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The Vedic Background of Yāska’s Nirukta

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The relation between Yāska’s Nirukta and the Vedic literature has been discussed by several scholars, but other than focusing on etymologies, it has been insufficiently studied. This article casts further light on the Vedic background of the Nirukta by considering three kinds of evidence. First, it explores the occurrences of nir-√vac in the Atharvaveda and in the Brāhmaṇas. Next it studies a method for classifying mantras that is first advanced in the Brāhmaṇas and then elaborated in the Nirukta. Third, it argues that Yāska’s model of nirvacana analysis was informed by a particular kind of Vedic etymology involving the opposition between evident (pratyakṣa ‘present before the eyes’) and cryptic (parokṣa ‘out of sight’) names.

Affiliations: 1: Shanghai Normal University, The Guangqi International Center for Scholars


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