[INDOLOGY] Aditya-varna

dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
Thu Jan 23 15:55:30 UTC 2014

Dear Howard,

Thanks for your message. 

This thread seems to have got a bit tangled. James' question was whether 
AdityavarNa was common as an adjective; your answer was that Aditya isn't common 
as an adjective. That's a different question, but I think your answer is right. As MW 
implies, it's a vrddhi formation, and is therefore an adjective ("mfn" in MW's notation), 
meaning etymologically "belonging to or descended from Aditi", but it's mostly used in 
the masculine, meaning a class of gods or the sun(-god). Returning to Aditya-varNa, 
in the verse that appears in BhG 8.9 and in earlier contexts, it looks like a bahuvrihi, 
which is by nature an adjectival phrase (though like any adjectival formation in Skt it 
can be used as a noun).

With b est wishes,


On 22 Jan 2014 at 11:24, Howard Resnick wrote:

> 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.
> Best,
> hr
> 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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> > 

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