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Rishi Saunaka more important than Veda Vyasa to Max Muller?

Home ยป Rishi Saunaka more important than Veda Vyasa to Max Muller?

Only a few people know the value of the commentaries of a 13th century scholar by the name Sayana or Sayanacharya. European translators could make no progress without his works. However Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas, hardly credits Sayana. What was the reason? Secondly, Max Muller is the original proponent of the, now discredited, Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). However, Sayana’s work provides a list of key literary figures from an earlier millennium. Max Muller and other early Indologists had to explain the existence of their works to add credibility to AIT. One among them is Saunaka, the author of the unique Rig Veda index. He is a key literary figure to determine when the Vedas were written!

India honors Max Muller but choses to forget a monumental Vedic scholar – Sayana (13th century)

Rig Veda Index of Saunaka

Saunaka was a contemporary of Veda Vyasa. He compiled an exhaustive Rig Veda index, or the Anukramani. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas. In addition, he indexed them three ways, namely, by

  • Chhandas (Poetic Meter) :
  • Devata :
  • Rishi (Vedic seer) :

Europeans discovered Vedic manuscripts in the 18th century. Amazingly, these manuscripts tallied 100% with the Anukramani text. In other words, every entry in the Anukramani work has a corresponding text in the manuscripts. Therefore, the Anukramani text is the ultimate proof that Pandits preserved the Vedas for millennia. In summary, European scholars could not reject the antiquity of the Vedas because of this. The Vedas must predate this work. When did this work originate? It could dtermine when the Vedas were written!

Rishi Saunaka and his students

Oral tradition and Purana texts affirm Saunaka to be a contemporary of Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. Reputed Shaunaka is a towering figure for those who preserved Vedic literature. Besides, some of his students were equally credible literary personalities. Saunaka helped Veda Vyasa with the task of compiling the Vedas. This happened a five thousand years ago. The Purana stories too mention him. in fact, there is no branch of Vedic literature which does not mention him!

The Rig Veda recognizes Saunaka as the cognizer of a few Mantras. In other words, he has the prestigious status of a Rishi. In summary, the historicity of the Vedas is connected to this historical figure. Max Muller had to explain the presence of this towering figure in Vedic literature. The best Max Muller could do was to claim Saunaka to have lived around 5th-4th BCE. This claim was crucial for the very acceptance of AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) among Max Muller’s contemporaries.

Student Katyayana

Max Muller chose Katyayana, a student of Saunaka as the proof point. He chose Katyayana because we find two equally important literary personalities in the Vedic tradition with the name, namely, Katyayana. Certainly, two millennia separates these two personalities. The older Katyayana was the author of the Sulba Sutra text (read the post Katyayana and Sulba Sutra). The Raja Tarangini text says that this author, the student of Rishi Shaunaka, took birth again after a gap of two millennia. He then authored additional works. Max Muller took this as a convenient reference. Besides, he discounted the idea of a rebirth to be myth. The second Katyayana became the anchor point for fixing when the Vedas were written.

Suggested rewading

Lies with Long Legs – Prodosh Aich

My books on Mantras – link

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