[INDOLOGY] The seven trees Rāma shot

Asko Parpola aparpola at gmail.com
Sun Mar 29 08:56:41 EDT 2020


I have written the following on this topic in the joint paper by Asko Parpola & Juha Janhunen, “On the Asiatic Wild Asses and Their Vernacular Names”, pp. 59-124 in: Toshiki Osada & Hitoshi Endo (eds.), Linguistics, Archaeology and the Human Part: Occasional Paper 12, Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 2011; reprinted, pp. 59-124 in: Toshiki Osada & Hitoshi Endo (eds.), Current Studies on the Indus Civilization, vol. IX, New Delhi: Manohar, 2012.

Page 111, note 94. Another reason is Balarāma’s great strength (bala-). The stem of the palmyra palm is hard as stone, and the Buddha as a young prince alone among several contestants was able to pierce seven palmyra palms that stood in a row with a single arrow (cf. Mahāvastu 2 p. 75-76 & Lalitavistara 2, p. 155; this episode of the Buddha's life is depicted both in cave 16 at Ajaṇṭā and in Borobuḍur, and the trees depicted are clearly palmyra palms). In Rāmāyaṇa 4,11,47 - 4,12,9, Rāma performs the same feat. Many manuscripts here have tāla instead of sāla in the critical edition and Lefeber's translation (cf. Lefeber 1994: 77-78 and 224-226; sāla is Shorea robusta). It is undoubtedly for such a reason that also Bhīṣma (cf. Mahābhārata 6,44,48) and Kṛṣṇa (Mahābhārata 16,4,5) are said to have the palmyra palm as the emblem on their banner. (See Syed 1990: 311-314 and 323-324 with Abb. 14.6-7.) 

With best wishes, Asko

> On 29 Mar 2020, at 14.27, victor davella via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> 
> 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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> 
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