Vedic Literature | Importance Of Vedic Literature & Srauta Sutra | Kalpa Sutra | Vedanga

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Vedic Literature | Importance Of Vedic Literature & Srauta Sutra |Kalpa Sutra | Vedanga

This article is on Vedic Literature & Importance Of Vedic Literature & Srauta Sutra, nicely presented by Sri Bikash Sarma Barua, Research scholar, Gauhati University.


Vedic Literature | Importance Of Vedic Literature & Srauta Sutra
Importance Of The Srautasutras

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The Vedic literature occupies a specific place in the field of Indian literature . This vedic literature consists of the Vedas and the works allied to them . Vedas are the earliest literary treatise of mankind , representing the earliest recorded form of speech . It includes in it all the four Samhitas along with  their Brahmanas , Aranyakas and Upanisads and the six Vedangas. 

As these literary works represent one of the earliest form of language these are of immense importance for the study of history and evolution of language and culture of the world . The precious heritage of India is preserved in the Vedic texts . They are at the root of all the branches of Science and the pertinent source of knowledge dealing with the social,cultural,religious,political,geographical and historical aspects of ancient Indian society. 

  

The Rigveda is the earliest written literature regarding the source of the ancient Indian social order . The Purusa-sukta(X.90) of the Rigveda drives the entire society to Aryan and non-Aryan into four classes known as Varnas . They are - Brahmin , Kshatriya , the Vaishya and the Sudra . For the understanding of the Veda at a later date , there came into being the auxilary treatises the Vedangas , which are six in number and which didnot enjoy the sancity as the Vedas themselves - 

  • 1.Siksha- phonetics or pronunciation
  • 2.Kalpa- ceremonial
  • 3.Nirukta-etymolgy
  • 4.Vyakarana-grammar 
  • 5.Chandas-metre
  • 6.Jyotish-astronomy


तत्रापरा ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेद: सामवेदोSथर्ववेद:।

शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दो ज्योतिषम्।।


Vedangas were known as the part of Vedic texts and were mainly concerned with the preservation of the Vedic texts . The Vedangas played an important role in maintaining the purity and integrity of the Vedic tradition. 


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Kalpa Sutra & Srauta Sutra

As the time passed , many new social customs were developed and these were collected in new books . This new type of literature came to be known as the Sutras . It is believed that the period of the Sutras can be traced from the 6th or 7th century BC to about 2nd century BC. 


One of the characteristics of Sutra was that they were written by using the fewest possible words . Kalpa or Kalpasutras means the entire treatment of the subject of the Vedic sacrifice in the form of handy manual . 

These Sutras have been composed as practical aids to the sacrificer and the priests . These Sutras are based on the Brahmana and are more practical than the latter . Kalpa with the ethical , moral and procedural percepts associated with the performance of rituals as way of life . 


Kalpa comprises of four categories-

  • 1.Srauta Sutra
  • 2. Grihya Sutra
  • 3. Dharma Sutra
  • 5. Sulva Sutra


These four category were written in Sutra style or aphorisms . They deal with such matters as the constrution of the place of sacrifice measurements of different kinds of fire-altars etc. First category deals with rules regarding the performance of sacrifice , rituals of various types and other procedure pertaining to particular sacrifice . Grhyasutras pertain to the domestic sacrifices daily rites and other ceremonials connected with the Indian way of life . 

Sixteen samskaras such as at the time of birth , initiation as a student , tonsure , marriage ceremonies etc. Dharmasutra contain generally what may be described as the civil and religious law not only for duty or religion but they sum up themselves whole of the Indian culture . Sulvasutras are a part of the Srauta and meant as guide for measuring the sacrificial Vedi ( place ) etc. 


Reading , understanding or proper sacrificial employment of the Veda necessitated the rise of the supplements of the Vedas , which are familiarly known as the Vedangas . In Kalpa-sutras the first three Varnas ( Brahmin , Kshatriya , Vaishya ) were allowed to perform Upanayana . The Kalpa-sutras comprises of the Srauta-sutras which deals with sacrifice known as Srautyajnas . 


The main subject of the Srauta-sutra all the rituals of the oblation are performed only after ignite fire . Hence great emphasis has been given on the selection of the sacrificial fire and its re-ignition in some special circumstances , due to their complxities the Srauta-sutras donot find any interest in the general people but their religious importance in incomparable . 


Accordingly the Srauta-sutras contain the rules for the inception of the three sacrificial fires . 


For the fire-sacrifice ( Agnihotra ) , for the new-moon and full-moon sacrifices , for the seasonal offerings , for the animal-sacrifice and inparticular for the Soma-sacrifice with its numerous deviations . They source for understanding the Indian sacrificial cult and their significance as sources for the history of religion can not be appreciated adequately . 


In thr Sutra period also arose a class of works specially designed for preserving the text of the Vedas from loss or change . The Srauta-sutras direct the sacrificer to cohabit with a 

 ' Savarnah ' wife as far as possible . Srauta-sutras are the religious guides on conducting the 

' Srautayajnas' - the large scale yajnas which involve the whole of Brahmanic priesthood of verses from Rigveda , Samaveda ( Somayajnas ) and Yajurveda. They also contain  the Karmas done in ' Srautagni ' . 

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✍🏻 Written by

Sri Bikash Sarma Barua 

Research scholar 

Gauhati University.

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Click- Lalitha Sahasranamam Stotra Telugu PDF 


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