Re Potala(ka), etc

Fri Feb 26 21:01:59 UTC 1999

Dear Tamil specialists,

Since the wording of my last posting
has raised comments by Swaminathan Madhuresan
and by Venkatraman Iyer, I feel compelled to break
my word not say anything for a few days
and to explain what I meant (I may have been too terse ...)
in the 2 points [(A) & (B)] that were commented

(A) I said
>> As for geography, I very much doubt one can make any
>> precise deduction from it.

I have been looking for potiyil (and also for potiyam and malayam)
in several texts. Some have a real basis like the Akam text
that refers to titiyan2. Some are purely fiction stories
like the manimEkalai passages where we see a viJcaiyan2.
And it is still another situation with this passage
that was discussed just now
where we see Agastya and Indra.

To sum up, these MaNimEkalai passages cannot be read
as coming from a geography book.

(B) I said
>> the text says "arum tavan2" (stern ascetic);
>> the commentator interprets this as designating Agastya;
>> then the translator takes the short road :-)
>> Similarly the equation "malayam"="potiyil malai"
>> found in the commentary becomes a substitution in the translation.

I was not criticizing the equation (how could I?)

I never said that the commentator was wrong
 (that would have been silly indeed ...)

I was REMARKING that you could not know from the english translation
(mismanaged by Danielou)
what THE EXACT WORDING of the original Tamil was.
The whole idea was that people not knowing Tamil
could take part in a discussion where an important aspect
was to understand what was the precise usage of two words
(potiyil and malayam).

As my teacher (T.V.Gopal Iyer) once remarked:
some students simply want to understand
the poruL ([general] meaning) of a text!
other students also want to understand the words (col).
But it takes much more time.

Best regards. Sorry for my clumsy wording
 (one more reason to keep silent).


N.Ganesan wrote

>Prof. P. Schalk, Uppsala university once informed me that
>the word 'potiyil' is found in a Tamil inscription excavated
>from Abhayagiri vihara (Anuradhapura)., a hot bed of Mahayana
>activity in ancient times in Ceylon.
>Does anyone know where this inscription is published?
>In Sangam Tamil texts, 'potiyil' has two meanings:
>1) As Mt. Potiyil (modern Potikai) and 2) as "public hall".
>How many are Mount Potiyil and how many "public halls"
>will be known once Dr. Chevillard gives all the data.
>My guess is that the Abhayagiri vihAra inscription in Tamil
>mentioning 'Potiyil' will be short and fragmentary and,
>Hence, it will be hard to decide whether 'potiyil'
>refers to Mt. Potiyil or "public hall".

It seems that Venkatraman Iyer is having Tamil literature
at the tip of his fingers. It is probably better if he finishes
the enquiry about potiyil :-)

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