aMsala = "tender"?

Timothy Lubin tl4d at
Tue Feb 18 22:03:54 UTC 1997

During the recent and lengthy discussion of beef-eating in ancient India,
several people have cited the famous remark attributed to Yaaj~navalkya in
Zatapatha BraahmaNa  Doubtless this is evidence for eating beef in
some context, although the very fact of the ZB discussion on the matter
suggests that it was a subject of debate in some respect within the tradition
by that point.

My question regards the condition Y. places on his meat consumption. 
Everyone seems to accept Julius Eggeling's translation of the term _aMsala_
as "tender," despite the fact that Boehtlingk and Roth define it as "stark,
kraeftig" (and thence Monier-Williams's "lusty, strong"), citing PaaNini and
some Skt. lexicons in addition to ZB, and understanding it to be related to
_aMsa_ "shoulder."  

The term is not common, and the only early occurrence is the one in ZB, so
far as I know.  Can we really follow Eggeling in this?  Are there any less
circumstantial reasons for understanding it to mean tender?  Why not "firm,"
"lean," or even--who knows?--"tough."  (There's no accounting for tastes.
Perhaps he just prefers shoulder-meat!)
Timothy Lubin
Dept. of Religious Studies
Cocke Hall, University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903
office phone: (804) 924-6314; fax: (804) 924-1467

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