public works in Ramayana

cardona at cardona at
Sat Nov 30 15:42:34 UTC 1996

>        In the 80th sarga of the Ayodhyakanda, Valmiki relates the building
>of a road, specially in slokas 1-10 the clearing and levelling. Many terms
>are not very clear to me, trades, objects ans actions; few examples:
>        bhumiipradezajnaaH are geographers, geologists or surveyors ?
>        what about the viiraNastambaaH, just weeding ?
>        what are the nimnabhaagaaH, marshes or ponds (opposite to sthalaani) ?
>        and then what about bandh-, kSud- and bhid- (confine, empty, drain ?) ?
>        etc.

I don't have access to the Princeton translation at the moment, since we're
on vacation (Thanksgiving holiday), but it may be of use to note what the
commentators have to say on the passage in question (2.80 = critical ed.
2.74): bhuumipradezajnaa.h: either those who are expert concerning areas
where the land is low, high and so on (Govindaraaja:
nimnonnataadipradezajnaa.h), know different areas (Govindaraaja: yad vaa
naanaadezavida.h), or expert in  areas where the land has underground water
or is arid and so on (Tilaka: anta.hsajalanirjalaadibuumipradezajnaa.h).
viira.nastambaan ... vidhamanti: Tilaka comes close to 'weeding':
viira.nastambaan vidhamanti hastaabhyaam eva ni.hsaarayanti.  Govindaraaja
interprets this as burning off clumps of grass that have such
fixed roots that they cannot cut: viira.nastambaan viira.nat.r.nkaa.n.daan
vidhamanti sma adahan. dhmaa zabdaagnivakrasa.myogayo.h ity asmaad dhaator
dhamaadeza.h. balina.h ruu.dhmuulaan chettum azakyaan ity artha.h. The
Tattvadiipikaa interprets vidhamanti to mean be tantamount to chindanti
(vidhamanti vik.sepanti chindantiiti yaavat).  It is doubtful that
nimnabhaaga could mean 'marshes, ponds' in the passage in question: tata.h kecit samaa.m cakru.h; rather, after clearing,
levelling is done, making the way level.  bandh, k.sud and bhid: 'confine,
empty' are to be doubted.  The commentators are doubtless right in taking
the first to refer to building bridges: they connected the areas to be
connected (babandhur ca) with bridges [sc. setubhi.h];
smoothed the rocky surfaces by crushing the stones on them (e.g., Tilaka:
k.sodyaan k.sodaniiyaan zarkaraabhuuyi.s.thapradezaan sa.mcuk.suduz
cuur.nayaam aasu.h). 'drain' is appropriate in general, though bibhidur
bhedaniiyaan refers to the places (banks) which had to be broken up to let
water out.  Hope this helps.  George Cardona

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