Āśvalāyana Analysis

Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Āśvalāyana (AWSH-vah-LAH-yah-nah), a sage Vedic teacher, is associated with writing two of the Śrauta Sūtras, or functional manuals for priests conducting ritual sacrifice relating to the Rigveda (also known as rgveda, c. 1500-1000 b.c.e.; English translation, 1896-1897). The two texts bear his name, the Āśvalāyana Śrauta Sūtra (c. 400 b.c.e.; English translation, 1958) and the Āśvalāyana Grhya Sūtra (c. 400 b.c.e.; English translation, 1958). He was a student of Śaunāka, who composed the first Kalpa Sūtra (fourth century b.c.e. or earlier; English translation, 1958) and other important texts. It is reported that when Āśvalāyana composed one of his works and announced it to his teacher, the latter destroyed his own treatise and proclaimed that Āśvalāyana’s sūtra was superior and should be adopted by the students of that Vedic Śākhā (school). There can be no doubt that Āśvalāyana was greatly indebted to his teacher because he wrote at the end of the Āśvalāyana Grhya Sūtra the words namah Śaunākaya, or salutation to Śaunāka.