method of dating RV, III

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Mon Jun 8 13:32:09 UTC 1998

Well, let's see if I can improve my score.

First of all, clarification: I think it is inappropriate to interpret my
ref. to RV 8.46 as proposed support for my dating of the RV. This seems to
me to be a confusion of levels, like arguing that footnote 38 of some book
doesn't provide enough evidence for the book's thesis: that is not the duty
of footnotes. Of course, my discussion on RV 8.46 does not provide enough
"numerical strength" to support a dating claim for the RV. How could it? It
is proposed as support for my claim that there is evidence of "contact"
between Vedic Aryans and Iranian Aryans in the RV. Jan Houben's objections
notwithstanding, I still see it as good evidence of such "contact."

Now, what is meant by "contact"? JH observes that the patron pRthuzravas
kaniTa is a "fully acculturated Aryan in language and culture." No doubt.
But my general claim, often overlooked in general as here, is that Iranian
Aryans are just as Aryan as Vedic Aryans. And in the case of pRthuzravas,
his lineage seems to be as much Iranian as Vedic [or perhaps both]. But my
point about a'deva [which, by the way, I do not mean to suggest is a
bahuvrIhi] perhaps was not made clear enough in my first post:

The RSi vaza azvya, the beneficiary of pRthuzravas's generosity, contrasts
his own good fortune against that of the a'deva: the one who does not
worship the devas. Now, such an a'deva could be: (1) a Vedic Aryan hostile
to the devas; (2) an Iranian Aryan hostile to the devas; (3) a Dravidian or
some other non-Aryan hostile to the devas.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on (2), especially since kanIta is a
non-Vedic, a Sythian, name. But there is other evidence to support this
claim. First, the general background: the eighth maNDala is a late book and
is located by Witzel [Erdosy volume p. 317] in the Panjab, in general in
the NW of the Vedic cultura area. This maNDala shows many signs of
connection with Iran [Witzel, ibid], including "settlement at close range,
as well as extensive trade relations between the various trives [Vedic and
Iranian -- paranthesis added by me]..." [Witzel, p.323]. I have already
mentioned the camels in my first post; there is also mention of 'mathra
horses' at 8.46.23. Both of these animals [as well as dogs] have been cited
by Witzel as indicators of 'Iranian connection', esp. when in association
with Iranian names, as at RV 8.5.37-39 kazu, cited by Witzel in his earlier
post on this thread. Likewise, parzu, also cited earlier.

I assumed that I could take for granted this previously cited evidence for
the lateness and the westness [Iranian-ness] of maNDala 8. And my
suggestion re the term a'deva was meant as further support for this.

On the other hand, consider the other non-Vedic names that appear in this
hymn: araTva akSa, associated with NahuSa, in st. 27, and the dAsa balbUtha
tarukSa in st. 32. [both cited by Kuiper in *Aryans in the RV*]. Besides
balbUtha, Witzel [ibid. 325] cites several other non-Vedic names that
appear in maNDala eight, possibly aboriginal rather than Iranian. To be
sure, the presence of possible indigenous peoples besides non-Vedic,
*Iranian*, Aryans complicates the picture. I will never claim that the RV
presents us with clear pictures of history.

But given this evidence of contact with Iranians in this book, given also
the obvious phraseological parallels between Vedic and Avestan that I could
adduce just from this hymn alone, I think that there is very good reason to
think that the term a'deva is semantically more specific than we have
recognized to date.

A general point might be made here: I myself have tended to look at the
large number of phraseological parallels between Vedic and Avestan as due
largely to shared cultural inheritance. I had not given much thought to the
possibility of fairly regular contact at RV levels. My views have changed.
The efforts of Witzel, Parpola, Falk, et al., to extract history from the
RV have allowed me to see the possibility of revising my understanding of
terms like a'deva.

[Aside to Jan: perhaps this post presents stronger evidence? More
available, if desired].

Best wishes,


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