Dr.Thompson' dating of the RV...

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Tue May 25 08:04:43 UTC 1999

First, a short history of the debate:

In his posting dated 18 May Mr Agrawal, after presenting his own theory,
acc. to which the number and character of the extant Vedic texts

>>>>>> pre-suppose several millenia of systematic development,

came to the following conclusion:

>>>>>>  Therefore, Dr. Thompson's dating [of the RV by approximately 1000 BCE]
based on a comparison of the other Indo-Aryan languages, to the neglect of a
rigorous study of Sanskrit literature, is simply absurd.

In a subsequent posting, Dr. Agraval, answering the question of Mr. Iyer

>>>>> What is your taking as Rigveda's date...


>>>> I am not competent enough to make a call on this issue.

After that I put a question to Mr. Agrawal:

>>> If so, what particularly makes you think that you are competent enough
to dismiss Professor Thompson's hypothesis (which is firmly based on the
wide range of Rgvedic, as well as Awestan, texts) and even call it "absurd"?

  and got immediate responce from Mr. Shrisha Rao:

>> Such vainglorious ad hominem does no justice to you or to the position
you are trying to support. It is perfectly reasonable to find that someone
else's conclusions on a certain topic is not in order, even if one has not
oneself reached a final conclusion yet.

        In a similiar way, Mr Agrawal himself finds in my words

> ...a fundamental flaw of logic....If I can not question Dr.Thompson's date
just because I do not have a suggestion for the same then by the same token
I cannot criticise Silvestor Stallone's acting because I cannot act better than

        Sorry, dear Mr Agrawal, but at that point I have to return the words
about "flaw of logic" back to you. Yes, you can criticise an actor's art
not being a better actor yourself. But in the field of science there works
another set of rules. If you criticise a scholar's work you have to be yourself
a scholar competent in the relevant field of studies, you should have your own
firm opinion on the same subject and if you reject a
scholar's theory (using even such harsh words as "absurd" and "absurdity"),
you should first analyse the facts this theory was based on and then suggest
a better, alternative way to explain these facts. What surprised me most of
all in your initial posting was that you evidently had no clear idea of the
facts Prof. Thompson had based his hypothesis on. You wrote that he based his
dating "on a comparison of the other Indo-European languages" (?). It means
that you do not know his system of arguments at all. George Thompson undertook
a scrupulous linguistic, historical and cultural study of many passages in
and Avesta, which demonstrated quite convinsingly that there are some parallels
(sometimes formulaic) and contrasts, which made one believe that Vedic Indians
and Avestan Iranians were conscious of each other's existence and there was
even a kind of religious "polemics" between them. If so, Rgveda and Avesta can
not be separated by many centuries, as was the common opinion until now. Now,
the question arises: how can we date the period when Rgveda and the Old Avesta
were at least partly contemporary? Prof. Thompson is inclined to date this
period as about 1000 BCE - making the Rgveda a little "younger" than it is
usually thought to be and closer to the date of Zoroaster (which is, according
to him, around 1000 BCE).
        By the way, I am inclined to disagree with Prof. Thompson's final
conclusion. I think the RV (its oldest core) is probably at least several
centuries older than 1000 BCE. But I can not ignore the facts discovered
and proven by G.Thompson. And before I proceed with my own dating, I have
to explain these facts in some different way. In particular, it seems to me
that we should better explain the synchronisms between Rgveda and Avesta
not by way of making Rgveda "younger", but rather by accepting an earlier
date for Zoroaster (some Iranists now tend to date him by the middle of the
2nd century BCE).
         But you, Mr Agrawal, did not even try to get acquainted with the
texts and facts Prof. Thompson had referred to (which you could do with the
help of INDOLOGY's archive). You simply rejected his dating, calling it
"absurd", for the only reason that it does not fit with the results of your
own calculations. You even accused Prof. Thompson in "the neglect of a
rigorous study of Sanskrit literature" - quite undeservedly, as has been shown
in the recent postings (May 21 & 22) by Mr. Venkataraman Iyer. That was the
best moment for you to remember the favourite sayings of your father: "vidyA
dadati vinayam" and "vidyAdambhaH kSANasthAyi" - not later, when you suddenly
preferred to declare that you have no opinion of your own on the problem of
the Rgveda's dating.
        But, in fact, you have such an opinion, and you formulated it in your
posting of 18 May (to be analysed in the second part of this letter).
                                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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