[INDOLOGY] female authors of vedic hymns

Caley Smith smith.caley at gmail.com
Sun Jun 7 13:00:19 EDT 2020


Dear Harry,

I think Stephanie is correct in this, we cannot "trust" the AnukramaNīs.
That is not to say that they are not reliable,
but I do not think they are really author lists. I argue in "Exploring
Impossible Authors" (https://yhc.academia.edu/CaleyCharlesSmith) that what
they attribute is not authorship but a kind of speakership. Who is the
dramatis persona in the 1st person, as it were, and thus the *devatā* is
not just the dedicand but a figure in the 2nd person. In other words, the
*sūkta* is understood as a past speech event immortalized in poetic form
which in recitation is re-created, re-establishing various relationships,
etc. So just as we cannot "trust" that a poem has a real historical female
author, in a sense we cannot trust that any of the authors are historically
real. That's not what AnukramaNīs are interested in. Rather they are
interested in cataloging the important figures of memory who lent a kind of
authority to the *sūkta, *who were imitated in performance, and to whom new
compositions could be attributed. There are parallels here, I think, not
just for how new texts appear in the mouth of the Buddha or new tantras
from Śiva, but also how Israelite psalms and proverbs gradually became
attributed to David and Solomon respectively. My book ms will deal with
this extensively.

Best,
Caley
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