By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Kausika Sutras, KauZika Sutras, Kaushika Sutras
The Atharvaveda is the last of the four Vedas. Chronologically speaking, it is perhaps a later composition. Hence not only is its language more sophisticated and philosophical, but ideas are also more clear. It includes many subjects of social importance in details.
Five Sutra works are attached to this Veda as detailed appendices, expounding the rites and concepts in greater detail. They are:
- Kauśika Sutras
- Vaitāna Sutras
- Naksatrakalpa Sutras
- Añgirasakalpa Sutras
- Sāntikalpa Sutras
The Kauśika Sutras are sometimes entitled as Kauśika Grhyasutras also. It is an independent work attributed to the sage Kauśika about whom nothing is known. Though the Vedic scholars agree that this is the oldest of the five works mentioned, no possible date has been assigned to it.
It has 14 adhyāyas or chapters. Each adhyāya has several kaṇḍikās or sections. The kaṇḍikās further comprise of several individual sutras. There are 3008 sutras distributed among 141 kaṇḍikās.
Teachings of Kauśika Sutras
The contents of the sutras embrace an array of subjects ranging from Vedic sacrifices to the medical science and black magic. A very brief summary of subjects is attempted below:
- Darśa and Purṇamāsa sacrifices
- Various rites for getting wisdom
- Securing desires
- Aversion of misfortunes
- Different kinds of charms
- Amulets for securing property and cattle
- Safety of long journeys
- Remedial charms for curing diseases
- Rites and rituals connected with women and progeny
- Protection against the vagaries of nature
- To get rains and crops
- Countering the effect of witchcraft
- Coronation of a king
- Vedic studies
- Morning and evening oblations
- Prāyaścittas or expiatory rites
- Sanskāras like upanayana, vivāha (marriage) and funeral rites
- Various omens and portents
Commentaries on Kauśika Sutras
A commentary called Kauśikabhāsya by Dārila or Hārila and a Paddhati by Keśava, son of Someśvara, are available now. The former work is incomplete and ends at the 48th kaṇḍikā. The rest section of the work is perhaps lost for ever. Bhaṭtāribhaṭṭa and Vāsudeva are two other commentators mentioned by some scholars.
- It is also spelt as the Atharvanaveda.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore