Color of Skin

D.H. Killingley D.H.Killingley at
Fri May 16 08:33:14 UTC 1997

Yes, there is a similar work attributed to Asvaghosa, attacking the idea
of varna from the Buddhist standpoint (though the Buddhist affiliation is
not obvious; in fact, Launcelot Wilkinson who edited to first printed
edition in 1839 did not at that time know it was Buddhist.
	The two texts were published together by Sujit Kumar Mukhopadhyaya
(_The VajrasUcI of AzvaghoSa_, 1st edn, Santiniketan, 1950; 2nd enlarged
edn, Santiniketan, 1960). The two have often been confused, but they are
different texts although using the same basic idea. There is some
uncertainty which is earlier and which is an imitation of the other, but
Mukhopadhyaya puts the Buddhist one earlier, on the grounds that the
sastric texts it quotes are from the Vedas, MBh and Manu, while the
VajrasUcI UpaniSad quotes Puranas also. 

Dr Dermot Killingley
Dept of Religious Studies
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
Phone 0191 222 6730    Fax 0191 222 5185

On Thu, 15 May 1997, Paliath Narendran wrote:

> D.H. Killingley wrote: 
> > There is a text which _denies_ the correlation between varna and skin 
> > colour: the _VajrasUcI Upanishad_. This text has been printed many times; 
> > the most accessible is in Radhakrishnan's _Principal Upanishads_. There 
> > is a substantially different recension published by A. Weber in 
> > Abhandlungen der Ko"niglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 
> > (1859), pp. 205-6. Rammohun Roy published a version which shows some 
> > similarities to Weber's as against the usual recension (reprinted 
> > in _rAmamohana granthAbalI, part 4, pp. 45-8). 
> Isn't there a work _vajrasuucii_ attributed to the poet
> aSvaghosha?  I recall reading a Malayalam translation of it, by
> Prof. E.R.  Sreekrishna Sharma, long ago. If I remember right, it
> is also an attack on the ` by birth' approach.
> Any relation between this and the upanishad? Is aSvaghosha's work a
> commentary on the upanishad?
> Another question on colours in the Mahabharata: wasn't Draupadi
> dark (krshNaa)?
> Narendran
> -- 
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> Paliath Narendran
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