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Christopher Morely


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A. P. Sinnett


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Hymns of the Atharva-Veda

by Maurice Bloomfield

Excerpt:

INTRODUCTION.
I. The Names Of The Atharva-veda And

THEIR MEANINGS.

THE fourth Veda is known in Hindu literature by an

The com- unusually large number of appellations. Of

pound stem these the dvandva plural atharvangirasa^ is old,

arvangiras. occurrjng ^y x, 7, 20; it is the name found at

the head of the Atharvan MSS. themselves. The appearance of this name in a given text has not unfrequently been made the basis—partly or entirely—for estimating the relative chronology of that text. But this criterion can claim only negative value, since the designation occurs in a text as late as the Aujanasa-smWti, III, 441. It is found in a great variety of texts of the Vedic literature, as may be seen in the subsequent account of the attitude of Hindu literature towards the fourth Veda (p. xxviii ff.), but at no period does it positively exclude other designations.

The locative singular of this same compound occurs in a passage not altogether textually certain, Mahabh. Ill, 305, 20=17066, where the Bombay edition has atharvangirasi jrutam, but the Calcutta, atharvajirasi mitam. The locative singular (apparently neuter) of the stem atharvangirasa occurs rarely, Ya^wav. 1,312 (kujalam atharvaiigirase). A specimen of a derivative adjective from the compound may be seen at Manu XI, 33, atharvangirasi/s jrutiA; cf. Mahabh. VIII, 40, 33=1848, kritykm atharvangirasim.

1 See Glvananda's Dhannarastrasa/wgraha, vol. i, p. 514.

The name atharvan, with a great variety of derivatives,

is employed growingly as the designation of

eachonhe *e Veda; the name an^iras by itself is so

terms atharvan rare as to arrest attention when it is met.

and angiras. ...

At TS. VII, 5, It, 2 = Ka///aka Ajvamedhagrantha, V, 2, occurs the formula angirobhyaA svaha, preceded by r/gbhyaA, &c. svaha: it is, as far as is known, the solitary occurrence of this designation of the Atharvaveda in a Vedic text1. Quite frequently, however, the members of the compound atharvangirasaA are separated so that each is mentioned by itself, but always in more or less close conjunction with one another. This shows that the compound is not a congealed formula, but that the texts are conscious of the fact that each has a distinct individuality, and a right to separate existence. In other words, the AV. actually consists of atharvan and angiras matter, and the question arises what elements in the makeup of this Veda these terms refer to. The answer, I believe, may now be given with a considerable degree of certainty: the term atharvan refers to the auspicious practices of the Veda, the bhesha^ani (AV. XI, 6, 14), those parts of the Veda which are recognised by the Atharvan ritual and the orthodox Brahmanical writings, as Janta, ' holy,' and paush/ika, 'conferring prosperity;' the term angiras refers to the hostile sorcery practices of the Veda, the yatu (Sat. Br. X, 5, 2, 20), or abhi^ara2, which is terrible (ghora).

In an article entitled,' On the position of the Vaitanasutra in the literature of the Atharva-veda,' Journ. Amer. Or. Soc. XI, 387 ff., I pointed out that the above-mentioned distinction is clearly made at Vait. Su. 5, 10, where two lists of plants are differentiated, one as atharva«yaA, the other as ahgirasya/;. The same distinction is maintained at Gop. Br. I, 2, 18. The former refers to the list of plants

1 In texts not Vedic the term angirasaA occurs occasionally as an abbreviated form of atharvangirasa^. Thus in the first superscription of the AV. Prid.vakhya, the .S'aunakiya Aaturadhyayika, and in Panini V, 2, 37. Cf. also Gop. Br. I, 1,8.

' For the distinction between janta and abhiMrika see K ans. 3, 19, and note 5 on p. 11 of our edition.


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