Rig Veda, ta'ntra, nUl, and sUtra

thompson at jlc.net thompson at jlc.net
Mon Apr 14 02:35:38 UTC 1997

>In a message dated 97-04-13 19:53:42 EDT, you write:
><< By the way, would anyone care to contest Monier-Williams's analysis of
> UrNavAbhi, wherein -vAbhi is "from an obsolete root vabh- [= Grk. hyphainO,
> Old High Germ. web-an, "to weave"]?  I myself cannot find any discussion of
> this in the literature available to me.  Does anyone with easy access to
> Wackernagel-Debrunner care to look it up? >>
>See Old Indian by Jan Gonda, pp. 174.
>" Irregular or semantically obscure forms were also in Old Indian replaced by
>new forms of more normal structure and intelligible semantic content,
>although the latter were apt to be overdone: the oldest form for "spider" is
>in all probability UrNa-va'bhi- "the she-weaver of wool"; when however the
>second member of this compound became un intelligible - the root vabh-had
>fallen into disuse-it was replaced by nA'bhi- "navel", the name of the spider
>becoming UrNanAbha- "having wool on the navel" and hence tantunAbha-
>"emitting threads from its navel".
> UrNanAbhi and tantunAbha are attested in the upanishads.
>S. Palaniappan

Thank you for this reference.  The phonic, morphological, and semantic
similarity of UrNavAbhi and UrNanAbhi caught my attention too.  But the
point is that the form UrNavAbhi displays a nice cognate of the Avestan
root vaf-, uf-, "to weave, sing".  Thus, no chasm at all between Old
Iranian and Old Indic re this verbal root.

Perhaps with a lot of hard work we can get to the bottom of this problem.

Best wishes,
George Thompson

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