[INDOLOGY] QUERY: mouse-venom

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Thu Jul 21 11:04:40 UTC 2016

Dear friends,

A bit of amusement during the summer recess:

Śāntideva, in his Bodhicaryāvatāra IX, in the course of his critique of Yogācāra,
argues that self-awareness (svasaMvid-) is not, pace the Yogācārin, a necessary condition
for the formation of memory. As a counter-example, he adduces "mouse-venom":
anyānubhūte saMbandhāt smRtir ākhuviSaM yathā//

His commentator Prajñākaramati unpacks this by explaining that one who is struck with mouse-venom
does not recall the incident until the memory is aroused by a thunderstorm (meghastanitam adhigamya).

Now, as we all know, philosophical examples, according to Indian rules of debate, were supposed to
have been such as to be accepted by all parties. We might therefore expect the tale about mouse-venom
to have been fairly widely known. My question is whether any of you might have noted it elsewhere,
and if so, where?

With thanks in advance for your replies,


Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list