Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

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Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Saturday, June 28, 2008

CTS new text: Abhiṣekanirukti

iti subodham.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DSBC new text: Śrāvakabhūmi

Shukla's edition is now online at the DSBC. The texts are being inputted at a prodigious rate. Rumour has it that most of the CIHTS editions will also be available in e-text form.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Cambridge, Berlin, Brussels, Rome??? Please sign.


Monday, June 23, 2008


I like cats, I like Tibetans, and I like stumbling across curiosities to blog about. And of course, Victorian English is also not something off my 'likes' list. This little piece had them all.

The Indian Antiquary
ed. Richard Carnac Temple
Vol. XXI. – 1892, p. 376.

Tibetan Folklore.
1. – Cats.

The Cat is treated by Tibetans with the most marked attention and forbearance. Even when it spills milk, breaks or destroys any valuable object or kills some pet bird, it is never whipped or beaten in any way; but merely chid, and gently driven away by the voice: – while were a dog or child to commit these offences they would be soundly thrashed.

Such very mild and considerate treatment might lead one to suppose that the cat is esteemed holy. But such is not the case. It is indeed regarded as a useful animal to the extent that it contributes to the preservation of sacred pictures, robes, books, and sacrificial food and the like, by killing rats and mice which consume and destroy these. But otherwise the cat is considered to be the most sinful being on earth, on account of its constant desire for taking life, even when gorged with food, and its torture of its victims. Its mild treatment is due to the belief that whoever causes the death of a cat, whether accidentally or otherwise, will have the sins of the cat transferred to his shoulders. And so great is the burden of its sins that even were one sîr (2lbs.) of butter for each hair on the cat's body offered in feeding the temple lamps before Buddha's image, the crime would not be expiated. Hence everyone is most careful to avoid incurring this calamity. And when a cat dies its body is carried outside the village and deposited, if possible, at a place where two paths cross.

L. A. Waddell.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DSBC new text: STTS

With a newly formatted structure (I have a hunch where that came from), under the heading 'tantra' a significant new contribution, the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha (Lokesh Chandra [and D. Litt - for the joke see below] edition) is now online, courtesy of the good people at the DSBC.

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Two unknown authors

1. Blun

The Georg Olms Verlag has some interesting books in reprint for sale. Just go to this link, and follow the path Fachgebiete (left sidebar) > Orientalistik > Indologie & Tibetologie.

The only funny thing about this well-structured site is the author in the entry above. The book is well known (especially if you were an undergrad in Budapest where you slept and woke with the Mdzangs blun for a year or so). Yes, as you can see, the author is "Blun", i.e. "idiot". Who might that idiot be? The Buddha? Ānanda? I. J. Schmidt?

PS: Thanks to Csaba Dezső for the link.

2. D. Litt

Another hitherto unknown author comes from an article by Rong Xinjiang, "Mthong-khyab or Tongjia: A Tribe in the Sino-Tibetan Frontiers in the Seventh to Tenth Centuries." In: Monumenta Serica 39 (1990-1), pp. 147-299.

In the bibliography the editors (sic!) of the Mkhas pa'i dga' ston in the Śatapiṭaka Series are "Lokesh Candra" &(!) "D. Litt".


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I well remember a phrase of his, used not without a touch of irony significant for us librarians: "My favourite occupation is putting rubbish in order."
Cecil Bendall of Henry Bradshaw, Librarian at Cambridge [A Journey of Literary and Archaeological Reserach in Nepal and Northern Indian During the Winter of 1884-5, CUP 1886:vii]

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Monday, June 09, 2008


The great yogī of Christ Church Meadows shows us the Ekapādacakravākāsana.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

DSBC new text: Avadānaśataka

Speyer's edition of the Avadānaśataka is now online at the DSBC.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Unpublished Tantric Studies by A. Zigmund-Cerbu

A. Zigmund-Cerbu is a forgotten scholar of religious studies in general (spyir) and Tantric Buddhism in particular (khyad par). Born in Romania in a Jewish family of intellectuals, he opted to leave the country in 1947, just before the Soviets deposed the monarchy. He studied in Paris, consuming eastern languages at a prodigious rate, much to the exasperation of his French masters (Rolf Stein et al.) for this delayed the submission of his doctoral thesis.

In 1960 (still without a doctorate and hardly any publications) he was appointed assistant professor of Buddhism and Oriental Religions at Columbia. What looked like the start of a very promising career was cut short by a fatal heart condition four years later.

Here are some of the unfinished works related to Tantric Buddhism in two archives:

A. at the EFEO, Paris:

1. Mss Europ 558A, Le yoga à six membres selon le cycle de le "Réunion secrète" (Guhyasamājatantra), 33 fol.

2. Mss Europ 558B, a French translation of Guhyasamāja ch. 18, 34 fol.

3. Mss Europ 559, a study of Pélliot tibétain 337, a work related to the Guhyasamāja.

B. at New York (Columbia?)

1. A 150 page study of the Kriyāsaṃgraha[pañjikā].

*Roşu does not mention which mss. Zigmund-Cerbu used for this study. I conjecture that these were Filliozat 31, 32. I see nothing in his biography to indicate that he visited England to check the Oxford and Cambridge palm-leaf mss, the closest available witnesses to him at the time [for these see Tanemura 2004].

2. Transcribed Tibetan text of the Guhyasamājatantra with an annotated French translation. 200 fol.

3. An unidentified Sanskrit-Tibetan text with French translation. 150 fol.

*Roşu merely notes that it begins 'rgya gar skad du'. All canonical texts begin with this. Some non-canonical ones as well.

4. Tantric Buddhist ritual. 11 fol.

*On comparing this item with the list provided in the CNRS annual reports, this is presumably on homa.

Acknowledgements and bibliography:

For a short introduction to his life, published works and a useful list of unfinished works used above, see Arion Roşu, "Anton et Liza Zigmund-Cerbu, orientalistes de talent en exil," in Studia Asiatica 1 (2000), 1-2, pp. 11-23, Centre d'Histoire des Religions, Université de Bucarest.

Roşu used the following article (unavailable to me at present) for the list of manuscripts: M. Stephen Headley, "Preliminary Survey of A. Zigmund-Cerbu's MSS" 1969, CNRS annual reports [?] or New York [?].

A short and moving personal note by Mircea Eliade, "Anton şi Liza Zigmund-Cerbu," in Revista scriitorilor români, 1966 [reprint in his "Jurnal" Humanitas, Bucureşti].

(Thanks to Liviu Bordaş for both articles above.)

Two articles of Zigmund-Cerbu related to Tantric Buddhism can be accessed via a JSTOR account:

"Ả propos d'un vajra khmer," in Artibus Asiae 24. 3-4 (1961), pp. 425-431 + 2 pl.

"The ṣaḍaṅgayoga," History of Religions 3.1 (1963), pp. 128-134. [Note that this article is bristling with transcription mistakes: yāma and niyāma for yama and niyama, etc. Was his Sanskrit this bad, or is it a case of sloppiness on the editors' part?]

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