u.s.tra-dhuumaka (was: Skt vocabulary for: Hail)

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO
Fri Jan 21 05:19:05 EST 2000


Stephen Hodge wrote:
>>>
>>>To me, the word image "camel smoke" suggests clouds of noxious insects
>>>billowing around animals like camels.

Ruth Schmidt wrote:

>......... I have ridden camels in the desert on a
>number of occasions, and never found them surrounded by noxious insects
>
I think we have to abandon the idea of "clouds of obnoxious insects" and
instead interpret the word uSTra-dhUmaka in a different way. I would now
suggest that it refers to the animal's colour: dhUma could be a
Sanskrit-misunderstanding of Prakrit dhUma < dhumma < Skt. dhUmra,
"smoke-coloured". Thus uSTra-dhUmaka = "smoke-coloured like a camel".
According to some Lexicographers (see Peterburger Woerterbuch or
Monier-Williams Dictionary), dhUmraka (and acc. to Monier-Williams also
dhUmra, in the TaittirIya-SamhitA) indeed means "camel" (= "the
smoke-coloured animal)!
If we take this together with the passage from Vagbhata quoted by Dominik,
uSTradhUma(ka), also called uccitinga, should be a night-active,
camel-coloured, poisonous spider (it is mentioned together with scorpions,
but, as it "bites with its mouth", it is probably not a scorpion).

Best regards,

Georg v.Simson



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