From the Jacket
The present work is the first edition, translation of one of the most important works of the Brahmana literature. The text has been prepared from three manuscripts, two of which are in my own possession. The third was a copy made by a Pandit from another manuscript. I used the text, which is in Sayana's Commentary on the work, in the copy belonging to the Sanskrit library of the Poona College. Actual difference of readings can be hardly spoken of readings can be hardly spoken of. Or the text of the Brahmanam is as well preserved as that of the Samhita.
The editing of the text and the translation of the numerous stories contained in the work was a comparatively easy task, and might have been carried out as well by any respectable Sanskrit scholar in possession of the necessary materials obtainable there. But the case stands different with the translation of the technical parts of the work and principally the numerous explanatory notes which are indispensable for an actual understanding of the book.
The present work is the first edition, and first translation of one of the most important works of the Brahmana literature. The text has been prepared from three manuscripts, two of which are in my own possession. The third was a copy made by a Pandit from another manuscript. This copy was sent to the press, and corrected from the two other manuscripts. Besides I used the text, which is in Sayana's Commentary on the work, in the copy belonging to the Sanskrit library of the Poona College. Though it would not have been difficult for me to procure ten manuscripts of the text, I saw nowhere any need for it. Or those two, which were purchased from priestly families. With whom the learning by heart of the Rgveda there was no need for comparing a larger number. Actual difference of readings can be hardly spoken of. For the text of the Brahmanam is as well preserved as that of the Samhita.
In order to facilitate the reading of the text. I have introduced the European method of punctuation. One of my manuscripts has regular stops, marked with vertical strokes in red ink above the line; they do not, however, point out the end of sentences and phrases, but only the place where the repeater of the Brahmanam used to stop, when called to some house to read it.
The editing of the text and the translation of the numerious stories contained in the work was a comparatively easy task, and might have been carried out as well in Europe by any respectable Sanskrit. Scholar in possession of the necessary materials obtainable there. But the case stands different with the translation of the technical parts of the work and principally the numerious explanatory notes which are indispensable for an actual understanding of the book. Though Sayana's excellent Commentary, which I have used throughout. Is a great help or making out the proper meaning of many an obscure word, or phrase, it is not sufficient or obtaining a complete insight into the real meaning of many terms and passages occurring in the work. Besides, a good many passages in the commentary itself, though they may convey a correct meaning, are hardly intelligible to European Sanskrit scholars who have no access to oral sources of information. The ancient craft, for the most part unintelligible. It is, therefore, not surprising, that no Sanskrit scholar as yet ever attempted the translation of the whole of a Brahmana; for the attempt would, in many essential points, have proved a failure.
What might be expected in thee explanation of sacrificial terms from scholars unaided by oral information, may be learnt from the three volumes hitherto published of the great Sanskrit Dictionary, compiled by Boehtlingk and Roth. The explanations of these terms there given (as well as those of many words of the Samhita) are nothing but guesses, having no other foundation than the individual opinion of a scholar who never made himself familiar with the sacrificial art, even as far as it would be possible in Europe, by a careful study of the commentaries on the Sutras and Brahmanas, and who appears to have thought his own conjectures to be superior to the opinions of the greatest divines of Hindustan, who were especially trained for the sacrificial profession from times immemorial. These of gigantic toil and labour, and on account of its containing numerous references and quotations extremely useful to the small number of Sanskrit scholars who are able to make independent researches, have been already repeatedly pointed out by Professor Theodor Goldstucher, one of the most accurate Sanskrit scholars in Europe. Although his remarks excited the wrath principally of some savans at Berlin, who had tried to praise up the work as a masterpiece of perfection and ingenuity almost unparalleled in the history of lexicography, they are, nevertheless, though in some points too severe, not quite so underserved and unjust, as the defenders of the Dictionary made them to appear. Goldstucker justly does not only find fault with its explanation of ritual terms, but with the meanings given to many words in the Samhita. Though I am far from defending even the greater majority of Sayana's explanations of the more difficult words and sentences of the Samhita, it would have been at any rate advisable for the compilers of a Sanskrit Dictionary, which includes the Vedic words, to give Sayana's explanation along with their own. Even granted that all Sayana's explanations are only either guesses of his own or of the great Bhattacaryas before him, whose labours he principally used, they nevertheless deserve all attention as the opinions and observations of men who had a much deeper knowledge of the Sanskrit language in general, and the rites of the Vedic religion, than any European scholar has ever attained to. It is quite erroneous to presuppose, as the editors of the Dictionary appear to do, that Sayana himself made the majority of explanations in his Commentary. All Pandits who have any knowledge of the subject unamimously assert that he used a good many predecessors, and that comparatively few explanations are entirely his own. The so-called Kausika Bhasya is said to be more ancient than that of Sayana, and also the Ravana Bhasya. Both are said to be still extant, but I have not yet been able to obtain copies of them.
Seeing the great difficulties, nay, impossibility of attaining to anything like a real understanding of the sacrificial art from all the numerous books I had collected. I made the greatest efforts to obtain oral information from some of those few Brahmanas who are known by the name of Srotriyas, or Srautis, and who alone are the preservers of the sacrificial mysteries as they descended from the remotest time. The task was no easy one, and no European scholar in this country before me ever succeeded in it. This is not to be wondered at; for the proper knowledge of the ritual is everywhere in India now rapidly dying out. And in many parts, chiefly in those under British rule, it has already died out. Besides, the communication of these mysteries to foreigners is regarded by old devout Brahmanas (and they alone have the knowledge) as such a monstrous profanation of their sacred creed, and fraught with the most serious consequences to their position, that they can only, after long efforts, and under payment of very handsome sums, be prevailed upon to give information. Notwithstanding, at length I succeeded in procuring the assistance of a Sruti, who not only had performed the small sacrifices, such as the Darsapurnamasa Isti, but who had even officiated as one of the Hotars, or Udgatars. At several Soma sacrifices, which are now very rarely brought. In order to obtain a thorough understanding of the whole course of an Isti, and a Soma sacrifice, I induced him (about 18 months ago) to show me in some secluded place in my premises, the principal ceremonies. After the place had been properly arranged, and the necessary implements brought to the spot, the performance began. I noted carefully everything I saw during about five days, and always asked for explanation if I did not properly comprehend it. I was always referred to the Sutras and the Prayogas or pocket books of the sacrificial priest, so that no deception could take place. All information was conveyed to me by means of the Marathi language, of which I had by that time already acquired a sufficient knowledge for carrying on any conversation. In this way I obtained some sort of rough knowledge of the principal ceremonies (for they were generally only partially, in order to save time, and rapidly performed), which I completed afterwards by oral instruction, derived from the same and some other sacrificial priests, and Agnihotris, who had the sacrificial operations performed on themselves and in their behalf. Thus, I was enabled to understand the various Sutras, and consequently the technicalities of the Brahmanas. Therefore, the explanations of sacrificial terms, as given in the notes, can be relied upon as certain; or they are neither guesses of my own, nor of any other Hindu or European scholars, but proceed from what I have myself witnessed, and been taught by the only men who have inherited the knowledge from the most ancient times. My notes are therefore, for the most part, independent of Sayana, or I had almost as good sources as he himself had. He, however, does not appear to have troubled himself much with a minute study of the actual operations of the sacrificial priests, but derived all his knowledge almost entirely from the Sutras only.
It had been easy for me to swell by accumulation of notes the work to double the size, which it is now; but I confined myself to give omy what necessary. The remainder I may publish at some other occasion.
I have to acknowledge with many thanks the willingness with which E. I. Howard, Esq., Director of Public Instruction of this Presidency. Who is ever ready to promote literary pursuits and learned researches into Indian and Iranian antiquities, undertook the publication of the whole of this work or Government. He will be entitled to the gratitude of all those who may profit by the new sources of information opened up for the first time in it.
I have also to render my thanks to Professor E. B. Cowell, at Calcutta, for the kindness to have allowed me the use of his copy of the Kausitaki Brahmanam, and to Proessor Buhler at Bombay, for his copy of the whole Tandya Brahmanam, of which I have hitherto been able to procure a fragment only.
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