Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sutra Homage

Let's look at the homage section of the first chapter of the 8000 Verses on the Perfection of Wisdom. We looked at the homage translations before.

The full homage sentence here is:


sangs rgyas dang byang chub sems dpa' dang 'phags pa nyan thos dang rang sangs rgyas thams cad la phyag 'tshal lo,

As we know from before,སངས་རྒྱས། sangs rgyas means Buddhas,་བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་འདཔ། byang chub sems dpa' is bodhisattvas, and ཐམས་ཅད་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། thams cad phyag 'tshal lo, prostrate to all...

What's left are the words ཉན་ཐོས། nyan thos and རང་སངས་རྒྱས།rang sangs rgyas.

ཉན་ཐོས།nyan thos is in Sanskrit Shravaka, usually translated as Listener. It's a special group of pracititioners that could listen to teachings, nyan means to listen, and then others listen -ཐོས། thos - when they teach. They could listen to Mahayana teachings, and even teach it to others, but they can't practice Mahayana teachings. Their end result is reaching personal nirvana.

རང་སངས་རྒྱས།rang sangs rgyas is in Sanskrit Pratyeka Buddha, usually translated in English as Solitary Buddhas. Now, looking at the Tibetan,རང་། rang means self and སངས་རྒྱས། sangs rgyas Buddhas, so sometimes the term Self-made Buddhas are also used. In one lifetime they practice in solidarity, without any teachers, and reach nirvana (not full enlightenment as Mahayana practitioners reaching full enlightenment). However, they had countless teachers in past lives preparing them for this moment. eka is by the way number one in Sanskrit.

To note is that the homage is towards all these practitioners and Buddhas, without any discriminations whatsoever. In the various Tantic merit trees, visualizations of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and root teachers,ཉན་ཐོས། nyan thos and རང་སངས་རྒྱས། rang sangs rgyas are also part of this merit tree!

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