other text. In the RV, the word
occurs in at least 75 passages. Acceptance of one moreoccurrence (8.54.4) would depend on whether the composition concerned is accepted as agenuine part of the anthology.
In addition, we come across passages in which forms of therelated lexemes
occur. All these passages are collected in theAppendix below. Translations of those passages which bear directly on the main concern of theessay are also given and selectively discussed in the Appendix.
in the RV refers to both a river and a divinity (deity or goddess) has been knownat least from the time of Yåska, the author of the Nirukta, unlikely to be later than the 6th centuryB.C. Yåska (2.23) observes:
sarasvat^ty-etasya nad^vad devatåvac ca nigamå bhavanti.
"TheVedic expressions indicative of S are as they would be in the case of a river and also as theywould be in the case of a deity.Æ If we leave aside the verses collected in the Appendix that donot inform us about the river even indirectly –– that is, not even through a word meaning 'wateræor through words, acts and characters we would associate with rivers or waters –– then our list of passages that can help us, at least potentially, as primary sources would consist of the following(all verse numbers not preceded by the name of any other source should be understood asreferring to the RV text; where my reason for the inclusion in river-referring passages is notlikely to be immediately clear, a hint is provided in parentheses; if that proves to be insufficient,the Appendix should be consulted for the full text of the verse):1.3.12, 2.41.16, 3.23.4, 5.42.12, 5.43.11, U6.52.6,
U6.61.1, U6.61.2, U6.61.3, U6.61.8,U6.61.9 (cf.
in the context of S in U6.61.10), U6.61.10, U6.61.12 (one expects peoples tobe settled around river banks in the ancient world), U6.61.13 (cf.
in ‡4.2), U6.61.14,7.36.6, 7.95.1, 7.95.2, 7.95.4 (cf. other passages such as U6.61.9 that speak of svas®s of S; ‡‡3.2-7), 7.96.1, 8.54.4, 10.30.12, 10.64.9, 10.65.13, 10.75.5.
Of these, the two specified below should be set aside as containing too indirect anindication of a river (I have given those words in parentheses which initially made me entertainthe 'riveræ possibility):U6.61.1 (
): Just because the Pa
is are sometimes said to be water-faring persons, wemay think that the verse is associated with S, the river. However, there is no other word in theverse that would give the impression that the verse speaks about or addresses a river. The act of
The composition I have in mind here is a Vålakhilya hymn. The Vålakhilya group of hymns, totaling 11 andadded after RV 8.48, that is, numbered 8.49-59, is not universally recognized as a genuine part of the RV. Thetraditional commentators, Såya
a and others referred to by me in this essay do not comment on it. It should,however, be noted that the MBh (3.88.9) sees a close association between the Vålakhilyas and the S:
sarasvat^ nad^ sadbhi˙ satataµ pårtha p¨jitå / vålakhilyair mahåråja yatre
ibhi˙ purå //
"O son of P®thå, great king, the Sriver, where the Vålakhilya seers performed sacrifices in the past, has been worshipped continuously by good men.Æ
(a) "UÆ stands for "unordered,Æ which, in turn, refers to those hymns which Hermann Oldenberg (1888) foundto be out of the expected order in the ma
alas, 'books,æ of the RV. The characterization
be taken as indicatingrelatively later accommodation in the development of the RV as a collection, but it does not imply that the hymn socharacterized or every verse included therein is indeed late; cf. Talageri 2008: 117, 153-162. Each case needs to bedetermined by studying the stage of language reflected in it and external evidence if any.(b) In the case of some of the following verses I have briefly indicated in parentheses why they should bethought of as concerned with the river S.