Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

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

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008


As is usually the case, there seem to have been more than one person behind this name. The one I'm keen to find out more about is the author of a commentary to the Guhyasamāja. Although I haven't looked very carefully, secondary literature available to me seems to be quite silent about him. This may come as a surprise, since his huge commentary takes up an entire Bstan 'gyur volume (Sa, Tōh. 1784). The Tōhoku catalogue ascribes this work to Nāgārjuna, but this must be a mistake. The author actually states his name in the closing verses.

And he has more to say:

dpal ldan rgyal po De gzhon nu| dus su lo ni bco brgyad la| 'Phags pa lha yis byas pa 'i[|] Dpal ldan gnas ni shar phyogs su| dge slong rnams kyi gtsug lag khang gi phyogs gzhan gyis gsal bar btab pas| Rdo rje sems dpa'i drin gyis bdag gis rgyud 'grel 'di ni rnam par brtsams||

The text is of course quite clearly corrupt. But what he seems to be saying is that during the 18th regnal year of De gzhon nu (perhaps Bde gzhon nu for *Ānandakumāra?) he composed through the grace of Vajrasattva this commentary to the [Guhyasamāja]tantra east of a place called Dpal ldan gnas (*Śrīsthāna or something similar) founded by Āryadeva. The rest is obscure to me. Perhaps what he means that this place was illuminated by the presence of chapels and monks?

Find out more about this king and the place, and we may just have a pretty solid date for the notoriously evasive exegetes of the Guhyasamāja. etat tu yuṣmābhir eva kartavyam.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 21, 2008

In the window of a sweet shop

The rather pompous National Mission for Manuscripts is like a sweet shop which will never open, but will distribute leaflets about how great their candies and pastries are. Furthermore, they will have a small sample in the window you can drool at. Then the only thing you can do is walk away in frustration after seeing the perennial 'opening soon' sign. The owner will never pick up the phone and if he does he will be full of promises. In fact, he will pretend that the store is open, and you're some kind of idiot for failing to notice this fact.

I don't know if anyone had noticed this before (if so, I sincerely apologize), but this particular piece here is a sample of that huge and rather delicious cake which is the Mañjuśriyamūlakalpa. A gut feeling tells me that this is none other but the Trivandrum manuscript, or at least the right half of three of its folios (the first corresponds to a portion in chapter 36). I sincerely hope that the thing is still joined with its left half which was perhaps left out here for effect. The sad truth is, however, that in Cochin I saw astrological manuscripts sawn in half (or third) so that tourist sahab looking for nice coffee table item could carry it out easier, and for the antique dealer to make double/triple profit.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008


One of the earliest account of things Indian in my homeland comes from the 'Hungarian Encyclopedia' of the Transylvanian polyglot Apáczai Csere János (1625-1659). This is not a first hand account. I can envisage him sitting in a tavern somewhere in the Low Countries (where he studied, fell in love, etc.) listening to sailors' stories and taking notes. The entry on elephants is a bit bizarre. I don't have the text in front of me but I clearly remember the statement that these magnificient beasts can 'talk as humans' and their 'chief' agrees to some kind of contract with whom we now call a mahout to work for them for a specified amount of food for a fixed timespan and so on.

Now, in the following I was to write about a curious little śāstra I just found, but I see that it is widely available online so you can read it for yourself (and I can go back to work):

E.R. Sreekrishna Sarma (ed.), Gajaśikṣā by Nāradamuni, With the Commentary Vyakti of Umāpatyācārya, S.V.U.O. Journal Vol. XVIII, Sri Venkateswara University, Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati, 1975. - available here.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"the whole self-journey thing"

Geoff Dyer a little bit out there on bhang lassi–

Later, as the light faded, I saw the goat again, the one with the clean white coat and the cute black socks. The one I had thought was going to speak to me. As I passed by, he began walking beside me. As I passed by, he began walking beside me. He smelled a bit of cheese, goat's cheese. I felt something touch my leg. He was butting me gently with his head. I looked down at his goat-face.

'Sah, boat?' he said.

'No, thank you,' I said.

'Very cheap, sah.'

'No, thank you,' I said.

'Sah want boat?' the goat repeated.

'I walking. No want boat.'

'Very cheap,' said the goat.

'No, thank you,' I said.

I had slowed down and the goat, sensing my hesitancy and interpreting this as a willingness to be detained, tried a different approach.

'Sah, you think is nice being goat here in city? Life here hard for me. I have children. I offer you boat, but what I most want is to engage in conversation, a little philosophical discourse.'

I stopped walking so that I could give the goat the attention he obviously craved and deserved.

'OK. What would you like to talk about?'

The goat paused and then said, 'You take boat, sah?'

[Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi - to be published]

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nirukti not dead

Rushing through Cornmarket today I heard a preacher, sermon custom made for Oxford and all. "Get your Ph.D. from Jesus! What does that mean? The Power to Heal and Deliver!" Unfortunately I did not have the time to stick around for the niruktis of B.A. (bomb atheists?), M.A., and M.St.

Labels: ,