[INDOLOGY] an odd Sanskrit phrase

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Sun Sep 24 10:34:05 EDT 2017


Dear friends,

One of my students is writing her thesis on a Tibetan tantric lineage that specialised on,
among other things, the rituals devoted to a form of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī called
gsang-ldan, literally "possessing secrets," i.e. "esoteric." At least one of the canonical texts cited, which however
does not survive in Sanskrit, includes a Sanskrit title in which gsang-ldan is found as guhyāpanna.
Although some contemporary specialists of Buddhism have, on this basis, repeated the use of the phrase
guhyāpanna, it appears to me most likely to stem from a Tibetan back translation and not from
an original Sanskrit source - - the use of āpanna in the meaning intended somehow doesn't seem
right to me.

I would appreciate any insights you might have on whether guhyāpanna meaning "possessing secrets"
is at all plausible. Please do not bother with citations of scholars who have used the phrase, referring
to Tibetan but not actual Sanskrit sources.

with thanks in advance,

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

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago
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