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Attempts towards Preservation and Revival of Atharvaveda

Shivdasani Seminar
OCHS Library
Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar
Thursday, 30 October 2014 - 2:00pm

The Śaunaka Śākhā of the Atharvaveda has been regarded to be the most prominent school of the Atharvaveda, being studied mostly in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. This Veda, although considered to be inferior to other three Vedas, was studied for the purpose of performing śāntika, pauṣṭika and ābhicārika rites in the tradition of that Veda. The followers of that Veda migrated to various parts of India, on invitations from kings and rich people. It has been observed however that the tradition of study of the Atharvaveda began to decline in the course of time. Having realized the necessity of preserving that tradition, the followers of that Veda as well as those belonging to other three Vedas made various attempts to preserve the tradition. Moreover, they endeavoured to revive the tradition of the study of the Veda, and to some extent, that of the performance of the rituals prescribed in that tradition. There was a good interaction between the Atharvavedins living in parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. They sent their students to the knowledgeable Vedamūrtis in order to acquire proficiency in the recitation of that Veda. The teachers as well as the students did not necessarily belong to the Atharvaveda. Some of the Vaidikas attempted to compose ritualistic digests or prayogas in order to revive the ritualistic tradition. There was genuine faith in the tradition of that Veda as well as a professional need that prompted those Vaidikas to preserve the tradition. It is interesting to see how the tradition of the study of that Veda is being revived in India in recent years.