Etymologies of Zaakya (was: Oak and the Tribe of the Buddha)

Alex Passi a.passi at ALMA.UNIBO.IT
Tue Oct 4 10:15:10 UTC 2005

This is quite interesting. Iksvaku's statement that the princes were  
"able" makes more sense if a pun was present in the earliest version,  
though I'm not quite sure if it contained all three elements, the  
'Saaka grove (apparently not mentioned in the Sarvastivada/Kanjur  
version), the sakaahi bhaginiihi expression found in the Pali Canon  
(impossible in the Skt version), and Iksvaku's utterance on the  
princes being 'saakya, i.e. "capable", which of course the Pali  
transposes as sakya. The Pali gerundive of the equivalent of Skt.  
'sak-  is based on a stem sakk- (see sakka & sakku.neyya), so there  
too the point of Iksvaku's pun would be lost. There is material to  
suggest an earlier MIA level of the story, in which the three (two?)  
words were based on similar stems.
Furthermore: could it be that that the MSV Sanskrit version  
introduced the distinction between half sisters and full sisters to  
give sense to Iksvaku's utterance that the princes were  
"able" (because they survived in the forest, and, avoiding full  
incest, found a way to insure the continuation of their lineage),  
once the pun on the 'saaka trees got "lost in translation"? I am  
aware that this is highly speculative.

Alex Passi
Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Orientali
University of Bologna.

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