Domestic Rituals of The Atharvaveda in The Paippalada Tradition of Orissa: Sridhara's Vivahadikarmapanjika (Volume I: Book One, Part One)


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About The Book

The Karmapanjika is a manual for the domestic rituals of the Paippalada tradition. Claiming to follow a Sutra of Paithinasi, the text was composed by an otherwise unknown Sridhara in Orisssa in the 16th century CE. His work is a precious late-medieval witness to the Atharvavedic tradition, preserving archaic features dating from the vedic period, but also showing much influence from various non-Vedic non-Vedic traditions that have been prevalent in this part of eastern India. The critical edition, which will be complete in three volumes, is based on six palm-leaf manuscripts written in Oriya script. This first volume contains an extensive introduction followed by the first nine chapters of text describe the general paradigms of domestic ritual in this tradition.

About the Author

Arlo Griffiths received his PhD in Sanskrit from Leiden University in 2004. After holding a position as lecturer in India Religious at the University of Groningen (2004-05), and holding the chair of Sanskrit at Leiden University (2005-08), he joined the EFEO in 2008 as Professor of Southeast Asian History. He was posted at the EFEO’s Jakarta Centre from 2009 through 2014, and now teaches in Paris and Lyons.

Shilpa Sumant received her PhD in Sanskrit from Tilak Maharashtra Vidhyapeeth (Pune) in 2007 . Since 2009, she is Sub-editor in the Sanskrit Dictionary Project of the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. Since 2014, she is a member of the Regulating Council of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and is one of the editors of its Annals.


The Vivahadikarmapanjika, or Karmapanjika, for short, that we have undertaken to edit and the nine chapters of whose text we present to readers in this volume, is a manual of the paddhati type apparently intended for the preservation of practical and theoretical knowledge of the performance of domestic rituals in the Atharvavedic tradition of the Paippalada Sakha. It was written in Orissa and represents a stage in the liturgical development of this tradition somewhere between that of its oldest knows text, the Paippaladasamhita of the Atharvaveda, which provides the basic collection of mantras for rituals performance in this tradition, and the living tradition of present-day Orissa to all likelihood a stage much more closely resembling the latter than the former extremity.

Our work on this text is an outcome of our respective doctoral research projects focusing on the Paippaladasamhita (defended in 2004,published as GRIFFITHS 2009) and on the development of vivaha, i.e. ‘marrige’ ritual from samhita to prayoga texts in the Atharvavedic tradition (defended in 2007). Peripheral to his search for manuscripts of the Paippaladasamhita, Griffiths had been collecting manuscripts of other Atharvavedic manuscripts in Orissa since 1999, and these included manuscripts of the Karmapanjika; his work on another important Atharvevedic text, the Kausikasutra, took him to Pune for the first time in 2000, to study with Prof. S.S Bahulkar, under whose guidance Sumant started her doctoral research in 2003. It was Prof. Bahulkar who introduced us to each other, and in whose company we undertook joint fieldwork in Orissa in May and June 2005. The idea of joining hands for an edition of the Karmapanjika was born during those unusually hot summer months.

Our initial interest in the text naturally arose from the perspective of our respective main research projects. From a casual perusal of the manuscripts, it soon became clear to Griffiths that this text was of considerable significance for the critical edition of the PS, and this led to his article GRIFFITHS 2003b, which contained the edition princeps of one chapter of the text. It also appeared that the text preserves authentic ancient elements peculiar to the Atharvavedic tradition, notably in the prescriptions for marriage ritual (GRIFFITHS 2004-05), and this fact heightened Sumant’s interest in the text. Since we have started editing the text in earnest, however, we have become gradually aware of a number of other factors which make the text interesting also from less particularist points of view. Although we entertain no aspirations that this text, now starting to be made generally accessible, will also attract attention among those who study Sanskrit literature, some of these factors will be exposed in our Introduction.

As we finalize this work to go to the press, we would like to record here our special debt of gratitude to Kunja Bihari Upadhyaya (Puri), who has been a consistently reliable source of information in our work since Arlo Griffiths first came to Orissa in1998. And to both of us since 2005. He had helped us gain access to several manuscripts used in this volume, in excellent scanned form; has illuminated aspects of modern ritual performance; has tirelessly investigated the identity of place names mentioned in the colophons of Orissa’s Paippalada manuscripts; has joined us on visits to modern villages; has acted as liaison with other member of his tradition; and has acted as liaison with other member of his tradition; and has showered his friendship on us in many other ways too.

Our friend M. Sanjeeb Kumar, employee of the Orissa State Museum, has likewise been an unfailing support in our attempts to acquire usable photographs of the manuscripts that underlie our work, both from his museum and from Brahmin village around Bhubaneswar. It is through him that we were able to commission the painting that adorns the cover of this book.

Over the years that we have worked, off and on, toward the publication of this book, we have been helped by many scholars, among whom we would like to thank here in particular Diwakar Acharya ,Gudrun Buhnemann, Dominic Goodall, Kengo Harimoto, Kei Kataoka and Somadeva Vasudeva. Our manuscript was evaluated anonymously by two scholars who made useful observations, many of which we have gratefully incorporated into the version that has now been printed. Thanks are due also to Hugo David and Carmen Sylvia Spiers who helped with the last round of proofreading.

We both owe gratitude to the J. Gonda fund of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences which awarded Advanced Study Grants to Shilpa Sumant in 2008 and 2015, that allowed her twice to spend six months of full-time work on the Karampanjika in Leiden at the International Institute of Asian studies.

Throughout our Introduction, we use the ‘ethnographic present’ in discussing the living Atharvavedic tradition of Orissa as we found it during the years that we made regular visits to Orissa. This period alas lies more than 10 years in the past today, and the past today, and the situation on the ground is likely to have changed in several ways. One thing that has changed, in 2011, is the name of the state and of its language, now officially Odisha and Odia. We have decided not to adjust our usage in this book which was largely written before 2011, and not only for the mere reason of chronology: since Oriya does not have a sound corresponding to the English combination sh, and since the letters di do not more accurately represent the sound of Oriya. (Indological transliteration: ri) than do the letters ri, the new spellings of the two names seem to us no better than the old ones.

Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to rectify some errors in the page and line numbering of our text edition that is automatically passed to our critical apparatus by the ledmac package. For reasons that remain unclear to us, the main apparatus on p. 46; and top

Item Code: NAP124
Cover: Paperback
Edition: 2018
Publisher: Institut Francais De Pondichery
ISBN: 9782855392271
Language: Sanskrit and English
Size: 9.5 inch X 7.0 inch
Pages: 172
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 555 gms