saras 2

Mon Jun 15 20:16:34 UTC 1998

On Tue, 9 Jun 1998 "Dominique.Thillaud" wrote (on Nirukta  2.23 on vAc and

>Dear Beatrice,
>. . . Despite the "With reference to these", it seems we have a big break
>in the reasoning, between 'speech' and 'river'/'deity'. Even if we read
>"vAc (deity)" and if we suppose a metonymy vAc/sarasvatI (both deities),
>the 'river' is still far. An ellipsis of the metaphor 'speech'/'river'? Are
>you (or someone else) in a position to explain this?

Note that sarasvatI is also a (meaningful) proper name of a cow, already in the
Rgveda: Cf. in the so-called "riddle hymn" RV 1.164 verse 49:
ya's te sta'naH . . . sa'rasvati ta'm iha dhA'tave kaH.
"This everflowing teat/udder of thine . . . Sarasvati, make it here ready to be
The verse is pronounced when the calf is brought near the cow to stimulate the
flow of milk (of which the calf gets only a part: the rest is for the Pravargya
offering). The employment of the verse by the father when he gives his new born
baby to the mother for breast-feeding (e.g. pAraskaragRhyasUtra 1.16.21) is
clearly secondary. The cow is in the Rgveda and in later text a frequent
metaphor of speech, e.g. in the same "riddle hymn" 1.164 verses 41-42 (here a
buffalo-cow however: gaurI'). Cf. further J. Gonda, pUSan and sarasvatI,
Amsterdam 1985 (e.g. p. 35ff, 44ff).

greetings, JH

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