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The Panis are a class of demons in the Rigveda.

Etymology

from paṇi-, a term for "bargainer, miser," especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations.


Myth

The Panis appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cows. They are located behind the stream Rasa, and sought out by Sarama, the female dog belonging to Indra. They boast towards Sarama that they are well-armed and will not yield the cows without battle, and that the cows are furthermore well hidden in a rocky chamber. Sarama threatens them with the might of Indra and the Angirasas who will recover the cows.


See also

The "rocky treasure-chest" of the Panis is identical to Vala, the stone split by Indra to liberate Dawn. The myth is a variant of that of Indra slaying Vrtra, imagined as a stone serpent, liberating the blocked rivers.


Theory

Graeco-Roman authors equated the Parthians with a Scythian tribe called the Parni (i.e. Greek Parnoi), which has been equated by some with the Panis. Strabo (11.9.2) mentions that the Parnoi belonged to the Dahas ("Dahae") and lived in Margiana and that they founded the Arsacid empire of Parthia (Parpola 1988).


References

  • Parpola, Asko: 1988, The Coming of the Aryans to Iran and India and the Cultural and Ethnic Identity of the Dasas; The problem of the Aryans and the Soma.
  • Sethna, K.D. 1992. The Problem of Aryan Origins. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.