Baudhāyana

(‘descendant of Bodhāyana’)

One of the ancient but well-known names met with in the Vedāṅga literature, is that of Baudhāyāna. Baudhāyana is a descendant of Bodhāyana who himself is a son of Bodha. However, nothing is known of this Bodha.

The two names Bodhāyana and Baudhāyana have sometimes been used as if they are synonymous. A Kāṇva Bodhā-yana, mentioned in the Baudhāyana-dharmasūtras, is perhaps a more ancient teacher, and, may be a predecessor.

Baudhāyana probably existed somewhere during the period 600-300 B.C., and belonged to South India. This surmise is based on the fact that Sāyaṇa (14th cent. A.D.) the great commentator on the Vedas, was a descendant of Baudhāyana. Practically nothing is known about him.

Baudhāyana is one of the very few authors whose work is available on all the four branches of Kalpa, the last of the six Vedāṅgas. They are: śrautasūtras, gṛhyasūtras, dharmasūtras and śulba-sūtras.

The extant work of Baudhāyana consists of six sections (each called ‘sūtra’) as follows: the Śrautasūtras, the Dvaidha-sūtras, the Karmāntasūtras, the Gṛhya-sūtras, the Dharmasūtras and the Śulba-sūtras.

The Śrautasūtras, considered as very ancient, has 30 praśnas or sections, each divided into several adhyāyas or chapters. It is in prose and the sentences are rather long. The whole work deals with the details of Vedic sacrifices of various types like Agnihotra, Darśapūrṇamāsa, Cāturmāsya, Vājapeya, Aśvamedha and so on.

The Dvaidhasūtras which deals with vaikalpika vidhis or choices given with regard to any particular rule and the Karmāntasūtras which deals with the rest of the injunctions not given earlier, form a part of the Śrautasūtras.

The last praśna of the Śrautasūtras is the Śulbasūtras. It deals with the geometrical and mechanical details of constructing the sacrificial vedi or altar.

The Gṛhyasūtras is in 4 praśnas or sections, comprising 47 adhyāyas or chapters. The subjects dealt with include the sixteen saṁskāras or sacraments, like jātakarma (rites to be performed at birth), nāmakaraṇa (naming ceremony), upanayana (investiture with yajñopavīta or the sacred thread to mark the beginning of Vedic studies), vivāha (marriage) and so on. Other topics dealt with in the work are: certain rites like Vaiśvadevahoma and prāyaścittas or expiatory rites for transgressing rules while performing the Vedic rites described earlier.

In some printed books, three more works are added as appendices. They are Gṛhyaparibhāṣāsūtram, Gṛhyaśeṣasūtram and Pitṛmedhasūtram. Some scholars however, consider these also as an integral part of the Gṛhyasūtras. The first work in two praśnas and 23 adhyāyas defines the various terms used in Vedic sacrifices. The second in 5 praśnas and 97 adhyāyas, fills up the gap as it were, in the performance of the Vedic rites described earlier, by giving the details of the rituals left out. The third or the last, comprising 3 praśnas and 48 adhyāyas deals almost exclusively with the aurdhvadehika rites (rites to be performed after death).

The Dharmasūtras, also considered as an ancient work, is in 4 praśnas or khaṇḍas (sections), the last praśna being considered as a later interpolation by some scholars. The topics dealt with are: sources of dharma, upanayana and duties of a brahmacārin (Vedic student), duties of a snātaka (one who has completed the study of the Vedas) and eight forms of marriage, prāyaścittas or expiatory rites for sins, the sandhyā ritual, the pañcayajñas or the five daily sacrifices, śrāddha cere-monies connected with death and post-death rituals, saṁnyāsa or rites to be performed to become a monk, means of securing siddhis or supernatural powers and so on.