Sesa and Kurma carrying the Earth

Dipak Bhattacharya dbhattacharya200498 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Dec 18 06:48:27 EST 2012


< There
is a verse in the Mudrārākṣasa (2.19 in Hillebrandt's edition) that mentions Śeṣa
bearing the earth (the context is that worthy people never give up, no matter
how hard their task is): kiṃ śeṣasya bharavyathā na vapuṣi kṣmāṃ na kṣipaty eṣa
yat... There is an almost identical verse in (some MSS of) Bhartṛhari 's śataka
s (number 232 in Kosambi's edition), which reads kūrmasya instead of śeṣasya .>
If the
readings are uniform (so according to my sources) the Mudrārakṣasa reading
should be the original one. This is from the point of view of age. Secondly,
the Śeṣa story is common to all sects while the Kūrma cult is sectarian. This
also is against the antiquity of the Śatakatraya reading. 
So
according to reason. But that the reading kūrmasya found place in Vāsudeva
Paṇaśīkara’s Subhāṣitaratnabhāṇḍāgāra may call for explanation.
Best
DB 



________________________________
 From: Balogh Dániel <danbalogh at GMAIL.COM>
To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk 
Sent: Tuesday, 18 December 2012 3:09 PM
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Sesa and Kurma carrying the Earth
 

Dear All,
though I've been reading you for a while, this is my first letter to
    the list so maybe I'd better introduce myself.
I'm Dániel (Daniel) Balogh from Hungary, I did my MA in Indology in
    Budapest, graduating in 2002. I've worked for the Clay Sanskrit
    Library and done some freelancing as well as a lot of non-scholarly
    work. Then two years ago I went back to university, still in
    Budapest, to work on a PhD under Csaba Dezső. My research topic is
    the
    
    Mudrārākṣasa, focussing on intertextual issues and the reception of
    the play in pre-modern India.

Now to the question on which I'd be interested in some opinions.
    There is a verse in the Mudrārākṣasa (2.19 in Hillebrandt's edition)
    that mentions
    
    Śeṣa bearing the earth (the context is that worthy people never give
    up, no matter how hard their task is):
    
    kiṃ
    śeṣasya bharavyathā na vapuṣi kṣmāṃ na kṣipaty eṣa yat...
There is an almost identical verse in (some MSS of)  Bhartṛhari 's śataka s (number 232 in Kosambi's edition), which reads kūrmasya instead of śeṣasya .

I've been wondering if there are any early textual references to
    Kūrma carrying the earth. Also, what if anything could have been the
    motivation for an author or copyist to change kūrma to śeṣa or vice
    versa, and which direction of change would have been more likely?
    (Note that apparently śeṣa is not attested in any Bhartṛhari MSS,
    nor is kūrma found in any MSS of the Mudrārākṣasa, so the two
    traditions seem both pretty strong.)

Thank you for any suggestions,
Daniel
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