Etymology of puujaa

Pratap Kumar kumar at
Thu Oct 12 11:52:21 UTC 1995

Hi, Michael,  
Nice to read your views from time to time.  I learned a great deal from 
you during my stay at the CSWR.  

Speaking of puucu and puuja -- and the idea of smearing the guests--

In Hindu weddings and also in traditional Hindu homes in some parts of 
India (e.g., Andhra Pradesh) when a guest comes,he or she is smeared with 
Turmeric paste mixed with sandalwood paste either just under the chin and 
on the neck area or on the feet.  Thus there might be some relationship 
with the idea of honouring the guest. 

Pratap Kumar

On Sat, 7 Oct 1995 witzel at HUSC3.HARVARD.EDU wrote:

> Regarding the recent discussion.
> Axel Michaels correctly stated Thieme's and Buehnemann's discussions of 
> the word.
> >>>
> 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.
> >>>>
> While the etymology remains unclear, it should be taken into accoun that 
> the word, or rather the root, PUUJ occurs even in the Rgveda, though well 
> hidden in an epithet of Indra: zacI-pUjana- 
> This has nothing to do with Indra's (later!, "Homeric" wife, ZacI).
> 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. 
> You don't smear your teacher or guests (at least not in India)  -----  not 
> even with ointment. 
> (The tilaka/tiika is a question appart, with a rather surprising origin)....
> Though I hesitate to engage in guru-nindaa of my teacher P. Thieme,
> it has to be said that the early occurence makes his particular Prakritic 
> etymology (from which type of unattested Prakrit/Vedic popular speech?) rather 
> unlikely. Details on the Vedic state of things in WZKS XXIV (1980), 
> pp. 21 sqq. --  Thieme's etymology has been critized long ago by Katre.

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