Another bit of black anti-rakshas PR?

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Nov 20 05:57:05 UTC 2011

Dear Artur,

4-3-2-1 is not the same as 3-4-2-10. And you're ignoring the elephant 
head. With it, the numerical sequence would be 3-4-2-10-1.

If you want to see an intentionally distorted numerical sequence here (I 
don't), one could see 1+2+3+4 = 10.

As for taking /antaka/ to mean "the end of the world," there is no 
context for such a reading here. /Antaka/ looks here like the usual 
reference to death (the 'ender' of life), just as Pollock takes it in 
his translation. /Kāla/, time, is commonly used in the epics as a 
synonym for death, as time eventually takes everyone's life away. If the 
'end of the world' were meant, one would expect the term /yugānta/. See 
for instance, a few sargas down the line, at 3.23.26:

/yugāntāgnir iva/

These comparisons to /yugānta/ appear several times in Vālmīki (and 
many, many times in the /Mahābhārata/), but even they don't necessarily 
imply a reference to the theory of the four yugas.

If one gets too 'creative' with these sorts of interpretations one can 
find almost anything in a text (including shish-kakob, to follow Joanna 


Luis González-Reiman

on 11/19/2011 12:27 AM Artur Karp wrote:
> Dear List,
> In Ram. III, 2 there appears a hideous rakshas, Viradha. Described as
> a monstrosity, he is garbed in animal skins, splattered with blood and
> marrow.
> Now, in III, 2.7 he is shown as carrying on an iron spear dead
> animals: three lions, four tigers, two wolves and ten [spotted]
> antilopes (plus a huge elephant's head):
> trīn siṃhāṃś caturo vyāghrān dvau vṛkau pṛṣatān daśa
> The numbers of these animals seem to form a sequence,  3-4-2-10.
> Considering that Viradha (who, surprisingly, presents himself as a
> defender of ashramic values)  is compared twice to "the one who ends
> [the world]", antaka:
> III, 2.6: trāsanaṃ sarvabhūtānāṃ vyāditāsyam ivāntakam
> III, 2.9: abhyadhāvat susaṃkruddhaḥ prajāḥ kāla ivāntakaḥ
> .
> shouldn't we see in the sequence a deliberate, satirical distortion of
> the numbers 4-3-2-0 of the kali-yuga's 432 000 and the catur-yuga's 4
> 320 000 years?
> Artur Karp
> Poland

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