wheeled vehicles

Rajesh Kochhar rkk at NISTADS.RES.IN
Wed Apr 11 09:45:13 EDT 2001


Cartoons and comics often show a rock-shelter dweller discovering fire and inventing wheel. This may be funny ,but is anachronistic.While taming of fire belongs to truly ancient times, wheel is a relatively recent thing.If we depend on archaeological evidence available from anywhere in the world, wheel came into being  c.3500BC It is  thus later than advent of agriculture and animal husbandry (c.7000BC) as well as copper metallurgy(c.5000BC).
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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.

When a technology enters  poetic and ritualistic imagery, this can be taken as a sure sign of thattechnology's having become an integral part of the society.Rv 1. 164.2  uses "one-wheeled chariot" to imply the sun. Rv 1 164.11 says,+The wheel having 12 spokes revolve the heavens,but it does not weatr out.Oh Agni!720 pairs of sons ride this {wheel}.".

Wilhelm Rau while discussing the term grama says that its denoting the inhabitants as in grama has come/grama has gone "is undoubtedly the oldest and the only one attested in the earliest strata of the Vedic literature.The coming/going grama comprised  "cattle,ox-waggons,carts and chariots".

What you do with your vehicles depends on who and what you are up agains. Against pedestrians even a clumsy vehicle will serve as a war vehicle;against enemies/targets of similar technological status,you would  need quality and innovation.

The Sanskrit chakra has evolved into  the Hindi (etc.) chakkar. Some where along the evolutionary sequence chakkar has acquired  a distinctive meaning of its own, which the parent chakra would not recognize.

rajesh kochhar



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