Max Muller, the reputed translator of the Vedas and the original proponent of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) relied on the commentaries of the 13th century Indian author by the Sayana for his translations. Not many people today recognize the contribution of Sayana to our ability to understand the Vedas to some extent in the twenty first century. Max Muller had an easy task of translating the Vedas, thanks to the works of Sayana. His task of finding support for AIT was definitely tougher. Max Muller had to wrestle with the works of a colossal literary figures, such as Saunaka, from the ancient Vedic civilization to construct an unprecedented foundation for AIT.

Saunaka, a contemporary of Veda Vyasa, compiled Anukramani Indices to the Vedas. He indexed every line and every verse in the Vedas according to the Chhandas (Poetic Meter), Devata (Vedic Diety) and Rishi (Vedic seer). The manuscripts of the Vedas which were discovered by Europeans in the 18th century tallied 100% with the Anukramani Indices. Each entry in the Anukramani work had a corresponding text in the manuscripts. The Anukramani is the ultimate proof to the glory of the oral Vedic tradition which preserved the Vedas for millennia. The European scholars of the eighteenth century accepted the antiquity of the Vedas, to be at least to the time of Saunaka.

The reputed author of the Anukramanis had famous students who were equally credible literary personalities. Saunaka in his capacity of a Rishi had helped Veda Vyasa with the task of compiling the Vedas, a five thousand years ago. Saunaka’s name is found in the Puranas, in fact, there is no branch of Vedic literature which does not mention Saunaka. The historical status of Saunaka as a Rishi is attested to be a few mantras of the Rig Veda which are attributed to him. The Rishis of the Rig Vedas, according to Max Muller, were the closest relatives to the original nomads who left the mythical land of the Aryans near the Caucus Mountains. Max Muller had to prove that Saunaka, the author of the Anukramini had lived in the 5th-4th BCE to get his contemporaries to pay attention to his theories. In my upcoming book “Veda Legacy”, I  present the workings of Max Muller’s mind in digging out for what he considered to be key “evidences”!

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