colour of biestings of Indian cow???

George Thompson GthomGt at CS.COM
Wed Feb 12 14:12:30 UTC 2003

Hello Jan and List,

Unfortunately, there is no evidence at least in the RV for the color of these
beestings.  Also, the word is heavily overlaid with celestial mythology,
providing little information with regard to matters here on earth.

In Book 9, for example, this piiy/ is always celestial [div/a.h].  This
is one more reason why I think that that book is more or less useless to us
with regard to identifying a real soma-plant [needless to say, of course,
that the book is useful for other things!].

Elsewhere in the RV mythological associations are also present, but there is
also the key formula, a.m;s/o.h piiy/  This formula is several times
accompanied by pratham/a or puurvy/a and it is for this reason that we know
that the term actually refers to beestings in particular, and not to generic
milk.  Other non-Bk 9 passages tell us that these beestings may be pressed,
filtered, portioned out, poured into the fire, etc.  There are far more
glimmers of a material reality in these passages, it seems to me, than in Bk
9.  My general conclusion is that our best evidence for the identification of
the ur-soma-plant comes from the other books of the RV.

Of course, as I have pointed out at the Vedic Workshop, this formula can be
derived from some Central Asian substrate language, and I would suggest that
it provides some support to the claim that a.m;s/u is the original name of
the original soma-plant.

So, in sum, I don't think that we can count on very much help from Vedic
realism with regard to the color of piiy/  Perhaps it is not the color
of the beestings of Indian cows that we should be considering, but rather the
color of the beestings of Central Asian cows, of a few thousand years ago?

Best wishes,

George Thompson

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