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Food and philosophy

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Food and philosophy Empty Food and philosophy

Post by Seva Lamberdar Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:20 pm

Farming and philosophy in India during ancient times

(a)Agriculture in the beginning according to Shrutis and Smritis. Early man’s ability to light fire (by rubbing sticks against each other), grow crops and domesticate animals helped enormously in making the civilization possible. Humans faced many uncertainties and difficulties when they first started living in communities long ago. They often prayed to God to help them in getting food and shelter and for safety and security. They also wished for good sense and guidance so they could take care of their problems themselves.

Regarding the life and conditions in society long ago, Shrutis (especially the Vedas) are a valuable source of information, in addition to being the basic religious texts in Hinduism. Veda literally means knowledge in Sanskrit. Thus the Vedas represent knowledge which was acquired and compiled by seers and common people millennia ago (at least seven thousand years ago -- Refs. 1 and 2). The Vedic compositions took place in the form of hymns which were passed orally cum aurally to successive generations. Thus the knowledge or information contained in the Vedas has reached us mostly as passed repeatedly from one generation to the next orally (as Shabda or Word -- the spoken word) and aurally (as Shruti or Sound -- the heard truth). Veda, implying the Vedic knowledge, is therefore referred to also as Shabda (or Sabda) and Shruti (or Sruti). Note Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Upanisads (including the Bhagavad Gita as the Gitopanisad – Ref. 3) comprise the Shrutis (or Srutis) and are the basic Hindu scriptures. Among these, Rig Veda is the oldest and has the highest precedence (Ref. 3).

Since Shrutis were the original texts which were transmitted time and again over successive generations (after man had started living in communities / tribes), there is a kind of eternality associated with them. However, this eternality about Shrutis is not in the literal or chronological sense but merely as a sign that the knowledge or truth contained in the Shrutis (Vedas) is eternal, unchanging and it has stood the test of time. Perhaps this is due to the fact that since Veda (after being compiled) was transmitted orally and aurally over countless generations as Shabda cum Shruti, the things and information which were not true or relevant seemed to get dropped and discarded along the way. As a result, whatever was left in the Vedas was deemed factual and relevant and not subject to any more change. This changelessness acquired by the Vedic knowledge renders it the quality as eternal, beginningless or sanatana. Needless to say, the texts (Vedas) possessing such sanatana knowledge are also considered sanatana, in spite of the fact that Vedas were originally composed seven thousand years (or so) ago by humans (Ref. 1). Moreover, as Vedas are considered sanatana, dharma (duties, religion) based on Vedas (Vedic dharma, Hindu dharma or Hinduism) is called Sanatana dharma. In addition, because Shrutis are considered sanatana (due to unchanging information or truth in them), Shrutis qualify as valid sources of knowledge under the category Testimony (Shabda or Sabda). In the Purva Mimamsa (Ref. 4), Jaimini accepts testimony (sabda) as a pramana (proof or evidence) for knowledge, in addition to perception and inference.

In addition to the basic and original Shrutis (Vedas) in Hinduism, there are other ancillary texts which appeared afterwards and are collectively known as Smritis (or Smrtis). While Shrutis denote ancient knowledge transmitted aurally and scrutinized thoroughly over time, Smritis may include the untested memorizations and historical records of later events and personalities, social customs and proclamations, religious matters and rituals, and folklores etc. Smritis basically were intended to lend support to Shrutis or Vedas through explanations, examples and lessons on morality, rituals and customs etc. Smritis appear to draw extensively from the Vedas, Upanisads and Vedic (Brahmanical) philosophies (especially Samkhya and Vedanta). Smritis comprise various puranas (stories and tales related to creation and history), secondary texts on rituals, suggestions and proclamations on living and lifestyles, and epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata).

Since Smritis were not subject to the same type of scrutiny as Shrutis, they are not considered as having stood the test of time and there is no association of eternality or sanatana with them. They appear to come and go, especially the latter (“go”) if a Smriti happens to be in disagreement with the Shrutis (Ref. 3). Moreover, unlike Shrutis which are considered valid sources of knowledge under Testimony or Shabda, Smritis are not automatically accepted as valid sources of knowledge under Testimony (Ref. 4). Note only when a particular Smriti is found in agreement with Shrutis or Vedas (Rig Veda specifically), it may be accepted as a valid source of knowledge (Ref. 3). Incidentally, Ref. (3) also gives details as to why Atharva Veda, in spite of having Veda in its name, is not a genuine Veda or Shruti. Similarly, Refs. (5 and 6) describe in detail how Manusmriti violates the Vedas and therefore is not a genuine or valid text on Hinduism. In other words, Atharvaveda and Manusmriti are bogus texts and they probably were created for spurious reasons by unknown persons who used the names of famous Vedic sages (Atharvan and Manu), perhaps to make their works (Atharva Veda and Manu Smriti) popular and acceptable to public.

Regarding the names for deity (deities) in Hinduism, there are many. Agni, Indra, Savitar, Vishnu et al. are all names used for Brahman in the Vedas (Shrutis). Moreover, all these names for Brahman reflect different Brahmanical (Divine) attributes and traits (while Brahman is one and the same -- Refs. 7, 8 and 9). Smritis (Puranas etc.) on the other hand seem to emphasize a separate identity / personality (e.g. god Vishnu, god Agni, et al.) to each deity, corresponding to respective Brahaminal attribute (Vishnu or Agni et al.) in the Veda. In other words, what appear in the Vedas as the different names for Brahman (Vishnu, Agni et al.), in Smritis (Puranas etc.) they seem to reflect separate deities or gods (Vishnu and Agni et al.). Moreover, the Puranic deities / gods (Vishnu and Agni et al.) are usually backed by separate puranas dedicated to them (e.g. Vishnu Purana to Vishnu). These puranas often have stories on creation etc. in the name of the deity whose name the Purana bears (e.g. Agni in Agni Purana). The original idea behind this type of individualization of Puranic deities (based on the names for Brahman in the Vedas) probably was to personalize Brahman in the Saguna mode. This way, according to the Puranas, the deity would probably acquire an important role in creation, corresponding to his / her name for Brahman in the Vedas. Moreover, personalization of the deity seemed to suit the needs and capabilities of devotees and help them in personal and symbolic type worship.

The individualization of deities according to the Puranas to help people in personal and symbolic worship of Brahman can sometimes be misconstrued as if various deities are unrelated and independent. This also results in the misunderstanding that there is a pantheon of independent gods and goddesses (Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Amba and Devi et al.) leading to polytheism in Hinduism. But that is totally wrong because all these deities, having different names and identities, represent only one God (Brahman). In other words, Hinduism is not polytheistic, but it believes in monotheistic polymorphism (one God having many names and representations). Note also that religio-philosophically (Refs. 7, 9 and 10) it is sufficient for a devotee to worship and believe in just one deity (Vishnu or Shiva or Devi, for example) because all the deities are represented in / by one Brahman.

Sometimes there is an overlap or duplication of stories about a deity or an event in the Smritis. For example, the story of Krishna is found in both the Bhagavatam and the Mahabharata. This perhaps is due to the fact that the former, a purana (Bhagavata Purana), looks at the life of Krishna from puranic considerations (Krishna as the deity), while the latter, an epic (the Mahabharata), takes a historical view (including Krishna’s role in the battle of Kurukshetra).

Smritis (Puranas and Epics) are sometimes also used to introduce and signify an Avtar (a new divine reincarnation or arrival). Avtar basically reflects a change in focus / perspective about the deity, mostly in Saguna mode and according to changing times and conditions (the Gita: Ch. 4 - V. 7-Cool. A new Avtar thus may be in the form of a new deity altogether or by having a previous deity undergo a kind of transformation (reincarnation) involving change in attributes. Vishnu reincarnating as Krishna according to the Bhagavatam (which contains stories and philosophy related to Krishna) is one such example of a new Avtar. Although the occurrence of a new Avtar may sound like the birth of a new religion, it is not really so. The new Avtar, involving or in the name of Saguna Brahman(e.g. Vishnu appearing in a new incarnation), basically brings changes in socio-religious beliefs as required by changing times and conditions. Moreover, the puranic text, dedicated to the new Avtar, still adheres to the essentials of Vedas and Vedic (Brahamanical) philosophies (Refs. 7, 8 and 9). In other worlds, the new Avtar (deity) remains true to basic religious and philosophical ideas of Hinduism, including the concept of monotheistic polymorphism in Hinduism (one God having many names and representations).

Both Shrutis and Smritis indicate that agriculture and farming (growing crops and rearing cattle etc.) during early days of civilization faced tremendous hardships and were almost on the verge of dying. Luckily, humans persevered, worked hard and diligently to keep the agriculture and farming going. Through trial and error, they developed proper techniques for cultivating plants and crops for food. They also learnt to raise animals for food (in dairy etc.) and for use on farms. The following examples, including hymns from the Rig Veda, show a great interest and effort by humans long ago in growing plants (including crops) and rearing animals (cows and bulls etc.).

(i) “Sweet be the plants for us. The heavens, the waters, and full of sweets for us be air's mid-region.
May the Kshetrapati (Brahman as the lord of fields) for us be full of sweetness, and may we follow after him uninjured.”… Rig Veda (Book 4: Hymn 57.3)

(ii) “Happily work our steers and men, and may the plough furrow happily.
Happily be the traces bound; happily, may he ply the goad.”…. Rig Veda (Book 4: Hymn 57.4)

(iii) “Make pleasant hymns, spin out your songs and praises: build ye a ship equipped with oars for transport.
Prepare the implements, make all things ready, and let the sacrifice, my friends, go forward.” ….. Rig Veda (Book 10: Hymn 101.2)

(iv) “Lay on the yokes, and fasten well the traces: formed is the furrow, sow the seed within it.
Through song may we find bearing fraught with plenty: near to the ripened grain approach the sickle.”… Rig Veda (Book 10: Hymn 101.3)

(v) “Touched by the goad the hairy animal (bull) went nobly, bound to the pole by the yoke's thong of leather.
Performing deeds of might for many people, he, looking on the cows, gained strength and vigor.”… Rig Veda (Book 10: Hymn 102.Cool

(b)Transformation of yajna fire into Shiva-linga and the significance of Nandi in Shiva temples. Shiva-linga, meaning auspicious symbol, probably originated as the symbol for worship and prayer during early days of civilization. By using the Shiva-linga in the place of live fire in yajna helped in making the Vedic worship to Agni (name for Brahman in the terrestrial region) easy, quick and possible anywhere and anytime (Ref. 9). Note, in “Shiva-linga”, shiva in Sanskrit means auspicious and Linga means symbol, sign or mark. Even the Gita (Ch. 14- V.21) uses Linga in the sense of a symbol, sign or mark. Shiva-linga is thus a symbol (the auspicious symbol) representing flame (fire) in yajna. Shiva-linga does not represent phallus or any other organ of reproduction, as presumed wrongly in some Shiva arts or iconographies. By having the Shiva-linga for worship (instead of a live fire for yajna), it was not necessary to ignite fire for each worship (yajna), especially during outdoors and by rubbing the sticks of special materials against each other. By substituting the Shiva-linga for live yajna not only made the worship easy, quick and possible anytime anywhere, it probably also brought the worship indoors (from outside) leading perhaps to first indoor places of worship (temples), possibly long before Buddha’s time.

In addition, note that the name Shiva (meaning auspicious) was probably not used initially for a deity (not even in the Vedas -- Rig Veda etc.). Yet there are many temples now dedicated to Shiva where the main symbol of worship is Shiva-linga. Moreover, the worship of Shiva mostly takes place in the form of Shiva-linga. This indicates that the symbol Shiva-linga (used in temples and worships) is intrinsically tied to Shiva (the deity associated with these temples and worships). Let’s look at the possibility and origin of this link. Perhaps, initially shiva meant only auspicious and the temples housing Shiva-linga (for worship of Agni) were probably called as Shiva-linga temples and the worship inside the temples as Shiva-linga worship. But, over time, the use of “linga” (while referring to Shiva-linga temples and Shiva-linga worship) could appear redundant and unnecessary. This could possibly have led, intentionally or otherwise, to changing “Shiva-linga temple” as “Shiva temple”, and “Shiva-linga worship” as “Shiva worship”. In any case, this seems to have effectively transformed the name Agni in the Vedas to deity Shiva who initially had no mention in the Vedas and probably meant auspicious only. Moreover, in the true Puranic tradition, there was also the addition of a purana (later perhaps), Shiva Purana -- dedicated to Shiva and containing stories etc. about Shiva (including related to creation). Incidentally, in some cases it appears that people opted to retain and use the word Linga instead of Shiva-linga and ended up known as Lingayat (meaning related to or worshippers of Linga). They also acquired a purana (Linga purana). In any case, the worship symbol (Linga) used by Lingas or Lingayats also symbolizes flame / fire (in yajna) and their deity is also Shiva (representing Agni).

In spite of a change in the name and worship etc. involving Agni and Shiva, fire still remained the main consideration in both cases -- live fire in yajna dedicated to Agni and the fire symbol (Shiva-linga or Linga) for worship as Shiva. Just like these days, fire was extremely important to people during early days of civilization. Moreover, animals also had a great importance to people then – cows providing milk etc. to people and bulls helping in agriculture. In addition, the early settlers in communities / tribes probably lived in pastoral type dwellings which would include facilities for both (fire and cattle). Thus a typical dwelling long ago probably had a fireplace inside for cooking etc. and the important animals (cows and bulls) kept nearby outside. This pastoral type dwelling arrangement (signifying fire and farming /animals) probably was also reflected in the temples built long ago, dedicated especially to Shiva. Thus a typical Shiva temple would likely have a fire symbol or Shiva-linga for worship inside and a statue of bull or Nandi placed outside (with its head pointing / looking at the Shiva-linga). Perhaps Nandi specifically represented a farming bull, belonging probably to Nand (possibly a popular name among farmers at that time, including the farmer Nand in whose house Krishna grew up). Incidentally, many Shiva temples even these days have the same type of setup (Shiva-linga inside and Nandi outside) as probably long ago.

(c)The metamorphic story of Ahalya in the Ramayana.Sometimes the ancient texts contain narrations which might be metaphorical or mythical in nature even though they originally could be based on real events or phenomena. The Purusha Sukta hymn in the Rig Veda assuming society (castes) anthropomorphically (as a human body), Indra considered as the king of gods in some puranic stories and Gautama’s wife Ahalya in the Ramayana turning into a pillar of salt because of her illicit liaison with Indra are just a few examples involving hidden messages and symbolism.

The Purusha Sukta hymn on creation in the Rig Veda (Book 10: Hymn 90.12) speaks of four socio-occupational divisions (castes) in society (tribe) in anthropomorphic sense, implying that society (comprising brahmins, kshatryas, vaishyas and sudras) was functionally similar to human body. In other words, according to the Purusha Sukta, brahmins or learned men represented or formed the mouth of society (tribe), kshatriya (rulers and soldiers) as the society’s arms, Vaishya (farmers etc.) as thighs or support for society, and Sudras as the new additions or migrants to the tribe (arriving on their feet). Thus ‘padabhyam sudro ajayat’ in the the Purusha Sukta means ‘Sudra appeared (or arrived) on (or using) their feet’. The implication is that sudras were the later addition to the tribe (society), joining the tribe as migrants or newcomers (basically traveling to the tribe from outside on their feet). Thus as newcomers (like modern day immigrants), Shudras took to providing help and service to people (vaishya etc.) already in the tribe until they had lived there long enough to get into other vocations (Ref. 2). Anyway, to think of Purusha Sukta hymn in any other sense, e.g. brahmins arising from the mouth of Purusha (the original being), Kshatriya from its arms, Vaishya from the thighs and Sudra from its feet, is totally absurd and devoid of reality.

Similarly, some Puranic stories depict Indra as the king of gods, probably because Indra (the Vedic name for Brahman in the mid-air) manifests as rain, clouds, thunder and lightning. Indra thus seems very powerful and influential in comparison to other Puranic deities (Surya and Varuna et al. who represent Brahman’s other names and attributes / roles). Indra, for example, can inundate Earth (Prithvi) and extinguishes fire (Agni) with rain. Indra energizes and increases water (Varuna ) and wind (Vaayu) during rain. With clouds, Indra leads to the disappearance of Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon) and Nakshtra (stars and constellations). Indra can bring relief from drought. Moreover, people and animals can be frightened and harmed by thunder, lightningand excess rain of Indra. Sometimes Indra appears to withhold rains causing famines and starvation. Indra thus seems capable of doing many things, good and bad, unlike other puranic deities or gods (Surya, Varuna et al.). This probably led to some puranic stories in which Indra was depicted as the king of gods and deities. But that seems like a misguided notion. Note, according to the Vedas, Indra is just another name for Brahman (in mid-air), like other names for Brahman in other regions / roles (Agni, Savitar, Vishnu et al.). Perhaps the Govardhana hill story in the Bhagavatam (Krishna using Govardhana hill to protect people, farmers etc., against Indra’s wrath / rains) was really meant to put an end to such baseless ideas (e.g. Indra being the king of gods).

Ahalya’s story in the Ramayana also needs to be looked at differently. It seems to have important clues about agriculture long ago. The story says that sage Gautama’s wife Ahalya had an illicit tryst in her house with Indra (the rain god). One day, when Gautama had gone out of his hermitage leaving Ahalya behind, Indra showed up disguised as Gautama. Since Ahalya could not recognize Indra in the guise of her husband and mistakenly assumed that it was her husband already back home, she ended up having sex with Indra disguised as her husband. Later, after Indra’s departure and when the real Gautama returned home, she did realize her mistake and Indra’s deception. Even though she was innocent of any wrong doing on her part (having sex unknowingly with another man) Gautama was furious with her and cursed her anyway. She turned into a pillar of salt. Only many years later when Rama (hero of the Ramayana) visited Gautama’s hermitage, he touched the pillar of salt and that brought Ahalya back to life.

Literally speaking, this story appears to be a suggestion to married women to not engage in sexual activity with a stranger, knowingly or unknowingly. Moreover, it expresses the hope that everyone (including a woman) can be exonerated by the Lord (Rama) no matter what the sin. On a related incident in the Ramayana, involving agni-pariksha (or fire test) of Sita, it might have required Sita to only make a statement (declaration) about her innocence in the witness of sacred fire (Agni), and not that Rama wanted her to jump in the live fire to prove her innocence. Sita and others long ago making statements in front of sacred fire to prove or avow their innocence would be similar to people these days making statements (as truth) while holding sacred books in hand.

In any case, considering the story of Ahalya metaphorically, it gives an important message about agriculture during ancient times. For example, ahalya could perhaps represent Gautama’s infertile and un-arable land instead of his real-life wife. Note, ahalya in Sanskrit also means the land which is un-arable or un-plow-able (a-hal-ya). It seems Gautama’s fields (land) in his hermitage had become barren and infertile due to excess water from rains (Indra’s rains). It is a common knowledge these days that when soil (land) is subjected to repeated cycles of inundation and drying, salts and chemicals in the subsoil churn to the top (topsoil etc.) through transpiration. These extra salts in the top layer make the soil (fields) whitish in color and unable to grow plants (crops) due to increased salinity. The soil (land) thus becomes unfit for agriculture and there is no use plowing it. The land is thus ahalya or unplowable, not worth plowing. Note, only when the salt content in the topsoil is reduced (either by replacing the topsoil with ordinary soil or by adding a mixture of ordinary soil and manure to the topsoil) the land becomes fit for growing crops.

Same thing probably had happened to Gautama’s fields which could have become barren and unplowable (ahalya) due to excess rains (vis-à-vis having unacceptable liaison with Indra, the rain god). Moreover, the fields probably looked whitish due to excess salts near the surface, implying it as a pillar of salt (due to a liaison with Indra). Although the phenomenon of excessive rains or water causing the salts to churn to the top of the soil and making the soil whitish and barren is well known now, it might not be understood fully during the ancient times when Gautama lived. Thus perhaps this incident appears to be mentioned metaphorically in the Ramayana – Gautama’s wife (ahalya) becoming a pillar of salt for having an illicit liaison with Indra (rain god) and Rama later restoring her back to life (fertility) by touching her. In any case, this story even in the metaphoric form gives valuable information about precarious condition of agriculture long ago.

Moreover, the story also says that Rama visited Gautama’s hermitage many years later and touched the pillar of salt bringing Ahalya back to life. It seems people probably had found a way (through trial and error perhaps and even without fully understanding) to correct the situation of excess salts in soil (which arose to soil surface due to heavy rains or excessive use of water). In addition, according to some sources (versions of Ramayana), the transformation of Ahalya by Rama was so complete and successful that the previously barren lady (“land”) became capable of thousand ‘birthings’ (sproutings). This also indicates that Rama probably did more than just touch the pillar of salt to restore Gautama’s ahalya (barren land) to life. In reality, he probably worked hard and even like a farmer these days (replacing the topsoil himself perhaps) to reduce the salinity in the land belonging to Gautama.

Ahalya’s story also shows Rama’s dedication to duty and his desire to perform any task, high, low, manual or menial (including working as a farmer or laborer to make the land fertile). It seems farming was very important during ancient times and everyone was ready and willing to engage in it. Thus even the brahmins and sages (Gautama for example) and kshatriyas and princes (e.g. Rama) would take care of land and work as farmers. This indicates that the caste labels (brahmin and kshatriya etc.) did not restrict people from doing other kinds of work. Moreover, there probably was no relating or associating of castes and occupations of people with traits of prakriti (nature) in the Samkhya. Specifically, Satva (mode of light for prakriti according to the Samkhya) would have nothing to do with someone taking birth in the house of a brahmin (or priest) or getting educated and working as a brahmin. Similarly, there would be no relation between rajas (the passion mode of prakriti) and someone taking birth in the house of a kshatriya (king, leader or fighter) or working as a kshatriya. And no link also between tamas (mode of darkness for prakriti) and someone taking birth either in the house of a farmer or cobbler etc. or working as a farmer or cobbler. This indicates that even long ago people did not see any justification or basis for caste system or castes (occupations) according to samkhya modes of prakriti. Note, justifying castes and caste system according to modes of prakriti is like comparing apples and oranges.

(d)Janaka and the story of famine in his kingdom. There is a story in the Ramayana about a famine in Videha (king Janaka’s dominion with Mithila as its capital), which again points to the difficulties in agriculture and farming long ago. For several years, there were no rains in Videha. The land had become parched and people were unable to grow crops. There was misery and starvation everywhere. Someone, probably a seer, suggested to king Janaka that he should plow a piece of land himself. The thinking was that this symbolic gesture by the king would please the gods and they in turn would bring rain back to his kingdom. Janaka took the advice seriously and, in spite of being a king, plowed a small piece of land himself. Gods, according to the Ramayana, were pleased with Janaka’s action and attitude and returned the rains to Videha. The misery, hunger and starvation were soon gone from Videha as people began growing crops again. This story again shows that agriculture and farming faced many difficulties long ago and depended on rains and good weather just like these days. In addition, farming was considered so important that even kings (such as Janaka), princes (Rama for example) and brahmins (e.g. Gautama) engaged in it and worked as farmers (even plowing the land). It seems there was little stigma or labeling (as high or low) in society with respect to people’s vocations or occupations (castes) long ago.

(e) Agriculture and farming in Krishna stories. The life story of Krishna in the Bhagvatam and the Mahabharata, as the reincarnation of Vishnu, also places a great emphasis on agriculture and farming during ancient times. Krishna is the protector and he saves farmers and their property against Indra’s wrath (rains). Krishna, even as the deity, grows up in the house of Nand (a cow-herder and farmer – a vaishya) and as a young boy Krishna takes care of animals (cows etc.). This seems to indicate that castes (family occupations) and caste labels did not play a big role in society (including in terms of heredity and social hierarchy, such as high or low) and people would do whatever was necessary and suiting them according to need, convenience and opportunity. In addition, the name Nand (a cow-herder and farmer) appearing in the Krishna story and Nandi (a bull, a farming bull perhaps) associated (as a statue) with Shiva temples seem to indicate the importance and reverence related to agriculture and cattle long ago. It looks like the Hindu custom of showing reverence to trees, plants (including Tulasi or Tulsi plant -- Holy Basil), animals (cows for example), rivers (Ganges etc.) and earth probably started long ago when people realized the importance of plants, herbs, trees, animals and rivers etc. to their own survival.

(f) Harappan evidence for agriculture.The archaeological findings from the ancient Harappan (Indus Valley) Civilization also put a great emphasis on agriculture and farming. Ref. (11), related to ‘Cultural History of India’ by Om Prakash (on page 89 of the book) states, “A sealing from Harappa shows on the obverse a nude female figure, turned upside down with outspread legs and a plant issuing from the womb. On the reverse of this sealing is depicted a man with a sickle in his hand and a woman seated on the ground with hand raised in the posture of prayer.”

The above ancient Harappan seal also appears to depict and celebrate the importance and reverence for farming and agriculture long ago. A plant sprouting from the womb of an upside-down woman in the seal is probably a reference to the mother earth, symbolized as a woman and bearing the life-sustaining plants and crops. The reverse side of the seal seems to show a family (man and woman) offering a prayer at harvest time. The woman is sitting on the ground and has her hand lifted in prayer while the man (perhaps her husband) stands nearby holding a sickle in his hand. He appears to be ready to harvest the crop. Note, these types of pre-harvest rituals (prayers and worships) by farmers and their families (engaged in farming) are common even today in many places and cultures. This seal presents the archaeological evidence that the custom of praying by humans (farmers etc.) before harvest, especially for a good harvest, is very ancient.


(1) Subhash C. Sharma, “How old are the Vedas and who can read them?”, Aug. 23, 2006,

(2) Subhash C. Sharma, “Hindu Caste System & Hinduism: Vedic vocations (Hindu castes) were not related to heredity (birth),” 2001 (geocities),

(3) Subhash C. Sharma, “Compatibility of a text with the Srutis,” Sept. 2, 2006,

(4) Subhash C. Sharma, “The Purva Mimamsa philosophy,” May 25, 2004 (geocities),

(5) Subhash C. Sharma, “Manu, smriti and the medical paradox,” May 29, 2004 (geocities),

(6) Subhash C. Sharma, “Manusmriti -- the book that contradicts the Vedas and itself,” April 23, 2010,

(7) Subhash C. Sharma,”BRAHMAN (God) in Hinduism,” Feb. 24, 2004 (geocities),

(Cool Subhash C. Sharma, “Worship and prayer according to Vedas,” Feb. 19, 2007,

(9) Subhash C. Sharma, “Saivite and Vaisnava interpretations of Brahman,” Dec. 19, 2010,

(10) Subhash C. Sharma, “Theistic and non-theistic Hindu philosophies,” Aug. 3, 2007 (geocities),

(11) TTCUSM, “Something you probably didn't know about the Harappans”, 2010,

by: Dr. Subhash C. Sharma
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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Food and philosophy Empty Re: Food and philosophy

Post by Seva Lamberdar Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:21 am

Some people think that the Vedas are religious texts only, but in reality and as indicated above the Vedas (veda meaning knowledge in Sanskrit) are more than that and even comprise a significant amount of information (compiled by sages, seers and probably ordinary people long ago) about early civilization.
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Food and philosophy Empty Re: Food and philosophy

Post by Seva Lamberdar Thu Aug 31, 2023 8:32 am

Happy Onam!

Incidentally,the harvest season festival of Onam could also have something to do in its name (as 'onam') originally with 'annam' (meaning food / grains in Sanskrit and very pertinent to harvest season). It seems the festival "Onam" arose in a literal celebration of "annam" after the crops were one of the seals discovered in Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan) has image showing harvest related prayer / worship millennia ago.

Section (f) in above blog states the following:

"The above ancient Harappan seal also appears to depict and celebrate the importance and reverence for farming and agriculture long ago. A plant sprouting from the womb of an upside-down woman in the seal is probably a reference to the mother earth, symbolized as a woman and bearing the life-sustaining plants and crops. The reverse side of the seal seems to show a family (man and woman) offering a prayer at harvest time. The woman is sitting on the ground and has her hand lifted in prayer while the man (perhaps her husband) stands nearby holding a sickle in his hand. He appears to be ready to harvest the crop. Note, these types of pre-harvest rituals (prayers and worships) by farmers and their families (engaged in farming) are common even today in many places and cultures. This seal presents the archaeological evidence that the custom of praying by humans (farmers etc.) before harvest, especially for a good harvest, is very ancient."

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Post by desi aunty Fri Sep 01, 2023 8:06 pm

hi seva... i don't know if you are on it already, but i think the level of your content is best on

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Sun Sep 03, 2023 7:38 am

Hi DA,
Thanks for the suggestion. Nice to see you back posting on SuCH.
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