[INDOLOGY] Candragomin’s etymological definition of jñāna

David and Nancy Reigle dnreigle at gmail.com
Thu Mar 9 01:37:52 UTC 2017

Dear all,

Speaking of jñāna (with pranams to young Edith Fuller), I am trying to find
the original Sanskrit for the etymological definition of jñāna given by
Candragomin in his commentary on the *Mañjuśrī-nāma-saṃgīti*, verse 84, or
verse 8 of chapter 8. This commentary seems to be extant only in its
Tibetan translation, where this reference is found in the Comparative
Tengyur, vol. 24, p. 1426, line 5. There, in commenting on the compound
term jñānābhiṣeka, Candragomin gives what appears to be an etymological
definition of jñāna: ye shes ni ye nas gnas pa’i don shes pa’o. The sense
of this Tibetan phrase was given by the late Edward Henning as: “the
cognition of the primordial nature/reality” (
http://kalacakra.org/kalaskt.htm, side box midway down).

Here, jñāna is taken in its meaning as a Buddhist technical term, for
higher knowledge or wisdom or cognition or awareness. Thus it is translated
into Tibetan as ye shes, as opposed to its common meaning as knowledge in
general, where it is translated into Tibetan as shes pa. The definition
begins with ye nas, for which I have not found a Sanskrit equivalent. It
means “from the beginning,” or "primordial." The next word, gnas pa,
typically translates Sanskrit words from the root sthā, so means something
like “established, existing.” The following word, don, usually translates
the Sanskrit word artha, and here probably means “object” rather than
“meaning.” The last word, shes pa, as already said can translate jñāna as
knowledge, or other Sanskrit words from the root jñā and their synonyms.
This includes verbals such as jñāta and verbs such as jñāyate.

I have checked the several existing Sanskrit commentaries on the *Amarakośa*,
where jñāna occurs at 1.5.6. They had nothing close to this. I would be
very glad to have the original Sanskrit for this definition of jñāna.

Best regards,

David Reigle

Colorado, U.S.A.

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