More on "musical trees," etc.

Fri Dec 15 01:01:55 UTC 2000

Christian K. Wedemeyer wrote:

Is Asanga's breakdown intended to be comprehensive
(i.e. as a total analysis of sound) or is it partial (i.e. an analysis
percussive sounds alone)?
I think that Asa`nga's and similar lists of examples for the three
types of sounds according to Abhidharma theory must of necessity be
intended only as a partial listing by way of illustration -- the
important thing is the threefold grouping and not what is included in
each group.  But I agree that the context -- now it has been
revealed -- makes this interpretation ambiguous.   Certainly a
straight reading of the meaning according to the Tibetan seems to fit
this nicely.   However, you also quote an attestation of "vanaspati"
as a "musical instrument" so things may be a little more complicated
as you suggest.   Is Bandopadhyay implying that "vanaspati" is also a
kind of percussion instrument since he links it with "dundubhi" and
"bhuumidundubhi"  ?   I note that "vanaspati" also means a post,
pillar or log but it is also a Vedic term for a [wooden?] receptacle
used to hold the pressed Soma juice.  All of these would lend
themselves to the production of percussive sounds -- slotted log drums
come to mind but I have also heard a recording with a wooden post used
for percussive accompaniment by somebody who had pawned their drum,
also open wooden bowls without membrane can be used musically or even
a pestle & mortar.   The context seems to suggest that "vanaspati" and
"nadii" should be some kind of percussive devices or device if the
pair are a compound.

>> the manuscript clearly reads uccha.taa, which is attested in the
_Dictionnaire Tibétain-Sanscrit_ of Tshe-ring dBang-rgyal (published
by J. Bacot, Paris 1930) as an equivalent of the Tibetan se gol
(found in the Tibetan translation of the CMP), which unambiguously
means "snapping of fingers.
Lokesh Candra also gives uccha.ta as the equivalent for "se-gol" in
his Tib-Skt Dic and gives a reference to the Buddha-carita and several
to another text he abbreviates as Udraa which I suppose stands for the
"" -- perhaps it might help to look at these texts
just in case they parallel your selection of instruments.  Apart from
these, the Lalitavistara and the Mahaavastu might be worth a search --
the latter also names numerous instruments including something called
a "na.t.ta".  In a footnote to Vol I of the Mahaavastu (p135), Jones
mentions five classes of instruments (pa~caa`ngikatulya) which he says
is defined in the Vimaana-vatthu Commentary as "aatata, vitata,
aatata-vitata, ghana and susira" -- could this be of any help ?

You also wrote:
> though the indigenous tradition considers it to have been written in
the first half of the first
millennium (though there is some interesting ambiguity in these latter

Could you possibly elaborate --- off-list if necessary ?

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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