Southern branch

James Mallinson jim at KHECARI.COM
Mon Mar 19 15:46:50 EDT 2007

Dear All,

A colleague sent me the following. It rings no bells with me and I have
searched through all my etexts  but drawn a blank. Any suggestions?

"I am working on a new Chinese story, called in English "The Governor of
Southern Branch."  I think it *may* have been influenced by, or descended
from, an Indian story. It involves a drunkard who goes on a dream journey
into an ash tree, where he lives a lifetime of relative glory as husband to
an ant princess, and governor of the "southern branch" of the tree (he
thinks it's all real, of course, and doesn't suspect that he's involved with
ants)...eventually he reemerges, and discovers that no time has elapsed (the
book that I'm working on is about a number of stories with this type of
structure and treatment of time, which is very unusual for China). What I'm
currently wondering is if the Indian scholars I know, including you, have
any notion of why the place that he rules over in his dream/vision is called
Southern Branch. I know about the significance of the southern branch of the
bodhi tree being taken to Sri Lanka (and that nuns from Sri Lanka went to
China in the third or fourth centuries), but is there any reason why *that*
would be significant as a name in my story? Or is there to your knowledge,
any other significant reference in Indian literature to the term "southern
branch"?   My secret suspicion (always) is that Indian folklore of various
kinds came into China at various times, and that many little details such as
this term (that no one ever explains or tries to understand) might be
understood better if some Indian connection could be made. If you have any
insights, I'd be, as always, extremely grateful."


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