Changes in the semantics between the Ṛgveda Saṃhitā and the Brāhamaṇas

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2014-10
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Asien- und Orientwissenschaften
Advisor: Butzenberger, Klaus (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2011-05-27
DDC Classifikation: 400 - Language and Linguistics
Keywords: Indologie , Linguistik , Philologie , Vedisch
Other Keywords: Ritual
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This research focuses on the changes in the semantics of the root van- / vani- shading a light on the duplicity of the Indo-European root *u̯en- / *u̯en-H. Moreover, the study offers an interpretation to account for the diastratic distribution of the meaning “to desire”, that is reconstructed for the Indo-European (I.E.) and Vedic levels. The possibility of reading the two different I.E. forms, *u̯en / *u̯en-H, meaning respectively “to win” and “to desire”, is quite problematic as far as the Vedic outcome is concerned: van- / vani- doesn’t show such symmetry between pseudo-morphologising phonetics and semantics. As early as the first Indian attestations we shall speculate a coalescence of the reconstructed verbal roots. This process has left no traces and we must assume a hiatus between the two I.E. forms and the Vedic one. The present work aims at proving that in the R̥gvedic text this opposition could be replaced by the nuclear meaning ‘to appropriate’- ‘to make one’s own’, that is deployed in most of the occurrences; beside it, a ritual meaning is used to convey the idea of evoking the gods to the sacrificial area. In the post-R̥gvedic Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas the verb hardly keeps its ritual value; it is rather employed to express the idea of an appropriation and a sharing, as a further development of the idea of transference, in any case no longer involving a ritual exchange. The different uses which van- / vani - undergoes, can be traced back to a change in the perception of the rite. The sacrifice of the post-R̥gvedic period had to be predictable, while the action of summoning the gods presupposes inspiration and the possibility of failure. The semantic field of desire could be arguably considered absent in the R̥gvedic occurrences, yet it is attested at the I.E. level and in the Atharvavedic tradition. The hypothesis of the author is that two linguistic traditions have survived independently: the one that came down to us through the R̥gveda Saṃhitā and the one that is partially recorded in the Atharvedic sources. In the latter the meaning “to desire” is clearly present, while in the first one has almost disappeared. The linguistic tradition fragmentary attested in the Atharvaveda texts hail from the I.E. period and it is plausible that it has continued –though we have but scanty attestations of it – later on through the Vedic period. We could image it as hidden, submersed wave that comes rhapsodically to the surface. What we see in the Atharvaveda occurrences is a social counterpart of the ritual meaning eventually lost in the Brāhmaṇas. This reconstruction is an attempt to account for the different developments of verbal root. The nuclear meaning, and even more the ritual meaning, which were alive in the R̥gvedic period, fade away in the Brahmanical period, i.e. when the redactional enterprise to create a common rite took place, while the meaning “to desire” which was at the very outset not connected with this part of the society, escaped, as it were, this vanishing process. The examination of the root van- / vani- furnished us with a deeper understanding of the perception of ritual within the passages between the R̥gveda Saṃhitā and the liturgical texts; on the top of it, has provided important elements on the strong presence within the Vedic society of what may be called “heterodox” groups leaving their traces within the texts.

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