Vedic bhiṣáj‑ ‘healer’ (*bhh2s‑h2éǵ‑ ‘the one who leads to the light’), the Indo‑European poetics of [LIGHT] as [LIFE] and the mythology of the Aśvins

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Abstract

Vedic bhiṣáj- ‘healer’ is the reflex of *bhh2s-h2éǵ- ‘the one who leads to the light (of life, healing, salvation)’, a verbal governing compound with *bhh2s° (double zero grade of Proto-Indo-European *bhéh2-es- ‘light’ : Vedic bhā́s- ‘id.’) and an agentive root noun *°h2éǵ- ‘leading’ (: Vedic °áj-, Latin °ex, °ax). This interpretation finds support in the well-known association between [LIGHT] and [LIFE] and, more precisely, in the phraseological collocation [LEAD (*h2eǵ-) – to LIGHT (*bheh2-) – from EVIL], which is employed in Ancient Greek poetic texts to express the act of rescuing a character from the darkness of the Underworld or from other distressful conditions of existence. Close semantic parallels are provided by the phraseology of Atharvavedic hymns sung during rituals for the obtainment of long life, as well as by that of Rigvedic hymns which narrate the deeds of the divine bhiṣájau ‘two healers’, namely the Aśvins. Further parallels may be found in the mythology and onomastics of the Greek Dioskouroi and in the Germanic and Vedic reflexes of the root *nes- ‘return (home) safely’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-85
Number of pages19
JournalIncontri Linguistici
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Vedic Sanskrit, Indo-European, etymology, poetics, myth.

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