“Atharvan” means a purohita, a priest. There was a sage with this name. That which was revealed by the seer Athrvan is the Atharvaveda. It contains mantras with which one wards off misfortunes and disasters and brings about the destruction of one’s enemies. The Atharvaveda is a mixture of prose and poetry. The mantras of other Vedas also serve the same purpose as those of the Atharvaveda. But what is special about the latter is that it has references to deities not mentioned in the others and has mantras addressed to fierce spirits. What has come to be known as “mantrikam” (magical rites) has its source in this Veda. But it is to be noted that the Atharvaveda also contains mantras that speak of lofty truths. It has the Prithvi-sukta, the hymn to earth, which glorifies this planet with all its creatures. The Atharvaveda is noteworthy for the fact that the brahma, the supervisor of sacrifices, is its representative. The Atharvaveda, that is its Samhita, is rarely chanted in the North and is not heard at all in the South. But we must remember that of the ten important Upanishads three belong to this Veda – Prasna, Mundaka and Mandukya. It is believed that those who seek liberation need nothing to realise their goal other than Madukya Upanishad. We learn from stone inscriptions that the Atharvaveda had a following until some centuries ago. Information about Vedic schools is provided by such inscriptions found near Perani, not far from Tindivanam, at Ennayiram and a place near Walajabad, in the neighbourhood of Kancipuram. Even during the reign of the later Colas the Atharvaveda was learned in the Tamil country. There are eighteen divisions among the Brahmins of Orissa. One of them is made up of “Atharvanikas“, that is Atharvavedins. Evev today
Atharvavedins are to be met, though their number is small, in parts of Gujarat like Saurashtra and in Kosala( in U. P).
( This fragment is taken from the famous book of Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati ji ” The Hindu Dharma ” )