[INDOLOGY] Question about a Portuguese text purportedly translating Sanskrit verses

Andrew Ollett andrew.ollett at gmail.com
Tue Feb 23 20:05:25 UTC 2021

Dear all,

I am forwarding this to the list on behalf of Whitney Cox. If you have
suggestions please write to him directly: wmcox at uchicago.edu



Dear colleagues,

I recently received a query from Jorge Flores at the University of Lisbon
about a passage in a source he is working on.  In this words,

[begin quote from JF]

"The piece revolves around a peculiar Portuguese text penned by a Hindu
Brahman  of Goa called Bahuguna Kamath in 1739 who worked for the
Portuguese as interpreter and political broker. Bahuguna is at that point
involved in diplomatic negotiations with the Marathas and one of his
opponents is a Maratha general called Dadaji Rao. Among other discussions,
they have an interesting dialogue anchored in a brief exchange of Sanskrit
verses. It goes like this (my rough English translation from the Portuguese

(Dadaji says:)

*Friend is the one who comes to a friend’s rescue by providing aid in a
timely manner, like the hand helps the foot by removing a thorn at once
when [the foot] happens to step on one. [A friend] is ready to expose
himself to the great danger of being wounded in order to stop the blow of a
sword when it hangs over one’s head or any other part of one’s body” *

(And Bahauguna responds:)

*Discord will never affect the solid friendship between worldly, constant
men who have plenty of fine qualities. It is like the moon, even if distant
and covered with snows; when that flower called cumoda blooms in the
moonlight the snows are unable to erase the love the said flower feels for
the moon”. *

My question is: does this make any sense to you? Are these "real" sanskrit
verses, close to something one can recognize as such, or rather an artful,
"exotic" creation of the author?"

[end JF quote]

While I was able to confirm to Prof. Flores that these sounded like they
could *potentially* be "'real' Sanskrit verses", and to explain a tiny bit
about the portable nature of subhāṣita-s, and to point him to a few pieces
of secondary scholarship, I could not identify any possible originals.  I
was hoping that these might be apparent to my learned colleagues on the
INDOLOGY list.  For whatever it might be worth, I suggested to Prof. Flores
that the first of these (i.e. Dadaji's 'turn')
this might in fact consist of two verses in succession, making a total
three possible Sanskrit padyas.

Thank you all very much.  Please don't hesitate to write to me directly (I
am no longer on the listserve) at wmcox at uchicago.edu

Best wishes,


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