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Two Vedic notes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


Grassmann, in his Wörterbuch zum Rig-Veda (1872), has two separate entries kīrí subst. (m) and kīrín both adj. and subst. (m). To the former he assigns the meaning ‘singer’ and to the latter ‘praising’ and ‘singer’. He lists three occurrences of the forms of kīrín, two as instr. sg. kīríṇā 5.4.10 (= TS and 5.40.8, and one as nom. pl. kīríṇas 5.52.12. But the form kīríṇā can as well be derived from kīrí and for this form a separate stem kīrín would not be necessary. But this is not true of kīríṇas. For its derivation, a stem kīrín would be necessary. The verse where the form in question occurs runs: chandaḥstúbhaḥ kubhanyáva útsam ā kīríḥo nṛtuḥ. The line refers to the dancing of the Maruts near the útsa The author of the Padapāṭha gives the Saṃhitā word as kīríṇas, and following him scholars have interpreted the form as nom. pl. of kīrín and translated it as ‘bards’ or ‘singers’. But it is also possible to analyse the Saṃhitā text kīríṇo nṛtuḥ as kīríṇā u nṛtuḥ where kīríṇā could be instr. sg. and can come from the stem kīrí. The line would then mean that the Maruts danced, and the singer of the hymn, to whom they had manifested themselves (té me … āsan dṛśí … ‘they (i.e. the Maruts) appeared to me’ 5.52.12) danced with them too. In this interpretation we are going against only the Padapāṭha.

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Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1974

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1 BR (Wörterbuch) has only kīrí (subst.), but the shorter dictionary of Böhtlingk and Mayrhofer's EWA, I, 1956Google Scholar, have both kīrí and kīrín. According to Böhtlingk the former is a subst., the latter an adj., while according to Mayrhofer both are adj. Mayrhofer (p. 215) thinks that kīrí ‘small, humble, poor’ is perhaps a loan from Dravidian. But on p. 565 he refers to Bailey, , TPS, 1955, 63Google Scholar, who compares kīrí ‘weak, poor’ with Iranian—Khotanese khīraa ‘sad, depressed’—and suggests the identification of a base kī beside khī with the meaning ‘depressed’. The etymology of kīrín, which M. translates as possibly ‘romping’, is according to him ‘unsicher’.

2 Grassmann (Wörterbuch) s.v. kīrí makes a suggestion to read kīríṇe in the place of kīríṇā in ṚV 1.100.9. This would then be another form (dative) to be derived from kīrín. But this suggestion is not approved by Oldenberg, , Ṛgveda-Textkr. und exeg. Noten, 1909, I, 96Google Scholar, who remarks ‘Der Instrum. aber ist tadellos…’. Geldner, also, as his translation ‘mit dem Armen’ (Der Rig- Veda, I, 1951)Google Scholar indicates, does not accept Grassmann's suggestion.

3 Wackernagel-Debrunner, , Altind. Gr., III, § 147, p. 279, noteGoogle Scholar. Geldner, , Der Rig- Veda, IIGoogle Scholar, also derives kīríṇā in 5.4.10 and 5.40.8 from kīrí and translates it with ‘bloss’. See his note on 5.40.8 where he details the different shades of meaning to be obtained from the basic meaning ‘bloss’.

4 According to Geldner, , Der Rig-Veda, II, 58Google Scholar, footnote on 12b, útsa is perhaps the Soma tub (‘Somakufe’) and at the same time it alludes to the Gotama legend of ṚV 1.85.11. According to Lüders, , Varuṇa, II, Göttingen, 1959, 384–5Google Scholar, útsa is the inexhaustible source or the container which the Maruts milk, swell, or pour out for the thirsty and around which they dance.

5 BardenGeldner, , Der Rig- Veda, II, 58Google Scholar; SängerLüders, , Varuṇa, II, 386Google Scholar. Geldner thus clearly distinguishes kīrín (subst.) from kīrí (adj.) possibly assuming a different etymology.

6 On this supposed hapax legomenon see Kuiper, F. B. J., Indian Linguistics, XIX, 1958, 361–2Google Scholar. He considers Skt. ✓krīḍ and ✓*kīr to be of foreign origin <*kīḍ. In the first, the cerebral ḍ of the foreign word is kept intact but the initial simple consonant is replaced by a cluster with r; in the second, the foreign ḍ is rendered by r. He translates kīrin ‘frisking, dancing’. This explanation of kīrin has, however, certain difficulties of which the author himself shows awareness.

7 BR (Wōrterbuch) and Mayrhofer, (EWA, II, 1963)Google Scholar also have two entries for manā.

8 According to BR it is perhaps to be derived from ✓mā ‘to measure’. According to Mayrhofer, (EWA, II, 574)Google Scholar it is a designation of a golden ornament, etymologically perhaps related to Skt. maṇi.

9 He (Der Rig-Veda, ii, footnote on 8.78.2) declares manā to be uncertain, semantically as well as formally. In the next footnote, however, he wonders whether manā can be related to carmamná ‘tanner’ (’Longerber’) which occurs in 8.5.38. He further refers to 8.1.32b where sáhá tvacā hiraṇyáyā is rendered by him as ‘samt goldener Schabracke’.

10 Böhtlingk's shorter dictionary and MW have only one manā with the meanings of manā 1 of Grassmann.

11 This seems to be the meaning of vyáñjana and abhyáñjana and not ‘what adorns’ (‘was ziert (?)’) and ‘ointment’ (‘Salböl’) as Geldner in his translation of this verse understands them to mean. abhyáñjana occurs also in 8.3.24 and 10.85.7. In the former it refers to an illustrious horse presented to the singer by his patron. It is very likely that in 10.85.7 also it refers to a distinguished horse which Sūryā. rides to go to her husband.

12 In the first two verses of the hymn, the seer asks Indra to bring him a puroḍāśa, hundreds of cows, a bull, a horse, together with manā. All these are again referred to in verse 9 when he speaks of yavayúḥ, gavyúḥ, hiraṇyayúḥ, and aśvayúḥ kāmaḥ.

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