collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘vedas’

Danava and other issues with OIT

>7. The main and older Rig Vedic struggle, however, was the rth-south
>conflict, the Turvashas and Yadus (the people of interior India the
>south) with the Vedic Purus of the Sarasvati River to the north. It
>continued long after the period of the Rig Veda as Puranic stories of
>Purus or Ikshvakus struggles the Yadus reveal. The Turvashas and
>Yadus were also called Rakshasas and Yakshas.

Shri Vamadeva Shastri: a very interesting essay expounding views
Talagerian genre. I will try to address all your points in detail as a
when time permits. But first this point: How did you infer that the
major and older R^igvedic struggle was between the pUrus/ikshvAkus and
the turvashas and the yadus. I noticed that in your earlier work you
even went as far as claiming that rAvaNa was yadu. Do you still stick
to this claim. On what basis do you make this claim? when it is not
really supported by any of the traditional genealogies. There is
paurANic evidence for the struggle between the bhR^igus and their
cousins the yadus in the so called haihaya period culminating in
hostilities under rAmo bhArgava. But the vedic evidence does not (at
least to me) really present a prolonged struggle between the bhArata
center and the yadu/turvasha periphery. There was possibly one major
episode during the sudAsa expansion but beyond that there are even
references to the yadus and turvashas coming from far to aid the
pUrus. Also note the reference them in the long gayatri to Indra:
nakirindra tvaduttaro na jAyan asti… ityAdi by vAmadeva gautama, a
pUru priest; it is hardly hostile.

While the druhyus, anus, purus, t and y are often mentioned in one
breath the ikshvAkus are kept aside on most instances. So they are
possibly a peripheral people with shorter phases of more widespread
dominance of the Aryan heart land like during the periods of mandhAtA
and trasadasyu.

How would you explain this with respect to you geographical model?

> Afghanistan at an early period. The Europeans called themselves
> the sons of the Goddess Danu. Danava was originally a positive term
> in the name of the Maruts and other Vedic Gods as Su-Danavas (good
Danus). It

There are many issues with dAnava first and problems for OIT with it.
dAnava had already accquired a negative context by the R^ig veda. To
understand this note the epithet dAnava-han applied to Indra fairly
early in the Rigveda itself. Indra’s hostilites with the son of dAnu
are also mentioned on multiple occassions especially in the hymns of
the mainstream pUru angirasas like hiraNyastupa and shaunahotra.
SudAnava is traditionally interpreted by teachers of vedic sanskrit as
good (su) givers (dAnavaH). There is a pauraNic myth that the maruts
were born of diti through an embryo cut up by mahendra. This myth
while probably having some Indo-European root is likely not to have
been an ancient one for it is contradicted in the RV by the tale of
the maruts being the sons of rudra through pR^ishNi. Thus
interpretation of sudAnava as connected to danu is less likely than
the explanation of good givers. Now let us see where the rivers that
derive their name from dAnu are seen: predominantly in the
circum-Pontic region: Dnieper, Donets, Don, Dniester and Danube
(joining Black sea somewhat to the south). There is a sporadic
presence further west like Don in Scotland and the name in the Tuatha
de Daanan of the Celts. This is contrasted with a relative paucity of
the Danu river names to the far east of the Circum-Pontic region. The
two important lessons that we learn from this are one: the
Indo-Europeans river names can be mobile so there can be Don in the
Pontic steppe as well as Scotland: so also for Sarasvati- there could
have been many sarasvatis and that of bharadvAja need be the same as
Hakra. Secondly we see no trail of Danu river names from India to the
Pontic region. So the fundamental split between the danu/dAnava
worshipping population: what may be termed in Indic vocabulary a
Druhyu-early- branching-Anu admixture occured in the Pontic region
rather than in Gandhara. This early danu/dAnvava- split mirrored in
many respects the later asura split. This taken together with the
later surviving Indians in the Black sea regions suggests that the
Indians and the Iranians were most possibly once in this region where
the basic theological construct of dAnava as demon occurred.

The conclusion OIT is far from explaining all the issues of IE origins
and migrations.

West East
Time Danu+dAnava|Asura/Deva
| Split
| Danu+dAnava<———[BOTH]—>Asura/Deva
|main river name main river name
| {danu} {sarasvati}
| Split
| Asura <——- ———–>Deva
| Iranians Indians
\ / {middle vedic period}

> a historic aura, and when the Danu-worshippering people had
> subjugated the Old-European natives/Finno-Ugric people and became
> masters of the land.

The point is that Danu was an ancient river goddess/Demoness and so
she was always worshipped by at least a section of the PIE community.
So you should see her worship associated with this community except
the portion that stops worshiping her. Thus we explain the observed
pattern: hence I do not immediately understand why she has to acquire
a historical aura to be invoked.

> Shouldn’t we also see a plethora of Sarasvati-derived names in the
> the Proto-Indo-Iranian homeland in the Pontic region ifIranian-Indo-
> Aryan split occured there?

On etymological grounds I postulate that the name Sarasvati was
applied to the trans-functional IE goddess only after the
Indo-Iranians had split from the Europeans. After this occured after
the former had started drifting from the Pontic region and invented
sarasvati in this period. One of the Pontic rivers Bug may be derived
from the god bhaga suggesting there were some alternative river names.
This god was common in the slavic branch where many of the gods are
called ‘bogs’.

> The Vendidad does talk about the Vanguhi Daitya river in Eranvej or
> Airyana Vaeja (modern Oxus?), where Daitya=’one who has received the
> Law’. The Avestan corpus should provide with many interesting

Correct, but this is to do with the much later split of asura and deva
worshippers: Note dAnu and diti are essentially different, though
later they may have been synonymized unifying asura and dAnava. In the
RV dAnava is always negative and asura is still positive. So I was
expressing doubt regarding vAmadeva shAstri’s theory.

taittiriya samhita and horse anatomy

Indeed the taittiriya in describing the hayamedha verily lays out a
dissection of the horse so it is unlikely to be making up anatomical
details. In fact I have often marvelled at the observations of some
rather subtle organs suggesting that our guys must have definitely had
a good knowledge of the horse’s real anatomy even if they chose to
mention aspects of only relevant from the stand point of the ritual.
Yet note the following mantra quoted from the taittiriya sMhita
refering to offering of the ribs of the sacrifice, and let me know if
you find anything particularly untoward in it:

agne pakshtiH sarasvatyai nipakshati somasya tR^itIya .apAM
chaturthyoshhadhInAM pa~nchmI saMvatsarasya shhashhThi marutAgaM
saptamI bR^ihaspaterashTamI mitrasya navamI varuNasya
dashamIndrasyaikAdashI vishveshhAM devAnAM dvAdashI dyAvApR^ithivyo
parshvaM yamasya pATuraH || TS 5.7.21

Similarly TS 5.7.22 provides a similar formula the offering of the
ribs other half of the horse.

As far as I can count the ribs offered in TS 5.7.21 are to 1 agni, 2
sarasvati, 3 soma, 4 waters, 5 medicinal herbs, 6 the year, 7 maruts,
8 bR^ihaspati 9 mitra 10 varuNa 11 indra 12 vishve devAH 13 dyaus and
pR^ithivi. On the otherside the ribs are offered to vAyu, sarasvAn,
moon, stars, savitA, rudra, snakes, aryamA, tvashTA, dhAtA, indrANi,
Adityas, dyaus and pR^ithivi. In both cases the associated vertebra
are offered to yama.

So from this would any of you all infer that there were only 13 ribs a
side on the ashvamedha horse? What happened to the remain ribs of the
horse? So one may conclude that for ritual rather than anatomical
reasons the text may be silent on some details.

Note this verse:
sUryAchandramasau vR^ikyAbhAgaM shyAma shabalau matsnAbhyAM ( inTS
5.7.19) note how they notice the adrenals and the medulla and the
cortex of the kidney. So they were not missing anatomy out of

“vedic” worldview?

> A major problem with those who criticize these sciences
> is a LACK of understanding of the “Vedic Worldview”.
> Vedic Worldwview if Brief: There is “something” within us
> that gets projected as our physical body, the same “something”
> projects itself as the physical universe. Now the real cause
> of any event is not in the physical plane but in that
> “something”. The past is remembered within this “something” and
> we call this memory of past within this “something” as
> accumulated karma.

Dear Sir,
with all due respects I have to take very strong objection to this.
This in no way can be called a Vedic world view. I strongly object to
the word Vedic being appended to every other thing in order to give it
a false sense of sanctity. The concepts that you mention are merely
one of the philosophical opinions that are prevalent in classical
Indian philosophies. While the Vedas proper have different
philosophical ideas, they do not subscribe to the notion of karma and
the atman as a imagined by some later Indian philosophies. These ideas
themselves are Indo-European in origin (Though some lateral middle
Eastern Influence cannot be ruled out) but they are essentially
para-Vedic. Only very late in Indian history (Post-bhArata war) did
they have some interaction with the vedic stream. advaita, panchratra
etc are not vedic in sense of the word. They only twist some vedic
ideas to give legitimacy to themselves.

atman is related to the Germanic word Atem and goes back to a PIE word
that probably meant life supporting breath. The vedic AtmA was closer
to this and not to that seen in the later texts. So your concept
should be correctly termed the medieval Hindu world view and not the
vedic world view.

Similarly vedic astrology, vedic mathematics, vedic management and
vedic numerology are phantoms of the modern Hindu mind.

How would you explain the term in Cha_ndogya in relation to
> soma: a_tma_ yajn~asya? Ain’t this concept of a_tman Vedic?

Well if you interpret the way the later day advaitins and other
vedantins did then you may think that the chAndogya was refering to an
AtmA in the sense of the soul. However, if we carefully look at in the
vedic context we can see that even in a text like the chAndogya of
the late kuru realm the AtmA concept meant something totally different
from the vedantic interpretations of later days (I never said AtmA
concept is not vedic, it not just vedic it is even PIE).

To illustrate this point we consider the famous tale of the dialog
between the kekaya king and the 5 brAhmaNas- prAchInashAla,
satyayagnya, indradyumna, jana and buDila (5.11-16). The vaishvAnara
AtmA is identified in the entire body with its brain, eyes,
respiration, trunk and excretory functions. Thus the AtmA is metabolic
process that permeates the entire body rather than being a something
whose projection is the body.

ta iha vyAgro vA sigaMho va vR^iko vA varAho vA vA kITo vA pata~ngo vA
dagaMsho vA mashako vA yadyadbhavanti tadAbhavanti ||
sa ya eShoNimaitadAtmyamidagaM sarvaM tatsatyagaM sa AtmA tatvamasi
shvetaketo iti || ChU6.9.3/4

Here again the AtmA is described as the common principle of life
existing in diverse forms like the tiger, lion, wolf, boar, beetle,
firefly, gnat and mosquito that said to be able to repeatedly
propogate themselves.

> Bra_hman.a-s are karmaka_n.d.a-s in the Vedic tradition. So how can
> it be said that karman is not Vedic?

The brAhmaNa protion should definitely be treated with greater
circumspection than the saMhita as they are more prone to insertions
and conflation of various intellectual streams.

Shri Reddy,
your mails have been confusing, nevertheless what you ‘vaidika’
friend writes is largely incorrect. I have said this many times on
this list but am just incited to state it against once more:
Unfortunately, despite all their education a large number of Indians
do not understand the foundations of linguistics. The unity of IE
languages and the inference of PIE are not going to go away how much
ever you may whine or bitch. The IE languages are more related to each
other than to any other languages- period. If you are not willing to
function within this framework your theories and models are erroneous
and need not be taken seriously for historical reconstruction.

A corollary to this is that traditional methods of understanding the
vedas have suddenly become inadequate as they do not take into account
the powerful methodology of comparative IE linguistics and mythology.
Through IE lingusitics and mythology we understand the vedas a greater
depth than it was ever traditionally possible both in the historical
and the religious sense. So if you all are missing out IE issues then
you are the losers as you not understanding your heritage correctly.

The undiscerning fellow will insist that the sun revolves around the
Earth and say that he see ‘proof’ for it. If you want to be in that
state fine, there is no point having a dialog with such souls.

btw the mantra that your fired quotes na karmaNA na prajayA…
is not a real vedic mantra. It is a late creation superimposed
erroneously into the upanishadic texts by those who never grasped the
spirit of the vedas.

Ask you friend why the taittiriya U says: prajAtiramR^itaM AnandaM

> It is true that one can arrive at a better understanding of
> the “language of” vedas using IE methodology and comparative
> linguistics. One can also understand the authors, their culture or
> the kings who sponsored them and their kingdoms. But to say that

Bhadraiah what is the difference between the above and below?

> these methodologies can be used to understand vedas themselves is a
> bogus claim. No effort has been made in this direction, and no
> results can be claimed.

I am sure you are meaning something subtle but I do not understand it.

But if by understanding the veda you mean their religious philosophy I
think the comparative information does help us a lot. Many of my
family members and myself perform rites the same way Hindus have been
doing them for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is no change
here but the reasons why we still do these rites and the significance
is only reinforced by the new knowledge. To give you an example the
term ojas represents a concept that needs to be ‘sensed’ to understand
some philosophical issues. Comparative studies show us the link with
the words like augos in Latin and aukhutai of the Shaka that helps us
to understand better the sense of this word in its original

> Apologies for my sweeping statement, and my respects to all the
> serious scholars. Your examples prove that vedic type rituals
> existed in other parts of the world. (Is aukhutai related to Ahuti?)

Well, apologies for a little typo: aukhatai, Avestic Aogah, Sansk.
ojas, Latin augus, Greek Auxein, english wax are all homologs.
Comparative analysis suggests that the word meant not just strength
but a in sense fertility as expressed well in greek auxein or wax. So
the presence of these cognates helps to sense the meaning is say a
vedic mantra like:

mahAnindro ya ojasA parjanyo vR^iShTimAniva of vatsa kaNva | stomair
vatsasya vAvR^idhe ||

This tells me how given the fact that parjanya/vR^iShTi and the verb
vAvR^idhe are used I must understand the term ojasa as in all
likelihood the great kANva had meant it. The raw might of indra is
combined with his ‘fertilizing’ effect as the showering parjanya and
indra expands his might pleased by the sacrificial pouring of vatsa.
The IE comparative analysis helps me in my religious matters of
appreciating the many faceted implication of ojasa as represented by
the english word wax/Gk Auxein, latin augus.

Paralatai, Aukhatai, Traspies and Katiaroi are the castes of the
Scythians. Aukhatai as the warrior caste preserves the military aspect
of the meaning of ojas.

As an aside Paralatai is a cognate of paradAta of the Avesta and may
sort of be an analog of purohita and prefaectus

> algorithmic nature of the ritual can not be minimalized as some form
> of ‘worship of fire’ or treating indra as cloud. Message-board
> hardened IE scholars should collide headon with the subject or get
> out, instead of insulting native vedic scholars just because the
> latter are not so sophisticated in their objections.

I am neither a message-board hardened IE scholar nor a vedic scholar-
my profession lies is an entirely different domain. As brAhmaNa I have
some familiarity with 3 saMhitas suffient to take me through basic
sacrificial rituals I need to conduct over my life. Additionally have
read throught the texts for a few other saMhitas, I have never made
claims of any scholarship native or IE.

I completely agree with you that indra is much more than a cloud and
even much more than a war god or an atmospheric shot, and worship of
agni much more than fire worship. But all this is for those amidst us
who are practicing Hindus. Most indologists are not practicing Hindus
but we need not reject their findings wholescale due to that. We take
what is relevant for our purpose and leave them alone as long as they
are not trying to destroy our religion. Our rituals are largely an
internal matter- so if the Indologist give us some insight but does
not really understand other aspects of the ritual- so be it.

To cite an analogy: The Moslems have harmed Hindus and their religion
in the worst ways. Because of this should stop eating Zilebia,
Jahangiri, Roti, some paneer dishes etc? At least I am not prepared to
do so.

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

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.

Greco-Semitic cuture?

I read with interest Mr. Malhotra’s essay on the travails of Hinduism
in USA in which he uses the term Greco-Semitic to contrast the Indic
traditions. While I agree with his well worked out analysis in that
essay I think the term Greco-Semitic deserves some inspection.

Primarily it should be ackowledged that ancient Greek culture was
close to ancient Hindu culture both in terms of approach to life and
religious practice. The modern European who considers the Greco-Roman
tradition as the fount of his civilization and tries to pour the
metaphorical Greco-Roman cultural wine into a Semitic bottle resulting
a grotesque view of Greco-roman culture. In its exterme form this
results in the following images: The highly philosophical and
scientific Greek who is rational and completely divested of his pagan
context. The glorious Roman art on one side is separated from the
Roman religion which is instead associated with a blood thirsty and
decadent Roman despot. The average Indian nowadays with an increasing
sense of historical cultural isolation of bhAratavarsha views the
Greek and Roman as a barbaric foreigner more like his recent British,
French or Portuguese tormentors. As a result the underlying unity of
prehistoric and early historical Indo-European culture is dissolving
in the minds of both Indians and Europeans alike. The yavanas of
Gandhara were able to quickly identify with the Indians in the past:
Whether you read the Milinda panha or see the Garuda stambha of
Heliodorus, the deeper dialogue of the yavana and Indian thought can
be seen. So in the interaction with the modern “greco-semitic”
culture the Indian needs to strike a connection with the Greek aspect
thereof that lies beneath the patina of semitic exclusivism. The only
solution to this is a proper historical education in both India and
the Mlecchadeshas and a religious education in India. This has to
start at home, for once an entire generation becomes Hindu (or returns
to the Hindu dharma) the forces of democracy would restore the Hindu
dharma to the rashTra. Outside bhArata the return to the dharma could
also serve a more important purpose of preventing a Fiji like
situation from happening again.

> There is someting of an abused child sydnrome or deep disaffection
> when describing nature.
> thus uranus has his genitals chopped off by his son just before
> copulation with gaea. Such morbid themes of patricide rape abound in
> the literature in sharp contrast to the indian versions. I had
> earlier pointed out the differences bewtween the greek and indian
> oedipus.

There is a clear substratum effect in the case of both the Greeks and
the Indians. The above tale of theogony that you mention is of
Mediterranean origin that was horizontal transferred to the greeks
and thus cannot be traced back to PIE ancestors. A person like Wendy
Doniger may tell us that it is the Indians who supressed their sexual
urges and sanitized their literature but nothing can be farther from
the truth. In fact the cycle of father kilings is a very middle
eastern concept making rounds in the civilizations in that region in
various forms.

Finally as far as their closeness to nature goes we will have to
look at their original religious poetry: we have lost the Greek
counterparts of the Vedas. But defnitely they existed. You must take a
look at the surviving fragments called the Homeric hymns where you can
see the more pristine form of IE thought. For example the Hymn to the
Dioscuri uses terms like sons of Zeus that match with Divo napAta used
in the hymns to the ashvins.

Again we have to view the Greeks from a different perspective rather
than the one offered by the Western psychoanalysts.

> Even then we should remember that greek chroniclers of alexanders
> time were able to make some connections between hinduism and the
> greek cult of dionysius.

Most importantly all early Indian authors clearly state that the
yavanas, mlecchas, shakas and hUnas are descendents of the druhyus,
anus etc who in turn descend from yayAti along with the bhAratas. Also
we must keep in mind that the Indians easily accepted the Zoroasterian
priests in shaka/pahAlavan period and assimilated them as sauras- this
was purely out of knowledge of the cultural kinship with the
inhabitants of shAkadesha. Also note much later the parsi dastur (I
think in the 12th century) Nairyosangha translated the avesta into
vedic clearly aware of the similarities.

The greek-Indian clash of cultures was so much less traumatic for the
Indians and the Greeks as well (as compared with the clash with the
Moslem) simply because of the cultural unity. In general one may say
that all pagan cultures instinctively recognize some inherent unity
amidst themselves (note the pre-muslim turks in Afghanistan) but the
greek-Indian interactions were deeper than that.

> > The greek-Indian clash of cultures was so much less traumatic for
>Indians and the Greeks as well (as compared with the clash with the

> > Moslem) simply because of the cultural unity.
> Does this mean that the ~300 million Muslim South Asians are

It is question of definitions; My original sentence had nothing to do
with the status of South Asian Moslems or Aryans for that matter.

If you define Aryan as people with the original IE speakers of India
as direct ancestors then definitely some Moslems of India, Iran and
Pakistan had Aryan ancestors.

However, if you define Aryan in purely cultural terms: the Hindu
elite= Aryan or cultural descendents of the the vedic peoples= Aryan
then Moslems are obviously not Aryans.

The point I have repeatedly made is that the ancient pagan cultures
saw the world very differently. Only the modern Hindus preserve this
view in any significant numbers. These ancient pagan civilization did
not really have constructs like racial conciousness and the Abrahamic
concept of holy war. So the civilizational clashes, which did occur
abundantly amidst these pagan cultures, did not have a long lasting
damaging effect like that witnessed in the case of Christianity and

As a thought experiment imagine a clash between the American Native
and India colonists. Even if the latter had subdued and overrun former
you would not have seen a displacement of the native religion or

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