[INDOLOGY] Vālmīki’s first śloka

David and Nancy Reigle dnreigle at gmail.com
Sat Nov 19 18:55:17 UTC 2016

Dear Bob and all,

Ever since I was introduced to what tradition regards as the first śloka
ever written, Vālmīki’s first śloka now preserved at *Rāmāyaṇa* 1.2.14, I
have had a question about it. Probably you or others have long ago answered
it. Sorry for my ignorance of the relevant material on this verse.

mā niṣāda pratiṣṭhāṃ tvam agamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ |
yat krauñca-mithunād ekam avadhīḥ kāma-mohitam || 1.2.14 ||

“Since, Niṣāda, you killed one of this pair of *krauñcas*, distracted at
the height of passion, you shall not live for very long.” (trans. Robert P.
Goldman, 1984)

What first struck me is that both of the verbs in this verse, *agamas* and
*avadhīs*, are aorists. Moreover, *agamas* has here retained its augment,
although used with *mā*. My understanding is that, since aorists largely
fell out of use after the Vedic period, they are not at all common in the
*Rāmāyaṇa*. So here is my question. Assuming that this is in fact Vālmīki’s
first śloka, would this point to an original *Rāmāyaṇa* that is
considerably older than the *Rāmāyaṇa* we now have? Could the *Rāmāyaṇa* as
now extant have been reworked, updated in language so to speak, from an
earlier original? For example, F. E. Pargiter in his detailed study, *The
Purāna Text of the Dynasties of the Kali Age* (1913), found considerable
evidence that in the oldest purāṇas (*Vāyu*, *Brahmāṇḍa*, *Matsya*) the
verses had been Sanskritized from an earlier literary Prakrit, and that
these Sanskrit verses had in turn been condensed and rewritten directly in
Sanskrit in some other purāṇas (*Viṣṇu*, *Bhāgavata*).

Best regards,

David Reigle

Colorado, U.S.A.

On Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 1:50 PM, Robert Goldman <rpg at berkeley.edu> wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> On behalf of all the scholars who have been involved with the
>  decades-long project to translate and annotate the critical edition of the *Vālmīki
> Rāmāyaṇa*, Dr. Sally Sutherland Goldman and I are happy to announce the
> publication of the seventh and final volume  of the work.
> *The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India,* *Volume
> VII: Uttarakāṇḍa*
> Introduction, Translation, and Annotation by Robert P. Goldman & Sally J.
> Sutherland Goldman
> Hardcover | December 2016 | *$175.00* | *£129.95* | ISBN: 9780691168845
> 1544 pp. | 6 x 9 | 1 color illus. 1 line illus. 5 tables.
> Dr. R. P.  Goldman
> Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor in South
> and Southeast Asian Studies
> Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies MC # 2540
> The University of California at Berkeley
> Berkeley, CA 94720-2540
> Tel: 510-642-4089
> Fax: 510-642-2409
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