Re: [INDOLOGY] vekurañja

Walter Slaje walter.slaje at
Mon Nov 23 09:53:29 UTC 2020

As an addendum to the question whether Bhāskarakaṇṭha would have made a
fool of himself or not by his claim, let me draw your attention to
Ānandabodhendrasarasvatī’s commentary  *Vāsiṣṭhamahārāmāyaṇatātparyaprakāśa*
(AD 1710 [Karl-Heinz Golzio IIJ 47 (2004): 301ff]) on the *Yogavāsiṣṭha*,
where the passage occurs in identical wording (= *Yogavāsiṣṭha* I.14.8).
His explanation matches the one given by Bhāskarakaṇṭha (AD 1725-1775
Jager, Bhāskarakaṇṭhas *Cittānubodhaśāstra*. Marburg 2018: 15]):

*aśvād gardabhyām utpannā aśvatarī* | *tasyā udaravidāraṇenaiva
garbhanirgamanaṃ **prasiddham* (VTP on YV I.14.8)

“An *aśvatarī* is born from a female donkey (*gardabhī*) and a male horse (
*aśva*). It is well known that the foal can only come out [of the mother]
by opening her belly.”

See also *Saṅghabhedavastu* (ed. Gnoli, p. 72, ll. 20f):

*vadhāya aśvatarī garbhaṃ gṛhṇāti; parābhavāya aśvatarī garbhaṃ gṛhṇāti *

The *Mahābhārata* has a cognate passage:

*sa mṛtyum upagūhyāste garbham aśvatarī yathā* || MBh 12.138.30cd ||

„The (king who does not restrain the enemy whom he has bent down with the
rod of force) sits holding death to his bosom, like a mule with a foal in
her belly.“ (Fitzgerald, p. 531).

The idea that a female hinny would not survive the birth of her foal was
obviously widespread and Ānandabodhendra explicitly states this as a
well-known fact (*prasiddha*).

At least that much can be said that Bhāskarakaṇṭha’s explanation would
certainly have been accepted as plausible by his contemporaries.

For this reason, I would not put too much trust in the dictionary entries,
as their authors, who apparently were not always sufficiently versed in
natural history, could not tell the difference between mule and hinny. To
them, any crossbreed between a donkey and a horse equalled a “mule”. This
is probably the reason why the (English) dictionaries show no entries of
the term “hinny” at all, but use “mule” throughout without further

It must, however, be said that in the given context of the risk of death
for a pregnant female “hinny”, Nīlakaṇṭha’s elucidation of the above-quoted MBh
12.138.30cd (= MBh 12.140.30cd) contradicts the one of Ānandabodhendra and
Bhāskarakaṇṭha. His would point to a mule instead a hinny, as Nīlakaṇṭha
uses *gardabha-jā*. If this reading is correct, he seems to have had a
crossbreed between a male donkey (*gardabha*) and a mare in mind. In this
case, he either displays an inaccurate knowledge or shows the same
indifference as the dictionaries do to facts of nature, which were perhaps
dismissed as insignificant. However, in light of what other Indian authors
had had to say on the subject, I have my doubts whether, given the
uncritical state of the edition of Nīlakaṇṭha’s commentary (I have quoted
from Puṇe 1932), variants with *gardabhī-jā* would not come to light one
day. Reading gardabh*ī*-jā, it would match our hinny from above. Here is
the line, which in its present editorial state runs as follows:

*aśvatarī gardabhajā aśvā udarabhedenaiva prasūta iti prasiddham *

“An *aśvatarī* is a mare born from a (male) donkey. It is well known that
[this mare] can only give birth [to a foal] by opening her belly.”

The unsolved question of whether a difference was made between mule and
hinny in pre-modern India still needs to be investigated. I trust it was.



Am So., 22. Nov. 2020 um 14:41 Uhr schrieb Walter Slaje <
walter.slaje at>:

> Dear Professor Lusthaus,
> from Bhāskarakaṇṭha’s commentary we can only learn in what way he took
> aśvatarī (f.) to mean in the given context.
> In the given context, he equals aśvatarī (f.) with a vaḍavā (f.).
> Therefore: vaḍavā (f.) stands for aśvatarī. aśvatarī = vaḍavā is what he
> means to say. He uses vaḍavā, as a vaḍava has a somewhat ambiguous nature:
> “a male horse resembling a mare [...]“ (MW).
> However, he specifies what he actually means, because vaḍava used by
> itself is not sufficiently precise (in the given context):
> kharastriyām aśvāj jātā = “born from a female donkey and (male) horse“, in
> your own words.
> „So that is an attempt to treat aśvatarī as a hinny“. Right. This is
> exactly what I was getting at and what Roland Steiner's translation says.
> Additional information can be extracted from Bhāskarakaṇṭha. If a female
> hinny (aśvatarī) gets pregnant, he adds, foaling is not possible without
> opening the abdomen (tasyā garbhaḥ kukṣipāṭanaṃ vinā na niryāti).
> I cannot find any translation or interpretation errors here.
> Of course, everyone is free to question and to criticise premodern Indian
> authors for their observations of nature. However, we should never forget
> that in the present case we see the unspectacular depiction of an everyday
> reality, and that the authors were able to observe their environment more
> closely than we can today. If, what Bhāskarakaṇṭha had had to say about
> female hinnies, had been made up, his explanation of the dṛṣṭānta would
> have come to nothing. He would have simply made a fool of himself among his
> contemporaries. Maybe he did, maybe he did not. I for one believe he did
> not.
> Kind regards,
> WS
> Am So., 22. Nov. 2020 um 13:37 Uhr schrieb Dan Lusthaus <
> prajnapti at>:
>> On second look, aśva (not asvā), would be a male horse, so kharastriyām
>> aśvāj jātā vaḍavā would mean born from a female donkey and (male) horse,
>> though I’m not sure what to make of vaḍavā/vaḍaba “a male horse resembling
>> a mare (and therefore attracting the stallion)” (MW).
>> So that is an attempt to treat aśvatarī as a hinny. But is that followed
>> consistently in the literature?
>> Dan
>> On Nov 22, 2020, at 7:21 AM, Dan Lusthaus via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at> wrote:
>> Dear Prof. Slaje,
>> Thank you for those examples. However, as far as I can tell, the idea
>> that aśvatarī is a hinny, rather than a she-mule, seems to be only in
>> Steiner’s interpretation, not in the texts themselves. Bhāskarakaṇṭha only
>> explains it as a female mule (khara = mule, strī = female animal).
>> Similarly, dvijātīya similarly just means a mule, without specifying
>> that the parents must be a male horse and a female donkey rather than the
>> inverse.
>> Monier-Williams has around 24 terms that can mean a mule, several of
>> which mean a she-mule (e.g., aśvatarī, kharī, etc.), typically by giving
>> a word for mule a feminine form. For instance:
>> aśvatara b m. (Pāṇ. 5-3, 91 ) a mule, AV. iv, 4, 8 ; ŚBr.  &c.
>> (compar. of aśva) a better horse, Pat.
>> a male calf, L.
>> one of the chiefs of the Nāgas, MBh. ; Hariv.  &c.
>> N. of a Gandharva, L.
>> aśvatarā f. a better mare, Pat.
>> aśvatarī f. a she-mule, AV. viii, 8, 22 ; MBh. &c.
>> But a she-mule is not a hinny. A mule has a male donkey and a female
>> horse for parents. A hinny has the opposite: a male horse and a female
>> donkey for parents. Mules and hinnies are physiologically different from
>> each other as well. A hinny can be a male or a female.
>> The wikipedia entry for “mule” says the following about their fertility:
>> ==
>> Mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes
>> <>, a mixture of the horse's 64
>> and the donkey's 62. The different structure and number usually prevents
>> the chromosomes from pairing up properly and creating successful embryos,
>> rendering most mules infertile <>.
>> A few mare mules have produced offspring when mated with a purebred horse
>> or donkey.[18] <>[19]
>> <> Herodotus
>> <> gives an account of such an
>> event as an ill omen of Xerxes' invasion of Greece
>> <> in 480
>> BC: "There happened also a portent of another kind while he was still at
>> Sardis—a mule brought forth young and gave birth to a mule" (Herodotus *The
>> Histories <>* 7:57),
>> and a mule's giving birth was a frequently recorded portent in antiquity,
>> although scientific writers also doubted whether the thing was really
>> possible (see e.g. Aristotle <>, *Historia
>> animalium*, 6.24; Varro <>, *De re
>> rustica*, 2.1.28).
>> As of October 2002, there had been only 60 documented cases of mules
>> birthing foals since 1527.[19]
>> <> In China
>> <> in 2001, a mare mule produced a
>> filly <>.[20]
>> <> In
>> Morocco <> in early 2002 and
>> Colorado <> in 2007, mare mules
>> produced colts.[19]
>> <>[21]
>> <>[22]
>> <>
>> Blood and hair samples from the Colorado birth verified that the mother was
>> indeed a mule and the foal was indeed her offspring.[22]
>> <>
>> A 1939 article in the *Journal of Heredity* describes two offspring of a
>> fertile mare mule named "Old Bec", which was owned at the time by Texas
>> A&M University <> in
>> the late 1920s. One of the foals was a female, sired by a jack. Unlike her
>> mother, she was sterile. The other, sired by a five-gaited Saddlebred
>> <> stallion, exhibited
>> no characteristics of any donkey. That horse, a stallion, was bred to
>> several mares, which gave birth to live foals that showed no
>> characteristics of the donkey.[23]
>> <>
>> ==
>> The wikipedia entry on “hinny" has the following on fertility:
>> ==
>> Hinnies are difficult to obtain because of the differences in the number
>> of chromosomes <> of the horse
>> and the donkey <>. A donkey has 62
>> chromosomes, whereas a horse has 64. Hinnies, being hybrids of those two
>> species <>, have 63 chromosomes and
>> are in the majority of cases sterile
>> <>. The uneven number of
>> chromosomes results in an incomplete reproductive system
>> <>. According to the
>> ADMS: "The equine hybrid is easier to obtain when the lower chromosome
>> count, the donkey, is in the male. Therefore breeding for hinnies is more
>> hit-and-miss than breeding for mules."[2]
>> <>
>> The male hinny or mule can and will mate, but the emission is not fertile
>> <>. Male hinnies and mules
>> <> are usually castrated to help
>> control their behavior by eliminating their interest in females.[*citation
>> needed <>*]
>> Female hinnies and mules are not customarily spayed, and may or may not
>> go through estrus <>. Female mules
>> have been known, on rare occasions, to produce offspring when mated to a
>> horse or donkey, although this is extremely uncommon. Since 1527, sixty
>> cases of foals born to female mules around the world have been documented.
>> [4] <> In
>> contrast, according to the ADMS, there is only one known case of a female
>> hinny doing so.
>> Namely, in China <>, in 1981, a hinny
>> mare proved fertile with a donkey sire. When the Chinese hinny was bred to
>> a jack, she produced the so-called "Dragon Foal", which resembled a donkey
>> with mule-like features.[5]
>> <> In
>> Morocco <>, in 2002, a mule mare
>> bred to a donkey sire produced a male foal.[4]
>> <> DNA testing
>> revealed the foal has a mixed karyotype
>> <> hybrid like the Chinese hinny
>> offspring "Dragon Foal".[*citation needed
>> <>*]
>> Hinnies are rare for many other reasons. Donkey jennies and horse
>> stallions can be choosier about their mates than horse mares and donkey
>> jacks.[*citation needed
>> <>*] Thus, the
>> two parties involved may not even care to mate. Even if they do cooperate,
>> donkey jennies are less likely to conceive when bred to a horse stallion
>> than horse mares are when bred to a donkey jack. Breeding
>> <> large hinnies is an even
>> bigger challenge, as it requires stock from a jenny of large size, such as
>> the Baudet de Poitou <> or American
>> Mammoth Donkey <>.
>> Mammoth donkey stock is becoming increasingly rare and has been declared an
>> endangered domestic breed. Fanciers are unlikely to devote a Mammoth
>> jenny's valuable breeding time to producing sterile hinny hybrids, when
>> Mammoth jennies are in high demand to produce fertile purebred Mammoth foals
>> ==
>> There is no mention of requiring caesarians.
>> Some of the mule terms in MW:
>> dvi—jātīya mfn. relating to the twice-born i.e. to the first 3 castes of
>> twofold nature or mixed origin, mongrel. dvi—jātīya m. a mule.
>> mūka “the offspring of a mule and mare”
>> ruṇḍa m. the offspring of a mule and a mare (also means “maimed,
>> mutilated; a headless body”)
>> vega—sara m. (cf. vesara) a mule.
>> vega—sarī f. a female mule.
>> vesara m. (cf. vega-sara; also written veśara) a mule.
>> vesarī f. a female mule.
>> sakṛd—garbha m. ‘having only one conception’, a mule.
>> saṃ-ka°rāśva m. ‘mongrel horse’, a mule.
>> While some refer to female mules, I don’t think any of these terms
>> specifically indicate a hinny, which, again, could be male or female. The
>> Chinese terms clearly differentiate between a mule (騾 luo, the result of
>> mating a mare with a donkey) and a hinny (駏驉 juxu, result of mating a
>> stallion with a female donkey). I remain curious what the underlying
>> Sanskrit or prakrit term behind juxu might be.
>> with regards,
>> Dan
>> On Nov 22, 2020, at 6:00 AM, Walter Slaje via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at> wrote:
>> > “A hinny is [...] the offspring of a male horse (a stallion) and a
>> female donkey (a jenny)."
>> Is there a Skt term for a hinny?
>> Cp. Mokṣopāya  I.38.8:
>> aviśrāntamanāḥ śūnyam āyur ātatam īhate |
>> duḥkhāyaiva vimūḍho 'ntar garbham *aśvatarī* yathā ||
>> Bhāskarakaṇṭha explains it as follows:
>> "aśvatarī"* kharastriyām aśvāj jātā* vaḍavā | tasyā "garbhaḥ"
>> kukṣipāṭanaṃ vinā na niryāti (Mokṣopāyaṭīkā on I.13.8)
>> Cp. the translation by Roland Steiner (Wiesbaden 2014: p.52):
>> 13.8 Ein innerlich verwirrter [Mensch, dessen] Denken *(manas)* nicht
>> beruhigt [ist], strebt nach einem leeren, ausgedehnten Leben, [das einem]
>> nichts anderes als Leiden [einträgt], wie eine *Maul­­eselstute*[1] eine
>> Leibesfrucht [begehrt].
>> ------------------------------
>> [1] Eine Maul­­eselstute (Vater: Pferdehengst; Mutter: Eselstute) kann
>> nach Bhāskarakaṇṭha nur mit Kaiserschnitt gebären; MṬ I *ad* 13.8: *aśvatarī
>> kharastriyām aśvāj jātā vaḍavā / tasyā garbhaḥ kukṣipāṭanaṃ vinā na niryāti*
>> .
>> pw offers a series of entries of Sanskrit words for "Maulthier" (=
>> "mule"):
>> and gives one entry for "Maulesel" (= "hinny"), namely dvijātīya. Schmidt
>> adds "°pāraśama":
>> Kind regards,
>> WS
>> Am So., 22. Nov. 2020 um 10:48 Uhr schrieb Dan Lusthaus via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at>:
>>> I also found Dhadpale’s idea convincing.
>>> As to whether there were āgama versions, the answer is yes, but not
>>> currently available in an Indic language, only in Chinese translation. In
>>> addition to the Madhyama-āgama passage I posted, there is a version of
>>> the Assalāyana sutta that was translated as an independent text: Fanzhi
>>> eboluoyan wen zhong zun jing, 梵志頞波羅延問種尊經 (Sutra on questions to Buddha
>>> about caste from the brahmin Ebulouyan=Assalāyana), translated by 竺曇無蘭 Zhu
>>> Tanwulan (*Dharmarakṣa, *Dharmaratna), a Central Asian monk in the late 4th
>>> c. Since it expands the discussion a bit, I translate it here. Like the
>>> Madhyama-āgama version, it omits the problematic word, unless the word was
>>> glossed instead of translated. But it adds an additional equine
>>> reproductive set:
>>> 《梵志頞波羅延問種尊經》卷1:「頞波羅延言:「我種自說言勝餘種。」
>>> 佛告頞波羅延:「有驢父馬母,馬[7]為生子,名是何等?」
>>> 頞波羅延言:「名騾。父亦不字為騾,母亦不字為騾。」
>>> 「若何以字為騾?」
>>> 「我先祖呼作騾,我隨言騾。」
>>> 「有馬父驢母,驢[8]為生子,若名為何等字為駏驉?父亦不字為駏驉,母亦不字為駏驉,若何知為駏驉?」
>>> 「我先祖呼為駏驉,因隨言駏驉。」」(CBETA, T01, no. 71, p. 877, b29-c7)
>>> [7]〔為〕-【宋】【元】【明】。[8]為生…為=生子名是【宋】【元】【明】。
>>> Ebulouyan said, “Those of my type (= caste) say that we are better than
>>> the other types.”
>>> Buddha replied to Eboluoyan: “There is an ass father and a horse mother.
>>> The horse gives birth to a child. What is it called?”
>>> Ebulouyan said: “It’s called a mule. The father is not designated as a
>>> mule, nor is the mother designated as a mule.”
>>> [Buddha asks]: Why then do you designate it as a mule?
>>> [Ebulouyan]: “The patriarchs who preceded me called it a mule, and I
>>> follow them in saying it is a mule.”
>>> [Buddha]: “There is a horse father and an ass mother. The ass gives
>>> birth to a child. Would that be called a 駏驉 juxu (English: hinny)? [1]
>>> Neither is the father designated as a juxu, nor is the mother designated as
>>> a juxu. So how do you know it as a juxu?
>>> [Ebulouyan]: “The patriarchs who preceded me called it a juxu, so for
>>> that reason I follow them in saying it is a juxu.”
>>>>>> 1. 駏驉 juxu “By some accounts a mythical horselike beast; other accounts
>>> give it as the offspring of a stallion and female donkey.” (CJKVE-D). In
>>> English this is called a hinny. “A hinny is a domestic equine hybrid that
>>> is the offspring of a male horse (a stallion) and a female donkey (a
>>> jenny). It is the reciprocal cross to the more common mule, which is the
>>> product of a male donkey (a jack) and a female horse (a mare). The hinny is
>>> distinctive from the mule both in physiology and temperament as a
>>> consequence of genomic imprinting.”
>>> Is there a Skt term for a hinny?
>>> Dan
>>> On Nov 21, 2020, at 10:17 PM, Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY <
>>> indology at> wrote:
>>> Along the lines of Professor Dhadphale's suggestion for *vekurañja *as
>>> coming from Skt. *dvaikulajanya*, there are expressions like
>>> *dvaimātura*, *ṣāṇmātura etc. *The term *dvyāmuṣyāyaṇa* refers to a son
>>> with two fathers, one legal and the other biological. The sons born out of
>>> the so-called *niyoga *"levirate" are described with this term.  The
>>> term *kuṇḍa *used in the passage has a meaning of "out of wedlock," but
>>> having a dual connection, suggesting something unnatural, illegal.   So
>>> *dvaikulajanya* sounds like a very possible source.  I wonder if there
>>> is a northern Sanskrit āgama version.  I read from earlier messages that
>>> the non-Pali versions translated into Chinese show that this term was
>>> eliminated from the text, possibly being considered some sort of an error.
>>> Madhav M. Deshpande
>>> Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
>>> University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
>>> Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
>>> Adjunct Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore,
>>> India
>>> [Residence: Campbell, California, USA]
>>> On Sat, Nov 21, 2020 at 2:58 PM Martin Straube via INDOLOGY <
>>> indology at> wrote:
>>>> Dear Artur, Rolf & Dan,
>>>> following a note in my files I see that M.G. Dhadphale has suggested
>>>> an etymology of the word in question in 1974. Please find the article
>>>> attached. This may or may not be helpful too.
>>>> With best wishes
>>>> Martin
>>>> --
>>>> Martin Straube
>>>> Research Fellow in Pali Lexicography
>>>> Pali Text Society
>>>> Philipps-Universität Marburg
>>>> Indologie und Tibetologie
>>>> Deutschhausstrasse 12
>>>> 35032 Marburg
>>>> Germany
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