shAkhAs of atharva veda according to guhyakAlI upanishad

guhyakAlI upanishad‘  belongs to guhyakAlI khanda of  mahAkAla samhitA. mahAkAla samhitA is a tantric text dealing with the worship of ‘ navakAlIs ‘.
{ The navakAlIs are
1) dakshiña kAlI
2) bhadra  kAlI
3) shamshAna kAlI
4) kAla  kAlI
5) guhya kAlI
6) kAmakalA kAlI
7) dhana kAlI
8) siddhI  ( hamsa )  kAlI
9) chanDa kAlI  }
The guhyakAlI section of mahAkAla samhitA is a voluminous work, comprising many thousands of verses and with ‘guhyakAlI ‘as its focus. But the work also covers a number of other  topics in equally great detail, and along the way also includes subjects rarely referred to in other tantras. One of such subject is description of shAkhAs of atharva veda in upanishad .
The guhyakAlI upanishad in its opening describes 6 shAkhAs of ‘bhrugavAngirasa veda’ and affiliate itself with last one.
{ A parallel case is of            vaishnava ‘ tripAdavibhutI mahanArAyan upnishad’ , which affiliate itself with the devadarsha shAkhA of same . “ब्रह्मन् देवदर्शीत्याख्याथर्वणशाखायां
परमतत्त्वरहस्याख्याथर्वणमहानारायणोपनिषदि गुरुशिष्यसंवादः
पुरातनः प्रसिद्धतया जागर्ति |”(TMU  1.1 )
The guhyakAlI upanishad mentions of following 6 shAkhAs.

1) vAratantava shAkhA
2) mauñjAyana shAkhA
3) tArnabaindava shAkhA
4) shaunaka shAkhA
5) paippalAda shAkhA
6) saumantava shAkhA


Interestingly mention of this shAkhAs are in order of youngest to oldest.
For instance the 6) saumantava shAkhA is oldest shAkhA as bramhanda purAñ mentions ” taThaivAtharva vedasya sumantuM RishitaM “.SrI vyAsa who divided veda in four parts, imparted atharvaveda ( firstly ) to sumantu. The pravachan kartA rishI is sumantu of this shAkhA .
Next comes the paippalAda shAkhA , no need to say it is chronically older then that of shaunaka . No mention of tAranbaindava shAkhA is there in present vedic , puranic and tantric literature.
Next comes mauñjAyana shAkhA , bramhanda purAñ narrates ”


saunaka maharshI imparted atharvan veda to 1) babhrava
2) saindhavAyan. saindhavAyan again imparted it to muñjAyan ( muñjakesha ).So chronically this shAkhA is younger then that of saunaka. Again no traces of vAratantava shAkhA is there . Probably  vAratantava and tArnabaindva are other name of some famous shAkhAs.

There is no direct relation of atharvaveda and guhya kAli tradition but kAlikAgam (  also known as  kAlamrityu tantra ) mentions of several tantric prayogas related to guhyakAlI  as the very essence of atharva veda. A nepAli digest of the same source on the propitiation of the pratyangirA and guhyakAlI  contains a chapter setting out a Paddhati for the worship of the latter whose colophon attributes it to the atharvan samhitA of the hAhArAva tantra.
( The colophon reads
ItI hAhArAva tantre atharvansamhitAyaM guhyakAlI pujA patalaH )
Also to be considered in this context is the kubjikopnishad  preserved in Nepalese manuscripts, in which the cult of the kubjikA is expounded by sanatkumAra to paippalAda  for the use in abhichAra prayoga  by atharvavedins.


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