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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nāgārjunagarbha

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.

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13 Comments:

Blogger earlyTibet said...

Sukumāra perhaps?

1:00 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

perhaps. but I think that su- is usually rendered with bzang: Sudhana - Nor bzang(s), and so on.

by the way- nice seeing you today and sorry we could not talk, I was in a bit of a hurry. congratulations on your find.

9:46 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

two more, pretty wild guesses:

1). read Sde gzhon nu *Senakumāra (but the problem here is that Sena kings attach their dynastical name _after_ their proper name. If by some quirk of fate this is a Sena king, then maybe we should read Dpal ldan gnas as Śrīhaṭṭa (=Sylhet)?

2). read Dpal ldan gnas as *Śrīpada in Ceylon. There were at least 5 'Sena' kings in the 8th and 9th c.

both very unconvincing but may stimulate further brainstorming.

10:19 pm  
Blogger uwe said...

The version in bstan 'gyur gser gyi lag bris ma that can be previewed here (click sample extract, sorry they don't provide direct links) reads dpal ldan rgyal po bde gzhon dus su lo ni bcu brgyad la.

It further reads gsol ba btab pas, which makes more sense.

1:32 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

thanks Uwe, it is certainly becoming a bit clearer now. it should have occured to me to check other editions, I forgot that extracts are available.

11:39 am  
Blogger Dan said...

I'll put in my vote for Śrīsthāna as a name for Śrīśaila in Andhra Pradesh. Any takers?

1:37 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

yeah, that was the first guess, in the post. and what do you think about the king? I'm quite bad when it comes to Guhyasamāja (as well), but is there a tradition that Āryadeva founded some place here?

1:57 pm  
Blogger Dan said...

Is it common knowledge that Śrīsthāna is a name for Śrīśaila? (As far as common knowledge is concerned I'm often out of the loop, I should admit.)

I don't know about the place, but I think one should consider the possibility that Bde-byed-gzhon-nu would be the way to 'restore' the name of the king.

That would fairly surely be Śaṅkarakumāra in the Sanskrit, I think.

Any idea about a king with such a name?

3:02 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

I think it is. At any rate, it was the first place that came to my mind. bde byed is a good guess, but I can't find any kings under that name. of course, my sources about Andhra are a bit thin.

3:17 pm  
Blogger Dan said...

I see in the entry for bde-byed in the Negi Tib-Skt dictionary, p. 2501, that it can translate the name Kṣemaṅkara, and that this person was a son of King Brahmadatta (Tshangs-pas-[s]byin). Tracing the bibliographic code letters, I see that this information was drawn from the Avadānaśataka.

We also have a prince (rgyal-bu) Śaṅkarabhadra (Bde-byed-bzang-po) who co-authored with Nāgārjuna the Corpse Stories.

Wheels are turning, but where are we going?

12:14 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

I think what we really need is some good old solid epigraphy. I haven't had time to check all these possibilities, but as soon as I have a list of suspects, I'll start looking in EI or whatever. Presently I am looking for whatever I can find about Harivarman. But this is another story and it will be told another time.

12:25 pm  
Anonymous abhinanda said...

Just to add another Śrīsthāna: "Śrīsthānaka, Thāna, in the province of Bombay; it was once the capital of Northern Koṅkana. It was the seat of a reigning family called Silahara [= Śilāhāra]." (Nando Lal Dey, The Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Mediaeval India) Then there is also Śrīkṣetra (= Puri in Orissa).

10:58 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

any king you know there who would fit the picture? puri is much more likely I think.

11:01 pm  

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