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The Paippalādasaṃhitā of the Atharvaveda

  • Umberto Selva
dinsdag 11 juni 2019
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


In the late 1950s, a number of manuscripts were discovered in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. They contained one of the oldest collections of Vedic texts, the Atharvaveda, dating to the late second millenium BC, in a recension, the Paippalāda, that was thought to have survived only in a very corrupt manuscript found in Kashmir roughly a century before. These new manuscripts, written in the Odia script, preserved a much more reliable text. Given the importance and the antiquity of the text, this discovery sparked the enthusiasm of Indologists, historians of religions, anthropologists and linguists eager to dive into the newly discovered material. This, however, hinged on the production of a philologically reliable critical edition of the text. Umberto Selva’s dissertation is a further step in this direction: it focuses on three sections from the 17th book of the collection, containing a variety of material in both poetry and prose: from magical spells to exorcise demons who threaten birthing women and children, to curses against enemies, and remedies against nightmares. One section in particular illustrates a ritual observance consisting in the imitation of the behaviour of a bull, a practice that can be traced back to prehistoric Indo-European cultural models and that was re-elaborated by the Pāśupatas, the earliest-known ascetic sect devoted to the god Śiva. The edition is equipped with a critical apparatus, a translation and a commentary that discusess philological problems and attempts at an interpretation.


  • Prof.dr. A.M. Lubotsky
  • Prof.dr. A. Consolaro (Università degli Studi di Torino)


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