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Books > Hindi > Asvasastram by Nakula (The Science of Horses with Colored Illustrations
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Asvasastram by Nakula (The Science of Horses with Colored Illustrations
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Asvasastram by Nakula (The Science of Horses with Colored Illustrations
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Preface

Asva Sastram is a rare, illustrated Samskrit manuscript available in the Sarasvati Mahal Library in Tanjore, With its companion manuscript on elephants, called Gaja Sastra, it has been for some centuries the cynosure of all eyes. The pictures of the animals and the nice shades of colour used in painting them in this work are. its noteworthy features. But equally, if not more important is the text containing a valuable compendium on the subject of horses, based on observations of Salihotra, an authority on horses and of others that came after him.

An American author Mr. Franklin Edgerton has already used our manuscript on elephants in his work entitled MATANGA LILA published by New Haven Yale University Press. It is therefore high time that. we in India should come forward to publish the sister work Asva Sastram; not merely the text, valuable as it is, but also some of the attractive pictures in which it abounds.

It is the view of some European writers on the subject that among the beasts of burden the horse was the last to be broken by man for his use. But a contrary view appears to find support in our Vedas. It is, however, clear that in western countries more importance came to be attached to the horse than to the ox and the like.

But in our machine age the horse itself has been eclipsed and the importance that used to be attached to the breeding and training of horses has naturally decreased, Even so the turf is still interested in the animal; while even in advanced countries; the farmer has not altogether given it up. Though it has lost' its place in warfare, it still has a place in peace. .

It is usual to state that the horse was first used by Egypt. In fact, it is claimed by one author that One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty years before Christ, horses were first used in Egypt. This theory about Egypt being their cradle is mainly based on the absence of reference to horses in the earlier Biblical accounts. But it ignores the indisputable literary and scriptural evidence in our country which establishes that horses were used in India even earlier. The earliest texts of the Rgveda refer to horses and to the institution of Asvamedha and this takes us to thousands of years before Christ.

This work on horses illustrates how ancient is our knowledge of horses and how, from time immemorial, it has been systematised and reduced to easy practical rules to be applied in harnessing them for the use of man. The Sarasvati Mahal contains quite a large number of manuscripts on what one might call the horse-lore. These Mss. are in Samskrit and Marathi. There is also an English manuscript written by one Mr. Osmer on the ailments of horses. Besides these works, the printed works on the subject collected by Maharajah serfoji are quite a legion. The Sarasvati Mahal therefore offers a rich quarry to those who want to specialise on this subject.

How is one to find out the best horse in a herd? How to single out the winning one? Which is the lucky horse? These questions naturally arise in one's mind when one thinks of a work like this. Obviously there can be no short cut to find answers for these questions. Even the text printed in the following pages offers no magic key in this connection. But it certainly indicates the characteristics, aspects and appearances, which, with necessary experience on our part will guide us in the matter.

There are those who pout their lips at what they consider fantastic in some of our ancient writings. This work contains passages which provide grist for their incredulity. It is difficult to convince them except by references to western literature or western science. For instance, when we published a rare work on veterinary science dealing with diseases of cattle and their treatment, one reviewer thought he was on safe ground when he ridiculed the branding of cattle to cure certain ills. But, to his discomfiture, came the news that in American Cattle ranches they brand the animals just as recommended in our book. Similarly it may be thought that winged horses spoken of in Asvasastra are merely mythological and ought to have no place in any scientific account on horses. But it is interesting to know from western scientists themselves that biologically many big animals had wings in the beginning and came to shed them in course of time as the price of their evolution. It is equally interesting to know that the elephants portrayed in our manuscript on Gaja Sastra with two and three pairs of tusks are not mythological as considered by many but real and that an elephant with two pairs of tusks was actually shot recently in Belgian Congo.

 








Asvasastram by Nakula (The Science of Horses with Colored Illustrations

Item Code:
NZK060
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2001
Language:
Sanskrit and Tamil
Size:
9.5 inch X 7.5 inch
Pages:
291 (21 Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 540 gms
Price:
$25.00   Shipping Free
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Preface

Asva Sastram is a rare, illustrated Samskrit manuscript available in the Sarasvati Mahal Library in Tanjore, With its companion manuscript on elephants, called Gaja Sastra, it has been for some centuries the cynosure of all eyes. The pictures of the animals and the nice shades of colour used in painting them in this work are. its noteworthy features. But equally, if not more important is the text containing a valuable compendium on the subject of horses, based on observations of Salihotra, an authority on horses and of others that came after him.

An American author Mr. Franklin Edgerton has already used our manuscript on elephants in his work entitled MATANGA LILA published by New Haven Yale University Press. It is therefore high time that. we in India should come forward to publish the sister work Asva Sastram; not merely the text, valuable as it is, but also some of the attractive pictures in which it abounds.

It is the view of some European writers on the subject that among the beasts of burden the horse was the last to be broken by man for his use. But a contrary view appears to find support in our Vedas. It is, however, clear that in western countries more importance came to be attached to the horse than to the ox and the like.

But in our machine age the horse itself has been eclipsed and the importance that used to be attached to the breeding and training of horses has naturally decreased, Even so the turf is still interested in the animal; while even in advanced countries; the farmer has not altogether given it up. Though it has lost' its place in warfare, it still has a place in peace. .

It is usual to state that the horse was first used by Egypt. In fact, it is claimed by one author that One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty years before Christ, horses were first used in Egypt. This theory about Egypt being their cradle is mainly based on the absence of reference to horses in the earlier Biblical accounts. But it ignores the indisputable literary and scriptural evidence in our country which establishes that horses were used in India even earlier. The earliest texts of the Rgveda refer to horses and to the institution of Asvamedha and this takes us to thousands of years before Christ.

This work on horses illustrates how ancient is our knowledge of horses and how, from time immemorial, it has been systematised and reduced to easy practical rules to be applied in harnessing them for the use of man. The Sarasvati Mahal contains quite a large number of manuscripts on what one might call the horse-lore. These Mss. are in Samskrit and Marathi. There is also an English manuscript written by one Mr. Osmer on the ailments of horses. Besides these works, the printed works on the subject collected by Maharajah serfoji are quite a legion. The Sarasvati Mahal therefore offers a rich quarry to those who want to specialise on this subject.

How is one to find out the best horse in a herd? How to single out the winning one? Which is the lucky horse? These questions naturally arise in one's mind when one thinks of a work like this. Obviously there can be no short cut to find answers for these questions. Even the text printed in the following pages offers no magic key in this connection. But it certainly indicates the characteristics, aspects and appearances, which, with necessary experience on our part will guide us in the matter.

There are those who pout their lips at what they consider fantastic in some of our ancient writings. This work contains passages which provide grist for their incredulity. It is difficult to convince them except by references to western literature or western science. For instance, when we published a rare work on veterinary science dealing with diseases of cattle and their treatment, one reviewer thought he was on safe ground when he ridiculed the branding of cattle to cure certain ills. But, to his discomfiture, came the news that in American Cattle ranches they brand the animals just as recommended in our book. Similarly it may be thought that winged horses spoken of in Asvasastra are merely mythological and ought to have no place in any scientific account on horses. But it is interesting to know from western scientists themselves that biologically many big animals had wings in the beginning and came to shed them in course of time as the price of their evolution. It is equally interesting to know that the elephants portrayed in our manuscript on Gaja Sastra with two and three pairs of tusks are not mythological as considered by many but real and that an elephant with two pairs of tusks was actually shot recently in Belgian Congo.

 








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