u.s.tra-dhuumaka (was: Skt vocabulary for: Hail)

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO
Thu Jan 20 12:10:10 UTC 2000

Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
>U.s.tradhuuma is mentioned in Vaagbha.ta's A.s.taa"ngah.rdayasa.mhitaa
>(ca. 600) in Uttaratantra 37.14, the chapter on insect and spider bites.
>The verse goes like this
>ucci.ti"ngas tu vaktre.na da"saty abhyadhikavyatha.h
>saadhyato v.r"scikaat stambha.m "sophaso h.r.s.taromataam 13
>karoti sekama"ngaanaa.m da.m"sa.h "siitaambuneva ca
>u.s.tradhuuma.h sa evokto raatricaaraa ca raatrika.h 14
>The Ucci.ti"nga bites with its mouth, causing very extreme pain, more than
>(?) a scorpion which is treatable.

Why not simply: "causing more (abhyadhika) pain than a scorpion ..."

> The penis is erect, the body hair
>stands on end.  And one pours cold water on the limbs of the bite.

Shouldn't we rather translate:
"#The bite (subject of the sentence!)# causes erection of the penis (read
"sephaso instead of "sophaso), the standing on end of the body hair, #and
the soaking of the limbs with cold water (= cold sweat)#"?

> It is
>in fact called the U.s.tradhuuma, or again the Raatrika because it comes
>out at night.
>The passage is in the context of scorpions, so it seems that the
>ucci.ti"nga, u.s.tradhuuma, and raatrika are all names of something like a

But if it 'bites with its mouth', one would either think of a mosquito or -
rather - of a spider. Are there tarantulas in India? A tarantula would be
somewhat similar to a scorpion and its bite is extremely painful.

> But in verse 15, it is distinguished from a scorpion: "the
>poison of the u.s.tradhuumaka, like the scorpion, mainly has an excess of
>wind".  This wind connection is taken from Su"sruta (kalpasthaana, 8.5).
>Su"sruta also says of the ucci.ti"nga that it is like the scorpion and
>other creatures in that it's poison is in its sting (kalpa 3.5:
>samudrav.r"scikaa"s caalavi.saa.h | There are some variants on the word
>for "sting", aala or aara, which the commentators discuss).

If Su"sruta says that the ucciti"nga has the poison in its sting, he is
either wrong or he thinks of something else than Vagbhata, who says that
the animal bites with its mouth. Of course, Vagbhata too could be wrong.

Best regards,


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