Understanding Scriptures - Part 2
Summary: The questions are right at the end indicated in big bold letters. One can get a summarised view by reading the question section. The logic and reason of asking is in the whole long speech in the middle. Please scroll down directly to questions if you want to avoid this long explanation.
Introduction and Problem Encountered
Kalpa is one of the limbs of the Vedas, dealing with rituals. I happened to be going through one of the most detailed sutras, the Baudhāyana Pitṛmedha (funeral kalpa (rituals)) Sutras in order to read about the sapiṇḍīkaraṇa rites as well as the same Gṛhyasūtra’s coronation rituals. In both cases to my dismay neither process has been described in great detail, but sticking to the sutra format, very very briefly. The details of Paraskara sapiṇḍī rites was dismal because there were none. On the other hand, the real sapiṇḍīkaraṇa rites are carried out in an elaborate and logical manner. So also with the coronation rituals as can be evidenced from the detailed book, ‘Rājyābhiṣekapaddhati’ written by Cakrapāṇi Miśra, the Brahmin and close friend of Mahārāṇā Pratāpa of Mewar. It so happens with other cases as well such as the Atiratra Soma Yajnas etc.
Drawing a comparison with Dharmasutras
Now this would go a little off-topic to explain the flow of logic and we will come back the Kalpa.
We can see from the discussion in this question that Manu is the original authority and the Smritis and Dharmasutras written by other sages would be based on Manu’s dharma. (The comparative notes in Manu help endorsing this view).
Sutras are aphorisms, i.e. statements used to convey an idea in a succinct manner. Since all works elucidating dharma have Manu as their source, the Dharma Sutras can thus be called as short statements conveying the dharma of Manu in a succinct manner.
(Note: here the Dharma Sutras (DS) mean those sutras that are included in the sutras to each Vedic Shakha like Baudhayana DS, Apastmaba DS)
Now as we can see that the dharma sutras may not mention all details but try to give a basic gist of Manu’s dharma (one of the upanga of the Vedas), the same is the case with the kalpa sutras (under the same names like Baudhayana, etc). These are sutras or aphorisms that describe the Kalpa (Vedic rituals), one of the 6 angas of the Veda, in a brief manner without all details. The kalpa sutras are only aphorisms to help the Brahmin of that shakha remember a basic framework of the procedure and because of this very reason, the procedures have not been elaborated (as was my problem stated in the 1st paragraph above).
Further Support for the Existence an Elaborate Vedanga
Just as some Puranas too list the dharma as enumerated by Manu, they mention elaborate Kalpa (rituals) for Shraadha, etc too, titled Shraadha Kalpa. Thus it would be obvious that (just as the dharma sutras and many smritis are ultimately sourced from an elaborate Manu) these Kalpa sutras maybe sourced from a larger more elaborate Kalpa Vedanga, clearly mentioning all ceremonies, rituals, penance and fasting procedures, prayashchitta rites and the list can go on which is not in Sutra format.
So also is the case with other Vedangas like Jyotisha and Vyakarana which don’t have sutras but elaborate works by traditional ancients like Parashara, Bhrigu and Indra (lost, now only sutras of Panini and others survive) before the originators of the Vedic Shakhas in Kaliyuga.
Accordingly, based on the above, my questions are:
- Is there an elaborate Kalpa Vedanga that describes all rituals in an elaborate fashion the way they’re actually performed? It maybe available or extinct, but the fact that it existed at some point earlier is important.
- Which traditional sage(s) or is/are the author of the Kalpa Vedanga? (or rather propounder similar to Manu of Dharma) and what is the traditional flow from Brahmaji to him?
- What all has been described in that elaborate Kalpa? (Anything beyond the sutras)
- Since the Agamas describe some worship procedures, can they be said to be a small part of the Kalpa?
- If there is no such Kalpa, then how has the entire subcontinent been able to conduct through the ages, elaborate rituals, in a more or less basically similar manner without a proper detailed original book to fall back upon? And what is the basis on which the Kalpa Sutras of the Shakhas derive their processes, and, without a traditional flow from Brahmaji, even their authority?
Note: the Brahmanas have feeble mention of some rituals just as they have some statements of dharma and not all, which are in fact elaborately contained in Manu’s dharmashastra. However they do not prescribe the elaborate rituals like they don’t prescribe elaborate rules of Dharma. So though the Kalpa would be ultimately sourced from the Veda, yet it would be a separate treatise just like Manu’s dharmashastra and other limbs like Jyotisha, Vyakarana, etc