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Apasthambha & other Kalpa Sutras

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Jan 04 1996 - 18:55:10 PST

Two of our members had asked for Information on these Sutras. I had  written
about them earlier in a special issue of Tattvaloka Journal on the 40 Hindu
Here is an elaboration on that  article focussing more on the Sutras as opposed
to the 
Samskaras they deal with.

The Sixth limb (Anga ) of the Vedas is Known as Kalpam.
It is considered as the Hands of the Vedas, since it deals with 
doing Karmas prescribed by the Vedas. Those Karmas and the fruits thereof 
should be offered to the Supreme being at the end of their performance.

The Kalpams  provide details on who should do what and at what stage of one's
They elaborate on the mantras to be recited, the Samagriyas to be assembled,the
to officiate at these rituals and prescribed functions. 

The Kalpa Sutrams have been given to us by various Sages . In the south, Krishna

Yajur Vedam is dominant or popular. Six rishis -- Aapasthambhar, BodhAyanar, 
VaigAnasar, SatyAshaadar,Bharadvajar and Agnivesar-- have written Sutras for the

practioners of Krishna Yajur Veda Saakhaa. These Rishis have written both the 
Sroutha and  Gruhya Sutrams  for the Saakaas. 

Two sages have written Sutras for Rg Vedam. The popular one is by Asvlaayanar.
The other  not so prevalent is that by SaankAyanar.

Sage Kaatyayanar has written Sutras for Sukla Yajur Vedam

For Sama Veda Saakas, Laatyayanar has written for Kouthuma Saakaa.
For RaaNaaaneeya Saakaa , Diraahyayanar has written Sroutha Sutrams. The 
Grihya Sutrams for this Saakaa has been written by Gopilar .
Sage Jaimini has  written sutrams for the Talavakaara Saaka of Sama Vedam.

Atharva Vedam is not so prevalent. No Kalpa Sutram is available today.

>From Garbha Dhanam (placement of the seed) to Antimeshti (Ultimate Ishti or
Yaga , the cremation ceremony in which the body is offered as Havis in the
Sacred fire),
there  are 40 Samskaras for a Hindu. There  are  a subset for women among the
40. For 
instance, they do not have the Upanayanam ceremony. Either  the Sroutha or the
Gruhya Sutra 
covers these 40 ceremonies. Among the 21 Yajnas -- 7 Paka, 7 Soma, 7 Havir
Yajnas--, Sroutha 
Sutras cover the 7 Soma and 7 Havir Yajnas. The Gruhya Sutras cover the 7 Paka
Yajnas and the 
rest of the 19 Samskaraas.

Gruhya Yajnas/Samskaaraas  are smaller in scope than the Sroutha Yajnas, which
need major
effort. The former are done at home mostly (Gruham).Theothers are done at
special sites
outside the home. When we say Abhivaadhanam, we referer  to the Sroutha Sutram 
associated with one's Veda Saakaa.Aapasthabhar has  written Sroutha and Gruhya
Hence  we recite Aapasthambha sutra: Yajussaakaadhyaayi, there is no
complication. In
contrast, One  who belongs to RaaNaaneeya Saakaa of Sama Veda can not quote
in his Abhivaadhanam, but has to mention the sage Diraahyayanar alone. Latter
the Sroutha Sutram and Gopilar wrote only the Gruhya Sutrams for this Saakaa. 

There is a subdivision of Sroutha Sutras known as Sulpa Sutras. These deal with
 details on Yajnas. Kaatyayanar, Hiranyakesar and Bodhaayanar have given us
Sulpa Sutras. 

In addition to the ways of conductance of the Samskaras and Yajnas, these
 Kalpa Sutras also decribe the Sikhai (Urdhva Sikhaior Poorva Sikhai ) , Pundram
to be worn and other  details on Karmaanushtaanam. 

My father was an expert on Apasthambha Sutras  and I have some moth eaten 
remnants of Apaasthambha Prayogas that are interesting to say the least to
study. Kaanchi Periyavaal has commented extensively
on Kalpa Sutras in the chapters on Vedas and their Six Angaas.

Gruhya Sutras also cover the remaining 26