Rgvedic RbIsa

Aklujkar aklujkar at UNIXG.UBC.CA
Mon Feb 2 18:51:01 UTC 1998

The postings of Jan Houben and Harry Falk remind me of an account I heard
from a scientist friend of mine, Professor Emeritus Vinod Modi, who on a
visit to the southern part of the former Soviet Union, just outside Baku
near the Caspian Sea, photographed a shrine to ;Siva, built by Indian
pilgrims/travellers in the 18th or early 19th century with the permission
of some Czar. The shrine was built at the place because a natural gas flame
was coming out of the ground. On an inscription at the shrine, a part of
which I translated for Prof. Modi, as I recall, the word jvaalaa-mukha was
used. If .rbiisa does not have to be a cave, it could stand for ground or
pits out of which such flames come. If the flame is held to be evidence of
divine presence, householders will naturally be discouraged from eating the
meat cooked on it. (Isn't there an account somewhere of Zarathustra having
been inspired by such a flame to give prominence to fire in Zoroastrian
religious life?)

As I do not have the time to check the contexts of the occurrences of
.rbiisa, I am mentioning this simply as a possibility that occurred to me
after reading the messages of Houben and Falk.

The word agni-ku.n.da should also be investigated in this context. 'Pan
with live coals' does not seem to be the older or only meaning of the term.

Another natural phenomenon with a possible connection is that of hot springs.

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