Dates of written Rgveda

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Mar 15 01:19:59 UTC 2000

Unfortunately Srisa Rao confuses two things:

1* the collection (samhitaa) of the RV early one by some unknown vy-aasa,
and later on, its redaction by Sakalya (and some  others, Baskala etc.)

2*  the notices we have in the Anukramani and in the post-Rgvedic texts
about authors of the Rgvedic hymns.

No one (at least not  in modern  Indology, last 200 years)  has  claimed
that no. 2 is correct.
Or does anyone accept Ms. Vaac as author of the hymn on Speech? (RV 10.125)
Also, the notices about the authors of the SAME stanza in RV,AV, YV, AV
This is all secondary stuff. People tried to find authors when no living
tradition was available.

However, as far as 1* is concerned, even where we cannot be sure about the
author or his clan (Vasistha etc.), the ORDER, arrangement of the hymns
still indicates what belongs together and what not, and what had been
inserted by the time of Sakalya, from unknown sources.

Old news, see Bergaigne, and Oldenberg, Prolegomena  1888
(why do we always have to repeat such old news?? I mean it: it shows that
people talk about the RV and do not know the basics. )

What is much more interesting is that Satapatha Brahmana, of the same time
as Sakalya,
quote the Pururavas/Urvasi hymn as having 15 stanzas while it now has 18
(*against* the order of arrangement in RV). Again, very old news.  But it
shows exactly what we know anyhow, that there were several early redactions
(Sakalya, Baskala, Mandukeya etc.)  of which we have only Sakalya and a few
notes about the two others.  (The existence of their texts has always been
rumored, but nothing has appeared or at least been described in some
detail. In the meantime, we wait, patiently.)

Therefore, Rao's statement, below, is 100% besides the point I made in the
quote immediately following:

>On Sat, 11 Mar 2000, Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:
>> We also know *what* has been changed since the time of collection
>> (samhitaa) : they are a few, clearly visible phonetic developments, due
>> to historical development, (Cuv > Cv, etc.) and a few 'strange',
>> schoolmaster type changes, --- we would say "in orthography" --- but is
>> was, at that time of course, orthoepic diaskeuasis.


Srisa Rao:
>In this regard, the following may be of interest:
> "Sunassepa is credited with the composition of 100 rks. in the I Mandala.
>  But we have only 97 rks. of his there and the rest are found distributed
>  between iv (two rks.: tvaM no agne varuNasya (iv.1.4) and v.2.7
>  (shunashchichchhepaM ***).  Madhva contends that these were originally
>  in I Mandala.  In mA nastenebhyo (ii.23.16) there is a gap
>  UnatA dR^ishyate.arthataH | which is supplied by Madhva in his
>  B.S.B. iii.4.49."
>  Sharma, B.N.K., `History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta', 2d. ed.
>  Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1981, p. 182.
>If these errors, which are clearly not phonetic or orthographic, were not
>due to scribes, then we must say that the oral transmission was at times
>only 97% accurate.
Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

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