[INDOLOGY] Purāṇas, "resembling the belly of a mirror"

Toke Lindegaard Knudsen toke.knudsen at hum.ku.dk
Wed Jan 31 13:15:46 UTC 2018

Dear all,

I’m looking at some purāṇic passages where the expression “resembling the belly of a mirror” occurs.

Liṅgapurāṇa 2.28.47-48 (all references in this email are drawn from GRETIL) has:

śrūyatāṃ paramaṃ guhyaṃ vedikoparimaṇḍalam /
aṣṭamāṅgulasaṃyuktaṃ maṅgalākuraśobhitam //
phalapuṣpasamākīrṇaṃ dhūpadīpasamanvitam /
vedimadhye prakartavyaṃ darpaṇodarasannibham //

The verses speak of a diagram, maṇḍala, to be drawn in the center of the altar, vedi. The expression darpaṇodarasannibham, “resembling the belly of a mirror,” is used with reference to the maṇḍala.

Liṅgapurāṇa 1.8.83 has:

atyantanirmale samyak supralipte vicitrite /
darpaṇodarasaṃkāśe kṛṣṇāgarusudhūpite //

The context is the location where a practitioner should engage in yoga. The expression darpaṇodarasaṃkāśe, “resembling the belly of a mirror,” is used to describe a characteristic the place should have.

The Śivapurāṇa 7.2,29.11-13 has:

na tu prayogo bhidyeta vakṣyamāṇasya karmaṇaḥ /
parīkṣya bhūmiṃ vidhivadgaṃdhavarṇarasādibhiḥ //
manobhilaṣite tatra vitānavitatāṃbare /
supralipte mahīpṛṣṭhe darpaṇodarasaṃnibhe //
prācīmutpādayetpūrvaṃ śāstradṛṣṭena vartmanā /
ekahastaṃ dvihastaṃ vā maṇḍalaṃ parikalpayet //

The context here is the ground on which the diagram, maṇḍala, is placed. The expression darpaṇodarasaṃnibhe, “resembling the belly of a mirror,” is used to describe the ground.

I’m interested in the image of a belly of a mirror used in the passages. The most obvious interpretation is that the image conveys something smooth, polished, and clean, as we would want a mirror to be; imperfections and dirt would distort the image we see in the mirror. I doubt that ‘reflective’ is meant, though ‘shining’ is a possibility.

My question is if the image could be used to indicate shape in some way? I doubt ‘concave’ or ‘convex’ shape is meant, but perhaps ‘round’ or ‘flat’?

With all best wishes,

Toke Lindegaard Knudsen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen

<toke.knudsen at hum.ku.dk>

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