Kalpa Vedanga (कल्पवेदाङ्गम्)

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Kalpa (Samskrit : कल्पः) not to be confused with Kalpas defined by Kala pramana (time) is a part of the Shad Vedangas. They are called as Sutragranthas consisting of a group of texts that relate specifically to aspects of conduct of Vedic yajnas or Shrauta yajnas, their procedural and result explanations, measurements involved and associated dharmas. Usually described as the "arms of Vedapurusha", they systematically codified the ceremonies given in the Brahmana texts of the Vedas referred to as manuals for karmakanda or yajna related activities.

Guru describing preparation of Vedi for Yajna


The origin of Kalpa was for the organization of all the extensive rituals described in Vedas (वैदिककर्मकाण्डः | Vaidika Karmakanda). Kalpas are texts classified under the Shad Vedangas. They include the contents directly mentioned in Brahmanas and Aranyakas, presented in a systematic manner, explaining those not mentioned explicitly in the Brahmanas and omitting others not directly related to a particular yajna or ceremony.

Kalpa Vedanga deals with four types of Sutragranthas.[1]

  1. श्रौतसूत्राणि || Shrautasutras : They include procedures of Shrauta yajnas as per the veda shakas. They also include Paribhasha sutras which imply general rules and they applied in the interpretation of the Vedas.
  2. गृह्यसूत्राणि || Grhyasutras : They deal with the rules and regulations pertaining to the social and domestic activities and customs prescribed to a grhasta and his family. Example : Pakayajnas, Panchamahayajnas
  3. धर्मसूत्राणि || Dharmasutras : They are connected closely with the Grhyasutras in their contents but are elaborate with the social, religious, political and economic life of the people. They deal with Varna and Ashrama dharmas. Example : Baudhayana and Apastamba Dharmasutras
  4. शुल्बसूत्राणि || Sulbasutras : Associated mainly with Shrauta sutras, these sutras deal with measurements and construction of the yajna vedi to conduct shrauta yajnas. They are the earliest available texts of geometry given to the world by the Vedic era. Example : Baudhayana and Apastamba Sulbasutras.
Available Kalpasutra Literature
Shrautasutras Grhyasutras Dharmasutras Shulbasutras
Ashvalayana (आश्वलायनः) Ashvalayana (आश्वलायनः) Vasishta (वासिष्ठः) Varaha (वाराहः), Vadhula (वाधूलः)
Shankhayana (शाङ्खायनः) Shankhayana (शाङ्खायनः) Gautama (गौतमः) Maitreyi (मैत्रेयी)
Katyayana (कात्यायनः) Katyayana (कात्यायनः)
Hiranyakeshi (हिरण्यकेषी), Jaimineeya (जैमिनीयः), Vaitana (वैतानः), Latyayana (लाट्यायनः), Drahyayana Shrauta sutras (द्राह्यायनः)
Apastamba (आपस्तम्बः), Manava (मानवः), Baudhayana (बौधायनः) are commonly available Kalpa literature under all the four headings.  


  • एष वै प्रथमः कल्पः प्रदाने हव्यकव्ययोः । eṣa vai prathamaḥ kalpaḥ pradāne havyakavyayoḥ । Manusmriti (3.147)[2] defines Kalpa as विधिः । Vidhi to follow in the offering of हव्यकव्याः | havyakavyas (yajna vidhis).
  • कल्प्यते विधीयते | kalpyate vidhīyate | (Shabdakalpadruma) defines kalpa as vidhis (for yajnas)
  • वैदिकविधानज्ञापकेशास्त्रभेदे स चाश्वलायनापस्तम्बबौधायनकात्यायनादि-सूत्रात्मकः। vaidikavidhānajñāpakeśāstrabhede sa cāśvalāyanāpastambabaudhāyanakātyāyanādi-sūtrātmakaḥ | (Vachaspatyam)[3] Kalpa is defined as the (set of) sutras defining the vaidika vidhanas (vedic rituals) as given by Ashvalayana, Apastamba, Baudhayana, Katyayana among others.
  • As given by Vishnumitra, कल्पो वेदविहितानां कर्मणामानुपूर्व्येण कल्पनाशास्त्रम् | kalpo vedavihitānāṃ karmaṇāmānupūrvyeṇa kalpanāśāstram | ie. Kalpa shastra is a guideline for all the actions laid down in Veda (such as yajnas and yagas)   


  1. Malladi, Sri. Suryanarayana Sastry (1982) Samskruta Vangmaya Charitra, Volume 1 Vaidika Vangmayam Hyderabad : Andhra Sarasvata Parishad
  2. Manusmriti (3.147)
  3. Vachaspatyam Link for Kalpa Definition