Text as Saraswati

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Jul 28 04:55:17 UTC 2010

Dear Stella,

This is news to me! I've never seen a gold toe ring in my old  
environments! It shows how disparate things can be in India at a  
given time in similar social ethnic backgrounds!

Thanks for the information, and I will check it with my living  
"antique" family members! :)


On Jul 27, 2010, at 9:40 PM, Stella Sandahl wrote:

> Dear Rajam,
> I have a slight recollection that Raja Rao in The serpent and the  
> Rope talks with great pride about  the  gold toe rings of his South  
> Indian Brahmin
> character(s). But Raja Rao was of course an older generation.
> Stella Sandahl
> --
> Stella Sandahl
> ssandahl at sympatico.ca
> On 27-Jul-10, at 11:46 PM, rajam wrote:
>> About "The feet being one of the most impure parts of the body  
>> should never touch
>>> sacred items."
>> In this context, it would be interesting also to learn why gold  
>> was never worn below waist,
>> at least in some traditional S. Indian environments that I'm  
>> familiar with.
>> In my generation, some traditional ornaments such as toe rings or  
>> anklets were never made in gold.
>> The only big pomp that would adorn the waist was the "waist-belt"  
>> in gold with numerous gems embedded.
>> Regards,
>> Rajam
>> On Jul 27, 2010, at 1:05 AM, (Maitreya) Borayin Larios wrote:
>>> Dear Colleagues,
>>> This attitude of having respect for book is quite wide-spread in  
>>> India and
>>> can be found in several examples, even in bollywood films such as  
>>> "Swades"
>>> with Shahrukh Khan.
>>> The respect and even veneration of scriptures and books is of  
>>> course more
>>> intense if they are "holy" (manuscripts of the Vedas or the  
>>> Bhagavadgītā for
>>> example).
>>> In most of the Vedic schools I visited for my fieldwork the books or
>>> manuscripts were wrapped in silk and handled with great care. If  
>>> touched
>>> with the feet by mistake they would also touch the book with  
>>> their hands and
>>> then either their chest or their head in sign of respect. They  
>>> also do this
>>> when they accidentally touch a person by mistake with their feet.
>>> The explanation I received is also that the goddess Sarasvatī  
>>> abides in the
>>> books in the form of knowledge and therefore should be treated  
>>> like the
>>> goddess herself. The annual Sarasvatī Pūja in Vasant Pañcami in  
>>> which
>>> scriptures and books are worshiped along with the goddess also  
>>> attest of
>>> this bibliolatry.
>>> The feet being one of the most impure parts of the body should  
>>> never touch
>>> sacred items. Some people (particularly Brahmins) even recite a  
>>> śloka every
>>> morning asking for forgiveness to "mother earth" for stepping on  
>>> her.
>>> There may be more scholarly work written specifically on this  
>>> subject, but I
>>> can recommend two articles. The first one addressing Speech as  
>>> Sarasvatī
>>> called "Vāg vai Sarasvatī" by Usha Choudhuri found in the book  
>>> "Veda as
>>> Word" edited by Shashiprabha Kumar; the second one is "Purāṇa  
>>> as Scripture:
>>> From Sound to Image of the Holy Word in the Hindu Tradition" by  
>>> M. Brown
>>> which deals with the veneration of scripture. This is the link to  
>>> the
>>> article: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1062388
>>> Best regards,
>>> Maitreya
>>> On Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 8:43 AM, Dipak Bhattacharya <
>>> dbhattacharya200498 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>>> Dear Coleagues,
>>>> The practice existed in Bengal too. One may also see  
>>>> S.K.Chatterji's
>>>> account during his travel in Indonesia (I do not remember the  
>>>> page number)
>>>> in company with Tagore and a few Europeans too. Chatterji  
>>>> tenderly caressed
>>>> a book when it fell from a table. The care shown surprised the  
>>>> European.
>>>> Chatterji spoke to him of the general Indian attitude to small  
>>>> vulnerable
>>>> things. I remember having related this episode to some member of  
>>>> this forum
>>>> long time ago. The attitude will not be found to be universal in  
>>>> India.
>>>> Best
>>>> DB
>>>> --- On Mon, 26/7/10, Joseph Walser <joseph.walser at TUFTS.EDU> wrote:
>>>> From: Joseph Walser <joseph.walser at TUFTS.EDU>
>>>> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Text as Saraswati
>>>> To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
>>>> Date: Monday, 26 July, 2010, 4:11 PM
>>>> I have noticed that at least among Tamil Brahmins, if someone  
>>>> touches a
>>>> book with his or her feet, she quickly touches the book and  
>>>> touches her
>>>> eyes. The explanation I have heard is that this is to apologize  
>>>> to Saraswati
>>>> who resides in the print. Can anyone tell me how widespread this  
>>>> practice
>>>> is? Does anyone know of any early references to or scholarly  
>>>> discussion of
>>>> this practice?
>>>> Best,
>>>> Joseph
>>>> -- Joseph Walser
>>>> Associate Professor
>>>> Department of Religion
>>>> Tufts University
>>>> 314 Eaton Hall
>>>> Medford, MA 02155
>>>> Office: 617 627-2322
>>> -- 
>>> (Maitreya) Borayin Larios
>>> Jägerpfad 13
>>> 69118 Heidelberg
>>> Germany
>>> Mobile:(+49)1707366232
>>> http://www.sai.uni-heidelberg.de/abt/IND/mitarbeiter/larios/ 
>>> larios.php
>>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/shrimaitreya/
>>> http://www.vidyaksha.webs.com/

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