TAMIL FOOD IN THE RIG VEDA (Post No.9710)

Research Article WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 9710

Date uploaded in London – –9 JUNE   2021           

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Tamils are very familiar with two food items 1Appam or Aappam and 2.Puttu or Pittu. Agastya , the great seer of the Tamil language, has 27 poems or hymns to his credit in the first book of the Rig Veda alone. And one of them is on food. Along with the gods, food, water, birds and inanimate objects have hymns in the oldest book of the world.

It may look strange to 30 foreign translators who have no practical knowledge of Hindu culture. And we have the gang leader Max Muller who was scared to death to visit India and refused to see India or Hindus in his lifetime. Such a coward! And there is another set of white skinned fellows like Ralph T H Griffith. He was very honest and apologised hundreds of times saying ‘the meaning is not clear, he is uncertain, it is obscure’ etc. In his 650 page Rig Veda book I have seen it more than 200 times. At least, he was honest in admitting his ignorance!

Brahmins who practice Hinduism worship food every day. Like the Catholic Christians’ ‘Grace’, Brahmins say Pariseshana Mantra. They praise the food as God sent Amrosia/ Amrita and finish eating by saying ‘Anna Dhata Sukhi Bhava’. Let the provider of food live longer healthily.

Actually Catholics followed the Pada Puja of guests which we see in the pictures where Jesus feet were given a holy wash. Great Hindu saints are honoured that way even today. And Jesus saying Namaste in old Christian drawings are also there. In short, Catholics copied Hindus.

Worshipping Food

It is part of Hindus’ day to day life. Agastya, Father of Tamil Language, sings the glory of Food. It is Tamil Food Pittu or Puttu. Kerala Malayalees and Sri Lankan Tamils use it as staple food. It is salted and spiced. But Agastya talks about sweet Puttu. Lord Siva of Madurai worked for an old Puttu vending lady of Madurai and got beaten by the Pandya King, according to Saint Manikka vasagar.

Brahmins make such Sweet Puttu on festive days and in particular, on the day a girl comes of age in a family. Close relatives are given that Sweet Puttu. Agastya use the spelling Pithu ten times in the said hymn RV 1-187.

Since I am attaching the hymn at the end, I am going to leave my comments alone.

Aapupa is a fried cake which is called Appam or Aaappam in Tamil. Like Puttu, this is also made spicy and sweety. It is in many verses of Rig Veda. Even Tamil villagers are very familiar with this Aapuupa- AAppam.

Now in this verse 1-187 we come across 3 or 4 tasty food items. Puttu (Pithu) Mork Kali (Karamba), Barley cake and Soma juice.

Pithu and Puttu are the same though the spellings are different. Th= T is seen in moTHer and maTErnal uncle. (Other examples Pitha= Pitr= Pater= Peter= FaTHer; moTHer= matha= mater etc)

There are 11 mantras in the hymn describing various dishes. But in general Agastya thank Gods for providing Food and Water.

Apart from Pittu, Agastya sings about, Karamba. It is rice flour mixed with sugar or spices. One way of eating it is mixing flour in diluted yoghurt/ curd and add spices. After boiling it will be thick and can be cut into pieces. It is called Kali. Brahmins make it as snacks and call it Mork Kali (Mor is diluted Youghurt).

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Three interesting Tit Bits

Since Rig Veda is many thousand years old, no one can give us correct meaning to many words. One of them is Trita. Literally it means ‘Mr Number Three’.

Griffith says about Trita:- “ a mysterious ancient deity frequently mentioned in the  Rigveda, principally in connection with Indra , Vayu and Maruts. His home is in the remotest part of heaven and he is called Aaptya , the Watery, that is sprung from or dwelling in the sea of cloud and vapour. By Sayana, (the most famous Hindu commentator ), he is identified sometimes with Vayu, sometimes with Indra as pervader of Three worlds and sometimes with Agni stationed in the  Three Fire receptacles.”

Every Brahmin house had Three Fires in Three geometrically shaped Altars. 2000 year old Sangam Tamil Literature also called Brahmins with the epithet ‘Three Fire Brahmins’. Trita is in RV. 1-187-1

The mystery doesn’t stop there. In 1-187-5 we come across an animal with the epithet ‘Like creatures that have mighty necks’. Griffith says ‘like strong bullocks’.

I don’t agree with Griffith. It is also a mysterious word like Trita. We come across Bulls in the Rig Veda hundreds of times with the normal Sanskrit word Vrsa/ba. Here Agastya plays on words to mean perhaps a Rhino. They are also vegetarians, but their horn and neck can even knock down a heavy truck. In Tamil they are called Kaandamrga meaning Neck animal or Horn animal.

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Vaatapi Mystery

There is more mystery towards the end of the hymn with the word ‘Vatape peetha Bhava.’ This occurs in three Mantras.

“Vaataapi = Fermenting Soma. According to Saayana, the body” says Griffith

White skinned Max Muller gang interpreted Rig Veda as a Book of Songs of Drug Addicts. in the very first page of 650 paged Rig Veda of Griffith, we see the description of the hallucinatory Drug Soma. Scores of pages later Max Muller pours more poison saying he couldn’t find any word in English to explain the Matha/Kick the drug Soma gives. So according to the white skinned gangsters , Soma is a hallucinatory narcotic chemical. And there is no hymn without Soma in the Rig Veda!! So the gang hints at a drug addicted Hindu religion/ society. So no wonder here also Vaatapi is interpreted as fermenting Soma by Griffith.

Vatapi- Ilvalan Story

There is a very interesting story in the later Hindu mythology about Agastya whose statues are found throughout South East Asia. He is a short guy with a big belly like Lord Ganesh. Two demon brothers Ilvala and Vaataapi killed lot of sages and ate them. Some hymns clearly say they were cannibals. When Ilvala invited a sage he used to cook Vatapi and as soon as the sage ate Vaataapi meat, Ilvala called ‘Vatapi, Come out’ and the sage tummy was torn to pieces. When Ilvala played the same trick on Agastya, he said Vataapi Jeerno Bhava= Vataapi Get Digested.

This story is hinted in this mantra.

The Tamil translation by Jambunathan says ‘let the body get fattened’. Or ‘become stronger’.

All these mean the same. When the food is digested and get absorbed, the body becomes stronger or fatter.

So my Bhasyam/ interpretation is ‘Vatape peetha Bhava’ is ‘Vataapi Jeerno Bhava’. So we have the mythological story in the Rig Veda itself.

Kaamabha and Pithu

I said in the beginning two tasty items mentioned in the hymn are Pittu or Puttu and Mor Kali (karamba). Old Brahmin ladies make this spicy tasty Mor Kali by mixing Curd/Yoghurt with rice flour. Boil it and spice it with Jeera, Turmeric powder and chilies or black pepper. Chillies were imported from South America at a very late stage in Indian History and Hindus used black pepper instead.

The very word Pishta in Sanskrit means rice flour. In Agamas Rice Flour Abhisheka is prescribed to Lord Siva.

So my conclusion is Pithu= Pittu= Puttu and Karambha is Mor Kali= Yoghurt+ Rice Flour.

1935 Tamil Dictionary published by Ananda Vikatan magazine gives the meaning of Karambha.

Let us enjoy the Tamil Food from the Menu of Agastya Restaurant of Rig Vedic times!!

If you can’t make it, visit Kerala or Sri Lanka for a spicy Puttu or a Brahmin family for Sweet Puttu and Mor Kali/Karambha.

Long Live Tamil Saint Agastya!

Please see the attached original hymn below: —

1. Now will I glorify Food that upholds great strength,

     By whose invigorating power Trita rent Vrtra limb from limb.

2. O pleasant Food, O Food of meath, thee have we chosen for our own,

     So be our kind protector thou.

3. Come hitherward to us, O Food, auspicious with auspicious help,

     Health-bringing, not unkind, a dear and guileless friend.

4. These juices which, O Food, are thine throughout the regions are diffused.

     like winds they have their place in heaven.

5. These gifts of thine, O Food, O Food most sweet to taste,

     These savours of thy juices work like creatures that have mighty necks.

6. In thee, O Food, is set the spirit of great Gods.

     Under thy flag brave deeds were done he slew the Dragon with thy help.

7. If thou be gone unto the splendour of the clouds,

     Even from thence, O Food of meath, prepared for our enjoyment, come.

8. Whatever morsel we consume from waters or from plants of earth, O Soma, wax thou fat thereby.

9. What Soma, we enjoy from thee in milky food or barley-brew, Vatapi, grow thou fat thereby.

10. O Vegetable, Cake of meal, he wholesome, firm, and strengthening: Vatapi, grow thou fat thereby.

11. O Food, from thee as such have we drawn forth with lauds, like cows, our sacrificial gifts,

     From thee who banquetest with Gods, from thee who banquetest with us.

Rig Veda Mandala 1 Hymn 187

पितुं नु सतोषं महो धर्माणं तविषीम |
यस्य तरितो वयोजसा वर्त्रं विपर्वमर्दयत ||


सवादो पितो मधो पितो वयं तवा वव्र्महे |
अस्माकमविता भव ||


उप नः पितवा चर शिवः शिवाभिरूतिभिः |
मयोभुरद्विषेण्यः सखा सुशेवो अद्वयाः ||


तव तये पितो रस रजांस्यनु विष्ठिताः |
दिवि वाता इव शरिताः ||


तव तये पितो ददतस्तव सवादिष्ठ ते पितो |
पर सवाद्मानो रसानां तुविग्रीवा इवेरते ||


तवे पितो महानां देवानां मनो हिताम |
अकारि चारु केतुना तवाहिमवसावधीत ||


यददो पितो अजगन विवस्व पर्वतानाम |
अत्रा चिन नो मधो पितो.अरं भक्षाय गम्याः ||


यदपामोषधीनां परिंशमारिशामहे |
वातपे पीवैद भव ||


यत ते सोम गवाशिरो यवाशिरो भजामहे |
वातापे पीवैद भव ||


करम्भ ओषधे भव पीवो वर्क्क उदारथिः |
वातापे पीवैद भव ||
तं तवा वयं पितो वचोभिर्गावो न हव्या सुषूदिम |
देवेभ्यस्त्वा सधमादमस्मभ्यं तवा सधमादम ||

pituṃ nu stoṣaṃ maho dharmāṇaṃ taviṣīm |
yasya trito vyojasā vṛtraṃ viparigvedaamardayat ||


svādo pito madho pito vayaṃ tvā vavṛmahe |
asmākamavitā bhava ||


upa naḥ pitavā cara śivaḥ śivābhirūtibhiḥ |
mayobhuradviṣeṇyaḥ sakhā suśevo advayāḥ ||


tava tye pito rasa rajāṃsyanu viṣṭhitāḥ |
divi vātā iva śritāḥ ||


tava tye pito dadatastava svādiṣṭha te pito |
pra svādmāno rasānāṃ tuvighrīvā iverate ||


tve pito mahānāṃ devānāṃ mano hitām |
akāri cāru ketunā tavāhimavasāvadhīt ||


yadado pito ajaghan vivasva parigvedaatānām |
atrā cin no madho pito.araṃ bhakṣāya ghamyāḥ ||


yadapāmoṣadhīnāṃ pariṃśamāriśāmahe |
vātape pīvaid bhava ||


yat te soma ghavāśiro yavāśiro bhajāmahe |
vātāpe pīvaid bhava ||


karambha oṣadhe bhava pīvo vṛkka udārathiḥ |
vātāpe pīvaid bhava ||


taṃ tvā vayaṃ pito vacobhirghāvo na havyā suṣūdima |
devebhyastvā sadhamādamasmabhyaṃ tvā sadhamādam ||

–subham—

tags- Puttu, Pittu, Tamil Food, Rig Veda, RV 1-187, Mor Kali, Karambha