Dates of written Rgveda

George Thompson GthomGt at CS.COM
Fri Mar 10 01:39:32 UTC 2000

So here we go again.  Another truly NAIVE challenge from someone who, in all
ignorance, asserts that *Vedicists* are naive.

In fact, Vedicists have long wrestled with this problem.  It is
understandable that you and other comparatists might be skeptical about the
large claims that are made for the fidelity of Vedic oral tradition.  But if
you did your homework you would know:

that in a *very* large Vedic literature there is *not one* reference to
writing anywhere;

that there is no solid evidence for writing in the Indan sub-continent before
the 3rd cent. BCE [whereas, if we are willing to overcome reasonable doubt,
we *might* be able to push that date back to the 6th cent. BCE -- in any
case, by this date the Vedic period is essentially over, or about to end];

that the Vedic tradition developed, very early, a remarkable system of
mnemonic devices intended to assure the accurate transmission of  the
traditional texts;

that the date of the RV, for linguistic reasons alone, cannot be reasonably
put very much *after* 1000 BCE, so that in fact there has been an extended
period of time during which it was transmitted purely by oral means;

that theorists of orality seriously underestimate the capacity of the 'oral
mind' [as if such a thing has actually been demonstrated to exist at all as
something significantly different from the 'literate mind'] to do things like
adding and subtracting, recognizing cause and effect, memorizing sacred
texts, etc. -- never mind serious phonological analysis, the likes of which
you will not find, I believe, in either Europe or China before the 19th cent,

I'm tempted to give a bunch of references.  But, no, I think yoiu should do
your own homework. And if you want our help with it, let me suggest that you
ask for it politely, instead of telling us that *we* are naive.

Please excuse me for my impatience, but recent messages to the list have
become very annoying.  The list, scholarly in intent, has been over-run once
again by a bunch of fundamentalists on a crusade.

George Thompson

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