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Monday, 26 June 2017


 А.А. Семененко
 Gymnasium No 2, Voronezh, Russia
Abstract: The article deals with all descriptions of cereals as  food in Rigveda. The author demonstrates that references to cereals as food already in the most archaic cycles of the Samhita point to  sedentary and agricultural (grain growing) economy of Rigvedic  society from the very beginning of its development.  Key words: Rigveda, Indo-Aryans, cereals, food. 

We get the earliest textual evidence of Indo-Aryans (further IA) from the Rigveda Samhita (further RV) [1] composed at least several   hundred years before 2600 BC [2]. RV includes four chronological layers: 1. Family Books II– VII, the most archaic core of the collection + the IXth Mandala (or cycle)— which is most probably a result of the extraction of all the Soma hymns from the Family Books; 2. the VIIIth Mandala or Book of song-like hymns added to the emerging Samhita (cycles II– VII + IX); 3. the Ist Mandala or Introduction and 4. the most modern Xth part or the Conclusion [3]. It is crucial for the establishing of the economy type of the RV-edic IA (whether  predominantly nomadic cattle-breeding or sedentary and complex cattle-breeding and agricultural) to know the source of nutrition of the authors of the Samhita in each of the four periods of RV creating.

Already during the process of composing hymns of the most ancient Family Mandalas of RV grain was used to feed drawing animals (úpo nayasva vŕ  ̥ṣaṇā | grásetām áśvā ví mucehá śóṇā divé-dive sadŕ  ̥śīr addhi dhānā ́ḥ (III.35.3), kr  ̥tā ́ dhānā ́ áttave te háribhyām (III.35.7)). It was also consumed by people as food (dhānā ́vad juṣāṇáḥ (III.43.4), yéna tokā ́ya tánayāya dhāníyam bī  ́ jaṃ váhadhve (V.53.13), sánti dhānā ́ḥ (VI.29.4)). It could be fried (bhr  ̥ jjā ́ti dhānā ́ḥ) (IV.24.7),boiled as gruel (karambhíṇam) or baked as (a small loaf of) bread(apūpávantam) or as a cake (puroḷā ́śam) (dhānā ́vantaṃ karambhíṇam apūpávantam juṣasva (III.52.1), dhānā ́ḥ puroḷā ́śam kr  ̥ṣvehá cā ́rum (III.52.5), dhānā ́ḥ puroḷā ́śam ā ́hutam māmahasva naḥ (III.52.6), te cakr  ̥mā karambháṃ dhānā ́ḥ apūpám addhi (III.52.7), práti dhānā ́  bharata tū ́yam asmai puroḷā ́śaṃ (III.52.8)).

To some extent more modern Mandala the VIIIth contains pleas to grant grain (tuváṃ na indra āsãṃ háste dāváne dhānā ́nãṃ ná sáṃ gr  ̥ bhāya asmayúr) (VIII.70.12) and mentions corn, gruel and (a small loaf of) bread as food (dhānā ́vantaṃ karambhíṇam apūpávantam) (VIII.91.2).

Much later Mandala the Ist makes it clear that fried grain was served with melted butter (imā ́ dhānā ́ ghr  ̥tasnúvo) (I.16.2). The most modern Mandala the Xth tells us about eating corn (jakṣīyā d dhānā ́) (X.28.1) and describes the sowing of seeds and growing of grain (vápanto bī  jam iva dhāniyākŕ  ̥taḥ) (X.94.13).

References to gruel (karambhá) can be found in all chronological layers of the RV (I.187.10; III.52.1, 7; VI.56.1; VI.57.2; VIII.91.2), as well as the to the melted butter-soaked (apūpáṃ ghr  ̥távantam) (X.45.9) (loaf of) bread (apūpá) (III.52.1, 7; VIII.91.2), baked (puroḷā ́ pacatás (III.28.2), puroḷā ́śam pacatíyaṃ (III.52.2)) cake (puroḷā ́(śa))(I.162.3; III.28.1, 3, 4, 5, 6; III.41.3; III.52.3, 4, 5, 6, 8; IV.24.5; IV.32.16; VI.23.7; VII.18.6; VIII.2.11; VIII.31.2; VIII.78.1) and  barley mixed with milk and Soma (soma gávāśiro yávāśiro (I.187.9), yávāśiraṃ sómam (II.22.1), gávāśiraṃ yávāśiraṃ sutám (III.42.7), índor yávāśiraḥ (VIII.92.4)).

Notably grain as food and food made of grain appear mostly in the Family cycles of RV, much less so — in the later Mandala the VIIIth and they almost disappear in the latest (I and X) parts of the Samhita. This textual fact totally disproves the widely spread (Aryan Invasion/Immigration Theory rooted) pseudoacademic concept of RV-edic IA being nomads in the earliest period of RV composition. All  points to the conclusion that grain growing was crucial to RV-edic economy from the most archaic phase of its recorded existence.

Yog (Page 254).

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