By Swami Harshananda
Baudhāyana literally means ‘descendant of Bodhāyana’.
Difference in Bodhāyana and Baudhāyana
The two names Bodhāyana and Baudhāyana have sometimes been used as if they are synonymous. A Kāṇva Bodhāyana, mentioned in the Baudhāyana-dharmasutras, 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 century A.D.), the great commentator on the Vedas, was a descendant of Baudhāyana. Practically nothing is known about him.
Literary work by Baudhāyana
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. His extant of work consists of different sections (each called "sutra"). In all, including older and modern versions, there are 9 sections of his work. They are as follows :
- The Śrautasutras - It is considered to be very ancient. It has 30 praśnas or sections, each divided into several adhyāyas or chapters. It is in prose and the sentences are rather long. This whole work deals with the details of Vedic sacrifices of various types like Agnihotra, Darśapurṇamāsa, Cāturmāsya, Vājapeya, Aśvamedha and so on.
- The Dvaidhasutras - It deals with vaikalpika vidhis or choices given with regard to any particular rule.
- The Karmāntasutras - It deals with the rest of the injunctions not given earlier and form a part of the Śrautasutras.
- The Grhyasutras - It is in four praśnas or sections comprising of forty-seven adhyāyas or chapters. The subjects dealt with include the sixteen sanskāras 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.
- The Dharmasutras - It is also considered as an ancient work. It is in four praśnas or khaṇḍas (sections). The last praśna is considered as a later interpolation by some scholars. The topics dealt with are mainly the sources of dharma, upanayana and duties of a brahmacārin (Vedic student), duties of a snātaka (one who has completed the study of the Vedas), eight forms of marriage, prāyaścittas or expiatory rites for sins, the sandhyā ritual, the pañcayajñas or the five daily sacrifices, śrāddha ceremonies connected with death and post-death rituals, sanyāsa or rites to be performed to become a monk, means of securing siddhis or supernatural powers and so on.
- The Śulbasutras - The last praśna of the Śrautasutras is the Śulbasutras. It deals with the geometrical and mechanical details of constructing the sacrificial vedi or altar.
- Grhyaparibhāsāsutram - It is in two praśnas and twenty-three adhyāyas. It defines the various terms used in Vedic sacrifices.
- Grhyaśesasutram - It is in five praśnas and ninety-seven adhyāyas. It 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.
- Pitrmedhasutram - It comprises of three praśnas and forty-eight adhyāyas. It deals almost exclusively with the aurdhvadehika rites (rites to be performed after death).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore