bhikkhu, bhikSA

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 20 15:48:03 UTC 2000

Checking the list archives, Prof. M. Deshpande's 1996 post about
the etymology of bhikSu is useful for me. Refer:

Panini will accept a pedestrian explanation for the word
root for 'bhikkhu'. This is supported by Tamil also.
Though theological speculations will seek higer meanings.

I have proposed relation between 'pikkal/piccal' (tamil)
and Pkt. bhikkhu. For word initial tamil p-/skt. bh- changes,
see DED 3219: Ta. pa.n.ti cart, wagon, carriage;
..... / Cf. Skt. bha.n.di- cart (Hem. U.n. 608).
Pkt. bha.n.dii, bha.n.diaa. Mar. bA.dI

Incidentally, Marathi bhikbaaLii 'gift of a ear-ring'
and tamil "vaaLi" = ear-ring can be compared.


In spoken Tamil, "avan ataip pikkiRaa_n, piTuGukiRaa_n"
means "He is tearing and plucking it away". Also,
"kuraGku mAlaiyaip pikkutu"= The monkey is tearing the garland.
"pikkal" in old Tamil means "a portion", "a measure of weight"
etc., OTL entry: "pikkal" a measure of weight or capacity

The verbal root in Tamil is 'pikkutal' related to OTL items:
piy-tal 01 1. to be tattered, torn off, torn into bits,
as a leaf or cake; 2. to be drawn apart, loosened,
parted, separated; 3. to be carded, as cotton; 4. to
be torn open, as a hedge; ...

piy-ttal 02 1. to rip, tear, pluck off, rend;
2. to separate into parts; 3. to card or pick cotton;
4. to break in pieces, as thin cakes or wafers;
to tear into small bits, as paper or leaves;
5. to pluck, break or pinch off, pull out;
6. to break through a hedge; ...

The root verbs "piykkutal/pikkutal", and noun 'pikkal' with
attestations such as a portion, a measure of weight etc. means
"a portion of the whole which was formed/plucked out".
In this sense, "pikkal" in Tamil includes the meanings
of 'alms'. Commonly, 'piccai'=alms. Compare the -kk-/-cc-
alterations in 'pikkal/piccai' with the pair: mUkku 'nose' and
mUccu 'breath'.

Does bhikkhu contain the meanings of tam. 'pikkal' = a portion?
Obviously, bhikkhu > (skt.) bhikSA like milakkha/mleccha > mlekSa.

How are the words 'bhikkhu' and 'bhikSA' explained
in Sanskrit and Pali?

Many thanks,
N. Ganesan

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