David R. Israel davidi at
Thu Sep 4 13:18:31 UTC 1997

Poornima Kirloskar asks, 

> Did the Harappans smoke? If so, what did they smoke? Beedis, opium?
> Was tobacco introduced to India by the Europeans?

I don't know about the first question, but as for the introduction of 
tobacco, I have read from what seemed a good book on the history of 
tobacco smoking (purchased in a cigar shop).  I regret not having the 
volume on hand, and cannot provide any instant citation.  The book 
included information that perhaps belongs to the popular wisdom, but 
did seem to have much detail and carried what I felt to be a sense of 
some proper scholarship.

According to my recollection, it was clearly suggested that tobacco 
smoking originated exclusively with Native Americans, and thus was, 
of course, not introduced to Europe (let alone Asia / India) until 
after the voyage of Columbus.  I believe it's commonly asserted that 
the same holds for various other botanicals, such as tomatos and 
chilis.  Tangentially, this seems rather interesting with regard to 
current customs & practices of Indian cuisine -- suggesting that mrch 
masala isn't so perennial as one might assume from current plates.

The tobacco volume also referred to the faddish popularization of 
tobacco smoking in Europe -- where it was initially (and for a good 
while) viewed as a salubrious, indeed highly beneficial practice.  In 
my view, there might be more to that than current vogue suggests -- 
thinking, here, of the non-inhaling forms of tobacco smoking (pipe & 
cigar), as distinguished from the noxious effects of cigarettes.

but I run afield . . .
   >    david   raphael   israel    <
   >>      washington  d.c.      <<
 |  davidi at   (home)
 |  disrael at       (office)
 |   thy centuries follow each other
 |   perfecting a small wild flower
 |                                       (Tagore)

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list