Excerpt from Vedic Grammar
The Samhita text itself, however, only represented the close of a long period in which the hymns, as originally composed by the seers, were handed down by oral tradition. For the condition of the text even in this earlier period we possess a large body of evidence corresponding to that of mss. For other literary monuments. It was then that the text of the other Vedas, each of which borrowed extensively from the Rgveda, was constituted. With each of them came into being a new and separate tradition in which the borrowed matter furnishes a body of various readings for the Rgveda. The comparison of these variants, about 1200 in number, has shown that the text of the Rgveda already existed, with comparatively few exceptions, in its present form when the text of the other Vedas was established. The number of instances is infinitely small in which the Rgveda exhibits corruptions not appearing in the others. We have thus good reason for believing that the fixity of the text and the verbal integrity of the Rgveda go several centuries fiirther back than the date at which the Samhita text came into existence. As handed down exclusively by oral tradition, the text could hardly have been preserved in perfectly authentic form from the time of the composers themselves; and research has shown that there are some undeniable corruptions in detail attributable to this earliest period. But apart from these, the Samhita text, when the original metre has been restored by the removal of phonetic combinations which did not prevail in the time of the poets themselves, nearly always contains the very words, as represented by the Pada text, actually used by the seers. The modernization of the ancient text appearing in the Samhita form is only partial and is inconsistently applied. It has preserved the smallest minutiae of detail most liable to corruption and the slightest differences in the matter of accent and alternative forms which might have been removed with the greatest ease. We are thus justified in assuming that the accents and grammatical forms of the Rgveda, when divested of the euphonicrules applied in the Samhita text, have come down to us, in the vast majority of cases, as they were uttered by the poets themselves.
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