The age of Śunāsīrā and Agriculture

Sirius, the Dog star, is still associated with flooding of Nile. This star has been associated with irrigation and agriculture. On the contrary, the Canopus is dealt with end of Rains in India. Both the stars are connected with the Orion constellation. This we have discussed many a times before. Lets understand the Dogs and their connection with agriculture and what entwine them together.

Dog Domestication notes

“Considering this wide range expands the credible interval for the divergence time of dogs and wolves from 14–16 kya to 11–34 kya. Importantly, our study was able to eliminate much of the uncertainty in the mutation-scaled divergence time (CI: 0.46×10−4–0.53×10−4), leaving the mutation rate as the dominant source of uncertainty in dating the origin of dogs…..

…Thus, our demographic analysis strongly suggests that domestication occurred between about 11 and 16 kya (9–34 kya with mutation rate uncertainty), which would place it prior to the adoption of extensive agriculture by humans.”

In 2013, Wayne’s team compared the mitochondrial genomes (small rings of DNA that sit outside the main set) of 126 modern dogs and wolves, and 18 fossils. They concluded that dogs were domesticated somewhere in Europe or western Siberia, between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago. And genes aside, “the density of fossils from Europe tells us something,” Wayne says. “There are many things that look like dogs, and nothing quite like that in east Asia.”

Read here —

Now compare with my finds of Saramā and Śunāsīrā

Read here. I conjecture that Saramā was a wolf or very early form of a Dog. She is also called Deva-Śuni in the later commentaries. By observing the activities of dogs like digging etc the earliest humans may have learnt digging and toiling of earth thus when the stars, which got associated with the beginning of rains, were given the name Śunāsīrā. Now you would be wondering why I brought up Śunāsīrā. Naming a plough as Śunāsīrā itself make one feel to be present in deep antiquity. I brought up this to understand the pattern of river beds and rodents which gave away the word Indu for its people. Do we find evidence of Sarama, Śunāsīrā, undīra and kṣetra and their association with ‘plough’-’early Agriculture’ and Irrigation of land via flooding? For more information what pattern do we find in Ṛg-veda, lets see.

शुना-सीर m. du. N. of two rural deities favourable to the growth of grain (prob. personifications of ‘share’ and ‘plough’; but identified by Yāska with Vāyu and Āditya, by others with Indra and Vāyu or Indra and Sūrya). In the sky they represent the two dogs in Greek Chart as Procyon and Sirius. In Indian system its regarded as two heads of a Dog and Sirius alone is also known as the Mṛgavyādha, which itself means a dog.

The Dog imagery did not appear all of a sudden. The same word provided for the plough brings an interesting conjecture.

  1. that Wolf Sarama was transforming into a dog Shuna which brings evidence of domestication of Dog in Rg veda itself.
  2. Dog, the digger, gave the idea of ploughing by its behavior.
  3. Dog imagery also becomes the nakshatra marker for the commencement of agriculture and field works. (Probably the sowing time of winter (kharif) rice is June-July ,atched with this nakshatra, while Northern Region comprises of Haryana, Punjab, Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. The region experiences low winter temperature and single crop of rice from May-July to September-December is grown.)

Origin of the word Sirius

“period of dry, hot weather at the height of summer,” 1530s, from Latin dies caniculares, the idea, though not the phrase, from Greek; so called because they occur around the time of the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star (kyōn seirios). Noted as the hottest and most unwholesome time of the year; often reckoned as July 3 to August 11, but variously calculated, depending on latitude and on whether the greater Dog-star (Sirius) or the lesser one (Procyon) is reckoned. — Etymology online

The heliacal rising of Sirius has shifted down the calendar with the precession of the equinoxes; in ancient Egypt c. 3000 B.C.E. it coincided with the summer solstice, which also was the new year and the beginning of the inundation of the Nile. The “dog” association apparently began here (the star’s hieroglyph was a dog), but the reasons for it are now obscure.

Dog’s association came down to Egyptians due to us navigators, just like the word Nile which is gifted by Sanskrit. I also suspect that the phonectic semblence of Sirius with sīrā i.e., head is not just a coincedence. The word itself has arrived from the Śunāsīrā.

Nomenclature of plough

Going back to the nomenclature of the plough, which could have been anything else than Śunāsīrā in Sanskrit, brings into account of its very early conception followed by the domestication of Dogs. Now we see that the early domestication lies between 9–34 kya with mutation rate uncertainty. We already saw that during early rice exploitation, high micro charcoal, phytolith and poll encore records indicate regular anthropogenic burning from the Terminal (14.5–13 ka) and end of the Pleistocene through early-middle Holocene in the archaeological sites from Ganges plains in north India (80–81). Other than that Sri Lanka intensively used wild rice species (e.g. Oryza cf. nivara) in association with lowland rain forests from 47.80ka (47,800 calyrs BP). This suggests that there could have been early experimental farming from between 47800 BP to 16000 BP, and some places may have yielded good results. This goes quite well with the timing of domestication of Dogs and it’s nomenclature used for the plough as well.

Now when in the past did Sirius and procyon experience summer solstice ?When and during what time all of the above discussed evidence synchronize well with each other to arrive on to the timing of early farming and its related items.

Summer Solstice in Śunāsīrā

That is happening in 3000 BCE. And we know that Dog is neither domesticated recently nor Rg veda is written during Krittikas. So lets go to the previous cycle and that is 29000 BCE. But do you know that in Tai. Brahmana there is amention of Samvatsara in Śunāsīrā, which means it has experienced Vernal equinox as well. That goes back to 35000 BCE. Note that we don’t have this Nakshatra in 28 or 27 nakshatra system. Thus, it was an earlier phenomna when we had more than 28 nakshatra system.

Doesn’t this make sense on early farming and nomenclature of the plough in Sanskrit from the study of Rg veda and the new sciences.

I withdraw age of Shunasira from 60K BCE and place it to 29000 BCE

Now do recollect why Saraswati is still flowing from Mountains till Ocean or why the Wheat is not mentioned in Rg veda from one of my earlier write up. Ok, even then, if you are unable to reconcile on the above find then try on why Tiger is not mentioned in Rg veda when the Dog is…



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Rupa Bhaty

Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA