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Pandanus is a biannual peer-reviewed international journal publishing original research papers in English on nature symbolism in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual. It has a regional focus on South Asia but welcomes papers from other regions. The journal is the outcome of the Pandanus project, based at the Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies, Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. Pandanus volumes started coming out in 1998 on an annual basis as a result of co-operation between three Universities ... please click here to read the full text of Pandanus Mission Statement.

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Pandanus ’08/2: Nature in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual.
Editor-in-chief: Jaroslav Vacek
Deputy Editor: Martin Hříbek
Members of the Editorial Board:
Giuliano Boccali (University of Milano, Italy)
Alexander Dubianski (University of Moscow, Russia)
Adalbert J. Gail (Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany)
Oldřich Král (Charles University, Prague)
Dagmar Marková (Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
Chettiarhodi Rajendran (University of Calicut, Kerala, India)
Danuta Stasik (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Lidia Sudyka (University of Krakow, Poland)
Eva Wilden (EFEO, Paris, France)
Reviewed by Prof. Gyula Woltilla (University of Szeged)
and Prof. Oldřich Král (Charles University, Prague)
Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies
Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague
Celetná 20, 116 42 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Published by Triton
First edition, Praha (Prague) 2008
ISSN 1802-7997
(Registration number MK ČR) E 17677


  • Adalbert J. Gail: Sun worship in Nepal. Sun and moon in the arts of the Kathmandu Valley
  • Jaroslav Vacek: The rat in Sangam literature – as a part of the description of nature
  • Dagmar Marková: Hindi and Urdu women writers on pregnancy, childbirth and abortion
  • Petr Holman: Flowers in the work of Otokar Březina

  • Petr Duda: A few notes on the updated version of the Pandanus Database of Indian Plants
  • Martin Hříbek: Matching uneven pairs: Lotuses, water-lilies and their Sanskrit counterparts


Sun worship in Nepal. Sun and moon in the arts of the Kathmandu Valley
Adalbert J. Gail, Free University, Berlin, Germany

Apart from Vedic sun worship Nepal does not seem to have developed the sun cult of the Sauras known from India. Nevertheless both Hindus and Buddhists give rich evidence of their great respect for the planets Sūrya and Candra. Joined with six other planets (aṣṭagraha) woodcarvings of sun and moon have played an important part in embellishing the traditional four temple doors. In more recent times, however, these six planets (Budha, Maṅgala, Bṛhaspati, Śukra, Śani, Ketu) were omitted in favour of just the sun and moon. Stone sculptures of Sūrya not infrequently appear in front of temples or within cultic spaces dedicated to Viṣṇu or Śiva. Sometimes a minor Sūrya shrine forms part of a pañcāyatana structure. Sun stelas are at times surrounded by the other eight planets (navagraha = aṣṭagraha + Ketu). Metal sculptures of Sūrya, all of minor size, seem to have been used for domestic worship. Wood-carved windows symbolizing the sun (and occasionally the moon) can be found as part of the decor of religious as well as profane buildings. The symbols of sun and moon often appear in the upper space of images and inscriptions. The double-flag (dhvaja) of the Shah dynasty is regularly marked by symbols of the sun and moon. Rosette stones, representing the sun, positioned in front of the threshold of common houses, are worshipped in the early morning in order to enjoy an auspicious day. Here Sūrya exhibits his relationship with auspicious symbols (maṅgala) in whose vicinity he also appears.

The rat in Sangam literature – as a part of the description of nature
Jaroslav Vacek, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

The paper analyses the occurrences of the rat in the Sangam texts. The rat has a low frequency in the texts (7x: eli ‘rat’; 1x: veḷḷeli ‘gerbil’) and appears only in four texts: Puṟanāṉūṟu (4x), Akanāṉūṟu (1x + 1x), Naṟṟiṇai (1x) and Kuṟuntokai (1x). The appearance and the activities of the animal are relatively well described, and some of its enemies are mentioned (the owl, the cat). Though rather limited in number, the descriptions confirm that the ancient poets were good observers of nature and were able to describe it clearly. Rat is not specifically related to one tiṇai, in fact it appears in several tiṇais. In a few cases it appears as a symbol in contexts referring to ethical ideals. There is a limited number of formulaic expressions, only one being more frequent (il eli ‘house-rat’, 3x). The formulaic expressions used in the context of the word ‘rat’ are systematically analysed in the Appendix.

Hindi and Urdu women writers on pregnancy, childbirth and abortion
Dagmar Marková, Oriental Institute, Prague, Czech Republic

Bearing children has always been regarded as the most natural duty of women. Modern women writers usually leave aside all the rituals and the poetry connected with pregnancy and childbirth. They give attention to the physical discomfort, tension or even mental torture caused by these very vulnerable phases of women’s lives. Though these are natural processes, due to the modernization of the way of life or due to an unnatural way of life in seclusion, most of the women departed from Nature ages ago. It is necessary that modern erudite helpers, who are not always available, support Nature, as presented by the women writers. They do not approve of abortion, but, at the same time, they do not campaign against it. They see that the facility of having abortion has slid into something other than it was intended to be. Over some 70 years the attention of women writers has gradually shifted from mere ignorance and the ruthlessness of society towards women to the interconnection of the traditional and market way of thinking. They depict the female part of the Indian population as being now under heavy pressure from both. The women writers dealt with below are not ardent feminists, but they depict the position of common Indian women of their times as they see it. Here we are concerned with their approach to pregnancy, childbirth and abortion.

Flowers in the work of Otokar Březina
Petr Holman, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

The present study seeks to determine the meaning of flowers (rose, lily, stock, asphodel, cactus, water lilies, myrtle, wormwood, cowslip, forget-me-not, cudweed, daisy, sunflower, weeds), important natural motifs and symbols, in the works of Otokar Březina (1868–1929) – a Czech poet, essayist and epistolographer. To document its findings, it uses examples from the author’s selected poems. In addition to that, the study also looks at the functions and connotations which those symbols can acquire, and the contexts in which they appear in the infinite universe of Březina’s works.

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