Atharva Veda (Skt.). The Vedic collection of hymns used by the Atharvan priests in the domestic rituals. Because of its lack of connection to the larger, more public Vedic sacrifices, the Atharva Veda early on was relegated to a secondary position and denied the title Veda accorded the trayī vidyā (threefold knowledge), i.e. the Ṛg, Sāma, and Yajur Veda. The Atharvan school responded by claiming the office of the domestic priest (purohita) and officiating priest (brahman), by adding a final section of hymns (book 20) devoted specifically to one of the major sacrifices, the soma sacrifice, and by expounding a tradition of the fourfold Veda. The Atharva Veda consists of sundry hymns not easily divided into these categories. Charms, curses, hymns intended for healing, recovering, or inflicting injury are mixed with hymns of praise and speculation.
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