Another bit of black anti-rakshas PR?

Adheesh Sathaye adheesh1 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 21 12:42:55 UTC 2011

Dear Artur et al,

Perhaps the medieval commentators may prove helpful for the reading of VR 3.2.9. All three published in the Gujarati Printing Press edition (reprinted by Parimal, and quite nicely available on!) seem to take the sandhi as "kAle."  govindarAja and zivasahAya (respectively) gloss "kAle" as "saMhAra-samaye" and "saMhAra-kAle" (both meaning "at the time of dissolution"). However, zivasahAya further glosses "antakaH" as "kAlaH" ("Time/Death"). nAgezabhaTTA is probably most helpful for your case. He suggests "kAle yugAntakAle" "'In Time' meaning 'At the end of an Age'". He further offers "vRddhaH 'antakaH" as a gloss -- "antaka [Death/Destroyer/Ender] has grown."

As for the number of animals, it is curious that the commentators don't go into this question, since it is precisely the kind of thing that they often argue about. Perhaps some of the other commentaries do get into it. 

But if I might hazard speculation: The Viradha episode might also be taken as a prismatic/bizarre foreshadowing of Rama's later encounter with Ravana. Here is a demon who has been granted a boon of invulnerability, who attempts to abduct Sita, and so on.  So I wonder if the numbers of animal victims here might be a twist on the various deities captured by Ravana? (3=trimurti; 4=lokapalas; 2=Asvins; 10=?). Just a thought! 

I wonder if the Ramayana on the whole might be less worried about apocalypse than the Mahabharata--rather, superheroes and super-villains occupy Valmiki's literary gaze. And the latter especially become grotesque/satirical: see Robert Goldman's discussion in his essay "Ravana's Kitchen," for example (appears in _Questioning Ramayanas_ ed. Paula Richman). 

For more on the subject matter you're raising, you may also already know of Goldman's comparison of the two epics' discursive construction of "Ages" in an essay entitled "The Spirit of the Age" in the RK Sharma Festschrift (Delhi: Pratibha Prakashan, 2006). Hope this might be helpful!

All best wishes,


Adheesh Sathaye
Department of Asian Studies
University of British Columbia

On Nov 20, 2011, at 3:57 PM, Artur Karp wrote:

> Dear Louis,
>> As for taking antaka to mean "the end of the world," there is no context for such a reading here.
> Right. Agreed. But - note please - there is no reading of the sort you
> quote in my first message.
> What I suggested is: "the one who ends [the world]", antaka. Maybe
> "Finisher" or "Destroyer" would have been more appropriate.
> In the sentence:
> abhyadhāvat susaṃkruddhaḥ prajāḥ kāla ivāntakaḥ
> kāla can be taken as representing kālaḥ (Nom.), or kāle (Loc.). M-W
> favors the Nom., Pollock, clearly, the Loc. In other words, M-W
> identifies kāla with antaka: Time (kāla) as Destroyer (antaka).
> Pollock has Death (antaka) in the fated hour (kāle).
> As I see it, Pollock's reading obscures the deeper meaning of the
> Viradha episode - as a deliberate (and dehumanizing) satire. Which
> ridicules the attempts at un-regulated, aggressive acculturation: they
> may (and do) produce only worthless, garbled imitations, and
> conceptual monstrosities.
> Thank you for both the links.
> Some ramblings of mine re time in the Mahabharata can be found in my
> paper on the concept of time and time reckoning in Indian tradition:
> _W poszukiwaniu doskonałości: czas i kalendarz w tradycji indyjskiej_
> (In search of perfection: time and calendar in Indian tradition),
> [in:] Izabela Trzcińska (ed.), _Tajemnica czasu i religie_, Aureus,
> Kraków 2005, pp. 78-99. If anyone would want to read the Polish text,
> I can gladly send them pdf copies off-list.
> Regards,
> Artur

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