beef eating

thompson at thompson at
Sat Feb 15 12:02:26 UTC 1997

Dominique Thillaud wrote:

 "... => so eating beef is a religious act..."

This, along with the comparative evidence from Greece and "west europeans",
is a good reminder that the eating of meat does not necessarily correlate
with a decline in spirituality or religiousness...

I have an acquaintance, who is a Cherokee in fact, and who frequently and
vociferously asserts that eating meat is not necessarily an uncouth
thing.... His view is that it is holy, *if* performed correctly....
Clearly, meat-eating, like so much else, is an intensely rule-governed
activity also in Vedic....  [I found myself agreeing very much with
Vidhyanath Rao's remarks].

To answer Dominique's questions:

The evidence suggests that Vedic people ate beef [1] when it is tender, [2]
at certain ceremonial occasions [such as the saMskAras mentioned], and [3]
at *both* zrauta and gRhya occasions. Thieme in particular has emphasized
the view that the zrauta system was essentially based on the model of a
stylized banquet [Gastmahl]. But this seems true of the gRhya system as

It is an interesting question: are there non-ritual occasions of
meat-eating in Vedic?  It also depends on what one means by "ritual."  Some
students of ritual are inclined to think that if it takes place in public
it is inevitably ritual [or at least ritualized]. Such perhaps is the view
of the authors of our Vedic texts, where to a remarkable degree it all
seems ritual.  [In any case, in my own meanderings through Vedic I have
never encountered what one could call "a private, unritualized, moment",
such as one might encounter in St. Augustine or J.J. Rousseau... Has anyone

As for the term zamitR' [rather like the Greek 'mageiros'], the most recent
discussion that I am familiar with is by Charles Malamoud ["Cuire le monde"
in PuruSArtha 1, 1975, reprinted in the collection "Cuire le monde: Rite et
Pensée dans l'Inde ancienne"; and now recently tranlated into English as
"Cooking the World: Ritual and Thought in Ancient India" by Oxford Univ.
Pr. 1996]. I myself do not have an answer to Dominique's question, but I
also would like to know whether this Vedic term has had a significant
post-Vedic life.

Dominique, I would be interested in your references. Please send them
privately, though, so as not to burden the List any further.

Best wishes,

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