Re: [INDOLOGY] vekurañja, Turner's article

Walter Slaje walter.slaje at
Tue Nov 24 11:45:34 UTC 2020

There is an essay by Wilhelm Rau, which I have briefly skimmed over:

*A note on the donkey and the mule in early Vedic literature*. *Adyar
Library Bulletin* 44-45 (1980-1981): 179–189 [= Kl. Schr. II 987–997].

As its title suggests, it deals only with donkeys and mules in Vedic

However, and this seems important and somehow enlightening to me, any
crossbreeding product different from the mule is not mentioned anywhere in
this paper. Also conceptually, the hinny is entirely missing. For Rau, “the
mule [(*aśvatara*/°*ī*) ...] is the offspring of a donkey and a mare” (p.
994 in his Kl. Schr.).

This is certainly not wrong, and Rau rightly refers to Rudradatta’s
commentary on *Āpastambaśrautasūtra* 13.5.3 (*gardabhād vaḍavāyāṃ jāto
’śvaraḥ*) to substantiate his claim. Incidentally, it would also confirm
Nīlakaṇṭha’s previously cited comment.

I just chanced upon an interesting passage, which suggests that in India,
too, at least in early modern times, there seemed to be no agreement about
what was mule and what was hinny. Thus Jagannātha quotes the following two
opposing views in his *Dīpikā* on Madhva’s *Brahmasūtrabhāṣya* (1,3.9.5):

"*gardabhād aśvāyāṃ jātā aśvataryaḥ*" *iti* *tattvapradīpe* [would be

"*gardabhīṣu aśvair jātā aśvataryaḥ*" *iti vyāsatīrthīye* [would be “hinny”]

Unfortunately and for obvious reasons, I cannot verify the quoted passage
in any printed edition, but the quote does offer quite a revealing view
with regard to conceptual uncertainties as they seem to have prevailed.

Another essay on this topic, which is also not accessible to me, is:

Gildemeister, Johannes: *Açvatarî*. *Orient und Occident, insbesondere in
ihren gegenseitigen Beziehungen *2 (1864): 172–174.

Kind regards,


Am Di., 24. Nov. 2020 um 11:22 Uhr schrieb Tieken, H.J.H. via INDOLOGY <
indology at>:

> Turner's article is mainly about the type of compound seen in aśva-tara,
> and, among other forms, mentions vyāghra-tara, which ended up in Kipling's
> Jungle Book as Bagheera. As to aśvatara, Turner writes that it is of
> pre-Indo-Aryan origin. It would be supported directly by Persian astra and
> indirectly by Khotanese khaḍara "mule", from hypothetical khara-tara
> (with reference to H.W. Bailey, BSOA 10, 590).
> Herman
> Herman Tieken
> Stationsweg 58
> 2515 BP Den Haag
> The Netherlands
> 00 31 (0)70 2208127
> website:
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