Ancient Rivers of khvaniratha and indology

S.Kalyanaraman kalyan99 at NETSCAPE.NET
Tue Mar 14 17:15:14 UTC 2000

Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:
/snip/ Certainly, and it would do some good to learn a few rules about sound >
correspondences between Avestan and Vedic...

I agree entirely with this alteration: "to learn a few rules about sound AND
sememes (sememe is a minimal unit of meaning; for some, a sememe is equivalent
to the meaning of a morpheme; for others, it is a feature of
meaning, equivalent to the notion of 'semantic component' or 'semantic
feature' in some theories..." (fr. David Crystal, A Dictionary of Linguistics
and Phonetics, Blackwell, 1991, p. 312).

Now to khvaniratha...

I suggest the semantic correspondence as follows; sva_ni-ratha = sva_nad ratha
(having a rattling chariot, RV; cf. Monier Williams) khvaniratha (German.
schwan; Anglo Sax. swin).sva_n = making sound (RV 1.104.1); sva_nah = sound
(RV 5.2.10; also name of one of the guards of the Soma (Taittiri_ya Sam.hita_ sva_ni-ratha = rattling chariot.

But, svan = also meaning 'adorn' (Dha_tup. 1`9.62)

In the context of the soma purification (treatment) process, svani (in tuvi-
and mahi-shvan.i) = fire, hence also called a synonym of agni. Thus,
sva_ni-ratha is a land where agni is the 'chariot' or vehicle. So, MBh. Vana
Parva, Ch. 219, Verse 15 notes: svana is the son of agni, called Satya; the
agent which causes disease to livin things. Agni got this name because human
beings produce svana (pitiable cryy) when afflicted with diseases. The
semantic expansion of svana- is more elaborate in the Vedic than in Avestan
which seems to refer to this morpheme only in the context of Airyanem Vae_jah
or Arya Vis'a, the land mass circumscribed by two rivers: Ranha_ and

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Get your own FREE, personal Netscape WebMail account today at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list