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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

If wishes were horses, Satyapir would grant them… and other legends - Deccan Chronicle

Last updated Sunday, November 7, 2021 02:00 ET , Source: NewsService

Wendy Doniger’s book Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares is a constant delight

Wendy Doniger’s book Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares is a constant delight. It is, as the sub-title suggests about “Horses in Indian Myth and History”. The work covers a staggering range of information with effortless clarity and elegance. She says in the beginning (Horses in Indian Nature and Culture) :

“Prithivi (a feminine form of prithu) is a Sanskrit word for the earth, with its wide open spaces that such kings must always conquer”. Prithu was the name of the first king on earth according to Indian mythology. More than the horse-drawn chariot it was the horse that “made possible conquest in war; the horse came to symbolize conquest in war through its own natural imperialism.” (p. 3)

“But the land of India did not welcome horses.” (p. 3). The terrain and the frequently changing weather made it difficult for horses. “...the Ashvashastra, insists that you should not ride horses in the three months of the hot season, and another medieval text, the Agni Purana, says, ‘Winter, the cool month, and spring are for riding horses; in summer, autumn and the rains, the riding and harnessing of horses is forbidden.’ Though the Indian soil apparently has enough lime and calcium to support cattle, it is not good enough soil for horses; contemporary breeders now add calcium, manganese, iron and salt to the horses’ diet. There are very few tropical areas in which horses do well (South Asia is one), and even...



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