(5,430 words)

Embedded within India’s most ancient text, the Ṛgveda, there is a hymn portraying a conversation of a young girl, Apālā, with the god Indra. She makes this request: 

Indra, make these three surfaces grow forth – 

the head of my Papa, the field, and this on my belly. 

That field of ours, this body of mine, 

and my Papa’s head – make all these hairy.

(ṚV. 8.91; trans. Brereton & Jamison; for an examination of this text, see Schmidt, 1987; Vajracharya, 1988)

We have in this ancient text a clear link among grass or grain in a f…

Cite this page
Patrick Olivelle, “Hair”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Edited by: Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 17 February 2019 <>
First published online: 2012

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