Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra

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The Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra (Baudhāyana Śrautasūtra or Baudhāyanaśrautasūtram) is a Late Vedic text dealing with the solemn rituals of the Taittiriya Shakha school of the Black Yajurveda that was composed in eastern Uttar Pradesh during the late Brahmana period. It was first published in 1904-23 by The Asiatic Society, as edited by Willem Caland [1] and translated by C.G. Kashikar, in part in his "Srautakosa", and as a whole later on.[2]

History and importance[edit]

Baudhayana, the traditional author of the Sutra, originally belonged to the Kanva school of the White Yajurveda. W. Caland has adduced materials that indicate Baudhayana's shift from this tradition to that of the Taittiriya school.[3] This agrees with the geographical position of the text between the eastern (Bihar) territory of the White Yajurveda and the western ones the Taittiriyas (Uttar Pradesh).[4] However, Baudhayana is quoted many times in the text as speaking; the work thus is clearly the work of his students and his school, the Baudhayanas.

The text is important as it is one of the earliest Srautasutras, next to that of the Vadhula sub-school of the Taittiriyas, which was situated a little further west than the Baudhayanas.[4] Both belong to the late Brahmana period and share late Vedic "southeastern" grammatical peculiarities with the Madhyandinas, Kanvas and Jaiminiyas.[5] Both schools (as well as some other early Sutras) agree in incorporating a number of Brahmana passages in their text. They also have some unusual similarities in quoting Mantras. However, the BSS is most important in that it clearly shows the first steps taken by late Vedic ritualists towards the Sutra style, with ever increasing degree of conciseness, culminating in the minimal style of the Katyayana Srautasutra and the short formulas of Pāṇini. This feature has been overlooked until Makoto Fushimi showed, in his recent Harvard thesis (2007),[6] the many separate devices that were used by the Baudhayanas in creating a Sutra. They include, among others, certain 'headwords' that indicate and thus abbreviate the description of a certain ritual action or rite, and they also include a new classification of all Shrauta rituals. The result is uneven: the BSS is still a Shrautasutra in progress. In an appendix section it also discusses the opinions of ritual specialists other than Baudhayana, who is then quoted as well. It has been argued that the composition of the BSS was due to the desire of 'eastern' Vedic kings, such as those of strongly emerging Kosala and Videha, to establish proper Vedic rituals in their non-Vedic territory [7] The same orthoprax development is seen in the redaction in Kosala or Videha of the Vajasaneyi Samhita with its western three-tone recitation, as compared to its source, the two-tone Shatapatha Brahmana.[8]

Pururavas-Uruvashi legend[edit]

Main article: Urvashi and Pururavas

Among the dozen or so Brahmana passages found in the BSS,[9] one Brahmana deals with the Urvashi and Pururavas legend that is also recounted in other Vedic texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana and the Vadhula Anvakhyana. The myth is also found, in ever changing forms, in the Mahabharata and later texts, such as a drama of Kālidāsa. The myth tells the story of Pururavas and Urvasi, their separation and their reunion that is known from a highly poetic dialogue hymn of the Rigveda (10.95).[10] After they were separated, Pururavas wandered around, "raving", as a text has it, but he also performed certain fire rituals. BSS 18.45 and the Shatapatha Brahmana 11.5.1 indicate the wanderings of Pururavas took place in Kurukshetra. In a late Vedic text, the boundaries of Kurukshetra between the Sarasvati River and the Drsadvati River, corresponding roughly to the modern state of Haryana. According to the Taittiriya Aranyaka 5.1.1., Kurukshetra is south of the Shughna region in Sirhind-Fategarh north of the Khandava Forest[11]

Pururavas and Urvasi had two sons, Ayu and Amavasu. According to the Vadhula Anvakhyana 1.1.1, yajña rituals were not performed properly before the attainment of the gandharva fire and the birth of Ayu who ensures the continuation of the human lineage that continues down to the Kuru kings, and beyond.

BSS 18:44 controversy[edit]

A recent translation of this legend has given rise to a heated controversy. As some writers deny any immigration into the Panjab from Central Asia of Vedic peoples into India; they also argue against Vedic passages that point to immigration. Such passages are difficult, though not impossible to detect.[12] However, a few recent Indologists and other writers have noted that "there is no textual evidence in the early literary traditions unambiguously showing a trace of" an Indo-Aryan migration.[13] A translation by M. Witzel (1989) of one passage of the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra has been invoked as evidence in favor of the Aryan Migration and therefore became the object of much controversy:

Then, there is the following direct statement contained in (the admittedly much later) BSS [Baudhāyana Śrauta Sūtra] 18.44:397.9 sqq which has once again been overlooked, not having been translated yet: "Ayu went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru Panchala and the Kasi-Videha. This is the Ayava (migration). (His other people) stayed at home. His people are the Gandhari, Parsu and Aratta. This is the Amavasava (group)" (Witzel 1989: 235).[14]

Based on Witzel's article, historians like Romila Thapar state that this passage contained literary evidence for Aryan migration.[15] The historian Ram Sharan Sharma argued that this passage is "the most explicit statement of immigration into the Subcontinent." [16]

However, in 1998 Koenraad Elst criticized Witzel's translation of the BSS passage and stated: "this text actually speaks of a westward movement towards Central Asia, coupled with a symmetrical eastward movement from India's demographic centre around the Saraswati basin towards the Ganga basin." [17] The passage or parallel passages were later discussed by other Indologists like George Cardona, Hans Henrich Hock and (in part) Toshifumi Goto,[18] who also diverged from Witzel's translation, as well as earlier translations by Willem Caland, C.G. Kashikar and D.S. Triveda[19]

However, the translation by the late Austrian Indologist and Brahmana specialist Hertha Krick (1982), and in part T. Goto (2000),[18] agree with Witzel's.[20] Krick writes (in German:) "Westwards Amavasyu (or: he stayed home in the west, as his name says 'one who has goods/possessions at home')".

The only published reaction so far to the controversy by Witzel has appeared already in 2001 (in EJVS 7-3, notes 45-46).[21] He discusses in detail the various possibilities for an interpretation of the passage and concludes "Whatever interpretation one chooses, this evidence for movements inside the subcontinent (or from its northeastern borders, in Afghanistan) changes little about the bulk of evidence assembled from linguistics and from the RV itself that points to an outside origin of Vedic Sanskrit and its initial speakers."

On the other hand, in latest discussions veteran archaeologist like B. B. Lal finds Witzel's translation to be erroneous as he suggests the mention of westward movements of some Vedic clans to be the case rather than any movements from Central Asia or Afghanistan.[22]


  • Agarwal, V. On Perceiving Aryan Migrations in Vedic Ritual Texts: Puratattva (Bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society), New Delhi, No. 36, 2005–06, pp. 155–165 (.doc)
  • Agarwal, Vishal. "Is there Vedic Evidence for the Indo-Aryan Immigration to India?", Dialogue (Journal of Astha Bharati, New Delhi), vol. 8, No. 1, July–September 2006, pp. 122–145 [23]
  • Caland, Willem. 1903. "Eene Nieuwe Versie van de Urvasi-Mythe". In Album-Kern, Opstellen Geschreven Ter Eere van Dr. H. Kern. E. J. Brill: Leiden, pp. 57–60
  • The Baudhāyana Śrauta Sūtra belonging to the Taittirīya samhitā, ed. W. Caland, Bibliotheca Indica 163, Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1904–1924 (2nd ed. with new appendix containing many text improvements [prepared by Radhe Shyam Shastri], New Delhi).
  • Cardona, George. The Indo-Aryan languages, RoutledgeCurzon; 2002 ISBN 0-7007-1130-9
  • Elst, Koenraad. (1999) Update on the Aryan Invasion Theory ISBN 81-86471-77-4
  • Gotō, Toshifumi. "Purūravas und Urvaśī" aus dem neudentdeckten Vādhūla-Anvākhyāna (ed. IKARI). In: Anusantatyai. Fs. für Johanna Narten zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. by A. Hintze & E. Tichy. (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beihefte NF 19) Dettelbach: J.H. Roell 2000, p. 79-110.
  • Ikari, Yasuke.Vādhūla Śrautasūtra 1.1-1.4[Agnyādheya, Punarādheya] ―A New Critical Edition of the Vādhūla Śrautasūtra.I.[24]
  • Kashikar, Chintamani Ganesh. 2003. Baudhayana Srautasutra. 3 vols. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass/IGNCA. ISBN 81-208-1852-0 Review
  • Krick,H. Das Ritual der Feuergründung (Agnyādheya). Wien 1982
  • Lal, B. B. (2005) The Homeland of the Aryans: Evidence of Rigvedic Flora and Fauna and Archaeology.
  • Triveda, D. S. 1938-39. "The Original Home of the Aryans". In Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vol. XX, pp. 49–68
  • Witzel, Michael. Rgvedic history: poets, chieftains and politics, in: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity. The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, ed. G. Erdosy, Berlin/New York (de Gruyter) 1995, 307-352. --- On the Localisation of Vedic Texts and Schools; pp. 173–213 in “India and the Ancient World” ed. by Gilbert Pollet; Département Orientalistiek; Keuven; 1987 --- Tracing the Vedic Dialects; in Dialectes dans les literatures indo-aryennes; Publications de l’Institute de Civilization Indienne, Serie in-8, Fascicule 55, ed. by C. Caillat; Diffusion de Boccard; Paris; 1989
  • Witzel, M. Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parameters In: The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. G. Erdosy (ed.), (Indian Philology and South Asian Studies, A. Wezler and M. Witzel, eds), vol. 1, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1995, 85-125
  • Witzel, M. Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, vol. 7-03, 2001
  • Witzel, M. Addendum to EVS 7-3, notes 45-46.[25]


  1. ^ Caland's edition was reprinted in 1982
  2. ^ Kashikar, C. G., ed. (2003). The Baudhayana Śrautasūtra = Baudhāyanaśrautasūtram. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. pp. 275–1844. ISBN 81-2081852-0. 
  3. ^ W. Caland. Über das rituelle sūtra des Baudhāyana. Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1903.
  4. ^ a b M. Witzel. On the localisation of Vedic texts and schools. In India and the Ancient world. History, Trade and Culture before A.D. 650. P.H.L. Eggermont Jubilee Volume, ed. by G. Pollet. Leuven, pp. 173-213.
  5. ^ M. Witzel. Tracing the Vedic dialects. In Dialectes dans les littératures indo-aryennes. Ed. Colette Caillat. Paris, pp. 97-264
  6. ^ Fushimi, Makoto. Baudhayana Srautasutra: Development of the Ritual Text in Ancient India. PhD thesis, Harvard University 2007
  7. ^ M. Witzel. The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools: The Social and Political Milieu. (Materials on Vedic Śākhās 8). In: Inside the Texts, Beyond the Texts. New Approaches to the Study of the Vedas. Harvard Oriental Series. Opera Minora, vol. 2. Cambridge 1997, 257-345; [1].
  8. ^ M.Witzel, introduction to: W. Caland, Kleine Schriften (Glasenapp-Stiftung, Bd. 27) Stuttgart 1990
  9. ^ some German translations in Caland 1903
  10. ^ detailed translation and grammatical discussion by K. Hoffmann. Der Injunktiv im Veda. Wiesbaden 1967
  11. ^ M.Witzel, Sur le chemin du ciel. Bulletin des Etudes indiennes, 2, 1984, p 274 [2].
  12. ^ Witzel 1995 and 2001
  13. ^ e.g. Cardona 2002
  14. ^ (Witzel 1995)
  15. ^ Agarwal 2001
  16. ^ Ram Sharan Sharma. Advent of the Aryans in India. Manohar: New Delhi 1999.
  17. ^ Elst 1999
  18. ^ a b Gotō, Toshifumi. "Purūravas und Urvaśī" aus dem neudentdeckten Vādhūla-Anvākhyāna (ed. IKARI). In: Anusantatyai. Fs. für Johanna Narten zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. by A. Hintze & E. Tichy. (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beihefte NF 19) Dettelbach: J.H. Roell 2000, p. 79-110.
  19. ^ Agarwal, Vishal: Is there Vedic evidence for the Indo-Aryan Immigration to India [3]
  20. ^ H. Krick, Das Ritual der Feuergründung (Agnyādheya). Wien 1982
  21. ^ "ejvs0703" (PDF). Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  22. ^ "B.B. Lal 19th Century Paradigms". Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  23. ^ [4] Archived 22 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "Kurenai : Kyoto University Research Information Repository" (PDF). Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  25. ^ Michael Witzel (July 17, 2001). "ADDENDUM TO EJVS 7-3, notes 45-46". Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. 7 (4). ISSN 1084-7561. Retrieved 4 May 2014.