What shall one avoid in the case of eye-diseases?

A problem with polysemy

Veṅkaṭanātha discusses in his commentary on PMS 1.1.9 the case of words having multiple meanings. On the one hand, there are words which have multiple meanings and whose meaning can be fixed only due to the proximity to other words. On the other, there are words which have one prevalent meaning, but which can assume a different meaning due to the proximity of other words. Therefore, the proximity of other words is not in itself a disambiguating factor. The Nyāya objector takes advantage of that to suggest that one needs to resort to convention.

The example Veṅkaṭanātha uses is somewhat obscure, namely:

The one who has an eye-disease should avoid rubbing the eye (?) with hands, feet or tongue (śarkarāṃ pādajihvābhyām akṣirogī vivarjayet).

Here, śarkarā —which usually means ‘pebble’ or ‘piece of candied sugar’ seems to be the term which assumes a new meaning, which I imagined being ‘rubbing the eye’. Did you ever encounter śarkarā in this sense? Or do you have alternative suggestions?

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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3 thoughts on “What shall one avoid in the case of eye-diseases?

  1. See the Ayurvediya Mahakosa, v.1, p. 809: https://archive.org/stream/AyurvediyaSabdakosa1968/Ayurvediya%20Sabdakosa-v1_1968#page/n829/mode/1up

    It’s an eye disease named in Suśrutasaṃhitā, uttaratantra 1. 41.

    “śarkara,” meaning sugar, may also be etymologically cognate with “sugar” although this is not certain. The previous page of the above dictionary shows the implication of śarkara in “sweet” diseases including what would today be called diabetes mellitus and bladder stones.