Prasad wrote:Continuing with my inane fixation with vegetarianism and meat-eating and a few observations upon re-reading the MB- eating meat wasn't frowned upon. Pork was served by Yudishtira to brahmanas. When they started their vanvaas, numerous brahmanas accompanied the pandavas into the forest. There they hunted deer and eat them, apart from fruits and roots and shoots. This is all matter of fact in the narration.
Makes one realise just how much of an impact buddhism and jainism had in modifiying hinduism. Amazing when you think about it.
Also, when it comes to dating the MB, it makes clear mention of pandya kingdom. Now, the Ramayan also does and it is an earlier work compared to the MB. And the early pandyan kingdom began around 600 BC(?).
A cultural observation - Women weren't averse to approaching men, quite forthrightly, asking to indulge in *ahem ahem*. Also, the descriptions of women are quite unabashed. Urvashi, while she approaches Arjuna, is described as one with bosoms so heavy that her shoulders droop forward. Writing something like that today of Uma or Sridevi would invite the Batras and assorted idiots. Sigh
Yes, saar, most of these are good points and they seem to be quite convoluted.
I think Pandya may be referring to a region rather than the dynasty. Now, there are some who assume that these references are due to interpolations and extrapolations. Thats possible. But, it is also possible that it is not the case.
About sensuality: It seems that actually denying the women who come for ahem ahem was considered wrong. Urvashi also curses Arjuna because she was denied. Arjuna gives a reason for denying her (she had affair with one of his ancestors). Similarly, Raama has to use all kinds of excuses to deny Shurpanaka. So, it seems that denying the women who come with a desire was considered wrong.
It seems to me that there were two trends at different points of time:
One trend was ahem ahem only within the framework of marriage. This seems to be a more general trend. However, there also seems to be another trend of ahem ahem outside the marriage. But this trend seems to have been rare and followed during times when the society was in upheaval. In general times, ahem ahem was done within the framework of marriage. The women had the freedom to approach men but it also meant a commitment. The same was true for men.
Meat eating is another convoluted subject. It seems that the hunting was generally done to kill the carnivores. At that time, the forests were spread all over. Frequently, the number of carnivores would increase and they had to be reduced by hunting them down. This was considered a royal duty or govt duty.
The central region had powerful and rich cities long long time ago. Then it became forests and uninhabitable. So, it was filled by carnivores and cannibals. Then, it was slowly reclaimed by the cities and towns. Central region of Bhaarath had towns once upon a time, then it had forests, then it again became slowly urbanized. All this is a gradual process extending several years.
Similarly, it seems that the Dhandaka forests were very thick. If one adds Vindhya mountains to this forests, then it becomes virtually impassable. At some point, it seems that place became impassable for certain time. People panicked because the north and south were cut off.
But, the brave Agasthya who was in Kaashi crossed the central forests, then crossed Vindyas and settled in Pandya region. Then, many other ascetics seem to have followed his lead and settled in the Dhandaka forests and central forests. It was Agasthya who allowed the people to hunt the deer of the forest. Before that, it seems like hunting was considered as 'himsa' i.e. violence especially for ascetics. But, it seems like Agasthya laid down the rule that deer are a fair game. Of course, Kings were expected to kill carnivores once in a while to keep their numbers in check. But, carnivores were killed to keep their numbers down while the deer seem to have been hunted for food or for offering them in rituals. Killing deer seems to have been okayed by Agasthya. Rest of the ascetics seem to have followed Agasthya's lead.
This is were one finds the story of Agasthya killing Vathapi and Ilvala who used to trick people by feeding them meat of a goat.
It seems like even the Northern Kingdoms were hemmed by the forests and mountains. The east seems to be much better for a kingdom. It seems like Magadha was the powerful kingdom because it had lesser amount of forests in its region. So, it could expand freely. Magadha is an eastern kingdom. If we move further east from Magadha, then again the forests and moutains seem to increase. Magadha is sort of placed ideally because it had less number of forests and mountains in its own domain but still protected by them nevertheless.
Actually, it seems like the coasts and plateaus were ideally suited for establishing new cities and towns. The rivers and seas could also be used for navigation. And the coast or plateau would have lesser density of forests. Thats why it seems like the kingdoms were established in coasts or plateaus.
Of course, there is a point of killing animals during Yagna.
There is another complication due to wrong translations.
For example: (The following translation is based on K M Ganguly's work.)
"Vaishampayana said, “Then that chief of men, King Yudhishthira, entered that palatial sabha having first fed ten thousand Brahmanas with preparations of milk and rice mixed with clarified butter and honey with fruits and roots, and with pork and venison. The King gratified those superior Brahmanas, who had come from various countries with food seasoned with seasamum and prepared with vegetables called jibanti, with rice mixed with clarified butter, with different preparations of meat--with indeed various kinds of other food and also numberless viands that are fit to be sucked and innumerable kinds of drinks, with new and unused robes and clothes, and with excellent floral wreaths. The King also gave to each of those Brahmanas a thousand cows. And, O Bharatha, the voice of the gratified Brahmanas uttering, ‘What an auspicious day is this!’ became so loud that it seemed to reach heaven itself. And when the Kuru King entered the palatial sabha having also worshipped the Gods with various kinds of music and numerous species of excellent and costly perfumes, the athletes and mimes and prize-fighters and bards and encomiasts began to gratify that illustrious son of Dharma by exhibiting their skill. And thus celebrating his entry into the palace, Yudhishthira with his brothers sported within that palace like Shakra (Indhra) himself in heaven.
However, in Sanskruth version, the meat is not mentioned.
ततः परवेशनं चक्रे तस्यां राजा युधिष्ठिरः
अयुतं भॊजयाम आस बराह्मणानां नराधिपः
2 घृतपायसेन मधुना भक्ष्यैर मूलफलैस तथा
अहतैश चैव वासॊभिर माल्यैर उच्चावचैर अपि
3 ददौ तेभ्यः सहस्राणि गवां परत्येकशः परभुः
पुण्याहघॊषस तत्रासीद दिवस्पृग इव भारत
4 वादित्रैर विविधैर गीतैर गन्धैर उच्चावचैर अपि
पूजयित्वा कुरुश्रेष्ठॊ दैवतानि निवेश्य च
5 तत्र मल्ला नटा झल्लाः सूता वैतालिकास तथा
उपतस्थुर महात्मानं सप्तरात्रं युधिष्ठिरम
6 तथा स कृत्वा पूजां तां भरातृभिः सह पाण्डवः
तस्यां सभायां रम्यायां रेमे शक्रॊ यथा दिवि
Grutha -> Ghee
Paysena -> with Paaysam(made with milk and rice).
Madhuna -> with Madhu(Honey)
Bakshair -> with eatables
moola -> roots
falair -> fruits
As can be seen, the meat is not mentioned in the sanskruth version but it is mentioned in translation by K M Ganguly. So, such things also add to confusion.