pots, brahmin names, and potters

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Fri Dec 18 06:33:29 UTC 1998

Dear Dr. Karp,

In a message dated 12/16/98 9:46:04 AM Central Standard Time, hart at POLBOX.COM

> Now - returning to the potters. The Pali TipiTaka knows quite a number of
>  them, and I believe it would be worthwhile to have a closer look at all
>  those personages.
>  One of them is a potter's son Dhaniya, who being already a Buddhist monk,
>  uses his familial skills and makes himself a 'house of clay' -
>  (sabba-)mattikA-mayaM kuTikam. The Pali expression reminds one of the Vedic
>  mRGmayaM gRham [RV VII,89.1; hymn to Yama]. It's a highly interesting
>  parallel and I am now preparing a paper on it.
>  The Pali text (Vinaya II.1.1-2) suggests that this house is not the typical
>  adobe construction, but rather a large urn - baked and red in color. On
>  seeing it, the Buddha orders the house of Dhaniya to be immediately
>  destroyed.
The following is part of a posting of mine  titled  "potters, philosophers,
and kings", dated November 5, 1997.

"In an earlier posting, I had cited a reference in jAbAla upaniSad which
included the potter’s shed as one of the places of stay of
seers/philosophers. As I investigate the connection between potters and
philosophers, more interesting facts keep appearing. PaiGgala upaniSad 1.12
says, "The Omniscient lord possessed of a particle of mAyA, on entering the
several bodies and getting deluded by it attained the state of the individual
soul. By identification with the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal) he
attained the state of the doer and the enjoyer, ever performing the functions
of waking, dreaming, sleeping, fainting and dying, he twirls round and round,
like a potter’s wheel, as if dead though alive, in keeping with the adage
relating to the potter’s wheel." (I wonder what the adage is.)

We also find that gozAla maskarIputra, the founder of the AjIvika sect lived
in the shed of a female potter in the city of ZrAavastI. Prince siddhArta on
his renunciation was supposed to have received the outward marks of an arhant
from the demi-god ghaTikAra. (ghaTikAra means "potter".)  In a story in
samyutta nikAya, when a buddhist monk , vakkali, falls ill, he is moved to a
potter’s workshop and Buddha visits him there. In another story, Buddha
taught pukkusAti the noble the sutta of the system of elements in the house
of a potter."

Please also check the following postings of mine in the Indology archives.
There are other related postings as well.

97/11/06 Question on bhRgus
97/11/08 Re: Question on bhRgus
98/04/25 Leiden plates, other inscriptions, and potters

When the mahAbhArata potter is called bhArgava, there is no "disguise". As you
will note from the above postings, the bhRgus were Dravidian potter-priest-
warriors  who adopted IA culture quite early.

S. Palaniappan

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