Re: [INDOLOGY] gang zag and puruṣa

Christian P. Haskett christian.haskett at
Tue Oct 30 00:01:32 UTC 2018

Negi, Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary [vol. 2], CIHTS, Varanasi, p. 473 gives pudgalaḥ, with sattvaḥ as a secondary for gang zag; then lists puṅgavaḥ and pumān.   Through the next 15-20 definitions, there are variations of pudgala such as pudgalaprajñaptiḥ (gang zag ’dogs pa), but none with puruṣa.

I forget where, but I read a perhaps apocryphal story, maybe a joke, about a nomad or some other rustic visiting Lhasa who came upon two monks hotly debating the famous emptiness of the gang zag, and intervened to say, as I recall, ‘pray sirs, just use mine!’ offering his tobacco pipe (gang zag).  A tobacco pipe is filled (gang) and emptied (zag).

This meaning of pudgala (Pkt puggala) becomes clearer in the Jain context where a person—an individual karmic subject—waxes and wanes. Thus, Jainendra Siddhānta Kośa (vol 4, p 68) cites niyamasāra tātparya vṛtti 6: galanapūraṇasvabhāvasanāthaḥ pudgalaḥ

For puruṣa, Tibetan translates skyes bu or mi.

Chris Haskett
Assistant Professor, Religion
Centre College

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