form-critical method points out that there must have been an older version
from where the Satapatha Brahmana took it. In the Mahabharata there is
also a deluge story connected with Manu and the fish. The facts point to
Vishnu's incarnation as matsya, the fish. Here it is not the task to interpret
the story farther. But it is clear that the method of form-criticism opens the
approach to all kinds of texts, genres or forms and formulas. Similarities,
dependencies and supplements can be examined. They give a picture of the
culture, religion and language of the whole mankind.
Koch sums up.' It seems clear to me that the Hindu deluge story
depends on a Mesopotamian pre-stage as well as the Hebrew deluge-
accounts. Both of them, the Hebrews and the Hindus, have undertaken
deep alterations. It is amazing that in Israel and in India there is a strong
tendency to unify the divine background of this deep break in the ages of
the world and to ask for the special righteousness of the human hero who
is saved alone."47
All old texts go back to an oral tradition and have a setting in life (Sitz
im Leben). In Investigating the various text levels the particular and
especially the social background becomes obvious. Since the form-critical
method opens the chance to compare respective text-forms of all cultures
it has a holistic perspective.
1. Heinz Bechert and Georg von Simson (ed.), Einfuehrung in die Indologie
(introduction to Indology), 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft,
Darmstadt 1993, p. 248.
2. Paul Hacker, Kleine Schriften, Franz Steiner Verlag GMBH, Wiesbaden
1978, p. 322.
3. Ibidem, p. 337.
4. According to Peter Schreiner, The Hymns of Visnupurana, (Habil. Thesis),
Tuebingen 1980, p. 9.
5. Jan Gonda, Selected Studies, Sanskrit WordStudies, Vol.2, E.J. Brill, Leiden
1975, p. 1.
6. Ibidem, p. 3. Ibidem.
8. Cf. Klaus Koch, Was ist Formgeschichte, 4. Auflage, Neukirchen-Vlyn 1981,