Baring the right shoulder

thillaud at thillaud at
Wed Oct 2 23:20:47 UTC 1996

>> In circumambulating a stupa or shrine, isn't it the right shoulder that is
>> pointed towards the sacred object?
>Yes, but the shoulder is not the reason one circumambulates
>clockwise.  Rather, it is just to keep the holy shrine or deity
>to the right of one's self at all times, as a sign of respect.
>As is well known, the poor left hand is kept out of the way due
>to its use for certain cleansing tasks.

I'm sorry but I can't agree. The anjali too is a mark of respect and both
hands are visible! And, as French, I'm not hinduist (except, as scholar, a
true devotion towards Ganesha) but I suppose you are everyway clean before
any religious act.
Otherwise, to make the pradaksina is not specifically an indian ritual: we
have celtic and latin testimonies and, very recently in France, ritual
processions made the pradaksina around fountains (Louis Dumont, La
Tarasque). And in France, there is no restriction on the use of the left
Alas, I would like but I don't know the original meaning of the pradaksina
(I don't believe the old idea of the running of the sun).
At last, back to the original question, I think, as dumezilian, that:
1) we can't dissociate freely the naked shoulder and the hand clapping!
2) we need the true text, not just a english translation!
3) and if the text says: "he bared his right shoulder", that prove the type
of garment  has nothing to do with the gesture (if your shoulder is already
naked, you can't do it).

Dominique Thillaud - Universite de Nice - Sophia Antipolis
email : thillaud at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list