[INDOLOGY] Touching one's nose with the left index finger

Nityanand Misra nmisra at gmail.com
Sun Oct 23 02:26:22 UTC 2016

On 20 October 2016 at 07:44, Buchta, David <david_buchta at brown.edu> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> I hope someone might have insight (or better yet a textual reference) for
> a cultural convention.
> In Viśvanātha Cakravartin's commentary (ca. late 17th century) on the
> Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.9.7 (uttārya gopī...), where Yaśodā finds the curd-pot
> that Kṛṣṇa had broken, he adds a comment that she touched the tip of her
> nose with her left index finger (vāmatarjjanyā nāsāgraṃ spṛṣṭveti jñeyam).
> Can anyone identify the significance of this? Does it indicate
> exasperation? Surprise?
Not a definitive answer, but some pointers which may help.

Compare the use of *nāsāgrārpitatarjjanī* in the following verse from
Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī’s *Vṛndāvanamahimāmṛtam* (15.33)

*mithyāvādinī kiṃ mudhā pralapasi pratyakṣametatkathaṃ sakhyaḥ paśyata kiṃ
tadāha yadiyaṃ kiṃvā’haha sā pṛcchyatām*
*evaṃ satyamidaṃ kathaṃ prakupitāsyevaṃ sakhīnāṃ girā nāsāgrārpitatarjjanī
kamahasadrādhā śiraḥkampinī*

There is an idiom in Hindi: नाक पर उँगली रखना (nāka para um̐galī rakhanā).
I do not have my Hindi Muhavara Kosh with me now, but I have heard the
idiom being used in Hindi to convey a feminine gesture of embarrassment,
bashfulness, or no longer being able to remain angry [at somebody or
something] upon realizing something.

Wiktionary lists the meaning of this idiom from an unnamed dictionary under
https://hi.wiktionary.org/wiki/नाक as
नाक पर उँगली रखकर बात करना = औरतों की तरह बात करना

While the Chambers English Hindi Dictionary gives नाक पर उँगली रखना as the
idiomatic translation of *make a long nose* [?]

PS: The comment by Viśvanātha Cakravartin is also to be found in Vaṃśīdhara
*Bhāvārthadīpikāprakāśa*: *vilokya vāmatarjjanyā nāsāgraṃ spṛṣṭveti bhāvaḥ*

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