Kalavim.ka or Karavim.ka Plant

Warner Belanger belanger at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Jul 20 13:36:29 UTC 2004

In the MahAvastu, there is a mention of a karavim.ka in a verse describing the
god's reaction to the impending birth of the Buddha. The verse in Senart's
edition is truncated due to a break in the manuscripts he was working with, but
it seems fairly clear. The verse reads as follows:
... divyA pravars.i varakusumA utpalasya /
madhukarakaravi.mkA suvarn.amAlyA yAva jino kuks.im. pravis.t.o sam.prajAno //

The previous two verses describe gods playing music and raining down sandalwood
powder, so I believe it is safe to assume that the gods would be the subject of
this particular verse.

I assume it is likely that karavim.ka is used as an alamkara for kalavim.ka or
as a dialectical variation. Kalavim.ka is normally a bird, the Indian cuckoo,
according to Monier-Williams, but he also mentions that it is a plant that is
equivalent to the kalingaka. His entry for kalingaka isn't enlightening either.
Does anyone have any information on this particular plant, in particular its
color or the likelihood that it would be used in the construction of a mAla?

Thank you in advance,
Warner Belanger

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