Gold-digging ants; and soma
mmdesh at umich.edu
Wed Nov 27 08:29:53 EST 1996
Kalyanaraman's message seems to combine several unrelated items into one.
The place-name Pimpalner is to be understood in Sanskrit as
Pippala-Nagara, where the first item refers to the Pippala tree, which is
rendered as PimpaL in Marathi. Many Marathi place-names are connected
with trees, cf. Va.dagaav, Skt. va.tagraama. Secondly, the Atharvavedic
name Paippalaada is unrelated to Pipiilikaa, but is again related to
Pippala + the verb atti in Sanskrit, cf. Upanishadic passage: dvaa
supar.naa sayujaa sakhaayaa samaanam v.rk.sam pari.sasvajaate / tayor
anya.h pippalam svaadv atty ana"snann anyo abhicaaka"siiti //
On Wed, 27 Nov 1996, Dr. S. Kalyanaraman wrote:
> pipIlika has two meanings: an ant; a kind of gold supposed to be collected
> by ants(MBh.Kannada).
> piippalanagara is the name of a town (Jules Bloch 368); pimpalner in
> pipIla refers to an ant in RV (x.16.6); is a large black ant in Chandogya
> pipRi is a black ant in Santali language and in almost all Indian languages
> with slight
> phonetic stylizations.
> pippalADa is the name of a school in Atharva Veda. pipIlavAdam, paipIlavAdam
> is explained in
> Sangam tamil as: a philosophical explanation of the atom as the cause of the
> An important ingredient in the soma process described in the vedic texts is the
> earth from ant-hills.
> I have suggested elsewhere that soma refers to electrum (gold-silver ore)
> The gold dug up by the ants could have an important bearing in this process.
> Regards, Kalyanaraman.
> At 08:09 PM 11/26/96 GMT, you wrote:
> >Some years ago I looked into the puzzle concerning the gold-digging ants,
> >and among other things collected some entological papers on Afghan ant
> >species. It might interest you to know that some ants make anthills out of
> >sand and small stones, and that they carry the bigger pieces of rubble to
> >the top of the anthill in order to catch and keep the warmth of the sun. On
> >ground with gold particles among the sand and rubble, such particles may
> >easily have have been put on top of the anthills. The matter has been
> >treated in a major zoological work on ants (don't remember the name of it
> >right now), that refers to Herodotus and sees this kind of behaviour as the
> >basis for Herodotus' story. I suspect that it is possible that stories about
> >gold-digging marmots and gold-digging ants have been mixed up, producing the
> >monster ants described by Herodotus (otherwise, one would expect the Greeks
> >to know the difference between a marmot and an ant). It seems obvious to me
> >that animals digging and throwing up soil would tell people where gold was
> >to be found in the ground. In other words, if marmots - or ants - bring up
> >small nuggets of gold, all you have to do is to go on digging! (Should
> >countries in economic trouble introduce ants and marmots to boost their
> >Best regards,
> >Lars Martin Fosse
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