chariots (was: AIT, NEW genetic evidence)

Rajarshi Banerjee rajarshi.banerjee at SMGINC.COM
Sat Mar 11 20:52:22 UTC 2000

GVS>In the battle description of the Mahabharata the chariot troops are
the main force of the army, and all the major heroes fight from chariots.
they (almost) never are riding on horse-back (though horse-riders are one
of the four branches of the army) and there are only a few instances where
a king is riding on an elephant. The chariot as the most important weapon
probably was an anachronism at the time when the younger layers of the epic
were composed, but what about the time when the Mahabharata started (let us
say around the middle of the first millennium BCE - I am not talking about
the Mahabharata war as a historical event, but about the epic poem)? At
least the memory of the importance of the chariot seems to have been strong
throughout the history of the epic.

RB> What about the actual war, should all descriptions be treated literally.
Were chariots really used or were the heroes reto-fitted with chariots to
fit imagined stereotypes. We ofcourse have a sArathi caste. krishna as a
Sarathi could simply symbolize a non combatant schemer. In general I just
believe that there was a war and it left  some memories but I am afraid to
guess more. Sparreboom is cautious in claiming wide spread chariot use even
in vedic times and implies diminishing importance of chariots quite early
on. Mauryan india had chariots but their importance in warfare was not that
great. So we basically have people in 500 BC composing mahabharata using
stereotypes almost a millenia older implying some knowledge of ancient
practices or simply the presense of older versions of the epic which were
treated as history.

UT> However, I get my doubts when seeing this etymology. Having a background
Tibetan studies, I know that the basic meaning of the word kha (exact same
spelling and pronounciation) in Tibetan and possibly in other Himalayan
languages is again "hole", but usually referring to "the mouth".

RB> khA means eating in all north indian languages khAnA/ khAbAr is food.
khAn( Is this persian )is a mine or a big hole in the ground. good axel hole
indeed seems quite a stretch.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list