Cognitive and cultural metaphors of wholeness in the Rgveda

by Kumar, Sanjay V., Ph.D., CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF INTEGRAL STUDIES, 2010, 267 pages; 3432449


The concept of wholeness permeates ancient Indian philosophy, perhaps evidenced in the earliest literature of the R&dotbelow;gveda Samhita. Using the linguistic methodologies of the historical and comparative method, lexical semantics, and cognitive linguistics, this study aimed to identify the metaphors for wholeness in the R&dotbelow;gveda. Specifically, how was the notion of wholeness expressed in the lexico-semantics of this sacred corpus text? Additionally, can linguistic methodology identify the various cognitive and cultural metaphors for wholeness in both the R&dotbelow;gveda and the earlier Proto-Indo-European (PIE) lexicon? The research also explored the semantic contrast to the notion of wholeness--the concept of otherness--in both Vedic Sanskrit and PIE.

The main chapters of the research are outlined thematically, with the first three chapters exploring how the notion of wholeness might have been cognitively expressed as metaphor for words that connote oneness, sameness, individuation, and inclusiveness. The following chapter outlines how the concept of otherness was in semantic contrast to that of wholeness in the lexicon of the Rgvedic vocabulary. The final two chapters explore how metaphors for wholeness were culturally expressed in the R&dotbelow;gveda: The first focuses on the Sanskrit word sarva- as a cultural metaphor for wholeness that denoted health and wellness, and the second outlines how the notion of otherness became a cultural metaphor for hostility and falsehood.

Using the theory of semantic fields and semantic continua, this work is congruent with current scholarship in the field of Vedic studies. The research is a continuation of works by other Vedic scholars who have created semantic fields for concepts such as beautiful (Oldenberg), heat (Blair), light, soul, vision (Bodewitz), money (Hintze), man, woman (Kazzazi), and femininity (Monc-Taracena). While this work does not claim to identify every metaphor for wholeness and otherness in the R&dotbelow;gveda, it strives to introduce certain metaphors that express these concepts in the R&dotbelow;gveda. The intention of this research is to reveal a deeper cognitive understanding behind the language of this sacred text, as well as to offer possible insights into the early Vedic culture.

AdviserJames Ryan
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAncient languages; Philosophy of religion; South Asian studies
Publication Number3432449

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