Age of the Veda ...

Koenraad Elst koenraad.elst at PANDORA.BE
Tue Nov 30 08:39:40 UTC 1999

Ms. Ulrike,

You are apparently referring to M. Winternitz's History of Indian Literature
(ca. 1905, I believe), who argues that Max Müller's date of the Rg-Veda as
1200 BC is quite untenable, as you cannot cram the enormous linguistic and
philosophical development from the first rshis to the Buddha in just six
centuries.  I have never seen an answer to that, and I think the argument is
still pertinent.  Nevertheless, very recent papers by some of the most
authoritative scholars repeat Max Müller's date without any new
justification for it.  Though of course they don't invoke Max Müller's
authority anymore, I suspect that the inertia factor (the fact that changing
a once-established theory requires effort and new arguments) is effectively
continuing Max Müller's impact.  Note that when Indian scholars take the
trouble of criticizing Max Müller, whose estimate was partly predetermined
by his belief in Biblical chronology (Creation in 4004 BC), they are derided
in the West for "fighting the battles of the past", as "scholarship has
moved on since Max Müller". In the case of Vedic chronology, scholarship has
actually moved very little, and Winternitz's challenge to the conventional
opinion has been ignored.

Yours sincerely,
Koenraad Elst

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