[INDOLOGY] crossing oceans?

Manu Francis manufrancis at gmail.com
Fri Oct 14 11:12:22 UTC 2016

Dear Dominik,

Whatever the history of the ban on sea travel, the “bank” (of a river, but
also of an ocean) metaphor is also used to describe learned people. See
pāradṛśvan (M-W: “one who has seen the oppositive shore, far-seeing, wise,
completely familiar with or versed in”), i.e. one who understood the whole
thing. Droṇa for instance is described in a Pallava inscription as
*bāṇāstravedacaturarṇṇavapāradr̥śvā*, literally “who has seen the other
bank of the fourfold ocean that the Veda about the bow is.”

Attaining mokṣa is reaching the other bank of the “ocean of saṃsāra”. In a
buddhist context, the Buddha recollected all his previous lifes, before his

As for more on ocean as vastness, totality, completude, see the title
Kathāsaritsāgara, or the very conventional description in epigraphy of
universal sovereigns as ruling or being famous up to the three/four/seven
oceans, i.e. in the whole world. See also some of the birudas of
Narasiṃhavarman II Pallava (8th c.): Jñānasāgara, “Ocean of knowledge”,
Kalāsamudra, “Ocean of artistic skills”.

With very best wishes.


Emmanuel Francis
Chargé de recherche CNRS, Centre d'étude de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud (UMR
8564, EHESS-CNRS, Paris)
Associate member, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Culture (SFB 950,
Universität Hamburg)

2016-10-14 12:03 GMT+02:00 Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu>:

> Some of the social complexity of sea travel in and out of 19th c. India,
> focusing on Kolkata
> and Mumbai (and Canton), is of course now entertainingly reborn in Amitav
> Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy......
> Matthew Kapstein
> Directeur d'études,
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> The University of Chicago
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