pots, brahmin names, and potters

Artur Karp hart at POLBOX.COM
Sun Dec 13 23:19:57 UTC 1998

At 12:26 12.12.98 +0100, Georg v. Simson wrote:

>In the Sanskrit MPS (51.2,6; 51.8), too, the bones are divided into eight
>parts (but the text has to be reconstructed here after the Tibetan Vinaya
>>General question: Could that mean that what he was dividing was
>>sarIraTThaka - "the [consisting of eight parts] bony framework of the body"?
>An interesting idea. But it may also be (and this is, as far as I remember,
>Bareau's explanation) that the tradition happened to know about eight
>zarIrastUpas. As the story goes, the relics are divided into eight parts
for >political reasons.


Dear Dr. Simson,

Thank you for your patience in answering my questions. I do hope you would
be able to withstand two more.

<As the story goes, the relics are divided into eight parts for political

One understands well, why AjAtasattu, the king of Magadha, and the six
tribes (the Licchavis of VesAlI, the Sakyas of KApilavatthu, the Bulis of
Allakappa, the Kolis of RAmagAma, the Mallas of PAvA and the Mallas of
KusinArA) would want to possess the relics of the Buddha.

However, one of the eight recipients of the relics does not seem to
represent any power, and yet also he obtains the full share [bhAga] of the
relics. He is a brahmin and he is either called VeThadIpaka, or he comes
from a place named VeThadIpa.

What is his name in the Sanskrit MPS? Does Bareau write anything about him?

VeThadIpa is not present at the funeral ceremony. The message he sends to
the Mallas of KusinArA to inform them about the validity of his claim
doesn't contain any hint of humility.

DoNa is his opposite. He is present at the funeral ceremony. Although he
personally divides the relics into eight portions, he isn't entitled to a
share in them. In order to obtain the urn he has to humbly ask for it.

As they are entitled to 'primary relics'[bhAge], the king, the six tribes
and the brahmin VeThadIpa seem to form a higher status group.  The lower
status group is entitled to only 'secondary relics' and is represented by
the tribe of Moriyas of Pipphalivana, who as late-comers have to satisfy
themselves with the ashes [angAram], and the brahmin DoNa who is given the
empty urn [kumbha].

As seen from the text, the relative hierarchy of the tribes is based on the
opposition between early and late entrants. As far as the brahmins are
concerned, their hierarchy seems to rest on the opposition between being
uninvolved or involved in the handling and division of the relics.

It may well be that in order to get to know more about DoNa (and his type
of brahminhood), we would have to know more about VeThadIpa.


Artur Karp

University of Warsaw

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