The Grihya-sutra ascribed to Sankhayana, which has been edited and translated into German by myself in the XVth volume of the Indische Studien, is based on the first of the four Vedas, the Rig-veda in the Bashkala recension, and among the Brahmana texts, on the Kaushitaka. Its reputed author, whom we ordinarily find called by his family name, Sankhayana, had the proper name Suyagna. This we may infer from the lists of Vedic teachers given in different Grihya texts where they describe the Tarpasa ceremony. Though in these lists the order of names varies very much, yet the two names Suyagita and Sankhayana are constantly placed side by side, so that this fact alone would render it probable that they belonged to the same person. Thus we read in the Sankhayana-Grihya IV, 10 = VI, I :
Kaholam Kaushitakim, Mahakaushitakise, Suyagnam Sankhayanam, Asvalayanam, Aitareyam, Mahaitareyam. Here we have grouped together the two Brahmana authors (with the fictitious doubles, the great Kaushitaki, the great Aitareya) and the two corresponding Sutra authors belonging to the two chief branches of the Rigveda literature; first comes one Brahmana author (for Kahola Kaushitaki is one person) with the Sutra author connected with him, then the second Sutra author and the corresponding Brahmana teacher.
In the Sambavya-Grihya (Indische Studien, XV, 154) the corresponding passage runs thus:
Gargya- Gautarna- Sakalya- Babhravya- Mandattavya [sic} Mandukeyah Suyagna- Samkhyayana- Gatukar- nyeyah [sic] Paimga [sic]- Sambavy' -Aitareyah.
The same Grihya still more explicitly bears witness to the name of Suyagna Sankhayana, by adding at the end of the list from which these names are quoted the following words: Suyagna Sakhayanas [sic] tri [pya] tu, i. e. ' May Suyagna Sankhayana satiate himself (with the water offering).'
In the Asvalayana-Grihya III, 4, we read: Kaholam Kaushitakam Mahakaushitakam Paingyam Mahapaingyam Suyagnam Sailkhayanam Aitareyam Mahaitareyam.
We may also quote here a Karika given by Narayana in his great commentary on the Sankhayana-Grihya (I, I, 10):
Atraranipradanam yad adhvaryuh kurute kvakit matam tan na Suyagnasya, mathitam so 'tra nekkhati.
It would perhaps be hazardous to claim for the author of this Karika the authority of an independent witness, for very likely he may have derived his knowledge from the lists of teachers which we have quoted before. But at all events the concordance of the three Grihya texts furnishes a proof which, I think, cannot be set aside by another testimony which we must mention now. At the end of the Kaushitaki-Aranyaka (Adhyaya 15) we find a Vamsa or list of the teachers by whom the knowledge contained in that Aranyaka is supposed to have been handed- down. The opening words of this list run thus:
‘Om! Now follows the Vamsa. Adoration to the Brahman! Adoration to the teachers! We have learnt (this text) from Gunakhya Sankhayana, Gunakhya Sankhayana from Kahola Kaushitaki, Kahola Kaushitaki from Uddalaka Aruni, &c.'
It is a very natural supposition that the author of this list intended to begin with the name of the Doctor eponymus, if we may say so, of the Sutras of his school, and then to proceed to name the Doctor eponymus of the Brahmanas, and after him the more ancient teachers and sages. But whether the author of this passage really supposed this Gunakhya Sankhayana to be the author of the Sankhayana-sutras, or not, we shall be justified in following rather the unanimous statements of the texts previously quoted, and in accepting in accordance with them, as the full name of our Sutrakara, die name Suyagna Sankhayana.
The Grihya-sutra which has been here translated presupposes, as all Grihya-sutras do, the existence of the Srauta-sutra, with which it is intimately connected and which is referred to in the Grihya in several instances.
Here the question arises whether the Grihya-sutra was composed by the same author to whom the authorship of the Srauta-sutra belongs, so that the two texts form together, and would, in the conception of their author, be intended to form, one great body of Sutras, or, on the other hand, whether the Grihya-sutra is a later addition to the Srauta-sutra. On this question I have ventured, in the preface to my German edition of Sankhayana, to offer a few remarks which, however, I feel bound to say do not seem to myself quite decisive. I there pointed out that the Grihya- sutra contains a few aphorisms which we should rather expect would have found their place in the Srauta-sutra, if the two texts were composed by the same author and on a common plan. But, apart from the possibility that in a work of such considerable extent as that collection of Sutras would be, such trifling incongruences or irregularities might very easily escape the attention even of a very careful author, there is still another objection that may be urged against the inference drawn by me from such passages. It can be shown that the Grihya texts which we possess are based to some extent on one common original, from which they have taken verbatim, or nearly verbatim, a certain number of aphorisms. Thus if we were to suppose that Sankhayana, or whosoever the author of this Grihya-sutra may have been, found the aphorisms on which I once based my argument, in that original text, this would explain the occurrence of those passages In a portion of the great body of Sutras different from that in which we should expect to meet them. Now several of the passages in question recur identically in other Grihya texts, so that we may infer indeed that they are taken from that lost original, and we have no means to judge whether the other similar passages are not taken from it also. I believe, therefore, that the opinion which I once pronounced regarding the relation in which the two Sutra texts stand to each other, cannot be vindicated, and that it is better to leave that question unanswered until perhaps further discoveries throw a new light on it.
We begin our introductory remarks on the Iiterature of the Grihya-sutras with the attempt to collect the more important data which throw light on the development of the Grihya ritual during the oldest period of Hindu antiquity.
There are, as it seems, no direct traces of the Grihya ceremonies in the most ancient portion of Vedic literature. It is certain indeed that a number of the most important of those ceremonies are contemporaneous with or even earlier than the most ancient hymns of the Rig-veda, as far as their fundamental elements and character are concerned, whatever their precise arrangement may have been. However, in the literature of the oldest period they play no part. It was another portion of the ritual that attracted the attention of the poets to whom we owe the hymns to Agni, Indra, and the other deities of the Vedic Olympus, viz. the offerings of the Srauta-Ritual with their far superior pomp, or, to state the matter more precisely, among the offerings of the Srauta-Ritual the Soma offering. In the Soma offering centred the thought, the poetry, and we may almost say the life of the Vasishthas, of the Visvamitras, &c., in whose families the poetry of the Rig-veda had its home. We may assume that the acts of the Grihya worship, being more limited in extent and simpler in their ritual construction than the great Soma offerings, were not yet at that time, so far as they existed at all, decked out with the reciting of the poetic texts, which we find later on connected with them, and which in the case of the Soma offering came early to be used. Probably they were celebrated in simple unadorned fashion; what the person making the offering had to say was doubtless limited to short, possibly prose formulas, so that these ceremonies remained free from the poetry of the above-mentioned families of priests. we think that the character of the verses given in the Grihya-sutras, which had to be repeated at the performance of the different ceremonies, justifies us in making these conjectures. Some of these verses indeed are old Vedic verses, but we have no proof that they were composed for the purposes of the Grihya ceremonies, and the connection in which we find them in the Rig-veda proves rather the contrary. Another portion of these verses and songs proves to have been composed indeed for the very Grtbya ceremonies for which they are prescribed in the texts of the ritual: but these verses are more recent than the old parts of the Rig-veda. Part of them are found in the Rig-veda in a position which speaks for their more recent origin, others are not contained in the Rig-veda at all. Many of these verses are found in the more recent Vedic Samhitas, especially in the Atharva-veda a Samhita which may be regarded in the main as a treasure of Grihya verses; others finally have not as yet been traced to any Vedic Samhita, and we know them from the Grihya-sutras only. We may infer that, during the latter part of the Rig-veda period, ceremonies such as marriage and burial began to be decked out with poetry as had long been the case with the Soma offering. The principal collection of marriage sentences and the sentences for the burial of the dead are found in the tenth Mandala of the Rig-veda, which, for the most part, is known to be of later origin than the preceding portions of the collections. If we look into the character of the verses, which these long Grihya songs are composed of, we shall find additional grounds for assuming their early origin. A few remarks about their metrical character will make this clear. There is no other metre in which the contrast between the early and later periods of Vedic literature manifests itself so clearly as in the Anushtubh-metre . The Anushtubh hemistich consists of sixteen syllables, which are divided by the caesura into two halves of eight syllables each. The second of these halves has as a rule the iambic ending though this rule was not so strictly carried out in the early as in the later period . The iambic ending is also the rule in the older parts of the Veda for the close of the first half, i. e. for the four syllables before the caesura. We know that the later prosody, as we see it in certain late parts of Vedic literature, in the Pali Pitakas of the Buddhists, and later in the great epic poems, not only departs from the usage of the older period, but adopts a directly contrary course, i. e. the iambic ending of the first pada, which was formerly the rule, is not allowed at all later, and instead of it the prevailing ending is the antispast. It goes without saying that such a change in metrical usage, as the one just described, cannot have taken place at one jump. And accordingly a consideration of the Vedic texts reveals a transition period or rather a series of several transition periods between the old and the new standpoints. The first change is that every other ending of the first pada is allowed by the side of the iambic ending. The two forms of the ending, the one prevailing in the earliest, and the one prevailing in the later period of the prosody, the iambic and the antispastic are those that occur most frequently in the intermediate period, but besides them all other possible forms are allowed.
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