Re: [INDOLOGY] Vālmīki’s first śloka

Harry Spier hspier.muktabodha at
Sat Nov 19 21:46:36 UTC 2016

In an old posting on dating the Jyotisa Vedanga
Michael Witzel makes two observations
1) that Ramayana book 1 has linguistic characteristics of Late Epic
2)  the difficulties in modernizing sentences in verse.

Quoting from the posting:

As I have noticed some years ago (unpublished), this is precisely a feature
of LATE Epic. In both texts, Mbh. and Ram., [vedic vai occurs not as
usual in slot 2 of a sentence but at the end of a paada] c. 13% of all
cases of vai
have this characteristic: they occur at the end. And are most common in
Mahabharata 12, Ramayana 1 and 7.


2. We can add: The text is composed in Epic Shloka meter which is not
exactly a Vedic one (though we have the Vedic  Anustubh). Now, its is a
well known fact that you cannot change arround or modernize sentences as
easily in verse as you can in prose. Note the famous case (Lueders) of the
old, eastern forms in stanzas of the Pali canon.


Harry Spier

On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 3:02 PM, Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at>

> Dear David,
> Bob is of course best able to respond in the case of *Rāmāyaṇa,* but my
> impression is that the post-Vedic
> use of the aorist is not so rare as you suggest. A good example to
> consider is Aśvaghoṣa, particularly in
> *Saundarananda*, in which he displays his virtuosity in the conjugation
> systems by making plentiful use of unusual
> aorist forms. In *kãvya* I rather doubt that this alone can be taken as
> evidence of antiquity. Rather, the aorist
> seems to be deliberately employed to display erudition.
> best,
> Matthew
> Matthew Kapstein
> Directeur d'études,
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> The University of Chicago
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