Epic DAIVAM

James L. Fitzgerald jfitzge1 at UTK.EDU
Thu Dec 3 10:49:48 EST 1998


Let me preface this note by asking that anyone who sent me
personal email between last Wednesday 11/25 and Monday 11/30 to
retransmit that mail as it was rejected or discarded by the
system here.  Also would everyone who corresponds with me
personally note the new email address jfitzge1 at utk.edu and use it to
replace the old one.  Thanks, Jim Fitzgerald

================================

Kevin McGrath asked "Does anyone have a good translation for epic
'daivam'?"

Even when we limit "daiva" to the 'fate-topos' (it is sometimes
used in other ways; e.g., at  12.121.13, in a presentation of the
nature of daNDa [the king's 'rod of force,' i.e., here,
"punishment," sometimes "military force" or "violence" in
general] "parama daNDa" is said to be a daivam that looks like a
blazing fire and the passage goes on with the description of ugra
and adbhuta bhuuta/daiva), it is not used to refer to a precisely
defined, univocal concept in the MBh.  The characters do talk
about action a great deal in the course of the MBh, and one of
the recurring themes of those discussions juxtaposes human
initiative (karman, puraSakaara, utthaana ["energetic effort,
exertion;" mistranslated by van Buitenen as "resurrection" at
3.33.6 & 7]) to various "agencies" beyond human ken and
control--daiva, diSTa, vidhaatr, yadrcchaa, haTha, krtakarman (at
MBh 12.56.14-15 Arjunamisra glosses daiva with "pre-existing
karma," ["daivam praagbhaviiyam karma"; and I might add, he here
glosses "utthaanena puruSakaareNa"]).

Daiva seems to be the most general way of referring to these
agencies, and of course one of the fundamental issues it poses is
whether humans should bother to pursue their own artha-s with
their own efforts or not.  Shulman's insightful essay in the
Heesterman Festschrift shows the MBh coming at these issues from
a different angle, and his juxtaposition of the words daiva and
devana certainly is provocative.  I don't have the
indo-germanisch background to evaluate Mayrhofer's idg
etymologies behind "diiv -- spielen, mit 'Wuerfeln'" (for devana)
and (for deva/daiva) "dyav -- Himmel, Himmelsgottheit, Vater
Himmel, Tag," but the indo-germanisch reconstructions look like
they might be sufficiently close to justify wondering if the root
diiv might not be historically connected to dyav.  But even if
that is not viable in terms of historical linguistics, one must
suspect that many of the poets heard and postulated a connection
there.

Mr. McGrath postulates that KarNa is "somewhat
'archaic' as a hero" and KarNa's "many references to daivam are
thus, for me, somewhat pre-classical in a sense."  While I
certainly don't think that the MBh we have is the product of a
single compositional effort, we need more than hunches to discuss
meaningfully any postulated history of the text.  While Mary
Carroll Smith tried to articulate an evidentiary framework for
the discussion of the MBh's history through the diffential
analysis of triSTubhs (advancing the work of earlier scholars,
such as Edgerton), she has so far not delivered a convincing
argument about the "archaic kSatriya warrior code" at the heart
of "India's Sacred Song."  I think differential triSTubh analysis
is one good kind of evidence for pursuing a discussion of the
MBh's history; but it hasn't yet been sufficiently pursued and
developed as an analytic tool.  So, at least for now, I have to
agree with the sceptical question Alf Hiltebeitel posed in
response to McGrath's initial post.

Jim Fitzgerald

 ========================================================================

James L. Fitzgerald                    jfitzge1 at utk.edu
Religious Studies                       Phone: office:  423-974-6982;
423-974-2466; 423-690-9525
University of Tennessee                        home   423-539-2881
501 McClung Tower                  Fax:    423-974-0965
Knoxville, TN  37996-0450



More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list