'Siva and Ak.sapaada
GGA03414 at niftyserve.or.jp
Mon Apr 17 16:18:00 UTC 1995
Here are some queries related to fragments of Hindu (?) mythology
found in the Buddhist literature.
1) At the beginning of the commentary on the _Nyaayaprave'sa_ of
'Samkara-svaamin by Dacheng Ji (a disciple of Xuanzang, ca 650-682),
there is a story about the name and the birth of the author,
'Samkara-svaamin (Taisho XLIV 1840 i 92c). It is said:
The name 'Samkara is translated here (in China) by "Chain of Bones"
(ch. gusuo, jap. kossa), and "svaami[n]" by "master". It happens that
some devotees of other paths (non-Buddhists) say that, at the
beginning of the vivarta-kalpa, Mahe'svara came among men (in the
world) taking 24 different forms to lead them in the right way. At
last, he returned back to the heaven. People who had served the god
yearned for him and ended by making a statue representing him
standing, in a form of extreme emaciation and thinness because of his
asceticism, bones being chained up each other. This is why this
statue is named "God of Chain of Bones". [At the beginning of the
kalpa,] the god had a hundred thousand names, but these diminished
with the time and there remains only ten names; the name "God of Chain
of Bones (or God with the bones chained up each other)" is one of
The parents of the Bodhisattva 'Samkara-svaamin had not child when
they were young. So, they prayed to this statue of god and had this
miraculous child. Because they venerated this god, they gave to the
child his name. This god being the "master" [of the child ?], they
named him "the one whose master is 'Samkara".
The "translation" of 'Samkara by "Chain of Bones" is very strange.
The Dictionary Mochizuki (p. 2562c-2563a) tries to explain this
anomaly by saying that the sk. word for "Chain of Bones" being
"asthi-'s.rnkhalaa" (which became in prakrit [?] "a.t.thi-'sankhalaa")
while the prakrit [?] form of 'Samkara is "Sankara", so that the two
("'sankhalaa" and "Sankara") have been confounded to result this
"translation". Is this plausible...?? As a 'Saiva deity of skeletal
form, I think rather of Bh.rngin or Kankaala. Isn't it possible, for
example, that Kankaala was confounded with 'Samkara ?? By the way,
what means "asthi-'s.rnkhalaa" in fact ? The expression "chain of
bones" (or "bones chained up each other") appears sometimes in the
Chinese Buddhist texts; if my memory serves me, I remember to have
read somewhere (I forgot the reference) that Naaraaya.na has "bones
chained up each other" so that he is extremely strong...
2) Related to this myth, one can find another myth on the name and
the birth of Vasubandhu, in a preface to a commentary on the
_Abhidharma-ko'sa_ (the author of this preface, named Faying, is
unknown otherwise; but it seems that this myth too can be traced back
to the "Indological traditions" of Xuanzang). It is said
(Zokuzoo-kyoo, I, lxxxiii, 5, 395verso, b4-12):
At the beginning of the Kalpa, the god Ii'svara appeared 24 times
among human beings to civilize them. At the 24th time, he manifested
himself with 3 eyes and 8 arms. He encountered the .r.si Ak.sapaada
and said to him: "If you had 3 eyes on the face like me, you could be
able to discuss with me". Then the .r.si Ak.sapaada replied to the
god raising up his foot "If you had eyes [?] on feet like me, you
could be able to discuss with me." The god, having recognized that he
had been defeated, manifested a form of extreme emaciation and
thinness, and returned back to the heaven to never come back again
among men. People yearned for the god and made his statue..., that
they named "Vasu-bandhu", which means "Good Friend of the human
beings". The parents of Vasubandhu prayed to three temples of gods to
have their three children, and named each of them according to the
name of the god to whom they had prayed to obtain him...
The translation of "vasu" by "human beings" is perhaps strange, but
this is attested in other Chinese Buddhist texts.
Is there any tradition in the Hindu mythology that can be compared to
3) Professor R. A. Stein quoted a Tibetan source where is told a
story about 'Siva and the .r.si Ak.sapaada
("Avalokite'svara/Kouan-yin, un exemple de transformation d'un dieu en
d'eesse", in _Cahiers d'Extr^eme-Asie_, II, 1986, p. 39 and n. 52,
quoting the commentary of _Legs-b,cad rin-po-che'i gter_ of Sa-skya
pandita by dMar-ston, p. 4a):
Here 'Siva appears as a hermit practising asceticism. One day, he
goes on a journey, entrusting his disciple Ak.sapaada with his wife.
In his absence, his wife seduces Ak.sapaada, but he refuses her
approaches and to avoid her eye, he lowers his own, not in
metaphorical sense but in literal one, i.e. he places his eyes on his
Here again, I would like to know if there is any Hindu tradition that
can be compared to this one.
I would greatly appreciate any reference, idea or suggestion. Many
thanks in advance !
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