pots, brahmin names, and potters

Artur Karp hart at POLBOX.COM
Fri Dec 18 02:34:01 UTC 1998

 At 23:36 13.12.98 EST, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan wrote:

>It seems as though the social separation of
>brahmins from potters had not been completed at the time.The Mahabharata
>episode where the pANDavas disguised as brahmins staying in a potter's house
>also seems to reflect this.

What is lost in some translations of the Mbh (I haven't checked Van
Buitenen though) is the fact that the text of the SvayaMvaraparvan calls
the potter at first kumbhakAra and then bhArgava [kumbhakAra(sya zAlAyAM),
bhArgava(vezma), bhArgava(karmazAlAM), bhArgava(sya nivezane)]. The
disguises are then on both the sides: kshatriyas disguised as brahmins stay
with the potter who is 'disguised' as a bhArgava (brahmin). If I remember
well, Pali texts know two cases of potters being actually called bhaggavas.

A nice hint of social dynamics.

Just to make sure that the reader sees through the potter's 'disguise', the
commentary to the Kumbakonam edition of the Mbh (Srimanmahabharatam..., I,
Bombay 1906, p. 350) takes care to explain bhArgavavezma (abode of BhRguid)
as kulAlagRhaM (house of potter).


Artur Karp

University of Warsaw

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