[INDOLOGY] Fwd: Re: Fwd: Help on mystery painting of Ramayana (?) episode

Klaus Karttunen klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi
Tue Aug 25 05:39:26 EDT 2015


Dear all,
from the Indian viewpoint the motif of external soul was long ago discussed by Ruth Norton:
“The Life-Index: A Hindu Fiction Motif”, Studies in honor of Maurice Bloomfield. New Haven 1920, 211–224.    

Best,
Klaus

Klaus Karttunen
South Asian and Indoeuropean Studies
Asian and African Studies, Department of World Cultures
PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B)
00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND
Tel +358-(0)2941 4482418
Fax +358-(0)2941 22094
Klaus.Karttunen at helsinki.fi






> On 25 Aug 2015, at 12:23, John Brockington <John.Brockington at btinternet.com> wrote:
> 
> 
> Subject:	Re: [INDOLOGY] Fwd: Help on mystery painting of Ramayana (?) episode
> Date:	Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:14:11 +0100
> From:	Mary Brockington <mary.brockington at btinternet.com> <mailto:mary.brockington at btinternet.com>
> 
> 
> 
> Dear all
> 
> Many thanks to Nityanand Misra for providing such a plausible identification, and for bringing to our attention yet another source book to be trawled for our inventory of Rāma narrative motifs.  It is all truly exciting, and yet another lesson to us scholars not to neglect the influence of non-written sources on visual tellers.  
> 
> I suppose the black speck in the middle of the dish is the [reflection of the] bee/wasp.  Might the almost-hidden female figure perhaps be Mandodarī?  Is there any explanation for Lakṣmaṇa’s feet being off the ground?  [The cynic in me links it to the requirement to stand for hours on a pan of boiling oil]  
> 
> The internationally widespread idea of the separable soul -- that villains are made all the more indestructible by having their vital organ located outside their body -- is manifested in increasingly fantastic ways throughout the Rāma tradition, and attached to several rākṣasas; Mahīrāvaṇa’s soul is also in a bee in the Thai Rāmakien, and is crushed by Hanumān to save the captive Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa.  The ‘soul in bee’ motif is not confined to the Rāma tradition: other examples are listed in The Oral Tales of India by Stith Thompson and Jonas Balys (Bloomington: Indiana U P, 1958) as motif E715.3, so there is no question of direct influence.
> 
> As for the severed hands, either they represent Rāma’s previous unsuccessful attempts to kill Rāvaṇa (in which case why haven’t they regenerated?), or (less plausibly) the beginning of his disintegration at the point of death.
> 
> It is intriguing that the hero is shown as Lakṣmaṇa; this is standard in Jain texts, but unusual elsewhere.  His celibacy as a qualification for special prowess (usually expressed as not having seen a woman’s face since the exile, and so unavailable to Rāma) is generally associated with being able to see the invisible Indrajit.
> 
> As always, solving one problem only raises other questions!  That’s what makes our profession so compelling and so rewarding.
> 
> 
> Mrs M. Brockington
> Research Fellow, International Association of Sanskrit Studies
> 113 Rutten Lane
> Yarnton
> Kidlington
> OX5 1LT
> U.K. 
> 
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