SV: method of dating RV, III

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Fri Oct 23 06:20:17 EDT 1998

>From yavass Fri Oct 23 11:50:21 MSD 1998
n 21 Oct. George Thompson wrote:

>Having pointed out important differences in dress, etc., between Scythian
>and Vedic culture, perhaps V.V. could comment on what appear to me to be
>important similarities? I would be very interested to hear.

        From my point of view, the question would rather be divided into two
separate questions:
        1. Similiarities between Vedic and Scythian cultures.
        These are not regular and not too evident, which is only natural,
because the two cultures were separated not only by centuries in time, but
also by great distance geographically, representing the extreme southern and
the extreme northern peripheries of the Aryan (Indo-Iranian) world. But at
the same time we know that such peripheral cultures quite often preserve
most archaic features of the common heritage, and this is true in relation to
Vedic Indians and Scyths. There are some common archaic mythological
themes, e.g. the bow as a symbol of royal power and succession (I commented
on it briefly in my article in "South Asian Achaeology-1993", Helsinki,1994,
p.781-785). Or another element of "royal" mythology: the story of the king's
marriage to the Sun-maiden, Scythian Tabiti, Sanskrit TapatI, both names
meaning "The One who heats" - G.Dumezil proved the genetic identity of Indian
and Scythian/Ossetic goddesses in his "Romans de Scythie et d'alentour. Paris,
1978, pp.125-145). By the way the image of TapatI underwent a remarkable
transformation on Indian soil: she starts as the Sun-maiden, heavenly spouse
of a human king, but even in Mbh I.163-164 her heat is already dangerous and
should be controlled; and later, due to the climatic conditions of India, where the
sun's heat is rather a curse than a blessing, this Sun-maiden eventually
turns into a river-goddess (in the PurANas)!
        2. Similiarities between Vedic and Avestan cultures. These are evident,
and instead or enumerating them one more time, I would like to comment on
a passage from George Thomson's another letter dealing with the nature and
origin of these similiarities:

>Scholars have known for quite some time that the formulaic language of the
>RV has much in common with that of these Avestan texts. But I believe that
>the similarities are not simply the result of a common heritage
>[linguistic, poetic, ritual]. With the RV and Old Avestan we appear to
>stand almost at the node where these two branches of Indo-Iranian begin to
>branch off in their separate directions. This is a question that I would
>like to gain insight into. If the branching took place at @ 2000 BCE, which
>I think is generally assumed, how could these texts, which I presume to
>date at @ 1000 BCE, be close to the node? I don't pretend to know how to
>explain this. But it seems to me that either the date of the node is wrong
>or the branching did not obliterate mutual intelligibility between the two

        This is really a problem! And the only solution I can suggest (highly
hypotetical of course) is that the branching (which had to take place earlier
than 2000 BC, probably in the end of the IV or in the IIIrd mill.) really, as
you say, "did not obliterate mutual intelligibility", and that is the reason
why Proto-Indo-Aryans and Proto-Iranians (Andronovo people), when after
centuries of separate migrations (PIA moving probably southwards across
the Caucasus mountains and then eastward through the Iranian plateau -
to Bactria, and
Iranians moving south, from Southern Ural and Kazakhstan - to Bactria again)
they reunited on the territory of BMAC, they could still understand each other
and more than that: they evidently participated in some common cultural and
religious process. Here, at their "second Aryan homelend" they probably went
together through a period of some religious reform. In particular, I think it
is improbable that the images of gods designed as personifications of
abstract notions and moral categories: Mit(h)ra as "Social harmony" or
"Friendship", A(i)ryaman as "Hospitality", Ahura Mazda / Asura VaruNa medhira
as "Lord Wisdom" (socially: all-seeng sacred ruler, priest-king with miriads of
spies) and so on - could appear in the
primitive Neolithic Indo-Iranian society of the "first Aryan homeland";
this is rather a result of a religious reform which took place in a priestly
mileau, in proto-urban society with temples and complex priestly hierarchy,
under strong influence of local ancient civilization(s). Does not it all
looks like BMAC?
      This is, of course, just a hypothesis. Any objections or comments are
        Best regards
                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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