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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Agriculture In India: Traversing Through Ancient Indian Literature

Dr. Ajesh TV
Agriculture is a system of life in which humans, plants and animals are interwoven. It has been playing a major role in the economy of India since the pre-Neolithic times. It was considered as an honourable profession and man took this as the principal means of livelihood. The earliest evidence as regards to agriculture comes from Mehrgarh (8000 BCE onward) in the North West and from sites in the Deccan, central India, Kashmir and the northwest [1]. ‘The process of domestication of plants and cereals would have taken a long time. Evidences of cereals can be traced at Mehrgarh and in the Vindhyas in 6,000 BCE. Wild varieties of rice have been found in the Vindhyan region in a Mesolithic context at Chopanimando in Meja Tehsil of Allahabad.’ [2] In later times, the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro proved that there did exit a good system of agriculture [3]. The fabric of Indus agriculture rested undoubtedly on plough cultivation [4] The discovery of the furrows of a ‘ploughed field’ at Kalibangan and the plough explains the really large extend of Indus agriculture, covering the North-West plains and extending into Gujarat [5]. The granaries at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the stack of storage jars at Kalibangan etc. suggest that the people were producing surplus [6] grains [7]. From the early historical period onward, texts and inscriptions in Sanskrit, Pāli, Prakrit and Tamil literature provide occasional descriptions of agricultural practices. Probably all castes and communities of Indian society, rich and poor, male and female were engaged in agricultural activities. They were commonly known as farmers and do not constitute a homogeneous group.
The Vedic literature gives plentiful evidence to agriculture. In Ṛgveda [8] there is abundance of data with regard to agriculture. Agriculture was the significant characteristic of the Ārya community and it was counted as a distinguishing mark of the ‘civilized’ from the ‘barbarians’. It was not confined to the lowest strata of population, but had been the occupation of a class of men who were held an important position in the society [9] According to Ṛgveda, cultivated fields are called kṣētra [10] and fertile ones urvara [11] which might indicate alluvial lands as well. Another term used in connection with agriculture is sītā. The term kṛṣṭi in Ṛgveda which denotes people in general, appear to imply that they were by and large agriculturists [12]. It refers to the preservation of seeds which indicates that agriculture was a regular occupation from year to year (5.53.13). ............


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