collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘brahmins’

Guenther Sontheimer

Many Germanic indologists have been rightly or wrongly criticized with regards
to their studies. The older ones like Max
Mueller, as I said before on this list are in the grey zone: they did some good
and some bad for India. A wide range of
Indians got acquainted with the contents of the vedic texts through their
translation. On the downside their erroneous
views sometimes stuck on much longer than they needed to and produced a great
deal of confusion in the minds of the
Indians. More recent ones like Witzel, while making some insightful observations
have suffered from a very narrow world
view and failed to really understand the depth of IE culture in India.The more
recent crop including Witzel also appear to
be too philo-Marxist to be objective in their studies. Whatever the case, in the
general (and in my opinion somewhat
flawed) Indian reaction against the external Aryan origins, many of these German
investigators have been getting the
stick. I believe we should be cautious in our reaction towards these foreign
scholars. One example that was quite different
from the main stream was Guenther Sontheimer. His studies are of immense value
whatever maybe ones view towards
AIT. He is one of the few who saw the entire spectral continuity in Indo-Aryan
tradition from the Brahminical core to the
tribal fringe: the whole range of local phenotypes mingling into each other.
Thus he saw India very differently from the
traditional western indologist, who pictured everything in terms of a conflict
between the intrusive Indo-European and the
native tribes. Whatever the merit of his own conclusions, his data reveal that
the Indo-European core of India was rather
diverse, including, but going beyond vedic mainstream and have a profound
conduit for assimilation at the fringe.
Sanskritization driven by the brAhmaNas did not destroy native tribal cultures
but merely formalized it and fortified through
elite imitation*.

For biography see:
http://www.sai.uni-heidelberg.de/abt/IND/index/mitarbe/sta/inmem.htm

Now see how the desi hindu-hating media interprets his work:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?art_id=160982\
60

*This is how Hindu India preserved its diversity. Christianity and Islam have
been pernicious influences because they have
precisely aimed at erasing this diversity through their iconoclastic
monotheistic zeal

Beef-eating and the texts

> the references cited? The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
> VI.4.18-19
> reference mentions eating rice cooked with clarified
> butter and beef
> or veal, and sharing it with one’s wife is
> explicitly recommended for
> begetting <a son, learned, famous, a frequenter of
> assemblies,a
> speaker of delightful words…> Does this refer to
> beef?

This is the relavant mantra from the mAdyaMdina
shatapata brahmaNa that you mention above:

atha ya ichchhetputro me paNdDito vigItaH samitigamaH
shushrUshhitAM vAchaM bhAshhitA jAyeta
sarvAnvedAnanubruvIta sarvamAyuriyAditi mAgaMsaudanaM
pAchayitvA sarpishhmantamashnIyAtAmIshvarau janayitavA
auksheNa vA R^ishabheNa vA ||

for the daughter instead of beef we get the tila seed:

atha ya ichchhedduhitA me paNditA jAyeta
sarvamAyuriyAditi tilaudanaM pAchyitvA
sarpishhmantamashnIyAtAmIshvarau janayitavai ||

It is a well known fact that practicing brahmins,
vaishnavite vaishyas and certain shaivas (especially
from the south) generally abstain from meat. In the
case of the brahmins the the case is more complicated:
I know of orthodox, sanskritically educated brahmin
family from Himachal pradesh that eats meat without much
ado occassionally. This same person tells me that the
the kashmirian brahmins also eat a lot of meat and
apparently they adopted these practices from the
Mohammedans. There is very clear memory of my own
ancestors eating goat meat during the last large scale
Vedic sacrifices in Tanjore in which they served as
priests. A peculiar description is used in our
parlance for this: They swallowed small pieces
flavored with black pepper without allowing the tongue
to touch. How the hell they managed, this i was not
around to see! With my intolerance for even the sight
of meat, I find it hard to imagine gourmizing the aja
in proto-brahminical style.

However, cow meat at least was defintely not savored
by the brahmins and Indian in general for a very long
time . One of the well known Mohammedan atrocities was
to kill a cow and sprinkle its blood on the brAhmaNa
or make them wear a garland of cow entrails.

Almost all Indian cusine a very highly influenced by
British and Moslem imports so we cannot say much of
the early Indian culinary tastes with too much
certainity.

For example who invented the roti: the dravidians or
the Aryans or the Austro-Asiatics or did the muslims
or other invaders get it in?

Finally I remember reading in the valmiki rAmAyana in
original sanskrit of Sita promising pots of sura and
meat (beef?) to a generic goddess while crossing the
Sarayu or one otger river. I do not immediately
remember seeing it the English translation: was this a
cover up? I will check Sen’s translation later.

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