Atharva-Veda-Samhita (2 Vols.) by William Dwight Whitney, C. R. Lanman Sale -3%

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Atharva-Veda-Samhita (2 Vols.)
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Atharva-Veda means 'the Veda of the Atharvan' or 'the Knowledge of Magic Formulas'. The great importance of the Atharva-Veda Samhita lies in the fact that it is an invaluable source of knowledge of popular belief as yet uninfluenced by ancient Indian 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; second, the readings of Paippalada of Kashmere version, furnished by the late Professor Roth; further, a notice of the corresponding passages in all the other Vedic texts, with a 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 an 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;p 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 a wide reputation for his scholarship in this field. At Yale University, he became a 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 labours on the Atharva-Veda. – As early as March 1851, in Berlin, during Whitney’s first semester as a student in Germany, his teacher Weber was so impressed by his scholarly ability 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 no wise different and resulted in the plan for joint editing that began accordingly upon his return to 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 intervals 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 principles 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 appeared in Berlin with a provisional preface date of 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 refers 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 eight-item, exegetical notes, to the promises of the provisional preface. The new title page has 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 fulfilment. As most of the labour, the first volume had fallen to Whitney, most of the labour 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 form, and are embodied on the one 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 form 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 is 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 injury by dirt and discolouration 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 Whitney, facing page

  • Facsimile of Kashmirian text, birch-bark leaf a, just before the 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 labours 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 promises 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: is contained in

    • The paragraphs beginning with the word "Translated"

    • Added special introductions to the hymns of the 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

    • Cross-references

    • The orthography of Anglicized proper names

    • Editorial short-comings and the changes of error

    • The biographical and related matter

    • The general significance of Whitney's work

    • Need for a systematic commentary on the Rig-Veda

    • The Century Dictionary of the English Language

    • Acknowledgements

    • Human personality and the progress of science

  • The same in English verse and in Sanskrit verse

A biographical and related matter

    • A brief sketch of Whitney's life: by the editor

    • Estimate of Whitney's character and the services: by the editor

  • Select a list of Whitney's writings: Whitney

General Premise

    • Scope of this Part of the Introduction

    • Scope of the reports of the variant readings

    • The term "manuscripts" is often used loosely for "authorities"

    • Which authorities are both manuscripts and oral reciters?

  • The 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 are 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 to 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
      • The 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

      • The 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 are 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 is 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

      • The care taken in the use of Roth's Collation. Word-division

      • Kashmirian readings are 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 is far from absolute

    • Reports presented in the well-digested form
  11. Whitney's Commentary: further discussions of its critical elements
      • The 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

    • Blend-readings
  12. Whitney's Translation and the interpretative elements of the Commentary
      • The translation: general principles governing the method thereof

      • The translation is 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 corruption

      • Cases of departure from the text of the Berlin edition

      • Whitney's growing scepticism and correspondingly rigid literalness

    • Poetic elevation and humour
  13. Abbreviations and signs explained
      • The 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

    • The 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 the publication of the text (O. R. T. K.; Op. D. Kp.)
  2. The Stanza cam no devir abhistaye as the opening stanza
      • As the initial stanza of the text in the Kashmirian recension

    • As the 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 the 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 the 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. The 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 amend this irregularity into regularity 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 in hymn numeration in the paryaya-books
    Whitney's criticism of the numbering of the Bombay edition
    The suggestion of a preferable method of numbering and citing
    Differences of verse-numeration

    Summations of hymns and verses at end of the division
    The summations quoted from the Pancapatalika
    Indication of the 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 the arrangement of books
    1. Miscellaneity of unity of subject and 2. length of the 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 the book according to length
    Table (number 4) for book xix
    Summary of the four tables. Table number 5
    The 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
    The exceptional character of the book
    Book vii. a book of after-gleanings supplementing books i.-vi.
    2. Arrangement of books with reference to the amount of text
    Resume of conclusion as to the arrangement of books i.-vii.

    Departures from the norms by excess
    The 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 the unity of subject
    Division III. represented in Paippalada by a single book, book xviii
    Names of the books of this division 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 the explanation of abbreviations and so forth

    • To an explanation of abbreviations

    • To an explanation of abbreviated titles

    • To an 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 the 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
      • The primary use of the table, 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

      • The 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. A 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 are not easy to rectify in the electrotype plates


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