Critical editions

Vidhyanath K. Rao vidynath at
Fri Jul 7 15:14:53 UTC 1995

> I still think that West's guidelines here leave something to be desired,
> and could easily descend into circularity.  Nevertheless, the main point
> -- that you have to look at the actual MS readings of each MS in order
> to know whether that MS is an important witness -- cannot be set aside.

I agree with what is being said, as long as we look at the readings purely
from the point of view of language and possibily style based on those parts
where most manuscripts agree. 

However, sometimes decisions about what reading to accept are based on the
editor's conception of what the text contained ``originally''. (There is
one example where the consideration was what the editor thought the work
should say and the presumed relationship of the manuscripts to the work.
The manuscript in question had been lost decades ago.) I would trust
tradition more than such selections.

> Regarding the general point about doing an edition, only to find that
> the edited text is identical to the vulgate, and one has wasted one's
> time, I don't know that it has ever happened, or ever will.  But the
> result of the work would still be to separate knowledge from opinion.
> This is surely worthwhile.

I agree with the last two sentences. But not the first. Keith, in his
re-edition of Aitreya Aaranyaka, says flat out that no major changes
from Mitra's edition were found. The re-edition of .Rgvidhaana in
``Vedic Tantrism'' does not seem be such a great improvement over Meyer's (?)

Good test cases will be "Satapatha and Aitreya Brahmanans. Surely these
works deserve a critical edition based on all available manuscripts.
Then we can compare them with Weber's and Aufrechet's editions.

My comment was not that I consider such projects a waste of time, but
what academic peer's might say to tenure and promotion committees.
Perhaps Indologists are different in outlook from mathematicians, but
I suspect Witzel was saying the same thing, but was more diplomatic.

For the record, (not that it matters to anyone) I think critical editions
of Brahmanas are essential, even if they turn to agree substanially with
the 19th century editions.

Nath Rao (natharao+ at		614-366-9341

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list