George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Aug 20 16:33:46 EDT 2008

Thank you, Dominik -- this is just the sort of thing that makes this  
list invaluable.  George

On Aug 20, 2008, at 12:51 PM, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:

> Actually, there's quite a bit of help around.  The publications out  
> of the group at the AVS Kottakkal, including Indira Balachandran, V.  
> V. Sivarajan and others, are excellent, have pictures, are  
> multilingual, and are historically well-informed.  In the  
> introduction to my Roots of Ayurveda book - sorry for mentioning my  
> own work - I discuss these issues of plant identification, and give  
> a condensed reading list of the works I have in my library and that  
> I have found extremely helpful.  Since Roots came out, the website http://botanicus.org 
>  has arisen that offers simply amazing historical resources, and  
> links to nomenclature databases. One can download the whole of  
> Hortus Malabaricus.  It's staggering!
> There will always remain some difficult cases, and your "snap"  
> example is wonderful, and just the sort of historical data that  
> needs to be brought to the surface.  There's always more research to  
> be done.  But there is a mass of valuable publications out there  
> already that answer very many questions.  Just Kirtikar and Basu is  
> already a great starting point.
> Our colleague Roelf Barkhuis has told me that his company will be  
> publishing something substantial in exactly this area in the not too  
> distant future.
> Best,
> Dominik
> -- 
> University College London
> On Wed, 20 Aug 2008, George Hart wrote:
>> Many years ago, Daniel Ingalls remarked that he wished to publish a  
>> book of plants with their Sanskrit names, giving pictures and the  
>> like.  I realize we have various databases and books that catalog  
>> the plants of South Asia, but to my knowledge we still have nothing  
>> that is meant for the scholar of premodern South Asia that gives  
>> the names of the plants in classical languages (Sanskrit, Tamil,  
>> Prakrit) with pictures and citations and identifies the plants.  In  
>> translating from Tamil, I find many many plant names (and some  
>> fauna also) whose identification is problematic, and the discussion  
>> here on kadamba shows the same is true in Sanskrit.  I find myself  
>> going on the internet and trying to discover what each plant could  
>> be and what it looks like -- using the Tamil Lexicon for the Latin  
>> names. I remember one occurrence in the NaRRiNai that describes a  
>> plant (I've forgotten which one and don't have time to look it up),  
>> saying it makes a sound like fingers snapping.  One modern  
>> commentator had a completely different interpretation, and I  
>> followed him in translating it -- which led a Tamil journal to  
>> criticize my translation.  When I researched it on the internet I  
>> found that indeed the seed pod explodes -- which means that fingers  
>> snapping is the correct translation.  A comprehensive book -- or  
>> better on-line database -- allowing one to look up Sanskrit/Tamil/ 
>> Prakrit names (and names in other South Asian languages) would be  
>> invaluable.  If someone is looking for a challenging and  
>> fascinating project, this would be a good one.

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