincere scholarship, in its introspective investigation or for forming final judgment about anything, should not and indeed cannot throw away all things, simply because they are old and run after merely because they are new. It is no ingenious index of superior wisdom to dub ‘wrong’ ‘misleading’ ‘nonsense etc. and reject all older views solely for the reason that they do not closely fit in with our own conveniently formed opinions. In the case of Indians such an untenable attitude is doubly deplorable. No nation on the surface of the earth has ever become great by despising its own ancient glories and by eking out its miserable existence with a few crumbs falling from the mouths of others.

One of the most important depositories of the Vedic lore, whose works have come down to us, was undoubtedly sāyaṇāchārya. This great man of affairs was at the same time a great man of letters—a very rare combination even among the ancients. He did officially what he could do for the revival of the Vedic Learning and Culture. Even personally he did not spare himself. With the help of brilliant galaxy of erudite giants, he collected all the available auxiliary and ancillary information so imperatively necessary for the elucidation of the Vedic texts and with his profound scholarly insight and rare acute critical faculty assimilated them and put them in the form of his Vedic commentaries. He thought—and he was quite right in thinking so—that without proper guidance in the form of preliminary discourses imparting all essential matters which a student of Veda, before he begins his studies, must know, it was a hopeless affair to dabble with Vedic interpretations with the help of one’s own unbridled imagination. It was with this purpose in view that he annexed his useful introductions to the commentaries of the various Samhitas. Besides his Introduction to the r̥g Veda-Bhāṣya, all the others have not so far been properly studied and conveniently published. In the course of our studies we came to realise that they were in no way less useful. They are perhaps, especially as the other Samhitas are so little known, much more important and of much greater interest. But before we say anything more about these introductions, we beg to present to the reader a brief account of their illustrious author.

 

THE AUTHOR

Sāyaṇāchārya occupies a unique place in the History of the Sanskrit Literature. The learned commentaries written by him on the Vedic Samhitas and Brāhmaṇas are the most important works of their kind, which are of immense value to us for the proper exposition of the subtle truths with these works of hoary antiquity contain. There has been a host of commentators of the Vedas even before the advent of sāyaṇāchārya but unknown as many of their works are, most of them are mere names to us. Indeed the only commentator who has had the rare good fortune of commenting upon all the four Vedas and whose comments are still extant is the great sāyaṇāchārya himself. He was, along with his equally famous elder brother Mādhavāchārya, responsible, as is rightly asserted by historians, for the great Renaissance of the Vedic Learning under the benign rule of the early Vijayanagara monarchs. Fortunately we possess abundant materials for framing a genuine life-history of this great Vedic commentator. We give below a bare outline of the varied life and diverse activities of this eminent Sanskrit author.

 

HIS FAMILY

Sāyaṇāchārya was born in a learned South Indian brāhmaṇa family. His father was Māyaṇa and his mother śrimatī. He was a brāhmaṇa of the Bhāradvāja—gotra, Bodhāyana Sutra and Kr̥ṣṇa Yajurveda. He belonged to the Taittirīya śākha of the Black Yajurveda, as is also evident from the fact that the very first Vedic commentary he wrote was the Taittirīya Samhitā of the Kr̥ṣṇa Yajurveda. He had two brothers Mādhavāchārya and Bhoganātha, of whom the first was the eldest and the second was the youngest of the three.

The elder brother Mādhavāchārya occupies a very important place in the history of Dharma śāstra and Mīmāmsa literatures. Besides being well versed in various branches of learning he was a great minister of the first Vijayanagara kings, Harihara and Bukka, who with his sagacious counsel and judicious guidance founded that ideal Hindu Rājya, that never-to-be-forgotten empire of Vijayanagara. He is also credited, on the authority of eminent historians, with the foundation of the city of Vijayanagara which was considered in the 16th century by foreign travellers to be the greatest and most charming city in the whole continent of Asia in point of grandeur of magnificent artifices and richness of artistic details. Mādhava is alleged to have composed a number of learned works, most of which are spurious and of later date. His genuine works, however, are —(1) the voluminous commentary upon Parāśarasmr̥ti, parāśarasmr̥ti-vyākhyā (पराशरस्मृति – व्याख्या) popularly known as parāśara-mādhava (पराशर-माधव), (2) kālanirṇaya (कालनिर्ण्य) or kālamādhava (कालमाधव) (3) jaimini-nyāyamālā (जैमिनि-न्यायमाला), an authoritative work on Jaimini System of Pūrvamīmāmsa, (4) jīvanmuktiviveka (जीवन्मुक्तिविवेक) or the Vedantic topic of Jīvanmukti, (5) paṅcadaśī (पञ्चदशी) a very popular Vedantic work and (6) vaiyāsikanyāyamālā (वैयासिकन्यायमाला) on the Vedanta Sutras; the last two were composed in collaboration with his spiritual Guru Bhrātītīrtha when Mādhava exchanged the robe of the minister for the kāṣāya (काषाय) of the Saṁnyāsin under the name Vidyāraṇya.

The most important problem connected with the personality and identification of Mādhava and Vidyāraṇya remains still unsolved. Some scholars entertain very serious doubts as regards the identification of these two authors, but in spite of their arguments to the contrary, not only the later but even contemporary writers bear testimony to the fact that Vidyāraṇya was, in fact, identical with the minister of early Vijayanagara Kings, Mādhavācārya. It has been rightly pointed out, on inscriptional evidences, that Mādhavācārya, the elder brother of Sāyaṇa, is different from Mādhava, another minister of Bukka I (hence known as Mādhava Mantrin or Amātya Mādhava) who was not only a profound Upaniṣadic scholar (called in the inscriptions upaniṣanmārgapravartakācārya (उपनिषन्मार्गप्रवर्तकाचार्य) but was, as a warrior of no mean order, the expeller of Mohammedans from Konkaṇa and the governor of Goa and Banavase provinces. Kāne is amply justified in his appreciative remarks on our author when he says that ‘as an erudite scholar, as a far-sighted statesman, as the bulwark of the Vijayanagara Kingdom in the first days of its foundation, as a Sanyāsin given to peaceful contemplation and renunciation in old age, he led such a varied and useful life that even to this day this is a name to conjure with’.

Bhoganātha, though not so well-known, as yet a worthy younger brother of Sāyaṇa and Mādhava. He was the “narma-sachiva” of Saṁgama II, the son of Kampaṇa, as is evident from the Biṭraguṇṭa grant of that ruler. Unlike his elder brothers who were profound scholars of Veda, Vedanta, Mīmāmsa and Dharma śastra, Bhoganatha was a poet of a very high order. The Biṭraguṇṭa grant, with his numerous other poetical compositions mentioned in the Alaṁkāra-sudhānidhi of Sāyaṇa bears eloquent testimony to the great poetical talents of Bhoganātha. Sāyaṇa names and quotes from six of his works. Their names are—(i) rāmollāsa (रामोल्लास), a kāvya based on the Rāmāyaṇa, (ii) tripuravijaya (त्रिपुरविजय), on the victory gained by Siva over the Tripura demon, (iii) udāharaṇamālā (उदाहरणमाला), examples of Sanskrit figures of speech with verses in praise of Sāyaṇa, (iv) mahāgaṇapatistava (महागणपतिस्तव), a stotra of mahagaṇapati, (v) śr̥ngāramaṅjarī (शृन्गारमञ्जरी), containing verses descriptive of śr̥ṁgārarasa (शृंगाररस), and lastly (vi) gaurīnāthāṣṭaka (गौरीनाथाष्टक), eight verses in praise of Gaurīnātha. Sāyaṇa had a very high opinion about the poetic excellence of his brother’s kāvyas as he mentions in one place ¡n his Alaṅkāra work that the examples of the rules have to be sought for in the works of Bhoganātha [teṣāmudāharaṇāni bhoganāthakāvyeṣu draṣṭavyāni (तेषामुदाहरणानि भोगनाथकाव्येषु द्रष्टव्यानि)]. That Bhoganātha wielded a facile poetic pen will be evident to the students of Sanskrit poetry from the following beautiful verses in praise of his patron Saṁgama II:—

(9)

yasya dṛṣṭimuddayaddayārasāmarthināmabhimatānubandhinīm |

hanta nūnamanuyānti saspṛhaṁ karṇakalpatarukāmadhenavaḥ ||

यस्य दृष्टिमुद्दयद्दयारसामर्थिनामभिमतानुबन्धिनीम् ।

हन्त नूनमनुयान्ति सस्पृहं कर्णकल्पतरुकामधेनवः ॥

(10)

यद्‍यशःप्रसरणेन भूयसा ह्लादमेयुषि परं जगत्त्रये ।

अश्नुते विफलतां न चन्द्रमाः केवलं कुमुदिनीविकाशनात् ॥

yad‍yaśaḥprasaraṇena bhūyasā hlādameyuṣi paraṁ jagattraye |

aśnute viphalatāṁ na candramāḥ kevalaṁ kumudinīvikāśanāt ||

 

PERSONAL HISTORY

Sāyaṇa was, as is amply proved by literary and inscriptional evidences, connected with four rulers of the Vijayanagara kingdom, Kampaṇa, Saṁgama II, Bukka I and Harihara II. Under each of them he occupied the important post of a responsible state minister. Of these, Kampaṇa, the first patron of Sāyaṇa, was the second son of Saṁgama I and was thus the younger brother of Harihara, the founder of the Vijayanagara kingdom. He ruled over the country in the east of the Vijayanagara empire, possibly in the Nellore and Cuddapah districts. Saṁgama II, the son of Kampaṇa, was much indebted to sāyaṇāchārya not only for the administration of his kingdom during his minority but also for the liberal education imparted to him in his childhood. It appears that Sāyaṇa handed over the kingdom to Saṁgama II on his attaining majority and transferred himself to the court of his uncle, Bukka I (1350-1379) under whom he held the important post of a minister and continued to be so even under his son Harihara II (1379—1399) when he became the ruler of the Vijayanagara empire on the death of his father.

It is but natural to think of Sāyaṇa, the commentator of the four Vedas, as a profound pandit endowed with the mental equipment of far exceptional kind; but it is amazing to find him a warlike warrior brandishing his sword on the fields of battle and showing his martial valour by feats of uncommon bravery. Indeed he was not only a great mīmaṁsaka given to the abstruse Speculations and interpretations of the difficult Vedic mantras, but was also a practical administrator of a vast kingdom, a responsible minister of an extensive empire and above all, a valourous soldier of a high order. In Sāyaṇa we find a rare fortunate combination of vast learning and practical wisdom, speculative faculty and physical valour, pāṇḍitya (पाण्डित्य) and vīratva (वीरत्व). He gained victory over a king called Campa, a ruler of the Chola country and defeated the chief of Garudanagara after attacking the city in company with his patron Saṁgama II. His bravery finds a just appreciation and suitable expression in the following verse of his Alaṅkāra Sudhānidhi :—

jagadvīrasya jāgarti kṛpāṇaḥ sāyaṇaprabhoḥ |

kimityete vṛthāṭopā garjanti paripanthinaḥ ||

जगद्वीरस्य जागर्ति कृपाणः सायणप्रभोः ।

किमित्येते वृथाटोपा गर्जन्ति परिपन्थिनः ॥

As an administrator of a large kingdom, Sāyaṇa was no less an eminent success. When Kampaṇa died, his son Saṁgama was a mere child. Hence the administration of the state fell upon Sāyaṇa who as the regent carried out his heavy responsibilities in a really remarkable way. The following śloka from his alaṁkāra work speaks of the all-round prosperity prevailing during his time as the regent of the state —

satyaṁ mahīṁ bhavati śāsati sāyaṇārye

samprāptabhogasukhinaḥ sakalāśca lokāḥ .

सत्यं महीं भवति शासति सायणार्ये

सम्प्राप्तभोगसुखिनः सकलाश्च लोकाः ।

His was a very happy family life. He had three sons named Kampaṇa, Māyaṇa and Singaṇa. Among these, Kampaṇa was a fond lover of music—an accomplished musician. Māyaṇa was a good poet, clever in writing fine verses and beautiful prose in Sanskrit, and if his identification with Sāyaṇa-mādhava, the author of sarvadarśanasaṁgraha (सर्वदर्शनसंग्रह), as proposed by R. Narasiṁhachar turns out to be correct, he had full mastery over and a thorough grasp of the fundamental metaphysical problems of Indian Philosophies, both orthodox and heterodox. The third son Singaṇa appears to be a keen student of Vedas, an expert in krama and jaṭa recitations. Besides, he was far celebrated for his magnificent gifts given to worthy Brāhmaṇas, as might be justly inferred from certain verses found at the end of his father’s Bhāṣya on śatapathabrāhmaṇam (शतपथब्राह्मणम्).

According to Dr. Aufrecht, Sāyaṇa died in A. D. 1387 during the reign of Harihara II. Thus he flourished in the second. half of the 14th Century at Vijayanagar in Southern India.

 

HIS WORKS

The monumental Bhāṣyas of the Vedic Samhitas and Brāhmaṇas are rightly considered to be the most important works of Sāyaṇāchārya as showing his deep learning and wide erudition. But they are not the only works which our author had the good fortune of writing. Dr. Aufrecht mentions a number of other works ascribed to Sāyaṇa in various catalogues of Sanskrit Mss., but on close examination most of them appear to be spurious and unworthily fathered upon Sāyaṇa by mediocre writers of unknown date. The following works, however, are his genuine compositions as will be evident from the examination of even their colophons. It appears that from the very beginning of his career as a minister Sāyaṇa had the laudable intention of writing useful works on Dharma, Vyākaraṇa and Alaṅkāra and thus under the kind patronage of the above mentioned Vijayanagara kings he wrote a number of interesting books in Sanskrit upon these diverse subjects. We mention below his writings in a chronological order as far as it is possible to make out.

Sāyaṇa’s works are:—

  • subhāṣitasudhānidhi (सुभाषितसुधानिधि)—It is a collection of moral sayings culled from a vast literature on the subject. It appears to be the earliest work of our author and was composed, as is clear from the colophon at the end of the work, during the reign of Prince Kampa or Kampaṇa whose minister Sāyaṇa was.

[

iti pūrvapaścimasamudrādhīśvarārirāyavibhāla – śrīkamparājamahāpradhāna – bharadvājavaṁśamauktika – māyaṇaratnakarasudhākara – mādhavakalpatarusahodara – śrīsāyaṇāryaviracite subhāṣitasudhānidhau |

इति पूर्वपश्चिमसमुद्राधीश्वरारिरायविभाल – श्रीकम्पराजमहाप्रधान – भरद्वाजवंशमौक्तिक – मायणरत्नकरसुधाकर – माधवकल्पतरुसहोदर – श्रीसायणार्यविरचिते सुभाषितसुधानिधौ ।

]

  • Prāyaścittasudhānidhi (प्रायश्चित्तसुधानिधि) — also known as Karmavipāka — deals with penances, one of the most important topics of the Hindu Dharma-śāstras.
  • dhātuvr̥tti (धातुवृत्ति)—popularly known as mādhavīyā dhātuvr̥tti (माधवीया धातुवृत्ति)—is an authoritative treatise on Sanskrit verbs. It deals in an exhaustive manner with the verbs given in the Dhātupāṭha of pāṇini. Sāyaṇa has, as a token of gratitude, named this grammatical work after his elder brother Mādhava under whose inspiration he composed most of his valuable works, as will be shown later on.

[

tena māyaṇaputreṇa sāyaṇena manīṣiṇā |

ākhyayā mādhavīyeyaṁ dhātuvṛtttirviracyate  ||

तेन मायणपुत्रेण सायणेन मनीषिणा ।

आख्यया माधवीयेयं धातुवृत्त्तिर्विरच्यते  ॥

]

  • alaṅkārasudhānidhi (अलङ्कारसुधानिधि) — it is a treatise on Sanskrit rhetoric and is unique in many ways. One remarkable peculiarity of the work consists in the fact that the majority of the illustrative verses is in the praise of the author himself. When the same author is responsible for the kārikās and udaharaṇa in an alaṅkāra work, generally the examples are in the praise of some deity or of some king or chief who happens to be the patron of the author. But, unlike most works of Sanskrit Poetics, this alaṅkārasudhānidhi gives illustrative verses in praise of its author himself and this distinguishes it from the other books of the same class. It also supplies us with interesting details about the life and personality of Sāyaṇa and his brothers, which are of considerable importance.
    These last three works were composed during the reign of Saṁgama II, the son of Prince Kaṁpa, as is clear from verses given in the beginning and at the end of these works.

[

(a)

tasya (saṁgamasya) mantriśiroratnamasti māyaṇasāyaṇaḥ ||

tena māyaṇaputreṇa sāyaṇena manīṣiṇā |

granthaḥ karmavipākākhyaḥ kriyate karuṇāvatā ||

तस्य (संगमस्य) मन्त्रिशिरोरत्नमस्ति मायणसायणः ॥

तेन मायणपुत्रेण सायणेन मनीषिणा ।

ग्रन्थः कर्मविपाकाख्यः क्रियते करुणावता ॥

(b)

asti śrīsaṅgamatdamāpaḥ pṛthvītala purandaraḥ .

tasya mantriśiroratnamasti māyaṇasāyaṇaḥ ..

अस्ति श्रीसङ्गमत्दमापः पृथ्वीतल पुरन्दरः ।

तस्य मन्त्रिशिरोरत्नमस्ति मायणसायणः ॥

(c)

iti * * * śrīsaṅgamarājasakalarājadhurandharasya sakalavidyānidhānabhūtasya bhoganāthāgrajanmanaḥ śrīmatsāyaṇācāryasya kṛtāvalaṅkārasudhānidhau ..

इति * * * श्रीसङ्गमराजसकलराजधुरन्धरस्य सकलविद्यानिधानभूतस्य भोगनाथाग्रजन्मनः श्रीमत्सायणाचार्यस्य कृतावलङ्कारसुधानिधौ ॥

]

  • puruṣārthasudhānidhi (पुरुषार्थसुधानिधि) contains a collection of Pauraṇika verses on the topic of puruṣārtha and was written at the instance of his new patron king Bukka. It appears to be the first work of Sāyaṇa when he became attached to the court of Bukka and thus is earlier in date than the Vedic commentaries.
  • vedabhāṣyāṇi (वेदभाष्याणि)— ( Vedic commentaries )—These will be treated at some length later on.
  • āyurvedasudhānidhi (आयुर्वेदसुधानिधि)—It is a medical work and has been referred to by Sāyaṇa in his alaṅkāra work.
  • yajñatantrasudhānidhi (यज्ञतन्त्रसुधानिधि) is a treatise on Vedic rituals. The last two works were composed by Sāyaṇa during the reign of Harihara II, the son and successor of Bukka I, whose generosity and high regard for the Vedic rites are eloquently praised by Sāyaṇa in the beginning of these works.

Vedic Commentaries—The Vedic commentaries are monuments of vast and varied learning and as such rightly occupy the foremost place in the writings of Sāyaṇāchārya. The introductory verses to the Bhāṣya on the taittirīyasaṁhitā  make it amply clear that Sāyaṇa was entrusted with the composition of Vedic commentaries by the King Bukka on the recommendation of his elder brother Mādhava who, as the spiritual guru, was actually requested by the king for this responsible task but who, presumably owing to his multifarious engagements in other spheres, declined this offer in favour of his younger brother. Thus it was under the inspiring guidance of Mādhava that Sāyaṇa wrote his learned commentaries on the Vedas which he rightly calls ‘Mādhavīya’ after his elder brother as a token of gratitude towards him.

Sāyaṇa wrote his Bhāṣya upon the following five well-known Vedic Samhitas —

(i) tattirīyasaṁhitā

(ii) r̥gvedasaṁhitā

(iii) sāmavedasaṁhitā

(iv) kāṇvasaṁhitā of śuklayajurveda

(v) atharvavedasaṁhitā

 

Sāyaṇa wrote his commentaries upon the different Brāhmaṇas and āraṇyakas of the Vedas naturally enough after he had commented upon their Samhitās with the single exception of the Bhāṣya on the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa of the white Yajurveda which appears to have been composed ( as is clear from the introductory verses ) last of all, during the time of Harihara II. He commented upon the following Brāhmaṇas and āraṇyakas :—

  1. Brāhmaṇa of the Kr̥ṣṇa Yajurveda —
    1. taittirīya brāhmaṇa
    2. taittirīya āraṇyaka
  2. Brāhmaṇa of the r̥gveda —
    1. aitareya brāhmaṇa
    2. aitareya āraṇyaka
  3. Brāhmaṇas of the Sāma Veda—
    1. tāṇḍya (pañcaviṁśa) brāhmaṇa
    2. ṣaḍviṁśa brāhmaṇa
    3. sāmavidhāna brāhmaṇa
    4. ārṣeya brāhmaṇa
    5. devatādhyāya brāhmaṇa
    6. upaniṣad brāhmaṇa
    7. saṁhitopaniṣad brāhmaṇa
    8. vaṁśa brāhmaṇa
  4. Brāhmaṇa of the white Yajurveda—
    1. śatapatha brāhmaṇa

 

THE PRESENT WORK

The present volume contains, as has been already noticed by us, a convenient collection of all the available introductions to Sāyaṇa’s commentaries upon the Samhitas of various Vedas. A comparative study of these introductions furnishes us with the necessary information to decide the order in which they were composed. Despite the primacy of R̥g Veda as shown by the famous mantra in the Puruṣa Sūkta and the most honoured place it occupies in our sacred literature, it was Yajurveda which called for the first commentary at the hands of our author. It was proper on the part of Sāyaṇa to write his first Bhāṣya upon Yajurveda Samhita, because it is most important for the sacrifice and it is in order to perform the sacrifice that we must know the meaning of the Veda. In fact, it is absolutely needed for the prominent officiating priest called Adhvaryu who, being responsible for the proper guidance and practical ministration on the occasion of sacrificial rituals, is rightly believed ‘to construct the very form of sacrifice’. It was natural for Sāyaṇa, a follower of the Taittirīya school of Black Yajur Veda to write his first commentary upon the Samhita of his own school. Hence it can be affirmed without any shadow of doubt that the earliest introduction written by Sāyaṇa was one that belongs to the Bhāṣya of the Taittirīya Samhita.

Out of the remaining Samhitas that of the R̥g Veda claims our greatest attention, not merely because it is required for the next important priest, the Hotr̥, but for the reason that it is the direct source of metrical mantras quoted by the others. It is upon the R̥ks contained in this Saṁhita that the Sāman chants are sung. Thus being of greater importance R̥g Veda was commented upon before Sāma, which being required for the third important priest at the sacrifice, namely the Udgātr̥ came to have a commentary in a logical sequence after the R̥g Veda was furnished with one. Thus the introduction to the Sāmaveda Bhāṣya is the third in the order of its composition.

The Commentary upon the three important Vedas was thus completed, but Sāyaṇa had not as yet directed this attention towards writing a Bhāṣya upon the White Yajurveda. To remove this omission, he next wrote his commentary upon the Kāṇva Samhita of that Veda, as the other (Mādhyandina) Saṁhita of the same Veda was fortunate enough to possess a learned Bhāṣya from the pen of that erudite Vedic interpreter, Āchārya Uvata, some three hundred years before Sāyaṇa. Thus the introduction to the Kāṇva occupies the fourth place in the order in which it was written.

The introduction to the Samhita of Atharva Veda was the last to be written by Sāyaṇa after he had completed his comments upon the Samhitās of other Vedas, Sāyaṇa’s remark on this point is quite conclusive when he tells us that after commenting upon Yajur-R̥g and Sāma Samhitās which deal with sacrifices the fruits whereof are to be realised hereafter, he wrote his Bhāṣya upon the Atharva which treats of rituals whose results are gained here as well as hereafter. This being the natural order in which the introductions were written, we feel justified for their arrangement we have adopted here in this volume.

 

A RUNNING SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS

We beg to make here a short survey of the most important topics dealt within these critical introductions. The first among these, the introduction to Taittirīya Samhita, is very short and naturally the subjects treated of therein are a few in number. As it was natural, Sāyaṇa has begun this introduction with the treatment of some of the fundamental questions about our sacred Vedas. He has proposed a sound definition of Veda and after describing the nature of the proper Adhikārin — person entitled to the study ‘of this sacred lore — has briefly shown the authoritativeness of the Vedas. Next he has divided Veda into two Kāndas, the former of which deals with the four-fold actions and the latter treats of the way to realise the Brahman and of the final release from the bondage of this world as a result of the knowledge thereof. In the end he has concisely explained the appropriateness of darśa and pourṇamāsa sacrifices as the very first rituals with which the first Kāṇḍa of the Yajur Veda begins, since they have been maintained to be the prakr̥ti for all the later sacrificial rites, technically known as vikr̥tis.

The introduction to his Commentary upon the R̥g Veda Samhita has deservedly been very popular with the students of Veda because it contains a wealth of useful information about the nature and interpretation of the Veda. Here the author has taken prodigious pains to give a thorough as well as authoritative exposition of all the fundamental questions touching not merely the R̥g Veda to which it forms a suitable introduction but the whole field of Veda in general. The first important problem tackled by our author is the definition of Veda. Sāyaṇa has, with a sound refutation of the arguments put forth by the pūrvapakṣin, very ably proved that the Vedic mantras do express some intelligible meaning which can be properly made out with the aid of the Nirukta and allied auxiliary literature, and hence that the mantra and Brahman portions of the Vedas do possess their own authoritativeness. To prove these statements our author does not hesitate in giving lengthy Adhikaraṇas in full from the Mīmāṁsā-sutra of Jaimini with his brief comments upon the sutras. After proving the  of Veda and describing the nature and classification of Mantra and Brāhmaṇa, Sāyaṇa has a lengthy discussion about the utility of the study of the Vedas which concludes with recording his just praise and high appreciation for the person who thoroughly understands the subtle import of the Vedic mantras as the crowning result of his successful Svādhyāya. To conclude his treatment of the Vedic problems, our author has given a thorough description of the six ‘limbs’ of Veda and has amply shown the way in which each of them help an interpreter of Veda in properly handling the divers problems connected with Veda and Vedic rituals.

The next introduction to the commentary upon Sāma Veda contains pieces of very useful information which are of more technical nature than those we have as yet derived from the previous introductions. With a preliminary survey of the nature of Mantra and Brāhmaṇa our author plunges into the deep discussion of various technical problems about the recitation and classification of Sāman chants on the occasion of sacrifices. These practical problems, sixty two in number, are based upon the texts of Pūrva Mīmāṁsā system and the solutions proposed there of go a great way to prove the utility of Sāmans for the sacrificial rituals. With a brief comment upon the important topic of the expressiveness of the Vedic mantras this lengthy introduction is brought to a successful conclusion.

The author begins his introduction to the commentary upon the Kāṇva Samhita with certain useful preliminary remarks about the nature and schools of the White Yajurveda. The important topic dealt with later on concerns the interpretation of that famous Vedic text svādhyāyo’dhyetavyaḥ (स्वाध्यायोऽध्येतव्यः) which has been explained in various ways by the different schools of Mīmāṁsā. The utility of the study of Veda has been next treated of by our author, who, after giving an outline of the subjects treated in the forty adhyāyas of the white Yajurveda Samhita and showing the appropriateness of the Darśa and Pourṇamāsa iṣṭis as marking the beginning of the Vedic rituals, concludes this short introduction by his usual remarks about the nature and classification of the Vedic mantras.

Naturally in the beginning of his introduction to the Bhāṣya of Atharvaveda Sāyaṇa has, on the strength of suitable authoritative texts of the Purāṇas and Smr̥tis, treated at great length the usefulness of Atharvaveda as a distinct subject of practical study for the royal Purohita and the officiating priest called Brahma on the occasion of Vedic sacrifices. The interpretation of the text

‘svādhyāyo’dhyetavyaḥ (स्वाध्यायोऽध्येतव्यः)’ and the utility of the study of Veda as consisting of the knowledge of subtle import of the mantras it contains, with a learned criticism of the theory of Prabhākara advocated thereon, are the prominent topics which have called forth an elaborate exposition at the hands of Sāyaṇāchārya. Our author has taken very great pains in explaining the supremely important subject of Prāmāṇya of the Vedic texts, which he, after demolishing various theories held by the philosophical schools of different persuasion, both orthodox and heterodox, shows with the aid of learned arguments to be ‘self-proved’. With a learned criticism of the theories of the logicians and grammarians as regards the nature of ‘word’, Sāyaṇa proves the eternality of Veda and concludes this interesting and useful introduction with a detailed enumeration of the various actions which have been enjoined in this Samhita.

 

A CRITICAL SURVEY OF THE CONTENTS.

The short survey we have made above of the important contents of these introductions will not only show that there is a logical sequence in the systematic treatment of the prominent Vedic problems here, but will also prove that they mutually supplement, in an excellent way, the information contained by each of them. It will further show that our author has dealt with two types of topics, one general and the other special The general topics pertain to the fundamental conceptions about the nature, authoritativeness, definition and classification of Veda. In fact, every important thing touching Veda and Vedic interpretation finds a suitable and exhaustive treatment at the hands of this great Vedic commentator. We give below a bare outline of main topics with which these introductions repeatedly deal.

Veda is defined as the sum of mantras and Brāhmaṇas – a definition adopted here from the  yajñaparibhāṣā (यज्ञपरिभाषा) of āpastaṁba. After critically reviewing the various views about the authoritativeness of Veda held by the philosophers of different schools, Sāyaṇa shows on the authority of Mīmāṁsā texts that the Veda is self-luminous ( svataḥ pramāṇa (स्वतः प्रमाण) ) and can illustrate itself as well as other things. Indian naiyāyika (नैयायिक) hold on the analogy of works written by human authors that the Veda has also got a personal author but Sāyaṇa following the classical Mīmāṁsā writers has furnished conclusive proofs for the apauruṣeyatva (अपौरुषेयत्व) of Veda. The Vedas are eternal as they are self-revealed and have come into existence without the aid of any agency, divine or human. Some hold that the Veda is not worth interpretation inasmuch as some of the Mantras contained therein are ambiguous; some are absurd; some are contradictory; some repeat what is already known, while some do not convey any meaning whatsoever. Proving the incorrectness of the above view, Sāyaṇa has given an exhaustive exposition of the true nature of the Vedic Mantras which are used in the sacrifices not only for the purpose of bringing out some unseen merit called Apūrva through their utterance but also for the purpose of expressing some intelligible meaning.

As regards a suitable definition of mantras and Brāhmaṇas into which the Veda is divided, different views have been offered and criticised and it has been shown that since the mantras and Brāhmaṇas are so various in kind, except denomination (samākhyāna (समाख्यान)) there is no common quality which will serve for a true definition. So the denomination of the mantras, as they are used in the words, ‘this is the mantra’, is the definition of a mantra and whatever in the Veda is not a mantra is a Brāhmaṇa and that is the only convenient way of offering a workable definition of the constituents of the Veda. These Vedic mantras are of three different kinds — R̥k, Sāma and Yajuḥ. Mantras in a metrical form are known as R̥ks, those in the form of songs are Sāmans and those that are neither metrical nor adopted for singing, but are in plain prose are Yajuḥ texts. It is upon this difference between the three kinds of mantras that the distinction between the Vedas – R̥g, Sāma and Yajur—rests.

The Subject matter of Veda is the next important topic repeatedly dealt with in most of these introductions. Veda is divided into two sections (kāṇḍa (काण्ड) ), the first of which has for its subject matter the treatment of actions, while the other, the treatment of Brahma and the means of His realisation. Thus Dharma and Brahma are the subject matter respectively of the two sections into which the whole of Veda is divided. Veda is the only depository of Dharma and Brahma because these two cannot be obtained from any other source and hence their knowledge is the immediate use (prayojana (प्रयोजन)) of the Veda. The study of this sacred work is enjoined by such text as ‘svādhyāyo’dhyetavyaḥ (स्वाध्यायोऽध्येतव्यः)’ which, though explained by different writers in different ways, has been proved to mean no merely the acquisition of some unseen spiritual reward through the bare recitation of the mantras it consists of, but also the proper understanding of the meaning of these mantras. The mastery of the text and ceremonial perfection (prāpti (प्राप्ति) and saṁskāra (संस्कार) are claimed to be the real import of such sacred injunctions and the visible rewards always attending the study of Veda.

We must, therefore, conclude that the injunction to study text of the Veda aims at the mastery of the text. The persons who are entitled by the above Śruti text to the study of this sacred work are those who belong to the three higher castes because they are permitted to have their own initiation ceremony. The women and śūdras though need that knowledge, yet should not meddle with Veda, because they have not been invested with the sacred thread and hence are prohibited.

Besides the treatment of these common topics Sāyaṇa has dealt with some special subjects in his different introductions. A detailed account of  darśa and pourṇamāsa with their appropriateness as the initial rites marking the beginning of the first section of Veda finds a suitable description in the introduction to the Taittirīya Saṁhitā. The introduction to R̥g-Veda has, besides the high praise lavished upon one who properly understands the subtle meanings of Veda, a comprehensive survey of all the six Aṅgas of Veda and the aid they furnish in the interpretation of the Vedic mantras. The introduction to Sāma Veda is replete with the treatment of matters of a technical kind which deal with the complex problem of Sāma chanting. The contents of all the forty sections of the White Yajurveda along with the darśa and paurṇamāsa rituals have been dealt with in the introduction to the Kāṇva Samhitā, while the use, praise and school of the Atharva Veda with an enumeration of various actions treated therein are the proper topic which our author has carefully described in his last introduction to the Atharva Samhita. Thus a critical analysis of the content supplies us with almost all the important information which we must possess, before we commence a really critical study of this ancient and difficult text.

 

CRITICAL ESTIMATE

 

EQUIPMENT OF A VEDIC INTERPRETER

Our sacred Vedas are the most ancient work in the vast range of the Indo-European literature. To this element of remoteness of time must be added the depth of meanings, the obscurity, of expressions and the obsoleteness of grammatical forms, The result is that to do full justice to and to interpret the subtle import of the mantras of the Vedas in a thoroughly satisfactory manner is a work of no small magnitude. Hence an interpreter of the Veda must have some traditional materials at his command before he sets on this difficult task of elaborately elucidating the varied and various meanings of their mantras. The most important of these traditional materials, greatly needed for a Vedic scholar, are those that are supplied by the well-known six limbs (Vedāṅga) of the Veda, namely śikṣā, kalpa, vyākaraṇa, nirukta,  chandas and jyotiṣa.

Śikṣā wherein is taught the method of pronouncing letters, accents etc. is absolutely needed for the accurate recitation of the Vedic mantras.

“svaravarṇādyaparādhaparihārāya śikṣāgrantho’pekṣitaḥ |

स्वरवर्णाद्यपराधपरिहाराय शिक्षाग्रन्थोऽपेक्षितः ।”

Kalpa stating as it does the application of the various texts, is useful in teaching the performance of the sacrifice.

“kalpasūtraṃ mantraviniyogena kratvanaṣṭhānamupadiśya upakaroti |

कल्पसूत्रं मन्त्रविनियोगेन क्रत्वनष्ठानमुपदिश्य उपकरोति ।”

Vyākaraṇa or grammar should be studied for determining the forms and meanings of words from the instruction it gives as to roots, suffixes and the like and thus it is of immense value in the exposition of the meaning of Vedic words, because only that person who knows the laws under which letters or akṣaras are dropped, or added, or modified, will be able adequately to guard the Vedas and to understand their meaning.

“rakṣārthaṃ vedānāmadhyeyaṃ vyākaraṇam | lopāgamavarṇavikārajño hi samyag

रक्षार्थं वेदानामध्येयं व्याकरणम् । लोपागमवर्णविकारज्ञो हि सम्यग् वेदान् परिपालयिष्यति वेदार्थं चाध्यवस्यति – महाभाष्य ।”

Nirukta teaches us the etymologies of difficult words of the Veda and sufficiently supplements the aid given by Sanskrit grammar.

“tādadaṃ vidyāsthānaṃ vyākaraṇasya kārtsnyṃ svārthasādhakaṃ ca | tasmād vedārthāvabodhāya upayuktam niruktam |

ताददं विद्यास्थानं व्याकरणस्य कार्त्स्न्य्ं स्वार्थसाधकं च । तस्माद् वेदार्थावबोधाय उपयुक्तम् निरुक्तम् ।”

Chandas is useful for knowing the meters of the mantras and jyotiṣa for determining the times and seasons proper for sacrifices. Besides these six Aṅgas, a Vedic interpreter must be endowed with the knowledge of the very interesting and useful materials contained in the Purāṇas, Itihāsas and Dharma Śāstras, because without these a man cannot properly appreciate and thoroughly understand the associations which have gathered, during a long time, round the sacred mantras of the Veda.

“itihāsapurāṇābhyāṁ vēdaṁ samupabr̥ṁhayēt |

इतिहासपुराणाभ्यां वेदं समुपबृंहयेत् । “

He must be well versed in the auxiliary Vedic books known as Anukramanīs as well and with their aid must know the R̥ṣi, chandas and devatā of every mantra.

“yo ha vā aviditārṣeyacchandodaivatabrāhmaṇena mantreṇa yājayati vādhyāpayati vā sthāṇuṃ varcchati gateṃ vā pāsyate pramīyate vā pāpīyān bhavati | kātyāyana anukramaṇi |

यो ह वा अविदितार्षेयच्छन्दोदैवतब्राह्मणेन मन्त्रेण याजयति वाध्यापयति वा स्थाणुं वर्च्छति गतें वा पास्यते प्रमीयते वा पापीयान् भवति । का * अनु ।”

But the most essential subject of study immensely needed for the traditional exposition of the fundamental problems touching Veda and Vedic interpretation must be that eminent system of Hindu thought commonly known as Mīmāṁsā. The supreme purpose for which the department of knowledge came into being is, as rightly suggested by its very name, to investigate the definition and nature of Veda and the apparent contradictions which to a superficial mind seem to exist in the various rituals treated by the different Vedas.

“pūrvāttaramīmāṃsayorvedarthopayogo’tispaṣṭa eva |

पूर्वात्तरमीमांसयोर्वेदर्थोपयोगोऽतिस्पष्ट एव ।”

‘Its purpose’, rightly says Somanātha in his Mayūkhamālā, is to determine sense of revelation’.

Hence for a scholar who wishes to dive deep into the true meanings and subtle significance of the Vedic mantras, an acquaintance with the Mīmāṁsā doctrines and, rules of Vedic interpretation is absolutely essential by way of introduction before he proceeds directly with the Vedic texts. Judged by these requirements of a Vedic interpreter which a critical introduction must necessarily contain, these introductions of Sāyaṇa to his commentaries upon the various Vedic Samhitās turn to be orthodox models of what truly useful and authoritative introduction should be.

 

SĀYAṆA AS A VEDIC COMMENTATOR

The great Sāyaṇāchārya has made the most direct and most important contributions to the Vedic exegesis. In interpreting the Veda he rightly exploits the aid afforded by the six Vedic Aṅgas, the Purāṇās, and the Mīmāṁsā. He is a thorough going Mīmāṁsaka and therefore in his commentary upon the Vedas he justly reinforces the substantial aid given by the other departments of knowledge by the profound and traditional views of the Vedic interpretation which Mīmāṁsā contains. In these very informing and learned introductions to his Bhāṣya upon the Vedas he has furnished all the important preliminary matters which a student, before be sets sail upon the vast ocean of the deeply significant Vedas, must be in possession of. It is natural to find Mīmāṁsā playing a very significant role in these critical Introductions. Indeed, they are replete with the most fundamental views and the traditional doctrines which Mīmāṁsā has to propound about the nature, infallibility and authoritativeness of our sacred Vedas. We shall very briefly show the nature of Mīmāṁsā doctrines which our author has so ably set forth in the pages of these introductions.

The doctrine that the Vedic mantras are expressive of intelligent meanings is based upon the mantraliṅgādhikaraṇa (मन्त्रलिङ्गाधिकरण) of Mīmāṁsā Sūtras, first Adhyāya, 2nd Pāda, Sutras 31—53. The arthavāda (अर्थवाद) portion of the Brāhmaṇas has been mentioned to have an equal authoritativeness with that portion which deals with the injunctions (vidhis विधिs) and it is based upon the 1st Adhikaraṇa of the second Pāda of the first Adhyāya, Sutras 1—18, known as  arthavādādhikaraṇa (अर्थवादाधिकरण). The proposition which proves that the Vedas do not owe their existence to the agency of any personal author but are eternal is likewise founded upon the vedāpauruṣeyatvādhikaraṇa (वेदापौरुषेयत्वाधिकरण) (1, 1, 27—32) of pūrvamīmāṁsā. The definition of mantra and Brāhmaṇa and the threefold divisions of mantras into R̥k, Yajuḥ and Sāma along with their proper definitions have their basis in the different Adhikaraṇas of the first Pada of the second Adhyāya, Sūtras 32—37. So much for the common topics repeatedly treated by Sāyaṇa in these introductions. As regards the special subjects dealt with here, the Mīmāṁsā sutras are no less laid under contribution. Thus the whole of the elaborate Introduction to the sāmasaṁhita contains a detailed exposition of 62 technical topics of pūrvamīmāṁsā which have got their bearings upon the various complex problems of the singing of Sāmans and their utility and application for the purpose of sacrifice. Indeed, the whole of this Introduction consists of lengthy extracts from the different Adhyāyas of jaiminīya-nyāya-mālā-vistara a very important work on pūrvamīmāṁsā composed by his elder brother, the great Mādhavāchārya. The lengthy and learned discussion about svādhyāyādhyayana (स्वाध्यायाध्ययन) in the introduction to kāṇvasaṁhitābhāṣya and prāmāṇyavāda of Veda with a critical survey of the different doctrines held by the followers of different philosophical schools which our author has made in the introduction to atharvasaṁhitā bhāṣya truly prove the great service into which the Mīmāṁsā doctrines have been pressed for expounding the important views held by the traditionalists about the supreme authoritativeness of the Vedas and the complete usefulness of their intelligent study.

 

THEIR USEFULNESS FOR A MODERN STUDENT OF VEDA.

We have repeatedly asserted that the Vedic commentaries written by Sāyaṇāchārya are, in spite of their occasional apparent contradictions in the interpretation of certain Vedic passages, the only sure and consistent guide in the understanding and the exegesis of the Mantras of the Vedas. They are valuable not only for an orthodox Vaidika but also for a modern student of this ancient literature of the Hindus. Those who press the sciences of Comparative Philology and Comparative Mythology into the service of Vedic exegesis will find in these illuminating Bhāṣyas matters which are of especial interest to them, Sāyaṇa has, in the course of his commentaries taken into account the valuable helps rendered by the sciences of Etymology (Nirukta) and Grammar (Vyākaraṇa). Our author has not only utilised the contributions made by Yāska in his Nirukta but has himself proposed suitable meanings of difficult Vedic words in accordance with the rules of Etymology, where Yāska is wholly silent. The science of grammar has been, especially in the commentary upon the first Aṣṭaka of R̥gveda, fully taken into account in the interpretation of the Vedic Mantras where accents play important parts. Sāyaṇāchārya has collected every item of mythological interest associated with the meaning of Vedic hymns which will yield even a modern student of Veda a rich harvest of very useful results. Besides these, Sāyaṇa’s commentaries are the only extant Bhāṣyas complete in every respect in a vast commentarial literature which has gradually grown round the Vedas. In these, Sāyaṇa has utilised even those valuable comments which are perhaps lost forever or are only partially known to us in these times. Under these circumstances, Sāyaṇa is the only commentator who can supply us with the direct traditional meanings of the Mantras as handed down from generation to generation of the native Vedic interpreters. We firmly believe that a really sympathetic and critical study of Sāyaṇa’s Commentaries will be valuable even from the stand-point of a modern student of Vedas engaged in unraveling the hidden mysteries of the Vedic language and religion.

The introductions to these Vedic commentaries we have collected here amply furnish a student of Veda with all the supremely important doctrines which he must possess before he directly begins the practical study of the Vedic texts. Besides, these will impart the necessary insight into properly appreciating and clearly understanding the genuine spirit in which Sāyaṇa has written his learned and monumental Bhāṣyas. We have firm belief that a precise study of these valuable Introductions will show us not only the traditional mode of the proper interpretation of the Vedas but also the right way in which these most ancient sacred texts should be handled. It is the sheer misunderstanding of the view—point of this eminent Vedic commentator which has unnecessarily called forth the undeserved obloquy heaped upon the sacred head of the great Sāyaṇa not only by the so-called foreign Vedic scholars who, placed as they are, are wholly ignorant of the important traditions and associations which have grown round this most ancient and sacred work in course for many centuries but also by the various Indian disciples of these European Gurus, who, though fortunate enough to be in a position to understand properly the different Vedic traditions, do blindly follow their lead and feed the unfortunate young students placed under their care upon the ill-digested and half-baked theories of these “Western Vaidikas’. Indeed, the only safe guide which we possess in these times when even the masters of the ‘historical method’ differ from one another as regards the obvious meanings and plain interpretations of easy Vedic Mantras is the traditionally uniform and deeply suggestive Bhāṣya of Sāyaṇa. With his scholastic interpretations the great Sāyaṇāchārya has been, and indeed will be, the supremely reliable guide to effect our first entrance into the manifold mysteries of this impregnable fortress of Vedic language and Vedic religion. In fact, everyone who enters on the study of Veda owes in an abundant measure a deep debt of gratitude to this great authority on the Vedic exegesis. We cannot properly imagine what the condition of Vedic scholarship would have been to day without the vedārthaprakāśa (वेदार्थप्रकाश) of our eminent author in which the great Vedic exegesist has not left a single word unexplained, however obscure it may be. It is not that this eminent service done by Sāyaṇa has not been recognised even by the modern Western scholars who have devoted their time and labour towards a really critical and in a way intensive study of this most ancient Aryan literature. Thus Prof. Wilson is amply justified (and we believe thoroughly impartial) when he makes these critical remarks in the introduction to his translation of the first Aṣṭaka of R̥g—Veda—

‘He (Sāyaṇa) undoubtedly had a knowledge of his text far beyond the pretensions of any European scholar, and must have been in possession, either through his own learning or that of his assistants, of all the interpretation which had been perpetuated by traditional teaching from the early times’.

We beg to conclude our very humble remarks as to the great intrinsic worth of Sāyaṇa’s work as a truly reliable guide in the difficult task of interpretation of Vedic Mantras with the following extract from. Prof. Max Muller’s preface to his Vedic Hymns (Part I p. XXX ):—

‘Those who recollect the history of Vedic scholarship during the last five and twenty years know best that with all its faults and weaknesses, Sāyaṇa’s commentary was a sine qua non for a scholar like study of the R̥g Veda. I do not wonder that others who have more recently entered on that study are inclined to speak disparagingly of the scholastic interpretations of Sāyaṇa. They hardly know how much we all owe to his guidance in effecting our first entrance into this fortress of Vedic language and Vedic religion, and how much even they, without being aware of it, are indebted to that Indian Eustathius……..

………………..We ought to bear in mind that five and twenty years ago, we could not have made even our first steps, we could never at least have gained a firm footing without leading strings.’

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