Ceremonial disposal of the "asva" carcass ?

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Mar 19 22:35:32 UTC 2000

PK Manansala:

>Incidentally, the asvamedha, although sometimes portrayed as coming from
>the "Aryan" homeland, already has offerings of rice, rice cakes and rice
>cooked in milk in the YV.

Both items have nothing to do with each other:

1) the Horse sacrifice is attested in at least 3 IE areas: Ireland, Rome
(October horse) and  South Asia (Rgveda ++).  Germanic tribes also were
fond of eating sacrificial horse meat (until Christian missionaries forbade
it). An Arab visitor to 11th cent.(?) Russia says the same in connection
with a Viking burial, if my memory is correct here. --
Should that be, a la Talageri et alii, an import from the rice eating
Gangetic plains to Europe???
Further, the Altai Turks still performed it even in the late 1800-s CE.

2) There is, of course, the older form of the Vedic horse sacrifice in the
Rgveda (1.162-163, etc.,)
which has nothing to do with rice.
Rice offerings make their entry into the (always and everywhere)
conservative ritual only AFTER the RV, in the first post-RV Mantra texts,
the Yajurveda, Atharvaveda.

Incidentally, a question for all those OIT people who find the "Aryan Home"
in the Gangetic Plains, why should Rgvedic people NOT have offered their
staple, rice but the uncharacteristic barley???

Which only underlines what we already know anyhow: The RV is a text of the
Greater Panjab/Afghanistan, the post-RV texts range from the Kuruksetra/W.
Uttar Pradesh/Chambal area early on, to the lower plains in Bihar later on.
(summed up and detailed in Witzel 1987, with map).

<<On the localisation of Vedic texts and schools (Materials on Vedic
“ùkhùs, 7). India and the Ancient world. History, Trade and Culture before
A.D. 650.  P.H.L. Eggermont Jubilee Volume, G. Pollet (ed.). Leuven 1987,
pp. 173-213 >>

>The importance of rice suggests to an extent that the Vedic culture of
>the YV and SB was already 'Gangetic' or at least not very NW Indian.

Old news. Since Albrecht Weber, Heinrich Zimmer (the elder), 150 years ago.

>In the RV, wheat is not mentioned but there may be  indirect mention of
>rice, for example, ksirapakamodanam, which is usually interpreted as
>rice cooked with milk.  Both YV and SB mention this type food and

old news, see :
FBJ Kuiper, An Austro-Asiatic myth in the Rgveda, Amsterdam 1950,
(= Mededelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen,
Amsterdam 13, 1950, 163-182)
and cf. Kuiper 1991 (Aryans in the Rgveda, intro.)

Similarly, MW, EJVS 5. 1 with details about rice (attested in late Indus
times, at Pirak/Baluchistan, near the Bolan pass), the Rgvedic (!)
Emusa/odana  myth, and the Greater Sindh area with Munda and Para-Munda


Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:     www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:         www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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