[INDOLOGY] Visuddhimagga

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 11:12:19 UTC 2014

There's a new wrinkle on the editing history of the Visuddhimagga, not
mentioned in Steve Collins' article, but kindly brought to my attention by
Christophe Vielle (thanks!).

Dharmanand Damodar Kosambi (not to be confused with his son Damodar
Dharmanand Kosambi) worked on Warren's edition of the Visuddhimagga.
Dharmanand's work was finished in 1911, but the book took until 1950 to

Meanwhile, Dharmanand went back to India, and in 1940 he published in
Bombay an edition of the Visuddhimagga
<http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/55562616> in his own name, work that he had
begun in 1909. It was based on the same manuscripts as Warren's work, plus
reference to two printed editions from SE Asia, perhaps the same as those
used by Caroline Rhys Davids.  Dharmanand said, in his Preface,
The sources used for the present edition are primarily the same as those
employed for the Harvard edition, consisting of four excellent manuscripts:
two Burmese, two Singhalese.  In addition, I have used one printed edition
in Burmese and one in Siamese Characters ; while generally not so good as
the first of the Burmese manuscripts, these contain an occasional superior
reading. To reduce the bulk of this volume, I have omitted all variants ;
the best alternative readings, however, will be given with my own
commentary-in the volume to follow.
Dharmanand's Visuddhimagga edition has been transcribed and published as a
web document

So there are *three* editions of the Visuddhimagga published between 1920
and 1950, with entangled editorial histories:

   1. Caroline Rhys Davids, 1920, based on 4 printed editions
   2. Dharmanand Kosambi, 1940, based on 4 MSS and 2 editions
   3. Henry Clark Warren, 1950, based on 4 MSS
   Warren died in 1899, leaving his edition almost complete.  Kosambi was
   invited by Lanman to bring it to a publishable state, which he and Lanman
   did together, completing that between 1910 and 1911. Nothing then happened
   for fifteen years.  Then Lanman and Kosambi settled some dispute, and
   Kosambi saw the work through the press in 1926-1927.  But the work remained
   unpublished until 1950 [Preface

Warren's actual editorial work on the text preceded that of both the
others.  But it was only published after their editions.

For his 1940 edition, begun in 1909, Kosambi used the same MSS as Warren
had used 40 years earlier.  Two of these MSS were personally procured by
Warren from England, by correspondence with Thomas Rhys Davids and with Dr
Richard Morris [as Lanman says <http://www.jstor.org/stable/592341?seq=4>],
and a third was personally lent by Henry Rigg.  Did Kosambi really,
separately, gain access to the very same privately-owned MSS?  Or were they
still in Cambridge MA when he worked  there after Warren's death?  Or did
Kosambi use Warren's unpublished text in constituting his own edition.  It
is hard to imagine that he would not do so, since the work was done and lay
there before him.

I should mention that for all these editors it was a matter of importance
that their editions were produced in this or that script.  Caroline Rhys
Davids' edition was mainly undertaken in order to produce a Roman-alphabet
version of the pre-existing Burmese- and Ceylonese-script editions.  She
showed little engagement with actual text-critical tasks.  Warren was
engaged with both text-criticism and with the idea of transliteration.
Warren's edition prints MS readings.  Kosambi also cared about script,
producing his edition in Devanagari, thus intending specifically to reach a
readership in India.  Kosambi also engaged in text-critical tasks to the
extent that he applied Paninian grammatical thinking to the construal of
the text, especially in matters of sandhi.  But Kosambi omitted to print
any variants from the manuscripts, which means that his edition cannot be
used as a critical edition, since he denies the reader the opportunity to
think critically about his editorial choices and their alternatives.


The secondary literature
contains references to an edition of the Visuddhimagga by Dharmanand
Kosambi (and not Warren) published by OUP in London in 1950.  I think this
is probably just an error.

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