Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

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

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Changing bodies in Braj

Jayatarāma composed the Jogapradīpyakā in 1737 CE (Saṃvat 1794, Āśvina śukla 10) while the earliest dated manuscript dates from Saṃvat 1766. It is a compendium of haṭhayoga practices, which is not uncommon for his time. But this is written in the vernacular (a Braj-like old-ish Hindi dialect to be more precise). A further unusual feature (at least for me) is that it contains a short passage on changing bodies (parakāyapraveśa), the older Hindu cousin of grong 'jug. Here is what he says:

।। अथ परकाया प्रवेसन ।।

परपकजोग जबै सधि अावै, जोगी सिधि अागम की पावै ।

अपनी इच्छा विचरै जोई, करै भगंगम की क्रिया सोई ।। ७९२ ।।

सकल पवन अपने वसि अाई, नारी गोप्य रही कोई ।

मन की वृति न छानी कोई, जा जा समै चलत है सोई ।। ७९३ ।।

सकल सरीर दिव्यता पाय, अावर्ण सब ही गयो पलाय ।

वायुरूप जीव कौ जानौ, जहां वाय तहां करै पयानौ ।। ७९४ ।।

ताते जोगी यह मत पावै, परकाया प्रवेस करावै ।

जो कोई मृतक तन को देषै, अरू पुनि अपनी इच्छा पेषै ।। ७९५ ।।

करै प्रवेश तास में जाई, गुरु की क्रिपा जुक्ति सो पाई ।

सकल पवन मन सहित चलावै, अपने कंठि अनि ठहरावै ।। ७९६ ।।

बहुरौ मंन्त्र पढै ता वारा, जाकौ गुरु ते लहयौ विचारा ।

काक चंचवत मुष करि लेवै, अपने प्राण मृतक मुष देवै ।। ७९७ ।।

मरै अाप मृतक उठि धावै,पूर्व देह की समृत्य पावै ।

बहुरि जु अपना मन मैं चहै, यह तन छाडि वहै तन गहै ।। ७९८ ।।

।। दोहा ।।

परकाया परवेस नो, गुरुमुष पावै धीर ।

जयतराम जीर्ण तजै, जों तन गहे सरीर ।। ७९९ ।।

।। इति परकाया परवेसन ।।

Since I am not a specialist in mediaeval Hindi, I cannot pretend that I understand more than the average Sanskritist. The general outline of the procedure seems clear (manipulating breath, introducing it into the corpse's body through the mouth). I especially enjoyed 798ab: "You yourself will die, and the dead will arise running, [but] you will retain the memory of your old body."

Source: Jogapradīpyakā of Jayatarāma, critically edited by Swāmī Maheśānanda & Dr. B. R. Sharma, Shri G. S. Sahay, Shri R. K. Bodhe, Kaivalyadhama S.M.Y.M. Samiti, Lonavla 2006.

With thanks to Jason Birch for bringing this edition to my attention.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Silent reading

Augustin wrote this on St Ambrose's odd habit of reading silently:

sed cum legebat, oculi ducebantur per paginas et cor intellectum rimabatur, vox autem et lingua quiescebant. saepe cum adessemus (non enim vetabatur quisquam ingredi aut ei venientem nuntiari mos erat), sic eum legentem vidimus tacite et aliter numquam, sedentesque in diuturno silentio (quis enim tam intento esse oneri auderet?) discedebamus et coniectabamus eum parvo ipso tempore quod reparandae menti suae nanciscebatur, feriatum ab strepitu causarum alienarum, nolle in aliud avocari et cavere fortasse ne, auditore suspenso et intento, si qua obscurius posuisset ille quem legeret, etiam exponere esset necesse aut de aliquibus difficilioribus dissertare quaestionibus, atque huic operi temporibus impensis minus quam vellet voluminum evolveret, quamquam et causa servandae vocis, quae illi facillime obtundebatur, poterat esse iustior tacite legendi. quolibet tamen animo id ageret, bono utique ille vir agebat. (Confessiones 6.3.3.)

"Now, as he read, his eyes glanced over the pages and his heart searched out the sense, but his voice and tongue were silent. Often when we came to his room--for no one was forbidden to enter, nor was it his custom that the arrival of visitors should be announced to him--we would see him thus reading to himself. After we had sat for a long time in silence--for who would dare interrupt one so intent?--we would then depart, realizing that he was unwilling to be distracted in the little time he could gain for the recruiting of his mind, free from the clamor of other men's business. Perhaps he was fearful lest, if the author he was studying should express himself vaguely, some doubtful and attentive hearer would ask him to expound it or discuss some of the more abstruse questions, so that he could not get over as much material as he wished, if his time was occupied with others. And even a truer reason for his reading to himself might have been the care for preserving his voice, which was very easily weakened. Whatever his motive was in so doing, it was doubtless, in such a man, a good one." (Translation from here)

Is this issue ever treated in Indian or Tibetan literature?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

(Some volumes of the) Hōbōgirin online

Hōbōgirin : dictionnaire encyclopédique de bouddhisme d'après les sources chinoises et japonaises, Volumes 1 to 3 (A to Chi) can be downloaded from, an otherwise very useful repository of materials.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Some recently discovered blogs and sites

There are some new interesting sites out there:

• A Tantric Reader seems to be under preparation, this is a blog and a website dedicated to the project initiated by Chris Wallis.

• Some new entries on the blog maintained by the Janabahaa Society aiming to restore the famous temple of Lokeśvara/Matsyendra in Thamel.

• Andrea Acri's beautiful site on things Indonesian.

• Venetia Ansell's site on Sanskrit literature with interesting posts on how the modern world and an ancient language interact.

• Mark Dyczkowski's thoughts on "Kashmir Shaivism".

• Mrinal Kaul, who maintains the blog A Cashmirian Sanskritist has a new site with an interesting project to wake up manuscript library officials from their uncooperative stupour.

• Finally, if you read Hungarian, Olivér Kápolnás decided to open a blog on his finds in Mongolia. The Gravediggers' Diary is an interesting read for lovers of archaeology. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has scanned some of its old proceedings.

• Sadly, Jinajik decided to go offline again.

And in view of current events, an old joke rehashed: "What are the four biggest impeding factors of British public transport?" "Spring, summer, autumn, and winter." (The original was for Soviet agriculture). And another one from London's foremost public entertainer: it's the right kind of snow in the wrong quantities.