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Re: [Indo-Eurasia] Re: Burial mounds in Vedic literature

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  • Michael Witzel
    John, a difficult question as I think little has been done on this topic. People notice the similarity of grave mounds but keep it at that. However, over the
    Message 1 of 21 , Jan 6, 2010
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      John, a difficult question as I think little has been done on this
      topic. People notice the similarity of grave mounds but keep it at
      that.

      However, over the years, I have collected incidental data that add up
      to a picture of a migration of Sakas into Bihar, much earlier than
      the well known one into Sakastaan (Seistan) around 140 BCE.

      It is a question of connecting the dots.

      The whole thing happened "under the radar", just like the 1000 years
      later movement of Zoroastrian-like Sun worshipping Brahmins (called
      Sakaldip) who still have unusual customs such as a marriage fair and
      the Chauth Sun festival, just last month. Many Zoroastrian details
      in Bhavisya Purana, studied at length by v. Stietencron, et al.

      1. There are many local tribes in N. Bihar that are known only from
      the Pali (and Jaina) texts:
      the Sakya, Vajji, Licchavi, Naya, Kalaama, Buli, Moriya, Vesali, etc.
      All of them --with the exception of the Sanskitizing Videha and the
      Malla-- do not yet appear in the eastern Late Vedic texts

      The Sakya (and Malla, Vajj/Vrji) are NEW in Bihar, and not found in
      the Late Vedic texts at *that* location, but first in the Pali canon
      (compiled c.250 BCE) .

      The Malla are a Rajasthan desert tribe in Jaiminiya Brahmana, and are
      still known on the Middle Indus as Malloi in Alexander's time. The
      Vajji (Skt. Vrji) are known to Panini (c.350 BCE?) as a gaNa goup
      in the Greater Panjab, who habitually live on warfare. The Sakya are
      not mentioned at all before the Pali texts and the in Atharvaveda
      Paris'ista, et Epic etc.

      All adds up to a (very) Late Vedic move into the East (N. Bihar).
      With "strange" customs as indicated in the S'B passage.

      2. The Sakya have a number of Iranoid links and customs. Briefly:

      The name of the Buddha�s clan, the Sakya (Skt. s'aakya), cannot be
      separated from the designation of the northern Iranian Saka (Skt.
      S'aka) hat entered India only after c. 140 BE, via Sistan.

      The name, as well as that of some Late Vedic kings and noblemen,
      Balhika Pratipiiya and perhaps Cakra Sthapati, recall the Iranian
      countries Baaxdhii/Balh (Bactria) and Caxra.

      Further, the Sakya, Malla, etc. built high grave mounds, such as the
      one for the Buddha. These remind of Central Asian grave mounds (kurgan).

      Then, there is the legendary custom of Sakya incest marriage
      (strictly forbidden in India since the Rgveda), an Iranian
      (Zoroastrian) custom. (see recent paper by J. Silk ). According to
      the Buddhist canon, the Sakya were the sons of King OkkAAka
      (IkSvaaku) and were exiled from Ayodhya to the jungles of S. Nepal,
      where they could only marry their sisters. A similar idea is also
      mentioned in an eastern Late Vedic text (Aitareya Brahmana 7).

      Then there also is the new idea of weighing one�s guilt after death.
      This was first an Egyptian, then a Zoroastrian and Iranian concept.
      It is connected with the idea of personal responsibility for one�s
      action (karma). This is also seen in Bhrgu�s vision of a reverse
      world, in which people get sawn up by trees. The god of the
      netherworld, Yima (Skt. Yama) of the Avesta, too is �sawn up� to his
      guilt.

      Even the idea of carrying fire in a king's mouth OkkAAka (IkSvaaku)
      [that may escape him] may have reflect the Iranian concept of royal
      splendor (farnah) around one's head, later depicted as halo: it can
      leave a king and hide in water.

      Taken together, these points tend to indicate that there was some
      Iranian influence in Bihar in Late Vedic times. However, by the time
      of the Buddha, the Iranoid character of the Sakya, by and large,
      seemed to have dissipated. They appeared just like any other eastern
      oligarchic tribe and actually claimed descent from the OkkAAka
      (IkSvaaku) kings of Ayodhya.

      There was constant influx from Afghanistan into the plains: the Vedic
      texts admonish that one should keep watching one' back (= west). The
      Kurus were done in by one of these groups, the Salva.

      As for archaeology: the Lauriya mound was excavated around 1900/10
      but I have not kept up with this development. I think it is now
      regarded as post-Buddha.

      Hope this helps.
      Michael

      On Jan 6, 2010, at 9:10 AM, j.bellezza wrote:

      > Michael Witzel,
      >
      > Do you know of any comparative archaeological studies for the
      > circular tomb excavated in Lauriya and those of the Sakas and
      > Scythians? Do the Sakyas and other groups of the Mahajanapadas
      > noted in Indic literature have demonstrable links with early Iron
      > Age or developed Iron Age kurgan building Scythians, that is,
      > before the movement of the Sakas south into the Subcontinent?
      >
      > John V. Bellezza

      ============
      Michael Witzel
      witzel@...
      <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>

      Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
      1 Bow Street,
      Cambridge MA 02138, USA

      phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496
      8571;
      my direct line: 617- 496 2990
    • Michael Witzel
      Sorry, typo, as Steve noticed; it was 13.8.1.5 The common divisions of the text: chapter 13, etc. -- UFT 8: -- 13.8.1 from my electronic texts catuḥsrakti
      Message 2 of 21 , Jan 6, 2010
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        Sorry, typo, as Steve noticed; it was 13.8.1.5

        The common divisions of the text: chapter 13, etc.

        -- UFT 8: --

        13.8.1 from my electronic texts

        catuḥsrakti devāś āsurāś cobhaye prājāpatyā dikṣv
        aspardhanta. te devā devā asurānt sapatnān bhrātṛvyān digbhyo
        'nudanta. te 'dikkāḥ ābhavaṃs. tasmād yā daivyaḥ prajāś
        catuḥsraktīni tāḥ śmaśānāni kurvate. 'tha yā āsuryaḥ
        prācyās tvad ye tvat parimaṇḍalān. te 'nudanta hy enān
        digbhya. ubhe diśāvantareṇa vidadhāti, prācīṃ ca
        dakṣiṇāṃ caitasyāṃ ha diśi pitṛlokasya dvāraṃ.
        dvāraivainam pitṛlokam prapādayati. sraktibhir dikṣu
        pratitiṣṭhatītareṇātmanāvantaradikṣu. tad enaṃ sarvāsu
        dikṣu pratiṣṭhāpayati

        Michael

        On Jan 6, 2010, at 7:44 AM, Krishen wrote:

        > [Mod. note. 13.8.1.5 in Eggeling. - SF.]
        >
        > Dear Dr. Witzel,
        >
        > <the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha-Brahaman 12.8.1.5>
        >
        > Would you kindly elucidate as to what you mean by the figures 12.8.1.5
        > in Shatapatha-Brahmana.
        >
        > A K Kaul
        >
        >
        > --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, Michael Witzel
        > <witzel@...> wrote:
        >>
        >> Benjy, the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha Brahaman 12.8.1.5,
        >> thus in an Eastern text (N. Bihar) of the late Vedic period.
        >>
        >> According to this text, the "easterners and others" (Asura-like
        >> people!) are reported to have such "completely round" graves.
        >> Which are of course typical for Sakya and their neighbors, the Malla,
        >> Vajji, etc. as reported in the Pali texts. Such as the one large
        >> one excavated at Lauriya near the Nepalese border already
        >> 100 years ago (with find of a small golden figure of a woman).
        >

        ============
        Michael Witzel
        witzel@...
        <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>

        Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
        1 Bow Street,
        Cambridge MA 02138, USA

        phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496
        8571;
        my direct line: 617- 496 2990
      • Rajesh Kochhar
        Where does the Gandhara Grave Culture fit in? Rajesh Kochhar ________________________________ Michael Witzel wrote: Benjy, the passage you have in mind is
        Message 3 of 21 , Jan 6, 2010
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          Where does the Gandhara Grave Culture fit in?

          Rajesh Kochhar

          ________________________________
          Michael Witzel wrote:

          Benjy, the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha Brahaman 13.8.1.5
          [fixed -bf], thus in an Eastern text (N. Bihar) of the late Vedic
          period.

          According to this text, the “easterners and others” (Asura-like
          people!) are reported to have such "completely round" graves.
          Which are of course typical for Sakya and their neighbors, the Malla,
          Vajji, etc. as reported in the Pali texts. Such as the one large
          one excavated at Lauriya near the Nepalese border already
          100 years ago (with find of a small golden figure of a woman).

          These graves are similar to the Kurgan type grave mounds of S. Russia
          (Scythians) and Central Asia (Saka).

          The "proper Vedic" grave mounds are square and point east. Cremated
          remains are to be buried there, after a year, inside urns. The mound
          for a Brahmin is head-high, the one for a Ksatriya shoulder-high etc.
          There even were cemeteries, with members of the same family buried in
          a row, the father in the western-most position, the grandfather
          further east etc. See the (untranslated) Pitrmedhasutras (ed. W.
          Caland, about 100 years ago... :^)

          Of course, they have not been found: the monsoon rains will let them
          disappear quickly...

          Michael



          On Jan 5, 2010, at 3:11 PM, dontread13 wrote:

          > Dear List,
          >
          > Can anyone offer citations, either primary or secondary of Vedic
          > references to burial mounds of kings? I believe it has been argued
          > (though I forget by who) that these examples may have served as a
          > precedent for later stupa architecture/monuments in South Asia?
          > There are references to such mounds in, for example, the Satapatha
          > Brahmana, but I have been unable to track them down; especially
          > being bound to my home office presently.
          >
          > Thanks in advance for any help or commentary!
          >
          > Best,
          > Benjy

          -----------------------
          [Prof.] Rajesh Kochhar
          http://rajeshkochhar.com
          CSIR Emeritus Scientist
          Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali
          Sector 26, Chandigarh 160019
          Vice-President IAU Commission 41: History of Astronomy
          (Former Director NISTADS, New Delhi)
          +91-172-2700380 / +91-9417720552
        • dontread13
          Dear All, A search of Jstor suggests that a comprehensive summary of the excavations at Lauriya (or Nandangarh) was undertaken by J.E. Van Lohuizen-de Leeuw in
          Message 4 of 21 , Jan 6, 2010
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            Dear All,

            A search of Jstor suggests that a comprehensive summary of the
            excavations at Lauriya (or Nandangarh) was undertaken by J.E. Van
            Lohuizen-de Leeuw in 1956 -- see:

            "South-East Asian Architecture and the Stupa of Nandangarh, in
            Artibus Asiae, Vol. 19. No. 3/4 (1956): 279-290.

            I have put up the file temporarily on my server:
            http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh.pdf

            The author includes some images of the mounds from the 1950s, I have
            made separate files of these for convenience:
            http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh.jpg
            http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh2.jpg

            It seems that the mounds were first thought to be "forts" as per
            local custom, but were deemed stupas by N.G. Majumdar in the 1930s
            (see citations below). The earliest strata has been dated
            (cautiously based on an analysis of bricks) to the 1st c. BCE, but
            later strata are dated from the 4th-6th centuries CE after which there
            were apparently no further developments.

            Interestingly, the Ashokan pillar associated with the site was
            venerated as a Shiva linga(!) up until the 1930s (see J. Irwin,
            Burlington Magazine, 1973). I have not been able to track down
            anything more recent. Indeed, I am currently reviewing a new Oxford
            volume on stupas in South Asia -- Buddhist Stupas in South Asia ed.
            by Jason Hawkes & Akira Shimada, New Delhi: 2009) -- where no one
            appears to have discussed this site.

            If anyone is aware of more recent scholarship on this site, I would
            be interested to know about it (i.e., more recent than 1956).
            Irwin's work (3 separate article from the 1970s), for example, while
            more recent, addresses the Ashokan pillar there rather than the
            mounds.

            Thanks to Michael for this great elucidation of his "incidental"
            collection of data!

            Best Wishes,
            Benjy


            Further Reading:
            John Irwin, "'Aśokan' Pillars: A Reassessment of the Evidence" [Part
            1], in The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 115, No. 848 (Nov., 1973), pp.
            706-720

            N. G. Majumdar, Explorations at Lauriya-Nandangarh, ARASI
            (Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India), I935-36, pp.
            55-66
            ____________ Excavations at Lauriya Nandangarh, ARASI, I936-37, pp.
            47-50.



            _____________________________________
            Michael Witzel wrote:

            > John, a difficult question as I think little has been done on this
            > topic. People notice the similarity of grave mounds but keep it at
            > that.
            >
            > However, over the years, I have collected incidental data that add up
            > to a picture of a migration of Sakas into Bihar, much earlier than
            > the well known one into Sakastaan (Seistan) around 140 BCE.
            >
            > It is a question of connecting the dots.
            >
            > The whole thing happened "under the radar", just like the 1000 years
            > later movement of Zoroastrian-like Sun worshipping Brahmins (called
            > Sakaldip) who still have unusual customs such as a marriage fair and
            > the Chauth Sun festival, just last month. Many Zoroastrian details
            > in Bhavisya Purana, studied at length by v. Stietencron, et al.
            >
            > 1. There are many local tribes in N. Bihar that are known only from
            > the Pali (and Jaina) texts:
            > the Sakya, Vajji, Licchavi, Naya, Kalaama, Buli, Moriya, Vesali, etc.
            > All of them --with the exception of the Sanskitizing Videha and the
            > Malla-- do not yet appear in the eastern Late Vedic texts
            >
            > The Sakya (and Malla, Vajj/Vrji) are NEW in Bihar, and not found in
            > the Late Vedic texts at *that* location, but first in the Pali canon
            > (compiled c.250 BCE) .
            >
            > The Malla are a Rajasthan desert tribe in Jaiminiya Brahmana, and are
            > still known on the Middle Indus as Malloi in Alexander's time. The
            > Vajji (Skt. Vrji) are known to Panini (c.350 BCE?) as a gaNa goup
            > in the Greater Panjab, who habitually live on warfare. The Sakya are
            > not mentioned at all before the Pali texts and the in Atharvaveda
            > Paris'ista, et Epic etc.
            >
            > All adds up to a (very) Late Vedic move into the East (N. Bihar).
            > With "strange" customs as indicated in the S'B passage.
            >
            > 2. The Sakya have a number of Iranoid links and customs. Briefly:
            >
            > The name of the Buddha�s clan, the Sakya (Skt. s'aakya), cannot be
            > separated from the designation of the northern Iranian Saka (Skt.
            > S'aka) hat entered India only after c. 140 BE, via Sistan.
            >
            > The name, as well as that of some Late Vedic kings and noblemen,
            > Balhika Pratipiiya and perhaps Cakra Sthapati, recall the Iranian
            > countries Baaxdhii/Balh (Bactria) and Caxra.
            >
            > Further, the Sakya, Malla, etc. built high grave mounds, such as the
            > one for the Buddha. These remind of Central Asian grave mounds (kurgan).
            >
            > Then, there is the legendary custom of Sakya incest marriage
            > (strictly forbidden in India since the Rgveda), an Iranian
            > (Zoroastrian) custom. (see recent paper by J. Silk ). According to
            > the Buddhist canon, the Sakya were the sons of King OkkAAka
            > (IkSvaaku) and were exiled from Ayodhya to the jungles of S. Nepal,
            > where they could only marry their sisters. A similar idea is also
            > mentioned in an eastern Late Vedic text (Aitareya Brahmana 7).
            >
            > Then there also is the new idea of weighing one�s guilt after death.
            > This was first an Egyptian, then a Zoroastrian and Iranian concept.
            > It is connected with the idea of personal responsibility for one�s
            > action (karma). This is also seen in Bhrgu�s vision of a reverse
            > world, in which people get sawn up by trees. The god of the
            > netherworld, Yima (Skt. Yama) of the Avesta, too is �sawn up� to his
            > guilt.
            >
            > Even the idea of carrying fire in a king's mouth OkkAAka (IkSvaaku)
            > [that may escape him] may have reflect the Iranian concept of royal
            > splendor (farnah) around one's head, later depicted as halo: it can
            > leave a king and hide in water.
            >
            > Taken together, these points tend to indicate that there was some
            > Iranian influence in Bihar in Late Vedic times. However, by the time
            > of the Buddha, the Iranoid character of the Sakya, by and large,
            > seemed to have dissipated. They appeared just like any other eastern
            > oligarchic tribe and actually claimed descent from the OkkAAka
            > (IkSvaaku) kings of Ayodhya.
            >
            > There was constant influx from Afghanistan into the plains: the Vedic
            > texts admonish that one should keep watching one' back (= west). The
            > Kurus were done in by one of these groups, the Salva.
            >
            > As for archaeology: the Lauriya mound was excavated around 1900/10
            > but I have not kept up with this development. I think it is now
            > regarded as post-Buddha.
            >
            > Hope this helps.
            > Michael
            >
            > On Jan 6, 2010, at 9:10 AM, j.bellezza wrote:
            >
            > > Michael Witzel,
            > >
            > > Do you know of any comparative archaeological studies for the
            > > circular tomb excavated in Lauriya and those of the Sakas and
            > > Scythians? Do the Sakyas and other groups of the Mahajanapadas
            > > noted in Indic literature have demonstrable links with early Iron
            > > Age or developed Iron Age kurgan building Scythians, that is,
            > > before the movement of the Sakas south into the Subcontinent?
            > >
            > > John V. Bellezza
          • Michael Witzel
            Many thanks, Benjy, for the file & photos! However, even Lohuizen does not seem to have complete information. When her compatriot W. Caland (not mentioned)
            Message 5 of 21 , Jan 6, 2010
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              Many thanks, Benjy, for the file & photos! However, even Lohuizen
              does not seem to have complete information.

              When her compatriot W. Caland (not mentioned) wrote about the stupa
              in 1912 ("Over de heuvels van Lauriya," or similar) he thought of the
              hill as a Vedic monument, because a small golden figure found in the
              hill seemed to him to represent the figure of Prajapati interred in
              ritual.

              However, he did not see the actual figure, which turns out to be that
              of a naked women, now seen in all art books as a representation of
              Vedic art and dated very early.

              I must dig up Caland's paper (in the Dutch Academy, I think) and
              check his references. He may refer to his compatriot, Bloch's,
              excavation in 1905.
              Then we can go further...

              ----

              NB: Found it, Google tells us:

              Caland, W. (1912). De archaeologische vondsten in de heuvels van
              Lauriya. In Verslagen en Mededelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van
              Wetenschappen (VMKAW) 4, 11, 1912, 378 ff.

              See now also : Hans Bakker, Monuments to the Dead in Ancient North Indi
              Indo-Iranian Journal

              Volume 50, Number 1 / March, 2007, 11-47


              Cheers,
              Michael

              PS: by the way, the figure of Maya, Buddha's Mother, at Lumbini was
              venerated well into the 20th century as Devi:
              hence, with reversal of the Eastern MIA dialectal -l- : Rummin-de�
              "Lumbini-devi". Now the official name is Lumbini as in Buddha's time.

              On Jan 6, 2010, at 4:29 PM, dontread13 wrote:

              > Dear All,
              >
              > A search of Jstor suggests that a comprehensive summary of the
              > excavations at Lauriya (or Nandangarh) was undertaken by J.E. Van
              > Lohuizen-de Leeuw in 1956 -- see:
              >
              > "South-East Asian Architecture and the Stupa of Nandangarh, in
              > Artibus Asiae, Vol. 19. No. 3/4 (1956): 279-290.
              >
              > I have put up the file temporarily on my server:
              > http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh.pdf
              >
              > The author includes some images of the mounds from the 1950s, I have
              > made separate files of these for convenience:
              > http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh.jpg
              > http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh2.jpg
              >
              > It seems that the mounds were first thought to be "forts" as per
              > local custom, but were deemed stupas by N.G. Majumdar in the 1930s
              > (see citations below). The earliest strata has been dated
              > (cautiously based on an analysis of bricks) to the 1st c. BCE, but
              > later strata are dated from the 4th-6th centuries CE after which there
              > were apparently no further developments.
              >
              > Interestingly, the Ashokan pillar associated with the site was
              > venerated as a Shiva linga(!) up until the 1930s (see J. Irwin,
              > Burlington Magazine, 1973). I have not been able to track down
              > anything more recent. Indeed, I am currently reviewing a new Oxford
              > volume on stupas in South Asia -- Buddhist Stupas in South Asia ed.
              > by Jason Hawkes & Akira Shimada, New Delhi: 2009) -- where no one
              > appears to have discussed this site.
              >
              > If anyone is aware of more recent scholarship on this site, I would
              > be interested to know about it (i.e., more recent than 1956).
              > Irwin's work (3 separate article from the 1970s), for example, while
              > more recent, addresses the Ashokan pillar there rather than the
              > mounds.
              >
              > Thanks to Michael for this great elucidation of his "incidental"
              > collection of data!
              >
              > Best Wishes,
              > Benjy
              >
              >
              > Further Reading:
              > John Irwin, "'Asokan' Pillars: A Reassessment of the Evidence" [Part
              > 1], in The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 115, No. 848 (Nov., 1973), pp.
              > 706-720
              >
              > N. G. Majumdar, Explorations at Lauriya-Nandangarh, ARASI
              > (Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India), I935-36, pp.
              > 55-66
              > ____________ Excavations at Lauriya Nandangarh, ARASI, I936-37, pp.
              > 47-50.
            • Touraj Daryaee
              Hello and Happy New Year, I would like to share with you the latest (free) newsletter from Sasanika: Late Antique Near East at UC Irvine. Best Touraj Daryaee
              Message 6 of 21 , Jan 7, 2010
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                Hello and Happy New Year,

                I would like to share with you the latest (free) newsletter from Sasanika: Late Antique Near East" at UC Irvine.

                Best
                Touraj Daryaee

                http://www.humanities.uci.edu/sasanika/bulletin/Newsletter-3.html
              • Krishen
                [Mod. Note: A,K. Kaul below, appears to have overlooked the word - parimaNDala - in the text, clearly indicating a rounded structure and also clearly within
                Message 7 of 21 , Jan 8, 2010
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                  [Mod. Note: A,K. Kaul below, appears to have overlooked the word -
                  parimaNDala - in the text, clearly indicating a rounded structure
                  and also clearly within the "bounds of imagination" and hardly an
                  "injustice". Also, earlier in the passage (in 13.8.1.1), is an
                  etymology of zmazAna (see, e.g., Eggeling's note 3 there, and does
                  not have a definitive sense of the term (e.g., as the later
                  cremation ground, crematorium, etc.), relating it to zavAnna - zava
                  (corpse) and anna (food); nothing to overtly connect it to cremation
                  in any case. One needs be careful before simply assuming the Vedic
                  usage of a term is the same as in later traditions; such etymologies
                  need to be considered carefully. I am sure Michael will have more to
                  say on zmazAna - BF]

                  Dear Dr. Witzel,

                  Thanks for the clarification.

                  The original word in the Shatapatha Brahmana is
                  "śmaśānāni" (shmshanani) as rightly quoted by you.
                  Eggeling has translated it wrongly as "seplchral mound" instead of
                  "crematorium".

                  "shmshanani" cannot be translated as burial grounds by any stretch of
                  imagination. It thus shows as to what great injustice has been done
                  to the original texts by such wrong tranlsations, most probably
                  inadvertantly.

                  It can therefore be safely said that there is thus absolutely no
                  reference to any "burial mound" in any of the Vedic texts.


                  A K Kaul

                  _____________________
                  Michael Witzel

                  > Sorry, typo, as Steve noticed; it was 13.8.1.5
                  >
                  > The common divisions of the text: chapter 13, etc.
                  >
                  > -- UFT 8: --
                  >
                  > 13.8.1 from my electronic texts
                  >
                  > catuḥsrakti devāś āsurāś cobhaye prājāpatyā dikṣv
                  > aspardhanta. te devā devā asurānt sapatnān
                  > bhrātṛvyān digbhyo 'nudanta. te 'dikkāḥ ābhavaṃs.
                  > tasmād yā daivyaḥ prajāś catuḥsraktīni tāḥ
                  > śmaśānāni kurvate. 'tha yā āsuryaḥ prācyās tvad ye
                  > tvat parimaṇḍalān. te 'nudanta hy enān digbhya.
                  > ubhe diśāvantareṇa vidadhāti, prācīṃ ca dakṣiṇāṃ
                  > caitasyāṃ ha diśi pitṛlokasya dvāraṃ. dvāraivainam
                  > pitṛlokam prapādayati. sraktibhir dikṣu
                  > pratitiṣṭhatītareṇātmanāvantaradikṣu. tad enaṃ
                  > sarvāsu dikṣu pratiṣṭhāpayati
                  >
                  > Michael
                  >
                  > On Jan 6, 2010, at 7:44 AM, Krishen wrote:
                  >
                  > > [Mod. note. 13.8.1.5 in Eggeling. - SF.]
                  > >
                  > > Dear Dr. Witzel,
                  > >
                  > > <the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha-Brahaman 12.8.1.5>
                  > >
                  > > Would you kindly elucidate as to what you mean by the figures
                  12.8.1.5
                  > > in Shatapatha-Brahmana.
                  > >
                  > > A K Kaul
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, Michael Witzel
                  > > witzel@ wrote:
                  > >>
                  > >> Benjy, the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha Brahaman
                  12.8.1.5,
                  > >> thus in an Eastern text (N. Bihar) of the late Vedic period.
                  > >>
                  > >> According to this text, the "easterners and others" (Asura-like
                  > >> people!) are reported to have such "completely round" graves.
                  > >> Which are of course typical for Sakya and their neighbors, the
                  Malla,
                  > >> Vajji, etc. as reported in the Pali texts. Such as the one large
                  > >> one excavated at Lauriya near the Nepalese border already
                  > >> 100 years ago (with find of a small golden figure of a woman).
                  > >
                  >
                  > ============
                  > Michael Witzel
                  > witzel@...
                  > <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
                  >
                  > Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
                  > 1 Bow Street,
                  > Cambridge MA 02138, USA
                  >
                  > phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496
                  > 8571;
                  > my direct line: 617- 496 2990
                  >
                • Michael Witzel
                  Well... As Benjy has already pointed out, things are not as easy as modern speakers and readers of classical Sanskrit suppose... Even a very quick look in a
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jan 8, 2010
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                    Well... As Benjy has already pointed out, things are not as easy as
                    modern speakers and readers of classical Sanskrit suppose...

                    Even a very quick look in a Skt. dictionary such as Monier-Williams
                    (i.e. = Petersburg Dict.) will tell that zmazaana- has the meaning of
                    grave as well, since the Atharvaveda. No time to do a philological
                    investigation of the term now.

                    It should instead have been done by Mr. Kaul, before accusing
                    Eggeling of a mistranslation.

                    And: read the Pitrmedhasutras for square burial mounds ofte Vedic
                    people ... Thus:

                    "there is thus absolutely no
                    reference to any "burial mound" in any of the Vedic text"

                    is just an empty assertion. 125.

                    Read the texts...

                    By the way, Mayrhofer's Etym. Dict. (etymology unlcear) gives
                    "Leichenstätte, Friedhof", thus 'cemetery', since AV.

                    Further cf. the seminal book by W. Caland, Die altindischen Todten-
                    und Bestattungsgebräuche, Amsterdam 1896, p. 30 sq.
                    and K. Mylius, Wörterbuch des altindischen Rituals, Wichtrach 1995, p.
                    125

                    Michael


                    On Jan 8, 2010, at 7:25 AM, Krishen wrote:

                    > [Mod. Note: A,K. Kaul below, appears to have overlooked the word -
                    > parimaNDala - in the text, clearly indicating a rounded structure
                    > and also clearly within the "bounds of imagination" and hardly an
                    > "injustice". Also, earlier in the passage (in 13.8.1.1), is an
                    > etymology of zmazAna (see, e.g., Eggeling's note 3 there, and does
                    > not have a definitive sense of the term (e.g., as the later
                    > cremation ground, crematorium, etc.), relating it to zavAnna - zava
                    > (corpse) and anna (food); nothing to overtly connect it to cremation
                    > in any case. One needs be careful before simply assuming the Vedic
                    > usage of a term is the same as in later traditions; such etymologies
                    > need to be considered carefully. I am sure Michael will have more to
                    > say on zmazAna - BF]
                    >
                    > Dear Dr. Witzel,
                    >
                    > Thanks for the clarification.
                    >
                    > The original word in the Shatapatha Brahmana is
                    > "śmaśānāni" (shmshanani) as rightly quoted by you.
                    > Eggeling has translated it wrongly as "seplchral mound" instead of
                    > "crematorium".
                    >
                    > "shmshanani" cannot be translated as burial grounds by any stretch of
                    > imagination. It thus shows as to what great injustice has been done
                    > to the original texts by such wrong tranlsations, most probably
                    > inadvertantly.
                    >
                    > It can therefore be safely said that there is thus absolutely no
                    > reference to any "burial mound" in any of the Vedic texts.
                    >
                    >
                    > A K Kaul
                    >
                    > _____________________
                    > Michael Witzel
                    >
                    >> Sorry, typo, as Steve noticed; it was 13.8.1.5
                    >>
                    >> The common divisions of the text: chapter 13, etc.
                    >>
                    >> -- UFT 8: --
                    >>
                    >> 13.8.1 from my electronic texts
                    >>
                    >> catuḥsrakti devāś āsurāś cobhaye prājāpatyā dikṣv
                    >> aspardhanta. te devā devā asurānt sapatnān
                    >> bhrātṛvyān digbhyo 'nudanta. te 'dikkāḥ ābhavaṃs.
                    >> tasmād yā daivyaḥ prajāś catuḥsraktīni tāḥ
                    >> śmaśānāni kurvate. 'tha yā āsuryaḥ prācyās tvad ye
                    >> tvat parimaṇḍalān. te 'nudanta hy enān digbhya.
                    >> ubhe diśāvantareṇa vidadhāti, prācīṃ ca dakṣiṇāṃ
                    >> caitasyāṃ ha diśi pitṛlokasya dvāraṃ. dvāraivainam
                    >> pitṛlokam prapādayati. sraktibhir dikṣu
                    >> pratitiṣṭhatītareṇātmanāvantaradikṣu. tad enaṃ
                    >> sarvāsu dikṣu pratiṣṭhāpayati
                    >>
                    >> Michael
                    >>
                    >> On Jan 6, 2010, at 7:44 AM, Krishen wrote:
                    >>
                    >>> [Mod. note. 13.8.1.5 in Eggeling. - SF.]
                    >>>
                    >>> Dear Dr. Witzel,
                    >>>
                    >>> <the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha-Brahaman 12.8.1.5>
                    >>>
                    >>> Would you kindly elucidate as to what you mean by the figures
                    > 12.8.1.5
                    >>> in Shatapatha-Brahmana.
                    >>>
                    >>> A K Kaul
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>> --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, Michael Witzel
                    >>> witzel@ wrote:
                    >>>>
                    >>>> Benjy, the passage you have in mind is Shatapatha Brahaman
                    > 12.8.1.5,
                    >>>> thus in an Eastern text (N. Bihar) of the late Vedic period.
                    >>>>
                    >>>> According to this text, the "easterners and others" (Asura-like
                    >>>> people!) are reported to have such "completely round" graves.
                    >>>> Which are of course typical for Sakya and their neighbors, the
                    > Malla,
                    >>>> Vajji, etc. as reported in the Pali texts. Such as the one large
                    >>>> one excavated at Lauriya near the Nepalese border already
                    >>>> 100 years ago (with find of a small golden figure of a woman).
                    >>>
                    >>
                    >> ============
                    >> Michael Witzel
                    >> witzel@...
                    >> <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
                    >>
                    >> Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
                    >> 1 Bow Street,
                    >> Cambridge MA 02138, USA
                    >>
                    >> phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496
                    >> 8571;
                    >> my direct line: 617- 496 2990
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    ============
                    Michael Witzel
                    witzel@...
                    <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>

                    Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
                    1 Bow Street,
                    Cambridge MA 02138, USA

                    phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496
                    8571;
                    my direct line: 617- 496 2990





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Jean-Luc Chevillard
                    [Mod Note: Here is a link to Jean-Luc s images: http://www.benjaminfleming.com/ie/jlc.html - BF] Dear list, we had a (Power Point) presentation last summer
                    Message 9 of 21 , Jan 8, 2010
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                      [Mod Note: Here is a link to Jean-Luc's images:
                      http://www.benjaminfleming.com/ie/jlc.html - BF]

                      Dear list,

                      we had a (Power Point) presentation last summer (=2009) during a
                      workshop in Pondicherry at the EFEO (École Française
                      d'Extrême-Orient) Pondicherry center by K. Rajan, an archaeologist
                      from Pondicherry university and I took some pictures (see the 2
                      attached JPG files) while he was making his presentation.

                      Being photographs of photographs they are of course not very good
                      but they give an idea of the size/magnitude of some burial mounds in
                      Tamil Nadu (before excavation)

                      I would be interested to hear how the size of these small mounds
                      compares with the mounds you have been discussing in this
                      Indo-Eurasia thread

                      Best wishes from Paris

                      -- Jean-Luc

                      P.S. I am simultaneously sending the attachments to Benjy, Michael and
                      Steve for uploading.

                      ________________________________________
                      Michael Witzel a écrit :

                      > Many thanks, Benjy, for the file& photos! However, even Lohuizen
                      > does not seem to have complete information.
                      >
                      > When her compatriot W. Caland (not mentioned) wrote about the stupa
                      > in 1912 ("Over de heuvels van Lauriya," or similar) he thought of the
                      > hill as a Vedic monument, because a small golden figure found in the
                      > hill seemed to him to represent the figure of Prajapati interred in
                      > ritual.
                      >
                      > However, he did not see the actual figure, which turns out to be that
                      > of a naked women, now seen in all art books as a representation of
                      > Vedic art and dated very early.
                      >
                      > I must dig up Caland's paper (in the Dutch Academy, I think) and
                      > check his references. He may refer to his compatriot, Bloch's,
                      > excavation in 1905.
                      > Then we can go further...
                      >
                      > ----
                      >
                      > NB: Found it, Google tells us:
                      >
                      > Caland, W. (1912). De archaeologische vondsten in de heuvels van
                      > Lauriya. In Verslagen en Mededelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van
                      > Wetenschappen (VMKAW) 4, 11, 1912, 378 ff.
                      >
                      > See now also : Hans Bakker, Monuments to the Dead in Ancient North Indi
                      > Indo-Iranian Journal
                      >
                      > Volume 50, Number 1 / March, 2007, 11-47
                      >
                      >
                      > Cheers,
                      > Michael
                      >
                      > PS: by the way, the figure of Maya, Buddha's Mother, at Lumbini was
                      > venerated well into the 20th century as Devi:
                      > hence, with reversal of the Eastern MIA dialectal -l- : Rummin-de
                      > "Lumbini-devi". Now the official name is Lumbini as in Buddha's time.
                    • Michael Witzel
                      Many thanks, Jean-Luc! First of all: they are from a Dravidian speaking area, of megalithic Iron Age vintage (?) Any dates? It should not be forgotten that
                      Message 10 of 21 , Jan 8, 2010
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                        Many thanks, Jean-Luc!

                        First of all: they are from a Dravidian speaking area, of megalithic
                        Iron Age vintage (?) Any dates?

                        It should not be forgotten that the south at that time was entirely
                        different in culture, religion etc. from the Vedic north. -- Vedic or
                        Buddhist mounds are not expected there.

                        Second, these grave employ stones, not a Vedic custom. And are
                        relatively small, not of the stupa type (clay and bricks), but not
                        like the small square (!) Vedic mounds either.

                        Some more background on these mounds, as compared to the large
                        megalithic ones (cists, large slab, etc.), would be welcome.


                        Cheers,
                        Michael

                        On Jan 8, 2010, at 9:42 AM, Jean-Luc Chevillard wrote:

                        > [Mod Note: Here is a link to Jean-Luc's images:
                        > http://www.benjaminfleming.com/ie/jlc.html - BF]
                        >
                        > Dear list,
                        >
                        > we had a (Power Point) presentation last summer (=2009) during a
                        > workshop in Pondicherry at the EFEO (École Française
                        > d'Extrême-Orient) Pondicherry center by K. Rajan, an archaeologist
                        > from Pondicherry university and I took some pictures (see the 2
                        > attached JPG files) while he was making his presentation.
                        >
                        > Being photographs of photographs they are of course not very good
                        > but they give an idea of the size/magnitude of some burial mounds in
                        > Tamil Nadu (before excavation)
                        >
                        > I would be interested to hear how the size of these small mounds
                        > compares with the mounds you have been discussing in this
                        > Indo-Eurasia thread
                        >
                        > Best wishes from Paris
                        >
                        > -- Jean-Luc
                        >
                        > P.S. I am simultaneously sending the attachments to Benjy, Michael and
                        > Steve for uploading.
                        >
                      • atman@vedavid.org
                        Just a quick addition to the discussion on round vs. square mounds wherein the former are considered not of this world (loka), while the latter (attested as
                        Message 11 of 21 , Jan 8, 2010
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                          Just a quick addition to the discussion on round vs. square mounds wherein
                          the former are considered not of this world (loka), while the latter
                          (attested as superior to the former) are of this world. cf. SB 13.8.2.1
                          <http://vedavid.org/1sb/13b.html#anchor132727>*.

                          Part of a wider theme in
                          this discussion of the reasonings for the alter focussing on "this" vs.
                          "other" worlds. Cf. further down SB 13.8.3.1
                          <http://vedavid.org/1sb/13b.html#anchor136595>*, and cross-link via VS
                          35.4 to RV 10.97.5 referencing puruSa

                          John Robert

                          *Note, this is not the rebuilt (currently under way) version of the files
                          at vedavid
                        • Francesco Brighenti
                          ... Caland s paper in question is De archeologische vondsten in de heuvels van Lauriya (VMKAW 4, 11, 1912, pp. 378-385). R. Thapar ( The Archaeological
                          Message 12 of 21 , Jan 11, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Michael Witzel wrote:
                            > Many thanks, Benjy, for the file & photos! However, even Lohuizen
                            > does not seem to have complete information.
                            >
                            > When her compatriot W. Caland (not mentioned) wrote about the stupa
                            > in 1912 ("Over de heuvels van Lauriya," or similar) he thought of
                            > the hill as a Vedic monument, because a small golden figure found
                            > in the hill seemed to him to represent the figure of Prajapati
                            > interred in ritual.
                            >
                            > However, he did not see the actual figure, which turns out to be
                            > that of a naked women, now seen in all art books as a
                            > representation of Vedic art and dated very early.
                            >
                            > I must dig up Caland's paper (in the Dutch Academy, I think) and
                            > check his references. He may refer to his compatriot, Bloch's,
                            > excavation in 1905.

                            Caland's paper in question is "De archeologische vondsten in de heuvels van Lauriya" (VMKAW 4, 11, 1912, pp. 378-385). R. Thapar ("The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual", in F. Staal, ed., Agni, vol. II, Berkeley 1983, pp. 15-16) thus summarizes an English translation of this paper made for her by F. Staal:

                            "Many decades ago a seminal idea was mooted by Caland in a comment on an excavation by Bloch of a mound at Lauriya Nandagarh [...]. The site contained three rows of five mounds between twenty and fifty feet high. They were cone-shaped but may originally have been hemispherical. The mound was built up of layers of yellow clay interspersed with layers consisting of straw, leaves, and burnt bricks made from the same clay. Since this was not local clay, it was specially brought, probably from the Gandak river, which is now at a distance of about ten miles from the site. The first mound revealed human bones, animal bones, burnt wood, and a golden plaque of a female figure. A large opening farther down and in the center appears to have held a wooden pillar; the stump of the pillar on excavation was found to be of sal wood and to have a girth of four feet four inches. The second mound contained animal bones. The third contained human bones, the jaw of a teen-aged child, and another golden plaque of a female figure.

                            Bloch thought these mounds to be the zmazAnas or burial places referred to in the Vedic texts, possibly royal burials, but Caland argued that zmazAnas are generally not round. [fn. 45: A point that incidentally seems to be contradicted in the ZB 13.8.1.5, which refers to the devas making their burial places four-cornered, whereas the asuras, prAcyas, and others make them round.] More pertinently, Caland questioned the placing of animal bones and the plaques of females in the human funeral mound. He suggested that these might instead have been agnicayana altars, arguing that according to the texts they could have been of various shapes -- hawk-shaped, square, round, and so on. They were to be built in five layers interspersed with sand. In the lowest layer was placed the golden form of a man symbolising the puruSa or prajApati, who is sometimes depicted with milk-giving breasts. [fn. 46: ZB 2.5.1.3] (In the case of the Nandagarh plaques, however, the female genitalia are unmistakable.) In this layer were also to be placed the head of a man, a ram, a goat, a bull, and a horse [...]."

                            Therefore, whereas Bloch had suggested these mounds were Vedic funeral tumuli, Caland suggested they represented the remains of an agnicayana altar. In her "synthesis" of the work of the two authors Thapar suggests that the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds represent the sort of funeral tumuli that the ritual texts describe as approximating the shape of the agnicayana altar.

                            Best,
                            Francesco
                          • perland2
                            Dear Francesco, Does the paper mention any dates for the Lauriya Nandgarh excavations? Per ****** Francesco wrote: Caland s paper in question is De
                            Message 13 of 21 , Jan 12, 2010
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                              Dear Francesco,

                              Does the paper mention any dates for the Lauriya Nandgarh excavations?

                              Per

                              ******

                              Francesco wrote:

                              Caland's paper in question is "De archeologische vondsten in de heuvels van Lauriya" (VMKAW 4, 11, 1912, pp. 378-385). R. Thapar ("The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual", in F. Staal, ed., Agni, vol. II, Berkeley 1983, pp. 15-16) thus summarizes an English translation of this paper made for her by F. Staal:

                              "Many decades ago a seminal idea was mooted by Caland in a comment on an excavation by Bloch of a mound at Lauriya Nandagarh [...]. The site contained three rows of five mounds between twenty and fifty feet high. They were cone-shaped but may originally have been hemispherical. The mound was built up of layers of yellow clay interspersed with layers consisting of straw, leaves, and burnt bricks made from the same clay. Since this was not local clay, it was specially brought, probably from the Gandak river, which is now at a distance of about ten miles from the site. The first mound revealed human bones, animal bones, burnt wood, and a golden plaque of a female figure. A large opening farther down and in the center appears to have held a wooden pillar; the stump of the pillar on excavation was found to be of sal wood and to have a girth of four feet four inches. The second mound contained animal bones. The third contained human bones, the jaw of a teen-aged child, and another golden plaque of a female figure.

                              Bloch thought these mounds to be the zmazAnas or burial places referred to in the Vedic texts, possibly royal burials, but Caland argued that zmazAnas are generally not round. [fn. 45: A point that incidentally seems to be contradicted in the ZB 13.8.1.5, which refers to the devas making their burial places four-cornered, whereas the asuras, prAcyas, and others make them round.] More pertinently, Caland questioned the placing of animal bones and the plaques of females in the human funeral mound. He suggested that these might instead have been agnicayana altars, arguing that according to the texts they could have been of various shapes -- hawk-shaped, square, round, and so on. They were to be built in five layers interspersed with sand. In the lowest layer was placed the golden form of a man symbolising the puruSa or prajApati, who is sometimes depicted with milk-giving breasts. [fn. 46: ZB 2.5.1.3] (In the case of the Nandagarh plaques, however, the female genitalia are unmistakable.) In this layer were also to be placed the head of a man, a ram, a goat, a bull, and a horse [...]."

                              Therefore, whereas Bloch had suggested these mounds were Vedic funeral tumuli, Caland suggested they represented the remains of an agnicayana altar. In her "synthesis" of the work of the two authors Thapar suggests that the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds represent the sort of funeral tumuli that the ritual texts describe as approximating the shape of the agnicayana altar.
                            • Francesco Brighenti
                              ... If you are referring to Romila Thapar s paper (and not to Caland s), she just states (on p. 17) that such burial mounds are generally dated to the first
                              Message 14 of 21 , Jan 12, 2010
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                                Per wrote:

                                > Dear Francesco,
                                >
                                > Does the paper mention any dates for the Lauriya Nandagarh
                                > excavations?

                                If you are referring to Romila Thapar's paper (and not to Caland's), she just states (on p. 17) that "such burial mounds are generally dated to the first millennium B.C. on the basis of archaeological evidence and references in both Vedic and Buddhist literature." Compare with J.E. Van Lohuizen-de Leeuw' paper uploaded on Benjy's server at

                                http://www.benjaminfleming.com/nandangarh.pdf

                                in which the "small stUpa" discovered on excavating deep inside one of the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds is tentatively dated to the time of Asoka.

                                More in general, Thapar discusses in her article the link between the zmazAna (burial ground, tumulus) and the agniciti (Vedic fire altar):

                                "This in turn suggests a link between the terms citi and caitya. caitya, a form of cetiya, is ultimately derived from citi, the etymology of which refers to the act of 'heaping up'. A citi is a structure that results from a piling up of material in a particular form... The cetiya would then be either a sacred enclosure marking a sacred spot or, when it contained the relics of those who had died, a sepulchral monument. Buddhist literature refers to it in both these senses. Mus has suggested that the Vedic altar was the starting point of what developed into the Buddhist cetiya and stUpa. Presumably the yUpa associated with the altar may have become the central pivot in the raising of a tumulus. A distinction is made between the zmazAna, which is essentially a funerary marker, and the caitya, which is a sacred enclosure. In the latter capacity the site could presumably be of a sacrifice or ritual, or even of an object of worhip... The earliest reference to a caitya appears to be in the AzvalAyana gRhyasUtra. The epics also indicate familiarity with the worship of caityas in various forms. In the rAmAyaNa caityas are mentioned more frequently in connection with the rAkSasas... caityas were perhaps linked with heterodoxy by this time. Because of the etymological link between the words, it is assumed that the cetiya is a later form of the citi. It is possible, however, that the two, the Vedic altar and the tumulus, were parallel forms indicating places requiring veneration... The stUpa becomes a more elaborate form of the tumulus with a variety of symbolic embellishments" (pp. 16-17).

                                Thapar goes on suggesting a possible link between the round grave mounds of the "asuras, easterners, and others" mentioned in ZB 13.8.1.5 and the Megalithic remains from the Jungal Mahal area (the Vindhyan outliers in the districts of Banda, Mirzapur, and Varanasi). These monuments, dated to the first half of the first millennium BCE, are cairn circles and cist circles constructed of piled up stones. The cairns enclose a pit that in most cases contains some human bones indicating post-cremation burial and some animal bones associated with ritual killing. They are at one time burial and memorial monuments, just like the caityas of a later period. The Korwas, a Munda-speaking tribe settled in this hilly region bordering on the Northern Vindhyas to the south, still recently raised circles of stones round the spot where a body was cremated or buried so as to 'hedge in' the spirits of their deceased relatives.

                                Regards,
                                Francesco

                                *********************

                                > Francesco wrote:
                                >
                                > Caland's paper in question is "De archeologische vondsten in de heuvels van Lauriya" (VMKAW 4, 11, 1912, pp. 378-385). R. Thapar ("The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual", in F. Staal, ed., Agni, vol. II, Berkeley 1983, pp. 15-16) thus summarizes an English translation of this paper made for her by F. Staal:
                                >
                                > "Many decades ago a seminal idea was mooted by Caland in a comment on an excavation by Bloch of a mound at Lauriya Nandagarh [...]. The site contained three rows of five mounds between twenty and fifty feet high. They were cone-shaped but may originally have been hemispherical. The mound was built up of layers of yellow clay interspersed with layers consisting of straw, leaves, and burnt bricks made from the same clay. Since this was not local clay, it was specially brought, probably from the Gandak river, which is now at a distance of about ten miles from the site. The first mound revealed human bones, animal bones, burnt wood, and a golden plaque of a female figure. A large opening farther down and in the center appears to have held a wooden pillar; the stump of the pillar on excavation was found to be of sal wood and to have a girth of four feet four inches. The second mound contained animal bones. The third contained human bones, the jaw of a teen-aged child, and another golden plaque of a female figure.
                                >
                                > Bloch thought these mounds to be the zmazAnas or burial places referred to in the Vedic texts, possibly royal burials, but Caland argued that zmazAnas are generally not round. [fn. 45: A point that incidentally seems to be contradicted in the ZB 13.8.1.5, which refers to the devas making their burial places four-cornered, whereas the asuras, prAcyas, and others make them round.] More pertinently, Caland questioned the placing of animal bones and the plaques of females in the human funeral mound. He suggested that these might instead have been agnicayana altars, arguing that according to the texts they could have been of various shapes -- hawk-shaped, square, round, and so on. They were to be built in five layers interspersed with sand. In the lowest layer was placed the golden form of a man symbolising the puruSa or prajApati, who is sometimes depicted with milk-giving breasts. [fn. 46: ZB 2.5.1.3] (In the case of the Nandagarh plaques, however, the female genitalia are unmistakable.) In this layer were also to be placed the head of a man, a ram, a goat, a bull, and a horse [...]."
                                >
                                > Therefore, whereas Bloch had suggested these mounds were Vedic funeral tumuli, Caland suggested they represented the remains of an agnicayana altar. In her "synthesis" of the work of the two authors Thapar suggests that the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds represent the sort of funeral tumuli that the ritual texts describe as approximating the shape of the agnicayana altar.
                                >
                              • Rajesh Kochhar
                                This is a very interesting topic. I wish to draw your attentio to a few points that have a bearing on it . Rgveda is a pre-iron age document while the Indic
                                Message 15 of 21 , Jan 13, 2010
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                                  This is a very interesting topic. I wish to draw your attentio to a few points that have a bearing on it .

                                  Rgveda is a pre-iron age document while the Indic settlements west of Yamuna are an iron-age development.

                                  More importantly , the tribes associated with the composition of Rgveda are different from the tribes which settled east of Yamuna. How much of the ritual was common to these two groups will be a matter of conjecture. Are there local inputs into the formulation of post-Rgvedic ritual? The answer would probably be yes. What are these inputs?

                                  Rajesh Kochhar
                                  -----------------------
                                  [Prof.] Rajesh Kochhar
                                  http://rajeshkochhar.com
                                  CSIR Emeritus Scientist
                                  Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali
                                  Sector 26, Chandigarh 160019
                                  Vice-President IAU Commission 41: History of Astronomy
                                  (Former Director NISTADS, New Delhi)
                                  +91-172-2700380 / +91-9417720552
                                  ________________________________
                                  From: Francesco Brighenti <frabrig@...>
                                  To: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Wed, 13 January, 2010 4:06:50 AM
                                  Subject: [Indo-Eurasia] Re: Burial mounds in Vedic literature


                                  Per wrote:

                                  > Dear Francesco,
                                  >
                                  > Does the paper mention any dates for the Lauriya Nandagarh
                                  > excavations?

                                  If you are referring to Romila Thapar's paper (and not to Caland's), she just states (on p. 17) that "such burial mounds are generally dated to the first millennium B.C. on the basis of archaeological evidence and references in both Vedic and Buddhist literature." Compare with J.E. Van Lohuizen-de Leeuw' paper uploaded on Benjy's server at

                                  http://www.benjamin fleming.com/ nandangarh. pdf

                                  in which the "small stUpa" discovered on excavating deep inside one of the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds is tentatively dated to the time of Asoka.

                                  More in general, Thapar discusses in her article the link between the zmazAna (burial ground, tumulus) and the agniciti (Vedic fire altar):

                                  "This in turn suggests a link between the terms citi and caitya. caitya, a form of cetiya, is ultimately derived from citi, the etymology of which refers to the act of 'heaping up'. A citi is a structure that results from a piling up of material in a particular form... The cetiya would then be either a sacred enclosure marking a sacred spot or, when it contained the relics of those who had died, a sepulchral monument. Buddhist literature refers to it in both these senses. Mus has suggested that the Vedic altar was the starting point of what developed into the Buddhist cetiya and stUpa. Presumably the yUpa associated with the altar may have become the central pivot in the raising of a tumulus. A distinction is made between the zmazAna, which is essentially a funerary marker, and the caitya, which is a sacred enclosure. In the latter capacity the site could presumably be of a sacrifice or ritual, or even of an object of worhip... The earliest reference to
                                  a caitya appears to be in the AzvalAyana gRhyasUtra. The epics also indicate familiarity with the worship of caityas in various forms. In the rAmAyaNa caityas are mentioned more frequently in connection with the rAkSasas... caityas were perhaps linked with heterodoxy by this time. Because of the etymological link between the words, it is assumed that the cetiya is a later form of the citi. It is possible, however, that the two, the Vedic altar and the tumulus, were parallel forms indicating places requiring veneration.. . The stUpa becomes a more elaborate form of the tumulus with a variety of symbolic embellishments" (pp. 16-17).

                                  Thapar goes on suggesting a possible link between the round grave mounds of the "asuras, easterners, and others" mentioned in ZB 13.8.1.5 and the Megalithic remains from the Jungal Mahal area (the Vindhyan outliers in the districts of Banda, Mirzapur, and Varanasi). These monuments, dated to the first half of the first millennium BCE, are cairn circles and cist circles constructed of piled up stones. The cairns enclose a pit that in most cases contains some human bones indicating post-cremation burial and some animal bones associated with ritual killing. They are at one time burial and memorial monuments, just like the caityas of a later period. The Korwas, a Munda-speaking tribe settled in this hilly region bordering on the Northern Vindhyas to the south, still recently raised circles of stones round the spot where a body was cremated or buried so as to 'hedge in' the spirits of their deceased relatives.

                                  Regards,
                                  Francesco

                                  ************ *********

                                  > Francesco wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Caland's paper in question is "De archeologische vondsten in de heuvels van Lauriya" (VMKAW 4, 11, 1912, pp. 378-385). R. Thapar ("The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual", in F. Staal, ed., Agni, vol. II, Berkeley 1983, pp. 15-16) thus summarizes an English translation of this paper made for her by F. Staal:
                                  >
                                  > "Many decades ago a seminal idea was mooted by Caland in a comment on an excavation by Bloch of a mound at Lauriya Nandagarh [...]. The site contained three rows of five mounds between twenty and fifty feet high. They were cone-shaped but may originally have been hemispherical. The mound was built up of layers of yellow clay interspersed with layers consisting of straw, leaves, and burnt bricks made from the same clay. Since this was not local clay, it was specially brought, probably from the Gandak river, which is now at a distance of about ten miles from the site. The first mound revealed human bones, animal bones, burnt wood, and a golden plaque of a female figure. A large opening farther down and in the center appears to have held a wooden pillar; the stump of the pillar on excavation was found to be of sal wood and to have a girth of four feet four inches. The second mound contained animal bones. The third contained human bones, the jaw of a
                                  teen-aged child, and another golden plaque of a female figure.
                                  >
                                  > Bloch thought these mounds to be the zmazAnas or burial places referred to in the Vedic texts, possibly royal burials, but Caland argued that zmazAnas are generally not round. [fn. 45: A point that incidentally seems to be contradicted in the ZB 13.8.1.5, which refers to the devas making their burial places four-cornered, whereas the asuras, prAcyas, and others make them round.] More pertinently, Caland questioned the placing of animal bones and the plaques of females in the human funeral mound. He suggested that these might instead have been agnicayana altars, arguing that according to the texts they could have been of various shapes -- hawk-shaped, square, round, and so on. They were to be built in five layers interspersed with sand. In the lowest layer was placed the golden form of a man symbolising the puruSa or prajApati, who is sometimes depicted with milk-giving breasts. [fn. 46: ZB 2.5.1.3] (In the case of the Nandagarh plaques, however, the
                                  female genitalia are unmistakable. ) In this layer were also to be placed the head of a man, a ram, a goat, a bull, and a horse [...]."
                                  >
                                  > Therefore, whereas Bloch had suggested these mounds were Vedic funeral tumuli, Caland suggested they represented the remains of an agnicayana altar. In her "synthesis" of the work of the two authors Thapar suggests that the Lauriya Nandagarh mounds represent the sort of funeral tumuli that the ritual texts describe as approximating the shape of the agnicayana altar.
                                  >
                                • Rajesh Kochhar
                                  Correction: while the Indic settlements west of Yamuna are an iron-age development SHOULD obviously be EAST of Yamuna. Sorry for the mistake. Rajesh Kochhar
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Jan 13, 2010
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                                    Correction: "while the Indic settlements west of Yamuna are an iron-age
                                    development" SHOULD obviously be EAST of Yamuna. Sorry for the mistake.

                                    Rajesh Kochhar
                                  • Jean-Luc Chevillard
                                    [Mod. note. Slightly reformatted. For context, see the earlier posts from Jean-Luc and Michael at the end. - SF.] Dear Michael, I was not sure how I should
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Jan 19, 2010
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                                      [Mod. note. Slightly reformatted. For context, see the earlier posts
                                      from Jean-Luc and Michael at the end. - SF.]

                                      Dear Michael,

                                      I was not sure how I should answer your questions
                                      since this is not at all my field
                                      (although it would be better if I knew more)

                                      I believe the best I can do is:

                                      1. Mention 2 books:

                                      Catalogue of Archaeological Sites in Tamil Nadu/,
                                      K. Rajan, V.P. Yathees Kumar & S. Selvakumar,
                                      Heritage India Trust, Thanjavur, 2009

                                      ISBN: 978-81-907451-1-6
                                      Price: Rs. 600/- (Set)

                                      [See: <http://heritageindiatrust.org/default.aspx>]

                                      Let me quote from the preface by Y. Subbarayalu,
                                      the well-known Tamil epigraphist.

                                      "Though the volume is limited to the period from palaeolithic times down
                                      to the Early historic period, still nearly 2000 archaeological sites
                                      find place".

                                      Opening the volume 1 at page 204, I find a site (N°475)
                                      found in Kangeyam Taluk and Erode District
                                      described as:

                                      "Iron Age; Cairn circle with cist, Urn, Habitation mound"

                                      There are 2 pictures for that site N°475

                                      + the first one is described as "Cairn circle"
                                      (and seems to be identical with the second picture provided in
                                      <http://www.benjaminfleming.com/ie/jlc.html>
                                      except that it is black and white and smaller

                                      + the second one is described as "Trnsepted cist"

                                      2. Indicate that similar pictures and informations
                                      are found inside the prototype prepared by the IFP
                                      (French Institute of Pondicherry)
                                      which is called

                                      *The Historical Atlas of South India*

                                      and which is part of the online IFP databases:

                                      See the first item inside:

                                      <http://www.ifpindia.org/Digital-Database-Indology-theme.html>

                                      Depending on the setup of your computer
                                      (and its tolerance to SVG),
                                      you might eventually reach some maps,
                                      such as the following:

                                      <http://www.ifpindia.org/hatlas/maps/ia_3_cul/index.html>

                                      and you can normally zoom
                                      and see for instance the Coimbatore area, or the Madurai area, etc.

                                      This is of course a work in Progress but you can see
                                      [in some pop-up windows]
                                      some IMAGES
                                      -- of inscriptions,
                                      -- of graffitis
                                      -- of menhirs,
                                      -- of cairn circles, etc.

                                      ****************************

                                      I hope this is useful

                                      Best wishes
                                      Jean-Luc Chevillard

                                      <http://www.linguist.univ-paris-diderot.fr/~chevilla/>


                                      Le 1/8/2010 4:21 PM, Michael Witzel a écrit :
                                      > Many thanks, Jean-Luc!
                                      >
                                      > First of all: they are from a Dravidian speaking area, of megalithic
                                      > Iron Age vintage (?) Any dates?
                                      >
                                      > It should not be forgotten that the south at that time was entirely
                                      > different in culture, religion etc. from the Vedic north. -- Vedic or
                                      > Buddhist mounds are not expected there.
                                      >
                                      > Second, these grave employ stones, not a Vedic custom. And are
                                      > relatively small, not of the stupa type (clay and bricks), but not
                                      > like the small square (!) Vedic mounds either.
                                      >
                                      > Some more background on these mounds, as compared to the large
                                      > megalithic ones (cists, large slab, etc.), would be welcome.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Cheers,
                                      > Michael
                                      >
                                      > On Jan 8, 2010, at 9:42 AM, Jean-Luc Chevillard wrote:
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >> [Mod Note: Here is a link to Jean-Luc's images:
                                      >> http://www.benjaminfleming.com/ie/jlc.html - BF]
                                      >>
                                      >> Dear list,
                                      >>
                                      >> we had a (Power Point) presentation last summer (=2009) during a
                                      >> workshop in Pondicherry at the EFEO (École Française
                                      >> d'Extrême-Orient) Pondicherry center by K. Rajan, an archaeologist
                                      >> from Pondicherry university and I took some pictures (see the 2
                                      >> attached JPG files) while he was making his presentation.
                                      >>
                                      >> Being photographs of photographs they are of course not very good
                                      >> but they give an idea of the size/magnitude of some burial mounds in
                                      >> Tamil Nadu (before excavation)
                                      >>
                                      >> I would be interested to hear how the size of these small mounds
                                      >> compares with the mounds you have been discussing in this
                                      >> Indo-Eurasia thread
                                      >>
                                      >> Best wishes from Paris
                                      >>
                                      >> -- Jean-Luc
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