The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Division of the Veda, in the last Dwápara age, by the Vyása Krishńa Dwaipáyana. Paila made reader of the Rich; Vaiśampáyana of the Yajush; Jaimini of the Shun; and Sumantu of the Atharvan. Súta appointed to teach the historical poems. Origin of the four parts of the Veda. Sanhitás of the Rig-veda.
PARÁŚARA.--The original Veda, in four parts, consisted of one hundred thousand stanzas; and from it sacrifice of ten kinds 1, the accomplisher of all desires, proceeded. In the twenty-eighth Dwápara age my son Vyása separated the four portions of the Veda into four Vedas. In the same manner as the Vedas were arranged by him, as Vedavyása, so were they divided in former periods by all the preceding Vyásas, and by myself: and the branches into which they were subdivided by him were the same into which they had been distributed in every aggregate of the four ages. Know, Maitreya, the Vyása called Krishńa Dwaipáyana to be the deity Náráyańa; for who else on this earth could have composed the Mahábhárata 2? Into what portions the Vedas were arranged by my magnanimous son, in the Dwápara age, you shall hear.
When Vyása was enjoined by Brahmá to arrange the Vedas in different books, he took four persons, well read in those works, as his disciples. He appointed Paila reader of the Rich 3; Vaiśampáyana of
the Yajush; and Jaimini of the Soma-veda: and Sumantu, who was conversant with the Atharva-veda, was also the disciple of the learned Vyása. He also took Súta, who was named Lomaharshańa, as his pupil in historical and legendary traditions 4.
There was but one Yajur-veda; but dividing this into four parts, Vyása instituted the sacrificial rite that is administered by four kinds of priests: in which it was the duty of the Adhwaryu to recite the prayers (Yajush) (or direct the ceremony); of the Hotri, to repeat the hymns (Richas); of the Udgátri, to chaunt other hymns (Sáma); and of the Brahman, to pronounce the formulæ called Atharva. Then the Muni, having collected together the hymns called Richas, compiled the Rigveda; with the prayers and directions termed Yajushas he formed the Yajur-veda; with those called Sáma, Sáma-veda; and with the Atharvas he composed the rules of all the ceremonies suited to kings, and the function of the Brahman agreeably to practice 5.
This vast original tree of the Vedas, having been divided by him into four principal stems, soon branched out into an extensive forest. In the first place, Paila divided the Rig-veda, and gave the two Sanhitás (or collections of hymns) to Indrapramati and to Báshkali. Báshkali 6 subdivided his Sanhitá into four, which he gave to his disciples Baudhya, Agnimát́hara, Yajnawalka, and Paráśara; and they taught these secondary shoots from the primitive branch. Indrapramati imparted his Sanhitá to his son Mańd́ukeya, and it thence descended through successive generations, as well as disciples 7. Vedamitra, called also Śákalya, studied the same Sanhitá, but he divided it into five Sanhitás, which he distributed amongst as many disciples, named severally Mudgala, Goswalu, Vátsya, Śálíya, and Śiśira 8. Sákapúrńi made a different division of the original Sanhitá into three portions, and added a glossary (Nirukta), constituting a fourth 9. The three Sanhitás were given to his three pupils, Krauncha,
[paragraph continues] Vaitálaki, and Valáka; and a fourth, (thence named) Niruktakrit, had the glossary 10. In this way branch sprang from branch. Another Báshkali 11 composed three other Sanhitás, which he taught to his disciples Káláyani, Gárgya, and Kathájava 12. These are they by whom the principal divisions of the Rich have been promulgated 13.
275:1 According to the Grihya portion of the Sáma-veda, there are five great sacrificial ceremonies; 1. Agnihotra, burnt-offerings, or libations of clarified butter on sacred fire; 2. Derśapaurńamása, sacrifices at new and full moon; 3. Cháturmasya, sacrifices every four months; 4. Paśu-yajna or Aśwamedha, sacrifice of a horse or animal; and 5. Soma-yajna, offerings and libations of the juice of the acid asclepias. These, again, are either Prákrita, 'simple,' or Vaikrita, 'modified;' and being thus doubled, constitute ten.
275:2 The composition of the Mahábhárata is always ascribed to the Vyása named Krishńa Dwaipáyana, the cotemporary of the events there described. The allusion in the text establishes the priority of the poem to the Vishńu Puráńa.
275:3 Or rather, 'he took Paila as teacher.' The expression is, Rigveda śrávakam Pailam jagráha. Śrávaka means properly 'he who causes to hear,' 'a lecturer,' 'a preacher;' although, as in the case of its applicability to the laity of the Buddhists and Jainas, it p. 276 denotes a disciple. The commentator however observes, that the text is sometimes read 'one who had gone through the Rig-veda.' So in the preceding verse it is said, 'he took four persons, well read in the Vedas, as his disciples,' and again it is said, 'Sumantu, conversant with the Atharva-veda, was his disciple.' It is clear, therefore, that the Vedas were known, as distinct works, before Krishńa Dwaipáyana; and it is difficult to understand how he earned his title of arranger, or Vyása: at any rate, in undertaking to give order to the prayers and hymns of which the Vedas consist, Paila and the others were rather his coadjutors than disciples; and it seems probable that the tradition records the first establishment of a school, of which the Vyása was the head, and the other persons named were the teachers.
276:4 The Itihása and Puráńas; understanding by the former, legendary and traditional narratives. It is usually supposed that by the Itihása the Mahábhárata is especially meant; but although this poem is ascribed to Krishńa Dwaipáyana, the recitation of it is not attributed to his pupil, Roma or Loma-harshańa: it was first narrated by Vaiśampáyana, and after him by Sauti, the son of Lomaharshańa.
276:5 From this account, which is repeated in the Váyu P., it appears that the original Veda was the Yajush, or in other words was a miscellaneous body of precepts, formulæ, prayers, and hymns, for sacrificial ceremonies; Yajush being derived by the grammarians from Yaj, 'to worship.' The derivation of the Váyu Puráńa, however, is from Yuj, 'to join,' 'to employ;' the formulæ being those especially applied to sacrificial rites, or set apart for that purpose from the general collection: p. 277 ### again, ### The commentator on the text however, citing the former of these passages from the Váyu, reads it, confining the derivation to Yaj, 'to worship.' The concluding passage, relating to the Atharvan, refers, in regard to regal ceremonies, to those of expiation, Śánti, &c. The function of the Brahman is not explained; but from the preceding specification of the four orders of priests who repeat at sacrifices portions of the several Vedas, it relates to the office of the one that is termed specifically the Brahman: so the Váyu has 'He constituted the function of the Brahman at sacrifices with the Atharva-veda.'
277:6 Both in our text and in that of the Váyu this name occurs both Báshkala and Báshkali. Mr. Colebrooke writes it Báhkala and Báhkali. As. Res. VIII. 374.
277:7 The Váyu supplies the detail. Mańd́ukeya, or, as one copy writes, Márkańd́eya, taught the Sanhitá to his son Satyaśravas; he to his son Satyahita; and he to his son Satyaśrí. The latter had three pupils, Śákalya, also called Devamitra (sic in MS.), Rathántara, and another Báshkali, called also Bharadwája. The Váyu has a legend of Śákalya's death, in consequence of his being defeated by Yájnavalkya in a disputation at a sacrifice celebrated by Janaka.
277:8 These names in the Váyu are Mudgala, Golaka, Kháliya, Mátsya, Śaiśireya.
277:9 The commentator, who is here followed by Mr. Colebrooke, states that he was a pupil of Indrapramati; but from the Váyu it appears that Śákapúrńi was another name of Rathántara, the pupil of Satyaśrí, the author of three Sanhitás and a Nirukta, or glossary; whence Mr. Colebrooke supposes him the same with Yáska. As. Res. VIII. 375. It is highly probable that the text of the Váyu may be made to correct that of the Vishńu in this place, which is inaccurate, notwithstanding the copies agree: they read, ###. p. 278 Here Śákapúrńir-atha-itaram is the necessary construction; but quere if it should not be Śákapúrńi Rathántara. The parallel passage in the Váyu is, ###. Now in describing the pupils of Satyaśrí, Rathántara was named clearly enough: ###. In another passage it would seem to be implied that this Báshkali was the author of the Sanhitás, and Rathántara of the Nirukta only: ###. However this may be, his being the author of the Nirukta identifies him with Śákapúrńi, and makes it likely that the two names should come in juxta-position in our text, as well as in the Váyu. It must be admitted, however, that there are some rather inexplicable repetitions in the part of the Váyu where this account occurs, although two copies agree in the reading. That a portion of the Vedas goes by the name of Rathantara we have seen (p. 42); but as far as is yet known, the name is confined to different prayers or hymns of the Uhya Gána of the Sáma-veda. The text of the Vishńu also admits of a different explanation regarding the work of Śákapúrńi, and instead of a threefold division of the original, the passage may mean that he composed a third Sanhitá. So Mr. Colebrooke says "the Vishńu P. omits the Śákhás of Aśwaláyana and Sánkhyáyana, and intimates that Śákapúrńi gave the third varied edition from that of Indrapramati." The Váyu, however, is clear in ascribing three Sanhitás or Śákhás to Śákapúrńi.
278:10 In the Váyu the four pupils of Sákapúrńi are called Kenava, Dálaki, Śatavaláka, and Naigama.
278:11 This Báshkali may either be, according to the commentator, the pupil of Paila, who, in addition to the four Sanhitás previously noticed, compiled three others; or he may be another Báshkali, a fellow-pupil of Śákapúrni. The Váyu makes him a disciple of Satyaśrí, the fellow-pupil of Śákalya and Rathántara, and adds the name or title Bháradwája.
278:12 In the Váyu they are called Nandáyaníya, Pannagári, and Árjjava.
278:13 Both the Vishńu and Váyu Puráńas omit two other principal divisions of the Rich, those of Aśwaláyana and Sánkhyáyana or the Kauśítakí. As. Res. VIII. 375. There is no specification of the aggregate number of Sanhitás of the Rich in our text, or in the Váyu; but they describe eighteen, including the Nirukta; or as Mr. Colebrooke states, sixteen (As. Res. VIII. 374); that is, omitting the two portions of the original, as divided by Paila. The Kúrma Puráńa states the number at twenty-one; but treatises on the study of the Vedas reduce the Śákhás of the Rich to five.