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

Friday, May 29, 2009

A note on Dharmasvāmin's travels

As most of you will have observed I am not quite up to date with secondary literature (nor with primary literature for that matter), so whatever I say here may have been discovered already. Jinajik tells me that there is an annotated Japanese translation of the first part of Chag lo the younger's priceless rnam thar. This is unavailable to me and I do not read Japanese (unfortunately).

The passage we are concerned here is from the second chapter of Dharmasvāmin's life (let's keep the re-Sanskritized name, although it is thoroughly unjustified in my view). When he - through his disciple - speaks of Thaṃ vihāra, he states: 
"Further, in Nepāla there is a Vihāra called Thaṃ, also called the "First Vihāra" [note 10: ka pa'i gtsug lag khang], or the "Upper Vihāra" [note 11: Gong gi lha khang]." (p. 55 in Roerich's translation)
You will find the Tibetan on p. 6.: 
yang Bal yul na Thaṃ bi ha ra Ka pa'i gtsug lag khang ngam Gong gi lha khang zer|
As far as I can tell Roerich read the ms. correctly here, but the translation is problematic. I know of no tradition that would call the Thaṃ bahi (or Vikramaśīla mahāvihāra if you prefer the Sanskrit) the 'first' or the 'upper' monastery.

It is not difficult to see the Newari Kwāpā dyaḥ behind ka pa'i gtsug lag khang. It should then follow that the expression gong gi gtsug lag khang is a corruption of *ā gaṃ [/gi] gtsug lag khang, rendering Newari āgaṃ dyaḥ. I am not quite sure how this might have happenned if it is indeed a corruption. Chances are that 'gong' or 'gi' originally read *gaṃ and the *dang a (instead of 'dang ā') was somehow misread '-ng ngam'. All this can happen quite easily in dbu med and one can play further with adding or deducting a few strokes. But the syntax is still unsatisfactory. zer does indeed seem to suggest that we are dealing with alternative names here. Perhaps Chos dar did not quite understand what his master was trying to explain?

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Granthinām is back!

A third avatāra of Daniel Stender's great blog is back, revealing the following secret mantra between the lines: "backup, backup, backup..."

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Canons for all

Thanks to Dan for pointing out this blog entry. In short TBRC has decided to make canonical collections free for all to view. Their laudable decision will be followed by a string of lawsuits from Tibetologists all over the world (causing endless sleepless nights, exhaustion, spectacular breakdown of their non-canonical social life, etc.) However, for the time being many thanks are due.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yum bu bla mkhar

Chances are that you will arrive quite exhausted to the Yum bu bla mkhar. Do not be fooled by the approach, which is very cleverly constructed. If yours truly managed to be at the gate in thirteen minutes from the bottom of the hill, you will certainly do better.

Here is a close-up of this magnificent building. Some fifteen hundred years ago Lha tho tho ri was taking his afternoon stroll up there just to be knocked on the head by some sūtra.

That's the newly constructed bus station with the usual tourist rip-offs such as one yuan for the bathroom (raw silk sanitary towels and complimentary Chanel no. 5 included).

The rest of the view is, however, breathtaking (quite literally). The Yar lung valley is lush. It was for the first time I really understood the eulogy of P.t. 1026.

Note the walled area on the left. According to legend this was the first parcel to be worked upon after the self-planting, self-growing grains were gone.

The small stele marks the spot of the first settlement created by the sons of the good monkey and the brag srin mo.

Yonder a small chapel holding the throne of Atīśa.

A view best enjoyed with good friends.

The old man will insist that you offer bsangs to the gods. Don't resist, he's very nice.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Have a dog

Some recent memories of Tibet (TAT).

Please horn for avalanche of the Kharo la.

A rare Gaza Strip venture on the same pass.

On Mentsikang road in Lhasa one is offered vagarious ice cream. Did not try.

At the Potala you are greeted by this welcome warning.

At Shigatse renovations are on. You are warned to be responsible whilst producing everyone. (God?)

Gyantse has traditional ties to French haute cuisine. As we all know, the yak is an essential ingredient.

Ceci n'est pas une no photo sign.

Nakartse, famous for its snowland...

This here will become an all time favourite of mine. Seen at the 7th dalai lama's palace in the Norbulinka.

The Lukhang apparently sits on top of dragon king poo. The official ticket says so.

The 'cool & sex' condom is certified by some agency with a very unfortunate logo choice.

This piece smuggled to Tashidzong (about 50km before Everest base camp) from the '42 German-Russian border?

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Friday, May 01, 2009

A letter from the past

My partner came across this letter quite by accident: between the pages of a book she had ordered online. I do not think that much more needs to be said. Note the author's barely concealed excitement in the second paragraph of the letter.

Sanskrit College
Calcutta, February 19, 1907

Your Honour,

As Commander I beg
to send herewith the Sanskrit
College copy of Mr Tawney's
translation of the Mālavikā-
gnimitra a drama by the
greatest of Indian poets, Kalidāsa.

Your Honour will be glad to
hear that His Excellency the
Prime Minister of Nepal, whom
I saw on Thursday last, will,
when I go to his country, give
me every facility for my
work in connection with the
search of Mss.

Your Honour's most
Haraprasād Shāstri

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