Kalpa is a Sanskrit word that means proper fit. It is one of the six Vedangas that helps in the study of Vedas. The scripture in Hinduism – Vedas are correlated with the study of six Vedangas. The study of Vedangas is basically the foundation course that helps you nurture and establish the knowledge of Vedas. The Vedas are a field of study associated with ceremonies, rituals, procedures and science of the spiritual culture of our country.
What Is Kalpa Vedanga?
The Kalpa Sutras, or Kalpa Vedanga, traces its roots to the Brahmana layer. The texts Kalpa Vedanga, however, are short, clear and practical while describing the ceremonies. The field of Vedanga focuses on standardizing procedures for Vedic rituals.
Rituals have an important role in the life of an individual. Hinduism explains the importance of Hindu rituals and the Vedas that include Samhita Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishads. Kalpa Sutra as a whole deal with the Vedic rituals in a systematic manner. Thus, the Vedic texts have developed certain rituals and how their performance is obligatory.
Kalpa Vedanga – Description
Kalpa is the second Vedanga that deals with the rituals included in Hinduism, which is also known as the hand of the Veda Purusha. It is intended to provide the proper application of the Vedic scriptures. Kalpa means the sacred rule and sutra means threads. In reference to the Kalpa Sutra, the sutras are the threads of knowledge used as memorial rules to understand the Vedas. In the absence of an exact guide to understanding knowledge, the sutras acted as mental hooks to understand the details of performing Vedic sacrifice and rituals.
The Kalpa Vedanga deals with practical ceremonies, sacrifices and rituals. Technically, it can also be known as the applied science of Vedas. Kalpa Vedanga helps you to standardize the procedure of rituals, rites and rules associated with performing any sacred rituals. Thus, any ceremonies associated with major life events in a human’s journey on the earth are included in the Kalpa Vedanga.
In the oldest Kalpa Sutras, the contents are linked with Brahmans and Aranyakas. The chief content of Brahmans was first received through the Kalpa sutra. Thus, a brief and descriptive systematic treatment was provided to it. The Kalpa Vedangas help in the theoretical, mythological and theological discussions included in the Vedas. Hence, the study of Kalpa Vedanga plays a significant role in the study of the Sanskrit Language as well as the Vedic Scriptures.
Yagya was the main religious activity performed during the Vedic Tradition, thus, during the Brahman Period, these rituals were prominent. But, the tradition was a vast and expansive concept, thus it required a precise rule book to understand. Thus, Kalpa Vedanga was introduced such that the scriptures of rituals and yagyas were followed with utmost precision and system.
The texts containing the Kalpa sutra are divided into Srauta sutra which means the sutras derived from the sruti tradition. It contains hymns and verses. The other part of the Kalpa Sutra is the Smarta sutra which is based on Smriti which is related to Hindu traditions. And the rest of them are the three sutras which include Grihya Sutras, Dharma Sutra and Shulva Sutra.
Four Types Of Kalpa Vedanga
- Srauta Sutra
- Grihya Sutra
- Dharma Sutra
- Shulva Sutra
This type of sutra forms the corpus of Sanskrit sutra literature. The topics of srauta Sutra include the instructions of sruti (recital) in rituals. This helps an individual to understand the correct pronunciation of all the rituals. The early Srauta Sutra was composed in the early Brahmana period. The bulk of Srauta Sutras is contemporary in nature. Their language is Vedic Sanskrit.
Srauta Sutra obliges with all the rituals performed only after igniting a fire. Great importance is given to the sacrificial fire, during the spiritual rituals performed. The Srauta Sutra are complex in nature and thus, they do not find any place in general rituals, only the importance they are given belongs to the religious ceremonies.
The Smarta Sutras or Grihya Sutra are also known as the domestic sutras. These are categories of Sanskrit Scriptures that include Vedic rituals, mainly relating to rites of passage. The rituals like wedding, birth celebration, name giving, etc are included in these sutras. The Language of Smarta Sutras are in the Sanskrit language and they are stated around 500 BCE.
The text that is mentioned in the Dharma sutra deals with customs, rituals, duties and laws. The four written works of ancient Indian literature include the subject of dharma and the rules of behavioural conduct of a community. The Dharma Sutra is composed of prose.
The Shulva Sutra deals with the mathematical methodology to construct the geometry of rituals. The Sanskrit word Shulva means cord and the Shulva Sutra means rules of the cord. There are in all five Shulva Sutra texts.
The ceremonies of the old are systematically written in the sutra. The Kalpa sutra aims to give a plain and methodical account of the world course of rites, rituals and traditions. They include general rules and their application to the interpretation of the texts.
To conclude it all, Kalpa Vedanga discusses the duties of people at different stages of life. The stages of life are known as Ashramas. The Vedanga also discusses the rites, rituals and suits of kings, judicial rights and religious behaviour. They suggest such norms for men as well as women. Apart from Dharma Sutra, other important law books of the Vedic times are Manusmriti, Vishnusmriti and Narad Smriti.