SV: wheeled vehicles

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Apr 11 13:49:07 UTC 2001

Rajesh Kochhar [SMTP:rkk at NISTADS.RES.IN] skrev 11. april 2001 15:45:
> In the Rgvedic context it will probably be more relevant to talk of
wheeled vehicles rather than war chariots,more specifically of  vehicles
with spoked wheels in contrast to solid wheels.Spoked wheels make the
vehicle lighter and faster and therefore more versatile.

This does not make sense. A "war chariot" is a vehicle developed for a
specific purpose, and such contraptions are well known from later periods.
If you read Xenophon's famous Anabasis, he has a vivid description of
Persian chariots, some of them mean bastards with rotating knives attached
to the wheel axles. Chariot technology, like tank technology, makes sense
if you fight your battles under certain conditions, such as plains or
deserts. (The Russians soon found out that tanks were of limited use in
Afghanistan!). I find it difficult to understand why Vedic chariots should
be so unthinkable. I don't know to what extent they made military sense
under Indian conditions - at that time with more jungle in the Punjab, I
would guess - but they must have been used for some time before they became
obsolete (as the tank is becoming with new tank killing technology). In
Rome, the chariot went out of use and passed into sports, where it remained
very popular for centuries (remember Ben Hur, the movie where Texas cowboys
were transformed into charioteers?) The special character of the chariot is
brought out by the fact that it is carried on another vehicle when not in
use. Why should that be relevant if it was just another wagon?

BTW: I seem to remember that the chariot was also used during hunting. So
even in India, it apparently passed into sports.

Lars Martin Fosse

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