Southern branch

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Mar 19 16:34:29 EDT 2007

The structure of the story, but not the "southern branch", has something 
in common with the Gadhi story from the Moksopaya. It was introduced to me 
by Gary Tubb in a spellbinding telling during the Turin Skt conference, 
and I've subsequently read it.  The brahman Gadhi falls into a kind of 
trance and then lives a whole life in another reality, as an untouchable, 
before awaking to find virtually no time has passed.  But he subsequently 
learns that somehow both realities, both lives, were indeed "real".

The story also occurs in the expansions based on the Moksopaya, i.e., the 
Yogavasisthas etc., and is discussed in Wendy Doniger's book Dreams, 
Illusions and other Realities.


On Mon, 19 Mar 2007, James Mallinson wrote:

> 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."
> Jim

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