[INDOLOGY] Fw: gang zag and puruṣa

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Fri Nov 2 08:32:19 UTC 2018

Please do not consider the matter "cleared up" without reference to the testimony of the Tibetan translators themselves.

Pudgala is entry no. 340 in the early 9th c. Madhyavyutpatti (i.e. the Sgra sbyor bam po gnyis pa). I reproduce here the entry as given in Ishikawa’s edition (The Toyo Bunko 1990) with Sanskrit in italics. Note that, because this is an edition of a Tibetan work, the conventions for Sanskrit are in a few cases imprecise – I’ve copied them as given without bothering with the addition of “sic!”:

puṅgala ni punaḥ punar gatiśu liyata iti zhes bya ste / yang dang yang lha dang mi la sogs pa’i rgyud du skye zhing sbyor bas na yang sbyor zhes kyang bya / pūryate galati caiva puṅgala zhes kyang bya ste / skye nas dar gyi bar du ni gang / dar yol nas shi ba’i bar du ni zag pa la yang bya ste / tshig ’di gnyis kar yang drang du rung gis kyang sngan chad ming du btags te grags pa bzhin du bzhag nas gang zag ces btags /

For the benefit of those who do not read Tibetan, here is an off-the-cuff rendition:

"puṅgala is defined: punaḥ punar gatiśu liyata iti. Because one is born and is joined repeatedly to existence as a god, human, etc., it is called 're-joining' [perhaps for punarbhava]. It is also explained:  pūryate galati caiva puṅgala. From birth to maturation one grows (lit. "fills") and from maturation to death runs down (lit. "leaks, oozes"). The term may be explained in either way, but because the designation made earlier is well-known, it is left as is and gang zag is the [accepted] designation."

This is interesting in part as it suggests that gang zag  (“grows and runs down”) was in current usage prior to the work of the translation committee responsible for the Madhyavyutpatti, but it does not clarify whether it had been a coinage of earlier translators or a Tibetan convention that had arisen otherwise.

The late Michael Hahn may have had the above in mind when he wrote his remark cited by Prof. Steiner, but he did not enter into it in detail as he was concerned in that article to mention it as an analogy for the type of compound we find in gtsug lag.

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago
From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Mark McClish via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2018 4:00:54 PM
To: Heike Oberlin via INDOLOGY
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] gang zag and puruṣa

Thanks to Chris Haskett and Roland Steiner for clearing this matter up. I’ve passed the information along to my colleague.

Mark McClish

> On Oct 30, 2018, at 3:10 AM, Roland Steiner via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> In his article
> "A propos the Term gtsug lag" (first published in: Tibetan Studies. Proceedings of the 7th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Graz 1995, Vol. 1, ed. by Helmut Krasser, Michael Thorsten Much, Ernst Steinkellner, Helmut Tauscher, Wien 1997 {Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Denkschriften, 256. Band, pp. 347-354 = Michael Hahn: Schlüssel zum Lehrbuch der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache und Beiträge zur tibetischen Wortkunde [Miscellanea etymologica tibetica I-VI], Marburg 2003 [Indica et Tibetica. 10a], pp. 131-143),
> Michael Hahn gives the following explanation (Hahn 1997, p. 352 = Hahn 2003, p. 140):
> "gaṅ zag, rendering pudgala 'individual being': literally '(that which is first) completed and then decaying'"
> Obviously, gaṅ zag is an attempted etymological translation pf pudgala/puṃgala (pūr, "to fill, fulfill", gaṅ ba "full" + gal, "to drop; to vanish, disappear", zag pa = gzag pa > 'dzag pa "to drop, drip, trickle; to flow out").
> Best,
> Roland Steiner
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