Porcupines, beef, and Horses

Klaus Karttunen KJKARTTU at Elo.Helsinki.fi
Wed Feb 26 14:58:43 UTC 1997

I was two weeks away from my Department (no holiday, but intensive work 
with no time for such things as e-mail) and on Monday I scanned through 
no less than 151 messages without stopping to comment them. On a second 
thought, however, I would like to add a few comments.
1. During the long discussion about beef-eating in the Vedas somebody 
suggested that certainly porcupines were not commonly eaten. However, it 
seems possible that they were. The red or Indian porcupine (Hystrix 
indica; Sanskrit Zallaka, Zalyaka) is a large animal, weighing 11-18 kg, 
and according to S. H. Prater (The book of Indian animals. Rev. 3rd ed., 
Bombay 1971) it is "much appreciated as food by local people". For 
ancient times see Lueders, "Eine indische Speiseregel", ZDMG 61, 1907, 
641-644, who also shows that the animal in question is porcupine and not 
2. Beef-eating in ancient (though not Vedic) India is also discussed by 
Aparna Chattopadhyay, "A Note on Beef-Eating in Mauryan Times", 
Indo-Asian Culture 17:2, 1968, 49-51 (with an orthodox Hindu rejoinder 
by J. N. Sharma, ib. 18:1, 1969, 65-68).
3. Another question concerned the supposed difficulty of breeding good 
horses in India. It has been claimed that the AZvaZAstra texts (two, 
Jayadatta's AZvavaidyaka and Nakula's AZvacikitsita, have been edited in 
the Bibliotheca Indica in 1887, and an AZvaZAstra in Tanjore S. M. 
Series) a diet of rice is recommended for horses, but that this suits 
not at all for breeding good horses. However, P. K. Gode, Collected 
Studies 1, contains several articles about other kinds of horse food 
used in ancient India. Further references this far not mentioned 
Devisingh Chandra, "Arab Horses in India", ABORI 48-49, 1968, 391-394.
S. D. Dogra, "Horse in ancient India", JOIB 23, 1973-74.
Harry Falk, "Das Reitpferd im Vedischen Indien", Die Indogermanen und 
das Pferd. Archaeolingua 7. Budapest 1994, 91-101.
Chitrarekha Gupta, "Horsetrade in North India: Some reections on 
socio-economic life", JAIH 14, 1984, 186-206.
Lawrence S. Leshnik, "The Horse in India", F._C. Southworth (ed.), The 
Ecology of Man and Animal in South Asia. Philadelphia 1978, 56f.
L. Sternbach, Review of Gode's Horse studies in Collected Studies 1, 
JAOS 82, 1962, 225-229.
Mario Vallauri, "L'ippiatria indiana", Rivista di storia delle Scienze 
Mediche e Naturali 12, 1921.
I have not read all of them and cannot thus guarantee their value.

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