Reassessing Rigvedic Strata

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Oliver Hellwig
Salvatore Scarlata
Paul Widmer

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Abstract




It is commonly assumed that linguistically the Rigveda is a heterogeneous collection of texts. Since the early days of Vedic scholarship, researchers have tried to correlate grammatical properties with individual parts of the Rigveda, aiming at identifying layers and strata. In this article we review stratifications proposed in previous literature and assess the support for these strata by performing statistical analyses with allomorphic linguistic features that have been claimed to bear signals of stratification. In addition, we run a cluster analysis exploring how the books are grouped given the same allomorphic linguistic data. Our results show that once we control for metrical positioning, prosodic structure, and content, the allomorph distributions do not lend significant support for any of the proposed stratifications. Moreover, the cluster analysis favors the assumption that book 10 occupies a special position, but overall differences across the ten books of the Rigveda are not substantial.




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