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Indian manuscripts without autograph? A computer analysis

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The computer count establishes that, in the case of Nāmdev's poems, there is no consistent relation between two manuscripts of the same ‘recension’. We noticed also that, when looking at variants from different angles, no consistent relation even between manuscripts is seen throughout. This suggests a very nebulous interaction between singing traditions and the fact that we should not look for a ‘critical line’ of Nāmdev or try to prepare an edition of the original version of Nāmdev's poetry. This hypothesis is a challenge to existing ‘critical editions’ of Early Hindi Poetry, in which generally the ‘original’ version is reconstructed after constructing a stemma based on (scribal) variants. If there is no stemma and no justified ‘critical’ line, then what do we have? We have the conviction that, possibly for centuries, a Nāmdev enthusiasm was enchanting people in Rajasthan and Punjab (North-West India), linked vaguely to Nāmdev's hymns of the 14th century.


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