[INDOLOGY] Searching for a little-known Nyāya

Walter Slaje slaje at kabelmail.de
Sat Jun 27 03:33:07 EDT 2015


Suresh:

> Does any other Indian language show an equivalent of *śaśī-sarpa-nyāya?*


 Perhaps a “courageous-weak-female-conquers-physically-strong-male”
paradigm is the original notion at its basis. This could have found various
forms of expression, and the “*śaśī-sarpa*-nyāya” may very well have taken
shape as a witty ad-hoc Sanskritization of internalized popular sayings.
They might possibly draw on the behaviour of animals entirely different
from hares and snakes. As stated initially, I was immediately reminded of
Gandhiji’s “violence of the mouse against the cat”. On second thoughts
however – inspired by the empirical evidence of the “Go, Mr. Bunny, kill
that snake!” video – I have my doubts, whether such a nyāya would be
conceivable at all. Is it likely that a mouse behaves violently against a
cat, and that observations of that kind had really been made? Could Jan
possibly contribute a live video footage to solve this question? :-)


I changed upon three instances using a “weaker female / stronger male”
metaphor taken from the animal kingdom. The female (Queen Koṭā from
Kashmir) is compared to a mouse, to a (female) jackal, and to a bird
respectively, her male opponents however to a cat and a lion. Guess, who
wins! I for one failed to find traces of heroic courage in it.



Regards,

WS



Jonarāja’s *Rājataraṅgiṇī*



*saṅkaṭāt kampaneśas tāṃ kulāyād iva pakṣiṇīm *|

*jīvagrāhaṃ gṛhītvātha kārāpañjaram ānayat *|| JRT 286 ||

„[But] the commander captured her alive out of a defile as one catches a
bird out of its nest [and] then threw her into prison [just as one throws a
bird into] a cage.“





*nivṛttanetracārasya capalatvaikakāraṇam *|

*ākhur** bilagato votoś Śāhamerasya sābhavat* || [Ps-JRT 17, B 341] ||

„[Since] swift movement would set [someone’s] resting eyes in motion,
[Koṭā] behaved towards Šāh Mīr like a mouse in a hole towards a cat.“



*niruddhe balinā koṭaguhābhre matiśālinā* |

*nṛsiṃhenā**bhajat Koṭā sṛgālīva muhur bhayam* || JRT 302 ||

„Almost like a jackal Koṭā was suddenly seized with fear when the mighty,
clever man, who resembled a lion, besieged [her] towering refuge.“




2015-06-26 14:08 GMT+02:00 Suresh Kolichala <suresh.kolichala at gmail.com>:

> Valerie: aren't black-naped hares (*Lepus nigricollis*), also known as
> Indian hares, native to India? As you may know, Dravidian languages have a
> non-IA word for rabbit/hare: **mucal*/*muyal (*Telugu *kundēlu *is an
> interesting exception)*.* Are there any other non-IE words for hare in
> other Indian languages? I think the words *kharabhaka/ kharago**ś**  (*खरगोश)
> 'donkey's ears'  are of recent origin, and perhaps have a Persian
> connection.
>
> Elliot: You are right about the language in the video. It is indeed Telugu
> -- distinctly the Telangana variety. The kids are indeed speaking
> Americanized English. They must be one of the Telugu-American immigrant
> families.
>
> Walter:  I heard *mahānasa-śaśa-nyāya* (rabbit in the kitchen -- easy to
> catch) and *śaśa-viṣāṇa-nyāya* (a hare's horn -- a term for an
> impossibility), but not the one you mentioned. I know *śaśi as moon * (in
> compound form for*śaśin *is moon), but not as a feminine form of *śaśa. *Does
> any other Indian language show an equivalent of *śaśī-sarpa-nyāya?*
>
> Suresh.
>
> On Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 2:20 AM, Elliot Stern <emstern at verizon.net> wrote:
>
>> The National Geographic Society identifies the rabbit as a female
>> cottontail rabbit and the snake as a black rat snake {
>> http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150624-rabbits-snakes-animals-science-nation-video/).
>> It places the video source somewhere in the eastern United States. While I
>> have not set foot in India since 1982, I believe the architectural features
>> of the house and the lush green grass  in the video are more likely to be
>> American than Indian.
>>
>> The South Indian language is possibly Telugu. ammā is mother and nannā is
>> father. To my ear, the child’s English language  sounds more  American than
>> Indian.
>>
>>
>> Elliot M. Stern
>> 552 South 48th Street
>> Philadelphia, PA 19143-2029
>> United States of America
>> telephone: 215-747-6204
>> mobile: 267-240-8418
>> emstern at verizon.net
>>
>> On 26 Jun  2015, at 01:40, Valerie Roebuck <vjroebuck at btinternet.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> One odd thing: the animal in the video does indeed appear to be a rabbit,
>> as distinct from a hare. I thought that rabbits were not native to India,
>> and that the word śaśa referred to a hare (the words ‘hare’ and ‘śaśa'
>> probably being cognates). Of course, they may well behave in the same way
>> when their young are threatened, but they are different species.
>>
>> Valerie J Roebuck
>> Manchester, UK
>>
>> On 25 Jun 2015, at 23:49, Walter Slaje <slaje at kabelmail.de> wrote:
>>
>> This video is so convincing that the idea of a śaśīsarpanyāya develops
>> all by itself, even without ever having heard of it before. Great!
>>
>> Jan's likely assumption that this textually unattested nyāya might "have
>> been based on actual observation" reminds one all the more painfully of our
>> insufficient knowledge of realia and the material culture of pre-modern
>> India.
>>
>> Speaking of nyāyas - and we may as well include the kavi-samayas, the
>> ideological and material roots of which still remain unexplored by and
>> large -, I should like to draw your attention to a promising rumour
>> according to which the Indological Section of the DMG (German Oriental
>> Society) consider a prize competition for cracking the history of
>> development of some of the toughest nyāya- and kavisamaya-nuts. This might
>> possibly materialize in the broader context of the 33rd Deutscher
>> Orientalistentag to be held from the 18th to the 22nd of September 2017
>> in Jena, Germany (the domain of, among others, Otto von Böhtlingk and the
>> Schlegel brothers).
>> I am not well informed enough, but would advise an occasional glance at
>> the homepage of the Section (http://www.dmg-web.de/indologie/index.html)
>> in the run-up to the Orientalistentag in 2017. So, plenty of time for
>> warming-up.
>>
>> Many thanks, and kind regards,
>> WS
>>
>>
>> 2015-06-25 13:40 GMT+02:00 Patrick Olivelle <jpo at uts.cc.utexas.edu>:
>>
>>> Walter and all:
>>>
>>> I do not know abut this maxim, but this real life video of a mother
>>> rabbit doing just what the maxim say could be instructive. It was probably
>>> filmed somewhere in south India, I am not sure of the language of the
>>> people taping it.
>>>
>>> Patrick
>>>
>>> http://*zeenews.india.com*
>>> /news/world/watch-the-epic-fight-here-rabbit-battling-a-snake-to-protect-her-bunnies_1619126.html
>>> <http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/watch-the-epic-fight-here-rabbit-battling-a-snake-to-protect-her-bunnies_1619126.html>
>>>
>>> The South Indian language is possibly Telugu.
>>>
>>> On Jun 25, 2015, at 3:24 AM, Walter Slaje <slaje at kabelmail.de> wrote:
>>>
>>> Dear Colleagues,
>>>
>>>
>>> I am searching for textual evidence of a little-known Nyāya.
>>>
>>>
>>> In an article by Soutik Biswas “Why India's sanitation crisis kills
>>> women” (BBC News India, 30 May 2014), it was claimed that “Several studies
>>> have shown that women without toilets at home are vulnerable to sexual
>>> violence when travelling to and from public facilities or open fields.
>>> [...]“. One mother told researchers, “We have had *one-on-one fights
>>> with thugs in order to save our daughters from getting raped*. It then
>>> becomes a fight that either you [the thug] *kill me to get to my
>>> daughter*, or you back off.”
>>>
>>>
>>> This courageous behaviour of mothers fighting for her girls at the risk
>>> of their own lives reminds one of the *śaśī-sarpa-nyāya* (“the bunny
>>> and the snake”), known to some by hearsay only, but not (yet) traceable.
>>> The generalization here lies certainly in the fact that a (physically
>>> weaker) female (*śaśī*) effectively fights a (physically stronger) male
>>> (*sarpa*). The latter would be the aggressor(s), the victim(s) the
>>> (female) bunny and/or her young.
>>>
>>>
>>> The rare feminine formation *śaśī* causes no real trouble, as
>>> occurrences of the word are anyway testified in the *Mokṣopāya*
>>> (VI.34.103) and in Ratnākaraśānti’s *Vidagdhavismāpana* (175) [written
>>> communication by Roland Steiner].
>>>
>>>
>>> In connection of the very idea behind this nyāya, I should also like to
>>> add that Gandhi could indeed have been aware of a similar popular maxim, as
>>> he refers explicitly to “the violence of *the mouse against the cat*“,
>>> writing that
>>>
>>>
>>> “A girl who attacks her assailant with her nails, if she has grown them,
>>> or with her teeth, *if she has them* [? W.S.], is almost non-violent
>>> (...). Her violence is the violence of the mouse against the cat.“ (Harijan,
>>> 08-09-1940).
>>>
>>>
>>> On the other hand, Gandhi had
>>>
>>> „(...) always held that it is physically impossible to violate a woman
>>> against her will. (…) If she cannot meet the assailant’s physical might,
>>> her purity will give her the strength to die before he succeeds in
>>> violating her. (…) I know that women are capable of throwing away their
>>> lives for a much lesser purpose.” (Harijan, 25-08-1940).
>>>
>>>
>>> The statement in the last paragraph, only cited for its somewhat
>>> conflicting character with the first one, would, if further pursued,
>>> however lead into an entirely different matter, better not to be touched.
>>>
>>>
>>> I would be fully satisfied if someone among this learned community could
>>> contribute to the mysterious* śaśīsarpanyāya*, on- or off-list.
>>>
>>>
>>> Thanking you,
>>>
>>> WS
>>>
>>> -----------------------------
>>> Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
>>> Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
>>> D-99425 Weimar
>>> Deutschland
>>>
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