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Vedic texts

KRISHNA YAJUR VEDA — Taittiriya Samhita — Vol. 1 (Kandas 1 and 2), Vol. II (Kandas 3 to 5): With Text in Devanagari, English Transliteration and English Translation by Dr. R.L. Kashyap; Pub. by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, No 63, 13th Main, IV Block, Jayanagar East, Bangalore-560011. Vol.1: Rs. 375 ($.30); Vol.II: Rs. 480. ($.40).

The Vedas, broadly speaking, have two aspects — the ritual and the spiritual. These are mutually complementary not contradictory. A general impression of one who reads the ritualistic portion of the Yajur Veda, for example, is that it involves the offering of animals to various gods. Great commentators like Sayana (13th Century) explained the ritualistic aspect of the Mantra and Brahmana portions, although they were not unaware of the spiritual implications. Sayana's introduction to his commentary on the Rig Veda makes this clear. He was but faithfully reflecting the traditions he inherited. But in modern times, many are unaware of the methodology of rituals.

The Mimamsa Sastra, which is the basis of this knowledge, is not known to many. It has become a neglected subject now. It is but natural that Vedic rituals have no appeal to the modern man and the interpretation offered by Sayana and the old generation of scholars is not acceptable to many modern thinkers and scholars.

How can a scholar with a modern approach, charge Sayana with ignorance of the spiritual implications of the Mantras? Some Western scholars have done the same thing with Sayana, who saved the Vedas from sheer neglect and piece-meal knowledge. What he gave us was the interpretation available to him through an "unbroken tradition".

He presided over an assembly of many scholars, directed them to write commentaries on all the Vedas, edited them and made them available to the succeeding generations of scholars, all under the imperial command of the Vijayanagara Emperor, Bukka.

The approach of the modern scholars is totally different. Every word of the "outer" ritualistic portion is interpreted to suggest an "inner" sacrifice. Everything is implied, suggested, symbolic. Some Vaishnavite Acharyas have interpreted animals referred to in the rituals, not as living animals, but those made of clay or dough. While attempting to understand the enormous implications of the Vedas, one must not degrade the traditions and not undermine the foundations on which man's very existence rests.

The present edition of the Krishna Yajur Veda containing the Taittiriya Samhita by the well-known scholar with scientific temperament, continues this tradition of modern interpretation of the Vedas. He has presented the text in Devanagari script and provided the Roman transliteration and English translation with copious notes and references. Scholars will find the two volumes (a third is yet to come) extremely useful and interesting. The translator is to be congratulated for the great vision with which he has understood the Vedic traditions.

M. NARASIMHACHARY

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