An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs

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  • 7/28/2019 An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs






    A . K. Narain


    Heinz Bechert Leon Hurvitz

    Lewis Lancaster A.W. MacDonald

    B. J. Stavisky A lex Waym an


    Stephen Beyer

    Volume 1 Number 1 1978c/o Department of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison,

    Wiscons in 53706

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    I . A R T I C L E S1. B udd hism and Pol i t i ca l Po w er in K ore an H is to ry , 9

    by S. Keel2 . M a h a m a u d g a l y a y a n a ' s S e r m o n o n t h e L e t ti n g -i n a n d N o t 2 5

    Let t ing- in (of Sens i t ive Inf luences ) , by E. Waldschmidt3 . T h e M a h a s a m g h i k a a n d t h e T a t h a g a t a g a r b h a , 3 5

    by A . Way man

    I I . S H O R T P A P E R S1. Va j rayana in G os tan a-de sa , by H. W. Bailey 5 32 . " O u r B u d d h a " i n a n A s o k a n I n s c r i p t i o n , by A. K. Narain 5 73 . The Story of Vyasa and KasTsundarT, by L. Zwilling 654 . New Areas of Rese arch for Arc haeo logi s t s and 71

    B u d d h o l o g i s t s , by G. Tucci

    I I I . B O O K R E V I E W S1 . A n A n t h o l o gy o f Bu ddh i s t Ta n t r i c Song s : a S t u dy o f 77

    the CaryagTti , by Per Kvaerne2 . Ti b e t an M ed i c i ne : Wi t h Spec ia l Re fe r ence t o Yo gasa t aka , 81

    by Vaidya Bhagwan Dash

    I V . N O T E S A N D N E W SOn Bud dh i s t Te x t I n f o r m a t i on (B .T . I. ) o f t he In s t i t u t e 87

    for Advanced Studies of Wor ld Rel ig ions ( IASWR),N e w Y o r k , by R. A . Gard

    V . O B I T U A R YP. L. Va i dya , by P. V. Bapat 9 1

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    A n A nthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs, A Study of the Caryagiii,by Per Kvaerne. Oslo-Bergen-Tromsd.- Universitetsforlaget, 1977.pp. viii + 27 5. fA - w, .

    The author of this edition is to be congratulated for bringing outsuch a controversial but fascinating text of the Buddhist Tantracontroversial from the point of view of the original language as well as ofinterpretation. The linguistic controversy is a fundamental one due tothe diversity of forms found in the text. The edition has wisely avoidedthe issue, but has tacitly accepted the general opinion which swingstoward Bengali as the language of the text. "While adopting," says theauthor in the introduction (p. 3) "the more usual designation 'old Bengali', I do not wish to commit myself to any definite position; it is perhaps do ubtful wh ether the linguistic basis of CG can be reduced to asingle dialect." Since the language issue has been a controversial onesince the first publication of the text in 1916 by H. P. Shastri, it wouldhave been our added advantage, if the editor had discussed it onceagain. One point which is usually avoided by scholars, including the present one, is that the text must have belonged to different times andplaces, and for this reason it should show linguistic variation. And,perhaps, for that reason, the text bears features which resemble Maithilior Old A wadhF-apart from the fact that it could be a specimen of OldOriya as well. I personally feel that when the anthology was compiled several centuries had already passed between the earlier and thelater texts within it: hence the date of the text ranges between 700and 1200 A.D.; and during this period these eastern languages had notyet becom e fully differentiated from each othe r. In add ition, the language of the anthology, could not shake off the fetters of Apabhramsa.It would be worthwhile to consult some contemporary literature, themajor bulk of which is in Apabhrams'a, for linguistic clarification.Most scholars, if not all, have refused so far to recognize that somewriters of the eastern school of Prakrit grammarians have recordedfeatures of Apabhramsa which closely correspond with the languageand vocabulary of Caryapadas (e.g. sane, cikbila, etc.). This mightalso help scholars to fix the lower limit of the date of the text.

    In selecting the readings of the text, the editor was very conscientious. He consulted three authoritiesthe text, Munidatta's Commentary, and the Tibetan translation. In the case of doubtful readings atendency to follow the Tibetan version is discernible, but the authorhas not always adhered to the latter. For example, in 1.4 (p. 67) the


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    edi tor has not fol lowed the Tibetan rendering, despi te the fact thatthe Tibetan has preserved the original meaning of the Bengali word. Thepassage in question runs thus:

    Eriu chandaka bandha kapatera asa/ sunupakba bbiri lahu re pasaThe reading bbiri lahu, "come close ( to you)" (p . 69) does not seem tobe happy (as is also noticed by the editor). My feeling would be toaccept the reading bbiti loba, which he discards and gives in the footno te (p . 68) ; bbiti loba would mean " the founda t ion of des i re ." Theau tho r has an oth er diff icul ty with pakha and pasa, both meaning" s i d e " in the same line, and so the word pakha is taken in the sense of"fan" , on the analogy of modern Bengal i pakha, by quot ing Turner(7627) in this case against the evidence of Tibetan, which renders pakhaas "s ide" (p . 69). Obv iously the re is no justif ica tion for using th e tw oword s in the same sentenc e with the same mea ning. I w on der w heth erpasa could be taken as pasya > passa >pasa and pakha as "s ide" , inwhich case the l ine would mean "behold, the foundation of desire (is)emp ty on you r s i de" (Comm. Sunyata-paksaka). This also agrees withMunidat ta 's commentary " the fe t ters of desire" as is g iven by the edi torin th e bra ke t of his tran slatio n (p. 67 ). I believe there are othe r cases aswell w here som e of the readings cou ld also be adjusted in a similar way .

    In his 64-page introduct ion, much information has been suppl ied.In part I , he discusses the text, the Tibetan translation, the t i t le, thelanguage, the author , the date of the Caryagtti and the genre (pp. 1-8).Professor Kvaerne has given the names of the putative authors of thepoems in a t abu la ted form, ment ion ing the number o f verses a t t r ibu tedto each author but he has not discussed these a t t r ibut ions , as he says " i tdoes n ot conc ern u s" (p . 4 ) . His sect ion deal ing with previous s tudies( pp . 9-16) of the text is quite informative, although some of the oldBengal i texts publ ished from Calcut ta are not included. He has sparedno pains in ut i l iz ing Munidat ta 's commentary and the Tibetan t ransla t ion (pp. 17-29) to es tabl ish a wel l -balanced presentat ion of the text .In his discussion of the re l igious background (pp. 30-36) , two texts Hevajratantra and Pancakrama occu py m ost of his tho ug hts . But theverses of the text are so obscure and terribly shrouded in darkness thatno am ou nt of effor t is helpful in und ers tan ding the und erlying co nce ptof tantr ic Budd hism (even with th e help of the tw o tex ts me nt io ne dabove), so far as the old Bengali Caryagtti t ex t is concerned . M unida t ta ' sco m m ent ary and the Tib etan t ransla t io n of ten confou nd all our a t -tem ps to reconci le the app aren t anom alies in the imagery of the Caryagtti (pp. 37-60) . Professor Kvaerne 's a t temp to unravel the r iddle of thetext in pages 41-60 is noteworthy. His essay on the concept of Sabaja( pp . 61-64) is wel l wri t ten. After in t roductory remarks , the text begins


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    with an English translation in pa rt II (pp . 65-26 8). Notes to part I aregiven at the end of the book (pp. 269-275).There remain a few observations about other aspects of the text.To his bibliography, which is extensive, should be added the latest workof D.N. Basu, The Functional Analysis of Old Bengali, (Calcutta, 1976).A thorough discussion of the metre of the text would strengthen ourargument about the antiquity of the anthology. With regard to the arrangement of the text, my tendency would be to arrange the individualpoems according to author, unless we believe that the text is from thepen of one single author. A word index including the variants would bevery helpful to handle this sort of scholarly work, despite Sen's IndexVerborum of old Bengali.In conclusion I can say tha t this is a good ed ition which can berelied upon for all practical purposes.

    Satya Ranjan Banerjee



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