W.D.O'Flaherty's Rgveda

Tue Nov 7 05:58:17 UTC 1995

Since I had been put on the spot, I had promised some examples from


To be (relatively) quick: one section each from the Rgveda, Jaiminiya 
Brahmana and Manu in this and the next 2 messages:

1. The Rig Veda. An anthology, Penguin 1981

RV 10.95 (O'Flaherty p.253):

VS.1. O's rendering of even the first two paadas is more of a paraphrase 
than a translation:

Haye' jaa'ye ma'nasaa ti'STha ghore
va'caaMsi mizraa' kRNavaavahai nu' 

"My wife turn your heart and mind to me. Stay here, dangerous woman, and 
let us exchange words." 
This is rather a stream of unconnected George-Bush-like anacoluths, five 
sentences in the first line, which reflect the state of mind of Pururavas 
(love-sick, wandering around stammering, as ZB says). -- O. missed this 
altogether. (Of course, the discussion of this hymn by K. Hoffmann, 
Der Injunktiv im Veda, Wiesbaden 1967, p. 199 might have helped.) 

"Hey! Wife! Sensibly -- Stand still! Terrible one! -- let us now exchange 

(haye seems to be the more polite version of: hai, usually addressed to 
female demons, in AV etc. -- In the RV, Hoffmann thinks, haye means 
something like "oh, poor me", German: ach) 

VS 5. raa'ja me viira tanv`as ta'd aasiiH

O.: "you were my man, king of my body".
The Vedic accent  (viira, no accent, is vocative) has not been 

"Then, o man, you were lord of my body."
(Geldner and Hoffmann correctly)

12. ca'kran naa'zru vartayad vijaana'n 

O.: "He will shed tears, sobbing, when he learns"
There  is no sobbing here, and  cakran na (usual Vedic sandhi) is, at 
best, zleSa (krand "cry"/cakra "wheel")-- but transl.?; and vartayad is 
Injunctive Present (Hoffm. p. 205). Thus:

"(the new born son), he lets roll (down) the tear like a wheel, when he 

(The same in Vs 13: no sobbing!)

VS15. maa' pra' papto ... na' va'i stra'iNaani sakhyaa'ni santi.

O: "do not vanish... There are no friendships with women."

In 14 and 15 pra pat refers to killing oneself by jumping down (a cliff), 
= suicide. Cf. S'B (Hoffm. p. 207 n. 193). *That* is how the 
wolves would find him...

O. denies the possibility of male/female friendship -- perhaps a current 
local cultural bias -- but certainly not a Rgvedic one. For:
Sakhya- is completely misunderstood, as is usual in such cases with 
Indologists not very conversant with Vedic; it is understood on the basis 
of Epic/Classical sakhi "friend" and thus the whole point of the apparent 
saying is missed.
A Vedic sakhi is not just any friend (and a woman could be that!) but a 
socius, the -- by necessity -- MALE member of a sodality such a the 
vraatya "brotherhood" (therefore Hoffmann: "Gefolgschaftstreue"; on 
Vraatyas see now H. Falk, Bruderschaft, Freiburg 1986). There simply 
*are* no female sakhya-. The (common) women of the vraatyas live with 
them for a while just like Urvazii...

---  etc. etc. In this hymn (of 18 stanzas) alone I have counted 43 
instances which are wrong or where others would easily disagree.

In short:  UNRELIABLE and idiosyncratic.


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