graaha/nakra/makara

McComas Taylor McComas.Taylor at ANU.EDU.AU
Sat Feb 14 20:05:00 EST 2004


Dear list members

My feeling from looking at the names of birds in KAlidAsa that it is not
really appropriate to try to identify traditional names with their precise
modern equivalents. The two systems are not necessarily compatible.
Traditional authors were not troubled by a lesser degree of precision.
Trying to name a makara is a little like trying to identify a leviathan: was
it a shark or a whale or something else? In fact, it is a sign for something
big and frightening in the water. Different authors probably used the same
word with different things in mind.

With bows

McComas

-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk]On Behalf Of John
Brockington
Sent: Friday, 13 February 2004 8:23 PM
To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
Subject: graaha/nakra/makara


Dear Colleagues,

Can anyone point me in the direction of more recent studies of any of these
three terms than Vogel's "Errors in Sanskrit Dictionaries" in BSOAS 20?  In
that he shows that _makara_ means a crocodile but has only passing reference
to the other two terms, which are usually thought also to mean the
crocodile.  What gives me cause for hesitation over this is that there occur
dvandva compounds of these terms, which to my mind indicates that, though
similar, they are not identical.  [Specifically, in the Ramayana, we find
_nakra_ and _makara_, and also _graaha_ and _nakra_, so linked, while I
detect indications that _graaha_ is a riverine animal but _mahaagraaha_ is
marine.]  Also, while I am about it, what is the Sanskrit term for the third
main crocodile species, the gharial/gavial?  Does anyone know of any
relevant literature?

Yours

John Brockington


Professor J. L. Brockington
Secretary General, International Association of Sanskrit Studies

Sanskrit, School of Asian Studies
7-8 Buccleuch Place
Edinburgh   EH8 9LW        U.K.

tel:  +131 650 4174
fax: +131 651 1258



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