Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bodhisattva Way Of Life - Chapters

So how do we know what the chapter names are? In this text the chapter titles are defined at the end of each chapter.

One way to quickly find where an important section ends, and the next one starts, is to look for the double shah endings. You could see them on the third line.

Secondly if you go backwards from this, it says le'u dang po'o. le'u means chapter, and dang po means first. So this has to do with the first chapter.

ste is a connecting particle, so it connects the first chapter with somehing to the left.

zhes bya ba means known as, or the title. Ok, we are getting somewhere!

byang chub sems is bodhichitta, kyi binds this with the next to the right, phan yon is benefits.

bshad pa is explanations.

So we got the chapter title translated: The first chapter's title is explaining the benefits of bodhichitta. You could do similar searches in the rest of the text and find the other chapters, as well as the titles for each chapter.

The first line is the title of the text -- that we have gone through -- and the last word on the first line is the particle las, from.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bodhisattva Way Of Life - Verses

After the homage the actual verses start. Notice that we don't have titles telling that this is the first chapter, or who the author was -- more about this in later postings.

The verses are typically based on a shloka that has four lines (padas). The other way to break down the verses is to find out that the last word usually is an ending verb such as bya (to do), and not a binding particle, or something that implies that the next line is connected with the current line. But just now it's easy to just take four lines, make sure the last word makes sense as an ending word, and this way break down the text in order to see how various translators have translated it.

We will not translate this verse, the best is to look at existing translations such as Alex Berzin's online version to see how the verses are translated. Okey, here's that translation of the first shloka!

(1) Respectfully, I prostrate to the Blissfully Gone (Buddhas) endowed with Dharmakaya,
As well as to their (bodhisattva) offspring and to everyone worthy of prostration.
Let me explain (how to) engage in the Blissfully Gone offsprings' code,
Which I’ve compiled and condensed in accord with Buddhas’ words.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bodhisattva Way Of Life - Homage

Next is the homage, this is a classification system ordered by the Tibetan king Ralpachen long time ago, a way to define the classification of the text that is translated or composed. This text belongs to the sutra basket (sutra-pitaka) so the homage is to Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The reason is that Buddha taught sutra as a question and answer session with bodhisattvas!

The other reason writers pay homage in the beginning is to ensure that they could complete the text without obstacles.

sangs rgyas is buddhas -- note again that there's no plural but later you will see why this is plural.
dang is the binding particle.
byang chub sems dpa' is bodhisattvas.
thams cad is all, so this is where the plural came fom.
la is the oblique particle, pointing at something from the right to the left.
phyag 'tshal is to pay homage, prostrate, relate to something, requesting the same realizations and qualities as the object one is prostrating towards, getting inspiration. As this is here a complete sentence, the verb is ended with a lo.

Parts of Khenpo Kunpal's excellent commentary of this text, translated by Andreas Kretschmar, is available here. Especially the introduction is fascinating, it goes through the history and lineages of various presentations of Bodhisattva Way of Life in India and Tibet.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bodhisattva Way Of Life - Tibetan Title

After the Sanskrit (original title) we have the Tibetan title. bod is Tibet, sometimes it's also central Tibet -- Tibet is a very big area, with borderlines where other kingdoms or countries take over, but the population still speaks Tibetan -- as an example there's Mustang and similar areas in northern Nepal.

We learned earlier what skad means, language. So bod skad du is: In Tibetan.

We also went through the title earlier.

This title is very long, even for Tibetans, so they have a nick-name for the text: spyod 'jug.

Bodhisattva Way Of Life - Sanskrit Title

Next in the opening lines is the title in Sanskrit. rgya gar is India, skad is language, and rgya gar skad du is in the language of India. Now, in the Mahayana tradition, all commentaries were written in Sanskrit, so it's better to translate this all: In Sanskrit.

Next is the Sanskrit title written with Tibetan letters. The reason this entry is so late was that I took me a long time to find the right tools to get the right conversions and stackings (UDP was the only tool that worked here, and it only runs with Windows, and using Windows is another challenge).

You could see the stacking such as the first word, bodhi, where the dh is stacked, this is not common in the Tibetan language. Same with the next part, satva.

Then there is tsa rya (I though it was cha rya, but I checked an original Tibetan text, and it's a tsa there.... OK). Finally we have abataara, but the ba is really a pronounced wa, so it's awataara. Note the snippet below the ta to make the ta letter a long wovel. In Tibetan there are few if any long vowels, while those are common in Sanskrit -- hence the use of the small stroke at the bottom of the letter to indicate this.

So we have the title, bodhisatvatsaryavataara. Expect interesting letter combinations with Sanskrit titles, names, and also mantras that are mostly in Sanskrit.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bodhisattva Way of Life - Title

Let's start looking at Shantideva's text Bodhisattva Way of Life -- In Tibetan -- so you learn how to navigate around this text. You could always download the Tibetan version from ACIP, and look at the online translation by Alex Berzin.

The first sentence is the title of the text, this is usually on the first page as a separate pecha page, framed, and has illustrations such as a buddha figure and the author on each side.

It is easy to recognize the title, it ends with the verb bshugs so. bzhugs so means herein contains. This is a complete sentence, so the verb bzhugs ends with a so.

It is good to continue reading this opening line backwards; 'jug pa means to enter. nyid here means the very. spyod pa means the engage, engagement, or the way.

byang chub sems dpa is bodhisattva, notice the ending 'i which is a genitive particle that binds the right side to the left side. So it is the way of the bodhisattva.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Engaged Bodhichitta Verse - Translation

Here's the translation of this famous 55:th verse from the tenth chapter of Shantideva's Bodhisattva way of life. I'm using the translation by Alex Berzin:

(55) For as long as space remains,
And for as long as wandering beings remain,
May I too remain for that long,
Dispelling the sufferings of wandering beings.

You could actually take this translation -- or any of the other ones -- and compare it with the actual Tibetan text, for example the version available from ACIP.

We will actually look through this text next, so you will learn how to navigate around it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Engaged Bodhichitta Verse - Part 4

'gro ba, as mentioned before, is sentient beings. Note this ends with a genitive particle, gro ba'i, so you need to connect the next to the right to the left.

sdug bsngal is suffering.

sel ba is to purify, to dispel. There's another particle in here, sel bar, the r at the end. This is a sub-ordination particle, it establishes a hierarchy or relationship between the right and the left side. A quick word to substitute this particle is as.

shog is a typical word that ends verses and sentences, may it be so, to use a term from Captain Picard. As mentioned in the first posting, there's no need to make a final shah (like the one in the beginning of the sentence), as the ga letter has a long stroke at the end.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Engaged Bodhichitta Verse - Part 3

This is the third verse.

de srid means until then.

bdag is me.

ni is an empthatic particle, it binds the right side to follow with the first part, de srid bdag. Again, this is verse, this particle is not needed, but you need those seven syllables...

gnas is again to abide, in short format (gnas pa).

gyur nas is having become, or from becoming, this is a little bit constructed, gyur is become, a very common word, good to learn. nas is a location particle, from, in the context of a known place or thing something comes from (otherwise the particle is las). Anyway, in this case it's a so called gerund with the combination of a verb and nas (becoming).