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Brill’s Studies in South and Southwest Asian Languages (BSSAL) is a peer-reviewed series that provides a venue for high-quality descriptive and theoretical studies on the languages of South and Southwest Asia, both monograph-length studies as well as multi-authored volumes dealing with particular topics. The series also welcomes contributions on educational aspects of South and Southwest Asian languages, including language textbooks and other educational materials.

In the political sense, South Asia encompasses the seven independent states of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but linguistically and culturally also includes some adjacent areas to the east and north, notably Tibet. Southwest Asia is understood here as comprising the Iranian language-speaking territory to the west of South Asia, i.e., the states of Afghanistan and Iran and the geocultural transnational region Kurdistan, consisting of parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

The languages – both ancient and modern – of South and Southwest Asia have played a central role in linguistics from the field’s very beginnings as a modern scientific endeavor, and continue to occupy a central position in discussions in many linguistic sub-disciplines, including the following, among others:

• phonology
• morphology
• syntax
• historical linguistics
• sociolinguistics
• typology and language universals
• multilingualism
• areal studies
• heritage languages
• writing systems

The series seeks high-quality, state-of-the-art contributions on all aspects of the languages of this linguistically diverse and fascinating area.

Author:

Abstract

In this paper I offer a solution to the meaning of the word triṣaptā́ḥ found at the beginning of the Atharvaveda (Śaunaka-Saṁhitā 1.1.1 ~ Paippalāda-Saṁhitā 1.6.1). After a discussion of the many previous attempts to understand the meaning of this term in this particular verse, I propose that triṣaptā́ḥ refers here to ‘three times seven’ breaths, that the speaker of the verse in question is a Brahmacārin, and that the sūkta as a whole is intended to be recited by this figure at his initiation. With these pieces of the puzzle in place, I argue, the remainder of the sūkta, including for instance the role of Vācaspati, is also much better understood.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

Abstract

The single Chinese scroll comprised of manuscripts P 2893 (Paris) and Ch. 00265 (London) contains the Late Khotanese āyurvedic text conventionally titled Piṇḍaśāstra and so far unidentified in other languages. As a contribution to the interpretation of the text and to the knowledge of Khotanese medical terminology, the article offers two etymologies and reinterprets two ghostwords paying close attention to the contexts where they occur: (1) dūvara- ‘watery abdominal swelling, dropsy’ is a loanword from Gāndhārī *dag̱odara- < Old Indian dakodara- and, like Tibetan dmu rdzing, translates the Sanskrit general term udara- ‘abdominal swelling’; (2) the accusative plural pīrą̄nā and genitive plural pīrą̄nāṃ are from pirānaa- ‘worm grains’, a compound of pära- ‘worm’ and -ānaa- < Iranian *dāna-ka- ‘(single) grain, seed’, referring to the proglottids of tapeworms in excrement; (3) āvaṃjsä is not a hapax meaning ‘compact’ (Bailey) but should be read ā-v-aṃ jsä ‘or with them’; (4) bu’jsai is not a hapax meaning ‘fiery’ (Bailey) but the regular outcome of the Old Khotanese nominative plural buljse from buljsaā- ‘virtue’.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

Abstract

The Lalitavistara is one of the most influential hagiographies of the Buddha. It has been known in Sanskrit since the early days of modern studies of Buddhism, but was long available only in inadequate editions. That has now changed with the publication of the edition of K. Hokazono, now complete in three volumes. The present paper discusses something of the history of the study of the text, Hokazono’s edition, and another recent book by G. Ducoeur that deals with the text, as well as touching on a contribution by Xi He on the poetics of the text. It includes a concordance of a recent translation from Tibetan published by the 84000 project, aligning its sections with the Sanskrit editions of Lefmann and Hokazono.

Open Access
In: Indo-Iranian Journal
In: Indo-Iranian Journal
Author:

Abstract

This paper has two purposes. The first is to provide an accurate definition and history of the origin of the Sanskrit term akṣayanīvī. The standard scholarly translation of this term, which is encountered almost exclusively in inscriptions, is “permanent endowment” and has been established since the mid-19th century. It will be shown that the usual translations of both members of the compound—akṣaya as “permanent” and nīvī as “endowment”—are at the least misleading. This will be accomplished through a discussion of the occurrences of the terms in the Adhyakṣapracāra “Activities of Superintendents” (Book II of the Kauṭilya Arthaśāstra), with a particular focus on KA 2.6.27 which contains an explicit definition of nīvī. The second purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the Adhyakṣapracāra, the largest and most perplexing chapter of the KA , utilizes a technical vocabulary which points to a specific context of production. This will be done through an examination of a series of fiscal and administrative technical terms which occur in the Adhyakṣapracāra and which emerge in the Indian epigraphic record at around the time period and geographic region commonly given for the composition of the text (ca. 1st c. BCE—1st c. CE Western Maharashtra/Southern Gujarat).

In: Indo-Iranian Journal
Author:

Abstract

This paper provides a new interpretation of a type of etymological explanation (T) characteristic of Yāska’s Nirukta. The proposed interpretation sheds light on Yāska’s distinctive ideas on the relation between semantics and etymology. Exemplified by the occurrence meghaḥmehati iti sataḥ, T conveys the following information: the noun to be explained is a name (nāman-) that denotes a certain thing (sattva-) as characterized by a certain action. In the example, the noun meghaḥ is a name that denotes the thing cloud as emitting rain-water (mehati). T operates with two ideas intersecting semantics and etymology: (1) names denote things in relation to the latter’s association with a name-giving action; (2) one thing can receive various names in relation to various name-giving actions. While (1) underlies Yāska’s etymologies in general, (2) informs T as well as the structural organization of noun groups in the Nighaṇṭu ‘Thesaurus’, the word-list constituting the root-text commented upon in the Nirukta. Recognition that (2) underlies both T and the Nighaṇṭu noun groups is consistent with the observation that most nouns explained with T occur in the Nighaṇṭu.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal

Abstract

This study proposes a new understanding of the semantics behind Sanskrit śigru-, which Lubotsky (2002) suggested is a loanword from Scythian related to Old Persian *θigra(ka)- and Modern Persian sīr “garlic.” Although śigru- has been assumed to refer to Moringa oleifera Lam. “drumstick tree,” Meulenbeld (2009=2018) has shown that in Āyurvedic literature it is not exclusively used to denote moringa, but must have referred to various pungent, pro-pitta plants. Lubotsky proposed that what links śigru- (as moringa) to Iranian words for garlic is the idea of a sharp shape. However, given Meulenbeld’s conclusions, enhanced by the survey of śigru- in non-Āyurvedic literature undertaken here, the author proposes that the connection is sharp taste rather than shape. The pungent connection is supported by the fact that Dharma texts forbid eating śigru- along with garlic and onions, as well as by semantic developments of the Sanskrit root tij-. Finally, the survey allows for some cultural explanations of the traditional garlic-and-onion prohibition.

In: Indo-Iranian Journal