AW: [INDOLOGY] suicide as a result of love

Bruno Galasek bgalasek at googlemail.com
Mon Jun 6 21:08:56 EDT 2016


A little story that serves to illustrate how suffering arises from those who are dear, is told as an example for murder and/with suicide out of love/desire/longing in an doctrinally unimposing, but in other respects very interesting, sutta of the Majjhimanikāya, the Piyajātikasuttam (MN 87): 

 

I quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Majjhimanikāya (Ñāṇamoli, and Bhikkhu Bodhi. 2009. The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications in association with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, pp. 720f.): 

 

22. “And it can also be understood from this how sorrow,

lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are born from those who

are dear, arise from those who are dear. Once in this same

Sāvatthī there was a certain woman who went to live with her

relatives’ family. Her relatives wanted to divorce her from her

husband and give her to another whom she did not want. Then

the woman said to her husband: ‘Lord, these relatives of mine

want to divorce me from you and give me to another whom I 

do not want.’ Then the man cut the woman in two and [110] disemboweled

himself, thinking: ‘We shall be together in the afterlife.’

It can also be understood from this how sorrow, lamentation,

pain, grief, and despair are born from those who are dear,

arise from those who are dear.”

 

(One might perhaps wish to modify the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s rather sanguinary word choice, not least by taking variant readings into account … )

 

(Pāli, without vv.ll., from Gretil:  <http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/2_pali/1_tipit/2_sut/2_majjh/majjn2ou.htm> http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/2_pali/1_tipit/2_sut/2_majjh/majjn2ou.htm)

Iminā pi kho etaṃ, brāhmaṇa, pariyāyena veditabbaṃ,
yathā piyajātikā sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā piyappa-
bhavikā ti. Bhūtapubbaṃ, brāhmaṇa, imassā yeva Sāvatthiyā
aññatarā itthi ñātikulaṃ agamāsi. Tassā te ñātakā sāmikaṃ7
acchinditvā aññassa dātukāmā; sā ca taṃ na icchati. Atha
kho Sāvatthi8-sāmikaṃ etad avoca: Ime maṃ9, ayyaputta,
ñātakā taṃ10 acchinditvā aññassa {dātukāmā}; ahañ ca taṃ
na icchāmīti. Atha kho so puriso taṃ itthiṃ dvidhā chetvā
[page 110]
110 II. MAJJHIMAPAṆṆASAṂ.
attānaṃ uppāṭesi1: Ubho pecca bhavissāmāti. Iminā pi kho
taṃ, brāhmaṇa, pariyāyena veditabbaṃ, yathā piyajātikā
sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā piyappabhavikā ti. 

 

Bruno Galasek-Hul (Dr. des.) 

Instructor

Institute of Buddhist Studies (Shin-IBS), Berkeley

1800 Arch Street 
Berkeley, California 94709
USA
mobile: +1-203-507-0080

Email: bgalasek at protonmail.ch

 

Von: INDOLOGY [mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info] Im Auftrag von rajam
Gesendet: Monday, June 6, 2016 10:52 AM
An: Diwakar singh <samparkdev at gmail.com>; Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
Betreff: Re: [INDOLOGY] suicide as a result of love

 

Somewhat a different scene on the Tamil side, as usual! The narrations are not just about romantic-love but about feelings for loved-ones also.

 

1. In the Tamil version of the Ramayana (that is, Kambaramayana) … Devi Sita was about to commit suicide since Rama hadn’t yet come to her rescue from Ravana’s captivity. That was when Rama’s messenger Hanuman appeared and assured her that Rama would be there soon.

 

2. In the (Jain?) epic Silappatikaram, as the aftermath of the unlawful killing of the hero Kovalan, many women who were associated with Kovalan and his wife Kannaki commit suicide through several means — the Jain ascetic Kavunti (கவுந்தி) by fasting (“sallekhana"), their shepherd-hostess Madhari (மாதரி) by 'plunging into the fire,’ and Kovalan’s  mother and Kannaki’s mother virtually enduring misery.  

 

2. In the Buddhist epic Manimekalai, in Manimekelai’s previous birth, one of her sisters (tārai) committed suicide by falling from the terrace of their palace because their another sister (vīrai) was killed by an untrained elephant when she was drunk.

 

3. In the same epic Manimekalai, we read about one ātirai (ஆதிரை) who tried to commit suicide as a “sati” because she thought her husband died in a commercial ship-wreck. 

 

4. The same epic Manimekalai talks about āputtiraṉ (ஆபுத்திரன்) whom I’d say is the very soul of the epic. This man actually "missed the boat (not idiomatically)” when he was on a trip to Java from South India for serving the community there. He missed the ship and was stuck in an island where he found no one to serve. So he committed suicide by fasting. Later on, the nine merchants who travelled with him, realizing that he was missing, came in search of him and found him dead. So, they all committed suicide by fasting. 

 

5. Later on in folklore, we hear about a woman named nallataṅkāḷ (நல்லதங்காள்) who suffered poverty and threw her 7-children into a well and committed suicide by falling into the well.

 

++++++++++

 

Interesting facts from my perspective are:

 

1. Women committing suicide by jumping into the fire was instituted by the Vedic culture.

 

2. In none of the narratives do I find any man committing suicide for anyone’s sake in their personal life. Of course, there are reports about men dying in war for the sake of their country. 

 

3. While the Jain system approves suicide, the Buddhist system condemns it. Proof is in Manimekalai. In the epic Manimekalai, āputtiraṉ (ஆபுத்திரன்) is condemned for committing suicide and his action being a cause for the suicide of nine other merchants.

 

Eager to learn more.

 

Thanks and regards,

rajam

 

 

 

 

On Jun 6, 2016, at 5:59 AM, Diwakar singh <samparkdev at gmail.com <mailto:samparkdev at gmail.com> > wrote:

 

There are several narrative that talks about suicide in Buddhist contexts, for instance the Avadanasataka  contains a story of a  brahmin named Gangika who wanted to enter into monastic order however he was denied by his Parent to do so. And the necessary permission was not granted by his parent and the story suggests that in order to get the opportunity to become monk he repeatedly tried to commit suicide. 

 

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 5:59 PM, Valerie Roebuck <vjroebuck at btinternet.com <mailto:vjroebuck at btinternet.com> > wrote:

In Buddhist commentarial literature, we have examples like that of Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesī (Dhammapada commentary on vv 102-3), a well-brought-up girl who falls in love with a convicted bandit on his way to execution, and embarks on a hunger-strike to force her parents to let her marry him. (Spoilers: it doesn’t work out very well.)

 

Valerie J Roebuck

Manchester, UK

 

 

 

On 6 Jun 2016, at 12:59, Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at umich.edu <mailto:mmdesh at umich.edu> > wrote:

 

Other examples may be Satī burning herself at the sacrifice of her father Dakṣa, where her husband was insulted, and of Ambā burning hurself after being rejected for marriage by Bhīṣma in the Mahabharata.

 

Madhav Deshpande

 

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 6:32 AM, Michaels, Axel <michaels at asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de <mailto:michaels at asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de> > wrote:

Perhaps this question would also include some cases of suttee. Se for instance Manadeva’s inscription (464 CE) in Cangu Narayan (Nepal):

 

„With affection (and) with a tearful face she addressed (her) son: "Your father went to heaven. O (my) son, as your father has gone today, what is the use of my breath [i.e. life]. Take over, o son, the kingdom! I (will) follow right now the path of my husband. What (use) is (it) for me to live without (my) husband by chains of hope made by the extension of (different) kinds of pleasures when the act of meeting is like an illusion and a dream. I will go!" Saying so, she (however) remained. Then she was addressed by her sorrowful son who had diligently pressed her feet against his head out of devotion: "What (to do) with pleasure, what with the joys of life when there is seperation from you? I will give up (my) life first, later I will go to heaven from here." With tears coming out from her lotus-like face, with a net made out of words she became like a trapped and tied bird, (and) therefore she remained. After she had, together with her noble son, performed her husband's obsequies she (lived) by the rules of good conduct, chastity, fasting (and) with a totally cleaned mind; (moreover) she always gave wealth to the brahmins to increase (her late husband's) merit, she remained, with him in her mind, according to the rule of the satī vow (so that) she really was like Arundhatī.“ (Trans. Th. Riccardi)

 

Axel Michaels

 

 

Von: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info <mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info> > im Auftrag von "mmdesh at umich.edu <mailto:mmdesh at umich.edu> " <mmdesh at umich.edu <mailto:mmdesh at umich.edu> >
Datum: Montag, 6. Juni 2016 um 12:24
An: Klaus Karttunen <klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi <mailto:klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi> >
Cc: "indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info> " <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info> >
Betreff: Re: [INDOLOGY] suicide as a result of love

 

In the Nalopākhyāna (in the Sanskrit Reader, Charles Lanman, p. 9-10) from the Mahabharata, Damayantī threatens to kill herself, if rejected by Nala.  She refers to four alternatives to kill herself:  yadi tvam bhajamānām mām pratyākhyāsyasi mānada / viṣam agnim jalam rajjum āsthāsye tava kāraṇāt //, "O, Giver of Honor, if you reject me who is devoted to you, then on account of you, I will resort to poison, or fire, or water, or a rope."   

 

Madhav Deshpande

 

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 5:46 AM, Klaus Karttunen <klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi <mailto:klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi> > wrote:

Dear all, 

in Harṣa’s Ratnāvalī Sāgarikā – sure that her love to the king is unsuccesful – will hang herself, but luckily the king arrives in time and saves her. There are certainly many other examples.

 

Best,

Klaus

 

Klaus Karttunen

South Asian and Indoeuropean Studies

Asian and African Studies, Department of World Cultures

PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B)

00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND

Tel +358-(0)2941 4482418

Fax +358-(0)2941 22094

Klaus.Karttunen at helsinki.fi <mailto:Klaus.Karttunen at helsinki.fi> 

 

 

 





 

On 06 Jun 2016, at 11:50, Philipp Maas <philipp.a.maas at gmail.com <mailto:philipp.a.maas at gmail.com> > wrote:

 

Dear Dermot and all,

The story of the “Weaver as Viṣṇu” occurs indeed in Pūrnabhadra’s recension of the Patañcatntra as well as in the exemplar of this recension, the so-called textus simplicior. Pūrnabhadra censored the narrative strongly from the perspective of conservative smārta-Hinduism and left out the motive of suicide out of desire for the princess, which, accordingly only occurs in the textus simplicior. 

 

For a more comprehensive analysis of the two versions of the narrative see my “On Discourses of Dharma and the Pañcatantra.” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 55 (2013-2014), p. 5-31, of which you find a pre-print draft version here <https://www.academia.edu/13986474/On_Discourses_of_Dharma_and_the_Pa%C3%B1catantra> .

 

Best wishes,

 

Philipp

 

 

2016-06-06 10:09 GMT+02:00 <dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk <mailto:dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk> >:

In Purnabhadra's version of the Pancatantra (ed. Hertel 1908 pp. 46-55; tr. A.W. Ryder 1956,
pp. 89-104), a weaver falls in love with a princess, swoons, then resolves on suicide by fire.
He is saved by his friend, a chariot-builder or carpenter (rathakAra), who promises to use his
skill to effect a union, and is spectacularly successful. It's a wonderful story, involving sex,
politics, and religion.

This is a mock-heroic example: the motif of suicidal despair resulting from love at first sight,
which is expected of exalted characters, is transferred to a man of low degree.

Dermot

On 6 Jun 2016 at 8:51, Andrew Ollett wrote:

I have the feeling that this is a relatively common motif in story literature. The one example
that comes to mind is the Prakrit verse romance Lilavati, in which one of the characters
(Kuvalayavali) has a "gandharva" wedding with a Gandharva (Citragada), and when her
father finds out and curses them, she is so overcome with shame that she tries to hang
herself from a tree. She is stopped at the last moment by her mother Rambha. This is around
v. 658 in A.N. Upadhye's edition.

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM, Alex Watson <alex.watson at ashoka.edu.in <mailto:alex.watson at ashoka.edu.in> > wrote:
    Dear List Members

    A colleague, Madhavi Menon, who is writing a book entitled 'A History of Desire in
    India', has asked me the following question. All help appreciated; I will forward your
    responses to her.

    "Are there any narratives in Sanskrit/Buddhist literature/philosophy/history that talk
    about suicide, or atma-hatya, specifically in relation to love and desire?"

    Yours Alex

    --
    Alex Watson
    Professor of Indian Philosophy
    Ashoka University
    https://ashokauniversity.academia.edu/AlexWatson

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Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA

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