Q: mArjArahatyA

David R. Israel davidi at mail.wizard.net
Sat Sep 6 17:21:37 UTC 1997

Regarding Bob Hueckstedt's question --

> In a short story that is used by many of us Hindi teachers in the
> intermediate level, "PrAya"scit" by Bhagavati Charan Varma, a cat is
> apparently killed near the beginning of the story. The pandit, who
> is fat and obviously trying to milk this one for all it's worth,
> tells the guilty family that the killing of a cat is as bad as
> brahminicide. Did he, or the Hindi author, just make that up? Is
> there a source for that in nIti"sAstra or dharma"sAstra somewhere? 

this veers far afield from said sAstra literature, and probably even 
from Indology (unless someone might be able to fill in possible 
Indic Buddhological lines that connect w/ this dot) -- but this query 
immediately brought to mind a charming book that merits passing 
mention.  It's a children's storybook, *The Cat That Went To Heaven* 
(published, I'd guess, in the 1970s or so in the U.S.) -- I forget 
the author's name.  The tale has a Japanese setting, involving a 
temple-commissioned painted depiction of Gautama Buddha, to be  
surrounded (somewhat St. Francis-like) by a gathering of animals.  
The scene in question is to represent a moment prior to the 
Paranirvana, when (evidently according to certain tales) the Buddha 
bid a fond farewell -- or presented blessings / teachings -- to a 
wide Noah-boat-gathered-ish variety of sentient species.

The painter is sternly advised that a cat is not to be included (for 
reasons that, alas, escape memory).  The painter, in preparation for 
executing the painting, contemplates the sweep of the traditional 
life of the Sakyamuni -- and his household cat likewise participates 
in this several-day meditation.  As one might anticipate, a miracle 
occurs, evidently on behalf of the cat (whose devotion was a theme of 
the little tale), suggesting that this late cat managed to attract 
blessings to the feline brood after all.

I've no idea what relationship this storybook may have with 
traditional Japanese (or antecedent) Buddhist sources, but shouldn't 
be surprised if there were some olden bases to it.  On the face of 
it, it seems to suggest (possibly) ideas somewhat antithetical to the 
assertion of the money-grubbing Pandit of your tale -- which in 
might be in keeping with that story's sense of an absurd claim?

   >    david   raphael   israel    <
   >>      washington  d.c.      <<
 |  davidi at mail.wizard.net   (home)
 |  disrael at skgf.com       (office)
 |   thy centuries follow each other
 |   perfecting a small wild flower
 |                                       (Tagore)

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list