Sarasvati (texts & arch.II)

Paul K. Manansala kabalen at MAIL.JPS.NET
Sun May 24 18:06:49 UTC 1998

   Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU>

> On Sat, 23 May 1998, Sn. Subrahmanya wrote:
> > At 12:40 PM 5/22/98 -0400, Michael Witze wrote:
> > >Part II:
> > >RV 3 and 10 have the smaller Sarasvati of today. RV 3 and 7 are
> > >contemporary (king Sudas). RV 7.95.2 thus is anormal, with its great
> > >Sarasvati. How to explain that?
> > You say that 7.95.2 is old and then proced to connect its supposed
> > author to Iranian ideas. If Vasishta came from across the Indus,
> > why connect him all the way to Iran?.
> Precisely because he professes un-Indian, Iranian ideas: I mentioned some
> of them last time:  ....  Last time, I forgot his special relation with
> Varuna in RV 7 86-88. A much more personal relationship of the poet and a
> god (Varuna) than most of the RV. reminds of Zoroaster again (and Varuna =
> "Asura Medha", has often been thought to have been the model for Zor's
> Ahura Mazda)

Isn't Vasistha connected with Eastern India in later literature?
Some intereresting facts about Vasistha:

1. He promoted cow worship (among beef-eaters?).
2. He raised tens sons on King Sudas' wife (among patriarchal
3. In later literature he is the priest of Danavas and Daityas.

> > You also tend to presume that the Iranian ideas were probably contemporary
> > to Rgvedic times!!. This need not be, we just dont know.
> > The Iranian ideas could be from a later date.
> No. There are indications of Iranian words in the RV, such as in RV 8.
> Both languages and religions are very close. After several weeks in either
> 'country" you could understand the local language easily, but maybe not
> speak it grammatically correctly. All of this is well known.
> The Old Iranian of the older Avesta (Zarathustra's Gatha-s) is
> linguistically hardly younger than the RV. Absolute dating has not been
> established, though. But there are a few tantalizing hints (the YOUNG
> Avestan name of Bactria in the Atharvaveda, for ex.)

But the Avesta is in neighboring Iran several centuries after the
proposed "invasion".  If the Avestan language is younger, then using
the standard  presumption we should suggest a migration from east to

> > Also, what you have suggested is only a *possibility* as you say and does
> > not conclusively prove that the 'mountain to the sea' Sarasvati  is
> > deifferent from the Indian Sarasvati river. Infact it neither proves
> > nor disproves anything.
> Of corse not. But I had to point out that *something* is going on in
> Vasistha's hymns: the proof passage for the "great Saravati".  His
> Sarasvati line does not fit the contemporary one of Visvamitra in 3.33!!!
> That still as to be explained.
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Exactly, there is continuity of cultural traits in the SIVC from before and
> > after the "supposed migration of Aryans". Also:
> > 1. We dont know what the actual religion of SIVC people was.
> But we can see enough from their seals and tablets. They do not fit
> *Rgvedic* religion.  A deity wrestling with 2 lions? A deity killing a
> buffalo?  A deity wrestling a buffao? etc.   Not in RV

Is there a religion of the Rgveda?  Or do these simply reflect a
particular type of hymn to certain deities.  Besides we should not be
comparing the Rgveda or Avesta only to IVC seals. Is there anything
in Iran or Central Asian remotely more "Vedic" in nature?

> > 2. We dont really know much about the culture of the Aryans either.
> We know a great deal, from the RV and the Avesta. Their family system,
> tribal system, their material cultue, their animals, their (little)
> agriculture, their deities, their rituals, their poetics, their language,
> etc.
> >    There is zilch archeological/textual evidence of migration
> >    from central asia into India.
> That has changed wit the finds in Bactria-Margiana and Baluchistan.
> Now their is a *trail*, see Hiebert in Erdosy, Indo_Aryans of Ancient
> South Asia, 1995. Plus the Gandhara grave culture, plus Swat.  All
> starting about 1880/1700 BC., and after the destruction of the Bactrian
> horizon about 2100 BC.

Highly questionable.  We have to question the "Aryan" identification
here.  A lot of presumptions used to back up other presumptions.

> > 3. The little that we do know about religion is just what
> >    we have from the Rgveda
> Not little. We can more or less reconstruct their Soma, Animal, Pravargya,
> Horse and Fire rituals right from the Rv. Plus a lot of mythology. Add the
> Avesta with very similar data.

Well, soma is a particularly interesting subject. Didn't it come from
the Himalayas (Mt. Mujavant).

> > So how can one postulate a migration ???
> The texts themselves speak of it many times, even in RV;  and the RV
> remembers places and tribes in Afghanistan, Iran and even beyond: The
> Rasaa = Avestan Ranghaa = Scythian *Rahaa (written Rhaa in Greek), where
> it designates ... the Volga.

All very questionable.  Maybe we should discuss each passage that
supposedly speaks of migration.  How in the world can you be sure
that Rasaa is the Volga?

Mass migrations are not usually forgotten by people.  We should not
have to thread together tidbits if the Vedic peoples really did
migrate from all the way from the Volga.  All of this should be very
clearly spelled out.

Paul Kekai Manansala

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