Social Scientist. v 2, no. 20 (March 1974) p. 27.


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SHARAD PATIL

Distribution of Communal Wealth in Ancient India:

Dice and Agriculture

IF the kula-ta roamed from kula to kula in order to discharge her priestly magical functions, then the accomplishments in dancing and singing and their public display by the jana-pada-kalyanis and ganikas could not have been just 'art for art's sake.'

This tribal mother we meet as an apsaras (nymph) in the hymns IV. 38 of the non-Aryan Atharva-veda :

1 The up-shooting, all-conquering, successfully playing (sadhu-devinim) Apsaras, that wins (kr) the winnings of the pool (Pglaha) —that Apsaras I call on here.

2 The distributing (vi-ci) on-strewing (a-kir) successfuly playing Apsaras, that seizes (grah) the winnings of the pool—that Apsaras I call on here.

3 She who dances about with the dice (? aya), taking to herself the winning from the pool—let her, trying to gain (?) for us the winnings, obtain the stake (? praha) by magic (maya), let her come to us rich in milk; let them not conquer (rom us these riches.l

Apsaras here is denned by the commentator as a nymph who is the presiding deity of dicing (dyuta-kriya-adhidevatam apsaro-jatiyam). Devin means a gambler, and devini is its feminine form. The divine gambler is shown preparing (vi-ci) the dice and shuffling (a-kir) them in



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