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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dr. Kazanas rejoinder to Dr. Thompson

Dr. Kazanas rejoinder to Dr. Thompson

[See below.] The debate between them started
when Dr. Kaznas wrote a critique of Dr. Thompson's
article Rig Veda: A still undeciphered text
published in 2010 by the Journal of Indo European
studies. - M. K.

Additional Comments
N Kazanas, Jan 2011
This paper was written earlier this year to correct some violations (or errors) of
scholarship by Mrs. Karen Thomson in an article published in The Journal of
IndoEuropean Studies 2009; these were not spotted by the referees or the three
commentators, fact which shows how little all these people know about Sanskrit
and the archaeology of the ISC. My own paper has just been published in the
same Journal, the issue of Dec 2010. With it is published Mrs. Thomson's reply,
'The plight of the Rigveda in the twenty-first century', which I shall deal with
later in 2011. At the end of my paper I now add some comments which were not
included in my published paper so as not to make it too bulky -- §§8-10.
gveda 7.95.2 and Karen Thomson.

1. In her paper 'A still undeciphered text' (2009) Karen Thomson (KT
hereafter) deals with several rigvedic issues, continuing with her idea that the RV
needs a new approach. I agree with much of what she writes but find some errors
of methodology and of fact. She sent me a copy of her paper in 2009 (together
with the three Comments). I made some notes then but had to put the matter
aside due to pressure from many sides. I am surprised the JIES referees did not
spot the errors. Just as surprisingly, the three critical Comments on her paper
also did not spot them. I shall confine my observations to these errors -- without
intending to demean the rest of her good work..

Before I deal with the passage 7.95.2 and samudrá, a few words on árma(-
ká), vailastha- and ruins (in 1.133.3), a subject that immediately precedes KT's
treatment of 7.95.2. I agree with her dismissal of Witzel's (and others') view that
armaká means 'ruin'. How scholars (e.g. Witzel 1995: 3-4; Rao 1991:32;
Burrow 1963 passim) came to this strange conclusion is not difficult to
understand since it appears in that sense in some post rigvedic texts and as final
in compound names of old villages like gupt.rma 'hidden, preserved'; also,
initially, under the Invasion Theory, scholars thought the fiends and goblins
mentioned in this stanza were the native enemies whom Indra had to destroy.

However, hymn RV 1.133 has nothing that remotely suggests ruins. Moreover,
stanza 6f states explicitly that invincible Indra 'does-not-kill-men'
á ! Certainly, there is a ghostly scene of frightful desolation with
unfriendly she-fiends, goblins and demons (y.tumáti, pi... ci and rá but not
a single mention of bricks, the chief building material of Harappan
constructions, stone-slabs, fallen walls, beams or rafters and the like. In sharp
contrast, the Old English poem The Ruin contains abundant persuasive details
of the ancient remains (from Roman times?) so that some scholars think it refers
to the town of Bath (Mitchell and Robinson 1996:252-5).

AC 2
KT rightly cites Mayrhofer (EWA, 2, p120) who gives for árma- the
meaning wohl Brunnen 'perhaps spring' and connects the word with Tocharian
lme 'spring' and names of European rivers like 'Almus' etc. This certainly
seems to be so. The element of flow and moisture appears in the eye-disease
called arma (in Su.ruta). The word occurring in stanza 3 is very probably a
(gu.a) development from .. (>ár-ti, íy-ar-ti, .-.ó-ti, .-cchá-ti: 2nd, 3rd 5th and
6th class) with the sense 'move' (in the Dh.tup..ha, the native list of roots,
.=gatau 'movement'). Similar formations are .k. > kár-man, or .dhr > dhárman
etc. The word would therefore entail movement in its denotation -- like
'spring', 'flow', 'up or down' and the like, not a static state of ruins. And, of
course, in the RV, armaká is hapax legomenon; but consider similar formations
anta-ka 'ending', karma-ka 'action', reca-ka 'out-breath', etc. I will come back
to this.

In the same stanza 3, we find vailastha - and cognates which are also
hapax legomena:á) and mah.-vailastha. These are left as
"uncertain" by KT (p 28), following Mayrhofer. But surely this need not remain
so! The stem vaila- is clearly a (v.ddhi) development from a primary stem vila-
(> vel- then > vail-) and a possible dh.tu .vil. Now, the native Dh.tup..ha has
vil twice and for both the meaning bhedane 'breaking, cleaving'. It is surely
paradoxical that we have primary bila and secondary vaila- but not primary
*vila and secondary *baila-. This suggests that the two stems are connected.

Indeed, the Dictionaries have .vil or vila but direct you to .bil or bila because,
as we know, the consonants b and v are often interchangeable (e.g. varh and
barh, vala and bala etc). .bil is not in the Dh.tup..ha, but is in the Monier-
Williams Dictionary with the sense 'breaking, cleaving'. The word bila means
'cave, cleft, hole, opening, pit' (RV 1.11.5 and 1.32.11 etc). So vaila- has to do
with a cave or pit. Surely now, since we meet demons, fiends and sorcerers in
this ghostly scene we can connect it with the great pit or chasm (vavrá in 7.104.3
and pá in 7.104.5) wherein are cast and destroyed evil-doers and fiends, as
1.133.5 says sárva. rák.o ní barhaya '[O Indra,] hurl down/in every demon'.

So stanza 3 of hymn 1.133 prays to Indra (maghavan) to dash down (áva-jahi)
this band of she-fiends/sorceresses in the downrush/sweep/vortex (?=armaké)
that-is-within-the-pit (vailasth.naké: in the place/room of the pit), in the
downrush (etc) within-the great-pit (mah.vailasthe)1. The scene now is the pit of
hell wherein are cast and dissolved fiends, sorcerers, witches and other evildoers.

(I am happy to consider any other reasonable suggestion -- but not
If this delusion about ruins falls in ruination, then the RV is seen not to
know either Harappan towns or their collapsed remains. Is it not then legitimate
to assume that it is pre-Harappan? I should think so -- especially if this aspect is
taken in conjunction with others. Our investigation leads us to this issue

1 Here I acknowledge my debt to Sethna's comments in his 1992 publication,

AC 3
2. While KT consulted Mayrhofer for árma(-ká), she did not do so for samudrá.

This is strange, surely. Had she done so she would have found that he gives for
samudrá 'confluence (Vereinigung) of two or more rivers' and also (and for the
RV) Flut 'flood' and Meer 'sea'. She prefers her own 'together-water' which is
etymologically correct but is not very helpful since it can denote anything from
water in a cup, a puddle, a lake, to a cataract, rain, river, ocean. Here again she is
right in exposing Witzel's mistranslation and misrepresentation of "basic literary
facts" regarding samudrá (Witzel 2001 §25, fn 204).

However, she abandons the awkward 'together-water' and translates 7.95.2
about the river Sarasvat. .úcir yat..

giríbhya ..
t as 'pure, travelling
down from the mountains, from the gathering-place of the waters'. And
immediately one wants to ask how she knows that there was a "gathering-place
of waters" up in the Himalayas. Why so?...A long line of vedicists, both Indians
and Westerners, have invariably translated 'pure, flowing from the mountains
(giríbhya. ablative plural) to (.) the samudrá (abl singular: confluence, ocean,
sea and Witzel's 'terminal lake'). I am certain she knows that the Ablative does
not require the ..

either as preposition or postposition to express "movement
from" as P..ini makes it abundantly clear in his fourth book: e.g. RV 4.51.8c --
tásya dev..

sádaso budh.n..
'the goddesses [are] waking from-the-seat
(sádaso < sádasa. ablative) of-Natural-Order (.tásya)'.

KT opts to differ because she thinks that the two ablatives are parallel and
the preposition ..

(which she calls postposition and adposition) governs the first
one, i.e. giríbhya. with the sense 'from', and by extension the second one also
with the same sense. She adduces the views of some comparativists in the Indo-
European field (instead of Pa.ini) and avers: "Indeed, some linguists have
argued that adpositions were invariably placed after the word they govern" (p
32; my emphasis). Now why does she do this when she knows perfectly well
that such a view is utterly untrue? Why refer at all to indoeuropeanists and not to
an acknowledged authority on Vedic?... All we need here is not pointless
pedantry but a quick look at MacDonell's Vedic Grammar which gives us the
bare facts2. Writing of prepositions áti, ádhi, ánu, ..

, úpa etc, this indisputable
authority says: "As a rule these prepositions follow, but also often precede their
case" (1916: 208; §176, 1: my emphasis) Then he adds: "..

with the abl., if
following, means from (on); if preceding, up to" (p209, ¤176, 2b: my emphasis).

But he points out also in a footnote here that ..
sometimes precedes with the
sense 'from' (cf my example c, below). Indeed, the RV corroborates this with
many such instances. Obviously one must use one's reason and discrimination in
every situation.

2 She refers to MacDonell's A Vedic Reader for Students (1917 OUP), which
cannot be understood without following up the teeming references to his own
Grammar! She could also have consulted Wackernagel's Grammatik which
again she cites elsewhere! Thus she uses her sources and authorities
selectively, as we shall see below, to suit her own notions.

AC 4
KT does give a similar example where the ..

seems to follow its case and
then govern with the same meaning a subsequent noun. This is it, with four more
nouns in the Ablative which are omitted for brevity's sake:

yatu índro divá ..
prithivy., mak... samudr.t...
'Come hither Indra from the sky or from the earth, Swiftly
from the samudrá...' (4.21.3)
Yes, but one could argue with much reason that the first .ì goes with the
verb yatu as is very common, the Ablative divá. without the .ì denotes the place
from which emerges movement (and so do samudr..

t and the subsequent
Ablatives) while the second ..

governs prithivy..: the meaning would now be
'Let Indra come from the sky to earth [where I am], swiftly from the
samudrá...' (and so on with the other Ablatives). This seems to me far more

Here are some examples with the preposition preceding its case:
a) 1.30.2 : vayám hí te ámanmahi ..

ánt.d ..
par.k.t 'we
thought of you both nearby and at a distance'.

b) 1.151.5 with similar construction : ..
nimrúca u.asa. 'until
evening and until dawn' (or 'at evening...' etc).

c) 7.6.7, which is early : Agni Vai.v.nara received treasures ..
d ávar.d ..
párasm.d... 'from the lower samudrá
and the upper [one].'
d) 3.53.11, also early : svastí ..

g.hébhya ... ..
'wellbeing up to the houses ... until release/unyoking'.

In all these the ..
precedes and in every situation one has to use one's common
sense and textual content. And with the aid of Lubotsky's Concordance one
could cite dozens of other examples with adhi, úpa, pári etc. Take some
examples: '[The Maruts] like birds sat upon [their] beloved barhis-grass' váyo na
s.dann ádhi barhí.i priyé (1.85.7d); 'Eloquent you repeat upon the waters'

co vádathana-ádhy apsú (7.103.5d). 'The eagle shook out from the
mountain/rock the other' ámathn.d anyá. pári .yenó ádre. (1.93.6) These
examples should suffice. If the preposition invariably followed the inflected
word it would be very difficult to have such compounds as ádhy-ak.a 'eyewitness',
anu-k.má-m 'according to desire', pari-vatsará 'complete year' etc,
etc, etc.

To (wrongly) postulate invariable syntactic patterns (of this sort) for the RV
is to show ignorance of Vedic and of poetry generally. (Consider the line from
Eliot's Four Quartets "In my end is my beginning" or the abrupt, startling
reversal in John Donne's 'Thy beams so reverend and strong/Why shouldst thou
think [O Sun]?" from The Sun Rising.)
Since the position of ..

in 7.95.2 is not anomalous, it is not surprising that
generations of scholars have translated monotonously 'from the mountains to the
AC 5
samudrá'. Moreover, KT's rendering 'gathering-place of waters' has a serious
difficulty with reality and common sense. There is no 'gathering-place' of
'together-water' on the Himalayan slopes. There are masses of snow, ice and
glaciers and as soon as these melt they flow down as rivers. And the Vedics
surely knew of the conditions on the Himalayas as they knew of the vast ocean
far down south.

3. Many scholars doubt that the Vedics knew the ocean.
If KT had consulted the Vedic Index she would have seen that all the
difficulties raised by modern indologists (e.g. Elizarenkova 1996-7; Klaus 1985)
were dealt with adequately therein -- except Witzel's 'terminal lake' which is
really a non-starter. The conclusion was that the Vedics did know the ocean.

Using common sense again, also in the Invasion scenario, we can see that even if
the Indoaryans had entered Saptasindhu, the land of the seven rivers, in N-W
India from a landlocked region, they would have found out about the ocean from
the natives, who engaged in trans-oceanic commerce with Mesopotamia. Since,
always in the AIT scenario, they had so intrepidly trekked thousands of miles,
they would have travelled down south either on boats on the Sindhu or with
carts; there they would have seen the ocean. Surely, there is nothing
extraordinary in this. So why all this fuss and denial of the Vedics' knowledge of
the ocean?... Reasoning must always be paramount.3
4. Could samudrá denote the ocean? Of course, frequently.

To speak of 'together-water' or 'gathering-place of waters' is unhelpful to
say the least and, again, ignores common sense. A gathering place of waters in
mass is a confluence or a river or a lake or the ocean. Now we know that there
were several confluences, rivers and small lakes in Saptasinhu, but samudrá is
usually in the singular, as all my citations herein show. Thus even if we accept
"the gathering-place of waters", we would expect a plural for the Himalayas, the
valleys and the plains simply because there were many gathering-places of
waters. And when Agni received treasures from the lower and the upper
samudrá (..

d ávar.d ..
párasm.d...), we understand only one lower on
earth and one upper in the sky. If it is one terrestrial samudrá it can only be the
ocean since, otherwise, there are plenty of confluences, rivers, lakes and general

3 I don't really understand scholars who invoke scientism in the humanities
("scientific approach, method" etc). In Physics, Chemistry etc, scientists
check their results against the realities of the material world, often with Maths
and always with reasoning. We can't ignore the realities in our field (i.e. facts
archaeological, grammatical and literary) and, most important, common

AC 6
However, I offer yet another passage -- 7.49.2 :

ápo divy..
utá v. srávanti, khanítrim. utá ..
; samudr.ìrth. y.ì. .úcaya. p.vak.ì[.] 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.

The heavenly waters are the river or watermass in the sky and, of course, the
rains; the waters flowing in channels are natural rivers or man-made ditches;
these that arise spontaneously are springs, lakes and wells. Ditches, lakes and
wells do not in ordinary terms aim for a larger gathering place: these we can
ignore. Obviously the one gathering place of waters which rains, rivers and
springs have as their ultimate aim is the ocean. Confluences themselves move on
as larger rivers to the ocean (or a large lake); lakes have themselves arisen
spontaneously (if not created and fed by rivers) and there are many of them. So
the only watermass (in the singular) left is the ocean.

Let us take a final example. 1.116.4 says that the A.vins saved Bhujyu
from drowning and carried him for three nights and three days (tisrá. k.ápas trír
áha-) to the 'distant dry-shore of the watery ocean' (samudrásya dhánvan
árdrasya p.ré). Yes, we have a hyperbole which is common in the RV. But the
poet has a specific intention here. Now, what "together-water" or "gatheringplace
of waters" is so large that the two gods, who fly on a car drawn usually by
birds, would need three days and nights to traverse to reach its distant shore?...4
Only the ocean.

5 KT refers also (p33) to G. Possehl's 1998 paper and cites the passage: "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) This is absolutely true. However, for reasons known best
to herself, she does not divulge that "those times" are the centuries 1500-1000
BCE! She also does not tell us that with the very next sentence Possehl suggests
"that the river once did flow to the sea, in very ancient times... (3800-3200 BC),
but even this is not certain". She refrained perhaps because she wished to spare
us Possehl's uncertainty. Nevertheless, the archaeologist thinks the river might
have flowed to the sea but KT turns the archaeologist's hesitancy into certainty
that the river did not reach the sea! A more thorough investigation would have
revealed to her that Bridget Allchin, a most reputable British archaeologist,
expert on Indian protohistory and the Indus Valley Culture, expressed no doubt
about the river reaching the sea taking the Nara Nadi river beyond the Derawar
Fort as the natural continuation of the ancient Sarasvat. (1999). In the same year
L. Flam, another expert published independently an identical certainty about
Nara being the continuation of Sarasvat. (1999). French archaeologist P-H
4 I discuss this issue very fully and give ten more examples in my 2009
publication, ch 5.

AC 7
Francfort had reached the same conclusion with certainty back in 1992 giving
dates 3600-3800 and before. The doyen of Indian archaeologists, B.B. Lal, also
expresses no doubt in his 2002 publication that the ancient Sarasvat. flowed into
the ocean through the Nara. And more recently, a team of reputable Indian
scientists traced by satellite the course of the river (Possehl's "river scar") from
the mountains to the ocean flowing into the Rann of Kachch or Kutch. (Sharma
et al 2006).5
So the Sarasvat., this nad.tam. 'best of rivers' did flow into the ocean
before 3500 (to give an average date), i.e. before, first, its tributary Sutlej was
captured by the Sindhu and, later, the Yamuna was captured by the Ganges. This
is the picture presented by the RV even in the hymns of the tenth and latest
Book. So, again, when were these hymns composed?
6. Closely connected with the Sarasvati is the word ándhas which occurs in RV
7.96.2 and also engaged KT's attention (p24). The word is in the dual: ubhé yát
te mahin.ì .ubhre ándhas., adhik.iyánti p.ráva. (her translation: ' Since through
your might, O bright one, The Purus inhabit both ándhas. '). Dismissing
Griffith's translation "grassy banks" for ándhas. and Geldner's Getränken
"drinks" (echoed also by Renou in French and Elizarenkova in Russian), KT
goes off to examine the controversy between indigenists and invasionists and
refers to the Bryant and Laurie book, The Indoaryan Controversy (2005) but not
to the debate in the JIES (2002-3), which is in fact later, i.e. more recent, since
the papers in Bryant and Laurie were written before 2002! Thus she offers no
translation of her own and so, as with the vaila-group and armaká, the text
continues to remain undeciphered. Let us see if we can sort this out.

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'.

Mayrhofer, as many another before him, links ándhas with Greek ..... 'flower '
and with Friesian ändul 'fine, tender grass'. (This is acknowledged by one
Comment and KT in her second paper.)
The 'bright one' .ubhr.ì addressed in the verse is Sarasvati. So we must ask
what two things a river has: it has a beginning and an end; a surface and a
bottom, the riverbed; and two banks. Common sense and the diction with the
dual concord ubhé...ándhas. compels us to dismiss all notions except the ''two
banks''. The two banks are the only places where the tribe of the P.rus could
dwell (adhik.iyánti). Obviously the ''two drinks'' of Geldner, Renou and
Elizarenkova, despite the massive notes that accompany this rendition, make no
sense at all (not even metaphorically), since there are many, not two, drinks from
the river-water and since the fluid denoted by andhas is the specific soma-juice.

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
5 Most of this information except for the 2006 publication was presented in my
'Final Reply' in JIES 31, Spring (pp 228-9) but very few scholars bother to
read nowadays, widely, attentively and impartially.

AC 8
sense for the sake of philological pedantry? After all, RV 8.22.17-8 says that
king Citra and lesser-kings r.jaká- dwell along the Sarasvati (-- along its banks,
obviously). The enclitic te in 7.96.2 'thy' covers both mahin.ì 'greatness, might'
and ándhas..

Moreover, there is the figure of speech called 'synecdoche' which uses the
part in order to indicate a larger whole, as in ''I counted ten heads'' instead of
''ten persons'' or ''ten sheep''. Similarly here, we have ''both bushes/grasses'' to
denote the ''grassy banks'' of the river. There is nothing extraordinary about it.

Griffith, not for the first or only time, proves more faithful to the spirit of the
poet6. And let us acknowledge the simple fact, that much of the RV is not just
poetry, but great poetry!
7. Several more points could be made about KT's article but I decided to keep
this paper short. As I wrote earlier, I agree with most of what she says
questioning various established but probably wrong meanings. One general point
of caution. India has excellent archaeologists (Lal taught in California;
Chakrabarti D. teaches at Cambridge, U.K.) and, of course, unrivalled
sanskritists. Some Western indologists deride them with terms like "quacks,
Hindutva hacks" and the like; almost all tend superciliously to ignore Indian
scholars thinking that only Western indologists (mainly comparativists) transmit
the truth. This is a sad mistake.

By way of conclusion I present seven items, apart from ruins, that are not
found in the RV but are common in the Harappan culture and are found in postrigvedic
texts, especially the and S.tras.

i) bricks -- i..ak. ;
ii) cotton -- ;
iii) fixed altars or hearths ;
iv) iconography -- relief or statuary ;
v) urbanization on a significant scale;
vi) writing -- lipi or lekha(na);
vii) dried up Sarasvat.. (There are more.)
6 Consider 6.75.8 tátr. rátham úpa .agmá. sadema. Geldner translated "...auf
den wollen wir der Wagon setzen" and Witzel gave it in English "on this
(rathav.hana) we wish to put the useful/strong ratha"; O'Flaherty too gives
(1981:237) "on it let us place the working chariot". But the verb úpa-sadnever
means 'place, put'; it means 'sit by/near/on, revere, approach
respectfully' and the like. Only the causative form úpa-s.d-aya- does mean
'make sit on, place upon'! Here again Griffith got it right -- "let us
here...honour the helpful Car". Of course, Griffith does make many mistakes
but this is understandable when we consider that Vedic studies had only just

AC 9
Moreover, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the RV was
composed c1200-1000 BCE - none other than fanciful theory and mechanical
repetition. All the tremendous arsenal used once upon a time to support the
Invasion scenario has now been reduced to horses and chariots: chariots for war
and races did not exist before 2000 and horses appear in Saptasindhu only after
c1500 -- according to Prof. Witzel who has become the main spokesman for this

The meagre evidence for domesticated horse at the Harappan sites often
adduced in discussions, is a red herring. There is no significant increase of
horse-remains after the period 1500 BCE. If there was an entry of Indoeuropeans
bringing horses and chariots at c 1500 BCE, there should be masses of such
remains. There is no such evidence until the centuries of the Common Era. KT,
as others before, rightly points out (p36) that horses are not quite so common in
the RV, as many scholars claim (see also Kazanas 2002: §VII,1 with many more
references). She also shows that the much mistranslated and thus maligned rátha
is not a "war-chariot". In fact, in his translations in his Vedic Reader, MacDonell
never gives the word 'chariot' but always 'car'. The "chariot' is a legacy of
classicism (Greece and Rome). Moreover, rigvedic cars are made from native
timber (RV 3.53.19; 10.85.20). They have space or seating for three trivandhurá
(RV 3.6.9; 6.47.9 etc) and one is a minibus rátha having space for eight
a...vandhurá (late 10.53.7): they are drawn by oxen, donkeys, antelopes and
rarely by horses! There is not a single mention of one- or two-spaced ráthas. All
this was discussed extensively in Kazanas 2002, §VII, 2-3. So the "war-chariot"
is another red-herring.

I leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusion about the
approximate date of the composition of (the bulk of) the .gveda.

AC 10
Allchin B. 1999 'Some questions of environment...' in (eds) Meadows
A. & Meadows P., The Indus River..., p 294, Oxford Univ.

Press, Kharachi.
Bryant E. & Laurie P. (eds) 2005 The Indo-Aryan Controversy... London,

Burrow T. 1963 'On the significance of the terms arma, armaka' in
The Journal of Indian History, vol 4 (pp 159-168).

Elizarenkova T. 1996-7 'The Concept of Water and the Names for it in the
RV' in Orientalia Suecana XLV-XLVI (21-28).

Flam L. 1999 'The Prehistoric Indus River System...' in Man &
Environment vol XXIV, no 2 (pp 35-69).

Francfort P-H 1992 'Evidence for Harappan irrigation system' in Eastern
Anthropologist vol 45 (87-103).

Geldner K.F. 1951-7 Der Rig-Veda... Cambridge, Mass, HUP.
Griffith R. 1976 The Hymns of the Rigveda Delhi, M.
Kazanas N. 2002 'Indigenous IndoAryans and the .gveda' in JIES vol
30(3-4) pp275-334: now ch1 in his 2009 publication.

2003 'Final Reply' in JIES vol 31, 1&2 (187-240).
2009 Indoaryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues Delhi,
Aditya Prakashan.

Klaus K. 1989 'Samudrá im Vedá": Deutscher Orientalistentag 1985,
Würzburg, XIII, E von Shchuler (ed) Ausgewählte Vortäge,
Wiesbaden (364-71).

Lal B.B. 2002 The Sarasvat. Flows On Delhi, Books International.
Lubotsky A. 1997 A Rigvedic Word Concordance New Haven, American
Oriental Society.

MacDonell 1916 A Vedic Grammar for Students Oxford/London, OUP.
1917 A Vedic Reader for Students Oxford, OUP.
Mayrhofer M. 1956-1996 KEWA and Etymologisches Wörterbuch des
Altindoarischen Heidelberg, Carl Winter.

Mitchel B & Robinson F. 1996 A Guide to Old English Oxford, Blackwell
O' Flaherty Wendy 1981 The Rig Veda: An Anthology London/NY, Penguins.

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).

Rao S. 1991 Dawn & Devolution of the Indus Civilisation Delhi,
Aditya Prakashan.

Sethna D.K. 1992 The Problem of Aryan Origins (2nd ed) Delhi, Aditya.
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Sharma J.R. Gupta A.K., Bhadra B.K. 2006 'Course of Vedic river Sarasvat....'
in Pur.tattva, Delhi vol 36 (187-195).

Thomson K. 2009 'A Still Undeciphered Text' in The JIES vol 37, nos

Vedic Index 1992(1912) by MacDonell A. & Keith A., Delhi, M.
Witzel M. 1995 'Early Indian History' in G. Erdosy (ed) The Indo-
Aryans of Ancient South Asia Berlin/NY, de Gruyter.

2001 'Autochthonous Aryans' EJVS 7-3, 1-93.
Additional comments
8. When I finished my paper and J. Mallory, the Editor of JIES accepted it, I sent
a copy to Mrs. Thomson since we have known each other and corresponded on
and off for some ten years. She expressed some displeasure with some points
and so I changed them to soften the criticism.

Our acquaintance began when she wrote to me after one article of hers and
one of mine were published in the JIES in 2001; she thought we had similar
ideas, but in my reply I explained that I was a rebel against mainstream
indologists and sanskritists, like Witzel, Stephanie Jamison and so on. I also
explained that, contrary to her belief that the RV could be translated in the spirit
of its ancient composers and that she would accomplish this, I thought this could
not happen unless the translator knew excellent Vedic but, in addition, reached
the spiritual state of the who "heard" their .ruti.

In 2002 and 2003 I wrote two papers for the JIES again, as part of a larger
discussion-controversy on IAn origins, in which Bryant, Mallory, Parpola,
Witzel, Zimmer and others also participated. As I cited her 2001 paper "The
Meaning and language of the RV" I sent her a copy of my efforts. To my
astonishment she wrote back an angry email forbidding me to quote from her
paper and demanding that I excise the citation! I apologised but pointed out that
since her study was next to mine and said some sensible things, other scholars
would consider me daft not to refer to them. But in a peculiar paroxysm of
unreason she came back insisting on her earlier demand and adding that she did
not want to be dragged into this controversy! I pointed out again that she was not
being dragged into any controversy just because I quoted a passage from her
work that was published and fully accessible to anyone. But she would not hear
of this. So our exchanges stopped until 3 or 4 years later when she wrote and
apologized for her behaviour.

I mention this to help the reader understand perhaps why she hurls so hotly
and repeatedly such intense negative criticism.

9. Mrs. Thomson presents a stance of neutrality claiming to be interested only in
the text of the RV and its linguistic interpretation. This is merely a superficial
pose and one of superciliousness at that.

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Like most mainstream indologists, she too displays repeatedly the three
banes that vitiate their studies: selectivity, distortion and mechanical repetition.

Thus she examines at some length E. Bryant's publication The Quest ... (2001)
and thinks it neutral but does not notice some crucial errors and omissions: for
example, Bryant refers a lot to the linguistic aspect of the IA controversy but
does not deal with the comprehensiveness of Sanskrit and its organic coherence,
nor with its more archaic character and the matter of isoglesses. If Bryant or Mrs
Thomson had bothered to examine in depth, say, the isoglosses, he or she would
have discovered that only a place close to Saptasindhu could, as the source of all
these phenomena, account adequately for their divergences.

She also refers at length to Max Müller citing among his other works and
his History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature but does not deal with the matter of
dating the Sanskrit texts. Yet Müller explains fully (pp 214-7) how he arrived at
his chronological scheme (RV c1200-1000; AV, Yajus 1000-800;
800-600; S.tras etc down 200 BCE). He identified a certain K.ty.yana in a
ghost-story in the Kath.sarits.gara (c 1100 CE) with the s.trawriter K.ty.yana
whom he assigned to c200 BCE and thus worked backwords to the RV. He also
had to take into account the chronology established by Archbishop Ussher or
Ireland who calculated from the lives of the patriarchs in the Old Testament that
the creation had started at 4004 BCE! So Müller's scheme is based on two
fictions -- plus the fact that, at that time, it was unthinkable that an eastern
culture could be more ancient and comprehensive than the classical Greek and
Roman cultures of Europe.

Another serious contradiction, emerging from her effort to appear neutral
and attack now invasionists and now indigenists, is revealed in her attitude to
sanskritists like Witzel, Jamison, Doniger, and to archaeologist Lord Renfrew.

She castigates the sanskritists because, in her opinion their Sanskrit is not as
good as hers or because they don't treat the texts, always in her opinion, as
reverentially as she does, and so their interpretations are riddled with errors. On
the other hand she cites with approval Renfrew's statements that he found
nothing in the RV showing that the IAs invaded and slaughtered or enslaved
natives and that they might have been native: such statements by 1987 when
Renfrew published his book Archaeology & Language had become common
place (though by no means general with mainstream indologists), after Dales's
seminal article in 1966 showing that there had not been an invasion and
conquest in Saptasindhu. But Renfrew knows no Sanskrit at all and relied on
some dubious translation of the RV in contrast to the sanskritists. Moreover
while scholars like Witzel, Jamison and others have a wider awareness of the
protohistory of Saptasindhu, certainly much wider that Mrs Thomson, Renfrew
knows again very little about that area (please see his poor bibliography) and,
what is more, in a later part of his book he makes an abrupt 180° turn and has
the IAs pouring into Saptasindhu in order to support his (now discredited) theory
that all Indoeuropeans emigrated from eastern Anatolia transporting agriculture
and its techniques together with the IEn languages. Renfrew is a brilliant
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example of mainstream scholarship: he changes sides abruptly and totally and
casts away truth in order to uphold and promote his own pet theory. This verges
on schizophrenia and, in any case, it is quite dishonest. Why should anyone
follow such erratic theorizing? Not once in his subsequent works does he refer to
the .gveda or the Indoaryans as indigenous. Anyway, his theory has been
disproved and deservedly discredited. That anyone should cite him as a reliable
witness seems to me incredible. But, of course, Mrs Thomson knows even less
than Renfrew about Indian protohistory, and, as it seems, did not read the whole
book (Archaeology and Language 1987) or, selected only what suited her
momentarily; so such blunders should not surprise us.

Here again we witness either mechanical repetition (and negligence) or

10. I suspect her assumed neutral pose and her claims of being concerned for the
text and translation of the RV are quite hollow. I suspect also that her knowledge
of the RV and its language hasn't much depth despite her published studies and
the course she offers on the internet. If she were really concerned, she would not
criticize so negatively others' translations yet give none of her own and leave
uninterpreted so many words. One can understand that lexemes occurring
frequently in the hymns need examination and study of all their contexts. But
this does not apply to hapax legomena, i.e. words that occur only once, like
armaká. These can be dealt with here and now since there are no other contexts
to analyse and compare. It is the easiest thing on earth to criticize the work of
other scholars but it is thoroughly dishonest not to give your own version(s).

What does armaká mean in 1.133? She criticizes but she hasn't enough
knowledge or courage or honesty to supply some interpretation. How should we
translate ándhasi in 7.96.2 ? Here again she maintains cold, superior silence on
the correct meaning but criticizes all extant renderings.

Silence is golden, I fully concur. But it would be better to maintain it
where negative criticism wells up so profusely. How can she translate the hymns
when she has no idea how to translate these once-occurring words? This is a

And, in the final analysis, what does it matter if one or two words are
translated so as to fit the context but without secure knowledge of their
meaning? It does not in the least, provided the interpretation complies with
common sense and conforms to the realities of the material world. To deny
constantly the usefulness of such approaches is a symptom of pretentious and
conceited pedantry. It is a pity Mrs Thomson does not concentrate on the
(re-)examination of lexemes -- a task she accomplishes quite well -- instead of
rambling on with irrelevancies, criticizing and putting on a ponderous pontifical

In due course I shall deal with the paper that purports to be a reply to mine
in the same Dec 2010 issue of the JIES.

End of forwarded message from M. K.

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