Another Tibetan Case of Hapax legomenon

In the Mahāvyutpatti (Fukuda & Ishihama 1989: no. 7477; Sakaki 1916–1925: no. 7521) we find a Tibetan word son pa (as a translation of the Sanskrit nāli).1 To be sure, there is no varia lectio here. That the Sanskrit word nāli is to be equated with nāḍi/nāḍī and that it should mean something like “tube” or “pipe” seems to be clear.2 The word nāli that occurs in the Mahāvyutpatti has been discussed by Edgerton,3 who makes a number of points. Importantly, he points out that contextually it “should mean something connected with weaving” although both Tibetan and Chinese (renderings) have a word that means “arrived.” But of course, “arrived” makes no sense in the present context of the Mahāvyutpatti. Edgerton is right because the Sanskrit word occurs within several words expressing various materials and tools for weaving. The Sanskrit word nāli and its Tibetan rendering son pa, thus, seem to refer to a kind of tube, pipe, or reed that is used for weaving. The Tibetan word son pa in this sense does not seem to be attested anywhere else and hence it appears to be a Hapax legomenon. While it is true that son pa often renders Sanskrit words such as gata and that in Tibetan it occurs in words such as in nar son pa, pha rol tu son pa, lag tu son pa, and the like, son pa in the sense of a tubular tool used for weaving seems to have been forgotten. It may also be mentioned that the Tibetan son is also an abbreviated form of sa bon (“seed”). At any rate, son pa in this particular context of the Mahāvyutpatti does not seem to be used in the literal sense of “gone” or “arrived.” I wonder if it should mean something like a bamboo tube or pipe in which “woof/weft” (vitāna: spun) wound around a stick is placed and is run or passed back and forth through the “warp” (ātāna: rgyu). But unless we come across other/better sources, we cannot say anything definitive.

1 Yōichi Fukuda & Yumiko Ishihama (eds.), A New Critical Edition of the Mahāvyutpatti: Sanskrit-Tibetan-Mongolian Dictionary of Buddhist Terminology. Materials for Tibetan-Mongolian Dictionary 1. Tokyo: The Toyo Bunko, 1989; Ryōzaburō Sakaki (ed.), Honyaku myōgi taishū (Mahāvyutpatti). 2 vols. Tokyo: Kokusho Kankōkai, 1987 [Reprint of: Kyoto: Shingonshū Kyōto Daigaku, 1916–1925].

2 See, for example, MW (s.v. nāli): “= nāḍī, any tubular vessel or vein … of the body,” ibid. (s.v. 2. nāḍi): “any tube or pipe, (esp.) a tubular organ (as a vein or artery of the body),” ibid. (s.v. nāḍī): “the tubular stalk of any plant or any tubular organ (as a vein or artery of the body) … any pipe or tube, … a flute.” MW = Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Compact edition greatly enlarged and improved with the collaboration of E. Leumann C. Cappeller and other scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899 [Reprint: Tokyo: Meicho Fukyukai Co., 1986].

3 Franklin Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, Volume 2: Dictionary. New Haven: Yale University Press & London: Geoffrey Cumberlege / Oxford University Press, 1953 [Reprint: Kyoto: Rinsen Book Co., 1985] (s.v. ?nāli): “m. or f. (°liḥ, n. sg.), Mvy 7521, from the context should mean something connected with weaving; Tib. son pa, arrived(!) and so also Chin.!; Jap. pipe, or vein, which fits Skt. nāḍī (and Lex. nālī), but not the context in Mvy.”

On Translating “Patañjali” into Tibetan

The name “Patañjali” (v.l. “Pātañjali”) has been translated into Tibetan as “Chur-lhung,” and it has been recorded in the Mahāvyutpatti (Sakaki 1916–25: no. 3498; Fukuda & Ishihama 1989: no. 3496).1 To be sure, the name has also been rendered as “Thal-mo-lhung.”2 The rendering “Thal-mo-lhung” is acceptable and it does not have to be “Thal-mor-lhung.” It is comparable to the rendering of “Devadatta.” Both “lHa-s/byin” and “lHas-s/byin” are acceptable. Ācārya Sems-dpa’-rdo-rje points out that the Tibetan translation “Chur-lhung,” or rather “Chu-lhung” (as he has it), is actually a “misunderstanding” (go nor), and he translates the name as “Thal-mo-sbyar-ba-can,”3 that is, “One Who Has Palms Folded (añjali).” But is the earlier Tibetan rendering really based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of the name “Patañjali”? Not being a Sanskritist, I cannot tell with authority or certainty. But a quick online search reveals some interesting information associated with the etiology of “Patañjali.” According to one, Ādiśeṣa, the Nāga king, who is the bearer (or even emanation) of Viṣṇu, who was seeking a mother, fell into the handful of water that Goṇikā, a woman who was praying to the sun god to bestow her a son, had scooped up to offer, as the handful of water was the only gift she could find. The veracity of Patañjali’s etiology is secondary, but the Tibetan translators and their Indian collaborators who translated “Patañjali” most probably knew Patañjali’s etiology and hence translated the name as “One Who Fell into the [Handful of] Water” (Chur-lhung) or “One Who Fell on the Palms [Filled with Water] (Thal-mor-lhung).” I, thus, tend to think that the Tibetan translators did not misunderstand the name “Patañjali.” This case is very much comparable to the Tibetan rendering of the name “Umā” as “dKa’-b/zlog-ma.” Ācārya Sems-dpa’-rdo-rje’s translation does not seem to account for pat or pata. With regard to the etymology of the name, Mayrhofer, after considering some speculations, states: “Alles recht unglaubhaft.”4 In short, we repeatedly realize that Tibetan translators, when they did translate proper names, did not always follow what seemed to them their literal meanings but considered their etiological backgrounds. So it seems it is necessary to do some background study before we conclude that the Tibetan translators misunderstood and mistranslated certain things.

By the way, as Ācārya Sems-dpa’-rdo-rje also points out that the Tibetan translation of the title Tattvasaṃgraha should not really be De kho na nyid bsdus pa as if we have Tattvsaṃgṛhīta but should rather be De kho na nyid bsdu pa. Prima facie our Ācārya’s reflection seems to be perfectly reasonable. But if we give a second thought, it seems that the past Tibetan translators had a reason why they sometimes rendered a masculine noun (e.g. nomen actionis) with a perfect form of a Tibetan verb. My feeling is that they rendered such a noun with a perfect form of a Tibetan verb if or when they felt that such a noun expressed some kind of an outcome or result and hence is similar to a feminine abstract noun, such as siddhi (“success” or “proof”), which they always translated as dngos grub or grub pa and never, as far as I am concerned, as dngos ’grub or ’grub pa. Although it is true that saṃgraha can be rendered as bsdu ba, I feel that Tibetan translators rendered it as bsdus pa because saṃgraha here was not understood by them as an act of “gathering” or “collecting” but rather as a “collection,” which is an outcome or result of collecting or gathering. Interestingly also in English, saṃgraha has been rendered as both “collecting” and “collection.” Tibetan translators seem to have understood saṃgraha to mean “collection” and hence rendered it as bsdus pa, and not as bsdu ba.

Note: This article has been migrated from Philologia Tibetica and has been revised.

1 Ryōzaburō Sakaki (ed.), Honyaku myōgi taishū (Mahāvyutpatti). 2 vols. Tokyo: Kokusho Kankōkai, 1987 [Reprint of: Kyoto: Shingonshū Kyōto Daigaku, 1916–1925]; Yōichi Fukuda & Yumiko Ishihama (eds.), A New Critical Edition of the Mahāvyutpatti: Sanskrit-Tibetan-Mongolian Dictionary of Buddhist Terminology. Materials for Tibetan-Mongolian Dictionary 1. Tokyo: The Toyo Bunko, 1989.

2 See, for example, ’Jam-dbyangs mKhyen-brtse’i-dbang-po, Legs par sbyar ba’i bstan bcos kyi byung tshul cung zad bshad pa ngo mtshar zla zhun gsar pa’i ’dzum phreng. In Sa skya’i chos ’byung gces bsdus. 6 vols. Beijing: Krung-go’i-bod-rig-pa-dpe-skrun-khang, 2009, vol. 6, p. 184.7.

3 Sems-dpa’-rdo-rje, mKhan chen zhi ba ’tshos mdzad pa de nyid bsdu ba’i ’grel ba (sic) dpal de kho na nyid gsal bar byed pa’i sgron ma. The Red and Black Crown Karmapa Series 41. [Kalimpong]: Shri Diwakar Publications, 2017 [Tibetan Commentary on Chapters 1–6 of Śāntarakṣita’s Tattvasaṃgraha].

4 Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen. 3 volumes. Heidelberg: C. Winter 1992–2001. Cf. Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Compact edition greatly enlarged and improved with the collaboration of E. Leumann C. Cappeller and other scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899 [Reprint: Tokyo: Meicho Fukyukai Co., 1986] (s.v. patañjali): “fr. pata añj°?” This speculation or suggestion is not found in Otto von Böhtlingk & Rudolph Roth, Sanskrit-Wörterbuch. 7 vols. St. Petersburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1855–1875 [Reprint: Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000].

What is “Ru” in “Ru ’Jam-dpal-bshes-gnyen”?

A few years ago, to be precise, on 12.05.2017, I published a blog entry (in Philologia Tibetica) about the mysterious use of “Ru” as a title of Indian and Tibetan teachers, for examples, Ru ’Jam-dpal-bshes-gnyen, Ru Padma, and Ru sKa-ba dPal-brtsegs.1 One can feel that “Ru” has been used in place of or alongside “Ācārya.” But what does “Ru” mean? And why “Ru”? There seems to exist no hitherto explanation. Mengyan Li, Dan Martin, Nicola Bajetta, and I have been trying to find an explanation.

(a) The first thing that comes to one’s mind when one thinks of “Ru” and “Slob dpon” (for Ācārya) is “Ru-dpon.” Could “Ru” have been an abbreviation of Ru-dpon? It is true that a ru dpon or ru sna is military term and can mean something like “the head/leader of a regiment” and hence a kind of a military general. But possibly ru dpon may reflect a Tibetan equivalent of ācārya or a phase of the Tibetan attempt to make sense of the Sanskrit word ācārya, which then later came to be rendered into Tibetan as slob dpon. Can it be that, at least initially, Tibetans understood both ru dpon and slob dpon as some kind of a “guide,” “instructor,” or “trainer”? Incidentally a rectangular ruler used by traditional Bhutanese architects is called a slob dpon. A search in the OTDO reveals ru dpon but not slob dpon.2  Possibly also the term slob dpon was created (somewhat later) by Tibetans to render ācārya, and slob dpon seems to literally mean “an instructing or training leader/master.” I must say, however, that this explanation is the least convincing one.

(b) Mengyan Li feels that “Ru” has been used as an abbreviation of “Guru.” Contextually, this does not seem impossible: Ācārya Mañjuśrīmitra = Guru Mañjuśrīmitra! But it does not seem probable. (c) Dan Martin feels that “Ru” could have been an abbreviation of “Rudra.” This possibility is increased by the fact that some Sanskrit dictionaries,3 as pointed out by Nicola Bajetta, suggest that “Rudra” can be used as names of various teachers and authors (also with ācāryakavibhaṭṭaśarmansūri, and so on). Perhaps what is meant here is that “Rudra,” as recorded by Apte, can also mean, among many other things, “Praiseworthy.”4 If this hypothesis holds, it would mean that “Rudra (Ācārya) Mañjuśrīmitra” would mean “Praiseworthy (Ācārya) Mañjuśrīmitra.” The question is how old can such a usage of “Ru” be and whether Tibetan authors who used “Ru” with names of respectable persons knew such a usage of “Rudra.” These are a few speculations and the issue, in my view, still remains unresolved.

1 Klong-chen-rgya-ra (?), Klong chen chos ’byung. Lhasa: Bod-yig-dpe-rnying-dpe-skrun-khang, 2013 [reprint of the first edition 1991], p. 318.

2 Krang-dbyi-sun et al., Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Mi-rigs-dpe-skrun-khang, 1993 (s.v. ru dpon): (1) sngar bod sa gnas srid gzhung gi dmag dpon gyi go gnas shig de’i ’og tu dmag mi nyis brgya dang lnga bcu tham pa yod | de ni mda’ dpon gyi ’og ma yin; (2) dmag dpon spyi.

3 Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Compact edition greatly enlarged and improved with the collaboration of E. Leumann C. Cappeller and other scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899 [Reprint: Tokyo: Meicho Fukyukai Co., 1986] (s.v. rudra).

4 Vaman Shivaram Apte, The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. 3 vols. Revised and Enlarged Edition. Edited by P.K. Gode and C.G. Karve. Poona: Prasad Prakashan, 1957–1959 (s.v. rudra).

Rong-zom-pa on Mahāmudrā

Several years ago, a colleague asked me whether the idea of “Great Seal” (mahāmudrā: phyag rgya chen po or phyag chen) occurs in the rNying-ma Tantric sources and if so, what kind of status it has in the school. I think I merely answered that I know of mahāmudrā in the rNying-ma Tantric systems or sources only as a kind of soteriological accomplishment (siddhi: dngos grub) such as the famous *mahāmudrāvidyādhara (phyag rgya chen po’i rig pa ’dzin pa  = phyag chen rig ’dzin = rgya chen rig ’dzin), mainly in the exegetical literature on the *Guhyagarbhatantra. In other words, the rNying-ma Tantric tradition does not have Mahāmudrā as a soteriological system or tradition as in the case of the bKa’-brgyud school of Tibetan Buddhism. Having said that, the rNying-ma school, to the best of my knowledge, would not deny the authenticity of the Mahāmudrā doctrine as such. The relationship between Phyag-chen and rDzogs-chen as perceived by Tibetan scholars would of course require a careful study. Some rNying-ma traditions have even synthesized Phyag-chen and rDzogs-chen thereby resulting in what is called Phyag-rdzogs-zung-’jug. What this really means also requires investigation. 

It seems worthwhile to make a few points regarding how mahāmudrā has been understood by Rong-zom-pa. Firstly, Rong-zom-pa, while explaining the verse line phyag rgya chen po’i ngang du gnas (from the *Guhyagarbhatantra), states that in three cases a mudrā can be called a mahāmudrā:1 “In general, there are three ways of employing the term mahāmudrā, namely, (1) the word ‘great’ [can] be employed for all mudrās when the qualities of the various mudrās are being expressed, (2) the term mahāmudrā [can] be employed for the sign pertaining to a complete Body when the terms [relating to] the signs of Body, Speech, and Mind co-occur, and (3) in some cases the term mahāmudrā is employed for the signless dharmakāya. One should thus apply [this term] appropriately in accordance with the context.” The mahāmudrā in the third sense seems to be more pertitent to the present topic.

Secondly, in another instance,2 he again identifies mahāmudrā with “sphere of reality devoid of characteristics” (chos kyi dbyings mtshan ma med pa). It is obvious that it is only mahāmudrā in this sense that it would relevant to the Mahāmudrā as a doctrinal system. We might recall that according to Rong-zom-pa, rDzogs-chen system teaches a special of kind of rdzogs pa’i rim pa (utpannakrama = niṣpannakrama) practices, that is, presupposing that all Tantric practices are subsumed under bskyed pa’i rim pa (utpattikrama) and rdzogs pa’i rim pa (i.e. rim pa gnyis = kramadvaya). It is quite likely that he would have seen Mahāmudrā doctrine also dealing with a special kind of niṣpannakrama. (In passing, I should note that *saṃpannakrama that haunts some secondary sources is a “ghost word” and thus should be “black-listed” as such. We owe this knowledge to Professor Isaacson.) If Rong-zom-pa had known Mahāmudrā as a practice system, he would have accepted it as system that mainly prescribes or accentuates the practice of “sphere of reality devoid of characteristics.”

Thirdly, Rong-zom-pa also proposes another typology of mahāmudrā:3  *sanimittamahāmudrā (mtshan ma dang bcas pa’i phyag rgya chen po) and *nirnimittamahāmudrā (mtshan ma med pa’i phyag rgya chen po). I do not know if these terms are attested in extant Sanskrit sources. In general, he also speaks of two types of mudrā,4 namely, *sanimitta (mtshan ma dang bcas pa) and *nirnimitta (mtshan ma med pa). A similar idea of two kinds of siddhi, namely, *sanimitta (mtshan ma dang bcas pa) and *nirnimitta (mtshan ma med pa), can also be found, for example, in the Vairocanābhisaṃbodhitantra.5

Fourthly, we have to consider the term and concept of mahāmudrā  in the context of the rig ’dzin bzhi,6 that is, how *mahāmudrāvidyādhara (phyag rgya chen po’i rig pa ’dzin  pa phyag rgya chen po’i rig ’dzin = phyag chen rig ’dzin = rgya chen rig ’dzin) has been understood by Rong-zom-pa. He discusses two alternative interpretations of *mahāmudrāvidyādhara, namely, as accomplishment of rūpakāya (i.e. accomplishment of the second *mahāmudrā discussed above) and accomplishment of dharmakāya (i.e. accomplishment of the third mahāmudrā). In the tradition of the *Guhyagarbhatantra, *mahāmudrāvidyādhara has been counted as one of the four kinds of vidyādhara. But it appears that in the tradition of the Sarvabuddhasamayogatantra, *mahāmudrāvidyādhara is counted as the last of the seven kinds of vidyādhara. This is at least true according to *Indranāla’s commentary on the Sarvabuddhasamayogatantra.7

Fifthly, while discussing samaya (as one of the nine Tantric topics), Rong-zom-pa mentions mahāmudrā, again as one of the four kinds of mudrā.8 This is nothing special. Sixthly, he also mentions mahāmudrā as one of the three kinds of mudrā.9 Seventhly, he also talks about five mahāmudrās (phyag rgya chen po lnga),10 stating that all phenomena are maintained to be awakened in the sphere of the five (buddha) families (rigs lnga) and five gnoses (ye shes lnga) through (?) the method/mode of five mahāmudrās (phyag rgya chen po lnga’i tshul gyis). It seems that the five mahāmudrās are really five gestures made with the five implements of the five buddha families: “brandishing the vajra” (rdo rje gsor ba), “swinging of the sword” (ral gri bskor ba), and on. He assumes that his readers would understand. I must confess I cannot properly understand the passage dealing with five mahāmudrās.

In sum, the term mahāmudrā seems to have been understood by Rong-zom-pa mainly in the senses of conventional (sc. mtshan ma dang bcas pa’i phyag rgya chen po) and absolute realities (sc. mtshan ma med pa’i phyag rgya chen po) as well as in its ontological (sc. chos kyi dbyings mtshan ma med pa) and Buddhological (sc. chos kyi sku mtshan nyid med pa) senses. Inspired by Rong-zom-pa, we may say that Mahāmudrā is a Mantrayānic soteriological system in which the ultimate soteriological goal— the “dharmakāya devoid of defining characteristics” (chos kyi sku mtshan nyid med pa)—is obtained or realized by gaining direct gnostic access to the absolute ontological reality—the “dharmadhātu devoid of characteristic marks/signs” (chos kyi dbyings mtshan ma med pa)—that is, with or without resorting to the practice of the conventional mahāmudrā (sc. mtshan ma dang bcas pa’i phyag rgya chen po) involved in a deity yoga (devatāyoga: lha’i rnal ’byor).

1 Orna Almogi, Rong-zom-pa’s Discourses on Buddhology: A Study of Various Conceptions of Buddhahood in Indian Sources with Special Reference to the Controversy Surrounding the Existence of Gnosis (jñāna: ye shes) as Presented by the Eleventh-Century Tibetan Scholar Rong-zom Chos-kyi-bzang-po. Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series 24. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2009, p. 100, n. 198.

2 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 71.19–20): phyag rgya chen po zhes bya ba chos kyi dbyings mtshan ma med pa la ’jug pa rnams ni | mtshon par bya ba’i sgo nas rnam par gzhag pa’o ||.

3 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 214.18–20): phyag rgya chen por rdzogs ’gyur zhing || zhes bya ba ni | mtshan ma med pa’i phyag rgya chen po dang | mtshan ma dang bcas pa’i phyag rgya chen po’i tshig zur gnyis su drangs kyang ’gal ba med do ||.

4 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 72.2–3): dbye ba gzhan yang mtshan ma med pa’i phyag ryga dang | mtshan ma dang bcas pa zhes bya’am |.

5 Si-tu-paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-’byung-gnas, rGyal ba’i bka’ ’gyur rin po che’i bzhugs byang dkar chag. Chengdu: Si-khron-dpe-skrun-tshogs-pa & Si-khron-mi-rigs-dpe-skrun-khang, 2008, p. 264.9–12.

6  Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 189.8–18): rig ’dzin gyi bye brag ni gzhung kha cig las | gzhung spyi las grags pa’i lam rnam pa lnga dang sbyar ba dag kyang snang ngo || sngon gyi slob dpon rnams kyi gdams ngag las | sar chud pa dang | sa la gnas pa dang | sar smin pa zhes kyang gsungs so || gzhan yang rnam par smin pa’i rig ’dzin dang | tshe’i rig ’dzin dang | phyag rgya chen po’i rig ’dzin zhes kyang gsungs so || phyag rgya chen po’i rig ’dzin la yang | gzhung kha cig las ni ’di skad du | rang lus rgyal ba’i phyag rgya che || bsgoms pas mngon du gyur pa’i lha || mtshan dang dpe byad mngon shes ldan || phyag rgya chen po’i rig ’dzin grags || zhes gsungs so || kha cig las ni | phyag rgya chen po ni mtshan ma med pa chos kyi sku’o zhes kyang grags te | ’on kyang ’dir ni rgyu rkyen nus pa can du gyur pa de nyid rig ’dzin zhes sangs rgyas kyi zhing rnams su grags la | khyad par gyi sas bsdus pa’o zhes gsungs so ||.

7 Si-tu-paṇ-chen in his sDe dge bka’ ’gyur dkar chag (pp. 257.18–258.1) cites Śraddhākaravarman’s Yogānuttaratantrārthāvatāra.

8 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 66.7).

9 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 182.3–9): de la sbyor ba ji ltar shes rab kyi spyod pa yin zhe na | shes rab ni shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin ma’o || de yang rnam pa gsum ste | las kyi phyag rgya dang | ye shes kyi phyag rgya dang | phyag rgya chen po’o || de la las kyi phyag rgya ni rnam par smin pa’i lus kyi bdag nyid bud med rnams so || ye shes kyi phyag rgya ni ye shes las sprul pa’i lha mo rnams so || phyag rgya chen po ni chos kyi sku mtshan nyid med pa’o || ’di rnams ni shes rab kyi rang bzhin yin pa dang | ’di rnams la brten nas gnyis su med pa’i ye shes skye bar ’gyur ba’i gnas yin pas | shes rab kyi spyod pa’i dam tshig yin pa’i phyir thun mong ma yin pa’i shes rab kyi spyod pa’o ||.

10 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 87.17–22): de la rgyud ’di’i skabs su don spyi rgya rabs kyis gcod pa ni | phyag rgya chen po lng’i tshul gyis chos thams cad rigs lnga ye shes lnga’i ngang du sangs rgyas par ston par bzhed de | de la phyag rgya chen po lnga ni || rdo rje gsor ba lta bu nas | ral gri bskor ba’i bar dag ste | ji ltar phyag rgya de dag pa las dang yon tan bye brag med par snang ba bzhin | rgyud ’di’i dbu zhabs nas kyang chos thams cad ’bral bu’i chos su sangs rgyas par ston par bye brag med do || zhes gsungs so ||.

Another Case of Hapax Legomenon

More than four years ago (on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 [https://philologia-tibetica.blogspot.com], I briefly discussed a case of Hapax legomenon, namely, gser phye long mo gang. This expression occurs in Sog-bzlog-pa Blo-gros-rgyal-mtshan’s (1552–1624) Phur pa’i lo rgyus.1 Actually the individual components of the expression pose no difficulty and contextually it must mean something like “a long-mo-full of gold dust.” To be sure, there is no Varia lectio. The word long mo or long bu means “ankle-bone” or “astragal.”2 Something like “an ankle-bone full of gold dust” would make no sense. Merriam-Webster tells us that astragal is “a narrow half-round molding,”3 which reminds one of a “scoop.” Mengyan Li has translated it as “one full knuckle of gold dust.”4 I cannot say how this translation sounds in English. At any rate, gser phye long mo gang seems to mean something like gser phye spar gang or gser phye khyor gang (“a handful of gold dust”).

1 Mengyan Li, Origination, Transmission, and Reception of the Phur-pa Cycle: A Study of the rDo-rje-phur-pa Cycle of Tantric Teachings in Tibet with Special Reference to Sog-bzlog-pa Blo-gros-rgyal-mtshan’s (1552–1624) Phur pa’i lo rgyus. Doctoral Dissertation. Hamburg: Universität Hamburg, 2018 [https://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de], p. 311 (§19.5).

2 Heinrich August Jäschke, A Tibetan English Dictionary with Special Reference to the Prevailing Dialects. To which is Added an English-Tibetan Vocabulary. London: [Berlin, Unger Brothers (T. Grimm)], 1881 [Reprint: Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1987] (s.v. long bu).

3 https://www.merriam-webster.com (s.v. astragal).

4 Li 2018: 228.

Tibetan Rendering of “Suśroṇī”

In the Mūlasarvāstivāda narrative sources, there is a story of Suśroṇī, a queen who takes a musician and then a robber as her lover.1 Jampa Losang Panglung usually provides the Tibetan renderings of the Sanskrit names. But not for Suśroṇī. Other lexical sources do not seem to record the name of our queen.2 William Woodville Rockhill, however, records “Sho-shum-pa” as a Tibetan rendering of “Suśroṇī,” by referring to Anton von Schiefner, and also points out that it is not a literal rendering.3 Literally it should mean something like “having beautiful hips.”4 And indeed in some Tibetan lexical sources, we find sked legs ma in the sense of a “beautiful woman” (bud med mdzes ma) and “goddess” (lha’i bu mo),5 which is probably a literal rendering of suśroṇī. But the meaning of sho shum pa is not clear. Possibly sho shum is a mimetic word, comparable to ’khyug ’khyug and ldem ldem, which describes the movement and hence meaning something like “having graceful movements/gait.” The meaning of the expression ’dar shum shum6 as “a certain way of moving [one’s] body” (gzugs po g.yo tshul zhig) may mean something like “a certain way of swinging” (e.g. one’s hips) and hence support such a speculation. If this speculation holds, we shall have to consider sho shum and shum shum simply as phonetic variants and suppose that the Tibetan translators interpreted that “one who has beautiful hips” is also “one who has graceful movements/gait.” One should also perhaps consider the words shom ra (byed) and shom can.7

1  See Jampa Losang Panglung, Die Erzählstoffe des Mūlasarvāstivāda-Vinaya: Analysiert auf Grund der tibetischen Übersetzung. Tokyo: The Reiyukai Library, 1981, pp. 193–194. See also Anton Schiefner, Tibetan Tales Derived from Indian Sources. Translated from the Tibetan of the Kah-Gyur by F. Anton von Schiefner. Done into English from the German, with an introduction by William Ralston. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1906, pp. lv–lvi, 227–235.

2 The following sources do not seem to record the name Suśroṇī: (a) Franklin Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, Volume 2: Dictionary. New Haven: Yale University Press & London: Geoffrey Cumberlege / Oxford University Press, 1953 [Reprint: Kyoto: Rinsen Book Co., 1985]; (b) Heinz Bechert, Michael Schmidt, Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Georg von Simson, Michael Schmidt, Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Siglinde Dietz, Jin-il Chung (eds.), Sanskrit-Wörterbuch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Turfan-Funden und der kanonischen Literatur der Sarvāstivāda-Schule. Begonnen von Ernst Waldschmidt. Im Auftrage der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen. 4 vols. (27 Lieferungen). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994–2014; (c) J. S. Negi et al., Bod skad dang legs sbyar gyi tshig mdzod chen mo: Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary. 16 vols. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Dictionary Unit, 1993–2005; (d) Vaman Shivaram Apte, The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. 3 vols. Revised and Enlarged Edition, edited by P.K. Gode and C.G. Karve. Poona: Prasad Prakashan, 1957–1959.

3 William Woodville Rockhill, The Life of the Buddha and the Early History of His Order. Derived from Tibetan Works in the Bkah-Hgyur and Bstan-Hgyur. Followed by Notices on the Early History of Tibet and Khoten. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1884 [= 1907], pp. 82, n. 1, 273 (Index).

4 Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Compact edition greatly enlarged and improved with the collaboration of E. Leumann C. Cappeller and other scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899 [Reprint: Tokyo: Meicho Fukyukai Co., 1986] (s.v. suśroṇī); Otto von Böhtlingk & Rudolph Roth, Sanskrit-Wörterbuch. 7 vols. St. Petersburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1855–1875 [Reprint: Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000] (s.v. suśroṇī).

5  Krang-dbyi-sun et al., Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Mi-rigs-dpe-skrun-khang, 1993 (s.v. sked legs ma). Cf. Herbert Franke & Helga Uebach, Wörterbuch der tibetischen Schriftsprache: Im Auftrag der Kommission für zentral- und ostasiatische Studien der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Kommision beim Verlag C. H. Beck, 2005–? (s.vv. rked legs ma, rked phra ma, rked med).

6  Tshig mdzod chen mo (s.v. ’dar shum shum): gzugs po g.yo tshul zhig. It gives the following example: gangs khrod du phyin pas ha cang ’khyags te mgo lus tshang ma ’dar shum shum byas byung. It, however, simply seems to mean “trembling” or “shivering.” But it may also have the meaning of “swinging.”

7 Heinrich August Jäschke, A Tibetan English Dictionary with Special Reference to the Prevailing Dialects. To which is Added an English-Tibetan Vocabulary. London: [Berlin, Unger Brothers (T. Grimm)], 1881 [Reprint: Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1987] (s.v. shom pa).

On the Word Pada in Dhammapada

That A-mdo dGe-’dun-chos-’phel (1903–1951)—who was more a “Misunderstood Man” rather than an “Angry Monk”—translated the Dhammapada from the Pāli is well known.1 As a scholar, he is either reviled or revered by fellow Tibetan scholars. One such scholar who vilified him was dGe-bshes Shes-rab-rgya-mtsho (1884–1968), who played a questionable editorial role in the preparation of the lHa sa bka’ ’gyur. According to Hor-gtsang ’Jigs-med, Shes-rab-rgya-mtsho criticized dGe-’dun-chos-’phel for translating pada in the title Dhammapada as tshigs su bcad pa.2 It is true that title as it occurs both in the beginning and in the translator’s colophon is the Chos kyi tshigs su bcad pa.3  The main point of critique seems to be that pada means tshig and that tshigs su bcad pa should be a rendering of the Sanskrit kārikā. The criticism, which insinuates that the translator has misunderstood and hence mistranslated the word pada, is actually quite astonishing because it comes from someone, who, as far as I am concerned, had never himself translated anything from Pāli and Sanskrit. I am not even sure whether he had any knowledge of Pāli. It is clear that it was dGe-’dun-chos-’phel’s literary taste and choice, and not his ignorance, that he translated pada in the title as tshigs su bcad pa and not simply as tshig. This is certainly not wrong because even a lexical meaning seems to suggest that it is fully correct to translate pada as tshigs su bcad pa insofar as it is said to mean also “a portion of a verse, quarter or line of a stanza.”4 In addition, it is not just kārikā that has been rendered into Tibetan as tshigs su bcad pa (or tshig le’ur byas pa) but also other Sanskrit words such as śloka and gāthā.5 It is thus evident that several Sanskrit words that mean “stanza” have been and can be rendered into Tibetan as tshigs su bcad pa. In short, the translator chose to translate Dhammapada as chos kyi tshigs su bcad pa, and when it specifically refers to “Dharmic word” as chos kyi tshig as is evident, for example, in his translation of Dhammapada 4.1 (Pupphavagga).6

1  One of the reprints is the following: dGe-’dun-chos-’phel (tr.), Chos kyi tshigs su bcad pa. Delhi: T.G. Dhongthog, 1976. There seem to exist several reprints.

2 Hor-gtsang ’Jigs-med, Drang bden gyis bslus pa’i slong mo ba: mDo smad pa dge ’dun chos ’phel gyi mi tshe dpyad brjod. Dharamsala: g.Yu-rtse-dpe-’grems-khang, 1999, p. 202.8–13.

3 dGe-’dun-chos-’phel (tr.), Chos kyi tshigs su bcad pa. Delhi: T. G. Dhongthog, 1976, pp. 1, 156.

4 Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Compact edition greatly enlarged and improved with the collaboration of E. Leumann C. Cappeller and other scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899 [Reprint: Tokyo: Meicho Fukyukai Co., 1986] (s.v. pada); cf. Vaman Shivaram Apte, The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. 3 vols. Revised and Enlarged Edition, edited by P.K. Gode and C.G. Karve. Poona: Prasad Prakashan, 1957–1959 (s.v. pada).

5   J. S. Negi et al., Bod skad dang legs sbyar gyi tshig mdzod chen mo: Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary. 16 vols. Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Dictionary Unit, 1993–2005 (s.vv. sdud pa tshigs su bcad pa & bar gyi tshigs su bcad pa).

6  Dhammapada 4.1 (Ānandajoti 2020: 72): ko imaṁ paṭhaviṁ vicessati yamalokañ ca imaṁ sadevakaṁ || ko dhammapadaṁ sudesitaṁ, kusalo puppham ivappacessati ||. Bibliographical details: Ānandajoti Bhikkhu (ed.), A Comparative Edition of the Dhammapada Pāḷi text with parallels from Sanskritised Prakrit edited together with A Study of the Dhammapada Collection (4th revised edition, April, 2020) [Published online]. Tib. (p. 17): sa ’di gshin rje’i ’jig rten dang || lha dang bcas ’di rgyal ’dod su || legs bshad dge ba’i chos kyi tshig || me tog bzhin du ’tshol ba su ||.

Rājaśrī’s Rājaśrīvyākaraṇa

In 1994, Peter Verhagen, who is the expert in matters of Indo-Tibetan Sanskrit grammatical literature, tells us the following:1 “Finally I would like to note an interesting observation by B [i.e. Bu-ston] concerning a textbook of Sanskrit grammar that is unknown elsewhere, both in the Indian and in the Tibetan traditions. T [i.e. Tāranātha] and K [i.e. Kong-sprul] do not mention it, only B has: ‘thereafter pandit Rājaśrī wrote a synopsis of both the Kalāpa and Cāndra (systems of grammar); this is known as the Rājaśrī-vyākaraṇa.’ It is of course possible that B intends the Mañjuśrī-vyākaraṇa, which does indeed follow both the Cāndra and, to a lesser extent, Kātantra systems (cf. III. 1. CG 41 and -42). If this Rājaśrī-vyākaraṇa is indeed the Mañjuśrī-vyākaraṇa, the terminus ante quem for the latter treatise would be considerably earlier than proposed supra (IV. 2.2.5), viz. 1422, the date of composition of B.”

A small point that I wish to make here is that the terminus ante quem can be pushed even to an earlier date. This is because the Rājaśrīvyākaraṇa has been mentioned in a commentary on the famous Legs par bshad pa rin po che’i gter (popularly known in Tibet as the Sa skya legs bshad) of Sa-skya-paṇḍita Kun-dga’-rgyal-mtshan (1182–1251) composed by one of his disciples under his own supervision. As David Jackson has pointed out, there were already two commentaries on the Sa skya legs bshad composed during the master’s own life-time, namely, one by ’Bring-mtshams-kyi-btsun-pa Rin-chen-dpal composed in sKyid-shod-klung and the other by dMar-ston Chos-rgyal from the dBus region. He states:2 “Not all of Sa-paṇ’s aphorisms are easy to understand. Hence even during Sa-paṇ’s life at least two commentaries were written. The first was the work of a certain ’Bring-mtshams-kyi-btsun-pa Rin-chen-dpal, who composed his text in Skyid-shod-lung (as is mentioned in the colophon of the Dmar-ston commentary). But because this commnetary abounded in errors and ommisions, one of Sa-paṇ’s close disciples wrote another. This student was Dmar-ston Chos-rgyal of Dbus, and he composed a book entitled Legs par bshad pa rin po che’i gter zhes bya ba’i ’grel pa while working under the supervision of Sa-paṇ.” Jackson then goes on to add that two modern reprints of the commentary are known to him, one reprinted in Ladakh and the other in Dharamsala. The commentary that I am using now is the one reprinted in Lhasa.3  By the way, the edition that I use reads sKyid-shod-klung instead of sKyid-shod-lung. From Jackson’s statements above, I understand that the commentary that we have access today is the one by dMar-ston Chos-rgyal, and that somehow the earlier faulty commentary by ’Bring-mtshams-kyi-btsun-pa Rin-chen-dpal has not been transmitted.

The commentary on Sa-pan’s Sa skya legs bshad has been translated into English by Beth Newman, and she has, obviously unlike Jackson, understood dMar-ston Chos-rgyal’s commentary to be nothing but an improved version of ’Bring-mtshams-kyi-btsun-pa Rin-chen-dpal’s faulty commentary.4 Admittedly, unless a different (unrevised) commentary by ’Bring-mtshams-kyi-btsun-pa Rin-chen-dpal surfaces, we may have to live with the possibility that we are after all dealing here only with one commentary reworked by dMar-ston Chos-rgyal. Newman seems to have been unaware of Jackson’s article. One more important piece of information given by Newman is about the existence of the palm-leaf Sanskrit manuscript of the Rājaśrīvyākaraṇa.5 It is hoped that scholars such as Peter Verhagen would be able to study the Rājaśrīvyākaraṇa and publish it.

1  Pieter Cornelis Verhagen, A History of Sanskrit Grammatical Literature in Tibet. Volume 1: Transmission of the Canonical Literature. Handbook of Oriental Studies 2, India 8. Leiden / New York / Cologne: E. J. Brill, 1994, p. 202.

2 David Jackson, “Commentaries on the Writings of Sa-skya Paṇḍita: A Bibliographical Sketch.” The Tibet Journal 8 (2), 1983, [pp. 3–24], p. 7.

3  dMar-ston Chos-rgyal, Legs par bshad pa rin po che’i gter zhes bya ba’i ’grel pa. In Legs bshad rin po che’i gter rtsa ’grel. Lhasa: Bod-ljongs-mi-dmangs-dpe-skrun-khang, 1979 [1st edition], 1982 [2nd edition], pp. 89–190. For a reference to the Rājaśrīvyākaraṇa, see p. 96.11. The text reads: sgra rgyal po dpal zhes bya ba’i sgra’i bstan bcos and the spelling of the Sanskrit title is corrupt (i.e. ra dza shrī bhya ka ra).

4  Beth Newman (tr.), The Tibetan Book of Everyday Wisdom: A Thousand Years of Sage Advice. Library of Tibetan Classics, edited by Thupten Jinpa. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018 [epub version]. See particularly, nn. 97, 117.

5  Newman 2018: n. 110. No exact reference has been provided here. But see the dKar chag mdor gsal (p. 22): no. 42.Bod.25/Da.0404.

Rong-zom-pa on the Coronation of a Cakravartin

In the history of Buddhist ideas, one often notices that a certain relatively earlier idea, let us say, “x.1,” is never equated with the corresponding later idea “x.2,” and the idea “x.2” never with the idea “x.3,” and so on, but the idea “x.2” is used to justify “x.3,” and “x.1” to justify “x.2,” and so on. Such a strategy of legitimization of the later “disputed” idea of the “higher” vehicle or system by pointing out to the existence of an ealier “undisputed” idea of the “lower” vehicle or system may be traced elsewhere but it seems to be particularly pronounced in the Gedankengebäude of Rong-zom-pa. One could devote an entire monograph to this topic. One such example can be observed in Rong-zom-pa’s strategy of the authentication of various strata of Buddhist scriptures/doctrines.1 Another such example can be noticed in his justification of the theory of ālayavijñāna.2 Actually, the underlying reasoning is a prasaṅga-type of reasoning or a kind of reductio ad absurdum argument. The logical consequence would be such that the opponent or critic is compelled either to denounce its own doctrine or position or to accept the proponent’s doctrine or position. Tertium non datur!

A similar trend of reasoning can be felt, albeit in a more subtle way, also elsewhere. I am thinking of Rong-zom-pa’s explanation of key Tantric concepts such as mudrā. In general, Orna Almogi in her study of Rong-zom-pa’s Buddhology showed that, he, for explaining the idea of mūdra, resorted to Buddhaguhya’s Tantrārthāvatāra.3 We shall assume that a Mantric mudrā “x.3,” which is specific to Mantrayāna, would be rejected by the followers of Pāramitāyāna and Śrāvakayāna. Rong-zom-pa’s argument would be that a Mantric mudrā “x.3,” though indeed special, should be acceptable to the followers of Pāramitāyāna and Śrāvakayāna because even they have the idea of mudrā “x.2,” such as the relics of the Buddha and the stūpas that contained them, which are seals of the Buddha that carry out the salvific activities of the Buddha. For non-Buddhists who reject the mudrā “x.2,” the argument would be that even they have to accept the idea of a mudrā because even in the secular world, we have the idea of a king’s “seal” or “signet,” say, “x.1,” which carries out the command of a king. Such is the trend of Rong-zom-pa’s thought.

Similarly, we can reasonably maintain that abhiṣeka “x.3”—as defined by Vajrayāna sources—is unique to Vajrayāna and that abhiṣeka is what enables one’s actual entry into Vajrayāna practice. From the perspective of Pāramitāyāna and Śrāvakayāna, what makes, among many other things, Vajrayāna suspicious is precisely abhiṣeka “x.3.” To make the point more pointed, the critics’ offense is that a form of Buddhism that contains abhiṣeka is not Buddhism. The apologists’ defense is that the presence of abhiṣeka would not undermine the authenticity because even Pāramitāyāna has the idea of abhiṣeka “x.2.” Rong-zom-pa does not elaborate on the existence of abhiṣeka “x.2” but perhaps he thought this is all too obvious. Later Tibetan scholars would explicitly point out to the idea of the “initiation or empowerment of great rays” (’od zer chen po’i dbang) found in pre/non-Mantrayāna form of Budddhism. A few important sources are the Ratnāvalī,4 Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra,5 and Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya.6 Noteworthy is that this empowerment is bestowed only to the bodhisattva of the tenth bhūmi, who is, like the future Buddha Maitreya, considered a “regent” or a “crown prince.” The empowerment is thus the final procedure of ablution that crowns him as a king. In Rong-zom-pa’s words, an abhiṣeka would “cause to obtain ascendancy and to enthrone/empower” (go ’phang gi chos thob par byed cing dbang bskur ba). In short, the gist of the argument is that the followers of the Bodhisattvayāna cannot say that the concept of Mantric abhiṣeka “x.3” is non-Budddhist because also Bodhisattvayāna has its concept of abhiṣeka “x.2.”

A follower of Śrāvakayāna might then question the legitimacy of abhiṣeka “x.2” found in the Bodhisattvayāna sources. The idea of the Baby Buddha being “consecrated” by the gods and nāgas as soon as he was born seems to be intended for them and understood to be a kind of abhiṣeka “x.1.” From the iconographic depictions, as seen below, we might not know whether those who bath the Baby Buddha are human beings or divine beings.

The textual sources, however, seem to take for granted that the Baby Buddha was bathed by the god (and according to Rong-zom-pa also nāga) kings. This bathing or consecretional ritual has been simulated in Mahāyāna (I would think not just in Mantrayāna) practices.7

Finally, non-Buddhists may not recognize the legitimacy of the Baby Buddha being empowerd by devas/nāgas, that is, abhiṣeka “x.1,” which seems to be specific to Buddhism. For such critics, Rong-zom-pa seems to allude to the idea of the ablution and coronation of a cakravartin (“universal monarch,”8 which would be then a kind of abhiṣeka “x.0,” acceptable to all Indian religions and philosophies that propose or presuppose the idea of a cakravartin. One would think that particularly, Jainism and, in a loose sense, Brahmanism would accept the idea of cakravartin. Although Sage Asita had foretold that Baby Siddhārtha would either beome a buddha or cakravartin, for Buddhists, it seems, he did become a buddha, and yet at the same time also a “King of the Dharma” (dharmarāja) and hence comparable to a cakravartin. In other words, for the Buddhists, Siddhārtha did not become a secular or temporal cakravartin but he did become a sacral or spiritual cakravartin!

File:Asita1.jpg

Just as a temporal or secular cakravartin turns his wheel so does the Buddha—a sacral or spiritual cakravartin—turn his Wheel of Dharma (dharmacakra). Just as a temporal cakravartin is consecrated by the king of devas, so is the Buddha as a sacral or spiritual cakravartin consecrated by deva and nāga kings as soon as he is born.

Dharmachakra - Wikiwand

The idea of the ablution and coronation of a temporal or secular cakravartin needs to be investigated closely. But according to Rong-zom-pa, “Airāvata (here perhaps Indra’s elephant) obtains a vessel made of precious stones filled with water of elixir from the heavenly abode of Trāyastriṃśa and pour it over the head of the king and thus [is the king] consecrated/bathed (sa srungs kyi bus sum cu rtsa gsum gnam gyi gnas nas rin po che snod bdud rtsi’i chus bkang ba blangs te | rgyal po’i spyi bor blug cing khrus byas). It appears that Rong-zom-pa is drawing on from sources such as the Daśabhūmikasūtra.9

In sum, the manner in which Rong-zom-pa explains the term and concept of abhiṣeka shows an attempt to justify the Mantric concept of abhiṣeka by alluding to the idea of how a temporal cakravartin is consecrated and coronated/enthroned. He does so by drawing parallel between what I call the ablution/coronation of a “secular cakravartin” acceptable also to non-Buddhist Indian religions and beliefs and the ablution/coronation of a “sacral cakravartin,” the Buddha, which is specific to Buddhism.

1 Dorji Wangchuk, “An Eleventh-Century Defence of the *Guhyagarbhatantra.” In The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism. Proceedings of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000, edited by Helmut Eimer & David Germano. Leiden: Brill, 2002, pp. 265–291.

2 Dorji Wangchuk, “Rong zom pa on the Ālayavijñāna Theory.” In Unearthing Himalayan Treasures: Festschrift for Franz-Karl Ehrhard, edited by Volker Caumanns, Marta Sernesi, and Nikolai Somsdorf. Indica et Tibetica 59. Marburg: Indica et Tibetica Verlag, 2019, [pp. 471–478], p. 473.

3  Orna Almogi, Rong-zom-pa’s Discourses on Buddhology: A Study of Various Conceptions of Buddhahood in Indian Sources with Special Reference to the Controversy Surrounding the Existence of Gnosis (jñāna: ye shes) as Presented by the Eleventh-Century Tibetan Scholar Rong-zom Chos-kyi-bzang-po. Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series 24. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2009, p. 90.

4  Nāgārjuna, Ratnāvalī 5.59 (Hahn 1982; Wangchuk 2007: 103, n. 64): bcu pa chos kyi sprin yin te || dam pa chos kyi char ’bebs phyir || byang chub sems dpa’ sangs rgyas kyis || ’od zer dag gis dbang bskur phyir ||. The corresponding Sanskrit text is not extant.

5  Maitreya (ascribed), Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra (cited in Wangchuk 2007: 103, n. 64): sangs rgyas kun gyis ’od zer chen pos dbang bskur byin ||. See also: sgom pa tha ma thob nas ni || byang chub sems dpa’ dbang bskur ba ||.

6  Candrakīrti, Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya (La Vallée Poussin 1912: 345.1–4): byang chub sems dpa’ rnams kyis mi g.yo ba ’di ni gzhon nu’i sar rnam par gzhag ste | dgu  par ni rgyal tshab thob la | bcu par ni ’khor los sgyur ba ltar rgyal ba rnams kyis dbang bskur ro ||. I look foward to gaining access to the Sanskrit edition. The whole of tenth cittotpāda on Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya (La Vallée Poussin: pp. 349.10–350.14) is actually a description of how a bodhisattva of the tenth bhūmi is empowered or initiated by the buddhas through the emission of light from their ūrṇā (mdzod spu).

7 Found in Various Sources (but here as cited in Tanemura 2014: 119, n. 20): yathā hi jātamātreṇa snāpitāḥ sarvatathāgatāḥ | tathāhaṃ snāpayiṣyāmi śuddhadivyena vāriṇā ||. Bibliographical details: Ryugen Tanemura, “Ratnarakṣita’s Padminī, Chapter 22: A Critical Edition of and Notes on the Pratiṣṭhā Section.” Gendai Mikkyō 25 (現代密教 25), 2014, pp. 97–126.

8 Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (pp. 66.19–67.10): de la ci’i phyir dbang bskur ba zhes bya zhe na | a bhi ṣin tsa [= √abhiṣic] zhes bya ba’i sgra mngon par gtor ba’am chus brlan par byas pa’i tshig ste | sgra ’di dngos su na dri ma dag par byed pa tsam la ’jug la | rgyud nas ni go ’phang gi chos thob par byed cing dbang bskur ba la ’jug ste | ci’i phir [= phyir] zhe na ’jig rten du ’khor los sgyur pa’i rgyal po byung ba na | sa srungs kyi bus sum cu rtsa gsum gnam gyi gnas nas rin po che snod bdud rtsi’i chus bkang ba blangs te | rgyal po’i spyi bor blug cing khrus byas pas ’khor los sgyur ba’i rgyal por dbang thob par byas pas de la a bhi ṣintsa [= √abhiṣic] ces grags so || de bzhin du chos kyi rgyal po sangs rgyas bcom ldan ’das ’byung ba na | lha dang klu’i rgyal po rnams kyis dag pa lha’i chus khrus gsol bas chos kyi rgyal po ’jig rten du ’byung bar ’gyur te | khrus de la a bhi ṣintsa [= √abhiṣic] zhes grags so || de bzhin du phyis rjes su ’byung ba rnams kyang go ’phang bsgo bar byed pa’i tshe bum pa la brten nas khrus gsol bas dbang thams cad rgya rtags yin pa’i phyir | mngon par gtor ba’i phyir dbang bskur ba zhes bya’o ||.

9 Daśabhūmikasūtra (Vaidya 1967: 57): tadyathāpi nāma bho jinaputrā yo rājñaś cakravartinaḥ putro jyeṣṭhaḥ kumāro ’gryamahiṣīprasūtaś cakravartirājalakṣaṇasamanvāgato bhavati, taṃ rājā cakravartī divye hastisauvarṇe bhadrapīṭhe niṣādya, caturbhyo mahāsamudrebhyo vāryānīya, upariratnavimānena dhāryamāṇena mahatā puṣpadhūpagandhadīpamālyavilepana cūrṇacīvaracchatradhvaja-patākātūryatālāvacarasaṃgitivyūhena sauvarṇaṃ bhṛṅgāraṃ gṛhītvā tena vāriṇā taṃ kumāraṃ mūrdhanyabhiṣiñcati | samanantarābhiṣiktaś ca rājā kṣatriyo mūrdhabhiṣikta iti saṃkhyāṃ gacchati |. The Sanskrit text has to be be cross-checked with other editions. Also Tibetan translation should be added here.

Rong-zom-pa and Anupamavajra

In his commentary on the *Guhyagarbhatantra and in the context of explaining the name “Śrī-Heruka,” Rong-zom-pa mentions by name “Slob-dpon dPe-med-pa’i-rdo-rje” (Ācārya Anupamavajra).1 As far as I am concerned, this is the only instance where Anupamavajra is mentioned by him, at least by name. In this single instance, our author does not specify Anupamavajra’s work that he is alluding to. It appears that the only work by Anupamavajra found in the Tibetan canon (i.e. bsTan ’gyur) is a practice manual, namely, the *Suviśiṣṭā nāma sādhanopāyikā (Rab tu gsal ba zhes bya ba’i sgrub pa’i thabs.2 According to the translation colophon of the sDe-dge edition of the bsTan ’gyur, it is said to be translated by Paṇḍita Vīryabhadra and Lo-tsā-ba Rin-chen-bzang-po.3 There seems to be no report of the existence of the Sanskrit text of the *Suviśiṣṭā. Among the Sanskritists and Buddhologists, however, the name Anupamavajra is known primarily through and as the author of the Ādikarmapradīpa.4

Alexis Sanderson has translated and discussed the “author’s colophon” (and not “authorship colophon”—a distinction proposed by Orna Almogi) of the Ādikarmapradīpa.5 The author’s colophon, however, merely tells us at whose behest he compiled his Ādikarmapradīpa, namely, a scholar called Dharmākara, “a resident of the Vikrama monastery constructed by King Devapāla.” It actually neither tells us of his own institutional affliliation nor of the date of composition. In secondary sources, we often read that Anupamavajra composed his Ādikarmapradīpa in the year 1098.6 Péter-Dániel Szántó—with his usual astuteness—points out the following, for which I am very thankful: “As for Anupamavajra, I’m afraid we are dealing with an old misunderstanding here. 1098 CE (NS 218) is not the date of composition, but the date of the London manuscript (moreover, it’s very likely that the letter numeral is not 200 but 300, hence 1198/NS 318.”7 The BDRC gives ca. 9th/10th century as the dates of Anupamavajra (P4CZ15272), which seems to have been based on Lo-chen Rin-chen-bzang-po’s dates. But these are not my actual concerns. My concern is the identity of Anupamavajra’s work alluded to Rong-zom-pa. He states: “Ācārya Anupamavajra has explained [the name Heruka?] as a term for the realization of the reality characterized by non-origination of [all] phenomena by distinguishing/explaning the six letters/syllables by the sound/syllable of A” (slob dpon dpe med pa’i rdo rje yis yi ge ’bru drug a’i sgras phye nas chos skye ba med pa’i don rtogs pa’i sgrar bshad de). My problem is that I do not even know what these six akṣaras or syllables are. Both the Ādikarmapradīpa and *Suviśiṣṭā contain several mantric formulae but I have still not been able to identify the idea that Rong-zom-pa is refering to. These works do not seem to discuss heruka. For the want of a better solution, I am wondering at the moment if Rong-zom-pa was thinking of oṃ akāro mukhaṃ sarvadharmāṇām ādyanutpannatvāt | oṃ ā hūṃ phaṭ svāhā || found in the Ādikarmapradīpa. Admittedly the only shaky link is the idea of the primordial non-arisen-ness of all phenomena and the arbitrary six syllabes (i.e. oṃ ā hūṃ phaṭ svāhā). By the way, Rong-zom-pa does allude to the universally known oṃ akāro formula also elewhere. At any rate, Rong-zom-pa’s allusion to Anupamavajra seems to give us a small and yet a significant point of reference (Anhaltspunkt) that can be pertinent to the history of reception of Anupamavajra’s ideas in Tibet.

As a final note, I am not able to read and evaluate an article in Japanese, which seems to propose that Anupamavajra is an honorific title for Advayavajra.8  I shall have to leave this topic to other experts in the field.

1  Rong-zom-pa, dKon mchog ’grel (p. 210.18–20): slob dpon dpe med pa’i rdo rje yis yi ge ’bru drug a’i sgras phye nas chos skye ba med pa’i don rtogs pa’i sgrar bshad de | de dag la sogs pa gzhung so so las sgra mang por bshad mod kyi | sngon gyi mkhan po rnams kyis nye bar sgra khrag ’thung du bshad do ||.

2  *Suviśiṣṭā (P 2755; D 1891; Nishioka 2324).

3 Tibskrit (s.v. Suviśasādhana); Nishioka 2324).

4 Since the publication of the Sanskrit text of the Ādikarmapradīpa in 1898, Anupamavajra seems to referred to by many scholars. For editions, see Louis de La Vallée Poussin (ed.), Bouddhisme, études et matériaux: Ādikarmapradīpa, Bodhicaryāvatāraṭīkā. London: Luzac & Company (Publishers to the India Office), 1898, pp. 186–204. See also H. Takahashi (ed.), “Ādikarmapradīpa Bonbun Kōtei: Tōkyō Daigaku Shahon Ni Yoru” (The Sanskrit Text of the Ādikarmapradīpa: Based on the Manuscript of Tokyo University). In Indogaku mikkyōgaku kenkyū: Miyasaka Yūshō Hakushi koki kinen ronbunshū, vol. 2, edited by M. Tachikawa et al. Kyoto: Hazakan, 1993, pp. 129–156.

5 Alexis Sanderson, “The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism During the Early Medieval Period.” In Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, 2009, [pp. 41–350], p. 91, n. 165.

6  See, for example, Alexander von Rosspat, “Local Literatures: Nepal.” BEB, vol. 1, 2015 [pp. 819–830], p. 822.

7 The source given by Szántó is: Sylvain Lévi, Le Népal: Étude historique d’un royaume hindou. Volume II. Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1905, p. 195.

8 Koushun Moriguchi, “Advayavajra は尊称 Anupamavajra.” Journal of Chisan Studies 4, 1996, pp. 1–29.