[Advaita-l] Trayee vidyaa

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Mon Aug 3 15:21:24 CDT 2009

One should not look at the corpus of the veda-s only with reference to
vedAnta. Instead, if one turns to the vast amount of literature that
makes up the vaidika karma-kANDa and the associated ritual practices,
the term "trayI" makes perfect sense.

In Srauta yAga-s, the hotA and his assistants are Rgveda specialists,
the adhvaryu and his assistants are yajurveda specialists and the udgAtA
and his assistants are sAmaveda specialists. The brahma priest can be
from any of the four veda-s including the atharva, but after giving his
assent at the beginning of the ritual, he has to remain silent during
its performance. His assistant priests, in practice, assist the hotA and
the adhvaryu for various ritual actions. The verses of the atharvaveda,
properly called atharvAngirasa-s, or just Angirasa-s are not recited as
part of Srauta ritual.

On the other hand, it should also be noted that this does not indicate
any "later" origin of the atharvAngirasa hymns. In the taittirIya
AraNyaka, for example, they are quoted, "atha pavitrAngirasaH -
pavitravantaH ..." In the bRhadAraNyaka, atharvAngirasa is referred
immediately after sAmaveda and before itihAsa-purANa, as having been
breathed out by brahman. However, in the SIkshAvallI of the taittirIya
upanishat, which has many references to ritual practice, we find
"bhUriti vA RcaH, bhuva iti sAmAni, suvar iti yajUMshi" - no reference
to the atharvAngirasa here. So, the references to atharvaveda or lack
thereof are quite context-dependent.

Socially, people have always found some reason or the other to find
themselves superior and others inferior, but that is an entirely
different thing. It is easy to imagine how, in a community of ritual
specialists, the economic opportunities for an atharvavedin would be
relatively much more limited and he would then be looked down upon by
his peers, especially as how he can be sidelined even in the choice of a
brahma priest for the Srauta ritual! 


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