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The Two Oldest Veda Manuscripts

The Two Oldest Veda Manuscripts

Facsimile Edition of Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 1–20 (Saṃhitā- and Padapāṭha) from Nepal and Western Tibet (c. 1150 CE)

Edited by Michael Witzel

ISBN 9780674988262

Publication date: 02/18/2019

This volume offers unexpected insights into the history of the Veda, the earliest texts of South Asia, and their underlying oral transmission. In side-by-side facsimiles, Michael Witzel and Qinyuan Wu present the two oldest known Veda manuscripts, the Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā of the White Yajurveda and its contemporaneous sister text, a Vājasaneyi Padapāṭha, recently found in western Tibet. These two manuscripts have retained an unusual style of representing the pitched accents, and their juxtaposition in this edition invites comparison between the oral Veda transmission of a thousand years ago and the recitation still maintained today. Both manuscripts are important testimonies for the history of the Vedas, their medieval transmission, and their first codification in writing. As such, they are of great interest to historians, Indologists, and scholars studying the interface of oral and written traditions.


  • Michael Witzel is Wales Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University.
  • Qinyuan Wu is a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Book Details

  • 184 pages
  • 1 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Harvard University Department of South Asian Studies
  • Assisted by Qinyuan Wu