saras 2

Tue Jun 16 09:47:15 UTC 1998

On Mon 15 Jun 1998 George Thompson asked:

>1. How to explain the presence of *saras* at Naig. 1.11?

>2. Are there other RV [or other] passages that might better justify this
>inclusion that RV 7.103.7?

If sarasvatI is a *meaningful* proper name for a cow, as I suggested in my
message, saras- must have been intended as "a pond of milk", and for a cow
called sarasvatI this must mean that it is hoped/expected that she gives
"pondfuls of milk".
The metaphorical usage of sa'ras not for natural ponds but for "a lot of . . .
(some liquid)" is frequent in the RV (more frequent than non-metaphorical
reference?). Cf. RV 5.29.8, 8.1.23, 8.77.4, 9.54.2 for "pondfuls of soma",
8.45.24 for "pondfuls of <soma> mixed with milk", and 8.7.10 for "pondfuls of

Interesting also: RV 9.67.32: sa'rasvatI "milks" (gives as a cow) "milk,
butter, honey and water/ and sweet water." (Verses 31-32 of this hymn are
missing in vanNooten and Holland's recent edition, HOS 50! I think the editors
went here a bit too far in their attempt to restore a more original text).

other questions asked were:
>3. Is this not typical of Nirukta, also well-known for its inconsistent,
>seemingly ad hoc etymologies?

>4. Can the Nirukta be legitimately used as a source for lexical glosses
>such as Dominique is seeking in this thread?

For the place of Nirukta in a larger context of emerging linguistic/semantic
awareness in the Sanskrit tradition, see now also my contribution "The Sanskrit
Tradition", especially sections 1-4 (from Vedic hymns to Brahmanas and
Nirukta), in:
The Emergence of Semantics in Four Linguistic Traditions: Hebrew, Sanskrit,
Greek, Arabic, by W.v. Bekkum, J. Houben, I. Sluiter and K. Versteegh. (Studies
in the History of the Language Sciences, vol. 82.)
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1997. Price ca. Hfl 198 / US $ 99.

Best wishes, JH

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