Thursday, December 27, 2007

How many?

One of the special qualities of Abhidharma-Samuccaya is that it is constructed around a question and answer system. Each part in the compendium starts with a question or some questions and then they are answered. This is a very effective way to list data as the question itself frames the context of the answer.

This is the beginning of the section explaining shandhas, elements and spheres. We know from before that skandha is phung po, element is khams and sphere is skye mched.

The rnams means plural, thus phung po rnams is skandhas, khams rnams is elements and skye mched rnams is spheres.

ni is an emphasis particle, translate is here quickly as 'as for.' This emphasis particle is to isolate a word or a sentence. du is here 'how many.' Thus this is a question.

So, we have: how many skandhas are there, how many elements are there and how many spheres are there? Note the last sentence with she na, this is usually translated as 'if asked', 'if you ask', or something similar. Anyway, you could always leave this out and just translate this as: How many skandhas, elements and spheres are there?

So that's what we will do next, go through all the skandhas, elements and spheres!

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