Peacocks and Poison--one last time

Leonard Zwilling zwilling at FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Wed Mar 10 22:01:49 UTC 1999

Having put this query out some time ago and not having received any
repsonses, I'd like to try  one last time in the hope that perhaps a more
recent arrival to the list might be able to help me out. In a Tibetan text
I'm working with, "The Antidotal Peacock", which purports to be a
translation from the Skt (which I doubt), peacocks are said to thrive on
poisonous plants which they prefer for their food, and the ingestion of
which is said to be the cause for the brilliance of their tail feathers.
This theme of the poison ingesting peacock is found elsewhere in Tibetan
literature, most significantly in Sakya Pandita's
SubhASitaratnanidhi and, as R.A. Stein has written, that as Sakya
Pandita was, among Tibetan scholars, the  most steeped in Sanskritic
learning, it is likely to be an Indian tradition. Is anyone familiar with
this bit of peacock lore?

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