The subject of the origin and the development of agriculture in
India is extremely important but it has not so far received the
attention it deserves.
In this short work we propose to present a few tentative conclusion
concerning the spread of agriculture in Ancient India. They
are based on a comprehensive study of the Ramayana of Valmiki.
Although the form in which it is obtainable today is not the one
in which it might have been composed, we are safe in assuming
that the kernel of the story has not changed for at least two
thousand years, That it was known at that time, in its present
form, is proved not only by literary references but also by sculptural
representations of its scenes in Sanchi. Therefore the picture
emerging from our analysis .of its contents it, at least, the
view of our ancestors of that epoch regarding what had happened
in antiquity. While culling out details regarding the spread of
agriculture from this epic, we have kept this in view. In the absence
of corrobaration of these views from other sources, chief
among them being archeology, we feel it proper that an effort
along these lines be made so that other literary classics can also
examined in the same way.
Although this epic sheds but little light on the origin of agriculture
, it does enable us to have a fairly clear idea of its spread
from the Ganges valley towards the Vindhyan area and on-
wards. Subject to confirmation from other sources, it seems that
the ‘Naras,’ as the peoples inhabiting the valleys of the Indus
and the Ganges called themselves, practised agriculture, whereas
their main adversaries, the Raksasas did not live by the plough.
The poet, while describing the onward march of the former,
seems to narrate the advance of agriculture in these areas.
Onthis basis it can be said that the Rama-katha, as distinct from
the date of the composition of the epic, is to be placed in the
period, during which the peoples of these valleys started spreading
Traditionally the Rama-episode is believed to have been anterior
to the Maha-bharata and this view has found general acceptance.
The lowest date assigned to the ‘great battle’ is 1000 B.C.; there-
fore the date for the Rama-episode has to be anterior to the
same. This story, however, has for its background on agricultural
society; therefore its date should be above 1400 B.C., the lowest
date for the decay of what is generally called the Indus Valley
civilisation! which had known agriculture. As the story concerns
the onward march of these cultivating peoples inland into the
Ganges valley, the upper limit may have to be pushed to about
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend