Kakaṇṭaka. Common Garden Lizard, Calotes versicolor (Ja I 487), sometimes kakaṇṭa. A common medium-sized lizard, brown or grey in colour, with an oval head and a laterally compressed body. Males have large cheek pouches and a row of lance-shaped scales from the nape of the head to the end of the body. The common garden lizard is largely arboreal, favouring bushes and undergrowth and quickly moves to the far side of the branch it is resting on when observed. During the breeding season the male’s head and forelegs become bright scarlet and it makes an unusual bobbing movement with its head to attract females and threaten rival males (Ja I 442).
Kakuṭa. A general term for doves, birds of the Order Columbiformes, of which there are five species in northern India. The mythological female creatures called accharā, Sanskrit apsarā, were believed to have legs like doves. After becoming a monk, the Buddha’s half-brother Nanda could not stop thinking of his former girlfriend. The Buddha transported him to one of the heaven realms and showed him the accharā ‘with feet like doves’ whose beauty made the girlfriend look, by comparison, ‘like a mutilated monkey’ (Ud 22).
Kakudha. See Ajjuna.
Kakkaṭa. Barking Deer or Muntjac, Muntiacus muntjak (Ja VI 538), called kākar in Hindi. This small deer has a glossy brown coat, forelimbs longer than the hind limbs and short antlers curved inwards at the end. The barking deer prefers thick forest and makes a sharp barking call when alarmed. The Pali name is probably an onomatopoeia of this call.
Kakkaṭaka. See Kulīra.
Kakkārika. Cucumber, Cucumis sativus (Vin III 59; Vv-a 142), sometimes kakkārī. A creeper producing a long rounded fruit with dark-green skin and succulent light-green flesh and which is usually eaten raw. Other varieties of cucumber were elāluka (Ja I 205; V 37; Vv-a 142) and tipusa (Ja V 37). The cucumber is probably indigenous to India.
Kakkāru. White Gourd or Winter Melon, Benincasa hispida (Ja VI 536), also kumbhaṇḍa (Ja I 312; 411; V 37). A large climber with soft hairs all over and which produces oblong rounded fruit which is eaten cooked or crystallized in sugar and eaten as a sweetmeat. Its fruit could be as big as a large clay pot (Ja VI 536).
Kaṅka. A general term for cranes and herons (M I 364), of which there are several dozen species in India. The Mahābhārata mentions kaṅka circling overhead with vultures and crows and prowling around the battlefield together with jackals. As neither herons nor cranes are carrion-eaters, the name kaṅka must have included the Greater Adjutant Stork, Leptoptilos dubius. This large, sad-looking bird has a black back and wings, a dirty-white breast, a naked neck and head and a huge yellow wedge-shaped bill. Hanging from the neck is a long naked red pouch. With its measured gait, the bird is often seen alone or in pairs around garbage dumps in cities and villages or at the edge of lakes, where it eats frogs, fish, large insects and carrion. The feathers of cranes and herons were used to make flights for arrows (Ja V 475; M I 429).
Kaṅgu. Millet. A hardy grass cultivated for its edible seeds. Several varieties of millet grow in and are probably indigenous to northern India, common ones being Pennisettum glaucum, Pearl Millet; Pali sāmāka (Sn 239); Echinochloa colona, Sawa Millet; Paspalum scrobiculatum, and Setaria italica, Foxtail Millet. Millet is one of the seven kinds of grain sometimes mentioned in the Tipiṭaka (Ja VI 581; Vin IV 264). See Kudrūsa, Piyaṅgu2.
Kacaka. A type of tree (Ja VI 536).
Kaccikāra. Uncertain. The name might be an alternative form of kaṇṇikāra. On the other hand it might be Caesalpinia digyna (Ja V 420; VI 535), a large many-branched evergreen shrub covered with thorns. It bears beautiful pale-yellow flowers.
Kacchaka. A type of tree which the Buddha names along with the assattha, nigrodha, pilakkha, udumbara and the kapitthana as having ‘tiny seeds, huge bodies and growing around other trees so that they bend, twist and split’ (S V 96; Vin IV 34). This is probably the Dye Fig, Ficus tinctoria, a small tree with grey bark and shiny bright green leaves. Although not actually parasitic, the dye fig is hemiepiphytic, i.e. for part of its life cycle it grows up against other trees, which no doubt prompted the Buddha to think of it as parasitic. The tree’s small rusty brown figs are used to make a red dye widely used to dye fabrics.
Kacchapa. Turtle, sometimes also kuma or kumma, reptiles of the order Chelonia. Turtles live in marine or freshwater habitats while tortoises, sometimes called land turtles, are terrestrial. Four species of marine turtles swim in Indian waters, the most common being the Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata. The Buddha was probably referring to this turtle in his well-known statement about the rarity of being born human and of coming into contact with the Dhamma:
‘Monks, suppose this great earth were covered with water and a man were to throw a yoke in it and blown by the wind it were to drift north, south, east and west. Suppose also that once every hundred years a blind turtle were to surface. What do you think? What are the chances that the blind turtle were to put its head through the yoke?’ ‘It is very unlikely, Lord.’ ‘Monks, it is just as unlikely that one will be reborn as a human, just as unlikely that a Tathāgata should appear in the world, just as unlikely that the Dhamma should be taught to the world.’ (S V 456–57)
Freshwater turtles are mentioned in the Tipiṭaka although it is not possible to identify any of the several species that inhabit the rivers and ponds of northern India. They were described as having four legs, a neck like a pole and a body round like a banyan tree (Ja II 152). Freshwater turtles were eaten and we read of those living in lakes being speared with harpoons (S II 227). Some of the behaviour of turtles that were observed included floating on the surface of the water but on seeing someone quickly submerging, coming out of the water to bask in the sun and digging burrows in the banks of rivers. If a turtle was on the bank of a river and a predator like a jackal approached, it would withdraw into its shell and remain still (S IV 177–78; Mil 370–72). They were believed to be able to tell when there was going to be a drought (Ja II 80) and at such times would burrow into the mud trying to keep wet (Ja I 331). A thing or event that was impossible was referred to as ‘a turtle’s hair’ (Ja III 477). The Buddha said the meditative monk should in some ways imitate the turtle: ‘Just as the turtle withdraws its limbs into its shell, a monk should withdraw his mind and thoughts’ (S I 7). See Cittacūḷā Kacchapa and Gajakumbha.
Kaṭukarohiṇī. Picrorhiza, Picrorhiza kurroa. This small herb has elongated leaves with serrated edges and small purple flowers and grows between 3000 and 5000 metres in the Himalayas. A fragrant but bitter oil is extracted from the rhizome of the plant. The Buddha recommended the Picrorhiza as a medicine (Vin I 201). It also was, and still is, used to make incense and perfume (Ja II 416).
Kaṭeruha. A type of flowering bush (Ja VI 537).
Kaṭṭhaka. See Naḷa.
Kaṇa. See Taṇḍula.
Kaṇavīra. See Karavīra.
Kaṇikā. Premna integrifolia (Ap 17), sometimes kaṇṇikā. A small tree with a thorny trunk and a beautiful white or green flower. The wood of this tree is hard, even-grained and pleasantly-scented.
Kaṇikāra. Pterospermum acerifolium (A V 61; Bv XVII.19; D II 111; Ja V 295; IV 535; M II 14), sometimes also kaṇṇikāra. A tall majestic deciduous tree with rounded leaves, green on top and greyish-white beneath and a large creamy-white, sweet-smelling flower that turn brownish-yellow as they mature. Monks’ robes were described as being as yellow as the kaṇikāra flower (Ja II 25). In the Jātaka there is a story in which a young woman tells her mother that if she dies ‘collect my bones, burn them, raise a monument and plant a kaṇikāra tree there. Then, when it breaks into blossom in the spring, when the winter is over, you will remember me, my mother, and say “Such was the beauty of my daughter” ’ (Ja V 302). The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang mentioned that all the roads around Rājagaha were lined with kanikāra trees and in the spring the forests would become golden-coloured with their blossoms.
Kaṇṭakalatā. This name means ‘thorn vine’ (Ja V 175) and must refer to thorny or prickly vines and creepers in general or perhaps one of the many such plants in the Indian forests.
Kaṇṭakuraṇḍa. See Koraṇḍa.
Kaṇhasappa. Sometimes kālasappa, meaning ‘black snake’ both terms are as much descriptions as names and refer to the King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah (Ja I 336; III 269; V 446). The king cobra has a blackish-brown body with lighter bands around it, a creamy or orange throat and can grow up to 5 metres long. It is an aggressive snake, sometimes attacking without provocation and when biting it holds on tenaciously, injecting poison into the victim with a chewing motion of the jaws. It prefers thick jungle and feeds exclusively on other snakes. The king cobra is described as having a hood (Ja III 347). The Buddha said that king cobras are dirty and odorous, terrifying and frightful and that they always betray their friends (A III 260–61). See Nāga and Sappa.
Kaṭamāya. A type of animal, the commentary says it is a large deer (Ja VI 538).
Katthu. See Soṇa.
Kadamba. Neolamarckia cadamba (Ja VI 535), also kalamba. It is also known as nīpa or mahānīpa (Ja I 13; Bv II.51; XII.24). A large straight tree with a simple leaf and a pinkish or orange flower which hangs down on drooping branches. The fruit, which is extremely sour, is round and covered with a whitish down. The kadamba has nearly disappeared in the wild and is now found mainly in gardens. Wine was flavoured with kadamba flowers.
Kadalimiga. Sometimes kadalīmiga and kādalīmiga. A type of deer (D I 7; II 187; Ja V 406; VI 277).
Kadalī. Banana, of which the species that grew in ancient India may have been Musa balbisiana. A tall perennial plant with a stem consisting of long stiff leaf sheaths rolled around each other and large bright green paddle-like leaves. The fruits, which grow in large bunches are oblong, slightly curved, yellow when ripe and edible. After it fruits, the stem of the plant dies away (A II 73; M I 233; S I 154; II 241). When unrolled, the trunk is found to be porous and empty (S III 141). The bud of the flower is compared with the colour of teeth (Thī 260). Banana leaves, which resemble a large paddle or banner (Ja V 195), were used as plates as they still are today (Ja V 4). See Moca.
Kanda. The root of a plant which could be (Ja I 273; IV 373; VI 516).
Kapi. A general term for monkeys, sometimes also makkaṭa (Ja II 269; III 355; V 68), primates of the superfamily Cercopithecidae. The various words for monkey in the Tipiṭaka seem to be used loosely and interchangeably as is suggested by the mention of a large black-faced monkey, a clear reference to the Hanuman Langur, and a small red-faced monkey, a reference to the Rhesus Macaque. In both cases the word makkaṭa is used (Ja II 445). However, many of the numerous stories about monkeys in the Jātakas would seem to refer mainly to the macaque because this monkey would have been more familiar to most people and because of its more human-like appearance and often amusing antics.
Monkeys pull faces and threaten people (Ja II 70) and while moving through the forest they grab a branch and let go of it only to grab another (S II 95; Sn 791). Hunters used to go into the forests of the Himalayan foothills and set traps of sticky pitch to catch them. The more curious monkeys would touch the pitch, get stuck and while trying to free one paw would get their other paws stuck. The hunters would then kill them, put the carcass on a spit and cook them over a fire (S V 148). Mahākassapa said that a monk who wears rag robes and yet is conceited, is like a monkey wrapped in a lion’s skin (Th 1080). Street entertainers had monkeys which were trained to play with snakes and to do tricks (Ja III 198). In the Jātaka, monkeys are depicted as having the best and worst human traits and attitudes. According to the Jātaka, the Bodhisatta was often reborn as a monkey (e.g. Ja III 355). See Sākhāmiga and Vānara.
Kapikacchu. The Velvet Bean, Cowitch or Lyon Bean, Mucuna pruriens, sometimes mahākacchu. A climbing vine-like shrub with trifoliate leaves, dark purple flowers that hang down, and elongated seed pods encasing six to eight shiny black or brown beans. It is a useful plant: its stems and leaves are used as fodder, its beans are edible and are used in traditional medicine. However, the plant is notorious for the fine orangey-coloured hairs on the seed pods which cause intense itching if touched. The Petavatthu tells of a wife who sprinkled her husband’s bed with these hairs because she was angry at him (Pv-a 84).
Kapiñjala. Grey Francolin, Francolinus pondicerianus, sometimes kapiñjara (Ja I 212; VI 538; Vin III 48). About half the size of the domestic chicken, this bird has a blotched-chestnut back, wings and tail, a lighter-coloured breast and a rufous throat circumscribed by a black line. The sexes are the same except that the male has spurs on its legs. The grey francolin favours dry scrub and grassland and feeds on insects ‘rough grass and seeds’ (Ja III 312). When disturbed it flies off with a loud whirling sound. It is also a fast runner. Hunters would imitate the francolin’s call to attract them and then catch them with nets (Ja I 208). The Buddha said that too much or too little exertion could be detrimental to concentration, just as holding a francolin too tightly would kill it or holding it too loosely would allow it to fly through one’s fingers (M III 159).
The Jātaka says that the reason why francolins are plump is because their minds are content and still, because they do not stray far from home and because they maintain themselves with whatever food they get (Ja III 313). The Nidānakathā mentions monasteries being decorated with rows of geese and francolins, probably painted or moulded in plaster (Ja I 92). See Lāpa and Vaṭṭakā.
Kapittha. Wood-Apple Tree, Limonia acidissima, sometimes kapiṭṭha, kaviṭṭha (Ja V 38; VI 529; Vin IV 35), a medium-sized deciduous tree with spiny branches and a large, globular, greyish-coloured, hard woody fruit containing numerous seeds embedded in an aromatic pulp. The pulp has an acidic taste and is used to make chutneys and to acidify curd, and the gum from the tree is used to treat diarrhoea. One who wants wood apples will knock them out of the tree by throwing a wood apple at them (Mil 189).
Kapitthana. A type of tree often mentioned together with the assattha, nigrodha, pilakkha, udumbara and the kacchaka as having ‘tiny seeds, huge bodies and growing around other trees so that they bend, twist and split’ (S V 96; Ja II 445) . Thus it is likely that it is a species of Ficus.
Kapota. Blue Rock Pigeon, Columba livia, sometimes also pārāvata (Ja I 244). A familiar bird the world over, the blue rock pigeon is slate grey with a shining metallic green and purple sheen on its breast and neck and pink legs and eyes. The English name is due to the pigeon’s habit of nesting and roosting on cliffs and in rocky places. The pigeon is as much at home in lightly-forested and open country as it is in villages and towns and eats mainly grass seed (Ja I 242). The Buddha described old bones as being pigeon-coloured (Dhp 149). One of the places around Rājagaha where monks sometimes used to stay was called Pigeon’s Cave (Ud 39). According to the 5th Pillar Edict, King Asoka forbade the killing of white pigeons and village pigeons. The Arthaśāstra mentions tying messages to the pigeon’s legs. According to the Jātakas, the Bodhisatta was once reborn as a pigeon (Ja I 242). See Kakuṭa.
Kappāsa. Cotton Bush, (Ja I 350; VI 184), of which about eight species grow in northern India. The species mentioned in the Tipiṭaka might be Gossypium arboreum as Brahmins make their sacred threads only from this type, suggesting its antiquity. This species of cotton is a large shrub with slender, sometimes purple branches, small, smooth leaves and large, beautiful purple flowers. The round black seeds are embedded in a white fluffy wool-like fibre which can be made into thread (S V 284; Th 104; Vin I 271). Leaves of the cotton bush were used as a medicine (Vin I 201) and an oil can be extracted from the seeds. Cotton fibre and thread were called picu. Cotton cloth was the most common fabric used in ancient India. After being harvested and separated from the seed, the fibre was spun into thread and then woven into cloth (D II 351).
Nakulamātā, one of the Buddha’s female disciples, was very accomplished at spinning cotton (A III 295) and the Brahmin Velāma once made a gift of 84,000 lengths of cotton cloth (A IV 394). Cotton was used for a variety of purposes including padding sandals (Vin I 196). When asked what should be done with his body after his final Nirvana, the Buddha said that it should be wrapped in new cloth, then in teased cotton wool and then in new cloth. That being done, it should be placed in an iron coffin and then cremated (D II 141–42). Referring to one of his supernormal powers, the Buddha once said: ‘Just as a wisp of fluff or cotton when blown by the wind easily rises up into the air, so too, when the Tathāgata immerses the mind into the body and the body into the mind and he abides in a blissful and buoyant perception towards the body, his body easily rises into the air’ (S V 284). Cotton was ginned with an instrument resembling a bow called dhanuka (Ja VI 41), dhunaith in Hindi.
Kappūra. Camphor, Cinnamomum camphora. The name of a tree and a whitish crystalline aromatic substance extracted from it and certain other trees (Ja VI 537). Camphor was used as a perfume (Ja I 290, II 416), a medicine, to flavour water and in religious ceremonies. Ancient texts distinguished two types of camphor: ‘unheated’, i.e. crystals found in the wood or on the bark; and ‘heated’, i.e. prepared by steam distillation. Both the Carakasaṃhitā and Suśrutasaṃhitā mention the medicinal qualities of camphor and it is still used to treat diarrhoea and as a cardiac stimulant. Because it burns with a strong incandescent light and leaves no ash, camphor has long been favoured for lamps in religious offerings.
Concerning the harvesting of camphor in India, Xuanzang wrote: ‘The tree from which camphor scent is procured is in trunk like the pine, but with different leaves, flowers and fruit. When the tree is first cut down and sappy it has no smell but when the wood gets dry it forms into veins and splits; then in the middle is the scent, in appearance like mica, in colour like frozen snow.’
Apart from the camphor tree, camphor can also be extracted from Blumea balsamifera (Sanskrit kukudru, kukkuradru or kukundara), B. densiflora, B. junghuhniania and Nardostachys jatamansi although only the first two of these plants is mentioned in the Tipiṭaka.
Kamala. A type of grass from which sandals could be made (Vin I 190).
Kamala. See Paduma.
Karañja. Indian Beech, Millettia pinnata (Ja VI 518), a small deciduous tree whose new leaves are bright green and glossy. The flowers are white and purple and the fruit is a woody oval oblong pod containing one or two seeds. The timber of the Indian beech is used for furniture and oil extracted from the seeds is used as an antiseptic for cuts and sores and also as an insecticide. See Nattamāla.
Karamadda. Carissa carandas, sometimes karamanda (Ja VI 536). A large shrub covered with strong forked thorns and bearing an ellipsoid edible berry.
Karavīka. Cuckoo, sometimes karavī, of which four species are found in northern India (Ja V 416). The bird mentioned in the Tipiṭaka is probably the Indian Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis passerinus. When young, this cuckoo is a mottled rufous and when mature, dark-grey above, light-grey and white below, and with a black tail tipped with white. The cuckoo is frequently celebrated in the Tipiṭaka and other Indian literature for its beautiful call (Ja V 204), a high pitched pteer, pteer, pteer and at other times a whistling pleasantly mournful pi pi pi pee pee pee. This call was considered ‘sweeter, more beautiful, charming and delightful than that of any other bird’ (D II 20). One of the 32 special characteristics of a Mahāpurisa is that his voice is beautiful like that of the cuckoo (D II 18; III 173).
Karavīra. Oleander, Nerium oleander, sometimes also kaṇavera or kaṇavīra (Ja III 62; VI 406). A medium-sized shrub with erect rod-like branches, narrow leaves tapering at either end and rose-coloured or sometimes white flowers (Ja IV 92). Oleander is poisonous and even prolonged smelling of the flower can cause nausea. A garland of oleander blossoms was put around the neck of condemned criminals as they were led to execution (Ja IV 191) and one type of arrowhead was called ‘oleander leaf’ because its shape resembled the leaf of the oleander (M I 429).
Karumbhaka. See Nīvāra.
Kareri. See Varaṇa.
Kalandaka. Squirrel, also called kāḷakā and kālāya. The two species of squirrel common in northern India are the Three-Striped Palm Squirrel, Funambulus palmarum, and the Five-Striped Palm Squirrel, F. pennantii. The first has a greyish-brown coat with three parallel black stripes running from its head to the end of its long bushy tail while the second is almost identical except that it has five stripes. Both squirrels are bold, inquisitive and endearing little creatures with a shrill metallic call which is accompanied by a vigorous jerking of the tail. They are commonly seen in urban areas where they dart up walls and lay on tree branches warming themselves in the sun. Sandals were sometimes decorated with squirrel skin (Vin I 186). In the Bamboo Grove at Rājagaha there was a place where people came to feed the squirrels (M II 45; Vin II 74). See Sākhāmiga.
Kalamba. See Kadamba.
Kalambaka. A tree or shrub, and perhaps the same as nīcakalambaka meaning ‘little kalambaka’ (Ja VI 535).
Kalambuka. Possibly Ipomoea aquatica, variously known as Water Morning Glory, Water Spinach, River Spinach, or Swamp Cabbage (D III 87; Ja VI 535). This vine-like plant grows in water or soggy ground and has slim pointed leaves and trumpet-shaped white flowers with a mauve centre. The leaves and stems are widely eaten. Quick-growing and requiring no care, it is considered a noxious species outside its native domain as it chokes rivers, canals and lakes.
Kalaviṅka. See Kuliṅka.
Kalāya. Sometimes also varaka (Ja III 370; M II 51; S I 150). Identification uncertain, but possibly the Pigeon Pea, Cajanus cajan or Horse Gram Macrotyloma uniflorum. The first is an erect woody annual shrub with trifoliate leaves spiralling around the stem and yellow flowers sometimes with purple or red streaks. The pod contains up to nine round seeds varying in colour from light beige to dark brown. The plant is now widely cultivated but also grows wild. Horse Gram is a twining annual with a hairy stem and trifoliate leaves and a greenish-yellow flower. The slightly curved pot containing six to eight light brown to black collared flattened bean-shaped seeds. The seeds are manly used as a cattle feed (Ja II 74) but sometimes also eaten by the poor. Kalāya were sometimes steamed and fed to cattle (Ja II 74). While practising austerities before his enlightenment, the Buddha ate soup made from kalāya (M I 245). In a famous Jātaka story, a foolish and greedy monkey let go of a handful of kalāya in order to retrieve one that it had dropped (Ja II 74–5).
Kaliṅgu. A type of tree (Ja VI 537).
Kallahāra. See Sogandhika.
Kāḷānusārī, see Narada.
Kasāya. A reddish, brown or tawny-coloured substance used to dye ascetic’s robes, sometimes also kasāva. So associated was kasāya with renunciation that the word came to be used for the monk’s robes (Dhp 307; Ja IV 114; Th 966). Any astringent medicinal decoction was also called kasāya (Ja V 198; Vin I 201). This suggests that kasāya was derived from a plant or plants. Yijing, the Chinese monk who travelled through India in the 7th century, said that the kasāya was understood to be the same colour as pulverized sandalwood.
Kāka. Crow, also called apandara, bala, dhaṅka, ‘the dark feathered one’, vantāda, ‘scrap-eater’ and vāyasa (D I 9; Ja II 439; V 268; S I 190; Th 599). Several species of crow live in northern India, the most common being the House Crow, Corvus splendens, and the Jungle Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, also called vanakāka in Pali (Ja III 247). The first is black with a grey neck, mantle and breast while the second is a glossy black all over. Both are alert, aggressive and daring birds that do not hesitate to attack animals much larger than themselves either to rob them or to protect their young. The Buddha said that crows are truculent and pushy, greedy and gluttonous, cruel and pitiless, rough and harsh-voiced, muddle-headed and given to hoarding things (A V 149). They are described as making a kā ka sound (Ja IV 72). One monk was said to have had a voice like a crow (Vin I 115), meaning that it was harsh and unpleasant.
Commenting on the fact that crows are always lean, the Jātaka says: ‘Their hearts are always agitated and they vex the whole world, therefore crows have no fat on them’ (Ja I 486). In one place a crow is described as turning over dry cow patties to eat the insects under them (Ja I 242), and in another we read of an abandoned infant surrounded by crows (Vin I 269). We also read of crows picking out the eyes of an impaled criminal with ‘their dagger-like beaks’ (Ja I 500). As soon as a devotee leaves a shrine, crows appear and examine the offering for anything edible (Ja V 107). An old man is described as having feet like a crow, perhaps meaning that they were dry and scaly or that the toes were spread (Ja VI 548).
The crow often featured in the proverbs of the Buddha’s time. Leftover food was called ‘a crow’s meal’ (Ja II 149) and a presumptuous boastful person was called a ‘crow hero’ (Dhp 244). A boy of seven or eight was said to be ‘big enough to frighten the crows’ (Vin I 79) and to have ‘the wisdom of a crow’ meant making a decision based on greed rather than common sense (Ja V 255). To be helpless was to be ‘like a crow with its wings clipped’ (Ja I 304). A river or pool could be ‘full enough for a crow to drink from’ (D I 244) and crops growing well were ‘high enough to hide a crow’ (Ja II 174). Crows often appear in the Jātaka, where they are usually depicted as cunning, greedy creatures.
Kākola. Common Raven, Corvus corax (Ja III 247; VI 566; Sn 675). With jet-black plumage, the raven is larger and heavier than the crow and has a wedge-shaped tail. Common in Punjab and Rajasthan during the winter, the raven is only occasionally seen in northern India.
Kādamba. A type of goose with grey wings (Ja V 420), probably an alternative name for either cakkavāka or haṃsa.
Kāra. Curry Leaf Tree, Murraya koenigii (Ja IV 238), a medium-sized tree with fragrant white flowers and small pointed serrated-edged leaves. Being very aromatic and having a sharp taste, these leaves are used to flavour food and chewed as an appetizer (Ja VI 24). They are also eaten during famines and by the poor. According to the Jātaka, when the Bodhisatta was an ascetic living in the forest he used to eat curry leaves after having soaked them in water without salt, buttermilk or spices in it, suggesting that that was the usual way to eat them, perhaps as a sort of salad (Ja VI 21).
What is called curry today is a combination of spices powdered and then added to food to flavour it. The Pali word for a curried dish is sūpa and is usually used together with a variety condiments (A III 48). It is not known what was used to make curry powder at the time of the Buddha, but the essential ingredients of most modern curries are turmeric, halidda; black pepper, marica; cumin, jīraka; coriander and chilli. Chillies were not known in India until the 16th century.
Kāraṇḍava. Some kind of wading bird; a heron, duck, moorhen or coot. The Buddhacarita mentions one of these birds standing on a lotus leaf (Bc V 53).
Kālakokila. See Kokila.
Kālasappa. See Kaṇhasappa.
Kālasīha. Black Lion (Ja IV 208). This may have been a name given to the occasional male lions that have dark-brown or black manes. Even in the 19th century, lions in India were informally classed as either ‘black maned’ or ‘tawny-maned’. Alternatively, the term may refer to the panther, i.e. the occasional all-black cubs born in leopard litters. See Dīpi and Sīha.
Kāḷavalli, also kālā. A type of plant, its name meaning black vine. It was said to be comparable to a beautiful, slim woman (Ja VI 269). Apparently, the swaying movement of this vine, when moved by a breeze, was suggestive of the way a young woman would move her hips when passing a group of young men (Ja III 394–95). The joints of the lean limbs of the forest-dwelling ascetic were compared to the knots in the stems of the kālā plant (Th 243; 683). The Buddha said that when he was practicing austerities before his enlightenment he became so thin that the joints in his limbs looked like the knots in the stems of this plant (M I 245).
Kālāmeyya. A type of bird (Ja VI 539).
Kālīya. A type of shiny sandalwood, sometimes kāliya (Ja VI 536).
Kāsa. Saccharum spontaneum (S III 137). A tall grass sometimes reaching up to 1.5 metres high which often grows in thick clumps along the banks of rivers and streams. The leaf is very narrow and the flower produces a silvery-white down which can be carried by the wind for kilometres.
Kāsumārī. Ceylon Oak, Schleichera trijuga (Ja V 324. A large deciduous tree which looks particularly attractive when covered with new leaves. The small greenish-yellow flowers grow in spike-like clusters and the fruit has a pleasant acid taste. Oil extracted from seeds of the Ceylon Oak is used to make soap and hair oil and a dye is made from the flowers.
Kiṃsuka. Flame of the Forest, Butea monosperma, also palāsa (Ja II 265). The Pali name means ‘thing-me-bob.’ It was also known sometimes known as dviguṇapalāsa or diguṇapalasa (Ja V 365). The kiṃsuka is a common, small to medium-sized tree usually with a blackish crooked trunk, broad leaves shiny on top and velvety underneath and which look greyish from a distance. A profusion of red or orange flowers appear after the leaves fall. The pods are velvety-brown, about 15 cm long and contain flat oval-shaped seeds. When flowering a blood-red juice issues from the trunk and branches and hardens into an astringent gum which has medicinal uses. Lac insects are often cultivated on this tree.
Once, a monk asked several of his fellows how insight is attained and each gave him a different answer. Confused, he went and told the Buddha what the other monks had said and the Buddha replied:
‘Suppose a man who had never seen a kiṃsuka tree went and asked another man what such a tree looked like. The other might answer “A kiṃsuka tree is blackish, like a charred stump”. So for the first man it would appear as the other man sees it. Then he might go to another man and ask him what a kiṃsuka tree is like and the other might reply “It is reddish, like a piece of meat”. So for him it would appear as the other man sees it. Then he might go to yet another man and ask him what a kiṃsuka tree is like and the other might say “Its bark hangs down in strips and its pods burst like a sirīsa”. So for him it would appear as the other man sees it. Finally, the man might go to one more person and put his question again and the other might reply “A kiṃsuka tree has a thick foliage and gives a close shade like a banyan tree”. So for him it would appear as the other man sees it. In the same way, those advanced men each gave you their answer according to their purified vision.’ (S IV 193).
According to the Jātaka the Bodhisatta was reborn as a god living in a Flame of the Forest tree worshipped by the people of Vārāṇasi (Ja III 23).
Kikī. Indian Roller, Coracias benghalensis (Ja V 408). About the size of a pigeon, the Indian roller has a large head, a heavy black beak and short legs. The bird is most well-known for its beautiful blue wings and harsh raucous call. It gets its English name from its spectacular courtship display which involves dramatic somersaulting, darting and nose-diving. The Pali name is probably an onomatopoeia of the bird’s call.
Once the Bodhisatta used the example of the contrasting screech of the beautifully coloured roller to teach a beautiful but shrewish queen to speak more pleasantly (Ja II 350). Popular tradition attributed the roller hen with strong maternal instincts, a belief reflected in a passage from the Jātaka: ‘The Teacher checks his disciples as a roller protects her egg, a yak guards her tail, a mother her beloved child or a one-eyed man his only eye’ (Ja III 375; see also Vism 36).
Kiṇṇa. Yeast, a fungus of the class Ascomycetes which is used to ferment the sugars in grains and fruits, to raise dough and to produce alcohol (Vin IV 110). Five main types of alcoholic beverages are mentioned in the Tipiṭaka. Meraya (M I 238) was distilled alcohol made from sugar or fruit and sometimes flavoured with sugar, pepper or the bark of Gymnema sylvestre. Majja and surā (Sn 398; Vin I 205) were brewed from rice or flour but later these names were used generally for any fermented beverage. The Jātaka says that surā was made from sugar cane juice (Ja IV 161). Āsava was also a generic name (Ja IV 222) and later five types were recognized—that made from flowers, fruit, honey, sugar or a mixture of some or all of these ingredients. The Arthaśāstra gives this recipe for āsava: 100 palas of kapittha pulp, 500 palas of sugar cane juice and 1 prastha of honey.
Jalogi or jaḷogi was the juice of the khajjūra or the wild date palm and the tāla or the palmyra palm either brewed or distilled. Whether jalogi could be drunk by monks and nuns even before it had been fermented, was one of the points discussed during the Second Council (Vin II 301). This debate probably concerned the fact that before palmyra or wild date sap is properly brewed, it spontaneously ferments within a few hours of being tapped, producing approximately 3% alcohol. For this reason it was known as taruṇasurā, young or early alcohol. Other types of alcoholic beverages were kapotika (Vin IV 109), madhu (S I 212), vāruṇi (A III 213; V 13) and taruṇasurā (Vin II 301).
The Jātaka tells a legendary but plausible story of how alcohol was discovered. Long ago in a certain forest there was a fruit tree which had a large forked trunk with a depression in it. Rain water collected in the depression, fruit fell into it and warmed by the sun it fermented. In the summer, thirsty birds drank from the depression, became intoxicated, fell to the ground and after sleeping for a while, flew away. A hunter observed this and curious as to its cause, he too drank some of the liquid and became intoxicated. Later, he introduced this drink to his friends and so it was that alcohol became known. According to the Jātaka, this discovery opened the way for innumerable social ills (Ja V 12–20).
Concerning the consumption of alcohol, the Buddha said: ‘Whoever follows the Dhamma should not drink or encourage others to do so, knowing that intoxication is the result. Because of intoxication the fool commits evil deeds and makes others negligent too. So avoid this root of wrong, this folly loved only by fools’ (Sn 398–99). See Muddikā.
Kipillikā. See Pipīlikā.
Kimi. Worm. Like its English equivalent this Pali word is a descriptive term for a wide variety of unrelated creatures that have soft, elongated bodies without any appendages, including the larvas of certain insects, i.e. maggots (A III 241; Sn 201). Kimi were also said to destroy crops so the word must have also been used for caterpillars (Mil 307). The Milindapañha says that camels, oxen, asses, goats and humans all get worms (Mil 100) and the Visuddhimagga mentions 32, and in another place, 80 different species of intestinal worms that infect humans (Vism 235; 258). See Puḷava.
Kimphala. A tree similar to the mango but bearing poisonous fruit (Ja I 271; 367). A possible candidate for this tree is the Suicide Tree, Cerbera odollam, a small hardwood tree commonly found growing in coastal swamps and marshes. Its dark-green oval leaves and white star-shaped flowers could not be mistaken for the mango tree but the fruit does resemble the mango fruit. This fruit is highly poisonous and is used by people wanting to commit suicide or murder. Although not growing in the Middle Land the tree’s reputation may have been known there by hearsay.
Kīṭa. Insects, sometimes kīṭaka (M III 168; Vin I 188). Insects are small six-legged invertebrates of the class Insecta. Some of the different types of insects mentioned by the Buddha include those attracted to the smell of dung, those that live in dark places, others that live in rotting or putrid matter (M III 168) and still others, adhipāta, that are attracted to lamps at night (Sn 964; Ud 72). Then there were various insects that monks and nuns living in the forest had to learn to endure: ḍaṃsa, biting flies (M I 10) and andhaka, meaning ‘blind’ (Sn 20). According to the commentaries they are called ‘blind’ because they were easier to swat than house flies . Four other insects mentioned are the cīriḷikā, hiṅgujālaka or hiṅgujālika (Ja VI 536), paṭaṅga and the salabha.
Monks and nuns were expected to examine water before using it to make sure there were no tiny creatures in it, most of which would have been either insects or their larvas, that might be injured or killed when the water was used (Vin IV 48). The justification for the rule about not travelling during the rainy season was that in doing so a monk might kill some of the insects that proliferate and swarm during that time (Vin I 137). Scrupulousness towards tiny creatures came to be seen as a sign of the most sensitive compassion as is suggested by Aśvaghoṣa’s description of Prince Siddhārtha’s reaction to seeing ploughing being done: ‘Clumps of grass turned up by the plough lay scattered on the ground and were covered with tiny dead creatures, insects and worms, and as he saw this he grieved as if one of his own kinsmen had been killed’ (Bc V.5). See Makkhikā.
Kukutthaka. Watercock, Gallicrex cinerea, a rail-like bird commonly seen haunting thick vegetation on the edges of lakes and ponds (D III 202; Ja VI 538–39; Ap II 347). Both sexes have brown plumage while the male becomes black during the breeding season, and develops a bright red fleshy horn on the front of its head and its legs and eyes turn bright red. Its call is a series of booming metallic utumb, utumb, utumb, rapidly repeated. The watercock feeds on any insects or molluscs it finds as it searches for succulent leaves, shoots and other vegetation which is its main diet.
Kukkuṭa. The name for both the Domestic Fowl, Gallus domesticus, and the Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus gallus, the first being the direct and recent ancestor of the second, sometimes also kukuṭaka (D III 202; Ja I 436; VI 538; Vin IV 63). Domestic chickens were kept for their eggs and meat. Cocks woke people early in the morning and cock fighting was a popular entertainment (D I 6). The Buddha said that in the distant future, villages would be so close together that a cock would be able to fly from one to the other (D III 75). A hen might hatch a brood of eight or ten eggs and if she brooded them properly, warmed them properly and turned them properly, the chicks would safely break out of the shell using the claws on their feet and their beaks (A IV 125–26). When King Milinda expressed doubt to Nāgasena about the Buddha’s statement that the beginning of saṃsāra cannot be known, Nāgasena asked him in reply: ‘As an egg comes from a chicken and a chicken from an egg, is there an end to this series?’ (Mil 51) This seems to be the earliest use of the well-known and popular ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma.
The male red jungle fowl has glossy rufous and black plumage, a red comb and a long sickle-shaped tail. It has ‘wings that flash so gaily and a comb that droops so gracefully’ (Ja III 265). The hen has a light-brown breast, a dark-brown back and tail and a mottled neck. A park at Pāṭaliputta called Kukkuṭārāma (M I 349) gradually evolved into a monastery and was the venue for the Third Council convened by Asoka.
Kukkura. See Soṇa.
Kukkusa. See Taṇḍula.
Kukkuha. A type of bird (Ja V 406; VI 538).
Kuṭaja. Holarrhena pubescens (Ja IV 92; 497). A small shapely tree with a creamy white flower and brownish bark which peels off in long papery flakes. A decoction of kuṭaja was used as a medicine (Vin I 201).
Kuṭaji. A type of tree (Ja VI 497; 530).
Kuṭṭha1. Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium leprea bacillus (Ja VI 197; 383), probably also kilāsa. This pathogen invades the nerves, skin and mucous membranes, causing insensitivity. White or pale patches appear on the skin, particularly on the hands and feet (Ja V 69). A leper is compared to the koviḷāra, perhaps meaning that his skin is cracked like the bark of this tree or that his fingers are twisted the way its seed pods become when dry (Ja V 69). In time, the loss of fingers, toes and nose, muscular paralysis and blindness can occur. Mahā Kassapa once ate the food from his bowl even though a finger of a leper who had offered him the food had fallen into it (Th 1054–56). Once a ‘pathetic, poor, wrenched leper’ named Suppabuddha stood at the edge of a crowd listening to the Buddha preach. Noticing this and sensing that he was receptive to the Dhamma, the Buddha modified his talk to suit Suppabuddha’s disposition and level of understanding and as a result he attained enlightenment (Ud 48). The Buddha mentioned that lepers would sometimes get maggots in their sores (M I 506).
Kuṭṭha2. Crepe Ginger, Costus speciosus (Ja VI 535). A tall plant with large dark green leaves arranged on the stalk in a spiral. It can grow to 3 meters tall. The pure white flowers grow from a large red cone-shaped bract which remains after the flowers fade. A popular garden plant, its rhizome is also used in traditional medicine.
Kutumbaka. A type of flower (Ja I 60).
Kudrūsa. Kodo Millet or Indian Crown Grass, Paspalum scrobiculatum. A small perennial grass usually growing wild but sometimes cultivated for its seeds which can be eaten as an inferior food. Kodo millet grows well in poor soil and is drought resistant. The Buddha said that in the distant future, when society degenerates, this grain will be the staple food (D III 71).
Kuṇālā. A generic name for cuckoos (A IV 101; Ja V 419).
Kunta. A type of bird (Ja IV 466).
Kuntanī. A bird, perhaps a type of heron (Ja III 134; 135).
Kunthakipillaka. A type of ant (Ja I 439; IV 142; Sn 602). The Buddha said that a monk should not intentionally take the life of anything, not even that of a kunthakipillaka (Vin I 97). See Tambakipillaka.
Kumuda. See Paduma.
Kumbhaṇḍa. See Kakkāru.
Kumbhīla. See Susu.
Kumbhīlaka. A type of bird (Ja IV 347). It was said to gather in flocks and be prone to attack by hawks (sena) if separated from the flock.
Kumma. Sometimes kuma. See Kacchapa.
Kummāsa. See Yava.
Kuyyaka. A type of flower (Ja I 60).
Kurañjiya. A type of plant (Ap 448).
Kuraṇḍaka. See Koraṇḍa.
Kurara. A raptor described as being spotted or variegated (Ja VI 501; 539). This could refer to at least six north Indian birds, the most common being the Laggar, Falco jujjer. About the size of a crow, this hawk has a grey back and wings and a white breast with grey and brown streaks. The laggar preys on pigeons, rodents and lizards and used to be trained for hunting. Its call is a high-pitched prolonged ‘whi-ee-ee’. In ancient Indian literature the cry of a woman in distress is often compared to this bird’s call. In Avantī there was a place called the Laggar’s Haunt on the side of a steep mountain (A V 46; S III 9).
Kuravaka. A type of tree (Ja I 39, IV 440), also called bimbijāla (Ja V 155). According to the commentaries it is a ‘red kuravaka tree’ that has red leaf shoots (rattaṅkuravanena sañchannaṃ, Ja V 154), and it is said to have been the tree the past Buddha Dhammadassī was enlightened under (Bv XVI.19).
Kuruṅga. The Four-horned Antelope, Tetracerus quadricornis, also kuraṅga. This small slender animal varies in colour from yellowish-brown to reddish with white underparts. Unique amongst animals, the male has four horns, two between the ears and the others smaller ones on the forehead. It prefers open dry forest near water and generally shies away from human habitation and is still relatively common in isolated pockets of forest in northern India and the lowlands of Nepal. The skins of this animal were used as mats (Vin I 192) and ascetics sometimes used them as clothes (Ja I 173; II 153).
Kuruvinda. A type of tree (Ja IV 92).
Kulattha. Horse Gram, Dolichos biflorus. A small widely cultivated herb covered with long soft hairs and which produces grey kidney-shaped seeds. These seeds are considered to be a low quality food and are eaten by the poor or fed to cattle. Before his enlightenment, while practising austerities, the Buddha ate soup made from horse gram (M I 245). Pāṇini said that horse gram grows at the end of the rainy season.
Kulala. Black Kite, Milvus migrans, a medium sized brown to black hawk with the alternative name sena (D II 295; M I 364; S II 255). It is often seen in towns and villages and is immediately recognized by its forked tail, the only Indian hawk to have one. More a scavenger than a raptor, this bird is often seen snatching food from other birds and even from humans, a behaviour mentioned several times in the Buddhist texts (Ja III 100; M I 364). In one Jātaka story a man even claims, falsely as it happens, that a kite carried off a baby (Ja II 182).
Kulāva. A type of bird, perhaps a variation of kuliṅka (Ja VI 538).
Kulāvara. A type of tree or shrub (Ja VI 535).
Kuliṅka. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus (Ja III 478; 541; IV 250; V 357), sometimes kalavinka, kuliṅga and kulunka. Probably India’s most common and recognizable bird, sparrows live almost exclusively in towns and villages. The male is a mottled chestnut-brown with a black throat and a white breast while the slightly smaller female is a lighter chestnut-brown all over. Sparrows are omnivorous, eating grain, flower buds, grasshoppers and kitchen scraps and make their large untidy nests under the eaves of village houses.
Kuḷīra. Crabs, sometimes also kulira. Crabs are decapod crustaceans which live in salt water, fresh water and on land. They were also called kakkaṭaka or kattaka. In northern India crabs are commonly found on river banks, ponds and in paddy fields (Ja I 222; III 293) where they feed on vegetable matter, carrion, small insects, snails and fish. They are described as having claws, a bony shell, projecting eyes, being hairless and being born in water (Ja III 295). They make a clicking sound in their holes (Ja II 376). Village children would sometimes pull crabs out of ponds and kill them with sticks and stones (M I 234; S I 123). The ancient Buddhists were also aware that there were marine crabs (Ja II 344). The commentary to the Vimānavatthu says the Buddha once recommended crab soup as a cure for an ear ache (Vv-a 54).
Kuḷīraka. The name for birds of the order Coraciiformes, i.e. kingfishers and related birds (D III 202). The name is probably related to the kingfisher’s habit of catching crabs, kulīra, and smashing them on tree branches.
Kuviḷāra. See Koviḷāra.
Kusa. Desmostachya bipinnata. A type of perennial grass with a sharp spiky leaf growing up to 0.9 metre high and with deep roots (S III 137, Th 27). The leaves margins are serrated and prickly and the dense silvery hair at the base of the leaves can cause itching. As a penance, ascetics sometimes wore garments made out of kusa grass (A I 240; D I 167) and it was used in the Vedic sacrifice and other Brahminical rituals (A V 234). Kusa grass is used for thatching roofs and making mats and brooms. Fishermen would string their catch on a blade of kusa grass (It 68). Clumps of kusa indicate water below (Ja I 108). There is mention of a type of blue or dark-coloured kusa (Ja IV 140). The Buddha said: ‘Just as kusa grass not properly grasped cuts the hand, so too the monastic life not properly lived leads to purgatory’ (Dhp 311). He described a man walking through a stand of this grass and having his feet pierced and his limbs scratched by its thorns (kusa kaṇṭaka, S IV 198). As grasses do not have thorns as the word is understood in English this must refer to the sharp edges of the kusa’s leaves. Legend says that the Buddha sat at the foot of the Bodhi Tree on kusa grass which had been offered to him by a man named Sotthika or Sotthiya (Bv XXII.25; Ja I 70). According to the Jātakas, the Bodhisatta was once reborn as a god living in a clump of kusa grass (Ja I 441). See Dabba.
Kusumbha. Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius. A erect branching herb with broad serrated leaves and large orange-red flowers. The safflower was used for making a red dye and we read of it being grown in a king’s garden (Ja I 499; V 211). An edible oil is also extracted from the seeds. The down of an adolescent boy’s chin is described as being the colour of the flower (Ja IV 482).
Kusumbhara. A type of plant (Ja VI 535).
Keka. Garuga pinnata (Ja V 405). A large tree with smooth grey flaky bark, yellowish-green globose fruit and yellow flowers. Juice from the leaves mixed with honey is said to soothe asthma attacks.
Ketaka. Screw Pine, Pandanus odorifer (Ja VI 269). A many-branched tree having long spirally-arranged leaves with toothed edges and a large fruit looking something like a pineapple having a sickly sweet smell when ripe. A fibre is made from the tree and the flower can be eaten. The screw pine usually grows in sandy soil on the coast, or near swamps. A beautiful girl was said to have eyes like the flower of this tree (Ja IV 482).
Kesarī. A type of lion, sometimes also kesarasīha. The name means ‘the maned one’. It is not certain whether this is an alternative name for the lion or refers to a mythological lion or to a sub-species of the Asiatic lion which lived in the lower Himalayas and is now extinct (Ja II 244; III 460). According to the Milindapañha, these lions were light in colour (Mil 400). See Sīha.
Koka. Wolf, Canis lupus pallipes, also called vaka (Ja I 336; V 525; Sn 201; Vin III 58). A large dog-like animal with brownish fur intermingled with black especially on the forehead and tip of the tail. Wolves attack livestock and have been known to carry off children. Using a proverb similar to the English one, the Jātakas say that some ascetics and priests are ‘wolves disguised in sheep skins’ (Ja V 241).
Kokanada. See Paduma.
Kokanisātaka. A type of animal (Ja VI 538). The name means ‘wolf killer’ and may refer to the leopard or lion.
Kokāsaka. See Paduma.
Kokila. Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopacea (Ja II 350; Vv-a 56). Two types of koel are mentioned, the black koel (kālakokila) and the speckled koel (citrakokila or phussakakokila), which refer to the male and the female respectively (Ja V 416; 419). The Buddha contrasted the soft call of the female to the with that of the ambakamaddhari and the domestic fowl (A I 188). The male koel is a glossy black with a yellow bill and crimson eyes while the female is brown coloured with white spots and bars. Koels are a type of cuckoo and lay their eggs in the nests of crows (Ja III 102). During the summer the bird’s pleasant ‘koo-koo-koo’ call is often heard at dawn. The nun Ambapālī said that when she was a young courtesan her sweet singing was like that of the Asian koel (Thī 261). The bird was also known as parabhata (Ja V 416).
Koñca. Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo), a small crane with a black head and neck, white tufts behind the eyes, the feathers on the lower neck are long and lanceolate. The bird is migratory, arriving in India in the winter where large flocks are commonly seen in open fields feeding on shoots, insects and wheat. It has an loud attractive trumpeting call (Ja V 304), which to the Indian ear resembled the trumpeting of an elephant (Ja IV 233; Mil 76). Consequently, one of the words for elephant was koñca (Vin III 109). The Buddha said: ‘Those who have not lived the holy life, who have not acquired wealth in their youth, pine away like old herons at a pond without fish.’ (Dhp 155; S II 279; Th 1113). There was a curious belief in ancient India that this bird and other herons had the ability to separate milk from water. The Buddha said: ‘The wise person shuns evil, like a heron that drinks milk and leaves water’ (Ud 91).
Koṭisimbali. See Simbali.
Koṭṭha1. Possibly Jew’s Mellow, Corchorus olitorius (Ja V 420). A small herb with slender leaves, a yellow flower and sometimes cultivated for its jute-like fibre.
Koṭṭha2. Woodpecker, sometimes also rukkhakoṭṭasakuṇa (Ja II 162; III 25) or satapatta (Ja II 153; II 386), birds of the family Picidae. Woodpeckers have short legs for gripping tree trunks and a sharp pointed bill designed for chiselling holes into wood. There are eight species of woodpeckers in northern India although it is not possible to identify any of them from the information given in the Tipiṭaka. Woodpeckers peck at trees until the insects come out and then eat them (Ja II 162). In a well-known Jātaka story, a lion with a splinter of bone stuck in its mouth begged a woodpecker, actually the Bodhisattva, to remove it and promised to help the bird in return. The woodpecker removed the splinter but later the selfish ungrateful lion refused to keep its promise (Ja II 162).
Kotthu. See Sigāla.
Koraṇḍa . Porcupine Flower, Barleria prionitis, also koraṇḍaka (Bv I.57; Ja V 473, VI 536), and kuraṇḍaka. A thorny shrub which has yellow flowers, and whose elliptic leaves with a spine at their base. The flowers have no perfume (Ja III 253). According to the Apadāna, the monk Koraṇḍapupphiya was so named because he had a beautiful yellow complexion. The reason for this was because in a former life he had offered a koraṇḍa flower to the Buddha Tissa (Ap II 206).
Kolaṭṭhi. See Badara.
Koviḷāra. Variegated Bauhinia or Orchid Tree, sometimes kuviḷāra, Bauhinia variegata (Ja V 29), an ornamental tree with thick broad leaves, a stocky trunk and large beautiful mauve and white flowers splashed with purple. The tree drops its leaves before flowering. The Sutta Nipāta says a monk should give up the marks of a householder the way the leaves drop off the Bauhina tree (Sn 44). A type of Bauhina called pāricchattaka, meaning literally ‘giving broad shade’, was believed to grow in the Tāvatiṃsa Heaven where it gave great delight to the gods (A IV 117; M III 200). The leaves of the Variegated Bauhinia are used to make country cigarettes and the buds are sometimes pickled and eaten.
Kosakāraka. Silk worm, the caterpillar of several species of moths that produce a fine fibre which can be woven into cloth (A I 181; IV 394). Chinese mulberry silk from Bombyx mori became known in India by about the 2nd century BCE and is mentioned in some of the late texts in the Tipiṭaka (Bv XXIV.11; Ja I 43). However, most silk in ancient India was wild silk produced by moths such as Antheraea mylitta, A. paphia and Samia cynthia ricini. The cocoons were collected from the wild and only after the silk worms had gnawed through them and thus the thread was not unravelled but carded and then spun into yarn. This meant that the cloth made from it was heavier and rougher than Chinese silk, although still beautiful and much-sought-after. To loosen the silk threads, cocoons had to be boiled and silk-making was a recognized trade (Vin III 224). The famous brocade of Vārāṇasi called kāsika, which Prince Siddhattha wore before his renunciation, was made of silk (A I 145). Monks were allowed to have silk robes (Vin I 281) although they were not allowed to have carpets which had silk in them (Vin III 224).
Kosamba. Himalayan Mango, Mangifera sylvatica (Ja V 8; VI 456), sometimes kosambha. Similar to the common cultivated mango this tree is found growing up to an altitude of 1200 meters. Its fruit is like a small common mango but with scant pulp. It is now rare. See Amba.
Kosātakī. Angled Gourd or Bitter Luffa, Luffa acutangula (A I 32; V 212), an annual creeper with large leaves and tendrils and often seen growing all over the roofs of village houses. The long, strongly ribbed gourd is very bitter and is eaten before ripening and the flat black elliptic seeds have emetic and purgative properties. We read that a lay woman once offered four of the large orange flowers of the kosātakī to a stūpa (Vv-a 200).
Kosika. A generic name for owls, sometimes also kosiya (Ja II 353; V 120). An adulteress would be dubbed ‘an owl-like one’, perhaps because like the bird, she would slink around at night (Ja I 496). See Siṅgila, Uhuṅkāra and Ulūka.
Khagga. Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis, also called khaggamiga, ‘sword creature’ and khaggavaja, (Ja III 76; IV 497; V 406; 416; VI 277; 538). Unlike the African varieties, this rhinoceros has thick slate-grey armour-like plates on its body and a single horn. This last characteristic, unique among animals, is referred to in the refrain of the famous Khaggavisāṇa Sutta to ‘be alone like the rhinoceros’ horn’ (Sn 35–75). The rhinoceros was once widely distributed throughout northern India as far as the Indus River delta but is now restricted to small forest reserves in Nepal, West Bengal and Assam. See Palasata.
Khajjūra. Date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera (Ja VI 269). A tall stately palm tree with a bushy crown that produces numerous oblong elliptical reddish-brown berries with a single seed and a sweet taste, which were a popular food.
According to the Jātaka, the Bodhisattva once made a living by selling dates (Ja I 269). Although the date palm grows in northern India, it is not common. Khajjūra probably refers mainly to the Wild Date Palm, Phoenix sylvestris. This tree is smaller than the date palm, its fruit has only scanty flesh and it is cultivated mainly for the sweet sap it produces and from which an alcoholic beverage is made (Vin II 301). The wild date is commonly found around north Indian villages and is easily recognizable by the wedges cut into the top of the trunk from where sap has been extracted. See Kiṇṇa.
Khajjopanaka. Firefly, insects of the Lampyridae family that have luminous glands in one or more segments of their abdomens which emit a light used as a mating signal (Ja II 415; VI 441). The Buddha used the term “firefly worm” (kimi khajjopanaka) so he was referring to the larval stage of this insect which also have bioluminescence and females which remain worms throughout their lives (M II 34). A proverb said: ‘When you want a fire, you do not blow on a firefly’ (Ja VI 372). The Buddha said that just as a firefly’s glow lasts only as long as the sun has not risen, in the same way, other religious teachers shine only as long as the fully enlightened Buddha had not appeared (Ud 73).
Khadira. Acacia catechu (Ja IV 87). A medium-sized tree with black bark, slender branches covered with hooked thorns and a small white or sometimes pale-yellow flower. The leaf consists of spine with tiny leaflets on it. The timber of this tree is strong and durable, and wood chips are boiled to produce a substance which is added to betel and sometimes used in medicine. We read of stakes for impaling criminals being made out of khadira wood (Ja IV 29) and of woodpeckers living in a grove of khadira trees (Ja II 162). The Buddha commented that because of their size and shape, the leaves of neither the khadira, the palāsa or the āmalaka can be made into a container to carry water (S V 438).
Khīrapaṇṇi. Probably the Milk Tree, Manilkara hexandra. A large tree with rough grey bark, leaves clustered on the end of the branches and small white flowers. The leaves and fruit contain a milk-like latex which also drips from the bark, probably giving the tree its Pali name. The wood of this tree was used to make the shafts of arrows (M I 429).
Khīrarukkha. A tree or trees the name of which literally means ‘milk tree’. When cut, they exude a white sap (Ja II 274; S IV 160). This is probably a general name for Ficus or fig trees. A monk who saw a beautiful woman and was suddenly overcome by desire was said to have become ‘like a milk tree felled by an axe’ (Ja I 303). See Assattha, Nigrodha, Pilakkha and Udumbara.
Khuddakamakkhikā. A name meaning ‘small fly’ (Ja II 90), which may refer to insects of the Hippelates and Siphunculina genera, particularly Siphunculina funicola. Known as the Eye Gnat or Eye Fly, this small fly feeds of the bodily fluids of humans and animals and is particularly troublesome by getting into the eyes and nose. It will also feed on blood from wounds, lacerations and scratches. The Jātaka mentions the miniscule amounts of blood small flies drink (Ja II 19).
Khuddamadhu. A type of honey produced by the Little Bee, Apis florea, also khuddamadu (A III 369) or khuddakamadhu (D III 85; M II 5; Vin III 7). It is one of the eight types of honey listed by the Carakasaṃhitā. The Buddha described it as being ‘clear and sweet’ (A III 369). He also describes a man at a crossroad squeezing this honey from the comb as an expectant crowd stood around waiting (M II 5). The bee itself is called khuddabhamara and is a small wild bee native to India. See Bhamara and Madhukara.
Khoma. Linen, a cloth made from the fibres of the Flax plant also sometimes called Linseed, Linum usitatissimum (D II 188; 351; Vin I 58; 296). The stems of this annual herb are soaked in water for several weeks and then beaten and scraped so that the fibre can be removed. The seeds also produce a useful oil. The beautiful blue flax flower was called ummāpuppha (D II 260; Th 1068).
Gajakumbha. Elongated Tortoise, Indotestudo elongata. Largely a forest dweller, this slow moving tortoise has stumpy pillar-like legs and a moderately humped yellowish shell with black blotches. The Pali name means ‘elephant pot’. It is described as a sluggish creature that takes all day to move just a short distance (Ja III 140). See Kacchapa.
Gaṇī. A type of deer (Ja V 406). The name means ‘of the herd’.
Gaṇḍuppāda. Earthworm (Ja V 210; M III 168), sometimes gaṇḍuppāda. Earthworms are segmented worms belonging to the class Ologochaeta. They burrow through the soil eating decaying organic matter, usually by swallowing the soil containing it, and then depositing the waste on the surface. The Buddha commented that earthworms spend their whole lives in darkness (M III 168). The small balls of soil excreted by earthworms around the entrance of their holes was applied to walls, perhaps because its colour or because it made a smooth surface (Vin II 151). Earthworms are mentioned together with kimi and puḷava.
Gaddha. See Gijjha.
Gadrabha. Donkey, Equus asinus (A I 229; Ja II 109). A short sturdy mammal with grey hair, long ears and a white muzzle. In one place a donkey recently relieved of its load is described as standing around looking sad and contemplative (M I 334). Because of their ability to carry heavy loads donkeys were used mainly as pack animals. Donkey fat was used as medicine (Vin I 200).
Gavaya. Gaur, Bos gaurus (Ja III 76; VI 497). Often mistakenly called a bison, the gaur has a massive head and chest and muscular shoulders. Males are a glossy black and females and the young are a coffee-brown. Despite being the world’s biggest bovine, the gaur is a gentle and timid creature. Gaurs are now extinct in northern India except in several national parks, and are still found in Assam and parts of central and southern India.
Gavi. A creeper the fruit of which forest-dwelling ascetics used to eat (Sn 239). This may refer to Ampelocissus latifolia, the Wild Grape Vine, a common jungle creeper with deep red-brown flowers and sweet black succulent berries.
Gaha. See Susu.
Gijjha. Vulture, sometimes gaddha, also sakunta. The two commonest species of vultures in northern India are the Long-billed Vulture, Gyps indicus, and the Indian White-backed Vulture, Gyps bengalensis. The first is light to dark-brown with paler tips to the feathers and pale brown below. It is a sociable and silent bird. The second is brownish-black with a whitish ruff at the base of the neck. It is a gregarious bird, roosting and nesting in groups and producing an occasional harsh screech. Both birds have naked heads and necks.
Vultures were often seen with dogs and jackals eating bodies in charnel grounds (Sn 201). Hunters used to trap them (Ja III 330; IV 48; M I 130) for their feathers, which were used as flights on arrows (M I 429) and perhaps for their meat. They were believed to be able to see a carcass from a hundred yojanas away (Ja III 331). A famous rocky crag in Rājagaha where the Buddha sometimes used to reside was called the Vulture’s Peak, Gijjhakūṭa, apparently because vultures perched on the rocks there. According to the Jātakas, the Bodhisatta was occasionally reborn as a vulture (Ja II 50; III 330; IV 485).
Guñja. See Jiñjuka.
Girikaṇṇika. Mussel Shell Creeper or Butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea (Ja VI 536), a small slender vine with glorious azure blue or sometimes pure white flowers.
Giripunnāga. A type of plant (Ja VI 530).
Guggula. A plant mentioned together with others which either are particularly fragrant or from which perfume is made (Ja VI 537). This possibly refers to Commiphora wightii, or Ailanthus triphysa, known in Maharashtra as gugguladhup, although it is not clear whether this second plant grows in northern India. Both trees have a fragrant gum used in perfumes and incense. The first of these is a small deciduous tree with greenish papery bark and yellowish flowers.
Gūthapāṇaka. One or another of the several beetles of the Scarabaeidae family found in northern India (Ja II 211; S II 228). Commonly called the Scarab Beetle or Dung Beetle, these black or metallic-coloured, stout-bodied beetles have distinctive club-shaped antennae and broad front legs adapted for digging. Dung beetles are commonly seen around villages rolling balls of cow dung or human faeces, which they later lay their eggs in and then bury.
Go. Domestic Cattle, also gāvī, siṅgī, ‘the horned one’ and vasā (Sn 26; Vin I 191). Large mammals of the order Bovidae, the most common species in India being Bos indicus. The different types of domestic cattle recognized included suckling calves, dhenupa; yearlings, taruṇavaccha; milch cows, dhenu or khīranikā; red cows, rohiṇī; heifers, vacchaka; cows ready to be mated, godharaṇī; breeding cows paveṇi; bulls, usabha; oxen, goṇa and draught oxen, balivadda (A II 109; M I 226). Cattle were of different colours; black, white, red, tawny, dappled and grey (A III 214).
There is little evidence in the Tipiṭaka of cows being regarded with the universal reverence they were to be given in later Hinduism. The Buddha described cows as harmless creatures, gentle like sheep, who willingly give pails of milk (Sn 309). He condemned Vedic sacrifice at which cattle were slaughtered. After being convinced by the Buddha of the cruelty and futility of such blood sacrifices the Brahmin Uggatasarīra released all the cattle he was about to slaughter with this benediction: ‘I hereby grant them life. Let them be fed with green grass, let them drink cool water, and let the cool breezes blow upon them’ (D I 148). For some people at least, beef was an ordinary part of their diet. We read of a butcher or his apprentice displaying a butchered cow for sale at a cross-road (M I 58). Leather, including that made out of cow hides, was used to make harnesses, bags, shields, sandals, mats, drums, and water skins (Bv I.31; Ja VI 432; 454; Vin I 193; II 122). There is mention of a man killing a calf, flaying it and using the skin to make a scabbard (Ja V 106). Leather working was a recognized craft although it was considered a lowly one (Vin IV 7).
Cattle were a symbol of wealth and to have many was a source of pride and joy (S I 6). Cattle rearing is mentioned together with accountancy, archery and royal service as a worthy occupation (M I 85; Vin IV 6). Dairy products, or what were called the five bovine bounties (pañcagorasā, Vin I 244), were an important part of the diet. These five were milk, curd, butter, ghee and the skimming of ghee (A II 9). The process of making these foods was thus: Milk was boiled and when cooled a small amount of old curd was added, gradually turning the whole into curd. The curd was churned until it became butter, which was then slowly heated so that clear oil rose to the top and a residue settled on the bottom. The golden-coloured ghee was then separated from the residue becoming the skimming of ghee (sappimaṇḍa, D I 201; Mil 322) and this was considered the superior dairy product. Sometimes takka, is included as one of the five bounties (Ja I 340; Vin I 244). This word is usually translated as buttermilk which in English is the name given to the opaque liquid that runs off as churned cream turns into butter. The Pali takka probably refers to the runoff from churned curd mixed with a little milk or curd, a liquid slightly thicker and more sour or tart than Western buttermilk. One of the disputed practices discussed at the Second Buddhist Council was whether it was permissible for a monk to drink takka if it was offered to him after he had made it clear that he had finished his meal (Vin II 301).
Cattle were usually kept in stalls (goṭṭha or vaja) which probably doubled as dairies and would have been situated at the edge of towns and cities (M III 186). Some were also of a temporary nature owned by several families. They would graze their cattle at the edge of forests or on waste land or fallow land, until the fodder was exhausted and then move on. Sometimes several, perhaps even many, stalls would gradually cluster together to form what were called cattle villages (gonisādiniviṭṭha gāma, Vin I 44). With the stalls being situated near population centres, farmers would have been able to get their main product, milk, to customers as quickly as possible.
The cowherd’s job was to take the animals out in the morning to graze and bring them back each evening (A I 204), pick the eggs of parasitic flies off them, dress their wounds and light smoking fires at night to protect them from mosquitoes (A V 347). During the growing season, watchmen had to make sure cows did not wander into the crops and eat them or tread them down (D III 38; S IV 195).
Cattle wandered through the streets of towns and villages and could injure or even kill people (Ud 8). Aggressive bulls would have their horns cut off to prevent them from hurting anyone (A IV 376). Cattle were marked, probably by cutting, as is done today, rather than by branding, and according to Pāṇini these marks should be made on either the ears or the rump. According to the Arthaśāstra, brand marks had to be registered with the king’s superintendent of cattle. Bulls were castrated (Ja IV 364; Thī 440). Cattle pulled ploughs and carts, their dung was smeared on the floor of homes (Ja VI 413; Vin III 16), and when dried was used as a fuel (Ja III 385; VI 508) and as a cleaning agent (S III 131). A concoction of cow
Cattle also had a part to play in certain Brahminical rituals. The Tipiṭaka describes a ceremony where the king would drink milk from a teat of a cow with a calf of the same colour, the queen would drink milk from a second teat, the court Brahmin from the third teat and milk from the fourth teat would be offered to the sacred fire (A II 207). Brahmins believed they could make themselves ritually pure by touching cow dung (A V 266). It was observed that if cows have cause to be frightened they would give less milk (Ja I 388).
One of the 32 special characteristics of a Mahāpurisa is having eyelashes like those of a cow (D II 18).
Gokaṇṇa. Nilgai, also called gokānā, Boselaphus tragocamelus (Ja III 76; V 406). The Pali name means ‘cow ear’ while the Hindi name from which the English comes, means ‘blue bull’. Looking like a cross between a horse and a bull, the nilgai is India’s largest antelope. The males have an iron-blue coat and small conical horns while females are tawny brown. Both have high shoulders that slope down to a low rump. The nilgai is most often seen at dusk lurking in the jungle bordering fields in preparation for raiding them when darkness falls. Because the Buddha stood aloof from debates, at least at some period of his career, he was accused of lacking the confidence to participate in such events. The ascetic Nigrodha said of him: ‘As a nilgai circling around keeps to the fringes, so does the monk Gotama’ (D III 38).
Goṭṭhaphala. Very uncertain. It may refer to the fruit of Solanum torvum, a small erect shrub, the yellow berries of which are used as a medicine. Alternatively, it may be the Towel Gourd, Luffa cylindrica, a climber with tough, smooth, angled stems and a cylindrical fruit about 15 to 46 centimetres long with dark coloured stripes. The fruit of the goṭṭha was used as a medicine (Vin I 201).
Goṇasira. Probably another name for the wild buffalo (Ja VI 538). See Mahisa.
Godhaka. A type of bird (Ja VI 358). The name means ‘little monitor’ and could refer to Tree Creepers and/or Nuthatch, small birds of the Sittidae and Certhidae families. These small birds are able to move up, down and sideways on tree trunks and branches in a way similar to young monitors.
Godhā. Common Indian Monitor, Varanus bengalensis (D I 9). This large lizard is olive, brown or grey above, yellowish below and with a dark streak on the temples. It can grow up to 1.70 metres in length with the tail often being longer than the body. It lives comfortably in almost any environment and is commonly seen peering out of burrows in termite mounds and from between rocks. Although the Indian monitor is completely carnivorous, eating small animals, birds, eggs, insects and carrion, there is a reference to one eating figs (Ja II 118). This belief may have arisen because the monitor is sometimes seen high in fig trees where it lies in wait for birds. When termites would swarm after rain, monitors would dash about trying to catch them (Ja I 488). Monitors were hunted, their flesh being considered a delicacy. Men would go into the forest with spades and dogs to track them down. They would light fires at the mouth of termite mounds to drive the monitors out and then catch and roast them (Ja I 480–81; 488; III 107). According to the Jātaka, the Bodhisatta was once reborn as a monitor (Ja I 487).
Godhūma. Wheat (D III 71; Vin IV 264). Wheat is an annual or sometimes perennial grass of which there are many varieties. It has flat leaves and spiked seeds which are ground to produce flour. Two very ancient variety of wheat in India and perhaps the ones mentioned in the Tipiṭaka, are Emmer Triticum dicoccum and Indian Dwarf Wheat T. aestivum. Rice, barley and wheat were the most important grain in northern India. There is mention of ‘edibles made of flour, piṭṭha, which would have included wheat flour (Vin I 248).
Gonaṅgula. See Vānara.
Gharagolikā. Gecko (Ja II 147), also gharagoḷika, small lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota. These creatures have soft bodies often with striking markings and colours, lidless eyes and toe pads which allow them to walk up walls and across ceilings. Several species of Indian geckos live almost exclusively in houses and can be seen at night around lamps waiting to snatch insects attracted to the light. The Pali name means ‘house lizard’.
Ghuṇapāṇaka. One or another of the two dozen or more wood boring beetles that live in northern India. These beetles lay their eggs under the bark of trees and the larvas (pāṇaka) burrow into the wood. The larvas could eat fig wood but not that of harder trees (Ja III 431).