Stephanie Jamison, "An Indo-Iranian Priestly Title Lurking in the Rig Veda? An Indic Equivalent to Avestan karapan"


Rig Veda X.22.10 and X.99.9 allude to Indra's often mentioned victory over the demon Śuṣṇa, a myth in which Indra often works in concert with or on behalf of the shadowy figures Kutsa and Uśanā Kāvya. The two passages also contain the apparently related hapaxes kārpāṇé (X.22.10) and kṛpá́ṇe (X.99.9). There is no agreement about the meaning or derivation of the two forms. Beginning with Sāyaṇa, some take at least the first as belonging with much later Classical Sanskrit word kṛpāṛa "sword," while others connect the forms to the root krap / kṛp "lament."

This paper explores the mythic background of these passages and their echoes in other parts of the Rig Veda. It then suggests, on the basis of a web of verbal associations, that the unexplained hapaxes reflect phonological deformations of the name of a despised group found in the Old Avestan Gāthās, the Karapans (a word with disyllabic reading), found together with equally despised kauui-s (see Uśanā Kāvya above) in several passages. The Rigvedic and the Gāthic passages thus may represent two different developments of an Indo-Iranian mythic complex.