John Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Sun Feb 15 16:11:28 UTC 2004

Actually, the artistic evidence suggests other wise.
Although there is a evolving and ever increasing elaboration to
representations of the makara, the fundamental elements of this
creature remain remarkably constant.  We have other auspicious
components (e.g., shardula and vyalaka) that also are astonishingly

John C. Huntington

>Dear list members
>My feeling from looking at the names of birds in KAlidAsa that it is not
>really appropriate to try to identify traditional names with their precise
>modern equivalents. The two systems are not necessarily compatible.
>Traditional authors were not troubled by a lesser degree of precision.
>Trying to name a makara is a little like trying to identify a leviathan: was
>it a shark or a whale or something else? In fact, it is a sign for something
>big and frightening in the water. Different authors probably used the same
>word with different things in mind.
>With bows
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at]On Behalf Of John
>Sent: Friday, 13 February 2004 8:23 PM
>Subject: graaha/nakra/makara
>Dear Colleagues,
>Can anyone point me in the direction of more recent studies of any of these
>three terms than Vogel's "Errors in Sanskrit Dictionaries" in BSOAS 20?  In
>that he shows that _makara_ means a crocodile but has only passing reference
>to the other two terms, which are usually thought also to mean the
>crocodile.  What gives me cause for hesitation over this is that there occur
>dvandva compounds of these terms, which to my mind indicates that, though
>similar, they are not identical.  [Specifically, in the Ramayana, we find
>_nakra_ and _makara_, and also _graaha_ and _nakra_, so linked, while I
>detect indications that _graaha_ is a riverine animal but _mahaagraaha_ is
>marine.]  Also, while I am about it, what is the Sanskrit term for the third
>main crocodile species, the gharial/gavial?  Does anyone know of any
>relevant literature?
>John Brockington
>Professor J. L. Brockington
>Secretary General, International Association of Sanskrit Studies
>Sanskrit, School of Asian Studies
>7-8 Buccleuch Place
>Edinburgh   EH8 9LW        U.K.
>tel:  +131 650 4174
>fax: +131 651 1258

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