Nira-Narsingpur Narasimha, Lakmii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman

George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Tue Nov 13 17:23:21 UTC 2007

I think Ashok would be well-advised to take a look at the Dravidian  
Etymological Dictionary before he suggests that niira is not a  
Dravidian word.  It is rather strange that after the two language  
families (Indo-Aryan and Dravidian) have been intermingled for  
millennia scholars are still reluctant to admit mutual influence.  In  
fact, the influence is considerable both ways.  I am working through  
the Akananuru, one of the Sangam anthologies, and find several IA  
words that repeat -- the total number of such words is about 2-3%.   
Many are borrowed through Prakrit and, interestingly, there is a  
limited number of such words which repeat over and over (e.g. kaamam,  
kaalam, tiru < srii).  The fact that this vocabulary is far more  
limited than it is even in the Cilappatikaaram is a strong argument  
for its date, which is almost certainly 1-3rd century AD.  It might  
also be pointed out that the technique of suggestion (called uLLuRai  
in Tamil) is far more developed and prevalent than in any major  
Sanskrit or Prakrit works.  There are many aspects to Dravidian-Aryan  
influence (or, perhaps more accurately, synthesis) than have been  
realized and discovered to date.  George Hart

On Nov 13, 2007, at 8:49 AM, Ashok Aklujkar wrote:

> As I suggested on 04 November,  Prof. R.V. Joshi sent me as an e-mail
> attachment the passage in which the two problematic words niira and  
> nira
> appear. He did this by sending a scan of the first two pages of
> ;Srii-Lakmii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman. In the exchange that  
> subsequently
> took place on 13 November there are some points which may be of  
> interest to
> the members of this list where the discussion began. Hence I am  
> reproducing
> the exchange in a slightly edited form.  --- ashok aklujkar
> AA:
> That it is always better to  make inquiries like yours by providing  
> the
> context (and exact grammatical  forms found in a text) is borne out  
> by the
> attachment you sent. It is evident  that niira and nira will not be
> explained by the information Prof. Deshpande  kindly provided. The  
> name of a
> river, even if it is understood as a short form of names like Sadaa- 
> niiraa,
> is not intended.
> For niira, taking its usual  meaning 'water' would be one  
> justifiable way,
> for the author has alternated  (a) epithets of with (b)  
> names of
> entities associated/associable with in several other lines  
> of the
> Lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman.  Perhaps he expected us to take the
> latter as's representations or as  metaphors for  Cf.
> vajra-dehaaya :  vajraaya
> haasaaya
> si.mhaaya  si.mha-raajaaya
> a.t.ta-haasaaya ro.saaya (not as clear an example as the  preceding  
> and the
> following but possible)
> bhuutaavaasaaya  bhaasaaya
> kha.dga-jihvaaya si.mhaaya
> ;subha;njayaaya  suutraaya
> nirgu.naaya gu.naaya ca
> ni.sprapa;ncaaya
> nime.saaya nibandhaaya  ca
> satya-dvajaaya mu;njaaya mu;nja-ke;saaya
> harii;saaya ca  ;se.saaya
> ku;se;sayaaya kuulaaya
> suukti-kar.naaya  suuktaaya
> (There may, of course, be many more examples in the pages not   
> included in
> your attachment.)
> The other way to account for niira may  essentially be the same as  
> the one
> for nira. Only the prexifes involved will  be different: nir/nis in  
> the
> first case and ni in the second.
> nira can  be derived from ni + rai 'wealth, endowed object' (well- 
> attested
> in the Veda).  This rai becomes raa in some contexts as Monier- 
> Williams has
> noted. The  derivate ni + raa as a bahu-vriihi, changed to nira, so  
> that it
> can qualify a  masculine noun understood in the context (nitaraam /
> ati;sayavatii raa.h  yasya/asya) would mean 'one with much property /
> impressive  possessions.'
> If niira is analysed the same way, the meaning would be  'one  
> without any
> possessions' and essentially become a synonym of
> Thirdly, it is possible that niira is not a Dravidian word at  all.  
> Derived
> from ni + iir, it could have originally meant 'one moving   
> downward' (cp.
> the formations of similarly structured niipa and nii.da, which  are  
> not
> Dravidian and at least one of which, nii.da, has Indo-European   
> cognates in
> "nest" etc.). If the obviously and impressively learned author of  the
> sahasra-naaman, who frequently engages in word play, had the  
> etymological
> meaning in mind, he could have intended to refer to's  
> descending
> into  the world, his avataara feature, through niira.
> (An analysis of the  other nouns he has employed as adjectives  
> should be
> attempted along similar  lines. The nouns vajra, haasa ... suukta etc.
> listed above may be derivable  also as adjectives. A pandit once  
> showed me
> how English "cat" is a perfectly  good Skt word: ka from muu.saka on  
> the
> pattern of bhaamaa for satya-bhaamaa  etc. kam a.tatiiti kaa.t 'That  
> it goes
> after a mouse makes it a cat.' In the  hands of gifted pandits, the  
> noble
> teaching vasudhaiva ku.tumbakam is  applicable even in the sphere of
> linguistics!)
> The dhyaana verse of the  Sahasra-naaman you are working on is found  
> also as
> the first verse of  ;Srii-lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-karu.naa-rasa-stotra  
> attributed
> to ;S:nkara/ Aadya  ;Sa:nkaraacaarya in the anthologies of his  
> compositions.
> How old do you think is the ;Srii-lak.smii-n.rsi.mha-sahasra-naaman?  
> Is
> there any traditional Skt  commentary on it? If not, you should  
> write one.
> It is quite a remarkable  sahasra-naaman.
> RVJ:
> I deeply appreciate your interpretation. There is no sanskrit  
> commentary on
> this Sahasra-Naama as far as I know. It is stated in the colophon  
> that it is
> taken from the N .rsi .mha Puraana but in the N .rsi.mha Puraana   
> editions I
> have before me , it is not there.

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