Kalpa (Vedanga)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about a discipline of Vedic literature. For the reckoning of time, see Kalpa (aeon). For other uses, see Kalpa.

Kalpa is one of the six disciplines of the Vedanga, concerning ritual.

Tradition does not single out any special work in this branch of the Vedanga; but sacrificial practice gave rise to a large number of systematic sutras for the several classes of priests. A number of these works have been passed down, and they occupy by far the most prominent place among the literary productions of the sūtra-period. The Kalpa-sūtras, or rules of ceremonial, are of two kinds: (1) the Śrautasūtras, which are based on the shruti, and teach the performance of the great sacrifices, requiring three or five sacrificial fires; and (2) the Smartasūtras, or rules based on the smrti or tradition. The latter class again includes two kinds of treatises: (1) the Grhyasutras,[1][2] or domestic rules, treating the rites of passage, such as marriage, birth, namegiving, etc., connected with simple offerings into the domestic fire; and (2) the Dharmasutras, which treat customs and social duties, and have formed the chief sources of the later law-books. Further, the Śrauta-sūtras of the Yajurveda have usually include a set of so-called Shulva-sutras, i.e. rules of the cord, which treat of the measurement by means of cords, and the construction, of different kinds of altars required for sacrifices. These treatises are of special interest as supplying important information regarding the earliest geometrical operations in India. Along with the Sutras may be classed a large number of supplementary treatises, usually called Pariśiṣṭa (परिशिष्ट), on various subjects connected with the sacred texts and Vedic religion generally.

Śrauta Sutras[edit]

The Śrautasutras (śrautasūtra) form a part of the corpus of Sanskrit Sutra literature. Their topics include instructions relating to the use of the shruti corpus in ritual ('kalpa') and the correct performance of these rituals. Some early Shrautasutras were composed in the late Brahmana period (such as the Baudhyanana and Vadhula Sutras), but the bulk of the Shrautasutras are roughly contemporary to the Grhya corpus of domestic sutras, their language being late Vedic Sanskrit, dating to the middle of the first millennium BCE (generally predating Panini).

Veda Śrautasûtra[3]
R̥gveda Āśvalāyana Śrautasûtra [4]

Sāṅkhāyana Śrautasûtra

Sāmaveda Lātyāyana Śrautasûtra
Drāhyāyana Śrautasûtra
Jaiminiya Śrautasûtra
Kr̥sna Yajurveda Baudhāyana Śrautasûtra

Vādhūla Śrautasûtra
Mānava Śrautasûtra
Bharadvāja Śrautasûtra
Āpastamba Śrautasûtra
Hiraṅyakeśi Śrautasûtra
Vārāha Śrautasûtra
Vaikhānasa Śrautasûtra

Śukla Yajurveda Kātyāyana Śrautasûtra
Atharvaveda Vaitāna Śrautasûtra


The Grhyasutras "domestic sutras" are a category of Sanskrit texts prescribing Vedic ritual, mainly relating to rites of passage. Their language is late Vedic Sanskrit, and they date to around roughly 500 BCE, contemporary with the Shrautasutras. They are named after Vedic shakhas.

Veda Gr̥hyasûtra[3]
R̥gveda Âśvalâyana-Grhyasûtra [4]
Kausîtaki-Grhyasûtra (Bāṣkala śakha)
Śāṅkhāyana-Gr̥hyasūtra [1]
Sâmaveda Gobhila-Grhyasûtra
Khâdira-Grhyasûtra (Drâhyâyana-Grhyasûtra)
Kr̥sna Yajurveda Baudhâyana-Grhyasûtra
Hiraṇyakeśi-Grhyasūtra (Satyâsâdha-Grhyasûtra) [2]
Kâthaka-Grhyasûtra (Laugâksi-Grhyasûtra)
Kapisthala-Katha Grhyasûtra (unpublished)
Śukla Yajurveda
Atharvaveda Kauśika Grhyasûtra

Dharma Sutras[edit]

The Dharmasutras are texts dealing with custom, rituals, and law. They include the four surviving written works of the ancient Indian tradition on the subject of dharma, or the rules of behavior recognized by a community. Unlike the later Dharmashastra, the dharmasutras are composed in prose. The oldest Dharmasutra is generally believed to have been that of Apastamba, followed by the dharmasutras of Gautama, Baudhayana, and an early version of Vasishtha. It is difficult to determine exact dates for these texts, but the dates between 500–300 BCE have been suggested for the oldest Dharmasutras. Later Dharmasutras include those of Kasyapa, Brhaspati, and Ushanas.

Veda Dharmasûtra[3]
R̥gveda Vasishtha Dharmasûtra
Sāmaveda Gautama Dharmasûtra
Kr̥sna Yajurveda Baudhāyana Dharmasûtra
Āpastamba Dharmasûtra
Śukla Yajurveda Vishnu Dharmasûtra

Shulba Sutras[edit]

The Śulbasûtra deal with Shrauta ritual and altar geometries.

Veda Śulbasûtra[3]
Kr̥sna Yajurveda Baudhāyana Śulbasûtra
Mānava Śulbasûtra
Āpastamba Śulbasûtra
Śukla Yajurveda Kātyāyana Śulbasûtra

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hermann Oldenberg, trans., Max Müller, ed. Sacred Books of the East Vol. XXIX, "The Grihya-sûtras, rules of Vedic domestic ceremonies", part 1, Oxford, The Clarendon press 1886
  2. ^ Hermann Oldenberg, trans., Max Müller, trans. Sacred Books of the East Vol. XXX, "The Grihya-sûtras, rules of Vedic domestic ceremonies", part 2, Oxford, The Clarendon press 1892
  3. ^ a b c d Kochar, Rajesh Vedic People:Their History and Geography, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 2000, ISBN 81-250-1080-7, p.18
  4. ^ a b Catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit Books in the British Museum (1876) p. 9. Gargya's commentaries (vrttis) are based on the longer bhashyas by Devasvamin (11th century). B.K. Sastry, review of K. P. Aithal (ed.), Asvalayana Grihya Sutra Bhashyam of Devasvamin, 1983.


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.