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The Grihya Sutras, Part 1 (SBE29), by Hermann Oldenberg, [1886], at

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THE Grihya-sûtra ascribed to Sâṅkhâyana, 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 Bâshkala recension 1, and among the Brâhmana texts, on the Kaushîtaka. Its reputed author, whom we ordinarily find called by his family name, Sâṅkhâyana, had the proper name Suyagña. This we may infer from the lists of Vedic teachers given in different Grihya texts where they describe the Tarpana ceremony. Though in these lists the order of names varies very much, yet the two names Suyagña and Sâṅkhâyana 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 Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya IV, 10 = VI, 1:

Kaholam Kaushîtakim, Mahâkaushîtakim, Suyagñam Sâṅkhâyanam, Âsvalâyanam, Aitareyam, Mahaitareyam.

Here we have grouped together the two Brâhmana authors (with the fictitious doubles, the great Kaushîtaki, the great Aitareya) and the two corresponding Sûtra authors belonging to the two chief branches of the Rig-veda literature; first comes one Brâhmana author (for Kahola Kaushîtaki is one person) with the Sûtra author connected with him, then the second Sûtra author and the corresponding Brâhmana teacher.

In the Sâmbavya-Grihya (Indische Studien, XV, 154) the corresponding passage runs thus:

Gârgya- Gautama- Sâkalya- Bâbhravya- Mândattavya

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[paragraph continues] [sic]- Mândûkeyâh Suyagña- Sâmkhyâyana- Gâtukarnyeyâh [sic] Paimga [sic]- Sâmbavy’-Aitareyâh.

The same Grihya still more explicitly bears witness to the name of Suyagña Sâṅkhâyana, by adding at the end of the list, from which these names are quoted the following words: Suyagña Sâkhâyanas [sic] tri[pya]tu, i.e. 'May Suyagña Sâṅkhâyana satiate himself (with the water offering).'

In the Âsvalâyana-Grihya III, 4, we read:

Kaholam Kaushîtakam Mahâkaushîtakam Paiṅgyam Mahâpaiṅgyam Suyagñam Sâṅkhâyanam Aitareyam Mahaitareyam.

We may also quote here a Kârikâ given by Nârâyan1 in his great commentary on the Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya (I, 1, 10):

Atrâranipradânam yad adhvaryuh kurute kvakit 2
matam tan na Suyagñasya, mathitam so ’tra nekkhati.

It would perhaps be hazardous to claim for the author of this Kârikâ 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 Kaushîtaki-Âranyaka (Adhyâya 15) we find a Vamsa or list of the teachers by whom the knowledge contained in that Âranyaka 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 Gunâkhya Sâṅkhâyana, Gunâkhya Sâṅkhâyana from Kahola Kaushîtaki, Kahola Kaushîtaki from Uddâlaka Âruni, &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 Sûtras of his school, and then to proceed to name the Doctor eponymus of the Brâhmanas, and after him the more ancient teachers and

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sages. But whether the author of this passage really supposed this Gunâkhya Sâṅkhâyana to be the author of the Sâṅkhâyana-sûtras, 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 Sûtrakâra, the name Suyagña Sâṅkhâyana.

The Grihya-sûtra which has been here translated presupposes, as all Grihya-sûtras do, the existence of the Srauta-sûtra, with which it is intimately connected and which is referred to in the Grihya in several instances 1.

Here the question arises whether the Grihya-sûtra was composed by the same author to whom the authorship of the Srauta-sûtra belongs, so that the two texts form together, and would, in the conception of their author, be intended to form, one great body of Sûtras, or, on the other hand, whether the Grihya-sûtra is a later addition to the Srauta-sûtra. On this question I have ventured, in the preface to my German edition of Sâṅkhâyana 2, 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-sûtra contains a few aphorisms which we should rather expect would have found their place in the Srauta-sûtra, if the two texts were composed by the same author and on a common plan 3. But, apart from the possibility that in a work of such considerable extent as that collection of Sûtras 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 4 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 Sâṅkhâyana,

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or whosoever the author of this Grihya-sûtra 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 Sûtras 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 Sûtra 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.

For the reconstruction of the correct text of the Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya, and occasionally also for its interpretation, it is of considerable importance that we possess, besides the Devanâgarî MSS. of the text and of the commentaries, a South Indian MS. written in the Grantha character (MS. Whish 78 in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society, London) which contains a Grihya based on that of Sâṅkhâyana and following it, during the greater part of the work, nearly word for word 1. It is designated in the MS., at the end of the single Adhyâyas, as 'Kaushîtaka-Grihya.' It therefore professes to follow the teaching of the same Brâhmana which is adhered to also by the Sûtra school of Sâṅkhâyana. A metrical commentary, which in the MS. follows after the text, names in its opening Sloka a teacher Sâmbavya as the author of this Sûtra. The Sloka runs thus:

Natvâ Kaushîtakâkâryam Sâmbavyam sûtrakrittamam
grihyam tadîyam samkshipya vyâkhyâsye bahuvismritam.

('Having bowed to the most excellent author of Sûtras, to Sâmbavya, the Âkârya belonging to the Kaushîtaka school, I shall compose a short commentary on his Grihya, which has been forgotten by many.')

The name of this Sâmbavya does not occur among the

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teachers enumerated in the description of the Tarpana ceremony, neither in Sâṅkhâyana IV, 10, nor in Âsvalâyana III, 4; but in the list of the Sâmbavya-Grihya itself it is found (see above, p. 4); and besides it seems to me also to be mentioned in Âsvalâyana-Grihya IV, 8, 24, in which passage it will scarcely be considered too bold to conjecture Sâmbavya instead of Sâmvatya.

Though the MS. of the Sâmbavya-Grihya is very confused, and full of blunders of all sorts, yet it deserves to be attentively studied by all scholars who are accustomed to look, if not in theory yet in practice, on the agreement of a few Vedic text MSS., or of a few Indian commentaries, as if it had a claim to an unassailable authority to which European Orientalists would have no right to deny their faith. In the Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya a number of passages are found in which corrupt readings or perverse explanations are supported by all the Sâṅkhâyana MSS. and by all the Sâṅkhâyana commentaries, and if, by a rare and fortunate chance, the Sâmbavya Grantha MS., which is unaffected by the blunders of the Devanâgarî MSS., had not been discovered in the south of the peninsula, these readings and explanations would seem to rest on the unanimous agreement of tradition. Perhaps it seems unnecessary to dwell on this point, for very few Orientalists, if any, would be prepared to assert that Indian tradition is infallible. But when looking over many of the editions and translations of the Vedic texts; even such as have been published in the last years, one finds plentiful occasion to observe that in hundreds of passages tradition has been practically treated, by scholars of very high merit, as if it had an authority not very far removed from infallibility. A case like that of which we have to speak here, in which a whole set of MSS., and occasionally also of commentaries, can be tested by a MS. of a nearly related text, written in a different character and in a distant part of India, will strengthen our belief that we are right in judging for ourselves, even if that judgment should oppose itself to such authorities as Nârâyana or Râmakandra or Gayarâma.

Perhaps it will not be out of place to add here, as an

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illustration of these remarks, a few observations on one of the passages in which the rejection of the traditional Sâṅkhâyana reading, together with the traditional Sâṅkhâyana explanation, is confirmed by the Sâmbavya MS., though no doubt, even without the aid of that MS., we ought to have formed the right conclusions for ourselves. At Sâṅkhâyana II, 4, 1. 2 the traditional reading is:

Mama vrate hridayam te dadhâmi mama kittam anu kittam to astu | mama vâkam ekamanâ gushasva Brihaspatish tvâ niyunaktu mahyam iti | kâmasya brahmakaryasyâsâv iti.

Sâṅkhâyana is treating here of the Upanayana, or the initiation of the student who is received by a teacher and intends to study the Veda with him. The teacher on that occasion is to pronounce the Mantra which we have just transcribed, and which translated into English would run thus:

'Under my will I take thy heart; after my mind shall thy mind follow; in my word thou shalt rejoice with all thy heart; may Brihaspati join thee to me.' 'Of the Brahmakarya of Kâma (or lust), N.N.!'

The MSS. give the end of the passage as we have printed it above, kâmasya brahmakaryasyâsâv iti. This Nârâyana explains in the following way. Brahmakarya here means the observances which the student has to keep through certain periods of time before the different texts which he has to learn can be taught him. First comes the Sâvitrî verse, for which he prepares himself by observing the sâvitra vrata; this lasts either one year, or three days, or the Sâvitrî can also be taught him immediately (see chap. 5, 1-3). Then follows the sukriya vrata, of three days, or twelve days, or one year, or any other period of time according to the teacher's pleasure (chap. 11, 10); by this vrata the student is enabled to study the main portion of the Veda. Finally come the sâkvara, vrâtika, aupanishada observances, each of which has to last one year, and which refer to the different parts of the Âranyaka (see chap. 11, 11 seq., and the sixth book). Now the formula of which we treat here refers principally to the sâvitra

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vrata. The teacher announces to the student how long he has to keep that vrata. He says (Sûtra 1), 'May Brihaspati join thee to me (Sûtra 2) for a brahmakarya (i.e. a vrata) of such and such (kâmasya) a time (one year, three days, &c.); N.N.!' Kâma (the pleasure) would thus stand here as an expletive which was to be replaced in each single case by the indication of the real space of time that depended on the teacher's pleasure ('. . . niyunaktu mahyammvatsarikasya trairâtrikasya vânvakshikasya vâ sâvitrasya brahmakaryasyâmukâmukasarmann iti vâkyasamyogo gñeyah'). The same should take place at the corresponding forms of Upanayana which had to precede the entrance of the student upon the sukriya, sâkvara, &c. observances. This is the explanation of Nârâyana, with which Râmakandra and all the other commentaries agree. It will scarcely be necessary to observe that the singular use of k â ma, on which this traditional explanation rests, is neither in accordance with the meaning of the word, nor supported by any parallel texts. So, even before I had the opportunity of collating the Sâmbavya MS., I had no doubt that the system of the Vratas has nothing at all to do with our Sûtra, and that its text should be made intelligible by a slight alteration touching only the quantity of the a in two syllables, by writing, Kâmasya brahmakâry asy asâv iti (thou art the Brahmakârin of Kâma, N.N.!), as we read in Âsvalâyana I, 20, 8, kasya brahmakâryasi, prânasya brahmakâry asi. Afterwards I found that the Grantha MS. of Sâmbavya gives the very reading which I had conjectured.

Passages like this are not very rare in the Grihya-sûtras. In the other Sûtras we are not in the same favourable position of possessing a MS. which enables us, as the Grantha MS. of Sâmbavya does, to test their text.

We cannot conclude these introductory remarks without speaking of the later additions tacked on at the end of the original body of the Sâṅkhâyana-Grihya-sûtras 1. There are unmistakable indications that the fifth and sixth books are later additions. The fifth book is

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designated as a parisishta in a Kârikâ quoted by Nârâyana:

parisishtâd âvasathye pârvanâtikrame karuh
Vaisvânarâyâgnaye kâgnaye 1 tantumate tathâ.

('According to the Parisishta, if one of the half-monthly sacrifices has been omitted, a mess of rice should be offered on the sacred domestic fire to Agni Vaisvânara and to Agni Tantumat.')

The passages of the Parisishta here referred to are the two first aphorisms of V, 4:

'Now if a half-monthly sacrifice has not been performed, one or the other of them, then a mess of rice (is to be offered)—

'With (the words), "To Agni Vaisvânara svâhâ! To Agni Tantumat svâhâ!'"

There are, besides, several passages in which Nârâyana himself mentions the fifth book under the designation of Pariseshâdhyâya 2. And even if we had not the authority of the Kârikâ and of Nârâyana, the contents alone of the fifth book would raise our suspicion against its genuineness. The matter ordinarily treated of in the Grihya texts is brought to an end in Adhyâyas I-IV; in the fifth book we find diverse supplementary additions on points discussed before; rules, which no doubt would have been given at their proper place, had the fifth book been composed at the same time, and by the same author, as the preceding books 3. Besides, we find different prâyaskitta oblations treated of, and a description of two ceremonies which are mentioned, as far as I know, in no other Grihya-sûtra, but belong to the rites frequently described in such works as Purânas, Parisishtas, and later Dharma texts: the consecration of ponds or wells (chap. 2), and the consecration of gardens (chap. 3).

There can thus be little doubt as to the secondary character of the fifth book. And this alone suffices to

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furnish an important argument in favour of the same view with regard to the sixth book also. This view is furthermore supported by the opening invocation in that book, addressed to Brahman and to a number of mythological beings and Vedic sages and teachers. It is evident that by such an invocation this book is characterised as a separate treatise, presupposing of course the main body of the Sâṅkhâyana-sûtras, but not forming part of it in the same sense in which, for instance, the second or the third Adhyâya does. The object of that treatise is the exposition of the ritual connected with the study of the Rahasya texts. The sixth book, composed no doubt by a later adherent of the Sâṅkhâyana school, returns, in fact, to, and enlarges on, matters that have already found their proper place in the original Grihya-sûtra at II, 12, and partly also at IV, 7.


3:1 See IV, 5, 9.

4:1 Manuscr. Chambers 712 (Berlin Royal Library), fol. 12 b.

4:2 Comp. Pâraskara-Grihya I, 2, 5: aranipradânam eke.

5:1 See, for instance, Grihya I, 16, 1 (Srauta IV, 16, 2).

5:2 Indische Studien, vol. xv, pp. 11, 12.

5:3 The Sûtras with reference to which I made that observation are I, 8, 14; 14, 13-15; II, 15, 10. Comp. Srauta-sûtra II, 7, 12; IV, 21.

5:4 I intend to give some proofs of this in the General Introduction to the Grihya-sûtras which will be given in the second volume of these translations.

6:1 Comp. the statements given with regard to that text in my German edition of Sâṅkhâyana, Indische Studien, XV, 4 seq.

9:1 Comp. the remarks in my German edition of Sâṅkhâyana, Ind. Studien. XV, 7.

10:1 vâgnaye the MS.

10:2 Nârâyana on I, 9, 3; 10, 2.

10:3 The Paddhati inserts the paraphrase of several of these rules into the explanation of the first Adhyâya.

Next: I, 1