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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

p. 282


Divisions of the Sáma-veda: of the Atharva-veda. Four Pauráńik Sanhitás. Names of the eighteen Puráńas. Branches of knowledge. Classes of Rishis.

YOU shall now hear, Maitreya, how Jaimini, the pupil of Vyása, divided the branches of the Sáma-veda. The son of Jaimini was Sumantu, and his son was Sukarman, who both studied the same Sanhitá under Jaimini 1. The latter composed the Sáhasra Sanhitá (or compilation of a thousand hymns, &c.), which he taught to two disciples, Hirańyanábha, also named Kauśalya (or of Kośala), and Paushyinji 2. Fifteen disciples of the latter were the authors of as many Sanhitás: they were called the northern chaunters of the Sáman. As many more, also the disciples of Hirańyanábha, were termed the eastern chaunters of the Sáman, founding an equal number of schools. Lokákshi, Kuthumi, Kushídí, and Lángali were the pupils of Paushyinji; and by them and their disciples many other branches were formed. Whilst another scholar of Hirańyanábha, named Kriti, taught twenty-four Sanhitás to as many pupils; and by them, again, was the Sáma-veda divided into numerous branches 3.

I will now give you an account of the Sanhitás of the Atharva-veda. The illustrious Muni Sumantu taught this Veda to his pupil Kabandha, who made it twofold, and communicated the two portions to Devaderśa and to Pathya. The disciples of Devaderśa were Maudga, Brahmabali,

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[paragraph continues] Śaulkáyani, and Pippaláda. Pathya had three pupils, Jájali, Kumudádi, and Śaunaka; and by all these were separate branches instituted. Śaunaka having divided his Sanhitá into two, gave one to Babhru, and the other to Saindhaváyana; and from them sprang two schools, the Saindhavas and Munjakeśas 4. The principal subjects of difference in the Sanhitás of the Atharva-veda are the five Kalpas or ceremonials: the Nakshatra Kalpa, or rules for worshipping the planets; the Vaitána Kalpa, or rules for oblations, according to the Vedas generally; the Sanhitá Kalpa, or rules for sacrifices, according to different schools; the Ángirasa Kalpa, incantations and prayers for the destruction of foes and the like; and the Sánti Kalpa, or prayers for averting evil 5.

Accomplished in the purport of the Puráńas, Vyása compiled a Pauráńik Sanhitá, consisting of historical and legendary traditions, prayers and hymns, and sacred chronology 6. He had a distinguished disciple, Súta, also termed Romaharshańa, and to him the great Muni communicated the Puráńas. Súta had six scholars, Sumati, Agnivarchas, Mitrayu, Śánśapáyana, Akritavrańa, who is also called Káśyapa, and Sáverńi. The three last composed three fundamental Sanhitás; and Romaharshańa himself compiled a fourth, called Romaharshańika. The substance of which four Sanhitás is collected into this (Vishńu) Puráńa.

The first of all the Puráńas is entitled the Bráhma. Those who are

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acquainted with the Puráńas enumerate eighteen, or the Bráhma, Pádma, Vaishńava, Śaiva, Bhágavata, Náradíya, Márkańd́eya, Ágneya, Bhavishyat, Brahma Vaivartta, Lainga, Váráha, Skánda, Vámana, Kaurmma, Mátsya, Gárura, Brahmáńd́a. The creation of the world, and its successive reproductions, the genealogies of the patriarchs and kings, the periods of the Manus, and the transactions of the royal dynasties, are narrated in all these Puráńas. This Puráńa which I have repeated to you, Maitreya, is called the Vaishńava, and is next in the series to the Padma; and in every part of it, in its narratives of primary and subsidiary creation, of families, and of periods, the mighty Vishńu is declared in this Puráńa 7.

The four Vedas, the six Angas (or subsidiary portions of the Vedas, viz. Śikshá, rules of reciting the prayers, the accents and tones to be observed; Kalpa, ritual; Vyákarańa, grammar; Nirukta, glossarial comment; Chhandas, metre; and Jyotish, (astronomy), with Mímánsá (theology), Nyáya (logic), Dharma (the institutes of law), and the Puráńas, constitute the fourteen principal branches of knowledge: or they are considered as eighteen, with the addition of these four; the Áyur-veda, medical science (as taught by Dhanwantari); Dhanur-veda, the science of archery or arms, taught by Bhrigu; Gándharba-veda, or the drama, and the arts of music, dancing, &c., of which the Muni Bharata was the author; and the Artha śástram, or science of government, as laid down first by Vrihaspati.

There are three kinds of Rishis, or inspired sages; royal Rishis, or princes who have adopted a life of devotion, as Viswamitra; divine Rishis, or sages who are demigods also, as Nárada; and Brahman Rishis, or sages who are the sons of Brahmá, or Brahmans, as Vaśisht́ha and others 8.

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I have thus described to you the branches of the Vedas, and their subdivisions; the persons by whom they were made; and the reason why they were made (or the limited capacities of mankind). The same branches are instituted in the different Manwantaras. The primitive Veda, that of the progenitor of all things, is eternal: these branches are but its modifications (or Vikalpas).

I have thus related to you, Maitreya, the circumstances relating to the Vedas, which you desired to hear. Of what else do you wish to be informed 9?


282:1 The Váyu makes Sukarman the grandson of Sumantu, his son being called Sunwat.

282:2 Some copies read Paushpinji. The Váyu agrees with our text, but alludes to a legend of Sukarman having first taught a thousand disciples, but they were all killed by Indra, for reading on an unlawful day, or one when sacred study is prohibited.

282:3 The Váyu specifies many more names than the Vishńu, but the list is rather confused. Amongst the descendants of those named in the text, Ráyánaníya (or Ráńáyaníya), the son of Lokákshi, is the author of a Sanhitá still extant: Saumitri his son was the author of three Sanhitás: Paráśara, the son of Kuthumi, compiled and taught six Sanhitás: and Śáligotra, a son of Lángali, established also six schools. Kriti was of royal descent: he and Paushyinji were the two most eminent teachers of the Sáma-veda.

283:4 According to the commentator, Munjakeśa is another name for Babhru; but the Váyu seems to consider him as the pupil of Saindhava, but the text is corrupt.

283:5 The Váyu has an enumeration of the verses contained in the different Vedas, but it is very indistinctly given in many respects, especially as regards the Yajush. The Rich is said to comprise 8600 Richas. The Yajush, as originally compiled by Vyása, 12000: of which the Vájasaneyi contains 1900 Richas, and 7600 Brahmanas; the Charaka portion contains 6026 stanzas: and consequently the whole exceeds 12000 verses. The stanzas of the Sáman are said to be 8014; and those of the Atharvan 5980. Mr. Colebrooke states the verses of the whole Yajush to be 1987; of the Salapalka Brahmana of the same Veda 7624; and of the Atharvan 6015.

283:6 Or of stories (Ákhyánas) and minor stories or tales (Upákhyánas); of portions dedicated to some particular divinity, as the Śíva-gitá, Bhagavad-gítá, &c.; and accounts of the periods called Kalpas, as the Bráhma Kalpa, Váráha Kalpa, &c.

284:7 For remarks upon this enumeration, see Introduction.

284:8 A similar enumeration is given in the Váyu, with some additions. Rishi is derived from Rish, 'to go to' or 'approach.' The Brahmarshis, it is said, are descendants of the five patriarchs, who were the founders of races or Gotras of Brahmans, or Kaśyapa, Vaśisht́ha, Angiras, Atri, and Bhrigu. The Devarshis are Nara and Náráyańa, the sons of Dharma; the Bálakhilyas, who sprung from Kratu; Kardama, the son of Pulaha; Kuvera, the son of Pulastya; Achala, the son of Pratyúsha; p. 285 Nárada and Parvata, the sons of Kaśyapa. Brahmarshis are Ikshwáku and other princes. The Brahmarshis dwell in the sphere of Brahmá; the Devarshis in the region of the gods; and the Rájarshis in the heaven of Indra.

285:9 No notice is taken here of a curious legend which is given in the Mahábhárata, in the Gadá Parvan. It is there said, that during a great drought the Brahmans, engrossed by the care of subsistence, neglected the study of the sacred books, and the Vedas were lost. The Rishi Sáraswata alone, being fed with fish by his mother Saraswatí, the personified river so named, kept up his studies, and preserved the Hindu scriptures. At the end of the famine the Brahmans repaired to him to be taught, and sixty thousand disciples again acquired a knowledge of the Vedas from Sáraswata. This legend appears to indicate the revival, or more probably the introduction, of the Hindu ritual by the race of Brahmans, or the people called Sáraswata; for, according to the Hindu geographers, it was the name of a nation, as it still is the appellation of a class of Brahmans who chiefly inhabit the Panjab. (As. Res. VII. 219, 338, 341.) The Sáraswata Brahmans are met with in many parts of India, and are usually fair-complexioned, tall, and handsome men. They are classed in the Játi málás, or popular lists of castes, amongst the five Gaura Brahmans, and are divided into ten tribes: they are said also to be especially the Purohits or family priests of the Kshatriya or military castes: (see the Játi málá, printed in Price's Hindi Selections, II. 280:) circumstances in harmony with the purport of the legend, and confirmatory of the Sáraswatas of the Panjab having been prominent agents in the establishment of the Hindu religion in India. The holy land of the Hindus, or the primary seat, perhaps, of Brahmanism, has for one of its boundaries the Saraswatí river: see p. 181, n. 7.

Next: Chapter VII