Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bang po dang po - First Section

Yes, in the prologue and sections of the Abhidharma-Samuccaya we will go through somewhat mundane parts, but it's good to learn those. If you see these patterns and learn them, then when you look at other Tibetan texts it will look familiar. And based on such pattern recognition you could suddenly very fluently read parts of translations.

bam po means section, a collection grouped together. dang po means first. So this is of course the first section. Just as a fun exercise, do a net search on "bam po dang po" . By the way, I found an old article I wrote for a now not so active Tibetan translator wiki system. I also found out if you do a net search, at least on Google, with "bam po" and Chandra Das you get a hit directly into the Chandra Das Tibetan Dictionary, PDF version, with the section hi-lighted, so that's very neat.

As I've mentioned before, most Buddhist texts are very much organized outlines with information. You need to just keep track of the sections along the way when you translate or read texts -- there's seldom any context of a table of contents, unless some other scholar has produced a specific commentary with such information.

Next, the homage section in the prologue.


Anonymous said...

I don't really think bam-po in any way means what the English word 'chapter' means.

A few Tibetan words, primarily le'u, can and do mean 'chapter.'

Bam-po means a fascicle, a book-binding concept, and (unlike 'chapter') has nothing to do with content, just the number of lines or verses.

There have been some technical writings on this subject, primarily an article by Helmut Eimer. The reference doesn't seem to be at hand. Oh, here it is: Remarks on the Bam po Numbers in the Extensive Tibetan Mahâparinirvânasûtra. IN: Facets of Indian Culture: Gustav Roth Felicitation Volume (Patna 1988) 465-472. Yawn.

Kent Sandvik said...

Thanks, I should have double-checked this term in Chandra Das.

Means I need to go into the dharmadictionary (RY dictionary online) and update the section as it's mentioning chapter as one possible translation.

The Chandra Das entry on bam po is also very good, I should look into this dictionary from time to time, been neglecting it for a while as there are other dictionaries. But it's good to cross-check terms from time to time.

Anonymous said...

There's a curious question here, why "fascicle", etymologically related to 'fascist' but otherwise having nothing at all to do with Italian politics –– it just means 'small bundle' & therefore a set number of pages sewn into signatures –– should have any relevance at all for Tibetan books, or even Indian books before them, when those pages were usually loose (bound books existed in India and Tibet, but were the exception rather than the rule). In India, strings (running through the central parts of the page, not the edges!) were often used to keep palm-leaf manuscripts together (palm leaves are narrow and do tend to slide around), but regardless of the number of leaves.

My guess is that it results from Chinese Buddhist influence. In China groups of pages were sewn into signatures, but not further 'bound' into books, just boxed together to form complete works, or distinct volumes of complete works.

Bam-po counts were certainly used in the Tibetan Imperial Period catalogs, the Ldan-dkar-ma, 'Phang-thang-ma (which only recently came to light) and the still unavailable Mchims-phu-ma probably also, who knows. But I think the bam-po count was important mainly for administrative reasons, allotments of paper and ink and that kind of thing, measuring scribal work accomplished.

In any case, it's all about quantity, not 'quality' or subject matter. Makes you wonder about the kind of 'conservationism' that would keep such things as bam-po enumerations in the text when they apparently stopped fulfilling any conceivable function.