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Ṛgveda 7.95.2 & Karen Thomson (B), Or deliberate and learned ignorance. N Kazanas, May 2011 1. The December 2010 issue of The Journal of Indo-European Studies (vol 38, nos 3 & 4) published my critique of Mrs Thomson’s article ‘A still undeciphered text’ (JIES 2009). This critique was disseminated with some additional comments and was placed on various websites. In the same JIES issue (Dec 2010) was KT’s (=Mrs Thomson’s) response to my critique. It is now time to critique this “response” too, especially since it can hardly be said to be very relevant to my paper. When one reads KT’s article (pp 422-429, less the bibliography), one notices first that it is not a reply to my critique and, then, that of the eight pages only three (and even less) in the middle actually relate at all to what I wrote. What of the rest?... Well, the other five pages form just a parade of KT’s permanent grievance that other sanskritists do not approach the RV as reverentially as she does and of her love of pedantry. The essay as a whole is in fact thoroughly dishonest. It is dishonest, further, in that she did not send it to me long before publication and then see at least my own comments on it – as I had done earlier sending to her my critique and then making some changes complying with some of her wishes and thus mollifying the harsher parts of the criticism. 2. But her paper is dishonest also because it does not meet my two direct questions: why does she refer to some indoeuropeanists who, as she writes, “argue that adpositions [= prepositions] were invariably placed after the word they govern” (my emphasis) since she knows perfectly well that such a view is utterly wrong (my §2, third paragraph; p 412 in JIES); and why she (mis-)quotes Possehl only partially that the Sarasvati did not flow (my emphasis) to the sea when in the next sentence Possehl wrote that the river probably did flow to the sea 3800 BCE and before (my §5, beginning; p415 JIES) ??? KT now replies for the first one that Delbrück, it was who said that prepositions are “invariably postpositional” (p425) – which does not answer my question. The answer to my question should explain why she dragged in an indoeuropeanist who was stating an untruth. For the second one, she does not even admit that she truncated Possehl (mis-)quoting only his sentence that suited her intent which was to show that the Sarasvati did not flow to the sea; and now writes this eye-piercing lie “The archaeological arguments, however, I leave to the archaeologists”! But, of course, she ignores totally the fact that I cited (my §5, para 1, end; p416) at least three other archaeologists who say the river did flow to the sea and does not revise her false statement! The correct answer, should have been “I quoted only that passage from Possehl because it showed that the Sarasvati did not flow to the sea and so it furnished the material support I needed for my (mis-)translation of RV 7.95-2.” KTB 2 But, of course, lost as they are in their speculations and theories, mainstreamers can resort only to mendacity to maintain their pet postulates. With great sympathy and condescension, Mr Thomson calls me now “a sincere man”. For reasons that follow, I cannot say the same about her. The ease and audacity with which she distorts, misrepresents, misleads and generally lies is revealed most palpably in her excuses about Possehl. Thus, now she replies to my strictures as follows: “And as I wrote at the time, I quoted the title of Gregory Possehl’s 1998 article ‘Did the Sarasvati ever flow to the sea?’ (2009:30), because it provided a convenient heading for that section. I refer throughout to the implications of the lack of textual scholarship for scholars in other fields. The archaeological arguments however I leave to the archaeologists.” From this passage it would appear that we must expect anything to happen in Mrs Thomson’s cloud-cuckoo-land. Because what she wrote in her 2009 article is something vastly different. In fact she misrepresented Possehl’s view in a thoroughly dishonest way. Please note: “Professor Possehl, drawing on the archaeological evidence, concludes that it [= the Sarasvati river] did not [flow into the sea]”, she wrote on p 30 of her 2009 paper. But on p 33 she wrote: “Gregory Possehl refers in passing to this verse [i.e 7-95.2] in the usual translation but comments that it ‘has to be treated critically, not literally’ (1998:348)…[W]hat the Ṛgveda tells us is not out of line with the evidence of archaeology, as concluded by Possehl: ‘Based on the presence of the Derawar Fort inland delta that was densely settled in Hakra wares and Mature Harappan times, along with the lack of physical evidence for a dry river bed between Derawar Fort and th Raini/Wahinda, it seems unlikely that the ancient Sarasvati flowed to the sea during those times. The absence of a river scar suggests that the same is true for later periods’ (1998:350 my square bracket). And thus, ignoring Possehl’s very next sentence, that the river probably flowed to the sea but only early in the 4th millenium, she pretends to be happy that archaeological evidence “as concluded by Possehl” proves her notion that the Sarasvati did not flow to the ocean but simply from “together- waters” somewhere up on the Himalayas! Here we have a double entendre of distortion and dishonesty. First of all she disclaims any concern with archaeological arguments yet proceeds to employ them (at least Possehl’s as she misrepresents them). But, in addition, unlike her and other linguists, Possehl and other archaeologists usually employ archaeological finds, facts and data, not arguments. More important, she does not explain that Possehl’s “those times” refer to c1500-1000 BCE, i.e. the time when the alleged Aryan invasion/immigration occurred and the RV was composed. But, of course, at that time the Sarasvati was completely desiccated KTB 3 and the inhabitants of the sites along its banks had by and large already emigrated eastward to the Ganngetic plains. However, what is inexcusable is her calculated cut of Possehl’s quote. For immediately afterwards the archaeologist suggests “that the river once did flow to the sea in very ancient times… (3800-3200), but even this is uncertain”. And here Mrs Thomson displays two banes of indology – selectivity and distortion. As I pointed out in §5 of my 2010 paper on Karen Thomson, other archaeologists (including British mainstreamer Bridget Allchin, expert in this field) have no longer doubts that the Sarasvati flowed down to the ocean, and consider the Nara Nadi river beyond the Derawar Fort to be the continuation of the ancient Sarasvati; furthermore, the river-course (Possehl’s “scar”) has been traced fully and accurately by satellite – running in the 4th millennium from the Himalaya glacier-covered slopes to the Rann of Kutch; also water- samples have been extracted from drillings all along the riverbed and found through the tritium isotope to belong to an age earlier than 2700BCE (Mughal 1997; Flam 1999; Valdiya 2002, 2010, 2011; Sharma 2006; Danino 2010). 3. I did not expect, naturally, that KT (or, indeed, any mainstream academic) would ever stoop to stating the simple truth. For I know well that mainstream indologists have now developed fully the features of arrogance and mendacity, derived from ignorance and propagated through the three banes of selectivity, distortion and mechanical repetition. Ignorance itself appears in three very broad types: common ignorance, from which we all suffer since we all lack knowledge about far too many things; then, deliberate ignorance which selects a wrong item, fact or opinion from two or more alternatives and/or distorts an item, fact or opinion, in order to promote a larger pet theory – a process resting on egoism; finally, learned ignorance which presupposes the other two but uses in addition (with much vanity) a barrage of irrelevant pedantry to cover up the distortion or wrong selection – much as a cuttlefish squirts clouds of black ink to darken the waters and so hide its route of escape. Mrs Thomson displays the last two types abundantly and faultlessly, as is shown by the five-and-a-half pages of irrelevancies (English medieval churches, Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, Harry Potter, the three commentators, the German School of linguistic approach etc, etc – all having nothing to do with my critique). 4. But before culling out Mrs Thomson’s latest ramblings and examining her fresh distortions, I should state my full agreement with her remarks on añj (p429). Indeed, I concur wholly with the additional meaning she offers ‘make appear, manifest’. I concur also with her criticism of the Rivelex dictionary (p428). KTB 4 5. KT first writes condescendingly that I am “sincere man, driven by commitment” to salvage the RV, then asserts: “he devotes at least half of his paper to red herrings, which cast considerable dust in the eye of the reader” – except, of course, that red herrings do not cast dust. What are these “red herrings”? They are, as she implies, all comments that are not directly connected with the use of the adposition ā and the ablative and with the meaning of ándhas! The first two-and-a-half pages of my paper (409-411) deal with words which she left untranslated: armaká -, mahāvailastha- and vailasthāna(ká). My last page (418), connected with the desiccation of Sarasvati, presents additional evidence for the RV date of composition. All in all only three out of my eleven pages (not half the paper)! And the words armaká etc are words she dealt with but could not decipher! While she castigates everybody for giving wrong translations, she herself gives none for many other rigvedic words she mentions. For armaká etc I think I give very reasonable interpretations, but KT does not deign to comment on this – other than “red herrings” – and prefers to remain in her own recondite realm. In my study ‘Indigenous Indo-Aryans & the Ṛgveda’ (2002). I admitted flatly at the beginning that there are elements and aspects of this text that I don’t understand. This is still true, but not the points KT criticises with an even greater lack of understanding than mine. KT thinks of herself as an authoritative devaśista! 6. Her statement numbered 1 on p 425 is another splendid example of distortion – met with often in Witzel’s counter-arguments. Twist your opponent’s words and then attack the twisted version! For I do not “insist” that 7.95.2, as she states, “provides clear and crucial evidence” that the river Sarasvati flowed to the sea. I merely take it as one piece of literary evidence which happens to support and be supported by other pieces and by the archaeologists’ view that the river did in the early fourth millennium flow down to the sea (Allchin B, Flam, Lal, Possehl, Sharma et al: see ‘RV 7.95.2 & Karen Thomson’ and Additional Comments §5, beginning). I did not dispute that samudrāt in all its other occurrences in the RV means ‘from’ because I had not examined all other occurrences and, in any event, other occurrences are not necessarily relevant to the case we discuss. All other occurrences that I have examined do not speak of the river Sarasvatī nor of any other river flowing KTB 5 from the mountains!1 So are we to assume that the rivers did not flow from the mountains? Such is the obfuscation in KT’s mind that she does not see how she contradicts herself in the grossest manner. For she herself provides one instance – and one only from the entire RV – where movement towards is given in the dative: samudrā́ yeva (= samudrā́ ya-iva) síndhavaḥ .. irate ‘as to-the- sea the rivers go’ (8.44.25). So, Mrs Thomson, if once only we find movement- towards with the dative which, as is well known, forms a gross anomaly according to all rules of grammar, why do you object to the occurrence of ā́ samudrā́ t being rendered as ‘to the-sea’, especially since this syntactical construction is perfectly regular? No reason really, other than your obstinacy that you alone know Vedic and you alone can give correct translations – even though you repeatedly shy away from explaining many rigvedic words. And, in any case, this your own example shows that “rivers”, three or more, that is generally, flow to the sea. If the Vedics did not know the ocean, and if only the Indus flowed to the sea, the poet would have said “as the river flows to the sea”. 7. Since KT ignores flagrantly what MacDonell says giving sanction to ā́ samudrā́ t ‘to the-sea’, let us look at an older authority. There was a native grammarian called Pāṇini and he summed up beautifully and very concisely the rules of grammar in his Aṣṭādhyāyī. 2.3.28 of Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī says apādāne pañcamī ‘where there is motion-away-from (apādāna) [we have (or, apply)] the-fifth [i.e. the ablative]’. He had defined the apādāna ‘ablation, movement-from’ in 1.4.24 dhruvam apāye ’pādānam ‘the firm when there is ablation in movement away’ – this appears in the fifth or ablative. So, the fifth or oblative case does not require the ā́, and I made this point in passing in §2, fourth para (p412, bottom). But Pāṇini’s 1.4.1 says ā Kaḍārāt .. ‘until/upto Kaḍāra = tawny’ giving ā́ + the end-limit of movement. This is confirmed by Patañjali’s comments in Mahābhāṣya on 1.1.14 (ā udakāntāt ‘until the water- limit’) and by Kāśika on 2.1.13 (ā Kumarebhyaḥ ‘even as far as boys). Consequently, ā́ samudrāt is a perfectly regular construction meaning quite 1 KT obviously does not understand the nature of the controversy nor the different issues involved. She barges in thinking that her slogan “decipherment of the text according to me” covers every contingency and solves every problem. 7-95.2 gains its force from 2.14.16 which calls it nadītamā (in the vocative) ‘best river’ and therefore superior to the Indus which did and still does, flow into the ocean. Now, Sarasvati would be called nadītamā only if it also flowed into the ocean; otherwise, common sense could demand that Indus should be so called. Then, 6,52,6 praises Sarasvati as nourished by many tributaries (the Yajur Veda,Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā 34.11 gives five!); 6.61 present it as endless, bursting banks, swift moving and roaring; 8,21.17-18 says that Citra and lesser rulers stretch out (ta-tan-) along the Sarasvati and so on. 7.95.2 is only one detail in a complex picture made up of many other pieces. Nor does she seem to know, or care, that over 2000 (!) sites, and some cities, have been excavated from the Early (c 3500 BCE) and the Mature (c2700) Harappan adjacent to and along the Sarasvati. KTB 6 legitimately ‘to the ocean’ according to the native grammatical tradition and, of course, many instances in the RV itself. True, we may not find again this particular collocation ā́ + samudra in the RV; but I gave two other instances (§2, para five, p413) of ā́ + ablative which mean motion towards an end-limit: example (b) ā́ nimrúca uṣasaḥ ‘until evening and dawn’ and (d) ā́ gṛhibhya .. ā́ vimócanāt ‘until the houses .. until unyoking’. And, naturally, there are more. But Mrs Thomson here applies the only subterfuge left to her: using prejudiced selectivity ignores the normal usages and clamours about instances where motion towards the sea is given with the accusative (dvitīyā) – which is also very regular but not the issue in this discussion. Moreover, she disregards utterly the fact that I took her own example (RV 4.21.3) ā́ yatu índro divá ā́ pṛthivyā́ makṣū́ samudrát and rendered ‘may Indra ́ come (ā́ yatu) to (ā) the-earth [where I am] from the sky, swiftly from the ocean ..’. This is a far better translation than her own “Come hither Indra from the sky or the earth ..”). If Indra is on earth then the poet would have specified either the actual place from which the god should come or the place where the poet is. 8. KT’s dishonesty brings in politics and assigns (pp 424-425) to me a party! She can’t get correctly even this aspect of the debate. The contraversy is not between “parties”, not between rightwing and leftwing, not even between ultra-nationalists and moderates, but between mainstreamers-invasionists and indigenists regarding the date of the IAs’ entry into India. Of course, the issue has been politicized and leftwingers (and Indian christians) oppose intensely any notion of Indoaryan indigenism because indigenism upsets their pet notions. Be that as it may, it is obvious that my preceding comments, MacDonell’s observations and Pāṇini’s rules, have nothing to do with politics. 9. Another self-contradiction comes with the meaning of samudrá. She did not offer a meaning – in her usual fashion (and I’ll examine her excuse in §10, below). Then, she added (p427 top) that my remarks do not provide adequate information for “historians and archaeologists” whether the rigvedic poets knew the ocean or not. Yet she herself has on this occasion given ‘sea’ for samudrá! The only way “historians and archaeologists” will be content, according to her, is “deciphering the text”. That common sense and much archaeological evidence, as I pointed out (§3-5, pp414-416), impose it on us to accept that the rigvedic people knew the ocean, means nothing to KT; nor the discussions in other studies as well as my own (and Mayrhofer’s) comments. Using once more prejudiced selectivity she distorts yet again the import of my comments on the three other examples for samudrá that I give in §4 (pp 414-415). KTB 7 (a) Agni receives treasures ā́ samudrād ávarād ā párasmād ‘from the lower ocean [on earth] and the upper one [in the sky] – RV 7.6.7. Here, clearly the ocean is one in the singular in each case – lower, and upper – as is clear in rigvedic cosmology: it cannot be a river-confluence. (b) yā́ ápo divyā́ utá vā sravanti, khanítrimā utā vā vayāḥ svayaṃjāh; samudrā́ rthā yḥā́ śúcayaḥ pāvakā́ [ḥ] etc: ‘The waters that are heavenly, or flow in channels, or arise spontaneously, [and] are clean and purifying, have as their goal the samudrá’ etc – 7.49.2. ̍ (c) 1.116.4 says that Asvins saving Bhujiu from drowning carried him for three nights and three days ‘to the distant dry-shore of the watery ocean’ samudrásya dhánvan árdrasya pāré. Here too there can be no doubt whatever that it is one single watermass/ocean. Well, our impartial non-political scholar, blatantly ignores examples (a) and (c) and with her characteristic prejudiced selectivity picks on (b) which can admittedly give some grounds for objection and be taken as plural. Thus from her supercilious seat high up in cloud-cuckoo-land she informs her readers “Whether you interpret it as singular, plural or dual is up to you and in the current political context, the argument you are trying to urge” (p427)2. But, Mrs Thomson, you have the two other examples which are clearer than crystal and both give singular ‘one ocean’! What kind of scholarship do you use in ignoring them? Only small-mindedness would do this in the context of the other two examples. That someone purporting to be objective and scholarly should resort to such a fraudulent act (i.e. ignore two clear citations and focus on one only) indicates malice and viciousness. It is moreover deliberate ignorance and deception. However, her impartial stance is only a pose. If she had bothered to read 7.4.9 she would have seen that stanza 2 is an explanatory extension of stanza 1 where ‘Waters, the bright goddesses’ flow never-resting and being samudrájyeṣṭhā ‘having the samudrá ocean oldest, highest, superior, chief or best’. I suppose KT would protest that here also samudrá is plural or dual according to one’s politics (!) but it won’t wash because we can’t have one separate watermass, being jyeṣtḥa- for every individual goddess. There are not that many samudras! 10. I suspect that KT’s protestations of her own impartiality, non-commitment and objectivity are mere facades for her constant effort, ever since she first approached me, to assert her own superiority. She claims that she left samudrá untranslated because she did not wish to have her “grammatical argument obscured by the political imbroglio” (p426); but this sounds utterly naïve and, of course, hollow. Somebody who is truly apolitical (or without “agenda”) and is concerned only with the true meaning of the text proceeds to 2. How can the dual (=two samudras) fit here? Are we to suppose, according to our ‘politics’, that all these different and separate types of waters have only two goals, two destinations? Surely, the realities of the material world and reason compel us to reject this. Either we have several, or one that stands for several – as when we say the ocean, i.e. every ocean, is much more extensive than a gulf. KTB 8 give the true meaning of the text undeterred by other considerations and arguments of any kind. She would not indulge in irrelevant name-throwing and would not retreat from attempting to interpret even once-occurring words. What is the “grammatical argument”? It is obvious that she messed it up in her previous paper by dragging in indoeuropeanists who would (wrongly, as she knows) have the prepositions in a postpositional place invariably. And she ought to know that there is very little that is invariable in the rigvedic poetry. We saw in a ready at hand example earlier that movement-towards was expressed not by the usual accusative nor ā́ + abl, but by the dative (§6, second para, above)! Then, what is invariable about a neuter Plural nominative that is found as kármāṇi kármā and kárma, also similarly for jánma, dhárma, nā́ ma, śarma, etc (MacDonell 1910: 209-210)? If, as archaeologists, geologists and hydologists aver, that Sarasvati did flow to the ocean, and if ā́ + abl can and frequently does mean motion-to, why shouldn’t ā́ samudrā́ t be rendered ‘to the ocean’? Of what use is such a defective “grammatical argument”? …. None. 11. Finally, but only in note 2, Mrs Thomson comes to her point no 2 - the meaning of ándhasī (RV 7.96.2). Here too with consistency at distortion, she shoots off a misshapen version of what I wrote and leaves, yet again, the word untranslated in this context: ubhé yát te mahinā́ śubhra ándhasī-adhikṣiyánti pūrávah. She had translated as “ Since through your might, O bright one [i.e. Sarasvati], The Pūrus inhabit both ándhasī ” (my square bracket). It is obvious that only the word ándhasī, dual of ándhas, is to be elucidated. KT does agree that the verse addresses Sarasvatī and that the tribe of the Pūrus inhabit both of Sarasvatī’s ándhasī as shown by the enclitic te which refers to the river. So we agree that here we have a historical reference in that at least the Pūrus inhabit Sarasvatī’s both ándhasī. What then are ándhasī? In her point 2 she writes: “He [=Kazanas] argues that ándhas in 7.96.2 must mean ‘grassy bank of a river’, although he agrees that it cannot possibly mean that in any other of its 100 or so occurrences” (p425). But I wrote nothing of the sort. In fact I was extremely careful in my statements to avoid precisely such counter-attacks. KT’s version of my words is a very subtle distortion. This is what I wrote directly on ándhas (p417). “Of course ándhas is well attested in the sense of ‘darkness (and blindness)’; also ‘bush, grass, plant, stalk (esp 1.28.7) and (soma-) juice’ … Common sense and the diction with the dual concord ubhé … ándhasī compels us to dismiss all notions except the ‘two banks’ …. KTB 9 True, ándhas as ‘bank’ is not attested anywhere. But why should this matter? Are we to abandon the reality of the material world and our common sense for the sake of philological pedantry? The ‘pedantry’ is KT’s, and she maintains a stiff and utterly silent upper lip regarding common sense and the realities of the material world - and, of course, gives no alternative translation, as usual! 12. I then buttressed my rendering by a reference to 8.21.17-18 and the poetic figure of synecdoche. She says nothing about synecdoche but lampoons my reference to 8.21.17-18. First, my own reference. It was given wrongly as 8.22.17-18, instead of 21! Pouncing on this typo she exclaims triumphantly “if he [=Kazanas] had [checked the text] he could …. have corrected the reference”. Wow! One would think that even KT could see that this has nothing to do with checking the text. I personally neither type nor use the computer. My secretary does, and, in this case, she obviously hit the key with 2 instead of that with 1 which happens to be adjacent. But KT turns this molehill of a typo into a mountain of negligence and non-scholarship. KT exhibits the same pettiness of mind and meanness in, again, subtly but surely distorting my words. She takes exception to my utterly free summary of the meaning of the verses as if I was actually translating. I wrote laconically: “king Citra and lesser kings rājaká - dwell along the Sarasvatī (- along its banks obviously)”. Surely even Mrs Thomson can see that this is a free summary rendering. Oh, no! She writes:- “There is no verb in the lines he is citing. Not only are the river banks supplied (“obviously” according to Kazanas), but also the verb “dwell” and the justification for supplying it are questionable” (Note 2: p427). In other words, according to her understanding of this stanza, Citra and the lesser kings did not dwell along the banks (= the adjacent fertile fields) but in the deserts and on the mountain ridges of Sarasvatī. Perhaps she imagines they lived miles away or underneath or they floated, flew, fought, danced, disported and dived above and into the river!3 Before I proceed with 8.21-17-18 let me ask this prose-prone pedant how she would translate, e.g. ví me kárṇā patayato ví cákṣur (6.9.6). The ears and the verb are in the dual as per rules of grammar. But what of the cákṣus ‘eye, one’? Rigvedic poetry flows on in great freedom despite grammatical, accentual, prosodical and other rules. Not so our modern prosaic tongues. So here we 3. If she took the trouble to consult some of the archaeologists I cite, she would have seen that 2000 or so sites have so far been excavated adjacent to this river, not close enough to suffer flood-damage when the river got swollen by heavy rainfall but not so far as to have difficulty in drawing from its water. KTB 10 must intervene and turn ‘two ears’ into ‘hearing’ or turn the ‘one eye’ into ‘two eyes’. I suppose KT will say that here our intervention is justified? But what of RV 8.91.6 concerning the young woman Apālā? She says: asaú ca yā́́ na urvárā ā́d imā́ ṃ tanváṃ máma; átho tatásya yác chíraḥ sárvā tā́ romaśā́ kṛddhi. She is praying to Indra to make (krddhi) hairy (romaśā́ -) all these, her father’s head, her own figure (below the belly: st 5) and their urvarā ‘wide- spaced field’. For a literal-minded person, yes, this rendering will do, but immediately common sense enters and says the field is to be made fertile growing crops (barley or vegetables). And a proper English translation would supply the deficiency or elucidate the off-putting image of a “hairy field”! But the rigvedins thought it good within their own framework knowing that poetry implies and suggests using connotation, ellipsis, metonymy, hyperbole and all the other devices that make it so much richer and alluring than prose, plodding along streamlined syntax and delimited meaning in its effort to convey precise mundane information.4 13. I wonder how our prose-prone pedant would translate the passage 8.21.17-18. She doesn’t – yet again – give a rendering of her own because, I suspect, she fears lest she gets accused of indulging in what she criticises others for doing. The text here says: cítra íd rājā́ rājakā́ id anyaké yaká sárasvatim ánu: parjánya iva tatánad dhi vṛstyā́ sahásram ayútā dádat: ‘Citra alone (id) king kinglings indeed (id) who others along (ánu) the Sarasvatī; like Parjanya with rain shall one extend (tatánat: Perfect subjunctive, ‘should one have extended’) should give (dádat: Present subjunctive) a thousand without limit (ayútā), or ten thousand’ (ayútā). This is the literal prosaic rendering. If the kinglings, minor chiefs, were not in line one, the task would have been fairly easy with rājā Citra as the subject and the verb tatánat in the second line. Obviously Citra as overlord extended his influence, dominion along the river giving gifts, presumably, like Parjanya, the god who gives rain. So the second verse is fairly obvious. But so is the first verse, in fact: Citra alone is king (= overlord) [and] kinglings (= minor rulers) indeed [are] those others along (ánu) the Sarasvatī’. But perhaps KT would not have them along the [banks of the] Sarasvatī but miles away on the mountains or waterless expanses. Surely if these kingdoms are along the river or the overlord extends himself, his dominion or his influence along the river, all these people dwell there – along the river and, of course, the fertile banks? Where else Mrs Thomson, please?! 14. Back to the ubhé ándhasī. Here again she exhibits dishonesty in her inconsistency between her declared belief that the RV is “great poetry” on the 4. Another pet notion of KT’s is that soma is an abstract noun and not the plant or liquid used in the sacrificial ritual. But, apart from other occasions, this hymn, states clearly that Apālā finds soma on the way (stanza 1) and “chews” it for Indra “Drink this which is tooth pressed (jámbha sutam)” she exclaims (stanza 2)! See note 5, below, also. KTB 11 one hand, and on the other her inability to appreciate poetic figures like ellipsis, metonymy or synecdoche. Consider Shakespeare’s lines (Sonnet 2) - When forty winters shall besiege thy brow And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field …. The ‘winters’ here are not winters but ‘years’. This is synecdoche (a form of metonymy) when the part is used for the whole. Elsewhere in Shakespeare the word occurs some 70 times with the sense of the cold season itself – but not here. The imagery is breath-taking. The prose-version is ‘When you are old with wrinkles’! Similarly in the RV 7.96.2, ‘both grasses’ ubhé ándhasī is being used for the two banks and nothing else in the reality of the material world or in common sense would fit. Now, KT cited in full (2009: 39) stanza 6.61.4 where the last line is mā́ tvát kṣétrāṇi-áraṇāni ganma translating ‘Let us not go away from you to foreign (áraṇa-) fields’ which is fine. But surely the collocation of “you” (tvát, Abl singular without ā́!) and “fields” (kṣétrāṇi) indicates that the Bharadvāja family (the ṛṣis of the 6th maṇḍala) lived in fields adjacent to and not far from the river. These fields are said in line three of this stanza to be in sakhyā́ ‘friendship’ and veśíyā ‘neighbourliness, dependent proximity of fields’. Surely these fields close to the river are the two ándhasī on either side! Where else would people live in proximity to the river? Yes, I would stick to the “bushy banks” and would dare anybody to give a better translation. Mrs Thomson should get down from her pontifical preeminence and stop criticising all and sundry without giving her own sensible translation. She would have the right to criticise only if she has a better and, of course, quite realistic rendering to offer. To say, as she does, that because ándhas is not used in this sense elsewhere and therefore cannot possibly have metaphorically the sense here is ludicrous. After all, she knows that the word means both ‘plant, grass’ and ‘darkness’ without any apparent connection between the two meanings. Would she translate ‘both darknesses’ or ‘both plants/stems’? So if she has nothing to offer she ought to stop criticising and keep reverend silence. 15. I wrote in §1 that KT’s suggestion that añj- means also ‘make appear, manifest’ finds me in agreement. However, we note that a lexeme or a dhātu need not have just one meaning. We saw earlier that ándhas means both ‘darkness (blindness)’ and ‘bush, grass, plant’. Similarly añj- can mean ‘ointment, anointing’ and the like. The Dhātupātḥa gives: añj-ū vyakti- mrakṣaṇa-kānti-gatiṣu covering ‘manifestation’ with vyakti, also ‘anointing’ mrakṣaṇa ‘beauty’ kānti and ‘movement’ gati. We today may not find all these meanings, but doubtless we don’t have all the texts and usages that were available to the grammarians of those very ancient times. To insist on only one meaning simply because the other(s) are not very evident (or because it suits one’s pet theory) is useless obstinacy. Rigidity is never helpful for anyone. KTB 12 There are many interesting cases. For instance, the word keśa ‘hair’ is not found in the RV. Are we then to say that it did not exist or was not in circulation? It would be stupid. For in the RV are found keśa-vant ‘having hair’ and keśin ‘hairy one’. So caution and elasticity are needed at all times. Mrs Thomson suggests frequently and forcibly that she alone attempts to approach in a new objective way the rigvedic diction and syntax and that other scholars are entrapped in the Sāyaṇa or ritualistic interpretation. Understandably she does not know that in India Swami Dayananda Saravati in the late 19th and Shri Aurobindo in the early 20th centuries rejected in large part Sāyaṇa and ritualistic interpretations to explore new avenues of meaning; but she should know that Roth in the 19th cent and then Grassmann, MacDonell and others stopped relying on Sāyaṇa and turned to comparative philology and other means of ascertaining more correct denotations for the rigvedic diction. KT is very wrong here also in ignoring her debt to all these scholars. Moreover, the actual original text of the RV hardly suffers – as KT thinks – whether it is the “restored” version of Holland and Van Nooten or that of devout Hinduists. The hymns, apart from any symbolism (as obviously in 6.9) have a dimension that no amount of mere academic learning will ever penetrate. In one hymn it is said: ápama sómam amṛ́ tā abhūma; áganma jyótir ávidāma devā́ n ‘We drank/ingested soma, we became immortal; we went to the light, we found (got-to-know?) the gods’. Only when the scholar reaches a closely similar state, will he/she render correctly the import of the RV.5 Here I take my leave of Karen Thomson for good. Much else could be said but enough is enough. One cannot hold a useful dialogue with so dishonest an interlocutor. But one hopes that she will continue, with less arrogance, grumbling and criticism, her good work in re-examining ambiguous words and phrases in the RV and will not shy away from giving better interpretations. 5. Here too the poet states explicitly that “we drank soma” not that we contemplated some “abstraction”! See note 4, above. KTB 13 Bibliography Allchin B. 1999 ‘Some questions of environment...’ in (eds) Meadows A. & Meadows P., The Indus River..., p 294, Oxford Univ. Press, Kharachi Danino M . 1910 The Lost River Delhi, Penguin Books. (An excellent survey covering the years up to 2008). Flam L. 1999 ‘The Prehistoric Indus River System...’ in Man & Environment vol XXIV, no 2 (pp 35-69). Holland GB and Van Nooten BA (eds) 1994 RigVeda: A Metrically Restored Text Cambridge (Mas), HUP. Kazanas N. 2010 Ṛgveda 7.95.2 & Karen Thomson in JIES vol 38 (409-421) 2009 Indoaryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues Delhi, Aditya Prakashan. 2002 ‘Indigenous IndoAryans and the Ṛgveda’ in JIES vol 30 (3-4) pp275-334: now ch1 in his 2009 publication. Lal B.B. 2002 The Sarasvatī Flows On Delhi, Books International. MacDonell A. 1916 A Vedic Grammar for Students Oxford/London, OUP. 1910 Vedic Grammar Strassburg, Trübner. Mayrhofer M. 1956-1996 KEWA and Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen Heidelberg, Carl Winter. Mughal M.R. 1997 Ancient Cholistan; Archaeology & Architecture Lahore, Ferozsons. Possehl G. 1998 ‘Did the Sarasvati ever flow to the sea?’ in G.S. Phillips et al (eds) Arabia and its Neighbours... (in Honour of Beatrice de Cardi). Sharma J.R. Gupta A.K., Bhadra B.K. 2006 ‘Course of Vedic river Sarasvatī...’ in Purātattva, Delhi vol 36 (187-195). Thomson K 2010 "The Plight of the Rigveda in the Twenty-First Century: Response to N.A. Kazanas." Journal of Indo-European Studies 38, 3 & 4. 422-430. 2009 ‘A still undeciphered text’ in JIES vol 37 (1-47) Valdīya K.S. 2011 ‘The Sarasvati was a major river’ response to Lawler (Science 1 April 2011) on <email@example.com> 28 April. 2010 The Making of India: Geodynamic Evolution Noida, Macmillan Publishers. 2002 Sarasvati the River that Disappeared Hyderabad, Universities Press.
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