[INDOLOGY] Popular Astrology and Divination in South Asia 10th to 16th Centuries

George L. HART glhart at berkeley.edu
Thu Nov 2 14:18:41 UTC 2023

Akanāṉūṟu 22 has a convention that is common in Sangam literature — the lovesickness of the heroine mistaken for possession by a god or spirit. I remember finding the same thing in the ancient Greek plays (I believe it was in a play by Euripides). This is not exactly divination, but the description of the ritual is interesting.

22. Kuṟiñci
1. When the heroine is suffering because the hero has left and put off marrying her, and when she blames him, the friend speaks praising his good qualities. 2. While the hero who has come for a surreptitious meeting at night overhears, the heroine, after being spoken to by her friend, speaks.

In my lover’s land, waterfalls stream down from the heights
of tall, demon-haunted mountains. My people didn’t know
that the pain I feel is from his broad sweet-smelling chest.
Women skilled in knowledge said as if it were true
that if we worship the great god whose strong hands	5
are known for destroying any who don’t submit to him,
my pain would go away. At midnight when people are afraid,
they arranged the ground well, put a garland on his spear,
sang so our rich town resounded, offered a sacrifice,	10
scattered lovely red millet mixed with blood and summoned Murugan.
That same night, my lover came to calm the pain that filled me,
smelling of the sandal smeared on his chest
and wearing flowers swarming with bees
that had flourished in an inaccessible cleft on the hillside.	15
Moving like a strong tiger stealthily stalking an elephant for prey,
hidden to the gaze, he eluded the guards of our fine, tall house,
and every time he embraced me, making my life melt,
fulfilling the desire of my heart that wanted him so much,
and I thought of the useless efforts of the clueless Vēlaṉ,	20
I laughed until my whole body was filled with joy.
—Veṟipāṭiya Kāmakkaṇṇiyār

The author of this poem is supposed to have been a poetess. She may have taken her name, which seems to mean “She who wears a chaplet and (sang of?) sexual desire (connected with) singing the frenzy (of worshiping Murugan)” from this poem.

1. “My lover’s” is added for clarity.
2. “My people” is added for clarity. Literally “at the confused time when (they) didn’t know….” aṟiyā maṟuvaral poḻutil.
4. “Women skilled in knowledge” is mutu vāyp peṇṭir, “women with old (i.e. experienced) mouths.”
5. “Great god” is neṭuvēḷ, also a name of Murugan.
8. “On his spear” is added at K’s suggestion.
9. “So our rich town resounded” is vaḷa nakar cilampa. In addition to “town,” “city,” the word nakar can mean “temple” or “shrine,” and that is how the commentators construe it.
13. “That same night” is added. The original has “on the midnight when they summoned Murugan…(my lover) came.”
17. “Hidden to the gaze” is pārvai otukkiṉ. The commentary says otuṅkiya pārvaiyoṭu, “with a secretive (or turned away) gaze,” but that does not seem to fit either the sense or the words of the original. This is meant to be applied to the tiger.
20 “Useless efforts” is ulantamai, literally “state of being destroyed.” The Vēlaṉ, so named because he holds a spear (vēl), becomes possessed and tries to exorcise demons. See also poem 195.12. “Thought of” is kaṇṭē, “saw.”
21 “Until my whole body was filled with joy” is mey malintu, literally “so my body was full,” “so my body was happy.” One of the meanings of mali is “to be happy during coition.”

> On Nov 2, 2023, at 7:21 AM, Nagaraj Paturi via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> Particularly for divination, the following passages from the piece should be useful :
> <image.png>
> <image.png>
> On Thu, Nov 2, 2023 at 7:58 AM Nagaraj Paturi <nagarajpaturi at gmail.com <mailto:nagarajpaturi at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> Since the question is ' popular' 'astrology',
>> the following piece by me can be a good starting point:
>>  https://www.academia.edu/8612777/_Fortune_Tellers_in_South_Asian_Folklore_an_Encyclopaedia_Routledge_230_232_Margaret_Mills_et_al_ed_New_York_2003
>> On Tue, 31 Oct 2023, 10:32 pm James Hegarty via INDOLOGY, <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:
>>> Dear Colleagues,
>>> I am trying to find my way into this unfamiliar field and would appreciate any suggestions (of primary or secondary sources).
>>> Greetings from a somewhat wet Wales.
>>> Best,
>>> James Hegarty
>>> Cardiff University
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info <mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>
>>> https://list.indology.info/mailman/listinfo/indology
> --
> Nagaraj Paturi
> Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
> Senior Director, IndicA
> BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra
> BoS Kavikulaguru Kalidasa Sanskrit University, Ramtek, Maharashtra
> BoS Veda Vijnana Gurukula, Bengaluru.
> Member, Advisory Council, Veda Vijnana Shodha Samsthanam, Bengaluru
> BoS Rashtram School of Public Leadership
> Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Studies in Public Leadership
> Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies, 
> FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education, 
> Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> https://list.indology.info/mailman/listinfo/indology

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20231102/bd302be1/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list