dakinis (was: bones and flesh)

Sat Nov 13 00:47:10 UTC 1999

Hello, Ulrich !

My hypothesis in outline is as follows:

1.    The earliest known occurence of the term ".daakinii" is in the
Gangdhar stone found at the site of old ruins in Gangaadhara, 52 miles
SW of Jhalrapatan, Jhalawar State dated 424CE.  It especially
emphasizes the shouting and tumultuous noise made by the .daakiniis.
The term may have been use a little earlier as it seems to occur in
the Meat-eating Chapter of the Lankavatara Sutra.

2.    I would link the use of the word .daakinii with the early Gupta
conquest / occupation of the Kalinga area which covered much of the
places inhabited by Austro-asiatic speakers.

3.    The word "gho.sa" is linked almost synonymously with ".daaka".
It should also be noted that the "gho.sinii" who are attendants to
Rudra in the Atharva-veda are the precursors of the .daakiniis.
".Daamarii" is given as alternative for ".daakinii" is several

4.    Traditionally, the derivation of ".daakinii" is supposed to be
.dii (to fly) but this is obviously problematic.  In any case the term
is not IE / Sanskritic in origin.  If we look at words used for witch
/ shaman / drumming / summoning is NE Indian languages we see:

.daaka - (vb):  shout, call aloud, send for.
.daak[a]:   a shout, a loud call.
.daaka:   a male shaman, occult practitioner
.daakinii:  a female shaman, occult practitioner
.daa'nka:  an expert in occult practice
.daa'nkaa:  i) a type of drum; ii) the drum beating announcing a
challenge from an occult practitioner.
Etymological Dictionary of Bengali (Sukumar Sen)

.daaka:   1.  a sorcerer  2. loud sound, roaring some, call, summons
.daaki:   hourglass-shaped drum
.daakiba:  (vb) to call, to summon, to invite, to shout
.daakinii:   a sorceress, a witch
.daa'nkinii:   a sorceress, a witch
.daa'nkunii:   a sorceress, witch
.daa'nkenii:  a sorceress, a witch

.da.mri:   wizard
.da.mri era:   witch

.dan:    witch

The root of the word is thus likely to be ".dam" with a IE suffix.
It is probably to be linked also with the ".domba" caste who were
drummers, and with ".damaru", ".damari" etc.
I initially though the nasal in some forms of ".daakinii" above might
be prosthetic but it is actually characteristic of Austroasiatic
languages and is usualy dropped when loan-words .   Paul Manansala
also kindly provided me with a list of possibly cognate Austronesian
words which hint at links between drumming and witches.

There is more but I hope this is of interest.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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