Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at EARTHLINK.NET
Sun Dec 21 09:25:54 UTC 2008

The Tibetan for bodhisat(t)va would be relatively late, and could reflect
later folk etymologies. The Chinese, for many centuries before the Tibetan
translations, used the transcription pusa 菩薩, an acrostic-type
abbreviation for puti 菩提 + saduo 薩埵 (bodhisattva => puti-saduo => pusa).

They translated sattva (alone or in compounds such as bodhisattva, or
mahAsattva 摩訶薩埵) as 衆生 zhongsheng, lit. multitude of living (things),
or 有情 youqing, lit. having feelings (i.e., sentient being).

As the 7th c. (early Tang) Buddhist dictionary by Huilin explains:

"Sattva [saduo] = transcription from Sanskrit. In current Chinese (i.e.,
Sui-Tang period) youqing (sentient being); in older translations zhongsheng
(multitude of living things), which misses the right meaning."

Yiqie jing yin yi (Sounds and Meanings of all [Words] in the Sutras) 一切經
音義, fasc. 12; T.54.2128.382a12.

The number of "t"-s seem immaterial; the meaning (whichever of the Chinese
equivalents one prefers) is plainly for sattva, not satva(n).

Dan Lusthaus

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