Atharva - Veda - Samhita ( 2 Volumes )

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Item Code: IDD462
Author: William Dwight Whitney
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 8120810856
Pages: 1207
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
Weight 1.80 kg
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Book Description

About the Book:

Atharva - Veda means 'the Veda of the Atharvan' or 'the knowledge of Magic Formulas'. Originally, however, the word meaning 'fire priest', dates back to the Indo-Iranian period. It is a collection of 731 hymns, which contain about 6,000 verses, in the recension which is best preserved. The great importance of the Atharva - Veda Samhita lies in the very fact that it is an invaluable source of knowledge of the real popular belief as yet uninfluenced by the priestly religion, of the faith in numberless spirits, imps, ghosts, and demons of every kind, and of the witchcraft, so eminently important to ethnology and for the history of religion.

This work includes in the first place, critical notes upon the text, giving the various readings of the manuscripts, and not alone of those collated by Whiney in Europe, but also of those of the apparatus used by S. P. Pandit in the great Bombay edition; second, the readings of Paippalada of Kashmere version, furnished by the late Professor Roth; further, notice of the corresponding passages in all the other Vedic texts, with report of the various readings; the data of the Hindu scholiast respecting authorship, divinity, and metre of each verse; also references to the ancillary literature, especially to the well-edited Kausika and Vaitana Sutras, with account of the ritualistic use therein made of the hymns or parts of hymns, so far as this appears to cast any light upon their meaning; also, extracts from the printed commentary; and finally, a simple literal translation with introduction and indices.

About the Author

William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894) studied Sanskrit for three years in Germany, and gained wide reputation for his scholarship in this field. At Yale University, he became professor of Sanskrit in 1854, adding comparative philology in 1869. He became secretary to the American Oriental Society in 1857 and its president in 1884. He was editor-in-chief of the first edition of the respected Century Dictionary, published in 1889.

Whitney revised definitions for the 1864 edition of Webster’s American Dictionary, and in 1869 became a founder and first president of the American Philological Association. He wrote metrical translations of the Vedas, and numerous papers on the Vedas and linguistics, many of which were collected in the Oriental and Linguistic Studies Series (1872-74). He wrote several books on language, and grammar textbooks of English, French, German, and Sanskrit.

Editor’s Preface

Whitney’s labors on the Atharva-Veda. – As early as March, 1851, at Berlin, during Whitney’s first semester as a student in Germany, his teacher Weber was so impressed by his scholarly ability as to suggest to him the plan of editing an important Vedic text. The impression produced upon Roth in Tubingen by Whitney during the following summer semester was in no wise different, and resulted in the plan for a joint editing began accordingly upon his return Berlin for his second winter semester. His fundamental autograph transcript of the Atharva-Veda Samhita is contained in his Collation-Book, and appears from the dates of that book to have been made in short interval between October, 1851, and March, 1852. The second summer in Tubingen (1852) was doubtless spent partly in studying the text thus copied, partly in planning with Roth the details of the method of editing, partly in helping to make the tool, so important for further progress, the index of Rig-Veda pratikas, and so on; the concordance of the four principle Samhitas, in which, to be sure, Whitney’s party was only “a secondary one,” was issued under the date November, 1852. During the winter of 1852-3 he copied the Praticakhya and its commentary contained in the Berlin codex (Weber, No. 361), as is stated in his edition, p. 334. As noted below (pp. xliv, I), the collation of the Paris and Oxford and London manuscripts of the Atharvan Samhita followed in the spring and early summer of 1853, just before his return (in August) to America. The copy of the text for the printer, made with exquisite neatness in nagari letter by Mr. Whitney’s hand, is still preserved.

The Edition of the text or “First volume.” - The first part of the work, containing book i.-xix of the appeared in Berlin with a provisional preface date February, 1855. The provisional preface announces that the text of book xx. will not be given in full, but only the Kuntapa-hymns, and, for the rest of it, merely reference to the Rig-Veda; and promises, as the principal contents of the second part, seven of the eight items of accessory material enumerated below.- This plan, however, was changed, and the second part appeared in fact as a thin Heft of about 70 pages, giving book xx. in full, and that only. To it was prefixed a half-sheet containing the definitive preface and a new title-page. The definitive preface is dated October, 1856, and adds an eight item, exegetical notes, to the promises of the provisional preface. The new title-page ahs the words “Erster Band. Text,” thus implicitly promising a second volume, in which, according to the definitive preface, the accessory material was to be published.

Relation of this work to the “First volume” and to this Series. – Of the implicit promise of that title-page, the present work is intended to complete the fulfillment. As most of the labor the first volume had fallen to Whitney, so most of the labor upon the projected “second was of have been done by Roth. In fact, however, it turned out that Roth’s very great services for the criticism and exegesis of this Veda took a different from, and are embodied on the on hand in his contributions to the St. Petersburg Lexicon, and consist on the other in his brilliant discovery of the Kashmirian recension of this Veda and his collations of the text thereof with that of the Vulgate. Nevertheless, as is clearly apparent (page xvii), Whitney thought and spoke of this work as a “Second volume of the Roth-Whitney edition of the Atharva-Veda,” and called it “our volume” in writing to Roth (cf. p. lxxxvi); and letters exchanged between the two friends in 1894 discuss the question whether the “Second volume” ought not to be published by the same house (F. Dummler’s) that issued the first in 1856. It would appear from Whitney’s last letter to Roth (written April 10, 1894, shortly before his death), that he had determined to have the work published in the Harvard Series, and Roth’s last letter to Whitney (dated April 23) expresses his great satisfaction at this arrangement. This plan had the cordial approval of my friend Henry Clarke Warren, and, while still in relatively fair healthy, he generously gave to the University the money to pay for the printing.

External from of this work. – It is on account of the relation just explained, and also in deference to Whitney’s express wishes, that the size of the printed page of this work and the size of the paper have been chosen to much those of the “First volume.” The pages have been numbered continuously from 1 to 1009, as if this work were indeed one volume; but, since it was expedient to separate the work into two halves in binding, I have done so and designated those halves as volumes seven and eight of the Harvard Oriental Series. The volume are substantially bound and properly lettered; the leaves are open at the front; and the top is cut without spoiling the margin. The purpose of the inexpensive gilt top is not for ornament, but rather to save the volumes from the injury by dirt and discoloration which is so common with ragged hand-cut tops. The work has been electrotyped, and will thus, it is hoped, be quite free from the blemished occasioned by the displacement of letters, the breaking off of accents, and the like.



    Portrait of Whtney, facing page
    Facsimile of Kashmirian text, birch-bark leaf a, just before page

Paragraphs in lieu of a preface by Whitney

    Announcement of this work
    Statement of its plan and scope and design
    The purpose and limitations and method of the translation

Editor's Preface

    Whiney's labors on the Atharva-Veda
    The edition of the text or the "First Volume"
    Relation of this work to the "First volume"
    And to this Series
    External form of this work
    Its general scope as determined by previous promise and fulfilment

    Of the critical notes in particular
    Scope of the work as transcending previous promise
    Evolution form of this work
    Partial rewriting and revision by Whitney
    Picking up the broken threads
    Relation of the editor's work to that of the author

    Parts for which the author is not responsible
    The General Introduction, Part I.: by the editor
    The same, Part II. : elaborated in part from the author's material
    The editor's special introduction to the eighteen books,
    The special introductions to the hymns: additions by the editor
    His bibliography of previous translations and discussions: contained in
    The paragraphs beginning with the word "Translated"
    Added special introductions to the hymns of book etc.
    Other editorial additions at the beginning and the end of hymns
    Other additions of considerable extent
    The seven tables appended to the later volume of this work
    Unmarked minor additions and other minor changes
    The marked minor additions and other minor changes

    The revision of the author's additions and other minor changes
    Accentuation of words
    Orthography of Anglicized proper names
    Editorial short-comings and the changes of error
    The biographical and related matter
    General significance of Whitney's work
    Need of a systematic commentary on the Rig-Veda
    The Century Dictionary of the English Language
    Human personality and the progress of science
    The same in English verse and in Sanskrit verse

Biographical and related matter

    Brief sketch of whitney's life: by the editor
    Estimate of Whitney's character and the services: by the editor
    Select list of Whitney's writings: by Whitney

General Premise

    Scope of this Part of the Introduction
    Scope of the reports of the variant readings
    The term "manuscripts" often used loosely for "authorities"
    Which authorities are both manuscripts and oral reciters.
    Difficulty of verifying statements as to authorities
  1. Readings of European manuscripts of the Vulgate recension
      Reports include mss. collated, some before, and some after publication. Interpretation of the records of the Collation-Book
  2. Readings of Indian manuscripts of the Vulgate.
      By "Indian mss" are meant those used by S. P. Pandit
      His reports not exhaustive
  3. Readings of Indian oral reciters of the Vulgate
      By "Indian oral reciters" are meant those employed by S. P. Pandit
      Errors of the eye checked by oral reciters
  4. Readings of the Hindu commentator
      The critical value and the range of his variant readings
      Excursus: Was he identical with Sayana of the Rig-Veda?
  5. Readings of the Pada-patha
      Reported in Index Verborum, and since published in full
      Illustrations of its deficiencies
      In verb-compounds and various other combinations
  6. The Praticakhya and its commentary
      Character of Whitney's editions of the Praticakhyas
      Their bearing upon the orthography and criticism of the text
      Utilization of the Atharvan Praticakhya for the present work
  7. The Anukramanis: "Old" and "Major"
      More than one Anukramani extant
      The Pancapatalika or "Old Anukr" or "Quoted Anukr"
      Manuscripts thereof
      The Brhatsarvanukramani or "Major Anukr."
      Manuscripts thereof
      Text-critical value of the Anukramanis
      The author of the Major Anukr. as a critic of meters
      His statements as to the seers of the hymns (quasi-authorship)
  8. The Kaucika-Sutra and the Vaitana-Sutra
      The work of Garbe and Bloomfield and Caland
      Bearing of Sutras upon criticism of structure and text of Samhita
      Grouping of mantra-material in Sutra and in Samhita compared
      Many difficulties of the Kaucika yet unsolved.
      Value of the Sutras for the exegesis of the Samhita
      Kaucika no good warrant for dogmatism in the exegesis of Samhita
      Integer vitae as a Christian funeral-hymn
      Secondary adaptation of mantras to incongruous ritual uses
  9. Readings of the Kashmirian or Paippalada recension
      Its general relations to the Vulgate or Caunakan recension
      The unique birch-bark manuscript thereof (perhaps about A.D. 1519)
      Roth's Kashmirian nagari transcript (Nov. 1874)
      Arrival (1876) of the birch-bark original at Tubingen
      Roth's collation (june 1884) of the Paippalada text
      The facsimile of the birch-bark original(1901)
      Roth's Collation not exhaustive
      Faults of the birch-bark manuscript
      Collation not controlled by constant reference to the birch-bark ms.
      Such reference would have ruined the birch-bark ms
      Care taken in the use of Roth's Collation. Word-division
      Kashmirian readings not controlled directly from the facsimile
      Provisional means for such control: the concordance
      Excursus: The requirements for an edition of the Paippalada:
      1. A rigorously precise transliteration
      2. Marginal references to the Vulgate parallels
      3. Index of Vulgate verses thus noted on the margin
      4. Accessory material: conjectures, notes, translations
  10. Readings of the Parallel texts
      The texts whose readings are reported
      The method of reporting aims at the utmost accuracy
      Completeness of the reports far from absolute
      Reports presented in well-digested form
  11. Whitney's Commentary: further discussions of its critical elements
      Comprehensiveness of its array of parallels
      Criticism of Specific readings
      Illustrations of classes of text-errors
      Auditory errors, Surd and sonant. Twin consonants
      Visual errors. Haplography
      Metrical faults. Hypermetric glosses, and so forth
  12. Whitney's Translation and the interpretative elements of the Commentary
      The translation: general principles governing the method thereof
      The translation not primarily an interpretation, but a literal version
      A literal version as against a literary one
      Interpretative elements: captions of the hymns
      Interpretations by Whitney
      Exegetical notes contributed by Roth
      The translation has for its underlying text that of the berlin edition
      This is the fact even in cases of corrigible corruptions
      Cases of departure from the text of the Berlin edition
      Whitney's growing skepticism and correspondingly rigid literalness
      Poetic elevation and humor
  13. Abbreviations and signs explained
      General scope of the list: it includes not only
      The downright or most arbitrary abbreviations, but also
      The abbreviated designations of books and articles
      Explanation of arbitrary signs:
      Parentheses; square brackets.
      Ell-brackets ; hand.
      Small circle; Italic colon; Clarendon letters a, b, c, etc.
      Alphabetic list of abbreviations
  14. Tabular view of translations and native comment
      Previous translations -Native comment
      Chronologic sequence of previous translations and discussions

General Premises

    Contents of this Part
    Authorship of this Part
  1. Description of the manuscripts used by Whitney
      The brief designations of his manuscripts (sigla cadicum)
      Synoptic table of the manuscripts used by him
      Table of the Berlin manuscripts of the Atharva-Veda
      Whitney's critical description of his manuscripts:
      Manuscripts used before publication of the text (B. P. M. W. E. I. H., Bp. BP.2)
      Manuscripts collated after publication of the text (O. R. T. K.; Op. D. Kp.)
  2. The Stanza cam no devir abhistaye as opening stanza
      As initial stanza of the text in the Kashmirian recension
      As initial stanza of the Vulgate text
  3. Whitney's Collation-Book and his collations
      Description of the two volumes that form the Collation-Book
      Whitney's fundamental transcript of the text
      Collations made before publication of the text
      The Berlin collations
      The Paris and Oxford and London collations
      Collations made after publication (made in 1875 or later)
      Haug, Roth, Tanjore, Deccan, and Bikaner mss
      Other contents of the Collation-Book
  4. Repeated versed in the manuscripts
      Abbreviated by pratika with addition of ity eka etc.
      List of repeated verses or verse-groups
      Further details concerning the pratika and the addition
  5. Refrains and the like in the manuscripts
      Written out in full only in first and last verse of a sequence
      Treated by the Anukramani as if unabbreviated
      Usage of the edition in respect of such abbreviated passages
  6. Marks of accentuation in the manuscripts
      Berlin edition uses the Rig-Veda method of making accents
      Dots for lines as accent-marks
      Marks for the independent svarita
      Horizontal stroke for svarita
      Udatta marked by vertical stroke above, as in Maitrayani
      Accent-marks in the Bombay edition
      Use of a circle as avagraha-sign
  7. Orthographic method pursued in the Berlin edition
      Founded on the usage of the mss, but controlled by the Praticakhya
      That treatise an authority only to a certain point
      Its failure to discriminate between rules of wholly different value
      Items of conformity to the Praticakhya and of departure therefrom
      Transition-sounds: as in tan-t-sarvan
      Final -n before c- and j-: as in pacyan janmani
      Final -n before c-: as in yanc ca
      Final -n before t-: as in tans te
      Final -t before c-: as in asmac charavah
      Abbreviation of consonant groups: as in pankti
      Final -m and -n before l-: as in kan lokam
      Visarga before st- and the like: as in ripu stenah
      The Kampa-figures 1 and 3
      The method of marking the accent
  8. Metrical form of the Atharvan Samhita
      Predominance of anustubh stanzas
      Extreme irregularity of the metrical form
      Apparent wantonness in the alteration of Rig-Veda material
      To emend this irregularity into regulatiy is not licit
  9. Divisions of the text
      Summary of the various divisions
      The first and second and third "grand divisions"
      1. The (unimportant) division into prapathakas or 'lectures'
        Their number and distribution and extent
        Their relation to the anuvaka-division
      2. The (fundamental) division into kandas or 'books'
      3. The division into anuvakas or 'recitations'
        Their number, and distribution over books and grand divisions
        Their relation to the hymn-divisions in books
      4. The division into suktas or 'hymns'
        The hymn-division not everywhere of equal value
      5. The division into rcas or 'verses'
      6. Subdivision of verses: avasanas, padas, and so forth
    Numeration of successive verses in the mss
    Groupings of successive verses into units requiring special mention
    Decad-suktas or 'decad-hymns'
    Artha-suktas or 'sense-hymns'
    Paryaya-suktas or 'period-hymns'

    Differences of the Berlin and Bombay numerations in books vii and xix
    Differences of hymn-numeration in the paryaya-books
    Whitney's criticism of the numbering of the Bombay edition
    Suggestion of a preferable method of numbering and citing
    Differences of verse-numeration

    Summations of hymns and verses at end of division
    The summations quoted from the Pancapatalika
    Indication of extent of division by reference to an assumed norm
    Tables of verse-norms assumed by the Pancapatalika
    The three "grand divisions" are recognized by the pancapatalika
  10. Extent and structure of the Atharva-Veda Samhita Limits of the original collection
    Books xix and xx are later additions
    The two broadest principles of arrangement of books
    1. Miscellaneity of unity of subject and 2. length of hymn
    The three grand divisions (I., II., III.) as based on those principles
    The order of the three grand divisions
    Principles of arrangement of books within the grand division: 1. Normal length of the hymn for each of the several books.
    2. The amount of text in each book. Table
    Arrangement of the hymns within any given book
    Distribution of hymns according to length in divisions I. and II. and III.
    Tables (1 and 2 and 3) for those divisions
    Grouping of hymns of book according to length
    Table (number 4) for book xix
    Summary of the four tables. Table number 5
    Extent of AV. Samhita about one half of that RV.

    First grand division: short hymns of miscellaneous subjects
    Evidence of fact as to the existence of the verse-norms
    Express testimony of both Anukramanis as to the verse-norms
    One verse is the norm for book vii
    Arrangement of books within the division:
    1. With reference to the normal length of the hymns
    Excursus: on hymn xix.23, Homage to parts of the Atharva-Veda
    Exceptional character of book
    Book vii. a book of after-gleanings supplementing books i.-vi.
    2. Arrangement of books with reference to amount of text
    Resume of conclusion as to the arrangement of books i.-vii.

    Departures from the norms by excess
    Critical significance of those departures
    Illustrative examples of critical reduction to the norm
    Arrangement of the hymns within any given book of this division

    Second grand division: long hymns of miscellaneous subjects
    Their hieratic character: mingled prose passages
    Table of verse-totals for the hymns of division II.
    General make-up of the material of this division
    Order of books within the division: negative or insignificant conclusion
    Order of hymns within any given book of this division
    Possible reference to this division in hymn

    Third grand division: books showing unity of subject
    Division III. represented in Paippalada by a single book, book xviii
    Names of the books of this division as given as given by hymn xix 23
    Order of books within the division
    Table of verse-totals for the hymns of division III.
    Order of hymns within any given book of this division
    Thy hymn-division of books xiii-xviii. and their value

Cross-references to explanation of abbreviations and so forth

    To explanation of abbreviations
    To explanation of abbreviated titles
    To explanation of arbitrary signs
    To key to the designations of the manuscripts
    To synoptic tables of the manuscripts
    To descriptions of the manuscripts
    To table of titles of hymns


  1. First Grand Division.
      Five books of short hymns of miscellaneous subjects
  2. Second Grand Division.
      Five books of long hymns of miscellaneous subjects
  3. Third Grand Division.Vishnu
      Six books of long hymns, the books showing unity of subject
      Book xiii: hymns to the Ruddy sun or Rohita (seer: Brahman)
      Book xiv: wedding verses (seer: Savitri Surya)
      Book xv: the Vratya (seer:-)
      Book xvi: Paritta (seer: Prajapati?)
      Book xvii: prayer to the sun as Indra and as (seer: Brahman)
      Book xviii: funeral verses (seer: Atharvan)
  4. Supplement. - Book XIX.
      After-gleanings, chiefly from the traditional sources of division I.
      Paippalada excerpts concerning book xx.


  1. The non-matrical passages of the Atharvan Samhita
      Tabular list
  2. Hymns ignored by the Kaucika-Sutra
      Tabular list
  3. The two methods of citing the Kaucika-Sutra
      Tabular concordance
  4. The discrepant hymn-numbers of the Berlin and Bombay editions
      Tabular concordance
  5. Palippalada passages corresponding to passages of the Vulgate
      Primary use of the tabel, its genesis and character
      Incidental uses of the table
      Vulgate grand division III. and Palppalada book xviii
      Conspectus of the contents of Paippalada book xviii. Explanation of the table
      Manner of using the table
      Tabular concordance
  6. Whitney's English captions to his hymn-translations
      They form an important element in his interpretation of this Veda
      In tabular form, they give a useful conspectus of its subject-manner
      Table of hymns-titles of Division II., books viii-xii
      Table of hymns-titles of Division III., books xiii-xviii.
      Table of hymns-titles of the Supplement, book xix
  7. The names of the seers of the hymns
      Whitney's exploitation of the Major Anukramani
      Doubtful points
      Entire books of division III. ascribed each to a single seer
      Prominence of Atharvan and Brahman as seers
      Hymns of Atharvan and hymns of Augiras: possible contrast
      Consistency in the ascriptions
      Palpably fabricated ascriptions
      Alphabetical index of seer-names and of passages ascribed to them
  8. Brief index of names and things and words and places
      An elaborate index uncalled for here
      Alphabetical list of names and things
      Alphabetical list of Sanskrit words
      List of AV. Passages
  9. Additions and corrections
      Omissions and errors not easy to rectify in the electrotype plates
Sample Pages

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