Sanskrit-Tibetan Textual Work

Ulrich T. Kragh 103322.630 at COMPUSERVE.COM
Wed Oct 27 14:50:29 UTC 1999

[Stephen Hodge wrote]
>Gajin Nagao's reconstruction of the Mahayana Samgraha uses this
>approach.  He had gathered together all the parallel passages from
>works surviving in Sanskrit and then using his Sanskrit expertise
>created his reconstruction.

I have searched without luck for this work by Nagao. Do you have a
bibliographical reference?

>One may wonder, of course, why bother --
>what can be gained from this apart from possible lexicographical
>benefits ?

My interest is not to simply reconstruct the original Sanskrit of
Madhyamakaavataara from the extant Tibetan translation. Rather, I am
investigating the method of Candrakiirti and I here wish to use
material from both the Sanskrit edition of his Prasannapadaa and the extant
Tibetan text of Madhyamakaavataara.

To use two texts originally by the same author, but now only extant in two
different languages involves linguistic problems. Sanskrit scholars have so
far focused on Prasannapadaa, since this text is available in Sanskrit,
while Tibetan scholars have focused on Madhyamakaakavataara being only
available in Tibetan.

I wish to use both texts - which in practice means that I somehow have to
unite these two fields of scholars. This requires some established
linguistic/hermeneutical principles for working with / comparing the two
texts. It is these principles that I am trying to get suggestions for here
from the Indology list-members. (And I am still hoping for more suggestions
for principles from the rest of you . . .)

I believe this endeavour is very worthwhile for our Madhyamaka scholarship,
as it would allow scholars to use both of these texts on an acceptable
academic level.

>Have you also collated all five existing Tibetan editions?

I presume you mean of the Madhyamakaavataara? I am aware of the bstan 'gyur
editions of Peking (two different translations of the kaarikaa + one
edition of the bhaas.ya), Derge, Narthang, and Cone. Are these the five
editions that you are thinking of?

I am, however, not in possession of any mss printed/written independently
of these bstan 'gyur collections; are you aware of any?

>Also, you might like to bear in mind that there IS an extant Sanskrit
>copy of the Madhyamakaavataara held by the Chinese (stolen from
>Tibet) -- but you have a cat's chance in hell of ever getting access
>to it at present -- but perhaps if you are still young ....

[To which Dan Lusthaus added:]
>What is your source for this?

Yes, I have also heard these rumours from a number of scholars (e.g. Anne
Macdonnald, who currently does text-critical work on the Prasannapadaa).
During the cultural revolution, the Chinese brought a large amount of
Tibetan mss from Tibet to Beijing. Among these mss were also numerous
Sanskrit works preserved in Tibet since the translations were made back in
the 11th century onwards. These texts have this year been returned to
Tibet, where they are now kept at Norbu Lingka in Lhasa. The Chinese are
said to have microfilmed all the mss before returning them. According to
the rumour (which seems reliable), there are eye-wittness reports from
Chinese scholars that there exists at least one - possibly several -
Sanskrit mss of Madhyamakaavataara. However, there exists no official
records of these mss. The Chinese officially deny these reports, but
nevertheless let new Sanskrit mss of various texts surface once in a while.
It seems to be politically motivated.

And yes - I am still young (just thirty years old), but I unfortunately
cannot put my research on hold until any such legendary ms surfaces. So, I
am back in the problem of having to use a Tibetan edition in my otherwise
Sanskrit oriented research. Any suggestions?

With best regards,
Ulrich T. Kragh.

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