River Sarasvati: Atomic scientists reconfirm location

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Mar 9 13:41:06 UTC 2000

Paul Kekai Manansala:
> Prehistory is not usually determined by philological study
>of texts written down thousands of years after the proposed events.

Think again: the Rgveda, due to its near-perfect ORAL transmission,  can
serve as a contemporaneous  document (even when it was first written down,
c. 1000 CE, as Albiruni  and the first surviving Vedic  manuscripts seem to

>Archaeology, anthropology, genetics, etc., are the 'harder' approaches
>that must be used in analyzing the past.

Ever noticed that archaeologists (Allchin :: Shaffer),
anthropologists  (do they even know what they *should* do, right now?),
even geneticists (Cavalli-Sforza :: Vince Sarich, Berkeley)
INTERPRET their data?  And always differently...

>Free interpretation of Vedic hymns, dating of language, etc. is very
>soft, mushy stuff.

Mushy indeed, if one does not pay attention to the differences between
'normal', classical Sanskrit and Vedic, to textual/linguistic levels, basic
rules of comparative linguistics etc.

As for some really mushy stuff, I suggest that readers check out
P.K.Manansala's Austro-centric  website which bristles with etymologies
that put Plato's Kratylos and Yaska's Nirukta to shame.

In this particular case, it was the Roman etymologists that were right:
not:     ex oriente (Savaiki-Pilippinense) lux,
but :    lucus a non lucendo...

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:     www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:         www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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