Human and animal worlds in the Atharvaveda Samhita: rituals, superstitions and psychoses in animals in Vedic society
The Atharvaveda Samhita, more than any other Vedic text, is an irreplaceable source of data on the Indian society and its non-ritualistic aspects. With regard to animals, the numerous Atharvanic hymns witness a deep conditioning, either positive or negative, of them on the psyche of the Vedic social structure at that stage. Images, metaphors, descriptions of wild and domestic animals abound through the 20 books of this Samhita, together with terrific and theriomorfic descriptions of demons in the act of killing children, women and Brahmans or destroying human bodies, health and peace. The “Vedic eye” created a stunning range of scenarios in-between dream and nightmare of an unparalleled visual and terminological power.
This lecture will highlight the relationship between human beings and animals from a moral, linguistic, religious and psychological point of view, also emphasizing interesting aspects of the irrational Vedic fear for the microcosm of the “invisible” animal enemies.