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The Paippalādasaṃhitā of the Atharvaveda: A new critical edition of the three 'new' Anuvākas of Kāṇḍa 17 with English translation and commentary

On the 11th of June, Umberto Selva successfully defended his doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Umberto on this great result.

Umberto Selva
11 June 2019
Leiden University Repository


In the late 1950s, a number of manuscripts were discovered in 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 Kashmirian manuscript. Given the importance and antiquity of the text, this discovery sparked the enthusiasm of Indologists, historians, anthropologists and linguists eager to dive into the new material. This, however, hinged on the production of a philologically reliable edition of the text. Selva’s dissertation is a further step in this direction: it focuses on the 17th book of the collection, containing a variety of material in both poetry and prose: magical spells to exorcise demons who threaten women and children, curses against enemies, and remedies against nightmares. One section 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.

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