pots, brahmin names, and potters

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO
Fri Dec 11 16:52:59 UTC 1998

Dear Dr. Palaniappan,

I am afraid there is no "traditional explanation" of the name
dhUmrasagotra. Andre Bareau discusses the episode in detail in his book
PARINIRVANA ET LES FUNERAILLES, Vol. II (Paris 1971), pp. 288 ff. He also
discusses the Chinese  versions of the name (my translations of Bareau's
French: "Lineage of the Perfumes" referring possibly to a Sanskrit name
dhUpagotra, and "Lineage of Smoke") and is of the opinion that these names
are invented to connect this brahmin in one way or the other with the smoke
of the funeral pile or with the incense offered to the relics. They are
certainly not "common names for brahmins", but ad hoc inventions (dhUmra
meaning "smoky", from dhUma, "smoke").
   Bareau mentions also the possibility that the name droNa might be
invented to allude to the urn which this brahmin receives, but he, too,
sees the problem that the urn is called kumbha and that droNa "at least in
principle" should mean "a wooden vessel". By the way, droNa appears also in
the Sanskrit version, namely as the name of the village where the brahmin
comes from.
   I am inclined to see a connection of droNa (also of the droNa of the
Mahabharata) with fire, and I favour, therefore, the derivation from
dru/dAru "wood" (proposed in Mayrhofer's Etymologisches Woerterbuch des
Altindischen. But he does not seem do be quite sure!). An article of mine
where I touch the subject in passing is in print.


>Dear Dr. Simson,
>In a message dated 98-12-11 09:57:32 EST, you write:
><< This is the kumbha that later on
> (51.17) is given to the brahmin who in the Pali MPS is called doNa and in
> the Sanskrit version dhUmrasagotra. >>
>I would appreciate if you could give the traditional explanation of the name
>dhUmrasagotra. Also is this a common name for brahmins? Thanks in advance.
>S. Palaniappan

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