Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra

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The Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra (Baudhāyana Śrautasūtra or Baudhāyanaśrautasūtram) is a Late Vedic text dealing with the solemn rituals of the Taittiriya Shakha school of the Black Yajurveda that was composed in eastern Uttar Pradesh during the late Brahmana period. It was first published in 1904-23 by The Asiatic Society, as edited by Willem Caland and translated by C.G. Kashikar, in part in his "Srautakosa", and as a whole later on.


  • Ayu went eastwards, the Kuru-Pañcalas and Kasi-Videha are (his descendants) the Ayavas; (And) Amavasu (went) westwards, the Gandharas, Parsus and Arattas are (his descendants) the Amavasyavas.
    • BSS 18:44. As quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.

Quotes about the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra[edit]

Quotes about BSS 18:44[edit]

  • One must be extremely wary of using at least the Vedic versions of this legend to construct real history of human migrations, otherwise we would have to deduce an emigration from India in the direction of Central Asia. There is absolutely no need to read modern and colonial Aryan invasion and migration theories into ancient ritual texts.
    • Agarwal, Vishal: Is there Vedic evidence for the Indo-Aryan Immigration to India "Archived copy" (PDF). Dialogue (Journal of Astha Bharati). 8 (1): 122–145. July–September 2006.
  • It is beyond dispute that the interpretation Witzel gives to this passage does not accord with its syntax. This was pointed out, though without considering details, by Elst... This text cannot serve to document an Indo-Aryan migration into the main part of the subcontinent.
  • This text actually speaks of a westward movement towards Central Asia, coupled with a symmetrical eastward movement from India's demographic centre around the Saraswati basin towards the Ganga basin.
  • The most explicit statement of immigration into the Subcontinent.
  • (The Srauta Sutra of Baudhayana) "refers to the Parasus and the arattas who stayed behind and others who moved eastwards to the middle Ganges valley and the places equivalent such as the Kasi, the Videhas and the Kuru Pancalas, and so on. In fact, when one looks for them, there are evidence for migration.
    • Romila Thapar quoted in Vishal Agarwal (2005), On Perceiving Aryan Migrations in Vedic Ritual Texts. Purātattva, issue 36
  • There is the following direct statement contained in the (admittedly much later) BSS, 18.44:397.9 sqq which has once again been over-looked, not having been translated yet: ‘Ayu went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-PañcAla and the KASI-Videha. This is the Ayava (migration). (His other people) stayed at home in the West. His people are the GAndhArI, ParSu and AraTTa. This is the AmAvasava (group)’.
    • Michael Witzel, Rgvedic history: poets, chieftains and polities. in : The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity edited by George Erdosy (Papers by Michael Witzel and P. Oktor Skjærvø), Walter de Gruyter, Berlin-New York, 1995. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • The reason for this unpleasant pattern of falsely attributing silly opinions to me is probably not far to seek. It is the fact that I have exposed a mistake made by Witzel in a crucial part of his pro-AIT argumentation. In his paper “Rgvedic history”, he had mistranslated a verse from the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra (18.44:397.9) to the effect that Ayu’s clan “went eastwards” while Amavasu’s clan “stayed at home in the west”, meaning in Afghanistan or Iran. So, there at long last was the hoped-for Vedic testimony to the Aryan invasion from the west, the “missing link” between Vedic literature and the elusive invasion. Pro-AIT crusaders like R.S. Sharma (Advent of the Aryans, p.87-89) have gleefully invoked the Harvard professor’s prestige in reproducing his OIT-shattering translation of Baudhayana, “the most explicit statement of an immigration into the Subcontinent”. But the translation was wrong. Like the “missing link” between ape and man found in Piltdown, it was a hoax, though presumably a somewhat bonafide hoax. As Prof. George Cardona and other authorities have meanwhile confirmed, the sentence describes how from a middle position (which we can infer to be somewhere in Haryana, India), one clan went east to the Ganga basin and another went west into Afghanistan. I have never accused Prof. Witzel of deceit or fraud. I prefer to live by Napoleon’s dictum: “Never attribute to malice what can be explained through incompetence”,-- or in this case, through over-enthusiasm for a long-hoped-for “discovery”. When people are very very thirsty, they start to see an oasis on the horizon; no malice intended, just self-delusion. Only, after his innocent mistake had been highlighted, Witzel’s reaction was rather unsportsmanlike. He claimed that it was all due to a printing error. That sounds a bit random for such a precise and sensational reading. As if you can put monkeys at a typewriter and let them produce an AIT-friendly translation by coincidence. What’s the big deal about standing corrected once in a while?
    • Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
  • Kazanas rejects Michael Witzel’s attempt [1995:320-321] to find a testimony of the Aryan invasion in the Baudhāyana Śrauta Sūtra (BSS 18.44). According to Witzel, the text has Purūravas and Urvaśī’s son Amāvasu “stay home” somewhere in Afghanistan while his brother Āyu “migrates” into India. This would provide the “missing link” between the AIT and Sanskrit literature, which to the dismay of the AIT school had failed to provide any testimony of the Aryan invasion. But just as the Piltdown Man proved to be a false trail in the search for the evolutionary “missing link” between ape and man, Witzel’s translation proves to be incorrect.... On that point, we couldn’t agree more, having been the first to analyse Witzel’s rendering as a mistranslation [Elst 1999:164-165]. The passage actually refers to a westward emigration by Amavasu from India, in particular from the Saraswati basin, whence his brother Ayu migrated eastward into the Ganga basin. Amavasu’s progeny is described as including the Gāndhāris, the Persians (Parśu) and the Arāţţas, located in Iran or Afghanistan. This was already assumed in passing in earlier translations of the BSS (surveyed by Vishal Agarwal [2002]), starting with Willem Caland in 1904. Though Witzel’s translation has by now been rejected by all specialists who have cared to speak out [e.g. Cardona & Dhanesh 2007:38-40], there was an objective need for Kazanas to draw attention to it, viz. because it has remained quite influential, especially in the Indian polemic against the OIT. Thus, Romila Thapar and Ram Sharan Sharma have used this passage as evidence for the AIT, so that it has passed into the received wisdom in Indian academic circles.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins.
  • Among more recent attempts, motivated explicitly by the desire to counter the increasing skepticism regarding the Aryan invasion theory, the most precise endeavour to show up an explicit mention of the invasion turns out to be based on mistranslation... In fact, the meaning of the sentence is really quite straightforward, and doesn’t require supposing a lot of unexpressed subjects: “Ayu went east, his is the Yamuna-Ganga region”, while “Amavasu went west, his is Afghanistan, Parshu and West Panjab”. Though the then location of “Parshu” (Persia?) is hard to decide, it is definitely a western country, along with the two others named, western from the viewpoint of a people settled near the Saraswati river in what is now Haryana. Far from attesting an eastward movement into India, this text actually speaks of a westward movement towards Central Asia, coupled with a symmetrical eastward movement from India’s demographic centre around the Saraswati basin into the Ganga basin. The fact that a world-class specialist has to content himself with a late text like the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra, and that he has to twist its meaning this much in order to get an invasionist story out of it, suggests that harvesting invasionist information in the oldest literature is very difficult indeed.

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