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Does aḍḍhakāsika not mean "worth half of Kāsī"?


#1

Aḍḍhakāsika is the name of an especially famous courtesan, and is the price of a certain valuable cloth sent by the King of Kāsi.

Horner translates as “half a kāsī”, while Cone has it as dubious, either “made of a certain cloth from Kāsi” or according to the commentaries, worth 500. Brahmali adopts the latter reading.

All of these seem dubious. What is “half a kāsī”? We only know of “the” Kāsī, i.e. Benares. It seems hard to know how “made of a certain kind of cloth” could apply to a courtesan. “Worth 500” seems to imply that a kāsī is a thousand, but there is no basis for this.

Surely, however, it is simply an idiom, “(worth) half of Kāsī”, i.e. “priceless”. Kāsī is legendary as the home of the finest goods and products, and to say something is worth “half of Kāsī” is to say it is of inconceivable value. Compare the English idiom, “worth a king’s ransom”.

None of the renderings above, however, actually capture this sense. “Worth 500 coins” sounds like a price tag.

I’d suggest something like “priceless” or “inestimable”.


#2

Interesting. I think you are onto something. Here are my thoughts.

Kāsika is used in a number of places to qualify cloth. This qualification could just mean that the cloth is from Kāsi, but it is clear from context that kāsika refers to high-end cloth. So kāsika appears to be like a modern brand. Kāsika is perhaps the Armani of ancient India!

I would suggest aḍḍhakāsika is another “brand” name. I agree that the commentarial precision of 500 is suspect. Perhaps I could render this simply as “valuable” or “expensive” cloth.


#3

Huh, no actually, I forgot that kāsika by itself means “cloth from Kasi”. In that case, surely we should read the other meaning of aḍḍha, i.e. “opulent”. So the phrase means “luxury cloth from Kāsī”.

In fact this meaning is established in Aḍḍhakāsi’s verse. It has aḍḍhenagghaṃ ṭhapesi maṃ, where aḍḍha must mean “high value”, not “half”.

So Aḍḍhakāsi as a name (or epithet rather) means “as valuable as Kāsī”, while aḍḍhakāsika means “luxury cloth from Kāsī”. Presumably the former was influenced by the latter.

I think it is worth retaining the connection with Kāsī. In the verse of Addhakasi, she specifically invokes the “country of Kasi”. And in Kd 8, it is the king of Kāsi who donates cloth. It’s not like “champagne”, where the connection with place is all but lost (except for, you know, the French); it is specifically from that place.

Also it’s interesting that the name seems to be always Aḍḍhakāsi in the Pali canon, except in the uddanas for Kd 20 and Thi ap 40. Walters calls her Aḍḍhakāsikā, but at least my text has Aḍḍhakāsi. We’ll see what the Dutiyaparakkamabahu Cullavagga says!

(BTW, Deepika and Roshini have completed much of the first chapter. So far the most significant new variant is one instance of vadenti vs. vakkhanti.)


#4

Revolutionary! Quite reassuring, really.


#5

So they say. Or so they will say? It’s a mystery!