Historical & Critical Studies in The Atharvaveda

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Historical & Critical Studies in The Atharvaveda

The book is a very useful and important addition to the traditions of modern Vedic studies undertaken by Indians and Westerners. It is the first ever attempt exercised by the teachers of the University of Delhi to study the various aspects of the Atharvaveda which has not attracted the attention of the Vedicists to the extent the Rigveda has done. The book comprises scholarly, well-prepared and thoroughly unbiased articles on different aspects of the Atharvaveda, viz., textual, historical. and exgetical studies, poetry, sciences, religion and philosophy, society and language. Besides, the value and the significance of the Atharvavedic studies in this book is further enhanced by the long, exhaustive and scholarly introduction by the Editor of the volume which throws entirely fresh light on some very controversial yet important issues related to the Vedic studies in general and the Atharvaveda in particular.

 

Foreword

I have great pleasure in introducing to the world of scholars the book: Historical and Critical Studies in the Atharvaveda.

The repositories of knowledge, the Vedas are a source of the highest philosophical thoughts and noblest ideals. They have influenced for thousands of years the Indian religions, philosophies and literatures. They form in effect the foundation of Indian culture taken in its totality.

Of all the four Vedas, it is the Atharvaveda, the last of the four Vedas, which occupies a unique position on account of its peculiar subject-matter. It does not contain only the invocations and prayers to the deities as do the other Vedas. It contains also the magic formulae, the formulae for the holy magic, the Atharvan and the formulae for the hostile magic of black magic, the Angiras. The Aharvaveda, the abbreviated name for the fuller Atharvangirasah has in its seven hundred and thirty one hymns consisting of six thousand verses a large number of Mantras that serve as charms of incantations, malafic or beneficial. The Veda also has songs or spells for the healing of the diseases. Some of the songs or spells serve as the invocations or prayers to the herbs. It contains in addition, some astronomical matter. Sorcery and witchcraft as practised by the people in its time also find mention in it. It is thus a Vede which is nearer the common people, mirroring as it does their beliefs and superstitions, their rituals and practices, their diseases and cures. Rightly has a Western scholar remarked about it that for the social history of the people it is more important than even the Rgveda.

 

Preface

I have great pleasure in introducing to the distinguish scholars, general readers as well as students, 'THE HISTORI CAL AND CRITICAL STUDIES IN THE ATHARVA VEDA' edited by Dr. Suryakant Bali. It goes without saying that the Atharvaveda occupies the most prominent place among the four Vedas, specially from the standpoint of historical and anthropological studies. It is quite in the fitness of things that Dr. Bali should have thought of collecting useful articles by scholars working in the field of Atharvanic studies and bringing them out in the present form. The collection includes the textual, literary, philosphical, psychological, etymological and mythological aspects of Atharvanic studies which will, I am quite sure, be found exceedingly useful and interesting by scholars all over the world. I take this opportuniy of congratulating the learned editor Dr. Suryakant Bali as well as M/s Nag Publishers for bringing out this publication on the occasion of the 5th World Sanskrit Conference being held at Varanasi on Oct. 21-26, 1981.

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