Against the so-called “racial evidence” of the Ṛgveda
The “racial evidence” of the Ṛgveda consists of certain words and expressions in the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā understood in a racial sense. As shown by Thomas Trautmann in 1997, the racial reading of the Ṛgveda was established by the famous Oxford scholar Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900) in 1854 . In his contribution Max Müller finds historical evidence for the existence of two distinct human races in the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent in what is the oldest transmitted text of this region (346):
All these epithets [ánagnitrā-, kravyā́d-] seem to apply to hostile, and most likely aboriginal races, but they are too general to allow us inference of any ethnological conclusions. The Vaidik Rishis certainly distinguish between Arian and non-Arian enemies. […] But there is no allusion to any distinct physical features such as we find in later writings. The only expression that might be be interpreted in this way is that of “susipra,” as applied to Arian gods. It means “with a beautiful nose.” As people are fain to transfer the qualities which they are most proud of in themselves, to their gods, and as they do not become aware of their own good quality except by the way of contrast, we might conclude that the beautiful nose of Indra was suggested by the flat-noses of the aboriginal races. Tribes with flat or even no noses at all, are mentioned by Alexander’s companions in India, and in the hymns of the Rigveda Manu is said to have conquered Vi-sisipra (Pada-text, visi-sipra), which may be translated by “nose-less.” The Dâsa or barbarian is also called vrishasipra in the Veda, which seems to mean goat or bull-nosed, and the “Anâsas” enemies who Indra killed with his weapon (Rv. V, 29, 10), are probably meant for noseless (a-nâsas), not, as the commentator supposes, for faceless (an-âsas) people.
This passage already shows that the text already was examined where it proves the presupposition, and it could be seen that in the case of ambiguous passages a racial interpretation has been favoured as the just most plausible one. A condition for the assumption of two clearly distinct human races in Early India has been that the homogeneity of the non-Indoaryan languages of India – like it was the leading opinion of that time – was understood as implying the homgeneity of the aboriginal population prior to the arrival of the Āryas, like Max Müller called them the “Niṣādas”. This idea was brought forward in the 1840s and 50s mainly by Brian Houghton Hodgson (1801-1894) and Reverend John Stevenson (1798-1858) like Max Müller draws upon both. This remained the state of research until Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) rejected the thesis of the aboriginal unity in recognizing the homgeneity of the Dravidian language family in distinction to Indo-Aryan but as much to the Munda and Austro-Asiatic languages in the Indian subcontinent in his Comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages from 1856. Throughout, language groups and ethnicity have been understood as equivalent in this epoch of research . Max Müller’s contribution had a significant impact on the ethnographer and 1901 census commissioner Herbert Hope Risley (1851-1911), who established nasal anthropometrics as a basic ethnographic category for India . In the article The study of ethnology in India of 1891 Risley presents his ethnographical program, and writes (249 sq.):
It is believed that a tall, fair-complexioned dolicho-cephalic and presumably lepto-rhine race, whom we have now Professor Sayce’s authority for calling them Aryans, entered India from the north-west and slowly fought their way, conquering and colonizing down the valleys of the great rivers. At an early stage of their advance they came into collision with a black snub-nosed race, who were driven away into Central and Southern India, where we find their descendants at the presents day […] No one can have glanced at the literature of the subject and in particular at the Vedic accounts of the Aryans advance, without being struck by the frequent references to the noses of the people whom the Aryans found in possession of the plains of India. So impressed were the Ayans with the shortcoming of their enemies’ noses that they often spoke of them as “the noseless ones”.
Contrary to the claim that “noseless” appears often, solely only one, maybe two instances of anās- are to be found in the text of the Ṛgveda (see below), and also the other terms which have been considered to have a racial sense are actually pretty rare. Nevertheless, the “racial evidence” became a true success story. In the translations and in secondary literature there is actually hardly anything else to be found when it comes to the characteristics of the opposing and hostile Dāsas and Dasyus in the text, which are beyond the vivid socio-religious  markers such as ápavrata- / anyávrata- / avratá- (“beyond/having another or no proper conduct” ), ayajñá- (“without sacrifice”), aśraddhá- (“without devotion”), māyā́vant- (“having sorcery”), śiśnádeva- (“having a phallus as god”), like they occur frequently in the text of the Ṛgveda. As a matter of fact the racial evidence provides a consistent explanation for the remainder of expressions related to the Dāsas and Dasyus in the text of the Ṛgveda which do not unambigously refer to the socio-religious sphere, and which are in comparison rather difficult in exegesis.
However, a racial reading of these expressions and hence the “racial evidence” as a whole stands on vague grounds because phrases that have been marked to have a racist sense could very well be read differently. This could be demonstrated easily with regards to the verse 1,100,18, where the poet praises the war god Indra: “The often-called (puruhūtáḥ), as always (évaiḥ), killed (hatvā́ the Dasyus and Śimyus (dásyuñ chímyūṃś ca), and conquers (sánat, inj.) the area (kṣétram) together with the white companions (sákhibhiḥ śvitnyébhiḥ)”. In the Altindisches Leben of 1879 Heinrich Zimmer sen. (1851-1910) writes (113 sq.):
[...] waren die arischen Stämme von weißer Hautfarbe: am grellsten wird der Unterschied gewesen sein in den ersten Zeiten der Einwanderung, als das Klima Indiens auf die Farbe der Arier noch nicht viel eingewirkt hatte. […] er erkämpfte das Land mit seinen weißen Freunden (sakhibhiḥ śvitnyebhiḥ) […] Rv. 1,100,18. 
The same interpretation is given in the Vedic Index . However, it could very be well be that the Maruts – a class of gods who are commonly assisting Indra in his battles  – were meant. This is what the medieval commentator Sāyaṇa understands when he explains here: “With the whitish (śvintyebhiḥ), white-coloured (śveta-varṇa-), those whose limbs (aṅga-) are shining (dīpta-) by ornaments (alaṅkāra-), the companions (sakhibhiḥ), the group of friends (mitra-bhūta-), together with (saha) the Maruts he divided (sanat meaning: samabhākṣīt) the ground (kṣetram meaning: bhūmim) of the enemies (śatru-) which had become his own (sva-bhūta-)” . A further indication that it is the Maruts who are mend here is the refrain of the last line of verses 1-15 in this hymn, which goes: marútvān no bhavatvíndra ūtī́ – the whole hymn is evidently praising Indra’s connection with the Maruts. It must be emphasized that both lexemes, śvitnyá- and śvítna- (both: “white, light”) are hapax legomena, so their meaning cannot be determined with precision. The “reddish ones”, who are – most probably denoting the same – are said to be in the company of Indra in 3,31,21 (aruṣaír dhā́madbhiḥ, see below), should be grouped together with the “white companions” of 1,100,18 . To my opinion, these passages and Max Müller’s exegesis of Indra’s epitheton suśiprá- (most likely untenable as “beautiful nose”, see below) fail even as possible topic of the discussion of a “racial evidence” in the text. The expression “Āryan colour” (ā́ryaṃ várṇam, see below) remains as the only point which could be discussed as racial indication of the Āryas, and is the only probably racial expression which could be found in relation to the self designation ā́rya- itself. So, it must be underlined that in the main the discourse is towards what is said in the text relating to the lexemes dā́sa-/dāsá- and dásyu-.
That the “racial evidence of the Ṛgveda” is not merly an issue for the history of Vedic studies and Aryanism of the 19th century could be seen on the fact that reference to a racial rendering of the relevant passages in the text of the Ṛgveda can be found even in present-day literature . This especially is the case when it comes to what Trautmann calls the prevailing “racial theory of Indian civilization”, and also in the discourse towards the Aryan migration theory the question if a consistent reading of the oldest Indian text in a sense of two different confronted races – one of them supposed to be coming out of totally different plains – could be maintained or not plays a significant role for the remaining question if the spreading socio-religious setup of the people which called themselves ā́rya- came from outside the Indian subcontinent, or if it has been developed indegeniously – although the category of race already has already been abandoned in the scientific discourse towards the question how the sudden presence of Indo-European culture in Early Indian history could be explained . Of course these are sensitive grounds, deeply affecting Indian identities. In the notion that a consistent racial reading of the Ṛgveda cannot be maintained – following the argumentation of Maria Schetelich (1991) , Thomas Trautmann (1997) , and Hans Henrich Hock (1999)  – I want to deepen the deconstruction of that faulty paradigm in this posting and I want to try to work out further arguments against it in re-reviewing the relevant passages . More than adjudicating upon an autochthonous Aryanism with this I am arguing from the position that human races are social constructions of the modern age and not essential fact.
In verse 7,99,4 Viṣṇu and Indra are flattered, when it is sung: “You have destroyed (jaghnathúḥ) the tricks (māyā́ḥ) even (cid) of Dāsa vṛṣaśiprá, men! (narā), in the battles (pṛtanā́jyeṣu)”. Towards the meaning of the compound vṛṣaśiprá- the first member vṛ́ṣan- does not make problems meaning „bull“ throughout. More problematic is śíprā-, and the interpretation of this word is uncertain: it denotes something in the face and on the head , so it is comprehensible that Max Müller has taken this word for also meaning “nose”. Frisk in his article of 1936 has assorted the different groups of possible meaning according to the gods who are refered to: related to the Maruts the śíprā- is a golden object which they put on their head , in 4,37,4 the compound áyaḥśiprāḥ occurs relating to the Ṛbhus, obviously meaning a copper/bronze helmet , but most of the times śíprā- occurs realating to Indra as a Soma drinker, obviously meaning something of the mouth . A sound etymology is always preferable to the assumption of homonyms. Frisk understands śíprā- as “tailing and flowing object” like the mustache of Indra , so that vṛṣaśiprá- probably should be taken as “bull-mustache” following this approach. Following the alternative etymology of Schlerath  the word would mean “bull-lipped”, which would fit well to the personal name dáśaśipra- – the „ten-lipped“ of 8,52,2 – obviously another renowed Soma drinker. Anyway, the Ṛgvedic vṛṣaśiprá- is also regarded to be a personal name , and so does not typify the individual Dāsa which is meant here. This word of course came to the attention of scholars seeing a racial interpretation of the text, like Basham writes in The wonder that was India of 1954 (32):
[…] there is, underlying this intertribal rivalry, a sense of solidarity against the Dāsas or Dasyus, who evidently represent the survivors of the Harappā Culture, and kindred peoples of the Panjāb and the North-West. The Dāsas are described as dark and ill-favoured, bull-lipped, snub-nosed, worshippers of the phallus, and of hostile speech.
In verse 5,29,10 the word anā́s- appears when again Indra is praised: “With the weapon (vadhéna) you have crushed (amṛṇaḥ) the Dasyus, which are anā́s. Those who are having contemptuous speech (mṛdhrávācaḥ) you turned (ní āvṛṇak) into the grave (duryoṇé)”. It could be seen already in Max Müller’s contribution of 1854 towards the “Turanian language”, that anā́s- immediately got into the focus in the search for a “racial evidence” in the Ṛgveda: because read as a-nā́s- it would of course mean that the Dasyus are “noseless”, and not only Risley had taken this as a clear evidence for that the so-called “aboriginal population of India” was of a platyrhinic phenotype. The same reading could also be found for example in the translation of Ludwig , of course in the Vedic Index , and even in the Oxford History of India of 1958 .
Also the other possibile separation of this word as an-ā́s- – “mouth/faceless” is well attested in the translations and the secondary literature. Some exegets take it in the sense of “faceless” as meaning “misfeatured” , but also often one comes across the reading “mouthless” in the sense of “voice/speechless”, and such an understanding is also supported by Sāyaṇa . Geldner for example translates it without further comment as “mundlos” (“mouthless”), Wilson translates it also taken as an ethnological marker as “not speaking Indo-Aryan” with “voiceless” , and Bollensen understands it as meaning “dumb” the same way . Besides, the appositional mṛdhrávāc- was brought forward to support this to read anā́s- as “voice/speechless” like Sāyaṇa understands this word as “having defect organs of speech” . To doubt such a meaning would of course favour a reading of a-nā́s-, maybe with the alternative connotation of untrustworthiness and falseness, like Levitt suggested (1989: 52 sq.).
As a matter of fact, a second instance of anās- in the Ṛgveda might exist depending on how the difficult rujā́nāḥ in 1,32,6 – the famous hymn of Indra’s fight against Vṛtra – is read, and it is most likely the evil demon which is designated by that word . Due to its popularity the passage has been treated extensive: a participle rujānáḥ – “having been broken” would require an unacceptable emendation , and also the other previously raised proposals are untenable , so a reading of rujā́ ánāḥ has been suggested . Thieme translates that “faceless by crushing”, and explains that this refers to the mutilation of the enemy’s body beyond recognition to impede his afterlife (loc.cit.). It is also possible to read rujā́nāḥ as “nosebreaker” here . Anway, there is no reason to doubt that the poet alludes to the anā́s- of 5,29,10, which pulls dásyu- into the context.
It could be called the “core” of the “racial evidence” that in verse 3,34,9 it is sung: “Indra, in slaying (hatvī́) the Dasyus, supported (prá āvat) the (literally:) ‘Āryan colour’ (ā́ryaṃ várṇam)”. This expression simply denotes the Āryan “group” or “party”, which is opposed to the dā́saṃ várnam , the “Dāsic colour” – “the group of the Dāsas”. It is comprehensible that this expression has been understood as having the connotation of skin colour, as Heinrich Zimmer writes in 1879 (113):
Der äußere Unterschied beider Stämme drückte sich deutlich in der verschiedenen Farbe des Gesichts und Körpers aus, daher [konnten] āryaṃ varṇam „arische Farbe“ und dāsaṃ varṇaṃ „dāsische Farbe“ concret zur Bezeichnung beider Nationen verwendet werden. .
Geldner translates ā́ryaṃ várṇam with “arische Rasse”, and the same could be found for example even in relatively recent publications like Hale’s Asura . The question why “colour” in Early India refers to social groups is of course reasonable, but there are certainly alternatives to the view that it it skin colour what was mend. The discourse towards this passages is charged with the fact that várṇa- in later, unhieratical texts designates the classical system of social classes, while ārya- outside the Ṛgveda refers to the three upper ones, thus Brāḥmaṇa, Kṣatriya and Vaiśya . Both is not the case in the Ṛgveda where the class system is solely mentioned in the comparatively late tenth book, in the Puruṣasūkta 10,90 (where ā́rya- and váṛṇa- do not even appear!). It is a diffcult problem that out of this context the system of social classes has been understood as having an implicit racial basis, as Max Müller writes in his essay Caste of 1858 (04/12):
At the time when this name of “varna” was first used in the sense of caste, there were but two castes, the Āryas and the non-Āryas, the bright and the dark race […]. This ancient division between Aryan and non-Aryan races, based on an original difference of blood, was preserved in later times as the primary distinction between the twice-born castes and the Sûdras.
That the Indian hierarchical system of social classes was established to preserve a superior Aryan biology could be found expressed very clear in the Vedic Index, “the end point and culmination of the formation of the racial theory of Indian civilization founded upon the study of the Veda” (Trautmann 1997: 206). Here it is stated (II, 268):
The race element, it would seem, is what converted social divisions into castes. There appears, then, to a large element of truth in the theory […] which explains caste in the main as a matter of blood, and which holds that the higher the caste is, the greater the proportion of Āryan blood.
That “race is the true basis of the [caste resp. class] system” has been considered already by Risley (1891: 240). It is comprehensible how this understanding of the text and its impact emerged in the colonial situation , but to our view the Ṛgveda actually does not support a notion of race, and does really not support the view of a racial basis of the caste system.
The discussion of the connotation of colours in the language of the Ṛgveda continues with respect to the fact that the poets of the text had a concept of “blacks” in the sense of “people” or “folks”, which is quite subtle in appearance, and it is not that easy to collect instances for it. In the literature the passages which express a notion of the “blacks” are often treated indiscriminately together with the ones which include the expression the “black skin”, which I am going to treat next (see below). According to my results a collection of passages speaking of the “blacks” which could be discussed would be :
- 1,101,1: “He aborted (niráhan) those who have blacks in their womb (kṛṣṇágarbhāḥ)”.
- 2,20,7: “The stronghold-breaker (puraṃdaráḥ) has broken (ví airayad) the Dāsic with blacks in their womb (kṛṣṇáyonīḥ)”.
- 3,31,21: “He steps (gāt, inj.) among the blacks (antáḥ kṛṣṇā́n) with the red ones (aruṣaír dhā́madbhiḥ, see above)”.
- 4,16,13: “He subdued (ní vapaḥ, inj.) fifty thousand strongholds (pañcāśát sahásrāḥ púraḥ) of the blacks (kṛṣṇā́ḥ) “.
- 6,47,21: “He expels (ápa asedhat) those all identical black children (sadṛṣīḥ kṛṣṇā́ jā́ḥ) away (anyám árdham) from their domicile (sádmanaḥ)”.
- 7,5,3: “The black clans (víśa ásiknīḥ) went away (āyan) by fear (bhiyā́) of you (tvád), as (yád) you broke (daráyan) the strongholds (púraḥ)”.
- 8,73,18: “Crush (ā́ ruja) the tree (vṛkṣám in 17) like a stronghold (púraṃ ná), like the one besieged (bādhitáḥ) by the black clan (kṛṣṇáyā viśā́!”
It’s defnitely not against the facts to consider púr- – “stronghold” – like it is said to be commonly the possession of the “blacks” – to be the nucleus of these passages. Although the literal term is left out in both verses (in one of them it is brought in by the epitheton), the notorious hapax legomena kṛṣṇágarbha- and kṛṣṇáyoni- are best taken to be related to the púr-  in the sense that the “blacks” are entrenched in them, so that “black Dāsic women” (for example Geldner on 1,101,1) most probably could be discarded. A display of the whole sense cluster would be something like this:
|2,20,7||(púraḥ) kṛṣṇáyonīr dā́sīḥ|
Considering who is meant by the “blacks” Gonda takes the term as a collective denomination of all Āryan enemies , but it is conspicuous that it is even dā́sa- which appears is this context in 2,20,7.
To challenge the “racial evidence of the Ṛgveda” gets rather difficult when it comes to the “black skin” (kṛṣṇá-/ásita- tvác-) , which occurs three times in the text in relation to avratá- and dásyu-:
- In 1,130,8 it is said: “Indra subdued (arandhayat) the black skin (tvácaṃ kṛṣṇā́m), chastising (śā́sad) those without conduct (avratā́n) for Manu (mánave)”.
- In 9,41,1: “Those (yé) who drove away (ghnántaḥ) the black skin (kṛṣṇā́m tvácam)”, and in the following verse then again: “We, overpowering (sāhvā́ṃsaḥ) the Dasyu, who is without conduct (avratám) …”
- Finally, in 9,73,5 it goes: “They blow (ápa dhamanti) the black skin (tvácam ásiknīm), which is hated by Indra (índra-dviṣṭām) away from heaven and earth (bhū́mano divás pári), melting (saṃ dáhantaḥ) those without conduct (avratā́n)”.
These passages are not easy, and two of them occur in the ninth book of the Soma-Pavamāna songs which is generally rather difficult to penetrate. Schetelich treated these verses in her article and is led to the formula “the Dasyu is subjugated while the ‘black skin’ is driven away” . Due to the difficulty of these verses I wouldn’t set me here regarding a simple statement like this, but it is certainly true that participles are to be found in every one of the three sentences, possibly expressing causal relations. To accept that “the ones without conduct” – most likely a paraphrase for the Dasyus – are not identical with the “black skin” would lead to the conclusion that this expression denotes something different, and should be taken as not denoting Āryan enemies in their visual appearance . That kṛṣṇá-/ásita- tvác- is a metaphorical expression for „darkness“ is maintained by Schetelich, Hock, and others, and tvác- could be even taken as meaning “cover” in this context .
I agree with the view that “the Vedic evidence that has been brought forward has been subjected to a consistent overreading in favor of a racializing interpretation, and that the image of the ‘dark-skinned’ savage is only imposed on the Vedic evidence with a considerable amount of text-torturing” (Trautmann 1997: 208). My aim here was to demonstrate that the relevant passages are far from being clear, that a racial understanding of them is not without alternatives, and that it is quite likely a wrong interpretation of the text. For that I have grouped the relevant passages and sorted these groups towards how hard a rethinking would be. I think the racial interpretation of a number of passages could be casted into heavy doubt easily on philological basis, but the argumentation is difficult when it comes to the connotation of the “blacks”: it must be admitted that the “black skin to-be-battled” is mentioned quite clearly in the text, and this of course could be a stronghold for the advocates of Aryanism. The Ṛgveda certainly must be understood as a hierartical text, that means the vocabulary is used here in a different sense than it would be used composing other texts, and this might be true especially for the meaning of colours . The idea of colours in the Ṛgveda is that they consist of different mixture relations of lightness and darkness which represents the categorical good/bad dichotomy. So “black” could be taken meaning “bad” throughout in the text, as Kuiper puts it (1991: 5 sq.):
The idea of hatred fostered against the non-Aryans was based on those RV passages that refer to Ārya as distinct from Dāsa, but the distinction was an ideological one, based on a dichotomy of the universe. ‘Aryans’ were in general those, who maintained the world order by means of sacrifices and gifts. In this dual world these ‘Aryans’ were on the side of light vs. darkness, of Devas vs. Asuras, etc.
However, unfortunately this cannot be the final argument on this matter. What is said in the Ṛgveda might be exclusively celestrial business, and Dāsas and Dasyus might be actually demons, but given the historical information which the texts transports  it must not be ignored that a historical situation and historical folks could be meant. In that way for example John Muir understood what is said about Dāsas and Dasyus (1860: 380):
There is no doubt that in many passages […] the word Dasyu and Dāsa are applied to demons of different orders, or goblins (Asuras, Rākshasas, etc.); but it is tolerably evident from the nature of the case, that in all, or at least some of the texts which have been hitherto adduced, we are to understand the barbarous aboriginal tribes of India as intended by these terms.
If “the blacks”, if the “black skin” or even “black blanket/cover” in the sense of “evil ones” or “darkness” denotes a specific historical group or not, if this group would have had a dark complexion or not – all that unfortunately cannot be judged from the text and a philological examination has its natural limits here. It must be admitted that this fact makes it difficult to argue against the paradigm of a “racial evidence of the Ṛgveda“, but in view of the heavy doubt that could be forwarded these difficulties can only serve as a defence because the notions of the “racial evidence” has been the established one.
 For the background of this contribution cf. Trautmann 1997 (194 sq.) and 1999 (being a forerunner of his book held as conference paper in 1996). Many authors refer esp. to this contribution towards a racial reading of anā́s-, e.g. Muir in the Original Sanskrit texts, cf. 1874: 394, and Wilson in his translation, cf. 1866-88 III: 276, fn. 3.
 Cf. Trautman 1997: 155 sq. However, in later works Max Müller has distanciated himself from attempts to draw ethnological conclusions on the basis of linguistic data: “I have declared again and again that if I say Aryas, I mean neither blood nor bones […]; I mean simply those who speak Aryan language. […] To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood […] is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a doliocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar” (1888: 120). Towards the rivalry of Indo-European Linguistics and Ethnology in the 19th century cf. also Rabault 2004.
 Cf. Martini 2008: 10 sq., and Trautmann 1997: 198 sq.
 I’ve taken this expression from Erdosy 1989: 37.
 Lubin 2001, 565: “This paper distinguishes three aspects of the word’s meaning [...]: (1) ‘rule’ in the general sense of a ﬁxed articulation of will or authority; (2) as the attribute of a god, it denotes the distinct natural and social laws that the god ordains and maintains; (3) in verses in which the god’s vratá is closely linked with speciﬁc rites […] it acquires the sense of ‘rule of ritual observance’”.
 “… the Aryan tribes have been of white compexion: most glaring the difference would have been in the early times of immigration, when the climate haven’t effected the colour of the Aryas … he won the land together with his white friends (sakhibhiḥ śvitnyebhiḥ) … Rv. 1,100,18″ (all translations are mine).
 Macdonell/Keith 1912 I, 356, fn. 6: “the ‘white-hued (śvitnya)’ friends who, in i,100,18, aid in the conquest of the Dasyu and Siṃyu are doubtless Āryans”.
 For example they also supported Indra in his fight against the demon Vṛtra, cf. Chakravarty 1991/92 and Oberlies 1998: 206 sq. (18.104.22.168: Marut). A monographical treatment of the Maruts is still a desideratum.
 Max Müller 1980-1892 I, 445: śvitnyebhiḥ śvetavarṇair alaṃkāreṇa dīptāṃgair sakhibhir mitrabhūtair [misprint: mitrabhūaitar] marudbhiḥ saha kṣetraṃ śatrūṇāṃ svabhūtām bhūmiṃ sanat. samabhākṣīt.
 Dhā́man-is a diffcult word in many contexts. Gonda 1967, 40: “by the agency of (the) reddish ones, i.e. of the representatives, ‘seats’ or impersonations (of the reddish colour), i.e. of light”. In the understanding of the Vedic poets white and red together reside on the light side of the light-dark dichotomy, which represents the good-evil difference, Elizarenkova 1994/95, 82: “One can see that in certain mythological contexts […] white and red can function as two variants of one invariant bright colour which is opposed to black”. A monographical treatment of colours in the Ṛgveda is also a desideratum.
 Furthermore, the general surveys of Early Vedic times based on the texts like Muir’s Original Sanskrit Texts, Zimmer’s Altindisches Leben, the Vedic Index, and the Oxford History of India were not only very influential in propagating racial interpretations, but as much like the translation of Geldner most of the contributions could not be replaced completely, and are still broadly in use.
 Cf. Witzel 2001: 8 sq. Bryant 2001, 60: “However, the quest for textual evidence of the Aryan invasion caused the racial interpretation to be favored, and it is this interpretation that has continued to surface up to the present day”.
 An English summary could be found in: Sen Gupta/Pathak (Eds.): M.M. Vidhuśekhar Śāstrī Commemoration Vol. II. Santiniketan 1990, 244-249.
 Cf. esp. 211 sq.
 A later version of the article appeared in: Bryant/Patton (Eds.): The Indo-Aryan controversy. Evidence and inference in Indian history. London, New York 2005, 282-308: Philology and the historical interpretation of Vedic texts.
 Cf. Mayrhofer 1991-2001 II, 636. I will leave out issues of accentuation in order not to overburden this posting with long philological digressions, although the accent is of course crucial for the comprehensive evaluation of words.
 5,54,11 and 8,7,25: śíprāḥ hiraṇyáyīh, 2,34,3: híraṇyaśiprāḥ. A headdress (another alaṅkāra)?
 Towards the distinction of híraṇya- (precious metal) and áyas- (use metal) cf. Rau 1973, 18 sq.
 Uncompounded in the dual, five times śípre, and śíprābhyām in 10,105,5. Frisk 1936, 81: “offenbar ein Gesichtsteil dualischen Charakters” – “obviously a dualistic part of the face”. Indra carries also several related epitheta: śiprín-, śípravant-, śipríṇīvant-, háriśipra-, hiriśiprá-, suśiprá-.
 A “schweifender, wedelnder, wallender Gegenstand” – “tailing, wagging and flowing object” from the root *śip- – “tailing, wagging”, and so the (sides of the) mustache of Indra, and helm crests, meaning the helms of the Maruts and Ṛbhus themselves, cf. 1936: 85.
 Schlerath defines *śip- as “schnappen, schlürfen” – “to snatch, slurp”, and so śípre, etc. as “lips” or “jaws”, cf. 1955: 321. Futhermore, Schlerath puts *śipi- next to *śiprá- (along Caland’s -ra- > -i- rule), which would result in the meaning “catching with the lips/jaws” (with an active ta-participle) for Viṣṇu’s epithet śipiviṣṭá-.
 Cf. Mayrhofer 2003: 88 (2.1.483).
 1876-88 II, 109 (no. 530): “die nasenlosen Dasyu”. In the commentaries he explains this with the flat-noseness of the Indian natives (V, 95 – not available to me, the reference is taken from Macdonell/Keith 1912: 347, fn. 7).
 Macdonnel/Keith 1912 I, 347 sq.: “… but the other rendering, ‘noseless’ (a-nās), is quite possible, and would accord well with the flat-nosed aborigines of the Dravidian type”.
 Smith 1958 I, 32: “From the Vedic hymns it has been possible to piece together a reasonably coherent picture [own italics] of the Aryan invaders on their first impact with the black, noseless (flatnosed) dasyus who comprised their native opponents and subjects”.
 Graßmann 1876-77 I, 181: “hässliche Dämonen” – “ugly demons”. Although the Peterburger Wörterbuch just states “ohne Mund, ohne Gesicht” – “without mouth/face” (cf. PW I: 189), it is refered to that meaning “misfeatured” by Macdonell/Keith (1912 I, 347, fn. 6: “‘misfeatured’, which seems that of Roth, St. Petersburg dictionary”) and Zimmer (1879, 115: “Roth im Wtb. sagt ,ohne Mund, ohne Gesicht’; er sucht wohl den Sinn ,missgestaltet’ darin” – “Roth in the dictionary … seems to seek a sense of ‘misfeatured’ with that”).
 Max Müller II, 549 sq.: kiṃ ca anāsa āsyarahitan. āsyaśabdena śabdo lakṣyate. aśabdān mūkān dasyūn asurān vadhenā yudhena vajreṇāmṛṇaḥ. – “Anāsaḥ are without (rahita-) a mouth (āsya-). With the word ‘mouth’ (āsya-śabda-) voice (śabda-) is denoted (lakṣyate). With the weapon (vadha-), the Vajra, you crushed the Asuras, the dumb (mūka-) Dasyus, which are without voice (a-śabda-)”.
 Wilson 1866-88 III, 276, fn. 3: “alluding possibly to the uncultivated dialects of the barbarous tribes, barbarism and uncultivated speech being identical, in the opinion of the Hindus”.
 Bollensen 1887, 496: “insofern die Dasyu die Sprache der Arier weder verstanden noch sprachen, nannten die Arier jene stumm (an-ās)” – “the Āryas called the Dasyus dumb because they did not spoke nor under-stood their language”.
 Hiṃsitavāgiṃdriyān, cf. Max Müller, loc.cit.
 “He couldn’t survive (ná atārīd, s-aor.) the clash (sámṛtim) of his (asya) weapons (vadhā́nām). The rujā́nāḥ, whose enemy is Indra (índra-śatruḥ), was completely crushed (sáṃ pipiṣa, med.)”.
 Geldner considers a rujá-anas- as “cartbreaker”, cf. 1957 I: 37. Lubotsky 1997 II, 1203: rujā́nā- follows Graßmann’s dictionary, cf. 1873: 1174.
 Bloomfield suggested a haplologic *rujā[ná]-nās- – “having a broken nose”, cf. 1896: 412 sq. Caland/Henry 1906 the same: “it ne put affronter la recontre de ses armes; les naseaux brisés, il fut broyé, celui qui avait encouru l’hostilité d’Indra” (311).
 With a root noun rúj- “crushing”, cf. Oldenberg 1909-12: 31 sq., and Thieme 1957: 89.
 “Trasá-Dasyu compound” *rujá-Hnas- – “nosebreaker”, cf. Mayrhofer 1992-2001 II: 452, already suggested by Geldner, loc.cit. It would fit that Vṛtra in 4,18,9 (mend here by vyàṃsa-) is said having injured the jaws of Indra, cf. Schmidt 1963: 301.
 Appears in 2,12,4: “He, who (yáḥ) has made (akaḥ) the dā́saṃ várṇam inferior (ádharam)”. Furthermore, in 1,104,2 the expression no várṇam – “our group/party” appears.
 “The outward difference of both tribes was a different colour of face and body, so the expressions ‘Āryan colour’ and ‘Dāsic colour’ have been used to refer to the two parties”.
 1986, 147: “In some of these verses the singular of ā́rya- must either be understood as a collective term or have a words such as ‘race’ (várṇa-) supplied in order to make full sense of the verse”. Geldner’s translation was already completed in the early 20s, cf. Jamison 2000: 2.
 Weber 1868, 4: “An Stelle der alten Gegenüberstellung von ârya und dâsa tritt in dieser Periode die von ârya und çûdra. Unter ârya sind die drei oberen Kasten zu verstehen … Und zwar wird der ârya varṇa dem çûdra gegenübergestellt” – “The old contrast of ārya- and dāsa- in this [the later literary] period is replaced by that of ārya- and śūdra-. Ārya- means the three upper castes [classes]. It is the śūdra- who is confronted with the ārya- varṇa-“.
 Cf. Martini 2008.
 Geldner translates Indras epitheton aruśahán- in 10,116,4 as “Töter der Schwarzen” – “killer of blacks”, but a *a-ruśant- “not white” = “black” is probably a bit too far-fetched. Indra’s epitheta are commonly related to the context, and 10,116 is a drinking song – I leave that out for now.
 Literally: “black strongholds”, but genitive and adjective in the Ṛgveda are showing possession without functional difference, cf. Zimmer 1978: 41.
 Following Oldenberg, cf. 1909-12: 96 sq.
 Cf. Gonda 1967: 41.
 On t(u)vác- cf. Jamison 198: esp. 167 sq., and Malamoud 1974: 78 sq.
 1991, 159: “Der Dasyu wird untertan gemacht, während die ‘schwarze Haut’ verjagt wird”.
 Max Müller 1856, 04/12: “The dark race is sometimes called by the poets of the Veda ‘the black skin’”. Geldner in the comments towards 9,41,4: “Die Unholde oder die unarische Rasse” – “the fiends or the unaryan race”.
 Hock 1999, 153: “not necessarily designate human or animal skin, but can also refer to the surface of the earth”. Graßmann 1873, 564: “die schwarze Decke, d.h. die Finsternis” – “the black blanket, i.e. the darkness”.
 Elizarenkova 1994/95, 85: “The semantics of colour code in the RV is often determined by its mythology, and therefore cannot be supposed to reflect the real state of things”.
 Cf. Witzel 1995, 308: “This information can then be comnined in a grid of places, poets and tribes. […] Finally, this grid can be combined with a chronological grid established on the strengh of a few pedigrees of chiefs and poets available from the hymns”.
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