magadha मगध

Definition: Is the name of a people who appear throughout Vedic literature as of little repute. Though the name is not actually found in the Rigveda, it occurs in the Atharvaveda, where fever is wished away to the Gandhāris and Mūjavants, northern peoples, and to the Añgfas and Magadhas, peoples of the east. Again, in the list of victims at the Purusamedha (‘ human sacrifice ’) in the Yajurveda,3 the Māgadha, or man of Magadha, is included as dedicated to ati-krusta, ‘ loud noise ’ (?), while in the Vrātya hymn of the Atharvaveda[1] the Māgadha is said to be connected with the Vrātya as his Mitra, his Mantra, his laughter, and his thunder in the four quarters. In the śrauta Sūtras6 the equipment characteristic of the Vrātya is said to be given, when the latter is admitted into the Aryan Brahminical community, to a bad Brahmin living in Magadha ·(brahma-bandhu Māgadha-deśīya), but this point does not occur in the Pañcavimśa Brāhmaṇa. On the other hand, respectable Brahmins sometimes lived there, for the Kausītaki Araṇyaka mentions Madhyama, Prātībodhī-putra, as Magadha-vāsin, ‘living in Magadha.’ Oldenberg, however, seems clearly right in regarding this as unusual. The Magadhas are evidently a people in the Baudhāyana and other Sūtras, possibly also in the Aitareya Araṇyaka. It is therefore most improbable that Zimmer can be right in thinking that in the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda the λlāgadha is not a man of Magadha, but a member of the mixed caste produced by a Vaiśya marrying a Kṣatriya woman. But the theory of mixed castes, in any case open to some doubt, cannot be accepted when used to explain such obviously tribal names as Māgadha. The fact that the Māgadha is often in later times a minstrel is easily accounted for by the assumption that the country was the home of minstrelsy, and that wandering bards from Magadha were apt to visit the more western lands. This class the later texts recognize as a caste, inventing an origin by intermarriage of the old-established castes. The dislike of the Magadhas, which may be Rigvedic, since the Kīkatas were perhaps the prototype of the Magadhas, was in all probability due, as Oldenberg13 thinks, to the fact that the Magadhas were not really Brahminized. This is entirely in accord with the evidence of the Satapatha Brāhmaṇa14 that neither Kosala nor Videha were fully Brahminized at an early date, much less Magadha. Weber15 suggests two other grounds that may have influeṇced the position—the persistence of aboriginal blood and the growth of Buddhism. The latter consideration is hardly applicable to the Yajurveda or the Atharvaveda; but the imperfect Brahminization of the land, if substituted for it in accordance with Oldenberg’s suggestion, would have some force. The former motive, despite Olden- berg’s doubt, seems fully justified. Pargiter18 has gone so far as to suggest that in Magadha the Aryans met and mingled with a body of invaders from the east by sea. Though there is no evidence for this view in the Vedic texts, it is reason¬able to suppose that the farther east the Aryans penetrated, the less did they impress themselves upon the aborigines. Modern ethnology confirms this a priori supposition in so far as it shows Aryan types growing less and less marked as the eastern part of India is reached, although such evidence is not decisive in view of the great intermixture of peoples in India.

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