[INDOLOGY] Techniques of Blinding

Christophe Vielle christophe.vielle at uclouvain.be
Mon May 4 05:38:05 EDT 2020

Note that (beside the fact that one of the actors of the film, Irrfan Khan, recently died) the blinding with acid is the technique  recommended in AŚ 4,10.13 
(Tokunaga's input on GRETIL)
KAZ04.10.13/ śūdrasya brāhmaṇa.vādino deva.dravyam avastṛṇato rāja.dviṣṭam ādiśato dvi.netra.bhedinaś ca yoga.añjanena^andhatvam, aṣṭa.śato vā daṇḍaḥ //

(tr. R. Shamasastry  https://archive.org/details/Arthasastra_English_Translation <https://archive.org/details/Arthasastra_English_Translation> )
When a Sudra calls himself a Brahman, or when any person 
steals the property of gods, conspires against the king, or destroys 
both the eyes of another, he shall either have his eyes destroyed by 
the application of poisonous ointment, or pay a fine of 800 panas.
(Sorry, I have not Olivelle's translation at hand)


> Le 3 mai 2020 à 15:26, Matthew Kapstein via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> a écrit :
> Dear Walter,
> I don't think that "touching" is the adjective that I would choose to describe the harrowing scene from the film you mention. (The connotation of the word in English is the arousing of positive sympathy.)
> But that is not my main reason for responding. The reference to the use of a needle recalled a scene in Orhan Pamuk's novel Red set, not in India, but in Ottoman Turkey. Perhaps the practic e was rather widespread in earlier times.
> best,
> Matthew
> Matthew Kapstein
> Directeur d'études, émérite
> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris
> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
> The University of Chicago
> From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info <mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info>> on behalf of Walter Slaje via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
> Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2020 3:35 AM
> To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info <mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Techniques of Blinding
> Dear Colleagues,
> I take the advantage of the muted attempts at postmodern creative writing in Sanskrit to post a request pertaining to the study of material culture and social history in mediaeval India. My source is a representative of – if I might say so – “Sanskrit literary realism”, namely Kavi Śrīvara, who depicts a technique of blinding in his Rājataraṅgiṇī as it was practised in Kashmir between c. AD 1472 and 1474.
> Most of you will certainly be aware of the prevailing practice in South Asia of using acid, and possibly of the touching blinding scene shown in Slumdog Millionaire:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy1Wxxcp7_Y <https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Ddy1Wxxcp7_Y&data=02%7C01%7Cchristophe.vielle%40uclouvain.be%7Cf6f215cdf0a4428c098608d7ef65b958%7C7ab090d4fa2e4ecfbc7c4127b4d582ec%7C0%7C0%7C637241092485205606&sdata=zG6NN86LcXPgqI%2BEHYStASVX39ahLZQNfEtum9wkASo%3D&reserved=0>
> but what Śrīvara was watching as an eyewitness at the royal court he was serving in Sultanate Kashmir was done differently. It comes closer to the verbatim meaning of netra-utpāṭana (“tearing out one’s eyes”), as they seem to have gouged out the eyes of the victim, to wit, Bahrām Khān, pretender to the throne and uncle of the ruling Sultan Hassan:
> tasya tūlācite netradvaye taptāṃ śalākikām |
> Jonarājānako lauhīṃ dṛṅnāśārtham adāpayat || III.107 ||
> [107]In order to destroy [Bahrām’s] eyesight, the Rājānaka Jona administered a red-hot copper needle to [his] eyeballs, which had been covered with cotton.
> Śrīvara comments:
> nairghṛṇyam akṣihartur yat kṛṣṭākṣasya ca yā vyathā |
> dvayaṃ na śakyate vaktuṃ yathārthaṃ mādṛśāṃ girā || III.108 ||
> [108][Poets] like me have no words to express in an adequate manner the heartlessness of the one who took his eyes and the agony of the one from whom they were torn.
> It is not the only instance of netrotpāṭana in his work, however to my present knowledge it is the only one to render precise details.
> In preparation of a new edition and annotated translation of Śrīvara’s masterpiece I would like to ask if someone might be aware of any other source having preserved details of the techniques of blinding in India? My request does not concern the undisputed occurrence of netrotpāṭana, but only the techniques, if known.
> On- and off-list replies would be equally welcome.
> Thanking you,
> Walter Slaje
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Christophe Vielle <https://uclouvain.be/en/directories/christophe.vielle>

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