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Atharva Veda - The Book of Spell

Atharva Veda

Atharva Veda is the fourth and last of the Vedas. It is also known as Brahma Veda. The contents of Atharvaveda are very important especially those associated with healing. Atharva Veda in Hindi is provided by Ved Puran website. You can read it online in Hindi but there is no download option.

 

The Atharvaveda (atharvaveda, a tatpurusha compound of Atharvan, an ancient Rishi, and veda, meaning "knowledge") is a sacred text of Hinduism and one of the four Vedas, often called the "fourth Veda". According to tradition, the Atharvaveda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis known as the Atharvanas and the Angirasa, hence its oldest name is Atharvangirasa. In the Late Vedic Gopatha Brahmana, it is attributed to the Bhrigu and Angirasa. Additionally, tradition ascribes parts to other rishis, such as Kausika, Vasistha and Kasyapa. There are two surviving recensions (sakhas), known as Saunakiya (AVS) and Paippalada (AVP).

 

The Atharvaveda, while undoubtedly belonging to the core Vedic corpus, in some ways represents an independent parallel tradition to that of the Rigveda and Yajurveda.
The Atharvaveda is less predominant than other Vedas, as it is little used in solemn (Shrauta) ritual. The largely silent Brahmin priest observes the procedures of the ritual and "heals" it with two mantras and pouring of ghee when a mistake occurs. An early text[citation needed], its status has been ambiguous due to its ritualistic character.

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Dating

It is conjectured that the core text of the Atharvaveda falls within the classical Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE - roughly contemporary with the Yajurveda mantras, the Rigvedic Khilani , and the Samaveda .

The Atharvaveda is also the first Indic text to mention iron (as krsna ayas , literally "black metal"), so that scholarly consensus dates the bulk of the Atharvaveda hymns to the early Indian Iron Age , corresponding to the 12th to 10th centuries BC, or the early Kuru kingdom.

Tradition suggests that Paippalada , one of the early collators, and Vaidharbhi , one of the late contributors associated with the Atharvanic text, lived during the reign of prince Hiranyanabha of the Ikshvaku dynasty .

 

Divisions and issues of note

  • The Shaunakiya text is clearly divided into four parts: Ka??as 1-7 deal with healing and general black and white magic that is to be applied in all situations of life, from the first tooth of a baby to regaining kingship. Kandas 8-12 constitute early speculation on the nature of the universe and of humans as well as on ritual and are thus predecessors of the Upanishads. They continue the speculative tradition of some Rigvedic poets. Kandas 13-18 deal with issues of a householder's life, such as marriage, death and female rivalry, as well as with the ambiguous Vratyas on the fringes of society and with the Rohita sun as an embodiment of royal power. Kanda 19 is an addition, and Kanda 20 is a very late addition containing Rigvedic hymns for the use of the Atharvanic Brahmanacchamsin priest as well as for the enigmatic Kuntapa ritual of the Kuru kingdom of Parikshit. The Paippalada text has a similar arrangement into four parts (Kandas 1-15, 16-17, 18, 19-20) with roughly the same contents.
  • The Paippalada text begins with shan no devir abhistaye , the most common brahmayajna mantra. The Shaunakiya text begins with ye trishapt , which is in the second sukta in the Paippalada Samhita.
  • The popular Gopala Tapini Upanishad, among Nimbarka Sampradaya and Gaudiya Vaishnavism , belongs to Paippalada Samhita.
  • Jain and Buddhist texts are considerably more hostile to the Atharvaveda (they call it Aggvana or Ahavana Veda) than they are to the other Hindu texts.
  • The AV is the first Indic text dealing with medicine . It identifies the causes of disease as living causative agents such as the yatudhana , the kimidin , the krimi or k?mi and the dur?ama . The Atharvans seek to kill them with a variety of incantations or plant-based drugs in order to counter the disease (see XIX.34.9). This approach to disease is quite different compared to the trihumoral theory of Ayurveda . Remnants of the original Atharvanic thought did persist, as can be seen in Susruta's medical treatise and in ( Garu?a Pura?a, karma ka??a - chapter: 164). Here, following the Atharvan theory, the Pura?ic text suggests germs as a cause for leprosy . In the same chapter, Susruta also expands on the role of helminths in disease. These two can be directly traced back to the Atharvaveda sa?hita . The hymn AV I.23-24 describes the disease leprosy and recommends the rajani ausadhi for its treatment . From the description of the ausadhi as a black, branching entity with dusky patches, it is very likely that it is a lichen with antibiotic properties. Thus the AV may be one of the earliest texts to record uses of the antibiotic agents.
  • The Atharvaveda also informs about warfare. A variety of devices, such as an arrow with a duct for poison ( apaskambha ) and castor bean poison, poisoned net and hook traps, use of disease-spreading insects and smoke screens find a place in the Atharvaveda sa?hita (e.g., hymns IX.9 and IX.10, the trisa?di and nyarbudi hymns ). These references to military practices and associated Ksatriya rites were what gave the Atharvaveda its reputation. In the Mahabharata , there is a frequent comparison between weapons and the mantras of the heroes.
  • Several regular and special rituals of the Aryans arya are a major concern of the Atharvaveda, just as in the three other Vedas. The major rituals covered by the AV are marriage in ka??a - XIV and the funeral in ka??a - XVIII. There are also hymns that are specific to rituals of the bh?gu-a?girasas , vratyas and ksatriyas . One peculiar rite is the Visasahi Vrata , performed with the mantras of the XVII ka??a in a spell against female rivals. The Vratya rituals were performed by individuals who took on a semi- nomadic way of living and were generally roaming about in neighboring tribal territories to gain wealth in cattle by putting pressure on householders grihastha . Finally, there are some rituals aimed at the destruction of the enemies ( Abhicarika hymns and rites), particularly found in chapters 1-7. While these support traditional negative views on the AV, in content, they are mirrored by several other hymns from the Rig as well as the Yajuses . Moreover, Abhicarika rites were an integral part of Vedic culture, as is amply attested in the brahma?a literature. Thus, the Atharvaveda is fully within the classic Vedic fold, though it was more specific to certain Brahmán clans of priests. The development of the Abhicharika rites to their more "modern" form is clearly seen in the vidhana literature. The author of the ?gvidhana provides passing reference to the development of similar rites in the AV tradition (the references to the A?girasa Krityas ). These rites reached their culmination in the Kausika Sutra and in some of the Parisistas (appendices) of the Atharvan literature.
  • Philosophical excursions are found in books 8-12. One of the most spectacular expressions of philosophical thought is seen in the hymn XII.I, the Hymn to goddess Earth or the P?thivi Sukta used in the Agrayana rite . The foundations of Vaisesika Darsana is expressed in the mantra XII.1.26 in which the atoms ( Pa?su ) are described forming the stone, the stones agglutinating to form the rocks and the rocks held together to form the earth. Early pantheistic thought is seen in the hymn X.7 that describes the common thread running through all manifest and non-manifest existence as the ska?bha . This ska?bha is described as what poured out of the Hira?yagarbha that was the precursor of the complex world in a very simple form (X.7.28). ( Hira?yagarba = "The golden womb from which the Universe was formed.") This Skambha is Indra, and Indra is the Skambha which describes all existence. The hymn also describes a pantheistic nature of the Vedic gods (X.7.38): ska?bha is the heat ( tapa? ) that spreads through the universe ( Bhuvana ) as waves of water; the units of this spreading entity are the gods even as branches of one tree. This theme is repeatedly presented in various interpretations in later Hindu philosophies.


 
 


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