[INDOLOGY] aja as ajaya?

David and Nancy Reigle dnreigle at gmail.com
Mon Sep 5 02:51:20 UTC 2016

Dear Ashok (and all),

Your well-considered observations on this puzzling problem are very much
appreciated. They make perfect sense to me, and few doubts would remain if
we were dealing with a text written in normal Sanskrit. The mūla
*Kālacakra-tantra*, however, is not written in normal Sanskrit. Nor is it
written in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, the language described by Franklin
Edgerton that is seen in old verses preserved in Buddhist texts. It is not
even written in “just bad Sanskrit,” as David Snellgrove characterized the
language of the Buddhist *Hevajra-tantra* in 1959, often repeated by others
since. The peculiarities of its language were briefly described by
Puṇḍarīka at the end of the third introductory section of his *Vimalaprabhā*
commentary on the laghu *Kālacakra-tantra*, pp. 29-30 in the 1986 printed
edition (link given earlier). These peculiarities were discussed in detail
by John Newman in the article that Matthew referred to, “Buddhist Sanskrit
in the Kālacakra Tantra” (attached).

One of the items in Puṇḍarīka’s summary of its linguistic peculiarities
specifically pertains to meter: kvacit vṛtte yati-bhaṅgaḥ. While the *yati*
or metrical pause is not the particular problem that we are dealing with,
it does serve to show that we should not expect the meter to be regular.
Indeed, this is what we find. In the small sample of just twenty-one and
one-half verses, besides the pāda containing *aja* that is one syllable
short, there are four pādas that are one syllable long: 11a.  tantre 'smin
ṛṣikulādīnām; 13c. sarvanivaraṇaviṣkambhī; 15b. trayodaśānye krameṇa te;
22a. laghutantre mañjuvajraś ca. In this text, then, we cannot take for
granted that the verses were originally written correctly in regular meter,
as we can in normal Sanskrit. Snellgrove found the same thing in his
edition of *The Hevajra Tantra* (vol. 2, p. ix): “More than a hundred lines
are quite irregular, and although they clearly represent *ślokas* of a
kind, it is impossible to see how many of them can ever have been anything
but irregular.”

If we posit that samudravijayo 'jaḥ in 17b is an error for samudravijayo 'jayaḥ
that occurred in the copy of the mūla *Kālacakra-tantra* used by Puṇḍarīka,
we must assume that Puṇḍarīka did not catch the error, but retained it in
his quotation from that text and then adopted the erroneous name *aja* in
his commentary on laghu *Kālacakra-tantra* 1.27. Puṇḍarīka is supposed to
be the son of Mañjuśrī Yaśas, who prepared the laghu or condensed
*Kālacakra-tantra* from the now mostly lost mūla or root *Kālacakra-tantra*.
So he should be “in the know” about the linguistic peculiarities that he
summarized. Indeed, Puṇḍarīka several times at other places in his
*Vimalaprabhā* commentary points out these very linguistic peculiarities;
for example, saying that here in such and such a word the locative case is
used for the ablative (several examples are given by John Newman in his
article). Yet he did not correct *aja* to *ajaya* in the list of the kings
of Śambhala, where he himself appears as the second kalkī king, but on the
contrary he adopted *aja* in his commentary at 1.27. While we can explain
the perpetuation of an error in the *Vimalaprabhā* by an unwillingness of
copyists to emend the text, it is harder to explain an error by its author
himself. It is easier to accept such a seeming error as one of the
linguistic peculiarities that he was fully aware of.

As for the meaning of the name, while *ajaya*, “unconquerable,” clearly
makes a better king’s name, there are a few other names in this list that,
like *aja*, “unborn,” seem more fitting for some philosophical or cosmic
principle. These are, in the list of kalkī kings: no. 15. *ananta*,
“infinite”; and no. 13. viśvarūpa, “he whose body is the all, i.e., the
universe”; and in the list of dharmarāja kings: no. 6. viśvamūrti, “he
whose form is the all, i.e., the universe.” We have no indication from
Puṇḍarīka what he understood the name to mean. The earliest of the Tibetan
translations is the one that apparently took *aja* as *abja*, *chu skyes*,
“water-born.” I have no confidence that the next Tibetan translation, *rgyal
dka'*, “unconquerable,” was any more correct.

Best regards,

David Reigle

Colorado, U.S.A.

On Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 1:08 PM, Ashok Aklujkar <ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com>

> Dear David,
> My general experience is that copyists in the Sanskrit/Indic tradition are
> very conservative. Almost always, they do not make emendations and, if they
> do, they usually note them in the margins. Secondly, your mss do not seem
> to fall into versions or recensions. In effect, you have only one ms
> reading aja. Also, you have indicated that the source of the (seemingly)
> multiple attestations is unlikely to have been distant from the autograph
> or a copy that was made available for further copying. There is thus room
> to believe that an oversight made in the autograph or in a released copy of
> the autograph has been faithfully retained. Therefore, unless another
> independent occurrence of aja in the sense of ajaya is found, the
> emendation that occurred to Madhav and you should be accepted. Just as we
> do not accept in a critically constituted text grammatically wrong forms
> obviously incongruent with the rest of an author’s/scribe’s style or
> standard, we should not accept a word for which no external corroboration
> is available, especially if the meaning of that word (‘unborn’ in this
> case) is unlikely to be confused or associated with a meaning several of us
> have viewed as contextually likely and the expresser of that meaning gives
> us a metrically sound text.
> I hope I make sense even if I fail to create conviction.

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