[INDOLOGY] Techniques of Blinding

Eli Franco franco at uni-leipzig.de
Mon May 4 17:11:09 EDT 2020



If my memory does not fail me, Goldstein’s History of Modern Tibet  
contains a firsthand account of a high-ranking government official  
being blinded as a punishment. The technique applied first was to put  
pressure on the temples till the eyes would pop out. When this failed,  
his eyes were cut out with knives.
Best wishes, E.F.






Zitat von Walter Slaje via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>:

> The passage talking about the substance resulting from a mixture of
> specific bird droppings with specific plant saps only says that it causes
> blindness (*andhīkaraṇam añjanam*):
>
> *śārikā-kapota-baka-balākā-leṇḍam arka-akṣi-pīluka-snuhi-kṣīrapiṣṭam
> andhīkaraṇam añjanam udakadūṣaṇaṃ ca* || (AŚ 14,1.15)
>
> “Dung of Myrna bird, pigeon, Baka-heron, Balākā-flamingo, made into a paste
> with the milk of the plants Arka, Akṣi, Pīluka, and Snuhi, produces a
> collyrium that causes blindness and poisons water” (Olivelle 2013: 422)
>
>
>
> The two translators refer to this *andhīkaraṇa añjana* with a view to
> establishing the meaning of *yogāñjana* in AŚ 4,10.13.
>
>
>
> As an interim summary let it be noted that
>
> first, only (4 species of) birds are enumerated in this context. Their
> droppings have high uric *acid* levels.
>
> Second, the sap of the two identified plants (of altogether 4 plant
> species), *arka* and *snuhi*, are spoken of as “*corrosive*” (*arka*) and “
> *caustic*” (*snuhi*).
>
> This is what the Wikipedia has to say about the spurge: „The milky sap of
> spurges (called „latex“)“ is said to have „caustic effects“: “In contact
> with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), the latex can produce extremely
> painful inflammation. The sap has also been known to cause mild to extreme
> Keratouveitis, which affects vision. […] wearing eye protection while
> working in close contact with *Euphorbia* is advised. […] *severe eye
> damage including permanent blindness* may result from exposure to the sap.”
>
>
>
> What effect would a conglomerate of highly acidic bird droppings and
> caustic plant saps exercise on the unprotected eye? The notion of
> “poisoning” is less likely than that of causing severe burns. So far
> everything points therefore to "acid" as the technique of blinding
> recommended in the AŚ, as spontaneously suggested by Christophe Vielle.
>
>
>
> Regards,
>
> WS
>
> Am Mo., 4. Mai 2020 um 19:20 Uhr schrieb Dominik Wujastyk <
> wujastyk at gmail.com>:
>
>> "yogāñjana" could mean "magic ointment" (magic<-yogic), or "an ointment
>> consisting of a medicinal compound."
>>
>> The *samāsa* may refer deictically to poisons or corrosive substances
>> (denotation), but that's not what the *samāsa* means lexically (i.e.,
>> semantically).
>>
>> *Arka*, Purple Calotropis <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calotropis>, is
>> a milkweed with a corrosive, poisonous sap. *Snuhī*, a spurge
>> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia#Irritants>, similarly has white,
>> corrosive sap.  Etc.
>>
>> Best,
>> Dominik
>>
>>
>> > blinding with acid is the technique recommended in AŚ 4,10.13
>>>
>>> Is “acid” the meaning of yogāñjana?
>>>
>>> Meyer translates „Giftsalbe“ (p. 352).
>>> Kangle translates „poisonous collyrium“ (p. 282)
>>> Olivelle translates „toxic collyrium“ (p. 422)
>>>
>>> For the meaning of yogāñjana in AŚ 4,10.13, Kangle and Olivelle both
>>> refer to AŚ 14,1.15, where “andhīkaraṇam añjanam” occurs. The preparation
>>> of this substance with the power of blinding is defined there as:
>>> “Dung of Myrna bird, pigeon, Baka-heron, Balākā-flamingo, made into a
>>> paste with the milk of the plants Arka, Akṣi, Pīluka, and Snuhi, produces a
>>> collyrium that causes blindness and poisons water” (Olivelle 2013: 422).
>>>
>>> It is well known that bird droppings consist of uric acid. Their mixture
>>> with plant sap could indeed have resulted in a substance, which might be
>>> seen as a premodern precursor of acid used in today’s attacks going by that
>>> name. Our colleagues focussing on Indian alchemy and medicine will be able
>>> to judge it better.
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Professor Dominik Wujastyk
>> <https://www.ualberta.ca/arts/about/people-collection/dominik-wujastyk>
>> ,
>>
>> Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity
>> ,
>>
>> Department of History and Classics
>> <http://historyandclassics.ualberta.ca/>
>> ,
>> University of Alberta, Canada
>> .
>>
>>
>> South Asia at the U of A:
>>
>> sas.ualberta.ca
>>
>>


-- 
Prof. Dr. Eli Franco
Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften
Schillerstr. 6
04109 Leipzig

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Fax +49 341 9737 148





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