Re AgnidaNDa

Mahes Raj Pant mahesrajpant at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 28 11:36:07 UTC 2001

Dear Professor Huntington
Glad to have your opinion on the vexed problem of agnidaNDa. But I am sorry
to tell you that what you think is rather far-fetched.
At the first instance you think that it could be a shaft of fire. Most
probably you indicate by a shaft of fire a sruc, three types of which,
namely juhuu, upabhRt and dhruvaa are employed in  Vedic sacrifice. If it
were so, the document would have the word suro, the Nepali derivative of
Sanskrit sruc, instead of the word nowhere attested in the sense of ladle. I
would like to draw your attention to the fact as I indicated in my last
mail, the word under inquiry is connected with acquiring revenue and the
same word is attested in the Arthashaastra for a special kind of fine. Such
being the case, what you propose is out question.
Now remains your second alternative to be considered. I completely agree
with you what you said about the non-standard spellings to be frequently met
with in Newari and Nepali manuscripts. I am happy to inform you that I have
read the text from the original document  with a royal seal. Needless to
point out, royal decrees are more carefully executed, as they deal with
legal matter. This is why we cannot think of agnidaNDa  as a misspelling for
agnidaana. To be specific, there is a minor discrepancy in the document in
the spelling of the second component of the compound, where the anusvaara
is employed instead of the class nasal. This, as you know, is a common
scribal practice and in which even Max Müller
errs. Moreover, I am not aware of the usage of the agnidaana in the sense of
gift offered to the services rendered in the agnimaTha. On top that the word
itself is not attested, at least in Monier-Williams’ dictionary.
I would like to stress that the officiating priests in the agnimaTha in
Patan in Nepal are not Joshi but Raajopaadhyaaya. In common parlance they
are called DyaH Bhajuu. Joshi, you must know, in caste hierarchy of the
Newars are not regarded as Brahmins, and their status is lower than that of
the Raajopaadhyaaya.
In order to make the picture much more clear, let me allow presenting a
translation of the core part of the document:

We hereby grant the agnidaNDa, which has been enjoyed by Dharmaa”ngada
PaNDita to                you as long as you live. Take one-seventh of the
income from the praayashcitta in. the form of produce, and enjoy it. Keep on
giving your blessings to us.

Mahes Raj Pant

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