The Srauta Sutras form a very important unit of the Sutra literature which lays down in brief the quintessence of the Vedic texts i.e. the Samhitas and the Brahmanas strengthening further the sacrificial tradition in India. As it is known worldwide, the sacrificial tradition in India is based mainly on the oldest book of the human beings namely the Rigveda (RV) as also on the Yajurveda (YV) and the Samaveda (SV) which have developed a variety of recensions with difference of utterance and practice.
Although there are a 'mille' recensions of the Samaveda mainly based on the singing of the verses in RV, only three are found in practice today:
- Jaiminiya or Talavakara.
The Latyayana Srauta Sutra (LSS) which is critically edited here and translated into English dealing with the duties of the chanting priests viz. the Udgatars, Prastotar, Pratihartar and Subrahmanya in the Srauta ritual with special reference to the Soma sacrifice, belongs to the Kauthuma recension, largely depending on the SV samhita and Pancavimsa Brahmana (which is also known as Tandya Maha-Brahmana) as also the Sadvimsa Brahmana.
It regards the Arseya or Masaka Kalpa as the authority. The Drahyayana Srauta Sutra shows a reasonable similarity with the LSS; but it definitely improves upon the former. In its comprehensive treatment of the Srauta ritual the LSS can be compared with the sutras of the Yajurveda namely the Baudhayana, Apastamba, Manava and Katyayana.
Along with the duties of the chanters (Udgatrs) in Ekaha (one day) Ahina (multiday) and Sattra (session) Soma sacrifices it has concerned itself with the role of the Brahman Priest in Soma and various other sacrifices. Beside improving upon the extant edition, it can be specifically mentioned that the present edition traces an additional sutra (viz. X-20-9A) found recorded in the Varanasi MSS with reference to the Sarpa-yajna (serpent-sacrifice).
About the Author:
Prof. H.G. Ranade, Ex-Editor and Coordinator of the "Sanskrit-English Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Historical Principles" at the Deccan College, Pune, had the honour of completing his education with first class throughout at the Benaras Hindu University (1955-61) and did his Ph.D. on A Study of the Satapatha Brahmana as a Commentary on the Vajasaneya Samhita from the University of Bombay in 1970. Being in the profession of teaching and research, he has developed a special liking for Vedic ritual, the tradition of which is dwindling day by day.
After completing his first English translations of the Katyayana- and Asvalayana- srautasutras (published in 1978, 1983-86), he prepared a critical edition of the Latyayana-srautasutra with its first English translation under the auspices of the IGNCA (published in 1998). He also regularly attended the performances of important Soma-sacrifices in India and later delivered lectures on Vedic rituals abroad discussing problems therein with noted scholars.
Enriching thus his knowledge of the Vedic ritualistic terminology through participating in the Vedic sacrifices, he purposefully devoted himself to the compilation of this Illustrated Dictionary of Vedic Rituals, his magnum opus, which is going to be a landmark in the history of the Vedic scholarship. For his outstanding contributions towards facilitating the understanding of the Srautasutras, he was honoured as a "Vedanga-Vidvan" by the Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan. At present, he is engaged in preparing a critical edition of the Jaiminiya-brahmana with its English translation as a project of the IGNCA.