The Sacred Laws of the Aryas Part 1
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Pages (PDF): 327
Publication Date: 1879
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This is Volume II of The Sacred Books of the East. The Sacred Laws of the Aryas as taught in the schools of Apastamba, Gautama, Vasishtha and Baudhayana. This, Part I, contains the Apastamba and the Gautama.
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FOR all students of Sanskrit philology and Indian history Âpastamba's aphorisms on the sacred law of the Aryan Hindus possess a special interest beyond that attaching to other works of the same class. Their discovery enabled Professor Max Müller, forty-seven years ago, to dispose finally of the Brahmanical legend according to which Hindu society was supposed to be governed by the codes of ancient sages, compiled for the express purpose of tying down each individual to his station, and of strictly regulating even the smallest acts of his daily life . It enabled him not only to arrive at this negative result, but also to substitute a sounder theory the truth of which subsequent investigations have further confirmed, and to show that the sacred law of the Hindus has its source in the teaching of the Vedic schools, and that the so-called revealed law codes are, in most cases, but improved metrical editions of older prose works which latter, in the first instance, were destined to be committed to memory by the young Aryan students, and to teach them their duties. This circumstance, as well as the fact that Âpastamba's work is free from any suspicion of having been tampered with by sectarians or modern editors, and that its intimate connection with the manuals teaching the performance of the great and small sacrifices, the Srauta and Grihya-sûtras, which are attributed to the same author, is perfectly clear and indisputable, entitle it, in spite of its comparatively late origin, to the first place in a collection of Dharma-sûtras.
The Âpastambîya Dharma-sûtra forms part of an enormous Kalpa-sûtra or body of aphorisms, which digests the teaching of the Veda and of the ancient Rishis regarding the performance of sacrifices and the duties of twice-born men, Brâhmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and which, being chiefly based on the second of the four Vedas, the Yagur-veda in the Taittirîya recension, is primarily intended for the benefit of the Adhvaryu priests in whose families the study of the Yagur-veda is hereditary.
The entire Kalpa-sûtra of Âpastamba is divided into thirty sections, called Prasnas, literally questions . The first twenty-four of these teach the performance of the so-called Srauta or Vaitânika sacrifices, for which several sacred fires are required, beginning with the simplest rites, the new and full moon offerings, and ending with the complicated Sattras or sacrificial sessions, which last a whole year or even longer . The twenty-fifth Prasna contains the Paribhâshâs or general rules of interpretation , which are valid for the whole Kalpa-sûtra, the Pravara-khanda, the chapter enumerating the patriarchs of the various Brahmanical tribes, and finally the Hautraka, prayers to be recited by the Hotraka priests. The twenty-sixth section gives the Mantras or Vedic prayers and formulas for the Grihya rites, the ceremonies for which the sacred domestic or Grihya fire is required, and the twenty-seventh the rules for the performance of the latter . The aphorisms on the sacred law fill the next two Prasnas; and the Sulva-sûtra , teaching the geometrical principles, according to which the altars necessary for the Srauta sacrifices must be constructed, concludes the work with the thirtieth Prasna.
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