Re: [INDOLOGY] textual source for nirvāṇa-mastaka

Lubin, Tim LubinT at
Sat Jan 14 04:56:49 UTC 2017

It is very hard to say whether there could be any connection since other occurrences are not known, but it seems unlikely to me.  The Atharvaśiras in its extant form(s) includes, near the end, two stanzas from the Atharvaveda that justify the name of the text itself:

7.2     mūrdhānam asya saṃsīvyātharvā hṛdayaṃ ca yat |
mastiṣkād ūrdhvaṃ prairayat   pavamāno ’dhi śīrṣṇaḥ ||
(= PS 16.59.9 / ~ŚS 10.2.26)

7.3     tad vā atharvaṇaḥ śiro   devakośaḥ samubjitaḥ |
tat prāṇo abhi rakṣati    śiro annam atho manaḥ ||
(~ PS 16.59.10 [rakṣatu, śriyam] / ŚS 10.2. 27)

PS = Paippalādasaṃhitā, ŚS = Śaunakasaṃhitā.  Some recensions have these in the 6th section.
Older references to the “Atharvaśiras” (e.g., in the Mahābhārata and in sūtras) seem to refer to a mantra text of some sort, thought to encapsulate the essence of the Atharvāṅgirasaḥ.  My edition will include a full discussion.
Atharvaśirṣa is just a synonymous name of the text, in common use later, esp. in Maharashtra where a set of five distinct devotional works circulated under the names Rudrātharvaśīrṣa (or Śivātharvaśīrṣa), Devyatharvaśīrṣa, etc.



Timothy Lubin
Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Law
Chair of the Department of Religion
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Virginia 24450

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at<mailto:indology-bounces at>> on behalf of Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY <indology at<mailto:indology at>>
Reply-To: Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at<mailto:mmdesh at>>
Date: Friday, January 13, 2017 at 4:13 PM
To: David and Nancy Reigle <dnreigle at<mailto:dnreigle at>>
Cc: Indology <indology at<mailto:indology at>>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] textual source for nirvāṇa-mastaka

I wonder if this term can be compared with names of the Upanishads like Atharvaśiras and Atharvaśīrṣa.

Madhav Deshpande
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

On Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 3:10 PM, David and Nancy Reigle via INDOLOGY <indology at<mailto:indology at>> wrote:
Has anyone seen the Sanskrit term nirvāṇa-mastaka in use? It appears in A Dictionary in Sanscrit and English, by H. H. Wilson, 2nd ed., 1832 (not in his 1st ed., 1819), defined simply as "liberation." From there it was copied in the Petersburg Wörterbuch (defined as Erlösung) and in the Monier-Williams dictionary (defined as liberation, deliverance), both of which give only Wilson as their source for this term. It is not in the Śabda-kalpa-druma, but is in the Vācaspatyam, defined as: nirvāṇam nirvṛtir mastakam iva yatra. Various searches by me have so far failed to turn up this term in a Sanskrit text. Hoping that one of you has seen it in use and can give a textual source for it.

Best regards,

David Reigle
Colorado, U.S.A.

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