[INDOLOGY] by chance, accidentally

Ashok Aklujkar ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com
Tue May 17 05:52:43 UTC 2016

On May 16, 2016, at 11:32 AM, Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl <mailto:karp at uw.edu.pl>> wrote:
>Do you know of something, some event, that happened accidentally, by pure chance - but, finally, had the power to  influence the development of the Indian Civilization (in the spheres of thought, religion, social relations, etc.)?<

One can make a case to the effect that the composition of Ṛgveda 10.129, the Nāsadīya-sūkta, must have been an event that influenced the development of Indian civilization in the spheres of thought, religion, social relations, etc. I do not understand why such an event  must be something “that happened accidentally, by pure chance”. However, I would not mind if the Nāsadīya is thought of as meeting that condition, since all great poetic-philosophic compositions are indeed outcomes of accidents that take place in the mind — are not explicable as purely linear movements or logical developments; the poets have to see something that others have not derived — that transcend the mere sum of parts. 

Without the Nāsadīya (and possibly a few other compositions resembling it), the phenomenon of religions that almost entirely subsume heresy and a mind-boggling diversity of divinities — religions that almost never clash with atheism or secularism — would not have taken place in India. (I recall reading “secular religion”, which might seem a contradiction in terms, as a description of Hinduism in one of Louis Renou’s publications.) 

On May 16, 2016, at 4:02 PM, Howard Resnick <hr at ivs.edu> wrote:
>I am also curious to know to what extent Indian tradition has considered pure chance, sometimes called yadRcchA, or adverbially akasmAt, to be a legitimate cause of events or conditions in this world.<

I am not sure about how yadṛcchā and akasmāt can be reconciled with “legitimate”. I will assume that “legitimate” is intended here in some such sense as ‘entertainable, considered worthy of taking up for discussion as a possibility when such other causes as God or atoms are taken up for discussion.’ 

The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad avails itself of the possibility in its verse 1.2: kālaḥ sva-bhāvo niyatir yadṛcchā …


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