Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Shakespeare in Tibetan

As you may be aware, today is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. In order to mark the occasion, let us share some more of the Bard’s most famous lines translated into Tibetan. This time, the translation comes directly from the forthcoming Tibetan version of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The project to translate the book into Tibetan—back into Tibetan, you might almost say—has been ongoing for quite some time. In fact, it began almost as soon as the English language version of the book was first published in 1992. Thus far, it has involved a number of Tibetan lamas and scholars, including, but not limited to, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Dhongthog Rinpoche, Kelsang Lhamo (who translated the passage from Julius Caesar we posted here in December), Sangye Tendar Naga and Tsering Gonkatsang.
Anyone familiar with the English version of the book will know that it contains a number of quotations from the classics of Western literature, including the poetry of Blake and Shakespeare. Some of these proved easier than others to render in Tibetan, but I think you’ll agree that the following lines from The Merchant of Venice, which are cited in chapter 12, work especially well in Tibetan:
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d,
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes…
Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Some Notes on the Phrase ཐུགས་དམ་བསྐང་ (thugs dam bskang)

The phrase “thugs dam bskang” is ubiquitous in Tibetan liturgies, especially in the practices known as bskang ba or bskang gso, which are addressed primarily to the yidam deities and dharmapālas, and has already been the subject of an interesting clarification by Ken McLeod. The various possible interpretations of the phrase mirror the ambiguity of the term bskang ba itself, which literally means “to fill” (being the equivalent of the Sanskrit paripūraṇa), but in this context it has the following senses:

1) To please (dgyes pa), satisfy (tshim pa) or gratify through offerings
2) To restore or replenish vows, either one’s own (rang gi dam tshig gso ba) or the those of the deity

Thus we commonly find “thugs dam bskang” translated either as “May you be satisfied (by this offering)!” or “May my commitments be restored (by this offering)!”

But should we read thugs dam as an abbreviation of thugs kyi dam tshig (or dam bca’), an honorific form of samaya? Or as thugs kyi dam pa, the most excellent or sublime of minds? Alak Zenkar Rinpoche insists the latter is correct.

From Pelliot tibétain 307

The phrase thugs dam bskang is undoubtedly old and is found in several tantras in the Nyingma canon (rnying ma rgyud bum), as well as in the Dunhuang materials. A variant of the phrase (thugs dam skongs na…) appears in the famous Pelliot tibétain 307, the text on the Seven Mothers (Skt. saptamātṛkā), which includes one of the earliest references to Padmasambhava. In his translation of this text, Dalton has rendered the phrase as “If their vows are kept…” However, given the context, it would seem more correct to say, “If they are satisfied…”

In Dalton’s transcription (2004: 771), the relevant section of Pelliot tibétain 307 reads as follows:

rdo rje kun grags ma/ sku mdog nag mo mang dgyes sam thugs dam skongs na na bza’ dar rma gsol/ rgyan gzhan la yang sna tshogs kyis brgyan pa/ gzugs mdzes shing sdug par ston / myi dgyes la thugs dam skongs na nag mo ral pa can tre’u la bcibs/ rkong la de mo zhes kyang bgyi/ ’di bdun gyi gtso mo lags//

Closer inspection of the actual text–available online through the wonderful International Dunhuang Project website–reveals that there is a negative particle ma, which Dalton omitted (perhaps taking it to be part of the syllable dam, but dam is actually written daM (དཾ་), and the ma is therefore clearly a separate syllable), so the correct transcription is : myi dgyes la thugs dam ma skongs na nag mo ral pa can tre’u la bcibs...

We thus have two parallel situations: one when Rdo rje kun grags ma is happy (dgyes) and satisfied (thugs dam skongs) [or, following Dalton, the vows are kept] and another when she is unhappy (myi dgyes) and dissatisfied (thugs dam ma skongs) [or the vows unkept].

Yet there is nothing in the text that might help us resolve our satisfaction/vows dilemma.

If we read thugs dam bskang as something like “May the noble mind (thugs kyi dam pa) be gratified!” then one text in particular does pose some difficulty. The confession rite known as Skong bshags rdo rje’i thol glu, which is part of the Klong chen snying thig, uses the phrase thugs dam bskang in relation to each of the nine successive vehicles (theg pa rim pa dgu) of the Nyingma system.

The section in question begins with the following stanza:

ka dag phyogs yan chen po’i dgongs pa la:
bgrang bya’i theg pa tha dad ma grub kyang:
kun rtog gdul bya’i khams dbang bsam pa’i phyir:
theg pa rim dgur shar ba’i thugs dam bskang:
We could perhaps translate the final line as: “May the minds in which the nine successive vehicles arose be satisfied!” But it is obviously difficult to imagine how the vehicles themselves could find satisfaction.

Yet there is another possibility. In his commentary to this verse, Pad ma kun bzang rang grol makes it clear that it is not the vehicles themselves that are being addressed, but the deities and gurus associated with them (theg pa de dag so so’i lha dang bla ma’i tshogs kyi thugs dam bskang). So perhaps this too lends support for the 'satisfaction' reading. I shall return to this topic in further posts in future.


Dalton, Jacob. “The Early Development of the Padmasambhava Legend in Tibet: A Study of IOL Tib J 644 and Pelliot tibétain 307” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 124, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2004), pp. 759–772

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lines from Shakespeare: In Memory of Nelson Mandela

On the day the world remembers Nelson Mandela, it seems appropriate to publish this translation into Tibetan of some lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (act II, scene II)–the very lines that Mandela highlighted in the so-called ‘Robben Island Shakespeare’ on the 16th December 1979 during his long period of captivity.

The translation was made several years ago by Kelsang Lhamo (aka Chödzin), a writer and now senior librarian at TBRC, when we were working together in New York on the translation of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying into Tibetan – a project that is only now nearing completion.

Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

སྡར་མ་རྣམས་ནི་འཆི་བདག་སྔོན་ཚུད་དུ། །
འཆི་བ་ལན་གྲངས་དུ་མ་བྱུང་འགྱུར་ཏེ། །
དཔའ་བོ་རྣམས་ནི་ལན་གཅིག་ཁོ་ནར་ནི། །
འཆི་བའི་བྲོ་བ་མྱོང་བར་བྱེད་པའོ། །

ཐོས་ཟིན་ཡ་མཚན་ཚང་མའི་ནང་ནས་ནི། །
ཡ་མཚན་ཆེས་ཤོས་དེ་ནི་ངས་ལྟས་ན། །
སྐྱེ་བོ་དེ་དག་འཆི་བར་འཇིགས་དེ་ཡིན། །
ཅི་ན་མཐའ་མར་འཆི་བས་བསྡུས་འགྱུར་ཤིང་། །
དེ་ཡང་ངེས་པར་འོང་བ་གདོན་མི་ཟ། །

RIP Nelson Mandela 1918-2013.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Bodhisattva Vow (Updated!)

It is now more than ten years since Ngawang Zangpo put out a call to translators in a thought-provoking appendix (“Buddhism and Poetry”) in Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times. “Where are the wordsmiths?” he asked—echoing Trungpa’s famous though perhaps apocryphal “Where are the poets?”—and it is unclear how much of a response he received.

Zangpo argued that while existing translations of famous works, such as Shantideva’s classic Bodhicaryavatara, may be accurate, they do not necessarily qualify as what he called “candidates for memorization.” The predominant style of translation, he suggested, might favour a form of “academic solemnity” that could even be “antithetical to the Buddhist spirit and tradition.” While this is itself debatable, I think we would all welcome some attempts to employ metre and rhyme in Buddhist translations, if only to prove, as Edward Conze suggested, that they are misguided.* In this spirit, and partly in response to Zangpo’s challenge, I have been tinkering for some years with my own translation of the Bodhisattva Vow verses from chapters two (v.26) and three (vv. 23-28 & 34) of Bodhicaryavatara—a section of Shantideva’s text that Zangpo himself highlighted as being worthy of a mnemonic makeover in English. The result is an apprentice wordsmith's experiment, a somewhat liberal version, which, if not exactly memorable, is hopefully still memorizable:

Till I’m enlightened, fully awake,
Refuge, in the Buddhas, I take.
Dharma, bodhisattva assembly—
May they too be my sanctuary!

Just as the sugatas of former ages,
Aroused bodhichitta, and, in stages,
Established themselves through practice,
In the training of the bodhisattvas.

I too, for others’ benefit and good,
Pledge now to attain buddhahood!
Likewise, do I vow to train,
And bodhisattva discipline maintain!

There’s purpose to this life of mine,
Now I’m born into the Buddhas’ line!
First I gained a human life, so rare,
Now I’ve become the Buddhas’ heir!

From this day on, come what may,
I shall not waver, nor ever stray,
But act as befits this noble kin—
Never to stain it, through thick and thin!

For, like a person who, though blind,
Still a priceless jewel might find,
So now, somehow, auspiciously,
Bodhichitta has been born in me!

Now, protectors, be my witness!
As I invite all to perfect bliss;
And meanwhile to temporary joys—
May gods, asuras and others rejoice!

*In his introduction to Buddhist Scriptures (pp.15-16), Conze wrote “…rhyme, unlike the Indian shloka, or the Greek and Latin hexameter, is not a suitable medium for didactic poetry of high quality. Pope’s Essay on Man is almost the only example we can point to, and it is a warning example.”

  • Conze, Edward. Buddhist Scriptures. London: Penguin. 1959
  • Zangpo, Ngawang. Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times. Ithaca: Snow Lion. 2002

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dmu zhag(s)

One of the translations published recently over on our sister site, Lotsawa House, twice includes the expression “heavenly lustre.” This curious phrase is a translation of the Tibetan dmu zhag[s], a term that occurs a number of times in Mipham’s writings, but is absent from most dictionaries. I say “most” because although it is not found in popular lexicons, it does appear in Erik Haarh’s The Zhang-zhung Language (p. 37), where he says it is the equivalent of mkha’ lding, and offers the translation, “the sky-soaring one, Garuda.”

Now if we were to follow Haarh when translating Mipham’s writings, we would presumably make some reference to garuḍas or birds of prey even though this would not easily fit the context, which is usually one of prosperity, wealth or abundance. Luckily, Haarh’s is not the only dictionary to include a definition. The indispensable Golden Mirror of Decipherment (brda dkrol gser gyi me long) by Btsan lha ngag dbang tshul khrims (which we have had occasion to mention on this blog before), tells us (pp. 658–659) that dmu zhag is another term for g.yang (which we have translated as “spirit of abundance”) or bcud, meaning something like “vital essence” or “nutrition.”

So why have we translated it as “heavenly lustre”? When asked about the term, our most trusted authority, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, explained that it ultimately refers to the earliest rulers of Tibet, who, so the histories tell us, descended from, and ascended to, heaven by means of a ‘celestial cord’ (dmu thag). These divine (or semi-divine) beings, it is said, were endowed with a special, healthy-looking oil (zhag), grease or film on their skin, giving them a healthy glow or lustre. This would seem to support the spelling zhag over the alternative form zhags which is sometimes encountered.

As a further example of dmu zhag in context, we can look at Mipham’s famous Gesar practice Gsol mchod phrin las myur ’grub, popularly known as gsol lo chen mo, which includes the following lines:

mkha’ la lha g.yang bdud rtsi’i sprin sdud pa/
In space, the prosperity of the gods gathers as clouds of nectar,

bar snang la mi g.yang dge mtshan gyi na bun ’khrigs pa/
In the sky, the prosperity of human beings collects into a mist of virtuous signs,

sa gzhi la klu g.yang dmu zhag gi rgya mtsho re bskyil ba/
And on the earth, the prosperity of the nāgas swirls into an ocean of heavenly lustre.

Zenkar Rinpoche said he was “a hundred percent certain” that dmu zhag here and in such contexts has nothing to with garuḍas. Nor, it seems, does it have much to do with the class of demonic beings known as dmu (contrary to what I have said in the past). 

Still a question arises: are there any modern writings then in which dmu zhag does signify garuḍa?

  • Btsan lha ngag dbang tshul khrims. brda dkrol gser gyi me long. mi rigs dpe skrun khang. Beijing, 1997. 
  • Haarh, Erik. The Zhang-zhung Language: A Grammar and Dictionary of the Unexplored Language of the Tibetan Bonpos. Universitetsforlaget i Aarhus og Munksgaard. Copenhagen, 1968.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Magical Wish-Fulfilling Tree

༄༅། །ཐོན་མིའི་ལེགས་བཤད་སུམ་ཅུ་པའི་སྙིང་པོ་ལྗོན་པའི་དབང་པོ་བཞུགས་སོ།།

The Essence of Thönmi’s Masterpiece 'The Thirty Verses'

Dbyangs can grub pa'i rdo rje (1809–1887)

༈ ན་མོ་གུ་རུ་མ་ཉྫུ་གྷོ་ཤཱ་ཡ།
Namo guru mañjughoṣāya!
བླ་མ་མཆོག་དང་དབྱེར་མེད་པའི། །
འཇམ་པའི་དབྱངས་ལ་གུས་བཏུད་ནས། །
ཐོན་མིའི་ལེགས་བཤད་སུམ་ཅུ་པའི། །
སྙིང་པོ་མདོར་བསྡུས་་བཤད་པར་བྱ། །
To Mañjughoṣa, who is inseparable from the supreme teacher,
I respectfully bow down.
I shall now explain, in a brief summary, the essence
Of Thönmi’s excellent work, The Thirty Verses.
དབྱངས་ཀྱི་བྱ་བ་གསལ་པོ་རུ། །
བྱེད་པ་ཨ་ཨི་ཨུ་ཨེ་ཨོ་བཞི། །
གསལ་བྱེད་ཀ་སོགས་སུམ་ཅུ་ཡིན། །
The function of the vowels is to make clear,
There are four: iue and o.
The consonantska and the rest, are thirty in number.
ག་ང་ད་ན་བ་མ་འ། །
ར་ལ་ས་རྣམས་རྗེས་འཇུག་བཅུ། །
ད་དང་ས་གཉིས་ཡང་འཇུག་སྟེ། །
ད་ནི་ན་ར་ལ་གསུམ་དང་། །
ས་ནི་ག་ང་བ་མར་འཐོབ། །
And rala and sa are the ten suffixes.
da and sa are the two post-suffixes.
The three [suffixes] nara and la take [post-suffix] da,
And [post-suffix] sa is added after gangaba and ma.
ག་ད་བ་མ་འ་སྔོན་འཇུག །
gadabama and ‘a are the prefixes.
གོ་ངོ་དོ་ནོ་བོ་མོ་འོ། །
རོ་ལོ་སོ་ཏོ་སླར་བསྡུ་སྟེ། །
རྫོགས་ཚིག་ཟླ་སྡུད་ཅེས་ཀྱང་བྱ། །
དྲག་ཡོད་ཏོ་དང་མཐའ་མེད་འོ། །
གཞན་རྣམས་མིན་མཐའི་རྗེས་མཐུན་བྱ། །
And rolosoto are the concluding particles,
Also called the ‘terminative’ or ‘paired concluding.’
to is used with a da-drak and ‘o where there is no suffix.
The others match the final letters of the preceding syllable.
སུ་ར་རུ་དུ་ན་ལ་ཏུ། །
ལ་དོན་རྣམ་པ་བདུན་ཡིན་ཏེ། །
རྣམ་དབྱེ་གཉིས་བཞི་བདུན་པ་དང་། །
དེ་ཉིད་ཚེ་སྐབས་རྣམས་ལ་འཇུག །
སུ་སུ་ག་བ་དྲག་མཐར་ཏུ། །
ང་ད་ན་མ་ར་ལ་དུ། །
འ་དང་མཐའ་མེད་ར་དང་རུ། །
Surarudunala and tu
Are the seven 'la-equivalent' (la don),
They are used with the second, fourth and seventh cases,
And with ‘identity’[1] and the ‘temporal.’[2]
su follows a satu is used after gaba and da-drak,
du is used after ngadanamara and la,
Syllables ending in ‘a or without a suffix take ra and ru.
གི་ཀྱི་གྱི་འི་ཡི་ལྔ་པོ། །
རྣམ་དབྱེ་དྲུག་པ་འབྲེལ་སྒྲ་དང་། །
དེ་རྣམས་ས་མཐའ་ཅན་ལྔ་ནི། །
རྣམ་དབྱེ་གསུམ་པ་བྱེད་སྒྲ་སྟེ། །
སྦྱོར་ཚུལ་ན་མ་ར་ལ་གྱི། །
ད་བ་ས་ཀྱི་གན་ང་གི །
འ་དང་མཐའ་མེད་འི་དང་ཡི། །
The five of gikyigyi‘i and yi
Are the connective particles of the sixth case.
The same five with the ending sa
Are the third case, the agentive.
They are applied as follows: namara and la take gyi;
daba and sa take kyiga and nga take gi;
Syllables ending in ‘a or without a suffix take ‘i and yi.
ཀྱང་ཡང་འང་གསུམ་རྒྱན་སྡུད་དེ། །
ག་ད་བ་ས་དྲག་མཐར་ཀྱང་། །
ང་ན་མ་ར་ལ་མཐར་ཡང་། །
འ་དང་མཐའ་མེད་འང་དང་ཡང་། །
kyangyang and ‘ang are the three ornamental and inclusive particles.
kyang is used after gadabasa and da-drak,
yang after nganamara and la,
‘ang and yang are used after syllables ending in ‘a or without a suffix.
ཏེ་དེ་སྟེ་གསུམ་ལྷག་བཅས་ཏེ། །
ན་ར་ལ་ས་དྲག་མཐར་ཏེ། །
ད་དེ་ག་ང་བ་མ་འ། །
མཐའ་མེད་རྣམས་ལ་ས་སྟེ་འཐོབ། །
tede and ste are the three continuative particles.
te is used after naralasa and da-drak,
de is used after da, while after gangabama‘a
And for syllables without a suffix ste is used.
གམ་ངམ་དམ་ནམ་བམ་མམ་འམ། །
རམ་ལམ་སམ་ཏམ་འབྱེད་སྡུད་དེ། །
སྦྱོར་ཚུལ་སླར་བསྡུའི་སྐབས་དང་མཚུངས། །
ramlamsam and tam divide and include.
The rules of application are as for the concluding particle.
ར་རུ་འི་ཡི་འང་ཡང་རྣམས། །
རྐང་པ་མི་སྐོང་སྐོང་བའི་ཁྱད། །
འོ་འུ་འམ་གྱི་གོང་དུ་ཚེག །
མེད་དང་ཡོད་པའང་དེ་བཞིན་ཡིན། །
The forms ra and ru‘i and yi or ‘ang and yang
May change to accommodate lines of verse.
The same principle determines whether or not
There is a dot (tsheg) before ‘o‘u and ‘am.
ནས་ལས་འབྱུང་ཁུངས་དགར་སྡུད་དེ། །
འབྱུང་ཁུངས་དངོས་ལ་གང་སྦྱར་འཐུས། །
རིགས་མཐུན་དགར་ནས་མི་མཐུན་ལས། །
སྡུད་ལ་ནས་སྒྲ་ཁོ་ན་འཇུག །
nas and las are used for the ablative, and for isolation and inclusion.
For the actual ablative, either form may be used.
For isolation from similar things nas is used, and from dissimilar las.
Whereas for inclusion nas alone may be used.
ཀྱེ་དང་ཀྭ་ཡེ་བོད་སྒྲ་སྟེ། །
ཕལ་ཆེར་མིང་གི་ཐོག་མར་སྦྱོར། །
kye and kwaye are vocative particles.
They usually come before the noun.
ནི་ནི་དགར་དང་བརྣན་པའི་སྒྲ །
ni is the particle of highlighting and emphasis.
དང་ནི་སྡུད་འབྱེད་རྒྱུ་མཚན་དང་། །
ཚེ་སྐབས་གདམས་ངག་ལྔ་ལ་འཇུག །
dang has five uses: to include, to divide and to indicate a reason,
A temporal relation or a command.
མིང་གི་ཐོག་མའི་དེ་སྒྲ་ནི། །
ཐ་སྙད་འདས་མ་ཐག་པ་དང་། །
རྣམ་གྲངས་གཞན་ཅན་གཉིས་ལ་འཇུག །
The pronoun particle de, which is used before a noun,
Refers either to a term just used,
Or another not stated [but implied].
ཅི་ཇི་སུ་གང་སྤྱི་སྒྲ་སྟེ། །
ཞིག་སྟེ་སླད་འདྲ་ཕྱིར་ལ་ཅི། །
སྙེད་སྲིད་ལྟར་བཞིན་ལ་ཇི། །
སུ་ནི་གང་ཟག་གང་ཀུན་ལའོ། །
cijisu and gang are indefinite particles.
ci is used before zhigsteslad‘dra and phyir.
ji is used before snyedsridltarbzhin and skad.
su applies to people only, but gang is universal.
ན་རོ་ཡོད་མེད་པ་བ་མ། །
བདག་པོའི་སྒྲ་སྟེ་ག་ད་ན། །
བ་མ་ས་དང་དྲག་མཐར་པ། །
ང་འ་ར་ལ་མཐའ་མེད་ལ། །
བདག་སྒྲ་ཡར་གྱུར་བ་དང་ནི། །
ཆ་ལ་པ་ཉིད་སྦྱོར་བ་ལེགས། །
མིང་མཐའི་པ་བའང་ཕལ་ཆེར་འདྲ། །
མ་ནི་ངེས་མེད་སྐབས་དང་སྦྱར། །
paba and ma, with or without an o vowel,
Are the nominalizing particles. After gadana,
bamasa and da-drak, the particle pa is used.
After nga'arala and where there is no suffix,
The nominalizing particle to use is ba,
But it is good to use pa where there is an even number of syllables.
It is the same in most cases for words ending in pa or ba.
The use of ma is irregular and determined by context.
མ་མི་མིན་མེད་དགག་སྒྲ་སྟེ། །
མ་མི་ཐོག་མ་མིན་མེད་མཇུག །
མ་ནི་བར་གྱི་གསལ་བྱེད་ལའང་། །
mamimin and med are the particles of negation.
ma and mi come before a word, min and med at the end.
ma can also be used as a clarifier in between [two words].[3]
ཚིག་ཕྲད་ཞིང་སོགས་ང་ན་མ། །
འ་དང་ར་ལ་མཐའ་མེད་མཐར། །
ཞིང་ཤེས་ཞེ་འོ་ཞེ་ན་ཞིག །
ག་ད་བ་དང་ད་དྲག་མཐར། །
ས་མཐར་དམིགས་བསལ་ཞེས་མ་གཏོགས། །
ཤིང་ཤིག་ཤེ་འོ་ཤེ་ན་འཐོབ། །
The particles zhing and so on are used after syllables ending in nganama,
‘arala and those without any suffix.
They are zhingzheszhe’ozhe na and zhig.
After syllables ending in gadaba and a da-drak,
cingcesce ‘oce na and cig are used.
After a final sazhes is the special exception,[4]
But shingshigshe ‘o and she na are all used.
འོན་ཀྱང་ཁ་ཅིག་ལྷན་ཅིག་སོགས། །
མིང་གི་ཆ་དང་མ་ནོར་གཅེས །།
However, it is important not to confuse these
With actual words like kha ciglhan cig and so on.
རྐྱང་པ་འཕུལ་ལ་འ་མཐའ་དགོས། །
གུག་ཀྱེད་བརྩེགས་འདོགས་ཅན་ལ་སྤང། །
A bare basic letter with a prefix will need the suffix ‘a,
But not if it has a vowel sign, or a head or subjoined letter.
ལྷུག་པའི་དོན་མང་མིང་མཚམས་དང་། །
དོན་འབྲིང་འབྱེད་དང་དོན་ཉུང་རྫོགས། །
ཚིགས་བཅད་ག་མཐར་ཆིག་བཤད་བྱ། །
རྫོགས་ཚིག་མཐའ་ཅན་ལྷུག་པ་དང་། །
ཚིགས་བཅད་རྐང་མཐར་ཉིས་ཤད་འཐོབ། །
དོན་ཚན་ཆེན་མོ་རྫོགས་པ་དང་། །
ལེའུའི་མཚམས་སུ་བཞི་ཤད་སོགས། །
ང་ཡིག་མ་གཏོགས་ཡིག་ཤད་དབར། །
ཚེད་མེད་དེ་སོགས་ཞིབ་ཏུ་འབད། །
To separate words in longer passages of prose,
To divide medium-length passages and conclude short ones,
And following a ga in a line of verse, use a single shad.
Use a double shad in prose following a terminative particle,
Or at the end of a line of verse.
A quadruple shad is required at the end of a long section of text,
Or at the conclusion of a chapter.
Take special care not to do such things as writing a tsheg
Between a final letter and a shad, unless the letter is a nga.
ཚིག་གི་ལོ་མས་མ་བསྒྲིབས་ཤིང་། །
དོན་གྱི་འབྲས་བུ་གཡུར་ཟ་བའི། །
ལེགས་བཤད་ལྗོན་པའི་དབང་པོ་འདི། །
དབྱངས་ཅན་གྲུབ་པའི་རྡོ་རྗེས་སྤེལ། །
This wish-fulfilling tree of fine explanation,
Unobscured by the leaves of verbiage,
And laden with meaning's plentiful fruit,
Was composed by Yangchen Drubpé Dorje.
Translated by Adam Pearcey 2005. Revised and updated 2012.

[1] A sub-category of the second case.
[2] A sub-category of the seventh case.
[3] In some tri-syllabic expressions ma is found in between two syllables, negating them both:
rta ma bong Neither horse nor donkey
ra ma lug Neither goat nor sheep
These expressions are used by way of analogy for a mixture that is neither quite one thing nor another.
[4] In other words, shes is not used so as to avoid confusion with the verb ‘to know’, and zhes is used instead.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Symposium on Translation of Madhyamaka Terms

Dear Colleagues,
Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages in Berkeley, CA is pleased to announce two related programs in the field of Madhyamaka studies, to be held from August 3-9, 2012. Consistent with MRC’s mission, the programs will focus on issues of language, philology, and translation.
The two programs will be led by Drs. Anne MacDonald and Luis Gómez. Invited participants include Drs. Bill Ames, Dan Arnold, Karen Lang, Akira Saito, and Kevin Vose. Also participating will be Dr. Michael Hahn, one of MRC’s two academic directors, and Dr. Siglinde Dietz, Visiting Scholar in Residence, as well as the MRC postdoctoral fellows.
MRC invites other academics and advanced graduate students with an interest in Madhyamaka to apply to participate in these two programs.
The first program, which will run from August 3-6, is a seminar on selected portions of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. The anticipated focus (subject to change) is the first 5-7 verses of MMK ch. 4 (refutation of cause and effect); MMK ch. 5, with consideration of its commentary in the Prasannapadā, and selected verses from chapters 15, 24, and 25, with reference to the Prasannapadā where helpful.
The second program is a symposium, to run from August 7 through August 9. The symposium is intended to focus on translation and terminology choices for key Madhyamaka terms in light of the discussion during the preceding seminar.
The second program is open only to individuals who have completed the first. Interested persons who wish to attend only the first program are welcome to apply.
The programs will be held at Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages in Berkeley. Details on how to apply, costs, housing options, etc. will be posted on the MRC website,
Jack Petranker Director, Mangalam Research Center