Etymology of puujaa

Mon Oct 9 09:57:45 UTC 1995

On Sat, 7 Oct 1995 witzel at HUSC3.HARVARD.EDU wrote:
> according to G. Buehnemann (Puujaa. Vienna 1988, p. 30) the etymology of
>   puujaa has not yet been explained convincingly. Mayrhofer (Kurzgefasstes
>   etymologisches Woerterbuch des Altindischen. 4 vols. Heidelberg 1965-80)
>   suggest a derivation from Tamil puucu 'to smeare'. However, Thieme (Kleine
>   Schriften, p. 792) connects the word with *pRn^ca kR 'to prepare a mixture
>   for someone'. As far as I know there there is no final conclusion regarding
> > its etymology. Buehnemann gives a fair account of the various positions.
..> the word, or rather the root, PUUJ occurs even in the Rgveda, though 
well > hidden in an epithet of Indra: zacI-pUjana- 
> Further, the root occurs in names in Katha and Maitr. Samhita. It becomes 
> more common only in the Vedic Kalpa Sutras. The old meaning seems to be "to 
> honor" (also in early grammarians: Patanjali or Katyayana [I don't 
> remember which]: rajnaam puujitah) .-- not anything like "to smear" as  
> suggested by Dravidian. 
....I suggest that prakrts provide a set of semantic clusters which may
explain the etymology with a bit more precision.
Prof. Witzel does not have to do guru-nindanA of prof. Thieme...
Re: Etymology of pUjA

pU, pU(z,,j) are phonemes which evolve in three semantic clusters in
South Asian language streams:

(1) flowering, menstruation; (2) to adorn; and (3) to smear, clean; present.

pUjA =  worshipping is perhaps related to the semantic compound:
presenting flowers, i.e. a compounding of semantic clusters 1 and 3.

Linking pUjA with smearing and cleaning may be explained by a semantic
compound; pU = to blossom (Tamil) X jhasAI = anointing (PunjAbI); jaS, 
jhaS =
to hurt (Skt.); jhAsA = inflicting injury upon one's self (GujarAti, 

(1) Semantics: flowering, menstruation:

pU (-ttal) to blossom, bloom (pUtta mA-attu: ainkuRu.10)(Sangam Tamil);
pU flower (Old Kannada); pUppu menstruation (pUppinpuRappa TIrARu nALum :
TolkAppiyam.PoruL. 187)(Old Tamil); puppham = a flower; the menses
(AbhidhAnappadIpika, 238, 1091: Pali)

(2) Semantics: to adorn

pUcal = decoration (Tamil: CUTA.); pU = ornamental plate on the forehead
of an elephant (pUnutal yAnaioTu :puRanAnURu. 165 Sangam Tamil);
pUTci, pUN = ornament (Maturaik. 569 Old Tamil); bhUS to adorn, decorate;
bhUSaNam = ornament

(3) Semantics: to smear, clean; present

pUcu-tal = to besmear, anoint (nIRu pUci nimicaTai mERpiRai :
tEvAram. 627,5 : Old Tamil)
sprz = to touch, fel wih the hand, stroke : DhAtupATha xxviii);
sparza = touching; sprSTa = touched (Skt.);
paricam = sense of touch (puRatuLa paricankaNIttanan :
Old Tamil: jnAnavA. vItaka. 47; sparza = touch, contact;
philosopher's stone (MarAThi);
pochnA, pochA denA = to smear the cooking place or floor (PunjAbI);
smIcar = to daub (GujarAti); poncArNe = to punch and thump,
to beat with the fist (clothes in washing them);
ponjDa = filthy, foul, dirty -- a person (MarAThi)

pUjA = offering (AbhidhAnappadIpika, 425: Pali); to offer, present
(Dhammapadam, 20,35:Pali);
paricam = a concubine's fee: Cilap. 3,163, urai. Tamil) (perhaps influenced
by semantic: sparzanam = touch);

pUta = pure, puified, cleansed (MarAThi) (cf. pustakam = book (Skt.);
puttakam : puttakamE cAlattoruttum : NalaTi, 318 Old Tamil);
pusta = working in clay; pusta-karman = plastering (Skt.)
fr. pU to make clear (DhAtup. xxxi,12); pUto = purified
(AbhidhAnappadIpika, 44: Pali)(cf. punAti);
pustI = a paper pasted behind another paper (MarAThi)

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman mdsaaa48 at

Indus Sarasvati Research Centre, 20/7 Warren Road,
Mylapore, Madras 600004. Tel. 91-44-4936288; Fax. 91-44-4996380

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