Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Fri Feb 13 16:57:43 UTC 2004

I wonder if mahagraha is indeed a marine animal whether it might refer
to a sort of shark.

Makaras are depicted in miniature paintings illustrating the
Gajamocanastotra, they are usually clearly crocodiles.  However, when
the zodiacal sign Makara is depicted it is much more variously.  You see
depictions of Makararasi in the antique shops, when long janmapatrika
scrolls with dozens of charts analyzing the horoscope in multiple ways
and with illustrations of Ganesa, the grahas, and the rasis, have been
cut up into individual yantras and miniatures suitable for framing.  The
makaras often look like hybrid creatures, sometimes crocodiles with
leopard spots, sometimes a long low animal that appears to be furry and
has a blunter snout.  There are also, I think, ones that show the sign
as a goat with a fish tail, as in the West; but I may have misremembered


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
athr at
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library
of Congress.

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