Mr Chandran made some generally important observations
regarding the role of mantra as an assumed devotional
This holds true if one looks at the mantras in the
vedic saMhitas themselves. A comparison with the
yashts of the Avesta and for that matter even the
underlying spirit of the gathas the very same
sentiment of devotional poetry to the Indo-Iranian
deities is seen. This is also seen in other fragments
of Indo-European culture that survive like the
Homerical hymns in Greek. The traditions of practice
associated with the Avesta and the Vedas are similar
in that they command immense respect in cultures that
are intellectual and/or genetic descendents of the
original producers *eventhough the popular religions
of these cultures may have diverged immensely*. When
one looks at the later layers of the brAhmaNa
literature one can see that the various strands of
popular religion are already diverging way away from
the saMhita religion. This is the main problem with
all Western mainstream Models of the Aryan issue which
place the Vedas in Indian after 1700BC. Where does all
this divergence come from? (I beseech the interested
list members to pursue this line of thought and see
what it tells them. I do not want to say anything
about AIT due the general allergy for it on the list).
Once one views the Vedic saMhitas as *INDO-EUROPEAN*
religio-philosophical poetry with all its basic
directions then one can see that there were really
only a narrow set meanings intended for each mantra.
This is *Not* to say that the entire corpus did not
encompass diversity. We have the purusha sUktaM and
the nAsadiya sUktam sitting next to each other in the
However the later interpretation starting from the
late brAhmaNa period have completely missed the
original meanings [So there is no sense in the
bickerings of a guy like LS on this matter- just some
vague statements having missed some original point].
There have been some tracts of brilliance on part of
later commentators , I think skandasvAmin was one
such, but misunderstanding of the saMhitas loomed
large. One example of this is the pauranic veda homas.
These lists like in the agni purANa give a list of
vedic mantra from all 4 that are used for various
purposes. Like for example pratar-agniM partar
mitravaruNa… (RVmandala7) for getting a wife. Now
there is connection between the Mantra and its use. So
there is no surprise that Staal or Indian applicants
make the statements they have made.
All this said the entity called India of today and its
precursor greater India that covered most of SE-Asia
exist because of the progeny cultures of the Vedic
peoples. So the individual sub-cultures of the India
really mean less to the unified structure called
Jambudvipa. It goes to the credit of the brAhmaNas
(the simple objective truth, not because I happen to
be one) that they figured out a relatively
non-destructive way imposing the unifying vedic
culture by non-destructively recycling and preserving
local traditions. The survival of this system cannot
be attributed to the brAhmaNas as much as to the
vaishyas and the shudras. Thus even though the brahMin
supported by kshatriya/vaishya patrons may have played
a significant role in the formalization of the
extended daughter culture of Vedic#, its acceptance by
all inhabitants of Jambudvipa, suggests that it is the
main stay of a common Indic culture and religious
stream that goes under name neomorphic name Hindu.
This point of course is devastating to people with
socialist, Monotheist and other kookish agendas and
will not be seen by them.
#by Vedic I follow more extended definition: Indic
Indo-Europeans not talageri’s definition that is
probably right sensu strictu.
> Also why is avesta only associated with gAthas, are there no Rks or
> equivalent? How many gAthas are in veda? Is it that Rks are
> and gAthas are local traditions? Or did we lose gAthas just as
> may have lost Rks?
The term gatha does definitely go back to the common Indo-Iranian
period. While they were Pan-Indo-Iranian poetic structures to start
with, their development was particularly common in the Iranian-kANva
locus. While not directly called that, gAthas do survive in the
Indo-Aryan tradition while being remodelled in the later vedic period.
One example in my opinion of such a surviving gatha is the Atharvaveda
Shaunaka 5.11. The R^ik might be a more local development amidst the Indo-Aryans R^ishis but it is possible that it
is merely an artefact of poor preservation of the Iranian material.
The yashts could be equivalent to the yajus though it appears
equivalence in not a homologous one.