Sarasvati (texts & arch.II)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri May 29 23:05:30 UTC 1998

On Thu, 28 May 1998, Paul K. Manansala wrote:

> > Just pig & rice? This is not S. China. -- Too simple
> Pigs and rice rather than barley and cows. Not Vedic.

Again, you do not read the texts:

The early Yajurveda is full of varieties of cows (a special breed from
Videha [N.Bihar] of all places!!!), horses, sheep and goat but ALSO pigs
(see below) !

It has seven cultivated plants (sapta grAmyA oSadhayaH); usually rice
(!!!), barley, wheat, sesame, buckwheat,etc.

The later YV (SatapathBr 14,9,3,22 = BrhadAr.Up. 6,3,22) has ten:  vrIhi,
rice: Oryza sativa L.; yava: barley Hordeum vulgare L. subsp. hexastichum
(L.) Schinz et Kell.; tila, sesame: Sesamum indicum L.; mASa beans:
Phaseolus mungo L. var. radiatus = Phaseolus Roxburghii; ANu millet:
Panicum miliaceum L.; priyaGgu millet: Setaria italica (L.) Pal. Beauv.=
Panicum italicum L.; godhUma wheat: Triticum aestivum = Triticum sativum
Lam.; masra Lens culinaris Medic. = Ervum lens L.; khalva beans: Phaseolus
radiatus L. a variety of Phaseolus mungo L. = mASa(?); khala-kula Dolichos
biflorus L.  (see W. Rau in: Witzel, Inside the texts, beyond the texts,
Cambridge 1997)  -

But YV (I think, MS, must check) also says that the pig follows the cows
into the wilderness (aranya).

We are talking about Vedic "rice & pig farmers " here!!!  Further, below!

> > "permament Indo-Aryan villages
> > (graama)  are late...  The alleged Vedic towns are phantoms, such as
> > Paricakra SB (just a place name or temporary settlement) or
> > Kampiila(-vaasin)."

> Well this is a hard view, which certainly is not universal.

May be not universal (e.g. B.B. Lal, The earliest civ. of S. Asia, 1997,
p. 284 sq.  appendix is completely wrong/ignorant about pur),

The statement made above is based on the Vedic texts.
Read W.Rau on pur (in ENGLISH): only  mud/palisade forts,wild-west style.
No towns, but semi-nomadic graamas through the early Brahmana period.

<<RAU, Wilhelm, The Meaning of pur in Vedic Literature, [Abh. der
Marburger Gelehrten Gesellschaft III/1]  Munchen (W.Finck) 1976 >>

> Sounds
> more like the semi-nomadism found among some modern "tribal"
> populations. How do they figure people with brick or timber houses
> are nomadic?  Shouldn't they be living in tents or temporary
> shelters.  Also, most of the information I've read ascribes mud huts
> as the primary shelter in PGW.

Did I not speak about a 2-level society? You have some market places.
But who lives there? Not many Vedic people. They do not talk about
towns (nagara/nagarin only in late Brahmans); tehy prefer to follow their

The post_RV texts and the PGW share the same area and same time period.
(see above). And same cultural traits (separately).

The Vedic house indeed is flimsy and easily removable (W. Rau, Zur
indischen Altertumskunde etc.)  More separately.

> Generally rice and pig farmers are
> not nomadic, unless you're talking about very common shifting around
> in a small area.

The Yajurveda texts say that you go east to rob people of their crop when
ripe... Both semi-nomadic Vedic and settled local people interact on
various levels. Also there is a substantial number of non-Arya, zUdra
people in any vedic graama.

Yeah, the YV has Aryan "pig farmers". See above.
Rather: the Sudras belonging to an Arya graama who take care of
agriculture and pigs.

After all it was the *smith* Cunda who killed the Buddha with his
sukara-maddana... some sort of zukara-dish. (Now, don't come with
Buddhaghosa and tell me it was a mushroom dish!).

2 level society:  The 3 Arya classes (Brahm., Ksatr., Vaishya)  could not
care less about pigs (who are expressively supposed to be unclean & not
eatable in all Dharma texts): the "arya" tend their cattle in the
near-wilderness surrounding their frequently relocating graamas (all data
in :  W. Rau, Altindische Alterumskunde, and Staat und Gesellschaft. --
All of this information largely neglected in English language
publications. Except Kulke/Rothermund's Indian Hist.)

While the earlier Yajurveda texts say that you go east to rob people of
their crop when ripe...  the late Vedic Satapatha Brahmana says that that
is no longer done..

> I thought the IE peoples of this time were iron age.  We should see iron
> coming in from the West, and iron artifacts similar to those found
> outside India.

I give up:
How often do we have to repeat that ayas is not = iron???

As has been said several times, the (intrusive) Rgveda was not of iron age
but of copper/bronze age period.
The geographical horizon of the RV is the greater Panjab.

The post-RV texts (Atharvaveda, Yajurveda) know of iron implements.
The geo. hor. of the YV/AV is Kuruksetra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Equals: hist. layers, accompanied by geographical spread eastwards.
(as the YV explicitly says!)

All of this well known.

(Read Hermann Oldenberg, Buddha. [pp.115 sqq. [Engl. transl. ALREADY  by
W.Hoey, London 1882, pp. 391-411; Gonda, Ved. Lit Samhita volume; Witzel,
Localisation of Vedic texts & Schools (FS Eggermont, ed. G. Pollet, Leuven
1986, my dialect paper mentioned before and the recent Canon paper...)
etc. etc. )

Since there is cultural continuity between RV and YV/Brahmanas why do we
need "iron people" coming from the west?

More about the Painted Gray Ware culture separately.


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