What did Vedic Hindus Eat?

Famous tasty Apuupa (masaapuupa) South Indian Vada

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No: 1825

Date: 23 April 2015; Uploaded in London at 20–43

It is very interesting to study the food items listed in the Vedas. It is a long list and it deserves a separate research book. I have not come across any book comparing the food items in the Vedas with the food items in the epics and the mythologies. But there are some articles on food items in the Vedas. Going through the Vedic food items will give us some idea about their life style. Rig Veda is the oldest book in the world, now dated between 1700 BCE and 6000 BCE.

Not all the Hindus were vegetarians. The Vedic society comprised of the fighting Kshatriyas and travelling Vaisyas along with the manual labourers called Shudras. No wonder meat was part of their menu. But the surprising thing is the mention of meat is very little compared to the vegetarian items.

The most interesting item is Apuupa (RV 3-52-7; RV 10-45-9). Even today the Puja offering includes Mashapupa (Vada made of black gram or Urad Dhal). If rice flour is used with ghee and sugar/jaggery it becomes a sweet dish Appam. Tamils use both Appam and Vada today. It shows the food items did not change for at least 3700 years!

Apuupa is translated as a cake in the Vedic Index by Keith and Macdonell. It might be a dish made up of rice or barley mixed with ghee (clarified butter) according to them. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda (3-52-7; 10-45-9) and Satapatha Brahmana (2-2-3-12; 4-2-5-19)

Sweet Apuupa is at the right extreme.

Vedic seers were honoured with Madhuparka, a mixture of milk and honey. Both of them were available in the forests where their ashrams (dwellin places) or Parnaslas (Leafy huts) were constructed. They had gruels as well. Even today all the village temples in Tamil Nadu offer gruel during their festivals. This shows the continuity of the Vedic food or offering.

Here is a list of the food items:

Odana – grains cooked with milk or other items. Like today they had different odanas such as dadhy odana (curd rice), ksiraudana (milk rice) mudgaudana bean rice, sesame audana, ghrtraudana( ghee rice) and meat rice( biriyani) . They are found in RV and AV in addition to the Upanishads and Satapatha Brahmana.

Pinda is a ball of rice offered to departed souls. This is mentioned with the same Sanskrit word in Sangam Tamil literature. The use of water, rice and sesame seeds shows that the Aryan Dravidian Racist Theory was unfounded. They are grown and used in tropical countries. All are found in Indus valley and the same Sanskrit words are used till the Southernmost Part of Tamil Nadu. Til= El, Vrihi= Arisi, Nara= Neer. Had the Hindus come from cold central Asia or Europe they would not have used water from birth to death in all the ceremonies. For auspicious events they used yellow rice and inauspicious they used white rice. It was even put into the mouth of dead body. All these show they were born and brought up here. All the customs originated here.

Savoury Apuupa (kuzi appam)

Kharambha – gruel

Aamiksa – clotted curds

Kiilaala/ parisruta/pana paanta/  – sweet drink

Go /Ksira/payas/pratiduh – milk

Dadhi/payasaa – – yogurt or curd

Navanita – butter

Pakti – cake

Pakva /Pacata – cooked food

Parivapa – fried rice

Piiyusaa – biestings

Pitu – food (This word is used in Tamil as well)

Pista – flour

Madhu – honey

Maamsa – meat

Madhya/ suraa – liquor

Yavaagu – baley

Vistarin – porridge

Soma rasa – not a food, but an offering or Prasad

Grains used by the Vedic Hindus: at least 25 different types of grains are mentioned. Ten types of fishes are also found in the Vedas but not as food items. In the Asvamedha Yajna more than 200 items are offered as offering from grains to animals. But we don’t know whether they are symbolic or actual.

apuupa in yogurt (Dahi Vada)

Rice gets more mentions. Dairy products are referred to in hundreds of places. That deserves a separate article. This shows the Vedic Hindus were the one who introduced the cow to the mankind and it was worshipped as mother cow/ Go Matha. Water and rivers were worshipped as goddesses.

Swami_48@yahoo.com

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