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Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra - Basic Information

Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra in Hinduism is a treatise dealing with domestic rituals and daily religious routines. Grihya Sutra is adopted by the priests of Vishnu temples known as vaikhanasas. The sutra with its Vedic counterpart (Srautasutra) was composed by Sage Vaikhanasa, the mind born son of Bhagavan Vishnu. Srihari Vishnu instructed his son in the methodology of temple worship. This method of temple worship, as laid down by Sage Vaikhanasa, has come to be known as Vaikhanasa Agama.

Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra uses the formulae from Taittiriya recension of the Black (Krishna) Yajus School and hence is said to belong to that veda. SageVaikhanas had written a kalpa sutra (a treatise on rituals) in two parts – Grihya Sutra and Srauta Sutra. The latter deals with yagnas like Soma Yagna.

One of the noteworthy features of Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra (duties of the temple preist) is the amalgamation of temple worship and daily worship of Bhagavan Vishnu with other sacraments which are to be practiced by a pious Hindu – a feature not found in other similar treatises. The daily religious routine (ahnika) of a pious Hindu (like rules of bathing, eating, etc., which are normally dealt with in versified Dharmashastra literature) can be found in the beginning of the text and integrated with other sacraments.

Normally, the sarira samskaras (physical sacraments) are said to number eighteen, and together with other obligatory domestic and Vedic rituals are counted as forty. Though all the authorities (sutrakaras) agree on the 21 domestic and Vedic rituals (in spite of internal differences), there is no agreement with regard to the number of physical sacraments. But the Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra enumerates and details eighteen sacraments, beginning with the consummation of marriage – a tradition set by the famous lawgiver Manu; with daily burnt offerings, it makes nineteen. This sacrament, along with the 21 rituals referred to above, makes up the generally held forty.

Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra has seven sections, and Dharmasutra which prescribes a code of conduct for the observant, too, forms part of the texts.

Vaikhanasa Grihya Sutra work has many commentaries. That of Srinivasa Dikshita is very elaborate, with profuse quotations from other sutras and Dharmashastras. This has been published a few times with and without commentaries in Devanagari and Telugu script.