Some notes on
S. Talageri's "MICHAEL WITZEL - AN EXAMINATION OF HIS REVIEW OF MY BOOK"
This is a confused and confusing, overlong 39,000 word answer to my 24,000 word review of Talageris 500-page book. It discusses anything from private emails to my lack of English and to the nationality of my wife (sic!).
There is no need to go into details here as T. has not even begun to rethink his position, as he well should have, particularly with respect to the two major points that effectively deconstruct his 'ground-breaking' book:
(1) T. has still not read Oldenberg's seminal work (1888) which describes the ordering of Rgvedic hymns and the way they were collected in several stages. Oldenberg's work stands unopposed by modern scholars, T. excepted of course, but T. offers no systematic refutation, just a little second-hand nibbling at the edges, just as everywhere else in his 'answer'.
This is best illustrated by T.'s renewed
misunderstanding of the principle underlying the order of deity collections
appearing after the usual Agni and Indra hymns that are found at the start
of each Mandala. The various post-Agni/Indra collections (to Brahmanaspati,
Visvedeva, Rbhu, etc.) are not a " second set consisting of other hymns
... placed at the end of the collection" and later "inserted into the hymns
of the first [collection]" --(how does he know all of this?). Instead,
their position simply depends on the *number* of hymns allotted to the
deity in question (Oldenberg 1888, Witzel 1997, 2001). In other words,
the 'mathematical' priciple carries.
This extremely *simple* fact can be checked by any grade school reader of a RV edition or translation: deities with the most hymns come first (after Agni/Indra), others follow in numerical decreasing order. This is not "numerology" but simple counting, as seen in so many other Indian texts. No Vedic mathematics needed either to understand that. All additions to the original RV text are clearly visible on this and on similar grounds (e.g. later combinations of Trca and Pragatha sets, Oldenberg 1888, Witzel 2001).
The upshot is that T.'s RV is not
that of the time of the RV authors, and any conclusion based
on it also reflects the Brahmana time additions, made until Sakalya's
Padapatha. This of course nicely fits the equally late Brahmana time Anukramanis.
(2) T., however, still does not say which Anukramani he used and how he reached the conclusion that it is coeval with the RV. Instead, and rather surprisingly, he now tells us that he did not use *any* Anukramani at all but instead, the names of Rsis, deities and meters printed in the various RV editions before each hymn. A truly philological and historical procedure!
Also, he still does not want to take notice
of the fact that his (now, indirect) source of the Rsi ascription in the
editions, the Sarvanukramani, was not even fixed by 500 AD (Scheftelowitz
1922, Witzel 2001) -- as was its counterpart, the Brhaddevata, see the
edition by M. Tokunaga (1997). In addition, T. simply neglects all
other Anukramanis (Macdonnel 1886), Rgvedic or other.
In sum, T. uses one particular Late Vedic Anukramani to establish the history of Rigvedic times, and compares that with a Rgveda of equally Late Vedic redaction.
This is what I called "garbage in garbage
out:" By using Late Vedic texts, what can one expect
but the Late Vedic/Epic and Puranic point of view that differs
from the truly Rgvedic one by the changes made over centuries?
Macdonell, A.A. Katyayana's Sarvanukramani of the Rigveda, with extracts from Shadgurusishya's commentary entitled Vedarthadipika; ed. with critical notes and appendices. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1886
Oldenberg, H. Metrische und textgeschichtliche Prolegomena zu einer kritischen Rigveda-Ausgabe. Berlin 1888, repr. Wiesbaden : F. Steiner, 1982
Scheftelowitz, I. Die Kasmirische Rezension von Katyayanas Sarvanukramani. Zeitschrift fuer Indologie und Iranistik, 1, 1922, 89-113
Tokunaga, M. The Brhaddevata. Kyoto: Rinsen 1997
Witzel, M. The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools: The Social
and Political Milieu. (Materials on Vedic Sakhas 8). In: Inside the Texts,
Beyond the Texts. New Approaches to the Study of the Vedas. Harvard Oriental
Series. Opera Minora, vol. 2. Cambridge 1997, 257-345
---, WESTWARD HO ! The Incredible Wanderlust of the Rgvedic Tribes Exposed by S. Talageri -- (Saavadhaanapattra no. 2)
A Review of: Shrikant G. Talageri, The Rigveda. A historical analysis. EJVS 7-2, March 31, 2001