Kh instead of S in Yajur Veda

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Tue Mar 5 11:58:51 EST 2002

The recitation of Skt .s as kh in the Maadhyandina tradition must be at
least a few hundred years old.  It is explicitly discussed in a 17/18th
century text that I am currently editing and translating.  Further the use
of the character for .s to render kh is very common in old Marathi
manuscripts, indicating that at least regionally there is something
happening.  In village Marathi, Sanskrit "poison" becomes iikh. This
is not a mere orthographic change, since I have heard the Maadhyandina YV
recitation in Pune demonstrating this phenomenon.
                                        Madhav Deshpande

--On Tuesday, March 5, 2002 4:00 PM +0100 Georg von Simson
<g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO> wrote:

> On March 5 Madhav Deshpande wrote:
>> Just to be more specific, the change of .s to kh takes place in the
>> Maadhyandina tradition of the Zukla-Yajurveda, where the passage
>> tvaa is recited as ikhe tvaa.
> A change from .s to kh looks rather dramatic if we take kh as an
> aspirated occlusive. But is it not probable that the letter kh was
> used to write either a palatal or a velar fricative (spirant) (like
> in German ich or ach), a sound that would be near to the
> correspondant sibilant (which is also a spirant)? The transition to
> the aspirated occlusive might be a rather late phenomenon, supported
> by the script. Of course, this would presuppose that writing plays a
> part somewhere in the process ...
>> The Maadhyandinas are found mostly in north
>> India, their southernmost expansion reaching the region of northern
>> Maharashtra.  I think there is a likely regional/dialectal connection of
>> this pronunciation with northeastern regions, where in Prakrits/Pali one
>> often finds kh for Sanskrit .s, for instance for
> But this is in so far different as the sibilant here is assimilated
> to a precedent occlusive.
> Best wishes,
> G.v.Simson

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