Re: [INDOLOGY] Vālmīki’s first śloka

Harry Spier hspier.muktabodha at
Sun Nov 20 20:08:01 UTC 2016

Dear David,

Oberlies, A Grammar of Epic Sanskrit, 6.5 Constructions with maa (page 184)
 refers to this specific verse 1.2.14 and its use of an augmented aorist
with maa.  "To express a prohibition the partical maa is used - as a rule -
with unaugmented forms of the aorist.  In Epic Sanskrit, however, the
augment is occasionally not dropped.
maa . . . agamaH, R.2.14 ....[more references from MBh and R ]...."

But more importantly Oberlies  makes a reference  in a footnote to an
article on this stanza. "On this stanza see  Kolver (1985. 32 n.7)"

>From the title of this article it appears very relevent to this discussion.

Is it possible for a list member to make available a pdf of:
B. Kolver. Uberlagerungen im Ramayana: Die Legende von der Erfindung des
Sloka WZKS (1985) 27 -41 .

WZKS = Weiner Zeitschrift fur die Kunde Sud

Harry Spier

On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 11:19 PM, David and Nancy Reigle <dnreigle at
> wrote:

> Dear all who kindly replied to my question,
> Many thanks for your good contributions in elucidating what I asked about.
> Your replies are much appreciated. For now, I will add just one more thing.
> Although I have not critically studied the *Rāmāyaṇa*, I have the
> impression that those who have critically studied it regard the first
> kāṇḍa as being a later part of this epic. This agrees with what some of
> you have said here. Vālmīki’s first śloka, however, is being quoted in
> this kāṇḍa, to explain how the śloka meter arose. It is not part of this kāṇḍa's
> narrative as such. So its language is not necessarily the language of the
> rest of this kāṇḍa, and its age would be independent of the age of this
> kāṇḍa.
> Best regards,
> David Reigle
> Colorado, U.S.A.
> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 5:32 PM, Harry Spier <hspier.muktabodha at>
> wrote:
>> Note also what Oberlies, "A Grammar of Epic Sanskrit" says about
>> "irregularities" in epic sanskrit in his introduction..
>> "The language of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana may certainly be called
>> Sanskrit when compared with contemporary Middle Indo-Aryan but it is a
>> Sanskrit which continually deviates from the norms codified by Panini.
>> This is not because such 'aberrant' forms were pre-Paninian.  For the Epics
>> (and in fact only the Mahabharata) know only a handful - moreover rather
>> doubtful - Vedisms. ......Almost always it is metrical exigencies which
>> forced the poets to use a form not sanctioned by traditional grammar....the
>> "irregularities' are very often found at a metrically relevena position of
>> the stanza: "Metre surpasses grammar".
>> Thanks,
>> Harry Spier
>> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 7:13 PM, Jan E.M. Houben <jemhouben at>
>> wrote:
>>> Dear David,
>>> "*agamas* has here retained its augment": you apparently postulate a
>>> development in the language here, but one which does not match the
>>> available evidence.
>>> See mainly Karl Hoffmann Der Injunktiv im Veda 1967, but also, offering
>>> alternative analyses of partly the same phrases, Jan Gonda Aspectual
>>> function of the Rgvedic present and aorist.
>>> Another point is that in order to translate the Ramayana a choice has to
>>> be made which edition to take as starting point: even for mere practical
>>> reasons the Baroda critical edition is the obvious candidate to be
>>> selected.
>>> It was the editorial choice of the editors G.H. Bhatt et al. of this
>>> critical edition to give preference systematically to the recension where
>>> most grammatical and metrical "irregularities" are found, i.e., the
>>> Southern recension.
>>> The idea is that the manuscripts of the Northern recension underwent
>>> "polishing" in a much higher degree.
>>> Under this "polishing-theory" one should then expect that specific
>>> "irregularities" in the text are identical and found in a large number of
>>> manuscripts that supposedly represent the older, pre-polishing stage, but
>>> this is precisely what is not the case:
>>> see Leendert van Daalen's 1980 study *Valmiki's Sanskrit*: at present
>>> his study, not without problems of its own, could be redone with more
>>> advanced statistical means and a fresh study of the evidence. On the basis
>>> of a study of books II-IV van Daalen concludes that the Poet Valmiki wrote
>>> mostly "correct" classical Sanskrit -- this does not necessarily always
>>> correspond to "Paninian" sanskrit, and the poor definition of van Daalen's
>>> "irregularities" is one of the weaknesses in his study, which could however
>>> be "repaired" to some extent by referring to other forms of acceptable yet
>>> not strictly Paninian sanskrit (cf. Narayana Bhatta's Apaniniyapramanata
>>> and
>>> E.W. Hopkins 1901 was even more sceptical, or, for those accepting his
>>> line of argument (cf. Madeleine Biardeau's arguments *against* critical
>>> editions for the epics), more realistic, than van Daalen: "There can be no
>>> plausible original reconstructed and practically there was from the time
>>> of, let us say, the first repetition of the text no original Ramayana"
>>> (quoted in van Daalen's study, p. 6).
>>> Jan Houben
>>> *Jan E.M. HOUBEN*
>>> Directeur d’Études
>>> Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite
>>> *École Pratique des Hautes Études*
>>> *Sciences historiques et philologiques *
>>> 54, rue Saint-Jacques
>>> CS 20525 – 75005 Paris
>>> johannes.houben at
>>> On 19 November 2016 at 19:55, David and Nancy Reigle <dnreigle at
>>> > wrote:
>>>> 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>
>>>> 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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