Etymology of sukha and duHkha

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Mar 14 17:13:37 UTC 2000

Dear Prof. Kumar,
greetings, nice to hear from you again.

You are right that, on the surface,

>I find the following etymological conclusions quite humorous, though! There
>is fun in doing etymology, after all!!!

>>> "Sukha, mfn. (said to be fr. and to mean originally 'having a
>>> good axle-hole;'
>>> Oppositely, duHkha would refer to the state of not having such a good hole.

But, please, think of the passion for horse racing among the Indo-Aryans
(Veda), Mitanni Indo-Aryans  (aika-, tri-, panza-, satta-, nava-vartana
etc.), and "Avestan people" (Zoroaster uses horse race terms as theological
terms), cf. also the  Oxus chariot, Old Persian monuments at Persepolis etc

No wonder that su-kha and duH-kha can refer to the state of your race car:
it needs 'oiling'.
See SPARREBOOM, Chariots. The etym. is  maintained by M. Mayrhofer, EWA
(Etym. Woerterbuch des Altindoarischen) 1986-

Incidentally, if connected at all with Ved. khaa, Avest. xaa 'well,source',
then already of Indo_Iranian age. (Must check the materials in EWA, maybe
connected with  khan-  'to dig').

And, of course etymology can be fun, if done scientifically (identifying
root, stem, meaning), -- but also, when we derive, say, putra from
*put+traa (Upanisads, from an imagined *put 'hell') or  Bhairava from bhii
+ ru + vam as in Kashmiri Shivaism... The German  (of course, humorous)
version is "Loewe, weil er durch die Wueste loewt (laeuft)",  or as the
Romans do:
lucus a non lucendo.

Best, Yrs MW>

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

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
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