[This article was written in June 2015, and sent on 5/7/2015 to a western scholar Christophe Vielle, a member of the Indology List, who had sent me these two papers by P.E.Dumont and asked me to write my views on those papers so that we could have a discussion on those papers as a prelude to discussing the AIT/OIT. Koenraad Elst had introduced us, after telling me that some members on the Indology List (whose members had carefully avoided any debate with me till then) were interested in having a debate on the AIT/OIT. However, after I sent the article, there was a deafening silence, and Vielle backed out of any further contact. Later, Koenraad told me in a mail that they were expecting me to make some glaring mistakes in my article which they could use against me, but after reading the article they wisely beat a retreat. I suspect they expected a different reaction to the paper on the Babylonian rituals, where I would "expose" myself. However, they found the article unanswerable. Incidentally, the article is a bit heavy and tedious, and will not be light reading]
The following are some points pertaining to two papers/articles by the renowned Indologist P.E.Dumont, the papers in question being: 1) Indo-Aryan Names from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian Documents, P.E.Dumont, JAOS, Vol.67, No.4 (Oct-Dec 1947), pp.251-253; and 2) A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian Sacrificial Ritual, W.F.Albright and P.E.Dumont, JAOS, Vol.54, No.2 (June 1934), pp.107-128.
This article will consist of three parts:
I. Indo-Aryan Names from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian Documents.
II. Hans H Hock on the Chronology of the Rigveda.
III. A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian Sacrificial Ritual.
I. Indo-Aryan Names from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian Documents
In this 1947 paper published in the JAOS, Dumont examines a “list of names of kings and nobles suspected to be of Indo-Aryan origin” from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian documents, prepared by W.F.Albright and R.T.O’Callaghan, and selects 45 names (from the list of 81 names) that he feels are more or less definitely of Indo-Aryan identity. [In this discussion, when an element from these names is cited, the numbers following it in brackets will be the serial numbers assigned to the names containing these elements in Dumont’s list].
In my book (TALAGERI 2008:168-183), I had given a list of Mitanni names containing the following elements from 1947 Dumont’s list:
-aśva (7, 8)
-ratha (21, 42)
-uta (4, 38)
ṛta- (13, 14, 18)
priya- (6, 10, 11, 12, 16)
In addition, there were two elements not included in Dumont’s list (as they had not been recognized in 1947, but are universally recognized at present): -atithi and –medha. Also, it may be noted that in Mitanni names beginning with biriya-, the element was interpreted by Dumont as vīra/vīrya as per the interpretation of the time, but it is now universally recognized as priya- (above).
As I pointed out in my book, these elements are found in the names of composers of the Rigvedic hymns, and names in references within the verses of the Rigveda, as follows:
Names of Composers of the hymns (89 hymns):
V. 3-6, 24-26, 47, 52-61, 81-82 (20 hymns).
I. 12-23, 100 (13 hymns).
VIII. 1-5, 23-26, 32-38, 46, 68-69, 87, 89-90, 98-99 (24 hymns).
IX. 2, 27-29, 32, 41-43, 97 (9 hymns).
X. 20-29, 37, 57-60, 65-66, 75, 102-103, 132, 134, 179 (23 hymns).
Names in References (in 82 verses):
V. 27.4-6; 33.9; 36.6; 52.1; 61.5,10; 79.2; 81.5.
I. 36.10,11,17-18; 45.3-4; 100.16-17; 112.10,15,20; 116.6,16; 117.17-18; 122.7,13; 139.9.
VIII. 1.30,32; 2.37,40; 3.16; 4.20; 5.25; 6.45; 8.18,20; 9.10; 23.16,23-24; 24.14,22-23,28-29; 26.9,11; 32.30; 33.4; 34.16; 35.19-21; 36.7; 37.7; 38.8; 46.21,23; 49.9; 51.1; 68.15-16; 69.8,18; 87.3.
IX. 43.3; 65.7.
X. 33.7; 49.6; 59.8; 60.7,10; 61.26; 73.11; 80.3; 98.5-6,8; 132.7.
However, in Dumont’s list, there are some additional elements:
citra- (33, 45)
yam/yami- (37, 38)
When, to the above list of hymns and verses furnished by me, we add the additional data from the Rigveda which arises from a consideration of these additional elements, we get the following revised list:
Names of Composers of the hymns (108 hymns):
V. 3-6, 24-26, 46, 47, 52-61, 81-82 (21 hymns).
I. 12-23, 100 (13 hymns).
VIII. 1-5, 23-26, 32-38, 46, 68-69, 87, 89-90, 98-99 (24 hymns).
IX. 2, 27-29, 32, 41-43, 97 (9 hymns).
X. 14-29, 37, 46-47, 54-60, 65-66, 75, 102-103, 118, 120, 122, 132, 134-135, 144, 154, 174, 179 (41 hymns).
Names in References (in 116 verses):
V. 19.3; 27.4-6; 33.9; 36.6; 44.10, 52.1; 61.5,10; 79.2; 81.5.
I. 35.6; 36.10,11,17-18; 38.5; 45.3-4; 83.5; 100.16-17; 112.10,15,20; 116.2, 6,16; 117.17-18; 122.7,13; 139.9; 163.2; 164.46.
VIII. 1.30,32; 2.37,40; 3.16; 4.20; 5.25; 6.45; 8.18,20; 9.10; 21.17-18; 23.16,23-24; 24.14,22-23,28-29; 26.9,11; 32.30; 33.4; 34.16; 35.19-21; 36.7; 37.7; 38.8; 46.21,23; 49.9; 51.1; 68.15-16; 69.8,18; 87.3.
IX. 43.3; 65.7.
X. 10.7,9,13-14; 12.6; 13.4; 14.1,5,7-15; 15.8; 16.9; 17.1; 18.13; 21.5; 33.7; 47.6; 49.6; 51.3; 52.3; 58.1; 59.8; 60.7,10; 61.26; 64.3; 73.11; 80.3; 92.11; 97.16; 98.5-6,8; 123.6; 132.7; 135.17; 154.4-5; 165.4.
The significance of all the above data is that the books of the Rigveda have been classified into two categories by the western Indologists and Vedicists who have studied the subject in great detail: the broad consensus, from Oldenberg through Witzel to Proferes, is that the Rigveda was, in the words of Michael Witzel (see TALAGERI 2008:132), “composed and assembled” in different stages, and they can broadly be divided into two groups: the Old Books 2-4, 6-7, and the New Books 1, 5, 8-10. Further, there are some hymns/verses in the Old Books which are classified by them as not fitting into the principles of arrangement of the Old Books: these are hymns/verses which were interpolated or redacted at a later stage (i.e. at the time of composition of the New Books). And not one of the above listed hymns or verses is found in the Old Books proper: all the hymns and verses, except two, listed above are found totally and exclusively in the New Books, and those exceptional two verses (IV.30.18 and VII.33.9) are found in hymns in the Old Books which are classified by Oldenberg as hymns/verses which were interpolated or redacted at a later stage (i.e. at the time of composition of the New Books).
The implications are very clear: all these name types found among the Mitanni (and, as I have shown in my book, in even more massive proportions in the Avesta) are found in the Rigveda only and exclusively (and in large numbers) in the New Books – and what is more, they continue to be found in greater and greater numbers in all post-Rigvedic Vedic literature (i.e. in the other Vedic Samhitās, the Brāhmaṇas, Upaniṣads and Sūtras) and in the Epics and the Purāṇas. They are completely missing in the Old Books proper, clearly showing that they are popular name types which evolved after the period of composition of the Old Books. Since the New Books form a continuum with the Old Books, and the geography of both sets of Books is located in northern and northwestern India from Haryana to Afghanistan – and in fact, the geography of the Old Books is located to the east of the Sarasvati in Haryana and shows a gradual movement from east to west (TALAGERI 2008:81-122) – the inevitable and unchallengeable conclusion is that the ancestors of the Iranians and the Mitanni migrated from within India during the period of composition of the New Books of the Rigveda.
Significantly, the great Indologist E.W.Hopkins, in a period before the discovery and analysis of the Mitanni evidence, and even though he had no idea of postulating an Iranian origin in India at the time, had arrived at the same conclusions about the internal chronology of the Rigveda vis-à-vis the Avesta, in his seminal article “Prāgāthikāni” in the JAOS (Vol. 16, 1896). He writes (by General Books, Hopkins refers below to Books, 1, 9-10 of the Rigveda):
“[....] viii with the General Books and post-Rik literature agrees with Avestan as against the early family books” (HOPKINS 1896a:73).
“[....] viii joins the later Avesta to post-Rik literature and the other General Books” (HOPKINS 1896a:74).
As Hopkins points out: ““[....] to point to the list of words common to the Avesta and viii with its group, and say that here is proof positive that there is closer relationship with the Avesta, and that, therefore, viii after all is older than the books which have not preserved these words, some of which are of great significance, would be a first thought. But this explanation is barred out by the fact that most of these Avestan words preserved in viii, withal those of the most importance, are common words in the literature posterior to the Rik. Hence to make the above claim would be tantamount to saying that these words have held their own through the period to which viii (assuming it to be older than ii-vii) is assigned, have thereupon disappeared, and then come into vogue again after the interval to which the maker of this assumption would assign ii-vii. This, despite all deprecation of negative evidence, is not credible.
Take, for instance, udara or uṣṭra or meṣa, the first is found only in viii., i., x.; the second in viii., i.; the last in viii., i., ix., x. Is it probable that words so common both early and late should have passed through an assumedly intermediate period (of ii.-vii.) without leaving a trace? Or, again: is a like assumption credible in the case of kṣīra, which appears in the Iranian khshīra; in RV. viii., i., ix., x.; disappears in the assumedly later group ii.-vii.; and reappears in the AV. and later literature as a common word? Evidently, the facts are not explained on the hypothesis that the Avesta and RV. viii. are older than RV. ii.-vii. We must, I think, suppose that the Avesta and RV. viii. are younger than RV. ii.-vii.” (HOPKINS 1896a:80-81)
The data contained in Dumont’s paper, Indo-Aryan Names from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian Documents (1947), thus only confirms and reiterates in stronger measure, the chronology and history of the Rigveda postulated by me in my book (TALAGERI 2008), and anticipated by Hopkins in 1896.
Before proceeding to the second paper by Dumont, I feel it necessary to deal with certain points raised by Prof. Hans H Hock, in posts on the Indology list on 22/6/2015 and 24/6/2015, regarding my chronology of the Rigveda.
II. Hans H Hock on the Chronology of the Rigveda
Prof. H H Hock, who has appointed himself as the Leader of the Crusades against ignorant upstart bank employee Indians like myself who think they know more about ancient Vedic history than American Professors like himself, has made certain points in his postings on the Indology list on 22/6/2015 and 24/6/2015, which I feel must be dealt with here.
1. Vadhryaśvá: “Close reading shows that Talageri’s attempt to ‘prove’ certain books of the Rig Veda to be older and others (which refer to more northwestern areas) much younger is problematic on numerous counts. To name just one: He argues that names with ‘suffix’ aśva are late and in so doing claims that the Kaṇva portions of book 8 are recent because they contain the name śyā́vāśva (without even attempting to refute Arnold’s argument that much of this material is among the most ancient); but since book 6, which Talageri wants to claim is older, contains the word vadhryaśvá, which also contains the ‘suffix’ aśva, he claims that the latter must be old ‘as shown by its accent, which treats it as a single fused word rather than a hyphenated compound word like the rest’ (p. 13). The accent placement in vadhryaśvá, however, follows a regular Rig Vedic pattern that is limited to bahuvrīhis whose first member is an i-or u-stem (Wackernagel-Debrunner 1957: 296-298). Talageri’s attempt to use words ending in aśva to justify a chronology of the Rig Veda that conflicts with that of Arnold or other traditional scholars, thus, is not supported by the evidence.” (Indology List post of 22/6/2015)
Here, let me deal only with the word “vadhryaśvá”:
a) Hopkins in his article “Prāgāthikāni” (JAOS 1896) clearly states that the aśva names are late names found only in the Late books.
b) The Vedic Word Concordance of Vishwa Bandhu, in its Uttarapadānukrama Sūcī clearly excludes vadhri- (on page 3622) from the list of prefixes of the word aśva on grammatical grounds, and places the word Vadhryaśvá as a separate un-hyphenated word (A Grammatical Word Index to the Four Vedas, Volume 2, 1963, pg.835) on its own. Grammatically the word just does not fall in the same category as the numerous aśva names in the Late Books.
c) Vadhryaśvá is not a name (of Divodāsa’s father) at all. It is a derisive epithet (used for him) and is totally unrelated to the later aśva names. It is mentioned in this sense in the only reference in the Family Books. The flood of aśva names in the Late Rigvedic Period led to confusion not only among the later redactors of the Purāṇas and the gotrakāras, but even among the editors of the Anukramaṇīs of the Rigveda, who reasoned backwards and treated Vadhryaśvá as a name. Before Hock gives this the horse laugh, let him note the following facts:
c-i) Vadhryaśvá means “eunuch” or “impotent”, and no sane parents would name their son a eunuch.
c-ii) The word is used in Rigveda VI.62.7 in reference to Divodāsa’s father (probably Srnjaya, as many analysts of the Vedas and Purāṇas have claimed Srnjaya was Divodāsa’s father), and the reference makes it very clear that Divodāsa’s father is derided as impotent and childless. The verse states that an impotent person finally got a child, Divodāsa, with the special blessings of Sarasvati (note the parallel case of Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament). This is confirmed and paralleled by references in the Rigveda itself (I.116.13, 117.24; X. 39.7, 65.12) to a Vadhrimatī, translated correctly as the wife (like Divodāsa’s mother) of an impotent person, who similarly gets a child with the special blessings of the Aśvins.
2. Chronology: “What you characterize as ‘widespread scholarly opinion’ concerns the composition of the Rig Veda, in terms of which books were included earlier and which ones later. Book 8 was indeed incorporated later, but that does not mean that all of its hymns are later than those of the Family Books” (Indology List post of 24/6/2015)
To begin with, note that the “widespread scholarly opinion” does not concern only the question of “which books were included earlier and which ones later” but also which books were composed earlier and which ones later. As Witzel puts it (see TALAGERI 2008:132), the Rigveda was “composed and assembled” in different stages. Hock protests that “Book 8 was indeed incorporated later, but that does not mean that all of its hymns are later than those of the Family Books”; however, unless some kind of evidence is produced to show that a particular hymn in Book 8 was indeed composed earlier than or contemporaneously with those of the Family Books (2-7), we must accept this “widespread scholarly opinion” as a rule. And no-one – not Arnold, and certainly not Hock – has been able to produce any such evidence.
In fact, there is a massive barrage of evidence showing that this “widespread scholarly opinion” is indeed an iron cast one. I give this admittedly long (but complete and conclusive) extract from my reply, available online, of Narhari Achar’s criticism of my chronology of the Rigveda on “astronomical” grounds:
“I have shown in my books that the ten books of the Rigveda were composed in the following order: 6,3,7,4,2,5,8,9,10 (with parts of book 1 spanning the periods of composition of books 4,2,5,8,9,10); and that they were composed as follows: books 6,3,7 in the Early Rigvedic period, books 4,2 in the Middle Rigvedic period, and books 5,1,8,9,10 in the Late Rigvedic period (the hymns of book 1 having been given their final form in the Late Rigvedic period, this book must be included in that period).
Michael Witzel, in his review of my earlier book, writes: ‘the composition of the RV occurred in complex layers ― not in the tidy sequential patterns imagined by Talageri’ (WITZEL 2001:§1). Achar seems to hold similar views ― that the different books of the Rigveda were not composed in any sequential order but in sporadic spurts of composition which cut across the different books of the Rigveda.
Now, in any analysis of the internal chronology of the Rigveda, the division of the 1028 hymns into 10 books should prima facie have been taken as suggestive of the possibility that the different books were composed in different periods rather than that they represent mixed collections with no reference to period of composition. This possibility could have been abandoned if the data indicated otherwise, but the data, far from suggesting otherwise, massively reinforces it in every possible way.
To begin with, the western academic scholars themselves (see TALAGERI 2008:132-135 for details) have classified the books of the Rigveda into two groups: the family books (2-7) and the non-family books (1, 8-10), and testified, on the basis of their own analyses, that the family books were composed and compiled before the non-family books. Further, they have detached book 5 from the other family books and concluded that it agrees with the non-family books rather than with the other family books. By their analysis, the books of the Rigveda can be classified into three categories: the earlier family books (2-4, 6-7), the later family book (5), and the later non-family books (1, 8-10). This fully agrees with my own classification into Early books (6,3,7), Middle (4,2) and Late books (5,1,8,9,10); except that the Early and Middle books are clubbed together in one category in the western classification, and the internal order within the groups is not analyzed. [In sum, we get four categories: Early family books 6,3,7; Middle family books 4,2; Late family book 5; and Late non-family books 1,8,9,10]
It will be seen that every analysis of the data reinforces this classification:
An analysis of the (ancestor-descendant) relationships between the composers of the hymns establishes the chronological order 6,3,7,4,2,5,8,9,10 (1 alongside 4-10) (TALAGERI 2000:37-50).
An analysis of the references within the hymns to earlier or contemporaneous composers (TALAGERI 2000:53-58) and to the kings and (non-composer) ṛṣis mentioned within the hymns (TALAGERI 2000:59-65) confirms the above chronological order.
An analysis of the (adherence to ‘purity’ of the) family identity of the composers of the individual books (TALAGERI 2000:50-52) confirms the exactitude of the above chronological order, with a steady progression in dilution of the family identity of the composers from book 6 (in which every single hymn and verse is composed by composers belonging to one branch of one family) to book 10 (where every single family has hymns, and a large number of hymns are by composers who are either unaffiliated to any family or whose family is unidentifiable).
An analysis of the system of ascriptions of hymns to composers (TALAGERI 2000:52-53) shows a quantum change from the Early and Middle books (6,3,7,4,2), where hymns are composed by descendant ṛṣis in the name of their ancestor ṛṣis, to the Late Books (5,1,8,9,10), where hymns are composed by ṛṣis in their own names.
An analysis of a large category of personal name types shared in common by the Rigveda with the Avesta and the Mitanni (TALAGERI 2008:20-43) shows a fundamental distinction between the Early and Middle books on the one hand and the Late books on the other, with these name-types being found in 386 hymns in the Late books (and in all other post-Rigvedic texts), but found in the Early and Middle books in only 8 hymns which have been classified by the western academic scholars as Late or interpolated hymns within these books.
An analysis of another category of personal names shared by the Rigveda with the Avesta (TALAGERI 2008:16-20, 47-48) shows a fundamental distinction between the Early books on the one hand and the Middle and Late books on the other, with these names being found in 60 hymns in the Middle books and in 63 hymns in the Late books (and in all other post-Rigvedic texts), but completely missing in the Early books.
An analysis of the geographical names and terms in the Rigveda (TALAGERI 2000:94-136, TALAGERI 2008:81-129) shows a progression from east to west, with the eastern names found distributed throughout the Rigveda and the western names appearing in the books in chronological progression. And again, these names (found in all other post-Rigvedic texts) reinforce the above chronological order: the Indus and rivers to its west are found named in the Middle and Late books, but are missing in the Early books. The names of western animals, places, mountains and lakes are found in the Late non-family books, but are missing in the family books (Early, Middle and Late).
An analysis of other important and historically significant words (TALAGERI 2008: 48-49, 189-200) again reinforces the above chronological order: for example, spoked wheels, or spokes, invented in the late third millennium BCE, and camels and donkeys, domesticated in Central Asia around the same time, are found in the Late books, but missing in the Early and Middle books.
An analysis of the meters used in the composition of the hymns of the Rigveda (TALAGERI 2008:54-80) again reinforces the above chronological order. The dimetric meters used in the Rigveda clearly developed from each other in the following order: gāyatrī (8+8+8), anuṣṭubh (8+8+8+8), pankti (8+8+8+8+8), mahāpankti (8+8+8+8+8+8) and dimeter śakvarī (8+8+8+8+8+8+8). Gāyatrī and anuṣṭubh are found throughout the Rigveda; pankti is found in the Late (family and non-family) books, but missing in the Early and Middle books; mahāpankti and dimeter śakvarī are found in the Late non-family books, and are missing in the family books (Early, Middle and Late).
An analysis of the sacred numerical formulae in the Rigveda (HOPKINS 1896b) shows that the use of certain numbers, in sacred numerical formulae used as phrases in the hymns, is commonly found in the Late books, but missing in the Early and Middle books.
A detailed and path-breaking analysis (HOPKINS 1896a) shows large categories of words found in the Late books (1,8,9,10, and often 5), but missing in the Early (6,3,7) and Middle books (4,2) except in a few stray hymns classified by the western academic scholars as Late or interpolated hymns within these books. These include such categories as words pertaining to ploughing or to other paraphernalia of agriculture, words associated with certain occupations and technologies (and even with what could be interpreted as the earliest references to the castes), words where the r is replaced by l (playoga and pulu for prayoga and puru), a very large number of personal names (not having to do with the name types, common to the Rigveda, Avesta and Mitanni records, analyzed by me), various suffixes and prefixes used in the formation of compound words, certain mythical or socio-religious concepts (Sūrya as an Āditya, Indra identified with the Sun, the discus as a weapon of Indra and the three-edged or three-pointed form of this weapon, etc), various grammatical forms (cases of the resolution of the vowel in the genitive plural of ā stems, some transition forms common in later literature, the Epic weakening of the perfect stem, the adverb adas, etc.), particular categories of words (Soma epithets like madacyuta, madintara/madintama, the names of the most prominent meters used in the Rigveda, etc.), certain stylistic peculiarities (the use of reduplicated compounds like mahāmaha, calācala, the use of alliteration, the excessive use of comparatives and superlatives, etc.), and many, many more. Also, Hopkins notes many words which are used in one sense in the earlier books, and in a different sense in the later books: words like muni, tīrtha, vaiśvānara, hita, etc., or which are only used as adjectives in the earlier books, but figure as names in the later books (he cites śaviṣṭha, svarṇara, durgaha, prajāpatin, adhrigu as examples) [note also words like atri, kutsa and auśija (TALAGERI 2000:79-88), which have a different sense in the earlier books as against the later books, and even the word trita, which is a name in the later books but occurs once with the meaning ‘third’ in book 6].
The evidence in support of the chronological order 6,3,7,4,2,5,(1),8,9,10, given in my book, and most especially for the division into Early, Middle and Late books, is too massive, overwhelming and uni-directional to be dismissed on the basis of dates derived by any ‘astronomical’” analysis of references in the Rigveda, even were we to ignore the fact that these references are actually fictitious or non-existent ones as we saw above. In fact, the very fact that his methods give Achar a range of dates which cut across the different books should lead him to radically rethink the validity of his approach and conclusions”.
As can be seen, when Hock writes, in his Indology list post of 22/06/2015, that “Talageri’s attempt to use words ending in aśva to justify a chronology of the Rig Veda that conflicts with that of Arnold or other traditional scholars, thus, is not supported by the evidence”, he is talking through his hat. My chronology is not based only on “words ending in aśva”, it is based on all the massive above listed data and evidence (of which “words ending in aśva” form one miniscule part) and it is fully “supported by the evidence”. And it does not “conflict” with “that of … other traditional scholars”: Hopkins, after much analysis, had arrived at the same conclusions as myself, and “other traditional scholars” have not yet managed to dent his conclusions, although they may have managed to ignore them. And as for Arnold…
3. E.V.Arnold: Hock, in his Indology post of 22/6/2015, writes that my “chronology of the Rig Veda …. conflicts with that of Arnold or other traditional scholars”, and (for some reason attributing my chronological conclusion to the presence of a single name!) accuses me of claiming “that the Kaṇva portions of book 8 are recent because they contain the name śyā́vāśva (without even attempting to refute Arnold’s argument that much of this material is among the most ancient)”. Further, he continues with the theme in his Indology post of 24/6/2015: “In his detailed study of ‘Vedic metre’ and other chronological issues in the Rig Veda, Arnold came to the conclusion that the Kaṇva hymns of Book 8 are among the oldest hymns of the Rig Veda. (Other scholars may have disagreed on specific judgments but esssentially agree that hymns of Book 8 cannot automatically be rejected as late.) To reject this conclusion, Talageri would have had to engage in a detailed discussion of Arnold’s (and other scholars’) criteria; but evidently he hasn’t done that (in fact, if memory serves, he doesn’t even refer to Arnold’s monograph and only mentions a much shorter publication of his.)” (Indology List post of 24/6/2015)”.
Hock, not for the first time, shows that, in his crusading zeal, he has totally abandoned all pretense of moral and intellectual integrity:
a) Like Witzel in earlier exchanges, who kept chanting the name of Oldenberg without uttering one syllable to show in what way Oldenberg’s writings would have made any dent in my hypothesis or in the evidence for my hypothesis, Hock now chooses to chant the name of Arnold without bothering to point out what exactly is the evidence Arnold has cited to prove that “the Kaṇva hymns of Book 8 are among the oldest hymns of the Rig Veda”. Naturally, he can not point out Arnold’s evidence, since Arnold has provided no such clinching evidence, and, in any case it is clear that Hock himself knows little about Arnold’s writings beyond hearsay!
Incidentally, I can paraphrase Hock’s own words as follows: “To reject my conclusions, Hock would have had to engage in a detailed discussion of my criteria, data, evidence and conclusions; but evidently he hasn’t done that (in fact, if memory serves, he doesn’t even refer to the actual mass of evidence presented by me, and only engages in polemics, selective misquoting, special pleading, and chanting of names)”.
b) Arnold’s evidence consists of circular reasoning. Because the pragātha metres and many words and grammatical expressions which are found mainly in the Kaṇva hymns of Books 1 and 8 are also found in the Avesta, and because things common to the Rigveda and Avesta must necessarily (by the logic of conventional Indo-Iranian theory) be “early” elements, he reasons that this is evidence for the Kaṇva hymns being among the oldest in the Rigveda. But Hopkins dealt in detail with this kind of logic: see Hopkins’ quote above, beginning with “to point to the list of words common to the Avesta and viii with its group, and say that here is proof positive that there is closer relationship with the Avesta, and that, therefore, viii after all is older than the books which have not preserved these words, some of which are of great significance, would be a first thought….”. Hopkins has torn apart the very foundations of Arnold’s logic.
c) The main fallacy in Arnold’s chronological conclusion for the the Kaṇva hymns of Books 1 and 8 (and in Hock’s advocacy of Arnold’s conclusion as a counter to my chronology) is that he ignores the fact that in every respect these Kaṇva hymns of Books 1 and 8 fall in one category in company with the hymns in Books 5, 9 and 10, and with all post Rigvedic literature going as far down the chronological lane as the Epics and Purāṇas, while the hymns in the Old Books 2-4, 6-7 fall in a totally different category.
Take the list of Rigvedic hymns which have elements in common with the Mitanni names. The most common Mitanni prefix is biriya- (priya-). About this, Hopkins (well before the Mitanni evidence was even suspected to exist) had pointed out that “priya compounds [fn. That is, with priya as the first member of the compound] are a formation common in Smṛti [....] Epic [....] In AV, VS, and Brāhmaṇa [....] but known in RV only to books viii, i, ix, x” (HOPKINS 1896a:66). That is, even as a grammatical or lexical form, and not just in names, words beginning in priya- are totally absent in the Old Books (2-4, 6-7) and are a post-Old Books development. Likewise the very word Yami/Yama (found as an element in two names among the Mitanni, including Yamiuta on par with Indrota) is found in the Rigveda only in Book 10 (accepted by everyone as the very latest part of the Rigveda) and in some contemporaneous late hymns in Book 1, except for one reference in a Family book, VII.33.9, which is in a hymn classified by Oldenberg as one which was interpolated or redacted at a later stage (i.e. at the time of composition of the New Books): I.35.6; 38.5; 83.5; 116.2; 163.2; 164.6. X.10.7,9,13-14; 12.6; 13.4; 14.1,5,7-15; 15.8; 16.9; 17.1; 18.13; 21.5; 51.3; 52.3; 58.1; 60.10; 64.3; 92.11; 97.16; 123.6; 135.1,7; 154.4-5; 165.4. Yama is a very important figure in all post-Rigvedic Vedic, Epic, Puranic and popular Sanskrit literature.
It is not therefore a question only of “words ending in aśva” (much less a single name “śyā́vāśva”), or of “Kaṇva hymns”, as Hock feigns to think it is. It is a question of the entire chronological sequence of the Vedic and post-Vedic literature. What I have called “late words” in the Rigveda are found abundantly in all the books classified by a consensus of Indologists as “New Books” (1, 5, 8-10), and in all post-Rigvedic Vedic, Epic, Puranic and popular Sanskrit literature (along with the Avestan and the Mitanni records), but are totally missing in the Old Books (2-4, 6-7) proper, i.e. except in a few hymns or verses classified by Oldenberg and others as hymns which were interpolated or redacted at a later stage (i.e. at the time of composition of the New Books). As I pointed out in my book:
“The third way in which all the evidence could be overturned is simply by deciding that the scholars and linguists were wrong all the time in placing the Family Books before the non-family Books, and that it is actually the other way round: the non-family Books (1, 8-10) are the oldest books of the RV, Book 5 comes next, followed by Book 4, and that the bulk of the other Family Books (2-3, 6-7 — except the very hymns in these books singled out by Oldenberg as late, which are, in fact, now to be taken as actually being earlier than the rest of the hymns in these Books) constitute the latest parts of the RV, by which time the incoming Vedic Aryans had lost all contact with the Western areas through which they had immigrated into India, and all the Avestan [and Mitanni] type names and name-elements had gone completely out of fashion, which is why there are no references to those areas, and no names of the Avestan [and Mitanni] type, in these Books. [Of course, in the post-Rigvedic texts, and all later traditions, those names and name-elements mysteriously came back into fashion with a vengeance!]” (TALAGERI 2008:140). Unless of course all those post-Rigvedic texts and traditions are also to be placed before Books 2-4,6-7 of the Rigveda!
4. “Prefixes” and Suffixes”: Finally, in a climax of moral and intellectual bankruptcy, Hock writes, in his Indology post of 22/6/2015: “In fact, his use of the terms ‘prefix’ and ‘suffix’ to refer to members of compounds and the claim that ‘In the Early Rigvedic period, we find that suffixes as such had not yet come into vogue in personal names or, at any rate, not suffixes in common with the Avesta’ suffer from a lack of a clear definition and an appearance of arbitrariness. For instance, Talageri labels the dívo in dívo-dāsa as a prefix (indicating that the compound must be old), but gives no rationale against considering -dāsa a suffix (which by his reasoning should indicate that the compound is late.)”
He goes on with this theme in his post of 24/6/2015: “Certainly, poorly defined criteria such as ‘prefix’ and ‘suffix’ are no substitute for proper scholarly engagement with earlier literature. But this approach is the foundation for Talageri’s attempt at establishing the relative chronology of the Rig Veda on the basis of naming patterns”
If Hock had really done any “close reading” of my book, he would not have fallen back on this pathetic clutching at straws and fig-leaves. In my book, I have clearly written: “Names in the Rigveda and Avesta are generally of two types: simple names and compound names. Compound names consist of (generally) two hyphenated or hyphenable elements: a prefix with a word, or a word with a suffix. In most of the cases, the compound name is a combination of two independent words. Technically, these can not be called either a prefix or suffix (since a prefix or suffix is, strictly speaking, a grammatical element which can not function as a word by itself); however, for convenience, we will, in this chapter and elsewhere, refer to the first component word as a prefix, if it appears to be used as a regular first component word in combination with different other words, and to the second component word as a suffix if it appears to be used as a regular second component word in combination with different other words.” (TALAGERI 2008:5-6).
I will continue to use the words “prefix” and suffix”, if for no other reason than to be able to allow Hock the hollow satisfaction of continuing to steadfastly ignore all the evidence and to continue clutching at this straw as long as it pleases him.
Two final points:
1. As we saw, the broad consensus, from Oldenberg through Witzel to Proferes, is that the Rigveda was, in the words of Michael Witzel (see TALAGERI 2008:132), “composed and assembled” in different stages, and they can broadly be divided into two groups: the Old Books 2-4, 6-7, and the New Books 1, 5, 8-10. If the writings of any scholar contradict this broad consensus, as, for example, Arnold’s conclusion that “the Kaṇva hymns of Book 8 are among the oldest hymns of the Rig Veda”, then it should automatically be suspect until examined in detail and proved right (as I wrote in regard with Narhari Achar above: “the very fact that his methods give Achar a range of dates which cut across the different books should lead him to radically rethink the validity of his approach and conclusions”). And if my conclusion (as that of Hopkins earlier) fits in perfectly with this broad consensus, it should be considered at least feasible until examined and proved wrong. It is certainly suspicious that Hock so vehemently upholds, without examination, Arnold’s opinions which go against the consensus, against the massive criteria, data and evidence furnished by Hopkins and me which fit in with the consensus.
2. The whole of Indological analysis of the Rigveda, from Day One, has been based solely on examination and analysis of the words and data in the Rigveda. To take one example: if today there is an almost total consensus that the Rigveda was composed primarily on the banks of the Sarasvati, and not of the Brahmaputra, Kaveri, Godavari or Narmada (which are not named in the Rigveda) nor of the Ganga or Yamuna (although they are named in the Rigveda), it is because of the occurences, and patterns of occurences, of the words and grammatical features in the hymns and verses of the Rigveda. Conclusions, right or wrong, have often been reached at on the basis of single occurences. My analysis has been based on a complete analysis of all the occurences of all the relevant words and data in the Rigveda. Any Indologist who chooses to reject this outright, without serious examination, on the basis of ego or vested interests, does so at his own peril.
III. A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian Sacrificial Ritual
In this 1934 paper published in the JAOS, Albright and Dumont examine a parallel between Indic and Babylonian sacrificial ritual, and try to analyze the “elements recognized as common to both Mesopotamian and Indic civilizations” (107) in the two rituals to arrive, among other things, at the possible direction of influence. The rituals in question are the aśvamedha or horse-sacrifice ritual in the Vedic texts, and similar animal sacrifices involving horses, but also asses and oxen, in Sumerian/Babylonian texts.
They find many features in the sacrificial rituals in the two cultures which are similar enough, and peculiar enough, to warrant the conclusion that there were influences between the two cultures.
We can examine this paper from the bearing that it has on two aspects:
IIIA. Specifically, the directions of influence between different ancient cultures.
IIIB. More generally, its implications in respect of chronology of the Vedic texts.
IIIA. The Directions of Influence between Different Ancient Cultures.
Throughout the course of the paper, the two scholars discuss the particular details of the common elements between the Vedic aśvamedha or horse-sacrifice ritual, and various sacrificial rituals of ancient Babylonia (Mesopotamia) involving in the final version the horse, but, in earlier versions, the ass or the ox/bull. The following summary of the points, occuring towards the close of the paper, including the final paragraph, gives us the problem as well as their speculated solution to it:
“Turning now to the comparison of the Vedic and the Babylonian rites, we note several extraordinary similarities. In both rituals the priest murmurs incantations into the ears of the horse, so that only the horse can hear the words. Both incantations are calculated to praise and please the animal….In the incantations whispered into the bull’s ears, the animal plays exactly the same role….In both rituals we are dealing with a bloody sacrifice which is primarily intended, at least in certain parts of the ceremony, to increase fertility…Note especially the incantation muttered by the adhvaryu on the first day of the consecration of the sacrifice, and the words of the first bull incantation…The most remarkable resemblance is undoubtedly in the role played by a white tuft or group of seven tufts of hair, identified with the Pleiades, in both rituals” (124).
“the ritual of the Babylonian horse-sacrifice seems to go back to the ritual of bull-sacrifice, as we have seen. Moreover, the coincident elements of the ritual are all found in the bull-sacrifice. Most remarkable of them is the role played by the Pleiades, represented by a tuft of hair. But in Babylonia the word for ‘Pleiades’ means originally ‘tuft of hair,’ and this very word is employed in one of the rituals in question…/…there is ample Babylonian testimony to the origin of the calendaric role of the Pleiades in an association with the inundation, while there does not seem to be any Indian evidence of corresponding cogency. The balance, therefore, seems to incline slightly in favor of an ultimate Babylonian origin of part, at least, of the homologous rites which we have discussed in this paper” (127-128).
In short, the scholars feel that “an ultimate Babylonian origin of part, at least, of the homologous rites which we have discussed in this paper” is the most likely solution, since: a) it is only in Babylonia, but not in India, that the Pleiades are associated with inundation, and therefore most suited for a role in a sacrifice “intended, at least in certain parts of the ceremony, to increase fertility”, and b) it is only in the Babylonian language, but not in the Indic, that “the word for ‘Pleiades’ means originally ‘tuft of hair,’ and this very word is employed in one of the rituals in question”. And these two arguments are unanswerable. So it does not appear that Albright and Dumont can be challenged in this conclusion.
The two scholars are not biased in favour of proving any particular direction of influence, or the “precedence” of any culture or civilization over others, and they can not be accused of being anything but truly objective in their analysis. Firstly, they repeatedly proclaim the possibility that “the horse-sacrifice is probably of ultimate Indo-Iranian, if not Indo-European origin” (113), giving references from Iranian, Greek, Roman sources, and also note that “the earliest archaeological illustration of the sacrifice in question seems to belong to the Indo-Iranian outposts in southern Palestine, and dates at all events/ from the seventeenth or sixteenth century B.C.” (113-114). Their conclusion in respect of the horse-sacrifice as such is that it “is difficult to reach a decision concerning the ultimate source of the ritual practices which we have examined in this paper. The horse-sacrifice may go back to Indo-European times, or it may have originated among the Indo-Iranians; it may also have been borrowed by the latter from another people of the great plains. The Babylonians certainly borrowed the practice of sacrificing the horse from the Indo-Iranians” (127)
Also, the scholars are aware that cultural elements in the different cultures were always changing “It does not necessarily follow that the details of the ritual which we have described were originally attached to the sacrifice of the horse. When we consider the Mesopotamian parallel, we shall see that details of ritual may easily be borrowed by one type of sacrifice from another. This borrowing, or application of analogy, within the limits of a single national religion, is not only natural, but is the usual thing, and the priests established elaborate ritual codes, developed largely by the operation of analogy. Even when the sacrificial animal was changed, the ritual often remained unchanged, or little altered. As might be expected, the details of our ritual were borrowed in part from the sacrifice of cattle, just as in Babylonia.” (114).
Sacrificing animals in rituals may have been a phenomenon which arose independently in different societies, but the details of the sacrifices (as to the animal sacrificed, the particular rituals followed, and the symbolic meanings of the rituals) were constantly changing and evolving, and being interchanged between different cultures. Here, it appears that the choice of the horse for sacrifice was originally Indo-Iranian or Indo-European (i.e. it was not Babylonian, although ultimately “it may also have been borrowed by the latter [the Indo-Iranians or Indo-Europeans] from another people of the great plains.”), which was borrowed by the Babylonians, but certain particular elements of the rituals (originally part of bull or ass sacrifices) were a sort of Babylonian “return gift” to Indic ritual, both parts of the give and take among various ancient cultures.
As elaborated in my books, in my Indian homeland hypothesis, the three great northern conglomerates of proto-Indo-European tribes in northern India had spread out in pre-Rigvedic times up to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The domesticated horse, a native of the areas beyond Central Asia, was introduced to the Druhyus (the outermost of the three tribal conglomerates, who represented the linguistic proto-ancestors of most of the later extra-Indian branches of Indo-European languages) by some other “people of the great plains” to their north, and, through the middle layer of the Anus (the second tribal conglomerate, which included the proto-Greeks and the proto-Iranians), this animal (and perhaps also its use in ritual sacrifice) was transmitted to the Pūrus (the Vedic Aryans or “Indo-Aryans” in linguistic terms). As a rare, iconic and seminal animal, the horse became the object of the grandest (since associated with royalty and conquest) of the Vedic sacrificial rituals. The ritual must have constantly evolved with time, accepting perhaps more and newer elements from different sources, including, much later (in terms of Vedic history), the above described ritual elements from the Babylonians.
Albright and Dumont, of course had no reason to doubt the theory of an Aryan invasion of (or migration into) India, current at the time, and so they speak of the “great Indo-Iranian (Aryan) irruption into India and Western Asia during the first centuries of the second millennium” (107-108). But what are their views on the chronology of the events, and do these views (or conclusions) fit in with the AIT scenario, or do they fit in with the OIT scenario (never envisaged by them) outlined in my books?
IIIB. The Chronology of the Vedic texts.
Albright and Dumont speak of the “great Indo-Iranian (Aryan) irruption into India and Western Asia during the first centuries of the second millennium” (107-108) as it is/was the generally accepted scenario (although “in the second half” would have been more representative, of the generally accepted scenario, than “during the first centuries”). In general, however, they are not too rigid on the question of Vedic chronology, and they are quite objective in summarizing “the situation now existing with respect to Vedic chronology” by listing the views of different prominent Indologists who had studied the question: Bloomfield, “the oldest part of the Rgveda about 2000 B.C.”; A Macdonell, “the thirteenth century B.C. as the approximate date for the beginning of the Rgvedic period”; A.B. Keith, “800 B.C.…the lowest possible date for the completion of the Rgveda”; Winternitz, “the beginning…probably goes back to 2500-2000 [B.C.]”; etc.
But what are the dates suggested by their study of the parallel between Indic and Babylonian sacrificial ritual?
Before examining the dates which their study suggests, it would be interesting to note a frank admission made in the article: “Indian archaeology is only in its infancy, and Indian literature has no such means at its command for purposes of chronology as have the documentary records of Western Asia. We shall, therefore, be at a loss in many cases to date our materials precisely.” (109). It is my contention that, unlike many of the present day Indologists who are rigid in their views, hardened by over two centuries of almost dogmatic belief, the Indologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were more receptive to accepting new ideas if those new ideas were based on a more detailed study of the available data. And my analysis of the common name types in the Mitanni material, the Avesta and the (New Books of) the Rigveda, which uses the “documentary records of Western Asia” in conjunction with the accepted internal divisions of the Rigveda to produce a method which enables us to more or less “date our [Vedic] materials precisely”, would have met with their interested and enthusiastic support.
In any case, here are the chronological points inadvertently raised by their paper:
1. For there to have been mutual influence between the Vedic and Babylonian sacrificial rituals, there should have been reasonable contact between the Babylonian priests and their Vedic counterparts, facilitated by contacts between the two cultures. Albright and Dumont note the following:
“The discovery of the Indus Valley culture has shown that commercial, cultural, and possibly racial relations existed between India and Mesopotamia at a very remote age, going back to the beginning of the Early Bronze (cir. 3000 B.C.), if not far back into the Chalcolithic of the fourth millennium. Though these relations were not close, there may have been a considerable transfusion of culture in the course of many centuries during which the Indus Valley culture flourished. The great Indo-Iranian (Aryan) irruption into India and Western Asia during the first centuries of the second millennium may well have brought with it a new ease of movement from one end of the far-flung Indo-Iranian occupation to the other, especially since the Indo-Iranians introduced the swift two-man chariot wherever they advanced, thus creating a far more efficacious means of rapid transportation than any which had been in ordinary use before in these regions” (107-108).
In short, we have ample evidence of trade and cultural contacts between Mesopotamia and Harappan India from as far back as at least 3000 B.C., but not really very much of it between Mesopotamia and the Vedic people during the time of composition of the Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras and the perfection of the Vedic rituals. The transmission of the horse sacrifice from the Vedic people to the Babylonians can be explained on the basis of the “new ease of movement from one end of the far-flung Indo-Iranian occupation to the other, especially since the Indo-Iranians introduced the swift two-man chariot wherever they advanced” and to the resultant “Indo-Iranian outposts in southern Palestine”, but somehow these can not explain the subsequent transmission of particular new rituals and symbols from the Babylonians to the composers of the Brāhmaṇas and the Sūtras – unless and until we accept the identity between the Harappans and the Vedic people, or more properly between the Harappans and the “Indo-Iranians”.
2. The chronology suggested by Albright and Dumont for the rituals are significant: the Babylonian text which describes the horse sacrifice and provides the “closest Mesopotamian parallel is found in a ritual text from Assur, the southern capital of Assyria, the cuneiform text of which was published by Ebeling in 1920” (114).
About the chronology of this text: “In its present form our text is naturally posterior to the introduction of the horse into general use, between 1800 and 1600 B.C. Obv. 2-8, however, does not mention the horse at all, but the ass…”. Because part of the text shows that it predated the introduction of the horse, by referring instead to the ass, and due to “the repeated mention of Marduk, god of Babylon, and his temple Essakil (Sumerian Esagil), as well as by the fact that it belongs to the Babylonian Samas-Adad ritual” (117)”, they conclude: we are forced to date the first recension of our text between 2100 and 1800 B.C.” (117-118).
Another more complete text, “which was published by Thureau-Dangin in 1920” is “not later than about the eighth century [B.C.]” (118), and it describes in great detail the rituals of the sacrifice of an ox/bull. This also refers to the mark of the Pleiades. “How early the ritual may be dated escapes us completely…The oldest incantation series go back only to the last third of the third millennium [B.C.]” (122).
Therefore, the common (with Indic) ritual portions of the horse sacrifice in Babylon had already been transmitted from the earlier bull/ass sacrifice to the horse sacrifice at some time between 2100 B.C. and 1600 B.C. by the latest. While the horse sacrifice was borrowed from the Indo-Iranian migrants into West Asia, the particular ritual details were transmitted from their own existing rituals. The transformed horse sacrifice (with these aaditional details) was then retransferred back from the Babylonians to the Vedic priests.
But at what point within Vedic chronology were these new ritual elements incorporated into the Vedic aśvamedha? It was clearly not transmitted to the pre-Rigvedic Indo-Aryans alleged to be on their way towards India during the alleged “great Indo-Iranian (Aryan) irruption into India”, since the “the horse-sacrifice was known in India long before the composition of the Brāhmaṇas; it is the theme of two hymns of the Rigveda (I, 162 and 163), in which the details vary considerably from those of the rite as described in the Brāhmaṇas. Moreover, in the Satapathabrāhmaṇa there are passages which suggest that in earlier times the deity of the aśvamedha was not Prajapati but Indra or Varuna. Such an important change in the ritual seems to require the passage of a respectable interval…” (112).
Therefore we have the Rigvedic horse sacrifice which originally had different rites and rituals from the one found described in the later Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras, and the new sacrificial rites adopted from the Babylonians (found in the Brāhmaṇas and the Sūtras) must therefore have been incorporated into the Vedic religion at some time between the period of the older Rigvedic horse sacrifice and the newer version described in the Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras.
It is in the New Books of the Rigveda (mainly in the prolific New Book 8, which, as we see in every respect, shares all its features with the other New Books 1, 5, 9 and 10, and with all subsequent texts and literature, rather than with the Old Books 2-4, 6-7), that we see the Vedic people emerging out of their cocoon within India and coming into contact with the western world. This is not just the conclusion derived by me in my books on the basis of my analysis of the data; even die-hard proponents of the traditional Aryan invasion theory find that in Book 8, western things “appear” at a “later” point of time near the “borderlands”: Witzel (in his 1995 paper “Rgvedic history: Poets, Chiftains and Polities”) writes: “Certain sections of the Rgveda will be marked as later by some generations than the rest. It is immediately apparent that few ‘dynasties’ emerge, and many individual rulers lacking pedigree are mentioned (especially in book 8, which also lists many tribes that were unknown to other books”; “Book 8 concentrates on the whole of the west cf. camels, mathra horses, wool sheep. It frequently mentions the Sindhu, but also the Seven Streams, mountains and snow”; “camels appear (8.5.37-39) together with the Iranian name Kaśu ‘small’ (Hoffman 1975), or with the suspicious name Tirindra and the Parśu (8.6.46). The combination of camels (8.46.21,31), and wool, sheep and dogs (8.56.3) is also suggestive: the borderlands (including Gandhara) have been famous for wool and sheep, while dogs are treated well in Zoroastrian Iran but not in South Asia” (see TALAGERI 2000:123).
The “westward ho” (to use Witzel’s phrase) nature of Book 8 (in company with the other New Books 1, 5, 9-10) is clear from all the evidence:
A. The New Books share a very large body of name types with the Avestan and the Mitanni names: these are found in as many as 386 hymns in the New Books (Book1= 78, Book 5= 47, Book 8= 69, Book 9= 69, Book 10= 123), but in only 8 hymns in four of the six Old Books (Book 6= 3, Book 3= 3, Book 7= 1, Book 4= 1), all 8 hymns being among those few hymns from the Old Books which have been classified as late interpolated or redacted hymns by Oldenberg and in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (TALAGERI 2008:3-43). These name types are obviously Vedic as well as Iranian, and therefore show the development of a common culture between the Vedic Aryans (the Pūrus) and the proto-Iranians (the Anus) to their immediate west in northern India, in the period of the New Books.
B. These New Books also show a new and progressive increase in knowledge of areas to their west: first mention of Saptasindhava (in northern Pakistan) and Gandhara and the Gandharvas (in northern Afghanistan); progressive mention of more and more rivers to the west of the Indus; first references to the western animals (camels, goats, sheep, mathra horses, the northwestern boar varāha); first references to the Soma-growing areas, lakes and mountains of the northwest; etc. Note that things which were known to the Old Books as rare and imported items (horses, wool and Soma) suddenly become familiar and prolific: there is a sudden flurry of names with aśva (including a name aśvamedha) and ratha accompanied by references to a new technological invention in the form of spoked-wheels, there are references to sheep and shepherds, there are actual references to the Soma growing areas as now familiar ones and a sudden outburst of importance of the Soma rituals, etc. (see TALAGERI 2000:95-136; TALAGERI 2008:81-129, 189-201)
C. Apart from common names with “Indo-Iranian” roots and counterparts in both the Rigveda and the Avesta, we now also find names of patron kings which have been identified by western Indologists (including Witzel) as actual proto-Iranian names: I.51.13; VIII.4.19; 5.37-39; 6.46; 23.28; 24.28; 25.2; 26.2; 32.2; 46.21,24; X.86.23 – only in the New Books (particularly Book 8). These are therefore, probably Iranians who had already moved slightly further west than the actual Avestan Iranians.
D. Apart from having name types in common with the Mitanni kings of West Asia, there are some names in the New Books which are identical to the Mitanni names, and therefore must have been popular ancestral family names among the Mitanni kings (who had already become Hurrianized in West Asia in most other respects): Vedic Mitrātithi, Devātithi, Subandhu, Indrota and Priyamedha, and Mitanni Mittaratti, Dewatti, Subandu, Indarota, Biriamasda. All these are found only in the New Books (particularly Book 8): I.45.3-4; 139.9; V.24 (as composer); VIII.2 (as composer); 3.16; 4.20 (and as composer); 5.25; 6.45; 8.18; 32.30; 68 (as composer); 69.8,18 (and as composer); IX.28 (as composer); X.33.7; 57-60 (as composer); 73.11; 75 (as composer).
E. Finally, we finally come to the westernmost areas: the kingdoms of Mesopotamia or Babylonia or Sumeria in Iraq. While the Mitanni kingdom was also situated in Iraq, the Mitanni kings were descendants of a people who had left the ancestral Vedic areas sometime during the period of the New Books of the Rigveda, and, although they retained their ancestral names and perhaps some ancestral skills (horsemanship, etc.) and religious items (the names of some Vedic Gods), had, by and large, become completely West-Asianized and had lost all contacts with their ancestral areas. So we can not expect to find peculiarly Mitanni elements (acquired outside India) in the Vedic texts. But can we expect to find elements relating to the actual Babylonians or Mesopotamians?
As Albright and Dumont have convincingly shown, certain elements of ritual, which seem to have originated among the Babylonians, made their way into Vedic ritual by the time of formulation of the sacrificial rituals described in later Vedic texts. As they also point out, there were commercial and cultural relations between the Indus civilization and Babylonia going back as far as 3000 BCE. Have these relations left no linguistic traces in the Vedic texts or in the Indus sites? It must be remembered that the languages of Babylonia and of the Vedic people were unrelated to each other. While linguistic clues have been discovered in Mesopotamian records of contacts with the Indus sites, are there no linguistic traces of Babylon in the Vedic texts? Although the transferred/acquired elements between the later Vedic authors (situated deeper inside India) and the Babylonians must have passed through many filters, particularly Iranian ones, surely at least one tell-tale word must have survived the filters and lived to tell the linguistic tale?
Finding a linguistic trace of the religious/ritual elements of Babylonia in the later Vedic texts, or of the commercial elements of Babylonia in the Indus sites would have been interesting. But what we do actually find is even more interesting: we find (if all the Indologists who have accepted these identifications are right) two linguistic traces of commercial elements of Babylonian trade with the Indus sites, in the most well-preserved portion of the later Vedic Age: i.e. in the New Books of the Rigveda (in Book 8). [As I have pointed out in my books, the composition of the other Samhitās and the earliest Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras must have already commenced during the period of the New Books of the Rigveda; only, those other texts, being less sacred and canonical, and more in practical use in regular ritual, were continuously redacted and therefore do not represent any more the earliest linguistic forms in which they were composed, while the New Books of the Rigveda, being sacred and canonical, were preserved almost unchanged in the original linguistic form]:
1. Hopkins, in his seminal article much cited by me, points out to a Babylonian word in the Rigveda: “It is only in the eighth book that the Babylonian manā (67.2) appears” (HOPKINS 1896a: 91). This word has been identified as Babylonian by many prominent Indologists (including Weber, Indische Studien, 1853, Vol.xvii, p.202, and Zimmer, Altindisches Leben, 1979, pp.50-51) and by many historians (including Rawlinson, Intercourse between India and the Western World: From the Earliest Times to the Fall of Rome, Cambridge University Press, 1916, p.15, fn.4).
2. The second example of a possible Babylonian word, associable with trade, in Book 8 of the Rigveda is bekanāṭa (in VIII.66.10), meaning a "money-lender". Hopkins, in his article Pragathikani, p.44, writes: "In a contract tablet of Nabonnidos (555-538 B.C.) occurs bakatun, which, 'from the context here seems to be connected with money-lending' (Barton)"
[Note: VIII.67.2 referred to by Hopkins is actually VIII.78.2. Since many Indologists adopted an ill-advised innovation in which the 11 Valakhilya hymns (VIII.49-59) were removed from the middle of Book 8 and placed at its end, and all the hymn numbers after VIII.48 were changed accordingly, there is this discrepancy and confusion in all references to hymns in Book 8 after VIII.48].
Apart from reinforcing our general chronology, this also establishes an important point of identity:
As detailed in my books:
a) The New Books of the Rigveda, and the later Samhitās and the Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras, represent a later phase of the Vedic culture (while the Old Books represent an earlier phase), and their geographical horizon is practically identical with the geographical horizon of the Indus or Harappan Civilization.
b) Within this geographical horizon, the easternmost areas represented the original geographical horizon of the Vedic Aryans and of the Old Books, and these areas therefore continued to be the area of the most orthodox Vedic elements (who, as composers of most of the Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras, often showed their disapproval of the less orthodox western areas).
c) Further west, outside this Harappan horizon, were the areas of what Albright and Dumont refer to as “the far-flung Indo-Iranian occupation” (108), the areas of the Iranian groups who had already moved off further westwards from the Harappan areas.
That two possible Babylonian words, manā, referring to a measure of weight, and bekanāṭa, referring to usury – typical words to be borrowed or exchanged between two civilizations having trade relations – should be found once each in the New Books of the Rigveda, when the trade relations are known to have been between the Babylonians and the Indus/Harappan people, certainly affirms (especially in the context of all the other evidence already cited in my books) the identity between the Indus/Harappan Civilization and the Vedic people during the period of composition of the New Books.
HOPKINS 1896a: Prāgāthikāni. Hopkins, Edward W. pp. 23-92 in JAOS (Journal of the American Oriental Society), Vol. 17.
HOPKINS 1896b: Numerical Formulae in the Veda. Hopkins, Edward W. in JAOS (Journal of the American Oriental Society), Vol.16.
TALAGERI 2000: The Rigveda – A Historical Analysis. Talageri S.G. Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2000.
TALAGERI 2008: The Rigveda and the Avesta – The Final Evidence. Talageri S.G., Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008.