rAjahaMsa in the ha?sasa?des ´a

victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Fri Apr 17 09:31:55 UTC 2009

I am aware of the fact that the hamsa is the Anser Indicus, a kind of goose.
Could anyone explain why the hamsa has been used as a metaphor of a special
type of world-renouncer, the socalled paramahamsa? Is there anything in the
behaviour of the bird that could have led to calling certain renouncers
paramahamsa's? I know this is sidetracking, but it seems relevant in
connection with the discussion of the bird hamsa.


-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Namens John C. Huntington
Verzonden: vrijdag 17 april 2009 4:37
Aan: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
Onderwerp: Re: rAjahaMsa in the ha?sasa?des´a

Historically it is not a Swan but the Anser Indicus


On Apr 16, 2009, at 7:16 AM, victor van Bijlert wrote:

> In the logo of the Ramakrishna Mission a real swan also figures, not a
> goose. Apparently in the nineteenth century one regarded the hansa  
> as a
> swan. The latter perhaps as an allusion to the image of the swan  
> that will
> sing its most beautiful song when it feels it is going to die; a  
> famous
> image found in Plato's Phaedo, 84e-85b? The idea in Phaedo is that  
> Socrates
> as a philosopher knows he is going to die and expects to be united  
> with the
> God Apollo.
> Victor van Bijlert
> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] Namens Christophe  
> Vielle
> Verzonden: donderdag 16 april 2009 11:21
> Aan: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
> Onderwerp: Re: rAjahaMsa in the ha?sasa?des´a
> It is a real "swan"  messenger that Raja Ravi
> Varma painted in his famous "Ha.msa-Damayantii"
> (1899) now displayed in the Sri Chitra Art
> Gallery, Tiruvanantapuram. See at:
> http://www.temple-trees.com/ravivarma/urrvprints.asp?printtype=2&pg=2
> Best wishes,
> Christophe Vielle
>> I expect you are familiar with this book:
>> Vogel, J. P., 1962,  The Goose in Indian
>> Literature and Art.  Memoirs of the Kern
>> Institute No. II. E. J. Brill, Leiden.
>> According to my notes, Vogel (good name?)
>> identified haMsa and rAjahaMsa with a mainly
>> white form of the Indian goose (Anser indicus),
>> and kalahaMsa with the greylag goose (Anser
>> anser).
>> Valerie J Roebuck
>> At 7:12 am -0700 15/4/09, Oliver Fallon wrote:
>>> I would like some help on the identity of the
>>> ra¯jaha?sa which is the subject of
>>> Veda¯ntades´ika's Ha?sasa?des´a. He tells us
>>> little of the bird except that he repeatedly
>>> stresses that it is a pure white water bird and
>>> that it has a beautiful call as it flies to
>>> which that of the peacock is unfavourably
>>> compared. I was first provoked into considering
>>> that this is not a goose by a comment in
>>> Shastriar's 1902 Madras edition of the poem,
>>> where he says: "ra¯jaha?sa is a species of swan
>>> with red legs and bills (sic). Compare
>>> 'ra¯jaha?sa¯s tu te cañcucaranair lohitais
>>> si¯ta¯?'"
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