The relics of rice grains recovered from the archeological sites of Pirak area, Baluchistan suggest that the area was known for rice cultivation around 1700 BC. The mixed civilization at that time period composed of Vedic scholars and proto-Tulu, proto- Tamil and Dravidian communites at Pirak, as has been dealt in earlier posts here before.
Origin of the Sanskrit word ‘Vrihi’ that means rice (Oriza sativa) and sometimes other cereals like wheat and barley, has been discussed by Indological experts like Asko Purpola. The word is generally said to be not directly influenced by or related to the Dravidian words ‘arih’ (Tulu) and ‘arisi’ (Tamil) that represent the rice. On the other hand it has been fairly accepted that the Tamil word ‘arisi’ was adopted by Greek, Latin and also English as ‘rice’.
Sankaran Nair (2003) suggested that ‘Vrihi’ is a modified form of the word ‘varahi’. He cited that there are several varieties of rice designated as Graishmic, Hemanti, Varshic, Sharada, Salini etc described in ancient Sanskrit texts. Varahi is the female form of mythological Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. (Varahi, is also the name of a river in Western Karnataka).
The word ‘Varahi’ has further ramifications. First connotation is that the Varaha was worshipped at that time by communities and cultures prevalent then at Pirak area. Spirits worshipped by the Tulu communities, even to date, include ‘Panjurli’ which is the Tulu form of Varaha. Appaently, the Panjurli or the Varaha was worshipped more widely at that time. The Varaha concept, later in the history, was absorbed as one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Thus the word ‘vrihi’ might have brought into Sanskrit usage as rice was predominantly grown and consumed by those who worshipped the Varaha or Panjurli. Besides, there is certain degree of similarity in pronunciation of the words ‘vrihi’ and ‘arih’.
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