snakes and wells

Arlo Griffiths A.Griffiths at LET.LEIDENUNIV.NL
Wed Oct 3 10:39:07 UTC 2001

Dear fellow Indologists,

Can anyone confirm for me that in (ancient, Vedic) India, (harmful) snakes
were thought to live in or near water-wells? Can anyone provide me with

Thank you very much,

-- Arlo Griffiths

CNWS / Instituut Kern
Universiteit Leiden
Postbus 9515
2300 RA  Leiden
the Netherlands

***The immediate cause for this query is a passage from the AV (Paipp.),
6.14.5, where snakes belonging to the jungle and belonging to arma's
(ara.nyeya.m caarm[i]yeya.m) are made to vanish. I would like to take up
K.T. Schmidt's suggestion ('Zu einigen Archaismen in Flexion und Wortschatz
des Tocharischen', in W. Meid (ed.) Studien zum Indogermanischen Wortschatz,
Innsbruck [1987], 287-300), adopted also by Mayrhofer, that Vedic ;arma-
means 'well, source' rather than 'abandoned resting place' as proposed by
Rau in 1976 and maintained in 1983.
    Although Schmidt does not mention this, taking Vedic ;arma- as
'Wasserwort' would also finally solve the problem posed by the mantra VS
30.11/TB ;armebho hastip;am  "To armaa.h [one should consecrate] a
mahout" (unconvincingly Falk, ZDMG 1981, p. 169).***

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