[INDOLOGY] Frits Staal on the sameness of Vedic recitation

Allen, Michael S (msa2b) msa2b at virginia.edu
Sun Feb 11 23:03:46 UTC 2024

Dear David,

I don't know about Frits Staal, but Michael Witzel at least has made the comparison of Vedic recitation to an audio recording: "The Vedic texts were orally composed and transmitted, without the use of script, in an unbroken line of transmission from teacher to student that was formalized early on. This ensured an impeccable textual transmission superior to the classical texts of other cultures; it is, in fact, something like a tape-recording of ca. 1500–500 BCE. Not just the actual words, but even the long-lost musical (tonal) accent (as in old Greek or in Japanese) has been preserved up to the present." Source: "Vedas and Upanishads," ch. 3 of The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, ed. Gavin Flood, 2003, pp. 68-9.

Best wishes,

Michael S. Allen
Associate Professor and Interim Associate Chair
Department of Religious Studies
University of Virginia

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of David and Nancy Reigle via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2024 5:23 PM
To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Frits Staal on the sameness of Vedic recitation

It is often said the pronunciation of the Vedas in Vedic recitation in all parts of India, despite widely different local vernaculars, is the same. This statement is attributed to Frits Staal. The idea is that he made recordings of Vedic recitation in widely different parts of India and found this to be true. As part of the same statement he apparently said that the Vedas are the closest thing we have to a 3000-year-old audio recording. Does anyone know where he made this statement?

I have not found it in his monumental 1983 book, Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, nor in his more popular 2008 book, Discovering the Vedas. I thought it might be in his 1961 book, Nambudiri Veda Recitation, but I did not find it there, either. Incidentally, when I could not at first find my copy of this book, I searched the web for it, but did not find a digital copy. So when I later found my copy, I scanned it, and I will ask our digital expert Lubomir Ondračka to upload it to archive.org<http://archive.org>.

Best regards,

David Reigle
Colorado, U.S.A.
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