AGRICULTURE IN RIG VEDA- 3 : ‘Man with Two Wives’ Joke (Post No.10,240)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,240

Date uploaded in London – 21 OCTOBER  2021         

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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In this last part I wanted to draw your attention to the number of words in the Rig Veda on water sources and farming. This list was given by Bhagawan Singh in his book The Vedic Harappans.

Please note that the words related to agriculture are spread over almost all the Ten Mandalas of Rig Veda, the oldest anthology in the world.  It would have taken at least 500 years to compose or hear or visualise 10,000 mantras.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more references and the same words are repeated several times as well. Yava and food items made up of Yava are found everywhere. We come across more vegetarian dishes than Non- Vegetarian. That may be due to cop cultivation.

In the main hymn on agriculture 10-101 the following points are to be noted:-

Commentators say that this hymn is about fire sacrifice and the sacrifice is figuratively spoken as ploughing.

Sacrifice – ploughing, sowing and reaping

Ship – sacrifice, chariot

Race – ritual

Inexhaustible well – Soma

Stone wheels – Press stones in Soma Juice Extraction

Cow stall – where soma is pressed

Vanaspati – Soma plant

The doubly wedded –  the man who has two wives; but it is not clear says Griffith.

Nistigri – according to Sayana ‘she who swallows up her rival wife Nisti= Diti.

Nistigri is Aditi, Mother of Indra

Von Roth, Ludwig, Grassmann and Griffith differ in many comments in this hymn . Sayana is more reliable.

Aditi is the Mother of All Gods accrding to Rig Veda, not only Indra. She is described one with boundless love.

They quote Satapata Brahmana for some comments.

Personally I don’t agree with the interpretation of Nisigree. Kanchi Paramacharya has rightly pointed out Indra is not one person. It is a title like King, Leader.

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Forgetting all these comments, we may look at agricultural terms. Hindu poets follow a convention to give similes which are understood by common men or general public. And another convention is that the simile must be superior to the things compared. Here fire sacrifice is compared with Farming. That means farming is held in high esteem. This is echoed by great Tamil poet Tiru Valluvar in his Tirukkural :

The world tails the plough despite other pursuit

Even if one toils, farming remains foremost.        1031

Farmers are the linchpin of the world

All others not farming, it does hold.    1032

Only they live, who eat from what they plough

Others follow, and to eat, they kowtow.   1033

Who bring their land under their crops’ shade

Many states under their king’s reign shall bade.        1034

They never beg, nor deny others, givin’ what they seek

Whose nature is to eat what they till and make.         1035

If tillers fold their hands still, sages who say

“I’ve given up desire,” as such cannot stay.      1036

If one measure of soil, is turned fine and dried to a quarter,

Good yield needs not a handful of manure.      1037

Worthier than ploughing is to manure the field;

Weeding done, worthier than watering is to secure the yield.      1038

If from the land, her master stays off

Like a wife, she’ll sulk and start a tiff.      1039

Seeing them say, “We have not” and loiter

The Fair Lady Earth scorns them with laughter.        1040

(Chapter Farming in Tirukkural )

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Yaga is Velvi in Tamil. Arakkala Velvi (Fire sacrifice or any good, positive thing) and Marakkala Velvi (destructive war) are used in Tamil as well. In short ancient Tamil poets followed Rig Veda and Bhagavad Gita in using the term Yaga/Sacrifice/Velvi

In Bhagawad Gita also we see Jnana Yajna, Tapo Yajna etc.

Now going back to the hymn RV 10-101 we see not only agriculture but also other vocations. Going by ship, raising Cows that give milk in 1000 streams, War Chariots and Race chariots, shield show that the poet addresses all the four castes. But comparing farming with fire sacrifice shows their high respect to cultivation.

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Two Wives Comedy

In a serious hymn like this, we come across some humorous scenes. A person who has two wives suffers like a bull or a horse yoked on two sides and the cart has a heavy luggage. This has become a theme in several films in all languages. A person who has two wives, particularly one without knowing the other till a particular stage. Western commentators say that they don’t understand it. Because of this two Wives Joke, I consider this hymn as a Farmer’s song. That is, a poet puts himself in the shoe of a farmer with two wives.

Look at the 11th Mantra (RV 10-101-11)

11. Between both poles the car-horse goes pressed closely, as in his dwelling moves the doubly-wedded.

     Lay in the wood the Sovran of the Forest, and sink the well although ye do not dig it.

Compare it with Tirukkural 1031 given above.

IRON IN RIG VEDA AND HARAPPA

In the 8th mantra we come across Iron forts and other armouries. This raises a question. People who argue that the Harappan civilization doesn’t know Iron, say that the invading Aryans destroyed it. Though this theory has been demolished and powdered already, one can ask where the iron swords and knives are if Aryans entered Harappa with them.

The fact of the matter is Ayas is wrongly translated as Iron. Actually it means Metal. In course of time that is more used for a particular metal. Tamil has a similar situation . Nowadays Pon is used only for gold in general. But Tiruvalluvar used it in Tirukkural for gold and iron. Even today Tamils use Aimpon Vigraha for idols made up of Five Metal alloy. So it is possible to use a term for many things at the same period. Even Rig Vedic commentators agree  that Soma, Pasu, Yava etc mean different things. But cunning foreigners dodge when they see unwanted materials. That is why Hindus must follow the interpretations given by those who believe and practise the religion.

Last but not the least, I give the word list of water sources and farming from Bhagawan Singh’s book ‘The Vedic Harappans’. It would help future researchers. I have already shown that it has several Tamil words. Here is the list:-

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TERMINOLOGY PERTAINING TO WATER SOURCES

TAGS- Rig Veda, Farming terms, Water sources, Two Wives, Agriculture, RV10-101

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