[Advaita-l] The word 'Atharvashirasi' in the Valmiki Ramayana

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Jan 25 05:34:56 EST 2018

In the VR Balakanda 15.2 is this couple of verses:

इष्टिं तेहं करिष्यामि पुत्रीयां पुत्रकारणात् ।
*अथर्वशिरसि *प्रोक्तैः मंत्रैस्सिद्धाम् विधानतः ॥
ततः प्राक्रमदिष्टिं तां पुत्रीयां पुत्रकारणात् ।
जुहाव चाग्नौ तेजस्वी मंत्रदृष्टेन कर्मणा ॥
ततो देवास्सगंधर्वाः सिद्धाश्च परमर्षयः ।
भाग प्रतिग्रहार्थं वै समवेता यथाविधि ॥

' O King ! I will perform a Yaga by name "Putrakaameshti" with all mantras
as specified in *Atharva Veda *for you to get sons'. Then that sage started
the "Putrakaameshti" Yaga as per scriptures . That sage reading the mantras
as specified offered the oblations in the fire as per scriptures. Then the
Brahma as well as all the Devas , Gandharvas, Siddhas, venerable sages
appeared in sacrificial hall to take their portion of the offerings.

The Tilaka commentary says: पुत्रीयां पुत्रप्राप्तिकारणभूताम् |
....अथर्ववेदप्रोक्तैः मन्त्रः विधानतः कल्पसूत्रतः सिद्धां ..... The
Ramayana Shiromani commentary too says: अथर्वशिरसि = अथर्ववेदे प्रोक्तैः...
The Govindaraja commentary too says: मन्त्रदृष्टेन वेदावगतेन कर्मणा ...

Thus all the standard commentaries take the word 'Atharvashiras' rendered
in the VR verse as 'Atharvashirasi' in the locative case as meaning the
Atharva Veda and not the Atharva Shira Upanishad.

Thus, the Mahabharatha verse:


*atharvasirasā caiva nityam ātharvaṇā dvijāḥstuvanti satataṃ ye māṃ te’pi
bhāgavatāḥ smtāḥ *(14_004_3378 – 14_004_3379)

*Meaning: *(You must) know that those AtharvaNa brAhmaNas who chant the
atharvashiras daily as part of their worship of Me (KrishNa) are also
bhAgavatas, my devotees.

that contains the word 'atharvasiras' in the instrumental case
(atharvasirasa) means Atharva Veda only and not the popular Upanishad by
that name. The blogger has seriously mistaken the sense in which the word
is used in the Mahabharatha.  The clinching evidence for the fact that the
word means means 'Atharva Veda' only and not the Upanishad is available in
the MB itself, in the just immediately previous verse:

ऋग्वेदेनैव होता च यजुषाऽध्वर्युरेव च ।

सामवेदेन चोद्गाता पुण्येनाभिष्टुवन्ति माम् ॥

Lord Krishna is saying that all the four Vedas are means for worshiping
him. The word atharvaśirasā in the instrumental simply means: by the
atharva veda. There is also no ‘api’ here.

The verse containing the word 'atharvashiras' is the very next one after
the above:

अथर्वशिरसा चैव नित्यमाथर्वाणा द्विजाः ।

स्तुवन्ति सततं ये मां ते वै भागवताः स्मृताः ॥

 While the first verse talks of only three vedas: Rg, Yajus and Saaman, the
logically fourth one, the Atharva Veda, is what is meant in the next verse
by the word 'atharva shiras'.  Lack of looking into the earlier verse and
hastily concluding that the word 'atharva shiras' means the popular veda is
evident in the mistaken identity.

Just prior to the above lines, is this line in that chapter of MB:

न शूद्रा भगवद्भक्ता विप्रा भागवताः स्मृताः ॥

[śūdra-s are not bhagavad bhakta-s, brāhmaṇa-s (alone) are considered
bhāgavata-s]  In proof of this statement Krishna says the above lines.
Thus, all the four-vedic brḥmaṇa-s are bracketed by the word ‘bhāgavata-s’
in that twin-verse, ‘they, all the four categories, *indeed* are
bhāgavata-s’. There is no way that, as the blogger has mistaken, the
ātharva-s are ‘also’ included by Krishna.

For a more detailed analysis of the term 'atharva shiras', visit this blog:



 The Four Veda-s are associated with the four priests who officiate in a
typical śrouta yaga: Hotā [Ṛgveda], Adhvaryu [Yajurveda], Udgātā [Sāma
veda] and Brahmā [Atharvaveda]. These four are the ones the above twin
verses of the MB are referring to.



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