graaha/nakra/makara

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Fri Feb 13 13:34:50 EST 2004


I had makaras and nakras as different water-dwelling creatures in a list,
in the part of the Kasyapasamhita that I translated in The Roots of
Ayurveda.  I used various reference publications, but especially those of
the Natural History Society of Bombay, which gives superb descriptions of
actual fauna, and also lists NIA terms.  After considering everything I
could lay my hands on, including contemporary names, I came up with
"gharial" for "makara", and "crocodile" for "nakra".

Cf. especially,

Daniel, J.~C. (1983). {The book of Indian reptiles}, Bombay: Oxford
University Press.

Prater, S.~H (1993). {The book of Indian animals}, Bombay, Delhi, etc.:
Oxford University Press, fourth edn.

I took it as given that the medical text was referring, or intending to
refer, to a real creature, rather than a chimera or fabulous beast.
That's a big assumption.

Best,
Dominik



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