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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life and Works of rNgog Blo ldan shes rab (1059–1109)

For some misterious reason Ralf Kramer's book on rNgog lo is now available online. Thanks to Y.B./rten for the tip!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Online worship

The miracle is not that such a site exists, the miracle would be if it hadn't. They even send you 'after-Puja-things'.


Sunday, October 26, 2008


The Khaḍipadā image inscription is largely overlooked in historical studies of Vajrayāna, yet it seems to be tremendously important. The publisher of the inscription, A. Ghosh, assigns it to the seventh century on palaeographical grounds (Epigraphia Indica XXVI 1941-42, pp. 247-248). The short inscription was found on the left edge of a Padmapāṇi statue. It records the name of the king under the rule of which the donation occured, the name of donor, and the name of the craftsman who incised the inscription:

oṃ śrī-śubhā(or śuhā-?)karadeva-rājye mahāmaṇḍalācārya-paramaguru-rāhularucināṃ tasya dedharmmo yaṃ | utkīrṇṇaṃ kuḍhā(?)-sūttradhāreṇaḥ ||

The rendering is a bit uncertain. As Ghosh suggests, de dharmmo obviously stands for deyadharmmo, and we should probably ignore the visarga in sūttradhāreṇaḥ. Ghosh proposes rāhularucināmā for rāhularucināṃ which is also feasible, but I'm not really convinced. So the text must means something along the lines of:

Oṃ. During the reign of śrī Śubhākaradeva [of the Bhaumakara dynasty, there was a man] called Rāhularuci, a chief maṇḍalācārya and royal preceptor. This is his pious gift. Incised by Kuḍhā, the craftsman.

Niceties aside, the most important facts are that there was a guy called Rāhularuci, a very Buddhist name, who was a 'paramaguru', a title reserved for the royal chaplain, and he was also a (mahā)maṇḍalācārya. This, as far as I know, is the earliest occurence of the term maṇḍalācārya. The fact that the royal preceptor is a Buddhist also seems quite unique. The Bhaumakaras should be given much more attention.

PS: due to an unfortunate data transfer I lost the link to Mori's website which had a photo of this particular Padmapāṇi statue. I'd be very grateful if someone could post it.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Granthinām re-enters e-Saṃsāra

Granthinām is back, so please adjust your links to this.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TibSkrit 2008

It's a bit difficult to find if you're not looking for it. Go to the great blog, tibeto-logic. Then scroll down until you find this cat on the right side. Above it a link: Tibskrit 2008. And while you're there, read the new stuff on Pha dam pa.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Co ne bla ma online

A subproject of the good people of the ACIP have released scans of the complete works of Co ne bla ma grags pa shes grub, a famous master from Eastern Tibet. Personally I prefer the 'letter stack' download, this makes a pdf on letter paper size fitting as many folios as possible on a page.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

The circle of religion

If you are a goat, the best place to hang out is probably not one where every Saturday the adjoining river runs red with the blood of your brethren. And yet, this fearless specimen of Caprinae not only did that, but actually proceeded to munch on the wreaths adorning the image of Dakṣiṇakālī.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

FIISSR reviewed

I almost forgot to tell you that I very much enjoyed the Fifth International Intensive Sanskrit Summer Retreat which took place this year in Kőszeg, Hungary. No pictures I'm afraid, I forgot to bring my camera. Here is a Hindi review of the happening. In light of current events the last sentence seems especially appropriate. It was written by Mrs Gita Kumar and pointed out to me by Dr Mária Négyesi. Many thanks to both.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Red tape chokes Hungarian Oriental Studies

Hungarians are a funny sort. Whereas most normal languages express things with particles, agglutination is a national sport. We have our surnames in front. When the post-communist world was trying to pick up the pieces amidst chaos, Hungary was the wonderchild of Eastern Europe. When the neo-European countries were booming, we suddenly discovered that the economy is about to collapse. Then we have an unusual knack for screwing up things that work and pumping money into things that don't and never will, to wit, soccer.

So it was high time for the glorious red tape to choke some of the good things still left in the country. This year the all-powerful Hungarian Accreditation Committee decided that studies concerning about half of the planet is totally useless beyond a BA. Kind of ironic for a nation of less than ten million. Thus, beginning from next year the following disciplines will not offer MA courses at ELTE University: Indian Studies, Chinese Studies, Mongolian Studies, Korean Studies, and Japanese Studies (Tibetan was successfully wiped out earlier).

Well, fine and dandy, a small country can't afford such 'luxuries'. Never you mind that Tibetan studies should be on the list of national treasures since it was sort of invented by a Hungarian. To hell with India and China which happen to be on the way to becoming superpowers of this century. Japan is going down anyway. Mongolian? Oh well, 50 years of spearheading research should not bother us.

Surprise, surprise, however: Turkic studies, Arabic studies, Hebrew studies, Assirian studies, Iranian studies, and Altaic studies (in Szeged) passed. I'm not saying that they don't deserve it, they are just as valuable as all the above if not more. Surely, it's only a fortunate coincidence.

I think that members of the accreditation committe deserve our thanks and appreciation for taking this burden off the country's shoulders. I'm sure that the process was long and exhausting, hence I would be glad to pay them a long vacation to discover some of the more obscure parts of Xinjiang Uighur. One way tickets will suffice.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Insured against God?

It's a psychological condition I guess. I have to read everything that comes into my field of vision, especially if it's a boring bus trip back from London. This time it was the 'AppleCare Protection Plan' (75% discount if you are a student). Get a life you might say, but it actually paid off since encapsulated in the legal mumbo-jumbo which at times sounds like the Pañcarakṣā mantras there are some hidden gems.

If you live in the Netherlands, then: "Apple is in particular not responsible for the plan being apt for your purposes." So, if it's good for me, it's not their problem.

If you live in Italy: "Without prejudice to any other applicable legislation, Articles 1519bis - 1519-nonies [sic] of the Italian Civil Code apply to this Plan, [...]"

In Belgium, France and other Catholic countries you are entitled to 'repent' according to the Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act of 14 July 1991. The end is truly nigh.

But this one takes the cake: "The Plan does not cover: [...] (ii) Damage to the Covered Equipment caused by accident, abuse, neglect, misuse [...], unauthorized modification, extreme environment [...], extreme physical and or electrical stress or interference, fluctuation or surges of electrical power, lightning, static electricity, fire, acts of God or other external causes;"

Hence I've decided to introduce the following scheme: should you feel uncomfortable about your computer not being insured against the whims of the Almighty, drop me a cheque of say 20 quid per annum and I guarantee I will replace your equipment, whatever it was, however much it cost, provided that you bring irrefutable evidence. After all, getting a Nobel for a lousy 17" MacBook Pro is not a bad deal. And if it's good for you, it's not my problem.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

kim ucyate bhavān?

I will not reveal* where that phrase was uttered since our topic of the day is scribal Sanskrit. My first exposure to scribes was reading a wonderful little work by István Ráth-Végh called "The Comedy of the Book" (as far as I know unfortunately not translated into English, but a German translation seems to be around). This witty collection of anecdotes and other curiosities had an entry on rather personal scribal marginalia on mediaeval codices, such as "I've got a bad headache today", or "Let a good cow be given to the scribe", or even "Let a nice girl be given to the scribe". I found this very amusing and little did I know then that I'll be spending the rest of my life constantly trying to pry what was going on with scribes on that particular day when they chose to copy a particular work. Baffling mistakes, eyeskips, etc. could be put down to external pressure: chatty wife, screaming children, equivalent of Bollywood music in the streets, bad weather. We'll never know. But as you all know, many scribes had absolutely no inkling what they were copying.

Enter Sarvārthasiddha of Maitrīpura mahāvihāra (the Kwa Bahal of Kathmandu just within the old city**) affixing this note to a manuscript of the Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇa now kept in the Bodleian Library (ms. Hodgson 2). Note that it was probably great weather in āśvina 1823 as the monsoon just ended, so bad Sanskrit is not to be put down to the rain.

yadā dṛṣṭaṃ tadā likhitaṃ lekhako nāsti doṣakaṃ |
jadi śuddhaṃ m-aśuddhaṃ vā śuddhanīyo mahadbudhīḥ ||

When (i.e. the way) I saw it then (i.e. just the same way) I wrote it, there ain't no fault with the scribe! If anything is clear or unclear [in the readings], the big-headed ones correct it!

Sorry for the colloquial translation, I just couldn't resist. It's a bit puzzling (amongst many other things) why the wise ones should correct good readings. But this seems to have been a trope. Here's another one from 1281 māgha (again nice and cool weather):

jādisaṃ pustakaṃ dṛṣṭā tādisaṃ likhitaṃ mayā |
jadi sudham asudhaṃ vā mama dokho na dīyate ||
udakānalacorebhyo musikebhyo tatheva ca |
rakṣatavya payatnena mayā kaṣṭena likhite ||

I wrote this just the way I saw it in a book. If anything is clear or unclear [in the readings], don't put the blame on me! I copied it in the midst of hardships, so it should be kept away from water, fire, thieves, and mice.

This guy was particularly bad: he even managed to misspell the name of his king (Anaṃtamīla for Anantamalla) and wrote 'Thoysday' for 'Thursday' (vyaśapati for bṛhaspati).

And there are doubtless many more. Please feel free to add your finds.

* I heard the anecdote from Prof. Sanderson.
** The fact that this Bahal is still within city bounds is Kashinath Thamod's discovery.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Buffaloes on parade

So, as Iain had already reported, there was a nice little riot in Basantpur over the buffalo sacrifice and we happened to walk straight into it.

At first it felt almost like home, but then the storm-troopers jogged in:

Although they were quite harsh, one could see that years of riots gave them ample training. Whereas in Hungary two years ago the police sent in a water canon without cover (any child below six or so who's ever played CS will tell you that the strategic value of a canon in this case becomes roughly equal with that of a trolley bus).

The rathyapuruṣa however did not seem phased. Back to the alleyways around Dharmapath and Basantpur, regroup, move out. In the end the tear-gas did it. Never you mind, the next day there was yet another protest, this time nightclub owners and their employees. Yes, that's right. Strippers however did not throw stones and stuff and they got bad reviews the next day in the papers.

Of course a secular government that Nepal aspires to have should not dabble in matters of religion. However, the protesters did not seem to me like politically motivated intellectuals. Then again, the French Revolution wasn't started by middle-aged white collar workers out for a bit of mêlée after a hard day at La Bourse either.

But we should not judge what's going on. Our task is to understand, not to like or dislike. So, the only remaining thing is to start wondering which songs will be voted for "best to listen to during a riot" in Nepal should the protesters be able to afford iPods. Guess what won in Hungary? Rage Against the Machine of course.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dhūmrapān niṣedh

[The 'smoking temple' in Pilgrims, Thamel]

India has finally banned that most disgusting and filthy habit: smoking in public spaces. Pan-chewing and its attractive trails of red spit actually add some colour to the streets (it's also good for your teeth)- but those cigarette butts littered all over are a nasty sight, especially that there are rubbish bins every fifty feet or so all over the country. Indians will awake tomorrow to the natural scents of rose-water and sandalwood emanating from the countryside into the cities, cigarette smoke shall pollute the public sphere no more. Citizens of Delhi and other cities will now be able to walk briskly to work in the refreshing morning air, taking large puffs of rich oxygen. The number one menace to your lungs removed, large sums of the National Health Service will be rerouted to other sectors badly in need of funds: government jeeps and nuclear warheads. Cigarette vendors can finally pack up and/or close shop and go home and look after their stocks and other investments. Those number one selling face masks can now be dropped off at your local Red Cross/Crescent agency to be exported to such still obstinate and backward places as Austria (not to mention Hungary and Romania). We salute the Government for this highly original and no doubt popular move. India is now truly on her way to becoming a glorious Westernized nation.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Back from Kathmandu

The funny pictures again:

All sorts of weird signs in Thamel.

Mbrdry (I might have already posted this).

Public convenience at Dakṣiṇakālī.

Is this some special form of utkrānti I've never heard about before?

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