graaha/nakra/makara

Valerie J Roebuck vjroebuck at MACUNLIMITED.NET
Wed Feb 18 02:32:50 EST 2004


A thought has come to mind re the astrological makara.

VarAhamihira (BRhajjAtaka I.5) lists this sign among the ones that
*don't*  look exactly like the thing they're named after, and says:
makaro mRgAsya, 'the makara has the face of a deer'.  Similarly
MInarAja describes it as 'a makara with the front half of a deer'
(vRddhayavanajAtaka I.13? Sorry, original text not to hand).  Which
suggests to me that the astrological makara was originally thought of
as not being a *normal* makara, but a special, deer-headed one.

Sometimes, in fact, it's called 'mRga' for short (as is the lunar
mansion of mRgaziras, which can cause confusion among the unwary).

Originally, perhaps, the astrologers needed a word to describe the
classical symbol of the capricorn, and the word 'makara' was the
obvious one to use.  They saw the front half as a deer rather than a
goat, perhaps because the deer was already a familiar astrological
beast.

Valerie J Roebuck
Manchester, UK

At 6:02 pm +0000 17/2/04, John Brockington wrote:
>Dear Colleagues,
>
>My warm thanks to all those who have contributed to the discussion of these
>terms, both in the literary context and the visual.  Any further comments
>(or leads to secondary literature) will still be welcome.
>
>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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