N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 2 13:12:30 UTC 1999

Prof. Witzel noted that the Sarasvati River was also called vais'amba_lya_.
Some thoughts and queries:
1. What are the textual references where this synonym
is used? (I couldn't get access to Witzel 1999)

Dear Dr. Kalyanaraman,


Witzel, Substrate languages in OIA, EJVS, 1999, p. 11
"and note that the SarasvatI still has a similar name, Vai'sambhalyA
(with many variants, always a sign of foreign origin, in the
Brahmana texts: TB, -bhAlyA, -pAlyA, -bAlyA Ap'SS 4.14.4,
-bhAlyA BhAr'sikSA; cf. also RV vi'spAla?), which is to be derived
from something like *visambAz/*visambAL, ..."

We know that ta. vicumpu, pronounced as visumbu, means the "sky".
The river could be "vicumpAL" ("sky river", spoken out as
"visumbAL"). This gets support from the place name on the banks of
Sarasvati river, bhavAnipura where  Sarasvati re-emerges from sand
(B. C. Law, 1968, Mountains and Rivers of India). Note tamil "vAn2"
is "sky". This Dr. "vAn" is in the "bhavAnipura" on the Sarasvati.
Compare this info with the river, vAn2i ("sky  river") in Erode
district which is referred to in Sangam texts. This "vAn2i" river in
Tamil Nadu is sanskritized as "bhavAni", and now there is an
irrigation dam called bhavAnisAgar.  Note that the "descent of a
river from sky" is celebrated always, the "Ganga's descent" in
Mahabalipuram, the huge monolithic relief sculpture of the Pallavas.

> From Dravidian visumbAL to Sanskrit vai'sambAlyA is rather common:
Dr. miiN AL ("fisherman") becomes "mainAla" (Prof. Witzel's same
paper). Settlements of "vEL" people is called in the RV as
"vailasthAna". Sangam texts refer to "vEL"s whose leader, Krishna
of Dvaraka, moving southward.

F. Southworth gives a Dravidian etymology for Sindhu as *kIndu/sIndu.
The Indus valley civilization, before the Aryans moved into South
Asia (No horses before 1700 BC), could have been called more like
"sIndu-visumbAL" culture.

N. Ganesan

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