[INDOLOGY] Studies on the word 'vipra'?

George Thompson gthomgt at gmail.com
Thu Dec 11 21:04:00 UTC 2014

Dear Sam,

'vipra' is- a well-attested word in  Vedic, starting with the Rigveda.  It
has a solid Avestan cognate, 'vifra', with a similar semantic range as in
Vedic: 'trembling, shaking, inspired, ecstatic.'  Among its many
Indo-European cognates is Latin 'vibrare' [to vibrate], as well as English

In the RV 'vipra' is frequently associated with nouns that are more or less
synonyms with the term 'Brahmin': e.g., rsi and kavi.

In my view, 'vipra' is a word that is rooted in the earliest cultural
strata in the RV that preserve memory of Central Asian shamanism.

See Jan Gonda: *The Vision of the Vedic Poets.*  This book's Index will
steer you toward useful discussions of this word.  See also Louis Renou:
*Etudes sur le vocabulaire de Rgveda* [see index des mots etudies], as well
as Renou's EVP I [index of words].  There is also useful discussion in J.W.
Hauer: *Die Anfaenge der Yoga Praxis im Alten Indien [see Sachregister

I can't help you with 16th-17th century evidence. I hope that this is

Best wishes,

George Thompson

On Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 9:52 AM, Samuel Wright <swright at nalandauniv.com>

> Dear List Members,
> Can anyone point me to any studies dealing with the uses/meanings of the
> term 'vipra'? While it is usually glossed as 'brāhmaṇa', I'm wondering if
> there were any semantic changes in this term, particularly in the 16th/17th
> centuries.
> Keith and MacDonnell's 'Vedic Index' (page 302, vol. 2) provides some very
> early glosses such as "inspired singer" but then it is noted that "[i]n the
> epic style it comes to mean no more than 'Brahmin.'"
> Yet, Medhatithi comments on Manusmrti 3.199:
> vipragrahaṇam anuvādatvāt kṣatriyādipradarśanārtham |
> I'm also aware of Staal's very brief remarks in his article 'Sanskrit and
> Sanskritization' (pg. 267).
> Any suggestions would be appreciate on why the word 'vipra' might be used
> as opposed to 'dvija' or 'brāhmaṇa' as well as which studies on the word
> are available, if any.
> Many thanks,
> Sam
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