[INDOLOGY] The alphabet found in the Lalitavistara

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Thu Oct 31 13:52:47 EDT 2019


Dear Madhav,

No doubt text editorial issues are part of what is at issue, as well as the mix of Sanskrit and Prakrit elements informing BHS. For what it's worth, I note that when the alphabet is recited as a purificatory mantra in tantric contexts in Newar and Tibetan Buddhism, all the vowels and semivowels are included, and kSa is added at the end following Ha. My hunch is that this perhaps originated due to the distinct graphic form in some scripts and so departs from the phonological principle of alphabetic order, but that's really only a guess.

best,
Matthew

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago
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From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Madhav Deshpande via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2019 12:24 PM
To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info>; Bharatiya Vidvat parishad <bvparishat at googlegroups.com>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] The alphabet found in the Lalitavistara

Dear Colleagues,

     As I have been reading the Lipiśālāsandarśana-Parivarta of the Lalitavistara [p. 89, P. L. Vaidya edition], some interesting features of the alphabet popped up for me.  The Alphabet omits r̥ and l̥, but includes ai, au, and aḥ. Among the consonants, it adds kṣ at the end after h.  The version of this passage as given in the Bauddhāgamārthasaṅgraha [ed by P. L. Vaidya] also omits l, while it is included in the version of Lalitavistara edited by Vaidya himself.  I wonder if there are textual variants about this.  I don't know what this alphabet represents.  The omission of r̥ and l̥ goes along the phonologies of Prakrits, but the inclusion of ai, au, and aḥ goes in the direction of Sanskrit.  The addition of kṣ and the possible omission of l point to something else that I cannot figure out.  Any suggestions and references are welcome.

Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]
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