Sayana (IAST: Sāyaṇa, also called Sāyaṇācārya; died 1387) was a Sanskrit scholar from the Vijayanagara Empire of South India, near modern day Bellary. An important commentator on the Vedas, he flourished under King Bukka Raya I and his successor Harihara II.[1]

He was the son of Mayana, and the pupil of Vishnu Sarvajna and of Samkarananda. More than a hundred works are attributed to him, among which are commentaries on nearly all parts of the Vedas; some were carried out by his pupils, and some were written in conjunction with his brother Vidyāraṇya or Mādhava. Sayana was a minister, and subsequently prime minister in Bukka Raya's court, and wrote much of his commentary, with his brother and other Brahmins during his ministership.[2]

Sayana was born to Mayana (IAST: Māyaṇa) and Shrimati in a Brahmin family that lived in Hampi. He had an elder brother named Madhava (sometimes identified as Vidyaranya) and a younger brother named Bhoganatha (or Somanatha). The family belonged to Bharadvaja gotra, and followed the Taittiriya Shakha (school) of the Krishna Yajurveda.[3]

Both Madhava and Sayana said to have studied under Vidyatirtha of Sringeri, and held offices in the Vijayanagara Empire.[4]

Sayana was a Sanskrit-language writer and commentator.[5] His major work is his Vedartha Prakasha (literally, "the meaning of the Vedas made manifest"), or commentary on the Vedas. His commentary on the Rigveda was translated from Sanskrit to English by Max Müller, 1823-1900. His works were also used as a basis by Griffith, Muir, Wilson and other European Indologists. His continues to be one of the six commentaries on the Vedas that modern-day Vedic scholars read.[6]

A new edition, prepared by the Vaidik Samshodhan Mandala (Vedic Research Institute) of the Tilak Maharashtra University in Pune, under the general editor V. K. Rajwade, was published in 1933 in 4 volumes, and is available online at the Internet Archive website.[7] The core portion of the commentary was likely written by Sayana himself, but it also includes contributions of his brother Mādhava, and additions by his students and later authors who wrote under Sayana's name. "Sayana" (or also Sāyaṇamādhava) by convention refers to the collective authorship of the commentary as a whole without separating such layers.

He has also written many lesser manuals called Sudhanidhis treating Prayaschitta (expiation), Yajnatantra (ritual), Purushartha (aims of human endeavour), Subhashita (Collection of moral sayings), Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), Sangita Sara (The essence of music), Prayaschitra, Alankara, and Dhatuvrddhi (grammar)[8][9]