Atharva Veda Samhita I
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About Book “Atharva Veda Samhita I"
The Veda of the Atharvanis the Atharvaveda. Atharvan denotes directions and mantras especially in connection to ward off evil and hardship and also contains philosophical thoughts. ‘Atharvan‘ originally means ‘priest’ and the Mantras in the Atharvaveda-Samhita were brought to light by Rishi Atharva.
According to the etymology of the Nirukta, Atharvan is the name given to a stable-minded person who is immovably firm i.e., Yogi. The oldest name, however, by which this Veda is known in Indian literature is ‘Atharvangirasa-Veda’, that is the ‘Veda of the Atharvans and the Angiras’. Angiras too were a group of schools and priests.
According to Patanjali, Atharvaveda had nine Shakhas, but the Samhita of the Atharvaveda is today available only in two rescensions – the Shaunaka and the Paippalada. It is the Shaunaka-Samhita that is frequently meant when the Atharvaveda is mentioned in ancient and modern literature. It is a collection of 730 hymns containing 5987 Mantras, divided into 20 books (Kandas). Some 1200 verses are derived from the Rigveda. About one sixth of the text of the Atharvaveda including two entire books (15 and 16) is written in prose, similar in style and language to the Brahmanas, the rest of the text is in poetic verses.
Some traditions prescribe that this Veda should be known as Brahma Ritvik who used to supervise the process of Yaga or sacrifice. In sacrificial ceremonies he was supposed to know all the three Vedas, but usually he used to represent the Atharvaveda. Due to his association, the Atharvaveda is also named ‘Brahmaveda‘, the Veda of Brahma priest.
The Atharvaveda is the oldest literary monument of Indian medicine. It is believed to be the origin of Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine. There are a series of Mantras related to cure various physical and mental diseases. Another class of hymns includes prayers for protection from the bite of snakes or injurious insects. We find mention and application of medicines and medicinal herbs. This feature distinguishes the Atharvaveda from the rest of the Vedas.