[INDOLOGY] Aditya-varna

Howard Resnick hr at ivs.edu
Wed Jan 22 19:24:05 UTC 2014

Actually, James raised the “irrelevant” question regarding Aditya. I replied that at least in MW, where Aditya is the first member of a compound, it is rarely used adjectivally, though Aditya may act as an adjective.

I’m not sure that either the question or the answer were intended to be relevant to a greater issue. Technically, it seems that Aditya in Bg 8.9 can be part of a bahu-vrihi, as you point out, or it may be an adjective.


On Jan 22, 2014, at 11:03 AM, dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk wrote:

> Dear James,
> I was interested in your query about the Buddha and the responses to it, though I 
> don't think I've any answers.
> On Aditya-varNa in BhG 8.9: it's a bahuvrIhi compound phrase, and as such it's 
> adjectival, meaning most obviously "sun-coloured, having the colour of the sun". 
> Howard Resnick's question as to whether Aditya is an adjective is irrelevant: it's quite 
> usual to have a noun as first member of a bahuvrIhi.
> The pAda Aditya-varNaM tamasaH parastAt is a Vedic quotation. The whole verse 
> (vedAham etaM puruSaM mahAntam AdityavarNaM tamasaH parastAt | tam eva 
> viditvAti mRtyum eti nAnyaH panthA vidyate 'yanAya "I know that great Man, sun-
> coloured, beyond darkness | by knowing him alone one passes beyond death; there 
> is no other path to go") occurs as vAjasaneyi saMhitA 31.18, taittirIya AraNyaka 
> 3.12.7a, and zvetAzvatara upaniSad 3.8.
> It's evidently a well-known Vedic verse; the second half occurs again in zvetAzvatara 
> upaniSad 6.15. Both this text and BhG are fond of such quotations and partial 
> quotations. It even occurs in the video of Peter Brook's dramatization of the Mbh, 
> chanted as a lament for the slain after the battle.
> With best wishes,
> Dermot
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