Skt vocabulary for: Hail

Roland Steiner steiner at MAILER.UNI-MARBURG.DE
Thu Jan 20 12:33:47 UTC 2000

Dear Jonathan,

Stephen Hodge wrote that he suspects

> that "hail" is the correct meaning here since Sthiramati's
> commentary (both Tib & Ch) explains that this phenomenon causes
> wounds or injuries -- lightning would, I imagine, normally result in
> death.

To this plausible interpretation I would like to add this footnote:
being struck by a"sani in the sense of ``thunderbolt", especially
as a literary image, does not necessarily cause death
immediately. This seems to be evident from stanza IV.26 (or 27
in some editions) in Har.sadeva´s play Naagaananda (7th
century), also according to the interpretation of the South Indian
commentator "Sivaraama (later than 12th cent.; perhaps
13th/14th cent.?). The stanza has to be recited by Garu.da who
has just reached the slaughter-stone in order to devour the
(supposed) Naaga lying there. Observing this Naaga (who is in
fact the bodhisattva Jiimuutavaahana) Garu.da declares that
now he will pierce through the Naaga´s breast with his beak
which is fiercer than an a"sani-da.n.da
(nirbhidyaa"sanida.n.daca.n.datarayaa ca~ncvaadhunaa
vak.sasi). "Sivaraama paraphrases: a"sanida.n.davad
da.n.daakaarakuli"savat ca.n.datarayaa etc., which makes it
clear that a"sanida.n.da here should mean ``thunderbolt" (indeed
a suitable object of comparison with regard to Garu.da´s beak).
The Tibetan Shong-ston (13th/14th cent.), a specialist in Sanskrit
kaavya, renders rdo rje´i dbyug pa (``stick of a thunderbolt
[vajra]") which is a literal translation of a"sani-da.n.da.

The story goes on to say that the continuous attack of Garu.da´s
beak (being similar to a thunderbolt) does not immediately result
in the death of the hero at all, but repeatedly wounds and injures
in a very cruel and prolonged way.

With kind regards,

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