an āmalakī in the palm of the hand

Ryan Damron rdamron at BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Apr 29 03:47:23 UTC 2011

Dear all,

I recently came across a reference to the āmalaki fruit in the Buddhist 
/Mahāmāyātantra/ and in its commentary, the /Guṇavatī/ by 
Ratnākaraśānti.  The citations are as follows:

First from the root tantra, in Tibetan (there is no extant Sanskrit 
manuscript): /lag tu skyu ru ra bzhag bzhin/.

Which Ratnākaraśānti glosses with: /svahaste sthitamekamāmalakam 

I initially took this to mean simply that the referent was as clear to 
the subject as a fruit placed in one's own hand.  However, two Tibetan 
colleagues both asserted that the /āmalakī/ fruit, as understood in the 
Tibetan Buddhist tradition at least, is a translucent fruit which 
reveals its inner structure to the subject (not my personal experience 
with the contemporary version of Amalaki fruit).  Thus for a situation 
to be "like an /āmalakī/ fruit in one's own hand" means one is able to 
see the referent inside and out, that is, in totality.  My question then 
is this:  is this analogy common in Indic traditions and, more 
importantly, are there any known references to these properties of the 
/āmalakī/ in Sanskrit works?

Much thanks,


Ryan Damron
Graduate Student
Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
University of California, Berkeley

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