vasudhaiva ku.tumbakam revisited

Harunaga Isaacson harunaga.isaacson at ORIENTAL-STUDIES.OXFORD.AC.UK
Fri Aug 4 14:01:48 UTC 2000

On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Jan E.M. Houben wrote:

> 3. Even as a relatively early anthology the of
> Vidyaakara has been attributed to ca. 1100 by Ingalls. As is well known, in
> the course of time Subhaa.sitas easily enter and leave anthologies; there
> are more than 800 candidates for the "three centuries" of Bhartrhari (among
> them, again, our verse aya.m nija.h ... vasudhaiva ku.tumbakam; Levi in 1922
> also referred to Bhartrhari in connection with this vers; it is no. 376 in
> D.D. Kosambi's 1948 critical edition).
> We enter here a very tricky area, but the Hitopadeza occurrence -- though
> the Hit. is relatively late in the Brhatkathaa-Pancatantra-tradition --
> could just as well be earlier than the occurrence. In
> the translation volume of the Ingalls writes
> "Pancatantra, Hitopadeza, etc." next to the verse in question (no. 1241),
> apparently suggesting that these were (among) the earlier sources from which
> the verse (could have been/) was taken.

It seems that Houben is suggesting that the verse might be a relatively
late addition to the It should be remembered that
one of the reasons why the is a very valuable source
is that the principal MS of it is an old one, which was photographed by
Saa"nk.rtyaayana in Tibet. The editors place it (admittedly on
palaeographical grounds alone) at around A.D. 1150. I don't have the book
to hand now though: the old MS is incomplete and therefore its evidence is
not available for all, though it is for the greater part, of the
collection. If Houben wishes (us) to believe that the Hitopade"sa
occurrence has a significant chance of being earlier than that in the SRK
(`just as well...') it would be of importance for him whether it is
available here.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the verse is also quoted in Bhoja's
"S.r"ngaaraprakaa"sa (where, as so often, no author or work from which it
has been taken is named). Houben's post does not refer to the question of
the dating of this work (nor indeed at all to this occurrence of the
verse). I believe that it is usually assigned, without controversy, to the
first half of the 11th century. Of course Houben may wish to argue that
that dating might be wrong (though almost certainly not by much; I seem to
remember that there are some testimonia and references to the work that
would preclude that) or that the verse might have been interpolated.

It seems really to be unlikely that the Hitopade"sa is the first text in
which the verse occurs. (Perhaps someone with more books and time
available than I have at present can tell us of other attestations earlier
than or roughly contemporary with the "S.r"ngaaraprakaa"sa; it would not
surprise me if there are some.) And I see no reason to think that whoever
composed it had any cynical intention.

Harunaga Isaacson

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