New Message

Narayan S. Raja raja at galileo.IFA.Hawaii.Edu
Wed Oct 2 01:03:31 UTC 1996

On Wed, 2 Oct 1996, Peter J. Claus wrote:

> A colleague asked me about the significance of the
> repeated phrase in a particular Buddhist sutra.  It
> begins each of the discourses of the Buddha, after he
> arrived at a meeting place and is greeted.  The phrase
> is translated:
> "He (the questioner) bared his right shoulder and
> clasped his hands ...."
> What is the significance of "baring the right
> shoulder"?  It is not, to my knowledge, a practice
> found generally in India today, nor even in
> ethnographic literature.  

In some South Indian temples (especially in Kerala, 
but also in Tamil Nadu) males are required to remove 
their upper body clothing before entering the temple.  
An example is the famous Guruvayoor temple in Kerala.

Also, when meeting the "Aandavan", a highly-respected 
religious figure among the Tamil Srivaishnava
community, it was proper respectful etiquette for all 
of us males to remove our upper clothing and be 

I have no idea if this custom is directly related to 
the practice mentioned in your Buddhist sutra, but 
based on my upbringing, I would have imagined that
it is a similar gesture of respect. 



More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list