dakinis (was: bones and flesh)

RM.Krishnan poo at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN
Sun Nov 14 14:51:15 UTC 1999

At 11/13/99 12:47:00 AM, you wrote:
>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
Dear Mr.Hodge,

There is a word in Tamil 'takkaNangku/ takkaNi'. She is an attendent pUtam  (sorceress, witch - it could also mean an
aborigine maid) of Goddess UmA. Even Godess UmA is called takkayiNi/takshAyiNi in prakrit/sanskrit, since she
was the daughter of takkaN/takshaN.  'takkaNam' is of course south in Tamil.

takkaNangku can afflict a male and lead to bodily sufferings. You need to do orderly penance to come out of the
sufferings. I don't know whether it would be related to your view point here.

On the other hand, if you belive the word dakini is related to 'damaru - drum', then why only Bengali, Oriya, Ho and
Santali? I quote below a number of words in Tamil related to the same idea. One can perhaps do the same in Telugu,
Kannada and others. I believe the origin of these words are through imitative sounds obtained by hitting a drum. Even
the English word 'drum' (it is often a practice in Indo - European to add r in the second position by changing 'du' to 'dru')
is related to your damaru.

I believe many un-related languages might have similar words arising out of imitating sounds ultimately.. To attribute
the origins of such words to one single language (Austro-asiatic) may not be correct. These imitating sounds could
have been part of a sound baggage carried by early man before languages got identified into separate families.

Now the tamil words:

tampaTTam/tampaTTai - drum
tamputal - hitting
tamakan2 - ironsmith (since he hits the heated iron to form various products of smithy)
tamarukam - also called as uTukkai, small hour-glass shaped drum in the hands of performers. Even Lord siva, in the
form of naTarAja has tamarukam
tamAram - Big drum
tamukku - also called as paRai, drum, (if any announcements or orders are to made in villages, even today, one beats
the tamukku and  the message is passed in loud voice.). The term 'paRai' had also caused many unfortunate caste
problems, since the drummers caste was called paRaiyars.
tATan2am - beating a drum to a certain beat. It is also a gesture in 'barata nATTiyam' dance.
taTAri - a type of drum
tANTavam - dance with jumping movements performed by Lord sivA (naTarAjA).
tiTum - a type of drum
tuTi - a type of uTukkai, a drum ( tuTikkUttu / tuTiyATal , a dance performed by Lord Muruga along with seven
women to the accompaniment of tuTi); tuTi drum is also performed before the war.
tuTumai - also a drum
toNTakam - the drum in the hilly region, toNTacci - drummer woman, another caste name, Sangkam literature clearly
assigns 5 type of drums for the five regions of life. Each type of drum is to accompany each type of harp; there is also
each large class of paN (equivalent to modern rAgA in South Indian music) assigned to these five regions.
toNTu toNtu - repeating drum sound
tappu - one type of paRai (drum). This is also called tappai, tappumELam etc. ( there is also a special and elegant
group dance called tappATTam in which tappu is used for drumming by various participants.)
tapu tapu - imitative sound rendering to indicate any movement with sound
tapaLAm - this is also a drum (today it is called 'tapEla' - often used in Hindustani concerts

There are many such drums with various shapes and sounds; unfortunately, modern India is loosing many of them with
practitioners hard to come by. Rock and Pop is taking over :-)

with regards,

 (I hope I have sticked to accepted transliteration convention)

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