Sarasvati (texts & arch.II)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun May 24 15:09:18 UTC 1998

On Sat, 23 May 1998, Paul K. Manansala wrote:

> > > A Sarasvati flowing into an ocean means a Sarasvati flowing into an ocean !
> >
> > Logically correct, but *first* someone has to do the philological study
> > and show what samudra REALLY means (s. K. Klaus, Kosmographie 1986). I
> > have alluded to the century old discussion.
> Isn't it quite clear from linguistic tradition that samudra means
> ocean.  Clearly it does not mean a regular lake or desert.  A very large
> lake could be confused with the ocean, but do any of these rivers
> empty into large lakes?

My suggestion: Do the investigation, then we ca talk. Also see R.
Zydenbos' example. And a lot more, plus the saagara "ocean"  often
indicating lakes nowadays !

> Also "north" is a very relative term.  There is a northern Indian
> ocean adjacent to northern India and a southern one next to southern
> India. We don't necessarily have to accept Tilak to explain the
> northern samudra.

Unfortunately, the Rgveda does not knwo about South India and the closest
ocean was the Arabian sea, definitley SOUTH of the Panjab, at least after
the continental drift.

The next northern ocean I have read about in Indian texts is the "ocean of
sand" in Kalhana's Rajatanrangini 1150 AD...

> The least complex explanation for a river flowing from the mountains
> to the ocean is the literal one since there are indeed such rivers in
> modern and ancient India.

Certainly, but this is not a mathematical problem with "elegant

As A. Hillebrandt (under the pseudonym Fritz Bon-sens)
wrote about the Rgveda a hundred years ago, in the tradition of the great

"Indra war ein grosser Raja -- so wie es auch heute noch in Indien viele
Rajas gibt..."

<Indra was a great Raja, just as today, there still are many Rajas in

The RV is not a geography handbook. But complicated IA/IE poetry.  Each
passage needs detailed investigation. All I did was to cast some
(intra-textual) doubt on the "proof passage" of the "great Sarasvati" in
the *later* RV.

Michael Witzel                       witzel at

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