gṛha गृह

Definition: Is used in the singular, or oftener in the plural, to denote the ‘ house ’of the Vedic Indian. Dama or Dam has the same sense, while Pastyā and Harmya denote more especially the home with its surroundings, the family settle¬ment. The house held not only the family, which might be of considerable size, but also the cattle and the sheep at night. It was composed of several rooms, as the use of the plural indicates, and it could be securely shut up. The door (Dvār, Dvāra) is often referred to, and from it the house is called Durona. In every house the fire was kept burning. Very little is known of the structure of the house. Presum¬ably stone was not used, and houses were, as in Megasthenes’ time, built of wood. The hymns of the Atharvaveda give some information about the construction of a house, but the details are extremely obscure, for most of the expressions used do not recur in any context in which their sense is clear. According to Zimmer, four pillars (Upamit) were set up on a good site, and against them beams were leant at an angle as props (Pratimit). The upright pillars were connected by cross beams (Parimit) resting upon them. The roof was formed of ribs of bamboo cane (vamśa), a ridge called Visūvant, and a net (Aksu), which may mean a thatch’ed covering over the bamboo ribs. The walls were filled up with grass in bundles (palada), and the whole structure was held together with ties of various sorts (nahana, prānāha, samdamśa, parisvañjalya).13 In connexion with the house, mention is made of four terms which, though primarily sacrificial in meaning, seem to designate parts of the building: Havirdhāna, ‘oblation-holder’; Agniśāla, ‘ fire¬place Patnīnām Sadana, wives’ room ’; and Sadas, ‘ sitting room.’ Slings or hanging vessels (Sikya) are also mentioned. Reedwork (ita) is spoken of, no doubt as part of the finishing of the walls of the house. The sides are called Paksa. The door with its framework was named Atā.

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