[INDOLOGY] The seven trees Rāma shot

victor davella vbd203 at googlemail.com
Sun Mar 29 07:27:06 EDT 2020


Dear All,

Has any research been done on the name of the seven trees Rāma shoot in R
4.12? It seems as though this is one of those text-critical issues that is
almost impossible to decide: śāla-sāla-tāla. I'm more or less aware of all
that the lexicographers have to say on the matter (śāla is prescribed by
Maheśvara but commentators on the Amarakośa 2.4.know both sāla and śāla,
etc.). I am working on a passage where more or the less the same variants
are available as in R 4.12 and was intrigued by the fact that Ñ1, our
oldest dated witness (Samvat 1076/1020 CE) has tāla throughout. Other
Devanāgarī MSS and the Śārada MS share it as well, so it seems that it was
intentional and not just a confusion of सा/ता.

A brief note on Sanskrit composition and poetic criticism since this is a
topic I have been occupied with for years now: if we wish to compose
according to the standards as reported in sources spanning some 1600 years
and very much still current today, it is absolutely necessary to adhere to
grammatically correct Sanskrit and the rules of meter (the classical śḷoka
is not quite as easy as it seems). Although most great poets have used
forms that have been subject to criticism and endless debate (this is
especially true of Kālidāsa but even Māgha's famed verse on the bells
[4.20] drives grammarians mad), it is best for beginners to stick with
well-attested grammatical forms and avoid those found in the Epics. Epic
forms are of course not wrong, but my impression is that we, as non-ṛṣis,
have not business using them and poems containing them would be readily
dismissed especially at the beginning stages of composition.  One of the
benefits of presenting poetry or other work to the sabhā is to receive
feedback for improvement. This has always been the case. Yet criticism and
erudition can come in many forms. I always think of Pt. Añjaneya Śarma's
response to my question about the meaning of "fragrant gold" (to
paraphrase): any paṇḍit is of course gold, but a kind paṇḍit is fragrant
gold.

All the Best,
Victor
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