When did the gods become literate? Was: Are the gods literate?

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 3 03:20:45 UTC 1999

Numerous journal articles are available on the question of writing in the
Vedic period. Exact references can be found out easily from the various
volumes of 'Vedic Bibliography' by Dandekar. I alone have 5 such articles in
my collection, all from Indian journals. One of these is in Hindi and
another in Marathi (the latter is the best of all and very convincing. It
lists dozens of direct and indirect references to writing from Brahamanas,
Kalpasutras,Ashtadhyayi, Pratisakhyas, Tripitaka etc.). Can email references
to you at a later date if you wish.
In my opinion, the RV, SV and VYV samhitas do not have any unambiguous
evidence of writing. The last mantra of AV (Vulgate) book XIX however refers
to 'placing the Vedas in the kosha'. Since the XIXth book is often taken as
the last book of AV (vulgate), with the XXth book as a later addition (of
course, even the XIX book could have been added to the first 18 in hoary
antiquity), the position of this mantra (and its context) tempts us to
believe that some 'written' texts of Vedas did exist at a date prior to that
attested by archaeology.
This particular mantra is actually taken by numerous Hindi and Marathi
Bhasyas and Tikas as referring to 'physical texts' of the Vedas (This is
true especially of the Arya Samaj interpretations). What is your opinion on
this mantra?

On devatas with books, I recall seeing the icons of Sri Visvakarma with some
texts in hand in our business establishment. (As you might be aware,
industrialists and industrial workers conduct a 'Visvakarma Puja' every year
and his icon is present in most manufacturing shops in N. India at least.
This Puja is sometimes a bigger affair for the company than the annual
Diwali Puja, which might be restricted to the owners of the company and
their family members and some chosen employees)


George Thompson asks:

>Can anyone point to early text-places where writing is unambiguously
>to? Is there a generally acknowledged first reference to writing in India?

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