The Second Urbanisation: Growth of Urban Centres in the Gangetic Valley
The period between the 6th and the 3rd century BCE in India is known as the second urbanization and saw the growth of several urban centers in the Gangetic valley of India. This period was marked by an intellectual ferment that gave rise to some of the major religious and philosophical schools of the Indian subcontinent, such as Jainism and Buddhism. One of the most striking aspects of this intellectual ferment was the reflection on the nature of the self and the universe, and its implications on culinary trends in the region.
Intellectual Ferment: Reflections on the Nature of the Self and the Universe
Food was considered as the life-giving source of living beings and hence was equated with the being itself. In the complex cycle of life in the universe, a being becomes the food of another, which again is food for the third, and the chain goes on. This cosmic principle of food was a central concern for many of the intellectual traditions that emerged during this period.
Food as a Cosmic Principle: The Legend of Sujata and the Buddha
A popular legend in Buddhism recounts the tale of a devout lady named Sujata, who offered a bowl of boiled rice and milk to an emaciated Buddha during his phase of severe penance. It is believed that Buddha was able to obtain enlightenment only after being revived by this food. This incident is said to have encouraged him to abandon the principle of extreme penance for the Middle Path.
Encouragement of Vegetarianism: The Ideal of Ahimsa in Buddhism and Jainism
Both Buddhism and Jainism stressed the ideal of ahimsa or non-injury to living beings. Scholars argue that this encouraged vegetarianism among the common people.
Influence on Hinduism: Food in the Timeless Epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata
Hinduism was also influenced by such ideals. The timeless epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were composed between the latter half of the 2nd millennium and the first half of the 1st millennium BCE. Bhima, one of the Pandavas and a principal character of the Mahabharata, is known to have had a voracious appetite and exceptional physical strength.
The period between the 6th and the 3rd century BCE in India saw a significant intellectual ferment that had a profound impact on the way food was perceived and consumed. The cosmic principle of food, as reflected in religious and philosophical traditions, continues to influence culinary trends in the region to this day. This era also witnessed the rise of Indian philosophy, vegetarianism, and ahimsa principles in India.
In this article, we examined the Intellectual Moorings of food as a cosmic principle during the period between the 6th and the 3rd century BCE in India. This era is known as the second urbanization and saw the growth of several urban centers in the Gangetic valley of India. The intellectual ferment that emerged during this period had a profound impact on the way food was perceived and consumed. The cosmic principle of food, as reflected in religious and philosophical traditions, continues to influence culinary trends in the region to this day. The idea of ahimsa and vegetarianism also gain its popularity in the same era. Additionally, we explored how the ideals of ahimsa and vegetarianism were embraced by Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, and how they continue to shape Indian cuisine today.
by Davana Foods