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Elements and Dhatu

 
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Pierre Touchard



Joined: 24 Jul 2015
Posts: 61

Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:27 pm    Post subject: Elements and Dhatu Reply with quote


I m presenting here what seems to be a confusion in the Brihat Parasara text
(both english versions by R. Santhanam and G.C. Sharma)

The 12 Rasi are described in Chapter 4, Shloka 5-5 thus :

Aries, Sag Leo are bilious.

Taurus Virgo Cap are windy (Vata)

Gem Libra Aqua are tri-dhatu

Can Sco Pisces are Kapha (Shleshma)

Then in the detailed delineations for the 12 Rasi that follows, the Dhatus are not followed. Taurus and Capricorn become Earthy. Gemini and Aquarius are Airy. Gemini is WINDY (not tridhatu).

Likewise, Aries Leo Sag become fiery, not Pitta, and Can Scorpio Pisces become Water (not kapha)

My impression is that there is confusion between the dhatus and elements in the text. Its as if the greek slant on rasi and 4 elements has come to Parasara as we have it in english. I havent been able to check the various Hindi texts that Mr Vinay Jha has at his disposal.

This is an important aspect because dhatus are not the elements. Here Gemini becomes Windy or Vata, wereas it 5-5 it is listed as tridhatu or Mixed, having the 3 dhatus. But Shloka 5-5 had given the logical attribution of dhatu in order from Aries, It also gave all classifications, Cruel Gentle, and then Movable Dual Fixed, and then Odd Even. The 4 elements do not appear at all.

In the classes I gave earlier I had written and taught (which made sense having been raised with western concepts of Gemini being Airy) that Gem, Libra Aqua were Vata, but they are NOT, at least according to 5-5. The Vata signs are Tau, Virgo Cap !

My impression is that the 4 elements in Parasara text may have come from the greeks. Or the vocabulary Earthy Fiery is used in lieu of Dhatu words. The same greek do not have the dhatus at all though.

It is an important classification for working with health.

Pierre
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Elements and Dhatu Reply with quote

Pier wrote:
[size=18]
I m presenting here what seems to be a confusion in the Brihat Parasara text [...]
My impression is that there is confusion between the dhatus and elements in the text. Its as if the greek slant on rasi and 4 elements has come to Parasara as we have it in english. I havent been able to check the various Hindi texts that Mr Vinay Jha has at his disposal.

The Devachandra Jha Sanskrit-Hindi edition seems to have the same text for this section. But what precisely is the problem that you see here? The signs are correlated with the three humours or doṣas (or dhātus if you prefer, but that term more often refers to the seven bodily ingredients) of āyurveda, and then the first four signs are also correlated with the four elements or mahābhūtas (excluding space/ether, ākāśa). I can't see any mention of the elements for the remaining eight signs, but in any case, the elements and the humours are two separate systems, just as you say, so why should that be a problem? Can't the signs be correlated with both? (Incidentally, both systems of correlation probably have Greek antecedents.)

Gemini being called windy (anilin) probably refers to weather prognostication, just like Virgo being connected with storms (prabhañjin). In other words, I don't think it's connected to the bodily humour of wind.
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Pierre Touchard



Joined: 24 Jul 2015
Posts: 61

Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Elements and Dhatu Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Pier wrote:
[size=18]
The Devachandra Jha Sanskrit-Hindi edition seems to have the same text for this section. But what precisely is the problem that you see here? The signs are correlated with the three humours or doṣas (or dhātus if you prefer, but that term more often refers to the seven bodily ingredients) of āyurveda,

Hi Martin,
I m using the term Dhatu seen in the G.C Sharma translation, and Dosa is a variation with a coloring in terms of fault, though as you write usually we mean the 7 Dhatus. Sharma p54 :"The classification of Dhatus in the signs or Rasi in of great importance.' He also calls the theory of Dhatu the Pitta Vata Kapha scheme on previous page "the foundation of Vedic science".

.
...and then the first four signs are also correlated with the four elements or mahābhūtas (excluding space/ether, ākāśa). I can't see any mention of the elements for the remaining eight signs, but in any case, the elements and the humours are two separate systems, just as you say, so why should that be a problem? Can't the signs be correlated with both? .[/quote]

Yes it should not be a problem. I was shocked to see Taurus Cap Virgo linked to Vata. In the 12 rasi delineations, few rasi have anything reported in terms of Pitta Vata Kapha. But Gemini is attributed Windy temperament (Santhanam) instead of 3dhatu in sloka 5-5. Then you wrote :

[/quote]Gemini being called windy (anilin) probably refers to weather prognostication, just like Virgo being connected with storms (prabhañjin). In other words, I don't think it's connected to the bodily humour of wind.[/quote]

Yes interesting. So we can skip any attribution of "humour" in that section, but only in the previous paragraph sloka 5.5 ?

.[/quote](Incidentally, both systems of correlation probably have Greek antecedents.).[/quote]
I would not venture to state Greek antecedents for the Dhatus. I have not seen them there but perhaps you have seen them there ? (The 4 elements yes may be stemming from the Empedocles/Aristotle line. And then the Stoics gave us a changed account which does not respect Aristotle definition, and this is the Stoic version that stayed in the West. About the elements I have trouble seeing the Akash-Ether not attributed to any sign)

But on the subject of dhatu and elements, its interesting that so called Fire and Water signs are respectively Pitta and Kapha, since those might seem to have some sort of link. For instance Pitta is related to hunger and digestion, and fire signs are usually hundry signs.
Thanks Martin
PierreT
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:34 am    Post subject: Re: Elements and Dhatu Reply with quote

Pier wrote:
Yes it should not be a problem.[...] But Gemini is attributed Windy temperament (Santhanam) instead of 3dhatu in sloka 5-5.

Right. I didn't really look at the translation before. Yes, the 'temperament' bit is an addition by Santhanam that was then probably copied by Sharma. The text just has'nilī 'windy' (in the nominative), and it doesn't seem to relate to the elements either, as the same half-stanza also calls it vāyur 'air[y]', so my guess would be that it is meant to refer to weather. (It reminds me of Valens, who also describes the signs partly in terms of weather phenomena.)

Quote:
So we can skip any attribution of "humour" in that section, but only in the previous paragraph sloka 5.5 ?

Yes.

Quote:
I would not venture to state Greek antecedents for the Dhatus. I have not seen them there but perhaps you have seen them there ?

No, not the system of three humours as such, but the correlation between them and the signs looks distinctly odd to me. If you have a system of three humours and want to relate them to the twelve signs, why not just assign four signs to each humour? The BPH version looks as though it's constructed on the basis of a four-humour system, to give three cycles of four rather than four cycles of three. The missing fourth humour has then been replaced with a 'mixture of three'.

We can take this further. The four Greek humours are:
- choler, that is bile, which can be translated straight off as pitta;
- so-called black bile, which doesn't exist in the Indian system but is assigned some of the same qualities as vāta;
- blood, which has no corresponding element in the Indian system;
- phlegm, which again is directly translatable as kapha.

These four are assigned in order to the signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer (and so on). And this is exactly the order found in the BPH, with the 'mixture of three' in the place of the missing sanguine humour.

There is an interesting paper by Dominik Wujastyk on the origins of the three- (and possibly, four-) humour system, available here.

Quote:
About the elements I have trouble seeing the Akash-Ether not attributed to any sign

The number of elements isn't entirely fixed in Indian tradition (I seem to recall that the materialist school[s] rejected ākāśa, though this isn't really my field and I can't give you a reference straight off), but in this case I'm sure we are looking at direct Greek influence.

Quote:
But on the subject of dhatu and elements, its interesting that so called Fire and Water signs are respectively Pitta and Kapha, since those might seem to have some sort of link. For instance Pitta is related to hunger and digestion, and fire signs are usually hundry signs.

Indeed. I do recommend that Wujastyk paper; I think you will find it illuminating.
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pankajdubey



Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try practising Modern Western medicine in India and you have a wind that is in the knees going into the stomach causing burping and flatulence and it can go up or down !!
वात m. morbid affection of the windy humour , flatulence , gout , rheumatism etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dosha

and they have Homeopathy and Unani(Greek) medicine too.

BTW, most of them give injections and write antibiotics.

That must be Brihaat Parasara Hora Very Happy
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey wrote:
and they have Homeopathy and Unani(Greek) medicine too.

Reminds me of something a South Indian paṇḍita jokingly told me once about his medical problems (has to be read in the regional accent): 'I tried everything -- homoeopathy, allopathy, Umapathy, Ramapathy!'

[Umāpati = Śiva; Ramāpati = Viṣṇu.]
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy

because त is th in southern version.
In north सविता would be Savita whereas in South it is written as Savitha.
or Jayalalita vs Jayalalitha.
No wonder he rhymed Umapati with Homeopathy.
Something similar must have happened to BPHS .
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Pierre Touchard



Joined: 24 Jul 2015
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Posted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Elements and Dhatu Reply with quote

[quote="Martin Gansten"].... it doesn't seem to relate to the elements either, as the same half-stanza also calls it vāyur 'air[y]', so my guess would be that it is meant to refer to weather. (It reminds me of Valens, who also describes the signs partly in terms of weather phenomena.)

They are expressing Samkhya philosophy here implied in the astrological schemes. But the weather derivation escapes me still. It is the same with the so called Earth element which is a mix of the other 3 (despite my reservations about the 4 elements). And also the Triplicities, wereas Dual is a mix of Fixed and Movable. Perhaps we shouldnt intellectualize these categories too much and take them as is and extract information from them as they stand.

If you have a system of three humours and want to relate them to the twelve signs, why not just assign four signs to each humour? The BPH version looks as though it's constructed on the basis of a four-humour system, to give three cycles of four rather than four cycles of three. The missing fourth humour has then been replaced with a 'mixture of three'.

We can take this further. The four Greek humours are:
- choler, that is bile, which can be translated straight off as pitta;
- so-called black bile, which doesn't exist in the Indian system but is assigned some of the same qualities as vāta;
- blood, which has no corresponding element in the Indian system;
- phlegm, which again is directly translatable as kapha.

Intriguing and these Greek Humours stem from something akin so its quite old. I keep reading Indians saying we shouldnt equate phlegm and bile to kapha pitta though. Perhaps their notion that all of this is uniquely Indian !

The number of elements isn't entirely fixed in Indian tradition (I seem to recall that the materialist school[s] rejected ākāśa, though this isn't really my field and I can't give you a reference straight off), but in this case I'm sure we are looking at direct Greek influence.

Yes the asuras (materialists) have gone this way and now we have a shaky astrology we dont quite trust. Thanks a great deal for your thoughts Martin, always helpful, I looked up the paper you mentioned and am studying it now, very nice

Pierre
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