TERMINOLOGY AND TOOLS
The primary components for the synchronic analysis of the terminology related to the self are the linguistic elements that comprise the semantic field in each occasion of the key words, as well as the key words themselves. For this chapter, the objective is the presentation of the synchronic resources that are applied in the study--the terms--and the tools for their analysis. I begin with a semantic analysis of each term--where possible--according to the early commentary on the Rg Veda represented in Yaaska's Nirukta followed by a summary of the relevant research relating to the word over the past two centuries. After introducing the terms and their arrangement for the inquiry (e.g., terms related to mental processes form one group, those representing the body form another, etc.), the linguistic tools of analysis are introduced with brief examples of how each figures in the study of a given passage.
While Vedic studies are enjoying a rebirth--or, at least, a reinvigoration--from the careful analysis of scholars such as Tatyana Elizarenkova (1995), Madhav Deshpande (1995), Michael Witzel (1989, 1995a; 1995b; 1997), and others, it is important to bring the sharp edge of analysis that their work has provided to bear upon major thematic issues that have been taken for granted in recent centuries such as the notion of the self. Some of the most exciting ground Elizarenkova, et al., have covered lies in the application of philological, phonetic, and linguistic analysis to questions of historical, geographical, and ethnographic import. Studies such as Witzel's "Vedic Dialects" is a good example of "an investigation of language in its relation to those who use it," which--in Vedic terms--amounts to the study of "speech acts and the contexts wherein they're realized" (Elizarenkova, 1995: 9). The "contexts where [the terminology for the self] is realized" forms a major component of the history of religion in Vedic India. Paul Mus26 has even exulted that the doctrine of the self is the seminal development in India comprising its "dharma in its multifarious [religious, social, and political] senses" (1959: 75).
In less expansive and, perhaps, less overinclusive terms, I have defined the self as an identifiable (you can refer to it) assemblage of characteristics (there can be mental, physical, sensory, etc. components) occupy
In The Language and Style of the Vedic RSis, Elizarenkova has addressed the nature of the connection between the Vedic ritual and the language employed both in its performance and its prescription (1995: 7). She concentrates, in a fashion similar to the analysis of semantic fields discussed in Chapter 1, upon word-groups that represent a notion and, accordingly, are the basic unit of the language according to the fixed position each word occupies in the group (1995: 4). As she describes it, factors including caesura, meter, accent, phonetic marking, and choice of vocabulary all figure into this palette of possible expressive decisions by the R'Si. In turn, the linguistic detail found in Witzel's "Vedic Dialects"--the results of which are discussed in some detail in Chapter 3--addresses a different set of questions: that of the linguistic and ethnographic/geographic change represented in carefully defined subdivisions of each Vedic text.
In the first portion of this chapter, a detailed summary of the available data--ancient and modern--with respect to the terminology under examination is the starting point for the study of each term in context. This synchronic material provides the working understanding for each term that, if well chosen, allows for consistent translation across the range of uses so that the change in how each word is used e.g., the increasingly corporeal significations of tanuú--can be illuminated without reliance upon semantic sleight of hand when rendering the key word from one passage to the next. In addition, an introduction of some statistical data on how the use of each word changes from text to text is offered by way of introduction to the kinds and periods of change that are presented in detail throughout Chapters 4-6.
In the second portion of this chapter, the criteria of polysemy or synonymy for assessing the vocabulary used for the self or in relation to it, in addition to the intermittent influence of phonetic stylistics and linguistic change upon the composition of Early and Middle Vedic will be outlined as categories of analysis. In the subsequent chapters, the results of this level
Terminology: "The State of the Art" for Early and Middle Vedic
The primary terminology for this study has, for the most part, been quite frequently discussed throughout the history of Indological scholarship. However, a major achievement of this dissertation is the illumination of the words related to the self beginning with the Early Vedic attestations--in the RV--of each word, instead of seeking (or striving to justify) the subsequent meanings with which each word became associated in later literature and during the last 250 years of Indology. It has been one of the most intractable challenges in my research to look consistently at each occurrence of each term in the relative isolation of its temporal period--e.g., earliest books of RV, etc.--without resorting to scholarship based on later literature--or the later Vedic texts themselves--to resolve an impasse (and there were many such impasses as the rhetoric surrounding the terminology of the self is quite frequently confounding in its obscurity).
So the current task, the presentation of a working definition or understanding of each term according only to research done on the Early Vedic materials, is a difficult project in any case. As the summary of scholarship in the first chapter indicates, some terms remain either unexamined--as, for instance, tanuú and tmán--or examined only through the lense of preconceived perspectives--such as aatmán from the perspective of Vedaanta. The project of this study is not absolute definitions--if such were even possible--but examination of the changes that can be identified in each word from its earliest identifiable uses up to the period of Vedic religion that is more commonly studied: the BraahmaNas, AAraNyakas, and UpaniSads. Still, some starting point for each word is needed, a working understanding or functional definition, by which the early occurrences can be understood and to which the later occurrences can be compared. Brian Smith has noted that the initial assessment or "definition" of a term is "a tentative classification of a phenomenon that allows us to begin an analysis of the phenomenon so defined" (1989: 5).27
As the research progressed, my choice of terminology was confirmed
After consulting various theoretical studies (Deussen, Sharma, Narahari), I decided not to base my research upon the approach demonstrated in the extensive history of studies of the 'Vedic self' which address the issue 'from the outside.' By this I mean that it is redundant to initiate a search for the "soul" in Indian thought, or diagram a singular conception of the self that molds together all the disparate terminology into a homogeneous notion. I have categorized the terminology of the present study as "related to the self," but it is not reasonable to suggest that 3500 years and several continents' removal can provide a theory of self, soul or otherwise in India as has been attempted--unsuccessfully--often before.
Bodewitz (1991) has provided an excellent summary of additional early efforts to categorize the terminology related to the self under one central doctrine or development, tracing them as far back as E. B. Tylor's in 1871 Primitive Culture. Scholars have tried to patch together a multipart "soul" out of the variety of terminology producing theories such as a free-from-the-body-soul/púruSa which is complimented by several body-souls: a breath-soul/praaNá, another breath-soul/aatmán, a life-soul/ásu, and an ego-consciousness soul/mánas (Arbman, 1926-1927). Bodewitz notes that Tuxen (1919) denied a unitary soul idea in the Rg Veda in an article that failed to have widespread influence as it was available only in Danish and therefore was not widely consulted outside Scandinavia (1991: 38). Other scholars have sought to show a development of a singular self through the successive adoption and discarding of different terms: a physical-impersonal vital power/ásu and a spiritual principle/mánas to which was added a breath-soul/praaNá, and this breath-soul was in turn replaced by aatmán (Horsch, 1971: 113). In fact, these words do not find hardly any use in the Family Books, and a careful analysis of their use in the Later RV indicates how truly erroneous these studies, inattentive to internal text chronology, can be. The words have very distinct meanings in the RV.
Apart from systematically refuting the various meanings assigned to the terms in these theories (to which the present study assents and attests in further detail in Chapters 4-6), Bodewitz suggests the following principles of inquiry. First, in response to Tuxen, Bodewitz agrees, but notes that while a unitary soul concept may well be missing, it "does not exclude a
There are only two attestations of aatmán in the earliest portions of the RV, both in the 7th MaNDala. In the native lexicon, Amarakosha 3.3.110, many of the later ideas of the self as designated by aatmán and reflected in the meditative traditions of Vedaanta are apparent in the following synonyms: dhRti- resolution, support, will, command; búddhi intelligence, reason, discernment; yátna- from -yat/to place in order or join, with this derivation meaning will or volition; várSma- form or body; svabhaáva- own being; and bráhman. That bráhman is included as a synonym reflects the strong influence of the later UpaniSadic and Vedaanta thought upon the meaning of aatmán which, in turn, has marked much of the scholarship with regard to the self in the Vedas.
AAtmán is addressed carefully by Yaaska several times. In a common appositional statement (athaadhyaatman "now with regard to the
This mantra with aatmán is from the late hymn to healing herbs in RV 10.97.11c-d (aatmaá yákSmasya nashyati puraá jiivag'Rbho yathaa). Yaaska introduces this discussion with a note stating that particles have been explained and that he is turning to address yathaa which means "a comparison or simile of action"/karmopamaa. The three hymns quoted--RV 5.78.8, 1.50.3, and 10.97.11 (each of which are cited elsewhere in the Vedas except 5.78.8)--each contain yathaa in a simile where different actions are likened to one another: the ocean stirs like/yathaa the wind (5.78.8), Suurya's rays are like/yathaa the blaze of a flame (1.50.3), and the aatmán of a disease/aatmaá yákSmasya is called to depart before it captures a life (10.97.11). The etymology for aatmán--the only etymology in this section which treats yathaa--firmly establishes the meaning of the word as related to action. But Yaaska also adds that -aap is viable because the aatmán may be obtained or striven for. Thus aatmán can represent an active principle, worthy of aspiration. It is important to note, however that on some isolated occasions--not in the RV--it appears that aatmán has a reflexive meaning which underscores the self-referentiality of a passage. This characteristic of "sameness" reflects the range of caegories of "self" which are part of the Vedic discussions of an individual. Usually this is conveyed by sváyam (see below in the current chapter, also discussion of KS 14.6 in Chapter 6).
The meaning we have for aatmán from the "earliest" non-Vedic commentary on the Vedas is already from a "late" hymn of the latest MaNDala (Lanman, 1880; Oldenberg, 1888; Witzel, 1995b, etc.). RV 10.97 is a later insertion into the collection, so also is 5.78.8, while 1.50 is perhaps the oldest of the citations (but is also later than MaNDala's 2-7, and later than much of RV 1 and 8). We are still presented with useful
This is fairly neat and tidy but for the point at which Yaaska began this exposition: ity adhidaivatam/"thus with regard to the deities;" athaadhyaatman/"now with regard to the aatmán." If we accept the observation of Gonda that the Vedic R'Si 's displayed "a tendency to view the deities preferably as functions . . . " (1992: 7), the aatmán as Yaaska applies the term suggests the primary attainment (cf. -aap) or activity (-at) which characterizes the deity or human to whom it refers. We can then suggest that ityadhidaivatam athaadhyaatman translates as "thus with regard to the deities, now as regards their primary function/action." It is easy to see how this meaning became abstracted as an essence or sense of intrinsic identity such that doctrines of the self would be based upon it. Already in Yaaska's use of the word in the ity adhidaivatam athaadhyaatman statements (N3.12, 10.26) he describes the aatmán as the guardian, lord, and convener of an individual's powers (iishvaraH sarveSaam indriyaaNaaM gopaayitaatmaa -- 3.12; paramash ca saMdarshayitendriyaaNaam -- 10.26). Then he describes notions of central unity or essence and associations with wisdom in 3.12 and beyond the powers of the seven R'Si 's in 10.26 (vipakvaprajña aatmaa | ity aatmagatim aacaSTe -- 3.12; ebhyaH para aatmaa | taany asminn ekaM bhavantiity aatmagatim aacaSTe -- 10.26). Also, in N 7.4 Yaaska is accounting for those passages where it is not clear which deity is praised. Suggesting that sometimes a single god is praised in terms of the variety of its manifestations/prakRti, Yaaska asserts that these manifestations are still born of the same action/kárma which is, in turn, the same essential function/aatmán (karmajanmaanaH | aatmajanmaanaH).
This initial understanding of aatmán is consistent with passages in the early and later portions of the RV. In 7.101.6b, Parjanya, who enriches the crops with rain, would thus be the bearer of activity or motion for all things (tásminn aatmaá jágatas tasthúSash ca). The same semantic
When we turn to the various lexicons, the later signification of aatmán as it comes to be known in the UpaniSads is the predominant meaning. Böthlingk suggests "Hauch, Seele, das Selbst, die eigene Person, Wesen, Natur, Leib, Körper, Verstand, Intelligenz" (Böthlingk, 1959: 167; also Mayrhofer, re. Hauch, Seele, Selbst, 1956, I : 73); Mylius adds "weltseele" (1975: 63); Monier-Williams gives "the breath, the soul, principle of life and sensation, the individual soul, self, abstract person" (1899: 135); Apte (1988) follows Monier-Williams.
Mayrhofer's discussion of aatmán latter in Etymologisches Worterbuch des Altindoarischen (1996) includes the consideration of its correlates with tmán ". . . stehen 'schwache' von tmán-) . . . (1996: 164). As noted below, tmán marks those occasions where a given trait is expressly identified as part of a deity's nature. This raises the interesting hypothesis that the correspondence between the appearances of púruSa, which is arguably "extra-Vedic" (see below), and the sudden frequency of aatmán indicates that the latter could have developed out of tmán in a competitive doctrinal response to the complexity of púruSa (e.g., RV 10.90). More importantly, the opinion that aatmán is somehow derived from "to breath" is finally discarded (1996: 165). As I note in Chapter 4, if it were not for the isolated occasion with vata in RV 7.87.2, there would be no case for it based upon the results below.
Following my observation in Chapter 1, there are not many studies of aatmán as it occurs in the literature prior to the UpaniSads. Those that have been done approach the word from the perspective of its later significations. Bodewitz has attended to much of the terminology in this study in the article previously cited (1991) admonishing that aatmán must be considered in its relationship to praaNá.
The difference between these two concepts is that praaNá has a specific function in the body and as such has obtained the supremacy over other vital functions in the classifications of the
It is clear, however, that Bodewitz is attending to these terms in their later incarnations. As I conclude this survey of recent scholarship on aatmán in any literature prior to the UpaniSads I am reminded again of why I began this study in the first place. There simply are too few text-critical studies of aatmán that deal with primary sources prior to the UpaniSads and that do not begin with an assumed meaning which arises in later literature.
The following chapters begin with a working understanding of aatmán as the active, defining nature or function in a deity or human. However, as the study develops, it becomes clear that "self" is a philosophically and semantically viable translation. As we will see, aatmán displays the same reflexive use--ipse-identity--and the sense of selfhood--idem-identity--that we find in the English word. It is true that, as I mentioned in the introduction, the English word "self" has certain philosophical connotations--including a duality in the idea of self and "other"--which does not easily fit with the RV cosmos or the ultimate oneness of the later UpaniSads. In some cases I have found that "vital essence" was most descriptive, and that "identity" was best in others. "Vital essence" works well in those instances such as where the active aspect of wind is referred to as aatmán. Similarly, when complex substitutions and equivalencies are made in the ritual texts, the important connection preserved between the sacrificer and the elements of ritual is best described as "identity."
Both vital essence and identity are mutually compatible as aspects of a self. But they are at times quite cumbersome in translation. On the other hand, it is not safe to assume that the reader will always see these nuances in the word "self." If we consider the self to be an identifiable assemblage of characteristics occupying space and time, the various applications of aatmán fit well with this definition. Still, it is sometimes necessary to preserve the more surgically precise translations of "identity" and "vital essence" for the sake of analysis and leave aesthetics aside.
Elizarenkova discusses tanuú's root form, -tan, as one of a class of verbal roots that clearly have a bifurcated application depending on
The realm of "propice" as Renou refers to the language concerning the gods and their relations with humans applies specifically to the first observation we are considering for tanuú. There is one way in which it is used to refer to how the gods thrive and humans are to be protected and another way where tanuú refers to adversity that threatens human frailty. Renou's second category of "peu propice" does not apply to tanuú--or the other words for the self when applied to deities--in the RV and most of Middle Vedic.31 In the material of the RV and much of Middle Vedic, the tanuú of the gods does not need help, but their tanuú is called upon to respond to requests that a deity manifest a certain desirable characteristic--most frequently with Indra becoming strong as above, or manifestations beauty and ornamentation as with the Maruts, Ashvins, Agni, Vishve Devaas, USas, and several other singular occasions with other deities.32 In the discussion of tanuú I have adopted the terminology of Elizarenkova--language of gods or the divine, and the language of humans--to refer to the two categories of use for tanuú which fall within Renou's realm of "propice."
Understanding the notion of self conveyed by tanuú begins first with the root from which it is derived. Elizarenkova suggests the application of -tan in the language of the gods is the realm in which light is extended (ÿ4.52.7a: aa dyaáM tanoSi rashmíbhir "Thou piercest the sky with rays"), and in the language of humans as sacrifice or prayer extended up to the level of the deities (7.29.3c-d: víshvaa matiír aá tatane tvaayaá- /ádhaa ma iindra shRNavo hávemaá "All the prayers I have extended to thee33 / So listen to these calls of mine, O Indra!, " [1995: 43]). This sense of the realm of humans reaching out to the realm of the gods is not uncommon for uses of -tan (5.13.4, 5.15.3, 5.47.6, 7.10.2). The sense of the root, "to spread" indicates that the nominal derivation, tanuú, designates a place of extension, or "presence" (Anwesenheit, sometimes Gestalt) in the
Over two-thirds of the uses of tanuú throughout the RV refer to the divine realm in the context of a request that a deity show a particularly beneficent aspect to the worshipper or in the context of praise a particular aspect of a deity. For example, in 3.34.1c Indra is called to be strong in his tanuú with the assistance of bráhman (bráhmajuutas tanvaá vaavRdhanó) or the Ashvins praised for their beauteous presence in RV 7.72.1d (spaarháyaa shriyaá tanvaá shubhaanaá). When refering to humans, tanuú designates their presence as vulnerable and frail, subject to sin and disease such as in RV 1.189.6a where Agni is lauded to protect the humans (gRNaanó agne tanvé váruutham), or Indra is asked to provide his protection for humans in 2.21.6c (póSaM rayiiNaám áriSTiM tanuúnaam).
Dual levels of reference for the same word is also a characteristic of Vedic according to the earliest non-Vedic commentary in the Nirukta (technically the BraahmaNas are commentaries on the SaMhitaas, UpaniSads commentate upon BraahmaNas and AAraNyakas). A distinction between higher and lower references for the same word is also valid semantic category for understanding a word according to Yaaska. It is interesting that the example upon which he demonstrates this concerns tanuú. Yaaska illustrates his point with the suggestion of -tan as a possible etymology for taskara/thief (jyaayasaa vaa guNena prakhyaatatamena vaa kaniiyaaMsaM vaaprakhyaataM vopamimiite | athaapi kaniiyasaa jyaayaaMsam). He also stresses the need to be attentive to the expressive use of higher and lower language in Nirukta 3.13-14 where he also addresses the uses of similes. The categories of higher/jyaayasá and lesser or inferior/kaaniiyasá language not only exist within the similes but also have a specific rhetorical character.
An inferior entity or quality--the thief in Yaaska's example--can be used to illustrate an aspect of a higher entity: the two arms that firmly churn forth the fire are like the firm grasp of thieves/táskara, or, if derived from -tan, because thieves are spread through a forest, or because the actions of thieves are spread through day and night. It is consistent with this early commentary to suggest that tanuú has a higher and lower sense. Durga's commentary specifies that this particular distinction applies only in the case of the RV (tad etac chandasy evadraSTavyam). I am broadly categorizing them as the divine and human levels of language according
While the beauty, strength, and ornamentation references with tanuú are quite frequent, and also point to a certain physicality in space and time for tanuú, there are also the more abstract references of self-reflexive or sameness as well as multiple manifestations of tanuú attributed to some deities. As noted in the introduction, the idea of self implies a sameness (ipse-identity) and selfhood (idem-identity) which occurs also with tanuú. For instance, in RV 6.18.14d Indra is lauded for his tanuú--for his "same self" (noted also the sense of ownership and selfhood)--as he gives freedom/várivo to heaven/divé and the people/jánaaya both of which are oppressed/baadhitaáya (káro yátra várivo baadhitaáya divé jánaaya tanvé gRNaaháH).34
Sometimes the self-sameness of a person or deity's tanuú is further underscored with the addition of svayám/itself as in 10.81.5d to Vishvakarman where the importance of his role as an officiating priest at a great primordial cosmic sacrifice is called forth again--cf. Vedic notion of time with past events called forth in the present to effect the future--in his cosmic role to insure his own strength as the sacrifice (cf. RV 7.56.11b with the Maruts). Thus the occasion requires that it be him--"he himself"--present at the sacrifice and as the sacrifice (. . . havíSi svadhaavaH svayáM yajasva tanváM vRdhaanáH). The use of svayám will be discussed further below. If tanuú meant only a corporeal body, the more abstract significations of self-sameness would always require a form of svayám or of svá to indicate his/her "own/same body."
In additon there are occasions where tanuú signifies a variety of manifestations which are not described in physical terms of a change in shape. Thus in RV 7.101.3b Parjanya changes his presence at will (yathaavasháM tanváM chakra eSáH). Indra is said to change his tanuú as like an illusion/maayaáH in 3.53.8b (maayaáH kRNvaanás tanvám pári svaám). The addition of svaám further underscores it is Indra's own, his self-same, tanuú that changes. A sense of corporeal body, which certainly does apply to tanuú in many of the references where it signifies a physical presence in space and time--e.g., something to be decorated--cannot accout for the variety of more abstract senses in which tanuú refers to multiple manifestations or self-referentially implying same
This is perhaps the most significant departure in my findings from previous scholarship. By the time of the Amarakosha, the use of tanuú to mean body was undisputed. In Amarakosha 2.6.71, there is a rather interesting reference to gender in connection with tanuú (f) and tanú (m) in this passage. Following kaáya, and déha which refer to a corporeal meaning associated with tanuú, the passage continues with kliiba- weak, cowardly, eunuch; puMsoH- human being (m); striyaam- woman; muurtis- solid, substantive matter (f); tanus tanuuH. It is worth noting that tanuú (f) is almost the only form which we find in the RV. The masculine form in tanú does not occur in the RV. It would seem that in the Amarakosha, the subtler meanings of tanuú as presence had become lost or forgotten. This later sense of tanuú has dominated the way in which the word is treated, even in texts--like the RV--which significantly predate the Amarakosha.
Tanuu, from -tan, to spread, is frequently used to describe life or corporeal presence in Western lexicons: "Leib, Körper," but Graßmann also gives: "wol als der lange, schlanke, oft auch das geistige Dasein mit umfassend . . . in Verbindungen wie Leib mit Leib sich vereinen u. ähnl., von Seelen der Verstorbenen, der Leib der Götter, namentlich" (1964: 519). Mayrhofer suggests, "auch in reflexiven Gebrauch, den in der späteren Sprache aatman" (1956, II: 475). He rejects the suggestion of a link between aatmán and tanuú"--Hochst fraglich!"(1956, II: 476)--and suggests a range of meanings in his later (1996) edition including Person, Selbst, Ausdruck des Reflexivurns (see below) and the manner in which aatmán also comes to serve the reflexive function (1996, I: 621). Böthlingk, including it under the -tan derivative tanú, adds "den Körper fahren lassen, das Leben aufgeben" (1959, III: 7). Finally there is also body, person, or self, and form of manifestation (Monier-Williams, 1899: 435).
Franklin Southworth has considered the possibility of loaning between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian with regard to tanuú in an article entitled "Lexical Evidence for Early Contacts Between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian" (1979). Bodewitz does not discuss tanuú in his article on the soul (1991), but there are several publications apart from that of Reat (1990) and Sahota (1956) which address the term. Renou (1958, IV: 20) offers the opinion that the word has some degree of abstraction but still represents the body in a fairly physical sense "tanuú est souvent 'corps mystique'." Similar to Reat's suggestion of tanuú as an extension or continuum between
It is not inaccurate to translate tanuú as "self" or "body" if the sense meant is like that of "everybody, somebody" and "themselves/itself." These words do not work for smooth translation in every case. Accordingly, I am going to work with tanuú as "presence" which is flexible enough to accommodate the range of uses for the word in the Early and Middle Vedic literature without the inconsistency which arises with other terms--as with "self"--or physical consequence--as with "body."35 This also allows for Elizarenkova's suggestion that, "What we perceive as different meanings of the same word in the hymns might have appeared to the RSi as a single meaning in different contexts" (1995: 29).
Contrary to the closely-related aatmán, tmán does not have any etymology offered for it by Yaaska. In addition, tmán is not present in the NighaNTu, but aatmán is. Yaaska is prone to clarify the signification of tmán with aatmán as in 8.17 with RV 10.110.10 upaávasRja tmányaa samañján devaánaam paátha Rtuthaá haviíMSi where he replaces tmán with aatmán in his commentary (upaavaRjaatmanaatmaanaM). It appears that for Yaaska, tmán had a meaning that was well-understood, and was best explained by aatmán. Elsewhere it is directly glossed as aatmán as in N 11.31 with the discussion of raaka from RV 2.32.4, bódhatu tmánaa | bodhatvaatmanaa.
Lebenshauch, Selbst, das eigene Person are prominent translations offered in most lexicons (Böthlingk, 1959, III: 45; Mayrhofer, 1956, I: 528; and Mylius, 1975: 192, see also Mayrhofer above re. aatmán). Rather than a later gloss, Graßmann suggests tmán is "aus aatman gekürzt" (1964: 552). Monier-Williams, similarly, links it directly with aatmán as vital breath, self, person and also an emphatic particle at the end of a paada (1899: 456), as variously do the others. Fundamentally, as discussed below in the notes on svayám, ahám, tmán is a word which identifies a particular trait or characteristic as fundamentally part of a deity's identity. It is a word that is largely limited to the divine realm to refer to those qualities--most frequently of Agni--which are the characteristics of that deity (e.g.,
PúruSa, as with aatmán above, is all but nonexistent in the oldest portion of the RV, appearing on only a few occasions with a meaning very different from its famous significance in RV 10.90. Its later meaning is more notable in RV 10.90 and 97, and in later Early Vedic. In Early Vedic it is rarely used along with aatmán but this changes significantly in Middle Vedic (see Chapter 6). In fact, it almost seems to represent a different conception of the self, as it is being frequently associated with Ishvaara, and in such cases is associated with vocabulary which is distinctively in keeping with SaaMkhya. Whereas aatmán is found some 50 or more times throughout the RV, the occasions of púruSa number only 23--7 of these occasions are in the PuruSa Sukta (10.90) and 3 are in the praise of herbs (10.97).
There are very few occasions of púruSa, most of which suggest nothing of its meaning apart from 'person.' However, in 10.90 the word demonstrates what is arguably the most subtle doctrine of micro-macrocosmic significance in the RV. Nothing like this is found for any other word related to the self. Van Buitenen even mentions this feature of púruSa that it is "already" great/mahaán and world-encompassing by the time of its appearance in 10.90 (1964: 104 n.2). As noted above, Elizarenkova has suggested that púruSa, for instance, may well represent borrowing from another language (1995: 67). The origins of the word púruSa lie outside the boundaries this study. The likelihood that the relationship of púruSa to aatmán and tanuú in the construction of a composite self in the Yajur Vedic ritual indicates a heirarchy of competing notions of the self as represented in these terms warrants further examination.
The use of púruSa to represent a social "person" or self is suggested in the earliest traditional etymology of the term. Yaaska attends to the etymology of púruSa twice, in the first and second Adhyaaya's. First he etymologizes it by way of explicating proper derivations of substantives as puruSaM purishaaya ity aacakSiiran (N. 1.13). This suggests puruSa derives from puri and shaya: city-dweller. Puri derives from 3.-pur: a rampart, fortress, or town. Shaya from 1.-shii (to repose, lie down), means to rest or abide--in effect, "one who sits in a city." Less pragmatic and sociological in tone, but not altogether abandoning the link with puri, is the
There is some variance in the Western lexicons regarding the primary meanings of púruSa. Böthlingk (1959, III: 100), Mayrhofer (1956, II: 312), and Mylius (1975: 288) all suggest "Mann, Mensch, Person, Diener." Graßmann's interpretation largely follows suit, after initially suggesting "Der Grundbegriff ist vieleicht 'Seele' . . . als das den Leib erfüllende [von pur], daher der Geist, die Lebenskraft 'der Pflanzen;' die ähnlich wie manuSa" (1964: 833). As "die Lebenskraft 'der Pflanzen,'" the conception is directly suggested in RV 10.51.8 in which Agni is described as the puruSa of plants. Interestingly, however, Geldner suggests "den Mann der Pflanzen" (1951, III: 213). Graßmann, however, seems more in keeping with Yaaska's derivation from -puu implying "filling." Of course, Graßmann's lexicon is concerned primarily with the RV, but this does not explain the silence of the others on the matter. Monier-Williams follows Böthlingk, et al, and much later in his sequence of meanings he suggests "animating principle" (1899: 637), while Apte does not suggest anything other than a social entity (man, person, etc.), until his tenth iteration, with "soul" (1988: 626).
The "social" sense of púruSa is certainly supported in the significations of the cosmic púruSa and its representation of the caste system in RV 10.90. Similarly, as discussed in Chapter 6, the púruSa is mentioned in reference--among other things--to the social role of householder in a discussion of how the tanuú of Agni affords protection as does the house for a householder. The púruSa is also used to denote the general populace in AV 6.133.3 from which Yama solicits an individual (mRtyór aháM brahmacaarií yadasmi niryaácan bhuutaát puruSaM yamaáya). It seems to be a designation of the human species in AV 3.28.5 where it is juxtaposed with animals/pashuúMsh (táM lokáM yamíny abhisáMbabhuuva saá no
As with the previous terms, secondary studies are equally scarce. Brian Smith has suggested that Prajaapati comes to replace púruSa in the BraahmaNas in terms of its significations as the archetypical center of creation (1989: 54-55). Bodewitz suggests that púruSa and aatmán alike cannot "be concretized as a soul concept" (1991: 48). Whatever this might mean--in Bodewitz' defense I do not have access to the original Dutch edition of his article--he does indicate that púruSa is "the person."37 Here again we find ourselves begging our own question, however, because the meaning of púruSa, "person," and Mensch are equally ambiguous.
More than any other translation, however, "person" is favored for púruSa. The use of the word in the oldest parts of the RV would appear to support this as púruSa signifies mortals who are vulnerable to sin and in need of divine assistance (4.12.4a, 7.57.4b, repeated in 10.15.6b, see Chapters 4 and 5). AAtmán and púruSa appear together in 10.97 twice, to refer to the healing of the púruSa by means of the herbs and it is the aatmán that is called back from the state of being diseased while the púruSa is simply a human. RV 10.51 speaks of the "púruSa of plants"/púruSaM óshadhiinaam as Agni's share of the sacrifice. Apart from 10.90, this occasion in 10.51.8 is the only time púruSa has abstract significations. Of any word considered thus far, púruSa is the most elusive in terms of finding a working understanding. Considering its designation as a simple mortal in most occasions of the RV, púruSa will first be considered, as Bodewitz suggests, to be "person."
"Brahman" presents a different kind of ambiguity. For instance, in the RV, bráhman (neuter) refers to a power which generally is invoked by prayer or incantation, while brahmán (masculine) refers to the priest (Elizarenkova, 1995: 97). As she notes, however, the designation of the neuter is hardly a hard-and-fast rule, though it offers a starting point for sorting this word's plethora of polysemantic significations. For instance, one must also determine when--or even if--Brahma, the deity is intended. Even more significant a challenge for this study is the fact that throughout the RV, both early and later portions, bráhman has nothing to do with the
Where the compiler of the NighaNTu found brahma to be sufficiently multivalent to include among the list of unclear words (2.7, 2.10), Yaaska's commentary upon the NighaNTu does not seem to reflect the same uncertainty. Forms of bráhman are employed throughout the text to clarify of other terms, but no etymology is provided for bráhman itself. However, this is implied in N 2.12 where he says, directly after a gloss of BRhaspati as Brahmaa, that bRhat had already been explained. The closest he comes to an etymology, and the implied reference in 2.12, arises in N 1.7, a discussion of bRhát as a synonym of mahaán. Later, in N 1.8, bráhmaa is discussed as sarvavídyaH, sárvaM veditum arhati, and so forth.38
Bráhman has received no lack of attention by scholars, including careful studies by Gonda (1950) and Paul Thieme (1952). Western lexicons echo the general resonance between bRhát and bráhman, and also recognize the several etymologies offered in Middle and Late Vedic literature, and the subsequent darshana's in the post-Vedic period. Böthlingk largely follows the parameters allowed in Yaaska's usage for bráhman: "die als Drang und Fülle des Gemüths auftretende und den Göttern zustebende Andacht, überh. jede fromme Aeußerung beim Gottesdienst, ein heiliger Spruch, das heilige Wort, heilige Weisheit, Theologie, heiliges Leben" (Böthlingk, 1959: 236). Mylius also adds "Frömmigkeit, Keuschheit," also, "Brahmanenkaste," with Böthlingk (1975, II: 332). Mayrhofer follows Thieme (1952) with "älteste faßbare Bedeutung etwa Formung, Gestaltung, Formulierung" (1956, II: 452). Graßmann, somewhat more discursively, suggests "Erhebung des Gemüthes, fromme Begeisterung, das ausgesprochene Gebet, sei es Preis, Dank oder Bitte, die fromme Herzensergießung, Kraft der Begeisterung, mit der die Götter herrliche Thaten wirken" (1964: 916). Monier-Williams specifies a derivation from 2. -bRh, "'growth,' 'expansion,' 'evolution,' 'development,' 'swelling of the spirit or soul' . . . pious effusion or utterance, outpouring of the heart in worshipping the gods, prayer" (1899: 737).
Brahmán (m.), by contrast, shows little substantial deviation in the lexicon being always variously identified with the priest, officiant, or reciter
It is my suggestion beginning in Chapter 4 that bráhman represents an independent power, pure energy variously invoked by a range of priests, which frequently is indistinguishable from Thieme's sense of an efficacious formula. Identifying the beginnings and later development of bráhman from this meaning into a concept which came to be associated so closely with the identity or essence/aatmán will be considered in Chapter 5 and, especially, Chapter 6.
While the issues of "identity" with regard to one's birth into the brahmáNa caste could be addressed under conceptions of self, this becomes an issue more appropriately addressed in sociology, anthropology, and similar disciplines. However, several observations regarding brahmán in the RV have necessitated an examination of its changing use. First, the designation of a priest as brahmán is quite uncommon--only 17 times in the older books as opposed to 50 or more with vípra, R'Si, and kaví. More relevant for this study is the fact that it is the vípra, R'Si or kaví who is said to evoke bráhman almost exclusively (the only exception in the Family Books is 6.45.7). Therefore I have included in Chapters 4 and 5 a discussion of the relative frequency and identifiable distinctions between each category of priest (by the time of the later literature R'Si, kaví, and vípra are almost nonexistent while brahmán is the predominant word for a priest associated with prayer).39
Naturally, by the time of the Middle Vedic literature the active composition of the canon hymns is no longer as central as is the proper recitation of them at appropriate times in the ritual, thus partly accounting for the decrease of references to priest-composers (i.e., R'Si's, kaví's, and vípra's). In turn, however, bráhman is also rarely found in the same verse with R'Si's, kaví's, or vípra's, further underscoring its independence as a power to be invoked--cf. Elizarenkova--than as a power which served the wishes of the poet. Bráhman certainly responds to the poets, but only if
Yaaska's implication of "sárva" (N. 1.8) is not inconsistent--at least according to Middle and Late Vedic speculations--with the all-pervading, going, and obtaining nature of aatmán, thus easily correlating late UpaniSadic and Vedaantic speculations on the aatmán-bráhman relation. In the current study, it will be very important to trace the thread of development from Early Vedic uses of bráhman to this later doctrinal significance. For the initial period of the literature, bráhman designates the power invoked by a prayer or invocation which is, however, independent of that prayer. This power has the potential to strengthen/várdhan a deity or achieve other ends, but is only efficacious if the poet or speaker is righteous. As power is a somewhat ambiguous term with respect to the sacred context in which a prayer is uttered, I am going to work with a general translation of pure energy which conveys the potency, the sacredness, and the relative independence which bráhman represents.
A note regarding ahám
Yaaska discusses ahám in context of the three forms of address in the Veda: the direct, which uses the second-person/madhyamapuruSa in both pronoun and verbal conjugation; the indirect, which uses verbs of the prathamapuruSa (equivalent to the English third-person); and self-invocation--which uses verbs in the first person and the first-person pronoun, the uttamapuruSa (N 7.1-2). The indirect and direct forms of address do not use the uttamapuruSa pronoun, instead it is left implied by verbal conjugation. The uses of ahám are claimed by Yaaska to be a flag for self-invocation: athaadhyaatmikya uttamapuruSayogaaH, though he says later in 7.3 that these are few.
The self-invocations, or athaadhyaatmikya which use the first person/uttamapuruSa, are of two primary kinds, those uttered by a priest, and those in which a priest speaks as a god in first person, or the aatmastuti. The first type occupies most of the occurrences of ahám. These are the occasions where a priest refers to the praise he has uttered and/or its efficacy. For example, concerning the discussion above of tmán, we see ahám in a passage invoking the self-generated powers of PuuSan and Vaayu through the deliberate, self-conscious effort of the priest in RV 5.43.9:
prá távyaso námarktiM turásyaa
aahám puuSNá utá vaayór adikSi |
yaá raádhasaa coditaáraa matiinaáM
yaá vaájasya draviNodaá utá tmán ||
"I have presented this praise of worship to the strong triumphant PuuSan and for Vaayu; to them who, by their beneficence are its inspiration, and of their own nature give power as their own to give."40 Consistent with the discussion above which suggests that tmán draws attention to an inherent or self-evident intrinsic power which is part of a person or god's nature, it is not surprising that the self-invocation of the priest is found elsewhere with tmán, as in 2.32.4a-b addressed to various deities:
raakaám aháM suhávaaM suSTutií huve
shRNótu naH subhágaa bódhatu tmánaa |
"I call to Raakaa the easily invoked with excellent praise; may she, with blessedness, hear us and waken herself to us."41 Ahám identifies the speaker's conviction and affirmation of his own effectiveness and power in his praise. These occasions of ahám and others like them are the greatest in number as compared with the aatmastuti which is identified in only a few hymns.42 However, as the recent study by George Thompson (1997b) indicates, there is not a great deal of difference between both self-affirmation and aatmastutis insofar as the self-assertion of the speaker is concerned.
In the aatmastuti, it is the god speaking in first person (through the priest who is asserting himself43 via "ahám" and elevating himself from the realm of humans to that of the gods). The construction leaves little doubt as to the assumption of divine identity by the priest. This phenomenon is especially favored by the Vaamadevas of RV 4, who use it several times, e.g., 4.26.1f. in which Indra identifies himself as appearing in the form of Manu and Suurya (ahám mánur abhavam suúryas ca) and then proceeds to enumerate his deeds. In 4.27.1-2, the poet takes the identity of The Falcon, and in 4.42.2a, and 3a, the poet takes on the identity of VaruNa (aháM raájaa váruNo, --2a; ahám índro váruNas, --3a) and then enumerates his deeds as that identity in 4.42.4, 6.
In these early passages ahám signifies a point where the poet actively places himself into communion with gods and humans. Much as tmán marks a node of self-generative quality or characteristic in the realm of gods to which humans seek access, ahám serves as a podium, or lectern, from which the priest draws special attention to himself or the deity for an efficacious invocation marking the deity with the priest's praise, and em
Is there a "self" as a distinct conception identifiable in the aatmastuti or the "signature lines"? Unfortunately there are not many occasions where any terminology for the self is found with occurrences of ahám. As above in RV 2.32 and 5.43 with tmán, the deity's inherent or self-evident qualities are affirmed, but this is not necessarily occasioned by ahám as will be seen in Chapters 4-5 with the other occasions of tmán. This does not preclude the possibility that the aatmastuti marks the development of a notion of self. It simply indicates that there is no close association of ahám in these hymns with the other key terms for the self. This is not necessarily the case, however, in the later Vedic literature where the invocation of ahám is pivotal for passages where the self is related with death or with the cosmogonic ritual of creation. For instance, the Jaiminiiya BraahmaNa (1.18) tells of how the sun inquires who a man is after death (kas tvam asi), and the appropriate answer is ko'ham asmi: "who am I." The statement/question is a pun wherein one of the names of Prajaapati is Ka/who. Prajaapati is a symbol of the year as is the sun because both represent a complete cycle as does death. If man who has died
It is not possible, however, to be certain that the development of the notion of the self in the Early Vedic literature was specifically related to the self-assertive uses of ahám by the poets. Thompson's discussion does, however, draw attention to the importance of assertions of identity--those with ahám--for developing notions of the self. As will be seen in the following chapters from the relatively limited use of tmán, its disappearance coincides with the increasingly existential use of aatmán and púruSa. In addition, in the occasions where tmán is used, its primary function is to establish a characteristic as intrinsic to, or inherently a part of, a deity's existence. To conclude the current discussion, however, ahám is reserved primarily for self-referential utterances of the priest who is deliberately presenting himself as pre-eminently qualified to praise to a deity.
A note regarding svayám
The self-designation, reflexive reference, or connotation of sameness in Vedic is consistently conveyed by svayám. Its use from the earliest portions of the RV throughout the subsequent periods of Vedic literature attests to the complexity of the Vedic notion of the self. Monier-Williams suggests that svayám might derive from the nominative singular of the possessive pronoun svá in a similar fashion to ahám (1899: 1278). The meaning of svayám however is more specialized with regard to the notion of the self in Vedic than is svá as noted already in the Introduction. Svayám is often used with another pronoun or, as in the examples below, with the words related to the self. It perfectly encompasses the sameness (ipse-identity) and selfhood (idem-identity) of "self" as it is used in English for phrases like self-determination, self-discovery, the thing itself, etc. It does not have an independent of nominalized meaning in the Early and Middle Vedic Literature as "the self." When used with the other words for the self it adds emphasis in the same way as we would say "he, himself." In later literature, the sense of svayám as "the self" is pronounced as suggested, for instance, in Amarakosha 3.5.16 (svayamaatmanaa).
The sense of svayám which indicates sameness as opposed to
As noted earlier, tanuú can be self-designating in the manner of ipse-identity without the addition of svayám (e.g., the well-born Agni pays worship to his presence/tanuú in 10.7.6d: evaá yajasva tanváM sujaata). Accordingly, it is worth considering what occasions the use of svayám to underscore this sameness. In RV 7.8.5d the well-born/sujaata Agni is called to increase or strengthen his very presence/tanuú (svayáM vardhasva tanváM sujaata). The role of the fire in ritual is well-attested and this emphasis upon its presence is consistent. The use of svayám empahsizes that the fire itself is to be strengthened. In other cases, Agni and forms of -vRdh are found where svayám is not used such as in 6.9.4d ('martyas tanvaá várdhamaanaH). The hymn is a more general praise of Agni Vaishvaanara in which general characteristics of his presence--e.g., immortality--are listed.
Svayám draws attention to the specific characteristic which is desired by the worshipper. This is not to be understood in the same way as the function of tmán which indicates that the specific characteristic is an identifying or inherent part of the deity's presence. In fact, svayám is never used with tmán. It would exceedingly redundant to say, in effect, "Indra's own strength its same self." With tanuú, however, its meaning as "presence" is not so self-evidently reflexive as tmán and thus it is augmented with svayám in order to underscore the specificity of the characteristic chosen for praise. In 7.56.11d the Maruts, frequently spoken of as having beauteous tanuú's, decorate their very self-same tanuú (utá svayáM tanváH shúmbhamaanaaH). Similarly, Vishvakarman the "All-maker" is praised for having made the universe in a primordial sacrifice (Maurer, 1986: 277f.). Consistent with the Vedic sense of time where a past act is called forth in the present to affect the future, RV 10.81.5d calls upon his
In the later literature svayám is formed in compounds for several well-known terms such as the svayámvara--one's own choice, used to refer most frequently to a woman's choice of her husband such as in the Nala tale. More relevant to the current study is svayámbhuu, or self-being, self-existent. It is only found twice in the SaMhitaas, in RV 10.83.4b and TS 184.108.40.206. In RV 10.83, a hymn addressed to Manyu the spirited or energetic (angry?) one, svayámbhuu appears in a list of his praises as fierce and triumphant (tváM hí manyo abhíbhuutyojaaH svayambhuúr bhaámo abhimaatiSaaháH). In TS 220.127.116.11 a discussion of the placement of fire in the Agnicaayana refers to the fire as self-existant (sá eva tásya syaadáto hyeSa sambhávaty eSa vaí svyambhuurnaam bhávaty).
It is apparent that the notion of self-existence is a later occurence in the Vedic literature which had not developed in the early period. Somewhat more common is the compound svayámkRt, self-made. It is used in the discussions of sacrifice such as to describe the védi as self-made in the Raajasuuya in TS 18.104.22.168 (svayáMkRtaa védir bhavati). It appears to be a slightly later term as it is not used in the same discussion in MS 2.6.5 (a passage of accented prose or Mantra Language) while it is used in the slightly later KS 15.5 (in unnacented SaMhitaa Prose which is, again, a later strata of language style than Mantra Language--see Chapter 3).
The use of svayám in the Vedic vocabulary adds dimension to the Vedic notion of the self by affirming the sameness and identity of particular characteristics of deities and humans on specific occasions. While aatmán and tmán have a self-reflexive or sense of sameness which is integral to their meaning, tanuú does not. When svayám is added to tanuú, it underscores that a given characteristic is identified with the deity--e.g., the strengthening of the fire--in a specific way. In the absence of svayám tanuú can also be self-reflexive for example RV 3.1.1d has Agni being joyful in himself or in his presence/tanuú (agníM tanváM juSasva). Of course, it works as well in such cases to say that Agni is joyful in his presence as the same meaning is conveyed. The addition of svayám serves to add emphasis which is not otherwise immediately so clear with tanuú as it is, for instance, with aatmán and tmán. It is interesting to note, as well, that púruSa has neither a self-reflexive meaning nor is it used with svayám. Apparently the aspect of its meaning as person in a social context
For the primary terms, the functional or working definitions are: aatmán
derived variously from -at/go or -aap/reach, obtain, for Yaaska, and -an/to breathe in the West, it is a central referent for self or soul, is dynamic in both its verb roots and suggested etymologies, and is a pervader equally as well of both humans and deities, it is the central or primary active function of a deity or human, often it is more expressive to translate it as active essence or identity, though both senses can also mean self, it can also be used reflexively to mean itself/himself/herself
thin, attenuated, point of coalescence between the body and life, "den Körper fahren lassen, das Leben aufgeben;" the presence of humans which is most frequently frail, and of deities which can show a variety of manifestations according to the request or praise made by a worshipper, it has self-reflexive meanings but is frequently augmented with svayám
possible predecessor to aatman, vital breath, self, soul, self-referential pronoun, emphatic particle pointing to an inherent, or identifying characteristic of a deity in a strongly reflexive sense
from -pRii/fill, blow into, or pur + -shi/ to sit or repose in a city, also signifying Mensch, Person, self, and so on, closer to aatman as with -pRii, or social self or person as with western lexicons and, for instance, RV 10.90.
no etymologies in Yaaska, but associated with sárva-, mahaán, all-knowing, pervading, great, a power most frequently prompted by, but independent of, prayer, a pure energy
These various working definitions of the terms are analyzed below according to their change over time within and between texts. This analysis
The semantic field methodology--examining a key term with respect to its use and relation to those terms adjacent to it--accommodates an integration of both synchronic and diachronic analyses. I am dividing the synchronic and diachronic components of the dissertation according to the order of implementation for each type of analysis. I have already considered each term and the existing scholarship on its meaning in Early Vedic. This second part of the synchronic analysis presents the actual tools applied to the appearances of the terminology in each passage.
The reader will notice that many examples chosen for each category of analysis involve cases of the word tanuú. Several factors bear upon this. The uses of tanuú relate to the most central questions in this study as this word is predominant in the Early and much of the Middle Vedic periods. Also, tanuú is more prominent in early Vedic than other terms like aatmán, tmán and púruSa. Finally, and perhaps most intriguing, even in anomalous cases--e.g., the one case of khálu in the RV--the hymn or passage invariably also includes an occurrence of tanuú. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, the process of trying to resolve some of the more intractable passages led me to consult those materials--e.g., Witzel--that address the historical significance of linguistic change. Tanuú is noteworthy both because of its frequency and, even moreso, its appearance in almost every passage containing a unique occurrence of one or another form or linguistic anomally. It is therefore to be expected that the examples provided for each category of analysis below are largely concerned with tanuú.
From the work of Elizarenkova, I am utilizing her notion of the expressive category of polysemy and synonymy, the distinction between the language of gods and that of men, as well as the phonetic choices made by the R'Sis. Accordingly, in my analysis of each passage in question I will consider both literal and implied meaning. Overt meaning is, of course, the meaning of a word in a passage. Implied meaning brings to bear the image of the terminological, metric, and phonetic palette which Elizarenkova suggests each R'Si had in hand for the composition of a hymn. In addition, words carried different weight according to whether they were employed as
In the passages below we see the implied level of meaning repeatedly with tanuú, which carries two very different connotations: a multiple range of beneficent presences when referring to a god, as opposed to a frail and vulnerable presence/tanuú when referring to a human. The implied meaning becomes more complex as we see tanuú meaning something quite glorious--divinely glowing--when referring to humans in battle (e.g., RV 6.25.4b: tanuurúcaa táruSi yát kRNváte). The implied level of language can also exist entirely on the phonetic plane of a hymn where a deity is "mentioned" by play upon the sound of its name rather than the poet ever actually naming the deity.44
These synchronic categories of analysis enable a high level of precision when tracing the development of Early Vedic ideas from their earliest form in the RV Family Books to the later portions of the RV and the Middle Vedic literature. Keeping precise track of these developments is facilitated by the timeline of Vedic literary development (presented in Chapter 3) combined with the application of specific criteria of linguistic change. "Tracing the Vedic Dialects" (Witzel, 1989) provides much of the information for the Middle Vedic chronology and the criteria for linguistic analysis, in addition to Keith (1875), Weber (1892), etc. I am employing such observations as the regional and temporal changes suggested by infinitives with the form toH (Witzel, 1989: 155f.), and so forth. In the following sections I will introduce first the synchronic categories of analysis most effectively presented by Elizarenkova45--polysemy, synonymy, human/divine language, and phonetics--followed by an introduction to some of the linguistic variations suggested by Keith, Lüders, Witzel, etc., which can be readily applied to the material examined in Chapters 4-6.
The application of both categories of synchronic analysis--juxtaposed in this way--is consistent with the expressed intent of both Elizrenkova and Witzel. Elizarenkova describes hers as a synchronic study within the bounds of which she addresses diachronic questions: e.g., a synchronic analysis of a given passage may address the diachronic question of "the language of the gods" vs. "the language of men" (1995: 8). However, it is important to specify that, in the way I am categorizing the present study, synchronic analysis includes the category of gods-vs.-men within the
In many ways, this section presents the crux of the question underlying this dissertation: How can scholars most accurately examine the manifold terms related to the self, which variously replace one another without any apparent pattern in differing semantic contexts, and which themselves appear to change in meaning over time? For instance, with aatmán and praaNá we encounter both polysemy and synonymy: there is polysemy when it appears that aatmán can mean self, body, or breath; there is synonymy when both aatmán and praaNá are rendered as breath in some translations. It is predominantly Monier-Williams (1889: 135) who suggests the derivations from -an/to breathe and -va/to blow, however, cf. Maurer (1996).
There is a susceptibility to subjectivity in these categories. As soon as I suggest that a pair of terms are synonymous, I have made the assumption that both share the same essential meaning. This is not far removed from the manner in which the previous studies mentioned in Chapter 1, such as Narahari (1944) and Sharma (1972), begin with an idea of what the terminology for the self means and proceed to find it in every passage, no matter
Synonymy and polysemy can be best used to categorize the starting point of an inquiry. For example, tanuú seems prone to polysemy when it can be taken to mean both "self" and "body" in many early contexts. However, even in English, "body" is plagued--for these purposes--with polysemy. It can mean a generic reference to an individual such as in "somebody" or, in Holden Caulfield's mantra of choice in Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, "When a body meets a body comin' through the rye." It can also mean a corporeal presence. This latter meaning of body applies to some of the cases of tanuú as well, and could well explain why translators have chosen to use body for tanuú. The matter of the corporeal body is discussed in great detail below in Chapters 4 and again in 5. For the current example, I will consider only the "generic individual" meaning--unless indicated otherwise--when I suggest "body" for tanuú.
RV 4.16.14a-b praises Indra, who places "himself"/tanuú next to the sun (suúra upaaké tanvàM dádhaano ví yát te céty amR'tasya várpaH). Translating tanuú as "body" would apparently work equally as well. But in RV 2.17.7 Indra is asked to show the particular tanuú which makes people glad (kRdhí praketám úpa maasy aá bhara daddhí bhaagáM tanvií yéna maamáhaH). Again, a case can be made for either "self" or "body," though the former seems a little less strained. The situation is somewhat more difficult when we apply what Elizarenkova called diachrony within synchrony. Her suggestion of diachrony is the reference of a hymn or mantra to the gods as opposed to men.
As mentioned above, this is what Renou calls the realm of "propice" which refers to a cosmology in which the deities are the powers which must aid and protect frail humans. In this study, I am distinguishing--within Renou's notion of "propice"--the language of the gods as those occasions of a term which refer to deities. Consequently, the language of humans is found in those occasions where the same term is used in reference to mortals. In short, I am using Elizarenkova's terminology--language of gods/humans (1995: 8)--to describe the relationship outlined by Renou as "propice." This relationship is a synchronic category of analysis. The dia
When we consider the use of tanuú in reference to the human realm, its meaning shows almost no variation, referring almost always to a frail, sin-prone, vulnerable "self" or "body."47 Hymns repeatedly seek divine assistance for this tanuú of the mortal realm (e.g., Agni called to be a protector of the tanuú in 5.4.9c-d: ágne atriván námasaa gRNaanií 'smákam bodhy avitaá tanuúnaam). Here it might even work to translate tanuúnaam as "our lives." As soon as we consider this possible translation, we compound the polysemy of tanuú as self, body, and life; with the possible synonymy of aayú, ásu, jiivá, and now tanuú, all of which seem to mean life in various ways.48
As demonstrated in the first section of this chapter, it is not inaccurate to translate tanuú as "self" or "body" if the sense meant is like that of "everybody, somebody" and "themselves/itself." These do not work well for smooth translation in the early RV and in much of the later RV. The synchronic analysis of these few passages reveals the polysemy of tanuú both among the references to the gods and those to the realm of humans, combined with the synonymy of aayú, ásu, and jiivá with tanuú in the realm of humans.
Elizarenkova suggests that modern Vedic scholars must allow for categories of semantic syncretism which are different from our own such that the same word might operate differently depending on its semantic field (1995: 29). Thus the synchronic analysis--from the early books of the RV alone--has sharpened the issue of tanuú by identifying polysemic contexts where it has the sense of body or self (such as when its semantic field reflects the divine realm), and an additional context where it is synonymous with other words for life when it refers to the existence of humans as frail (when the semantic field refers to the mortal realm).
These few occasions are examples of the polysemy and synonymy found with tanuú which make it necessary to find a meaning that will unobtrusively work in both categories. "Presence" functions effectively in each case: Indra places his presence/tanuú by the sun and turns toward humans that presence/tanuú which gladdens them, while the continued presence/tanuú of humans upon the earth requires the protection of Agni. In each case, "presence" means something slightly different. The word "presence" not only accommodates the various meanings in this limited example, such as body (because a gladdening presence would be physically
While it is valuable to identify workable translations for each term related to the self, it is still the primary focus of this study to examine how each changes. It may seem like I am stating the obvious, but when reading each passage in Sanskrit, tanuú is always tanuú. In order to effectively apply the diachronic analysis it is easier to address a term like tanuú--which does change over time to mean a more and more physical presence--with the same word in translation. This provides a constant for the reader to compare from passage to passage without confusing the issue by using body in one place, self in another, and continuously clarifying: "I mean body as in 'everybody' here," and "I mean 'body' as in the physical sense here," etc. It removes some of the idiomatic unpredictability of interpretation in translation if consistency is observed with pivotal words such as those related to the self. Still, following the suggestion of Witzel in "How to Enter the Vedic Mind," I will clarify that it is tanuú that I am rendering as--mostly--presence or body on each occasion below.
Accordingly, when the synchronic analysis of tanuú is applied in the later RV, we can identify a distinct diachronic change in its meaning when its semantic field includes aatmán, one of the later terms related to individual existence. Take for example the use of tanuú and aatmán in RV 8.3.24a: aatmán pitús tanuúr vaása (see Chapter 5). The tanuú is the garment or clothing while aatmán is the vital essence or food in a testament to the great quality of the sacrificial fee/dakSina given to the R'Si of this hymn. Considering what we have indicated above with aatmán: that its early uses show it to be a core essence--usually indispensable and animate--of deities and living beings, translating tanuú as presence is an accurate way to describe the outer function of clothing in this passage. The food is the essence, the clothing is the presence/tanuú, i.e., what is present externally. Without question this implicit duality of internal/external reality indicates the development of a much more tangible, material meaning for tanuú, but one which is still accurately conveyed by presence. Another word such as appearance would be more abstract than needed for the association of tanuú with clothing or garments/vaása. Similarly, translating tanuú as body would indicate what clothing is placed onand the grammar
These examples indicate how one kind of synchronic analysis presents the range of meanings which are possible for a word. In this way, it is possible to assign to each key term a working translation which makes it possible to focus upon the changes in how the word is used and associated with other terms in its semantic field instead of confusing the issue with changes in how the word is translated. This is one of the most important functions of synchronic analysis for this study: to focus the possible ambiguities of particular terms by revealing any cases of polysemy and synonymy, and comparing the applications of the word in the divine and human realms. These categories direct the questions by which the first level of diachronic analysis proceeds: the comparison between one semantic field and another, first within (where possible) and between hymns, then within and between MaNDala's, and finally across different periods in the chronological sequence.
Polysemy, synonymy, and divine/human language analyses are not the only categories of synchronic analysis which can be used to identify diachronic questions, but they do form the primary tools of analysis. Additional light can also be shed upon the synchronic analysis of word choice in a given passage with the examination of the phonetic content in the semantic field.
Synchronic Analysis II: Phonetic Choices
The phonetic choices relate to the choice of terminology for the self in several ways. Considering that there is a large palette of possible words related to the self from which a poet could choose, and that this takes place in an oral tradition carefully structured by meter and accent as well as sound-dominated rules of euphonic combination in the grammar (sandhi), certain occasions of inclusion or omission of various elements of vocabulary are significant. Elizarenkova feels she is drawing directly upon the exhortations of the Veda itself when she identifies this as a category of analysis for implied meaning in a passage, quoting RV 10.125.4d, from the hymn to Vaac (Speech): shrudhí shruta shraddhiváM te vadaami: "Listen, O famous one, I am telling thee (things) worthy of faith!" (1995: 135). Verse 4a-b makes clear that Vaac is the key by which one who comprehends this Veda eats/ánnam, perceives/vipáshyati, and who breaths/praáNiti 49 by hearing/shRNóty what is pronounced/uktám (máyaa só ánnam atti
In a discussion of what she terms Sprachmalerei ("verbal painting") with phonetics, Elizarenkova takes RV 9 as a prime example of the role played by phonetics in the R'Si 's choice of terminology. This MaNDala is composed entirely of hymns to purified Soma (the intoxicating or illuminating beverage sacred to Indra and central to the Vedic ritual)/soma pávamaana. She notes that the hymn is replete with phonetic word-play upon -su/to press and -pRR/to purify (1995: 129). One would expect to find púruSa in such a phonetic paradigm. However, not only is púruSa completely absent from RV 9, there are several occasions of the phonetically unrelated term aatmán.
This provides an example of expressive communication with phonetics by way of absence rather than presence. If púruSa and aatmán were largely synonymous, púruSa would be an obvious phonetic choice. For instance, aatmán is used to describe Soma Pavamaana's essentiality to the sacrifice with almost identical semantic fields in 9.2.10c (aatmaá yajñásya puurvyáH) and 9.6.8a (aatmaá yajñásya ráMhyaa). We cannot argue that only aatmán carries the sense of internal essence because púruSa conveys this meaning in 10.51.8c, where Agni requests the púruSa of plants as one of his shares of the sacrifice (ghRtáM caapaám púruSaM caúSadhiinaam). In addition the sacrificial púruSa of RV 10.90 from whom the entire cosmos is created also offers an applicable--though, perhaps, too expansive--sense of púruSa. Thus the introduction of the phonetic category of synchronic analysis with the 9th MaNDala provides an additional point of analysis which would not otherwise be apparent if our inquiry were confined to polysemy, synonymy, and the language of gods as opposed to that of humans.
The absence of púruSa is also significant in this MaNDala because the hymns have been drawn from the earlier collections. This makes the absence difficult to analyze,50 however, unless these instances were compared with the Saama Veda's additional 75 hymns (those not already included in the RV). It may be the case that púruSa is part of the Saama Veda, but not part of those hymns which are repeated in the RV. The Kauthuma Saama Veda contains 4 occurrences of púruSa and the Jaiminiiya Saama Veda contains 6 occurrences.51 This will be examined
The phonetic analysis begins synchronically with the verse in which a key word occurs. From there it can extend diachronic comparison to other hymns by the same family and to other chronological periods where a key word is found--or, as with RV 9, is not found.
Synchronic Analysis III: Linguistic Variations
In this category of analysis I am applying those observations of specific linguistic anomalies or geographical/historical variants identified by Witzel (1989) which are applicable to the Early and Middle Vedic material under examination in this study. The examples are not comprehensive, of course, but they serve to indicate the range of possible analyses which can be brought to bear upon a passage. In addition, these variations of linguistic form-and quite a few more like them--provide the justification for the intricate chronology of Middle Vedic literature which is presented in Chapter 3, and which draws extensively upon this data.
Witzel discusses phenomena which change over time from one period and region of a text to another. Unique occurrences of decidedly later phenomena--e.g., khálu/indeed, found only once in the RV in 10.34, the hymn of the gambler (Witzel, 1989: 193f.)--provide an additional filter through which the synchronic studies in this dissertation can be clarified. As it happens, RV 10.34.6b contains an occasion of tanuú (jeSyaámiíti tanvaá shuúshujaanaH). RV 10.27.2b reflects a similar semantic field (ádevayuun tanvaá shuúshujaanaan), discussed in detail in Chapter 5.
The repetition of the semantic field tanvaá shuúshujaanaan from 10.27 in 10.34 adumbrates that the gambler is just as foolish as a godless, wrongly sacrificing foe of Indra. In each case, we not only see evidence of a borrowing from earlier to later, but of an aspect of tanuú which indicates something more abstract than a corporeal body. The two passages suggest the tanuú means something similar to a demeanor or attitude. However, since RV 10.34 already may be identified as later than the rest of the RV,
Another characteristic which allows for specific placement in chronological sequence and, to a certain extent, geographic location is the infinitive verb form in -toH. The form appears 11 times in the RV, and of these Witzel identifies two which present themselves as an example of how these anomalies intersect with the study of terminology for the self. From the limited origins of toH in the RV, the form varies in frequency through the later texts after an increase in the KaaThaka SaMhitaa and less marked increase in the MaitrayaaNiiya SaMhitaa, indicating that in the initial Western development of the form it was more influential and then spread gradually, and not consistently, eastward. There are two cases where the peculiar infinitive is found in the formula iishe . . . *-toH, RV 6.18.11, 7.4.6 (1989: 159). RV 6.18 also contains tanuú in line 14c (divé jánaaya tanvé gRNaanáH) and 7.4 contains one of the few occasions of púruSa in the early books of the RV in 7.4.3c (ní yó gR'bham paúruSeyiim uvóca). RV 6.18.14 includes a use of tanuú which refers to Indra being lauded in his own nature. This is a more abstract sense of tanuú which, when considered with the regional variations represented by toH, might well account for the inconsistent change in tanuú to sometimes appear abstract as presence and at other times as more physical without any apparent temporal sequence.
These anomalies suggest some of the subtler themes of change which are examined in this study regarding the notion of the self. For RV 7.4.3, this occasion of púruSa simply signifies mortals--cf. mártaasaH in 3b--without the more metaphysical sense in 10.51 and 10.90. If, as suggested by Staal (1983: 138) and Kosambi (1950), cf. Sahota (1956) that the Vedic priests represented a mix of pre-Aryan and Aryan views, the checkered meaning of púruSa throughout the older and later books (in 7.102 puruSiíNaam, where Parjanya is germ/ gárbham of birth in women vs. 7.57.4b puruSátaa, referring to frail mortals) might be accounted for as a mixing of doctrines. Only in the latest period is the púruSa presented as abstract in two places: 10.51 where Agni seeks the púruSa of plants as his portion of the sacrifice and, of course, the lofty metaphysics of the primordial púruSa in 10.90 where the púruSa appears with a complex pre-existing metaphysics attested nowhere else in the RV. Accounting for such a sudden change--it stands in stark contrast to aatmán which nowhere in the RV has such auspicious significations--becomes easier when regional
Other variations include the shift from D- to L- in the later literature, and the genitive feminine singular in ai which, while primarily a BraahmaNa and Taittiriiya SaMhitaa trait (1989: 135), also shows up in the other SaMhitaa's. Witzel notes its occurrence in the PadapaaTha to the RV for 3.53.20 as a particularly remarkable occasion. RV 3.53 is discussed in detail in Chapter 3 as a later hymn, and Witzel takes the occasion here to suggest that the entire MaNDala might be of later origin; considering the peculiar uses of tanuú in 3.53 (see Chapters 3 and verse analysis with tanuú in Chapter 4, pp. 138 and 209f.), this could well be the case (1989: 138).
This chapter has presented in detail the two primary aspects of the synchronic analysis employed in this study. Each primary term which is under examination has been surveyed according to ancient commentary (Yaaska) and recent scholarship. In addition, the semantic fields surrounding each word will be examined with the assistance of the tools demonstrated in the second part of this chapter. Accordingly, synchronic analysis with polysemy and synonymy as central concerns effectively illuminates the initial range of possible uses for a term in each occurrence. This is further refined when the additional categories of divine-vs.-mortal language and phonetic word choice are considered. Finally, each of these synchronic tools of analysis can be extended to diachronic comparison of the results from each semantic field between different poets, texts, and chronological periods. With these synchronic tools and the terms to which they are applied set forth, it only remains to outline carefully the diachronic course of chronological sequence in the development of each text under examination. This will provide the control according to which the various semantic fields are compared.