Manring, Rebecca rmanring at INDIANA.EDU
Wed Oct 5 12:26:32 UTC 2011

Dear Colleagues,

A anthropologist colleague here at Indiana, who is not on this list and does not know Sanskrit, has asked me the question I paste below.  My hunch is that Ayurveda materials may provide an answer for her, but I'm not aware of any difference being made in terms of the source of the milk. Knowing that some of you could probably enlighten her further than I could, I ask your help:

            I'm working on a section of a chapter on the history of milk consumption in India.  In many of the secondary sources I'm using,  "milk" is often used without any reference to its source.  The assumption seems to be that when the term "milk" is used it's referring to cows' milk, but I wanted to find out if there is a linguistic difference in Sanskrit between milk  - or any other dairy product such as curd or ghee - from cows and that from water buffalo (or goats or sheep for that matter).   I remain intrigued by the rich descriptions of cows as providers of endless benefits (esp. supplies of milk) in conjunction with seemingly generic references to the uses of milk without regard to whether it's from cows or other dairy animals that were clearly also used.

Thank you for your assistance.  As I mentioned, she does not know Sanskrit, so references you might provide should be either to secondary sources, or translations, in English.

Rebecca J. Manring
Associate Professor
India Studies and Religious Studies
Indiana University-Bloomington

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