We have a great pressure in presenting The Asvalayana Srautasutram with the commentary of siddhantin Gunavisnu, for the first time in the complete form, critically edited and based on the original manuscripts, in the hand of Vedic scholars. It is took several decades since it was planned and work was started upon this project. As it is commonly said by the Sanskritists: (good deals have many hindrances); this project did not get a chance to come out. Normally, reaching the goal enhances pleasure in the ration of pains taken
In 1938 only two chapter (1-2) only two chapter (1-2) of this work were published by Dr. Mangal Dev Shastri with the help of only 3 manuscripts. Afterwards Dr. Vishava Baudhu Ji started the project of critical editions of various Vedic works. In this process the critical edition of the Asvalayana Srautasutra with with all available commentaries was taken up. There are 5 commentators on the Asvss Viz.. Devasvamin, Devatrata, Siddhantin, Gargya Narayana and sadgurusisya. The work on those commentaries went on up to collation of some MSS. But scholars, viz., Pt. Pitambar Datta, Pt. Vraja Nandan Mishra and Pt. Jagdish Jha went on retirement and work was stopped. After a decade,w e took up editing of the Devatrata Bhasya on the Asvss. And it was published in 3 part in 1996. After the editing of the Devatrata-bhasya, we took up editing of the Siddhanti-bhasya and as a result this work is in your hands.
Among the Srautasutra related to the Rgveda and mainly dealing with the duties of the Hotr priest and his three assistants, viz., Maitravaruna, Acchavaka, and Gravastut, collectively called Hotrakas, today we have only two, viz., the Asvalayana srautasutra (asvss) and the Sankhayana Srautasutra (Sankhss). The Sankhss attributed to Suyajna commentary of Varadattasuta Anartiya and the same was published in four comprchensive, was more popular among the Rgvedins, it is evident from a number of commentaries on it. At least eight commentaries written by Devasvamin, Gargyanarayana, Bhavanaga, Siddhantin, Devatrata, Tippubhatta, Tryambaka and Sadgurusisya are said to have existed. Out of these eight commentaries, the commentary of Gargyanarayana, son of Narasinha was published, one from Biblotheca Indica, Calcutta (1964-1874) under the editorship of Ramanarayana Vidyaratna and the other from Anandasrama, Poona (1917) under the editorship of Ganesh C. Gokhale, in 1962 our Devatrata, Devasamin, Siddhantin and sadgurusisya, the Asvss with the commentary of Devatrata was completed first and the same was published in three volumes under Panjab University Indological Series Nos 31 (1986). In the Introduction to the third volume the following topics were dicussed in detail.
1. Authorship of the Asvss
2. Contents of the Asvss
3. Division, arrangement and number of the sutras.
4. Treatment of Rgveda-mantras in the Asvss
5. Treatment of Rgveda-mantras in the Asvss
6. Commentator Devatrata.
7. Special features of Devatrata's Commentary.
After Devatrata's commentary the publication of Siddhantin's commentary commenced some two years before. Now, it is being brought out for the first time in it's entirety. As a considerable amount of discussion about the Asvss has already been made in the introduction of the said edition of Devatrata's commentary, now we shall discuss here only with some of the important features of the Siddhantin's Commentary.
Personality of Siddhantin
In comparison to Devatrata we know very little about the personality of Siddhantin, as he does not give any information about himself in his commentary. None of the MSS, which were available to us, supplied any information about the commentator in their colophons. In none of the his reference. Throughout his commentary he never quotes any contemporary authority on srauta rituals by name. He frequently quotes the view of others by using the phrase Eke, Kecit, Apare etc. completely hiding their identity. He never refers to any commentator by name except Skandasvamin and Mathuropadhyaya whome he has quoted only once each. When he gives his own opinion he uses the phrases atra brumah, Asmakam, Asmadiya, etc. These phrases, too, do not help us to know about his personality. It is still a mystery whether his appellation Siddantin is a proper name or a title. In some MSS catalogues he has been mentioned Siddhantin gunavisnu. Whatever informations we could deduce from his commentary about his personality are as under:-
I. Siddantin was Rgvedin Brahmana. His own Sakha was Asvalyana. Whenever he uses the words Vyam, asmakam or asmadiyah he means the followers of asvalayana recension. He did not belong to Kausitakin or Sankhayana recension, it is evident from the frequent quotations from the Sankhss with the phrase Iti Kausitakindam api vacanam. Had he belonged to that school he would not have used such phrase. At one place he has used the words Kausitakinam and Asmakam together.
II. Siddhantin quotes the views of Skandasvamin and Mathuropadhyaya on the matter of employment of mantras in certain ritual. From reference to Skandasvamin in his commentary it is abvious that Siddhantin is posterior to the former. Skandasvamin flourished in 7th century. He must have flourished after that.
III. Siddhantin seems to be very orthodox in the matter of preserving sanctity of the sadas of Agnudhra by not allowing eating there. It is evident from the fact that he uses the words Murkhah (idiots) for those who allow eating in Agnudhra Sadas
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