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The Panis (Sanskrit: पणि : ) are a class of demons in the Rigveda, from paṇi-, a term for "bargainer, miser," especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations. The Panis appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cows. They are located behind the stream Rasā, and sought out by Sarama. They boast to 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.

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.

The word pani is also applied in the Rig Veda to human beings, even respected members of the community, who are unwilling to share their wealth. In one hymn Indra himself is addressed as "pani".[1]

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.[2][3] 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. [4]

They could be related to Panis who were an important tribe of present Pakistan-Afghanistan region lasting to the time of Sikandar Lodi.[5] Ahmed Abdulla writes that "the most important Pakhtun tribes of the Division are Kakar, Panni, Tarin, Shirani and Achakzai all of whom are split up between Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan."[6] It is further recorded in Sindh that "according to native accounts, the Parni came to Sibi (Siwi) in 1470 AD."[7] The same text states that Parnis are also known as "Panni".[8]


  1. ^ *Pande, G.C. 1991. Foundations of Indian Culture: Pt. 1 & 2.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912
  4. ^ Parpola 1988
  5. ^ Bellew, H.W. 1891. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan
  6. ^ Ahmed Abdulla. 1973. The Historical Background of Pakistan and Its People
  7. ^ Mahmudul Hasan Siddiqi; Mīr Muḥammad Maʻṣūm. 1972. History of the Arghuns and Tarkhans of Sind, 1507-1593 : an annotated translation of the relevant parts of Mir Maʻsum's Taʼrikh-i-Sind, with an introduction & appendices, p. 20
  8. ^ Mahmudul Hasan Siddiqi; Mīr Muḥammad Maʻṣūm, p. 20
  • Sethna, K.D. 1992. The Problem of Aryan Origins. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.