ha.msa in parama-ha.msa and ha.msa-sa.mde/sa

George Thompson gthomgt at COMCAST.NET
Wed Apr 22 02:14:13 UTC 2009

Dear List,

I am sure that some of the previously mentioned books refer to the Vedic 
material regarding hamsa, but maybe it will be useful to those who don't 
have access to the earlier literature to mention these Vedic facts:

The puranic and late upanisidic texts mentioned in earlier posts have 
clear antecedents in earlier Vedic.  These Vedic antecedents include not 
only the oldest upanisads [BAU, ChU], as well as later upanisads [KaU & 
ShvetU] but many YV texts as well [KS, MS, VS, TB].   But even in oldest 
Vedic [RV] the term hamsa  is already well-attested [16 times] and in 
every stratum of the RV. 

What is evident from this evidence is this:

Iranian attestations of the Indo-European word, which is attested in 
Latin 'anser', Germ.' Gans', etc., are tenuous.  But Indo-European 
origins of this word nevertheless seems secure.  Of course, these 
linguistic origins do not tell us what sort of bird the Sanskrit term 
hamsa refers to, but they do suggest

Christophe Vielle wrote:

> There is also the story of God Brahmaa going to the top of the sky in 
> the shape of a ha.msa (looking for the end of the li;nga, while 
> Vi.s.nu goes under the Earth in the shape of a boar) as reminded by 
> Puur.nasarasvatii:
> ruupa.m bibhran na.ta iva sakhe rocamaa.na.m tvadiiya.m
> maatu.m dhaataa madanadamanajyotir uurdhva.m gato 'bhuut | 7ab
> (the story is at least told in Li;ngaP 1,17,5-52)
> I wonder what are the oldest (textual or iconographical) sources for 
> the ha.msa(s) as vehicle of Brahmaa, and what is the original 
> symbolical relationship between the god and the bird.
> Christophe Vielle

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