Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

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

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A Prajñāpāramitā from the reign of Vigrahapāla III

I have just browsed through the manuscript images made available online at and came across this very attractive Aṣṭasāhasrikā (what else!). Though lacking pretty pictures, fortunately the last page with a fairly long colophon (actually, two colophons) is also displayed. 

Here is the very first attempt of trying to crack it/them:

ye dharmā [etc.] deyadharmo [']yaṃ pravaramahāyānayāyinaḥ paramopāsaka-bhoesataṣo(?) Hāsillasya(?) (I'm in trouble here) yad atra puṇyaṃ [etc.] mahārājādhirāja-parameśvara-paramasaugata-śrīNayapāladeva-pādānudhyāta-śrīmadVigrahapāladeva-pravardhamāna-kalyāṇavijayarājye samvat 15 phālguna-kṛṣṇa-dvitīyāyāṃ niṣpāditam iti ||   || śrī[ma]n-Nālandāvasthita-dharmabhāṇaka-Ānandena likhitam iti ||   || 

Well, one always likes to see Nālandā smiling at the reader from a Sanskrit manuscript. It's also good to know that dharmabhāṇakas sometimes did copy manuscripts. As for the rest, nothing really new. We already know that Nayapāla was Vigrahapāla (III)'s precursor on the throne, and we know that Vigrahapāla ruled for at least 15 years - actually, much beyond that: the last figure I've seen was 26 years. However, the rest is rather interesting:

āryaprajñāprāmitāyai namaḥ|| 
āsīt sāttvikajāniko (hm...) guṇagaṇaiḥ prakhyātakīrtiḥ purā 
nāmnā Boddharaṇaḥ samāhitayaśā sūnus tato [']bhūt priyaḥ| 
yo 'sau nūtanakarmabhiḥ pratinavāṃ lokārthasaṃpādikāṃ 
prajñāpāramitām akārayad imām Ūlūkanāmāhvayaḥ|| 
śrīmadGopāladevasya rājyasamvatsare 'ṣṭame| 
niṣpādya saṃpratiṣṭhāpya prāptaṃ puṇyam anuttaram|| 
sādhu(?) yat tena puṇyena lokāḥ syur api bhāginaḥ| 
prajñāpāramitopāyabodhimārgaparāyaṇāḥ ||   ||

So there was a man called Boddharaṇa, whose son, Ūlūka (rather unfortunate name nowadays), renovated (?) the manuscript during the reign of Gopāla, year 8, i.e. roughly 60 years later. We probably cannot see the restored pages (if this is what is talked about here), but it is rather strange that three generations later the scribe's hand is virtually the same as above.

UPDATE: note the two readings suggested by HI in the comments. I think the Tibetan scribble at the bottom says: dpal nā lan dar gnas pa'i chos smra [ba?] kun dga' zhes bya bas bris pa'o, a translation of the scribe identifying himself.

UPDATE 2 (Jun 19, 2011): This colophon has already been studied in Huntington & Huntington 1990 'Leaves from the Bodhi Tree' as item 58. Their readings differ somewhat.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without straining my middle-aged eyes (in other words, someone else should try to confirm whether it could be read thus) here is my 2 cents for the moment:

1) where you read Nāe I suggest bhoṭa (this would not be the first Tibetan popping up in the colophon of a MS from one of the big Eastern-Indian monastic centres);

2) where you have

> pratinacālokā(???)rthasaṃpādikāṃ
> prajñāpāramitām

I expect pratinavāṃ lokārthasaṃpādikāṃ
prajñāpāramitām .


6:07 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

Thank you HI!

pratinavāṃ - I must have been blind, of course.

bhoṭa - I have never seen this kind of ṭa before. are you quite sure?

10:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> bhoṭa - I have never seen this kind
> of ṭa before. are you quite sure?

I wasn't trying to confirm these thoughts by straining my eyes over the poor images. So not only am I not sure, this is just the first idea that comes to mind, looking at your transcription (and bearing in mind the palaeographical possibilities in this kind of script). I'll be glad to try to actually read what is written, if you can get better pictures somehow. What do your younger eyes read, on second (or third) look?


12:32 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

this is pretty much the best image one can get:,0.0,1.0008347,1.0&rect=0.5,0.75,0.75041735,1.0&lng=en_US&enablePastMaxZoom=OFF&page=image.html&obj=uv,1.0&wid=1000

I am definitely a buyer for bo- (did not notice the little dhvaja first time around). About the rest I am still puzzled. If the man is a Tibetan, then -ṣo before Hāsillasya will very much start to look like a -po (I'm having second thoughts on hāsilla as well - I thought I saw a similar name somewhere, but apparently I was wrong). So far I have failed to find a -ṭa- in the rest of the image, but I'll keep looking.

3:28 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

I meant bho-, not bo-. sorry.

5:39 pm  
Blogger Julie (Tibetan Name Tenzin Dasal) said...

Hi, Thank you so much for a beautiful piece of work. I was looking through for people with an interest in Tibet and I found your work. I am a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa lineage and am very proactive in the Tibetan Fight for Freedom.
Although your work is a little different from my own, it made a lovely change to read something inspirational. I would love to follow your blog and I hope you will check mine out also.

Thank you again Tenzin Dasal

4:07 pm  
Anonymous Christian K. Wedemeyer said...

I wouldn't say the Tibetan comment is a "scribble." It looks quite nicely written, to me. However, I am at a loss as to how you can read the thing; when I blow it up, it is illegibly pixellated. Better photos would be great. It is an interesting find.

8:28 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

Well, a librarian's (?) note then it is. I am somewhat cheating: if there was no Sanskrit corresponding to this note, it would indeed be difficult. But if you have the Skt. in mind and squint a little it's just about legible. I could of course be dreadfully off the mark. Let's see if a better picture emerges. I am very curious who the donor is.

7:02 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

Dear Julie,

Thanks for the nice comments. I prefer to stay out of contemporary Tibetan politics, I hope you will forgive me for that.



7:09 pm  

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