Shri Rudram 2.7

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 17 18:14:29 CDT 2000

----Original Message Follows----
From: "S. V. Subrahmanian" <svs_shankara at HOTMAIL.COM>

1. Is there a way of cross-checking whether the Sruti that we know as of
is correct (I don't mean the interpretations or its validity, but the exact
words, word count etc).  Is there a check sum facility (or something like
that eg., based on the akSara, mAtra, meter etc), embedded either in the
Sruti itself or externally through tradition to check the accuracy of the
words in the Sruti and thereby ascertain whether something that we hear or
see in print is accurate?
VA: In the commentary of Mahidasa on Charanavyuya, the exact number of
syllables of the various Samhitas etc. are given. In the various Anukramanis
of the Vedas, the chhandas, Rishis and devatas of the mantras are
enumerated. In the case of RV, we even have Anukramanis like 'Padavidhana',
'Anuvakanukramani' and so on. Sometimes however, the information contained
in these (and also in the Pauranic texts) does not tally with the extant
versions of the Vedas.
For instance, the Vayu and the Brahmanda Puranas as well as the
Charanavyuyas (both the YV and AV versions) state that the AV has 12300
mantras. In reality, Atharvaveda (Shaunakiya) has 5977 (6014 according to
another edition) and the Paippalada Samhita (Orissan Version) has
approximately 7950 mantras. It is very dificult to resolve this discrepancy
and a possible solution is that the Atharvanika tradition counts the 5
Kalpas of AV also as Shruti and arbitrarily assigns 500 mantra count to each
of these. Maybe then, if we add up the mantras of Paippada Samhita, the 5 x
500 mantras of Kalpas and those Shaunakiya Mantras which do not occur in the
Paippalada Samhita, we will come to a number close to 12000 (I have been
postponing that excercise myself for 2 years even after obtaining a
concordance of the two Samhitas).
In many cases, the text of the Purana etc. is simply corrupt. For instance,
the Brahmanda Purana states that the RV has 8014 mantras whereas the actual
count in all Samhitas is 10000+. However, when we look at the corresponding
section of the Vayu Purana (which runs parallel to the Brahmanda in numerous
chapters), we learn that the Brahmanda text tradition is corrupt and the
8014 number actually belongs to one of the 4 original Purana Samhitas.

2. There are different pAThas ie., samhita, pada, krama, jatA, ghana.  Are
these mere aids of memorization or can they help to check if the words that
we have today are correct.
VA: Well, in my opinion, the Padapatha as such is more a grammatical
analysis of the Samhita text (which is considered the primordial text by
Vaiyyakaranas- or at least by the majority opinion) than a mnemonic device.
The others are definitely mnemonic devices although memorising them is a
feat in itself and not many people today know the krama etc. of texts. While
the Samhita and Pada patha of Samhitas are published, to my knowledge not a
single Krama patha is published to this day in its entirety although the
same exists in manuscripts or orally for RV, Madhyandina YV, parts of AV
(Shaunakiya) and so on. There are studies on the Padapatha by Joshi,
Bronkhorst, Devasthali, Deshpande etc., but I will leave this matter here.

3. Once again, by correct, I only mean whether they are still the same as
they were cognized by the Rishis (and not their validity).
VA: Tradition itself recognizes numerous variants between different Shakhas
of the Vedas and it is impossible to obtain an Ur-text now. Even for
individual Shakhas, the following 4 have apparently undergone the least
corruption: RV Shakala, YV Madhyandina, YV Kanva and YV Taittiriya.


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