Oldenberg made a distinction between the 'original
text' of Rgveda - the form in which the rsis composed and recited their
hymns-and the 'traditional text' which, in a fixed form, has been handed down to
us by the oral tradition. Oldenberg made a thorough critical study of all
aspects of the traditional text in order to present to the world of scholars the
original text in the form and arrangement discovered by him. The materials that
are now being published in this volume were intended by Oldenberg to serve as a
Preface to his proposed edition of the Rgveda. They represent the results of
Oldenberg's extensive studies on Vedic metre, principles underlying the
arrangement of the hymns in the Rgveda Samhita, variations found in the text of
the mantras as found in the Rgveda and the later Samhitas and the Brahmanas,
orthoepic diaskeuasis, and the two Sakhas of the Rgveda: Sakala and Baskala.
Oldenberg, later, gave up the idea of publishing his planned 'critical edition'
of the Rgveda.
About the Authors:
Hermann Oldengerg (1854-1920) is considered as one of the greatest
Indologists of Germany. He was University Professor at Kiel and Berlin. He
translated the Dipavamsa, Rgveda and Grhyasutras into German.
Of his many books like Buddha, sein Leben, seine Gemeinde, Die Lehre der
Upanischaden und die Anfange des Buddhismus, Die Literature des alten Indiens, among
others, Die Religion des Veda (1894) is his most outstanding and
Prof. V.G. Paranjapa (1887-1976) got his D. Litt. degree from Paris in
1920. He taught Sanskrit at the Fergusson College, Pune, from 1915 to 1946. He
translated into Marathi J. Block's 'La Formation de la Langue Marathe' and into
English (in four volumes) A Bergaigne's 'La Religion Vedique d'apres les Hymnes
du Rig-Veda' and H. Oldenberg's 'Veda forschung'. He was Honorary Secretary of
the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (1923-27), Editor of the Annals of
the BORI (1934-39) and the Chairman of its Regulating Council (1975-76).
M.A. Mehendale got his Ph.D. degree from the University of Bombay in
1943. He was Professor of Sanskrit (esp. Vedic) at the Deccan College Research
Institute, Pune, 1951-1978, and Joint-General Editor of the Dictionary of
Sanskrit on Historical Principles 1973-1983. He is currently the Editor of the
Cultural Index of the Mahabharata (1983 onwards). His research papers and
reviews in English are available in a book entitled 'Madhuvidya' and his
articles in Marathi in 'Pracina Bharata - Samaja-ani Samskriti'. He has
translated into Marathi the Gathas of Zarathushtra.
(III)’ When the generation of scholars to whom we younger men look upon as our teachers felt called upon to make the text of the Vedic Sathhitas available to the learned public, this work could be and had to be undertaken only in the sense that it would reproduce that form of the text which has remained fixed in India for two thousand years or more. Works of pre-eminent merit were produced in response to that call of duty and thus was laid the foundation of all future Vedic research. Lexicographical, grammatical and exegetical researches were based on that foundation and by
dint of hard-fought, but victorious battles these researches managed to make themselves free from the authority of the quasi-scientific Indian authorities like Yãska, Pänini and Sayaçia, and learnt to apply the rules of the philological science to the 1eda with ever-increasing acuteness and
energy. At the same time one cannot ignore the fact that Vedic textual criticism has not kept, equal pace with grammar and exegesis. The two latter disciplines have of course, made ample contributions also towards the restoration of the original text of the Veda with the traditional text as the starting point. But the problem was approached always merely in a casual manner and never figured in the foreground as an object of independent research. The present work is an attempt to remedy this deficiency so far as the Rgveda is concerned [IV) and the present volume is intended to be
the preliminary part of it. The ultimate objective is to give the Rgveda text in a form approaching its original composition in so far as the available traditional text and the ability of research, of the author as well as that of others, will allow.
The way whereby to reach this objective need not he described to the expert; that way has not to be discovered now, we have simply to follow it. We might, however, be permitted to hint at a few points. First of all, it appeared to us indispensable to make as complete a collection as possible of citations of the Rgveda stanzas in the later Vedic texts and to list the variants appearing in them. It was necessary to pursue the question in a more planned way than what has happened so far of determining the text- historical nature and the value of the variants through their ramifications a portion of the prolegomena that follows seeks just to fulfill this task. Although in opposition to the widely prevailing view’s it turns out that the yield from the text-critical point of view derived from the other Vedas is relatively very small—and this in fact is the Opinion of the present author—the line of investigation indicated above is nevertheless not without its valise; we are not justified in dispensing with anything, however small, which can contribute to the knowledge of the original text; and moreover, while the inferiority of the other sources as against the textual tradition of the Rgveda is revealed, positive results regarding the latter (Rgvedic textual tradition) are obtained the characteristics of which provide an important basis for our treatment of the text. Also for the slitting up of corn posi ti hym ns, handed down as single hymns, (V) in to their composite parts and for the treatment of the hymns made up of strophes, the listings of the citations in the other Vedas and, together with them, the complete collection of the citations of whole hymns, parts of hymns and stanzas in the Aitareya and the Kausitaka Brahmanas, in the Asvalayana and the Sankhayma Srantasutras, to be provided in our edition, will offer an indispensable basis. It appeared necessary to devote special attention to those splittings of composite hymns into single hymns and of groups of strophes into single strophes. Nothing can induce us, out of regard for the traditional form of the text, to hold back from the splittings up where we are in a position to proceed almost
with mathematical precision —the splittings up which affect so decisively the genera) look of the hymns. It is, however, an essential part of the tasks of these preliminary investigations to bring that precision in this process of splitting tip of hymns to the highest attainable level and to make it proof against all suspicion of a play of subjective thinking into it.
Another main task of Vedic textual criticism concerns the phonetic aspect of the text which has undergone far—reaching changes in the tradition. It was necessary to study systematically the procedure of the old diaskeuasis which was detected to the phonetic form We have to attempt, one might say, to compose a Pratiakhya of the Rgveda from our own point of view, or, what comes to the same thing, to interpret the rules of the old Pratiakhya in such a way that there would be a detailed discussion of how far these rules are valid for the Rg-text because they were, in fact, in force in the language of the Vedic poets, and how far because they were introduced by the transmitters of the text. It was not possible to apply the approach outlined here to all the
phonetic phenomena (VI) concerned within he scope of this volume; the treatment here offered to the majority of the most complicated among the relevant problems will in the meanwhile give the necessary clue dir those that have not been specifically discussed.
If the views, stated so far, are characterized collectively as a textual history of the Rgveda, or at least as the main chapter of it, then it also appeared indispensable—and no specific arguments need he advanced in its support—to give a systematic exposition of the Vedic metre in this connection.
As regards some other subjects of investigation, which in principle should have formed part of these introductory investigations, the author begs the reader to refer to his detailed expositions set forth at other place: thus to the two essays in ZDMG, XXXVIII, 439 ff. and XXXIX, 52 ff. dealing with the characterization of some of the most prominent varieties of the Vedic Poetical technique for instance the hymn of the hotr and that of the Udgatr the prose poetical narrative and the Danastuti as regards the discussion of the Vedic peoples and races the reader is referred to an excurses in Buddha and to another essay in ZDMG XLII 198 ff. dealing with relationships and especially the relative chronology of the Vedic authors. The author has not felt it necessary to investigate anew the problem of the interference of the system of writing on the transmission of the Rgveda text he regards it as already settled such an interference in times which alone we are now considering times in which one could speak of a history of the text is excluded.
The orthography followed in this prolegomena could (VII) not be consistent throughout since it had mainly to reproduce either the traditional or the original phonetic form of the text. From the point of view of the investigations undertaken here accent marks barring a few individual exceptions appeared to be superfluous. However the author regarded it as expedient to mark the caesura in the case of the Tristubh and the Jagati lines.
The critically restored text of the Rgveda itself accompanied by the critical apparatus consisting of the material contained in the other Samhitas the Brahmanas and the Sutras will follow the present volume as early as the nature of such a large task beset with such considerable difficulties would allow.
The editor expresses his respectful thanks to his Excellency the Royal Prussian minister for instruction whose liberality has rendered it possible for him to undertake this new revised edition of the Rgveda.
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