graaha/nakra/makara

Valerie J Roebuck vjroebuck at MACUNLIMITED.NET
Sun Feb 15 03:48:54 EST 2004


Up to a point....  Sometimes *we* are the ones who are imprecise.
Think of the famous Indian painting in the V & A cheerfully captioned
'Lady with a Hawk', when the Lady is holding an extemely accurate
portrayal of a Lugger Falcon (Falco juggur).

I think on the whole people in earlier times in India and elsewhere
probably knew a lot more about wildlife and nature than most of us
do--they had to--but they didn't think about it in the same
categories (mammal, reptile, species, genus, etc).

Valerie J Roebuck
Manchester, UK

>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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