Saturday, July 26, 2008

Heart Sutra - 8

To continue who is gathering at the Vulture's Peak: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་་་་་

བྱང་ཆུབ། (byang chub) is one of the first words anyone studying Tibetan Buddhist texts should learn, it means enlightenment. Here is is really part of the bigger word བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམ་དཔའ། (byang chub sems dpa'), bodhisattva

To understand this word better, སེམས། (sems) means mind. དཔའ། (dpa') means to be brave, heroic, fearless

Thus, the Tibetan translation of bodhisattva, bodhi warrior, is someone who is brave and heroic in trying to get one's mind enlightened. 

There's an འི་་་ genitive particle after this so it means that this construct it not yet complete...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Heart Sutra - 7

Next the Heart Sutra describes who else is there.


དགེ་སློང། (dge slong) is monk, bhikshu in Sanskrit. དགེ་འདུན། (dge 'dun) is sangha in general, the group of ordained monks and nuns

There's also the qualifier ཆནེན་པོ། (chen po), great. Finally there's the binding particle དང། dang which indicates there are others there, too.

Now, how to translate this part? One approach is to state that there was a great gatherings of monks and nuns, or a great gathering of sangha. Another one is great gathering of the sangha of monks.  The issue, for me, is why there was a specific qualifier for monks and the sangha?I'm not 100% sure but I would be surprised if there was no nuns present, too, at this event. For me, stating that there was a great gathering of monks and the sangha might be somewhat confusing.

So in my case  would translate this as a great gathering of monks and nuns, as using the word sangha might be confusing for anyone who does not now the Sanskrit term. Also, sangha includes all ordained persons, monks and nuns. Anyway, that would be my justification.

Anyway, if someone else has opinions, please share.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heart Sutra - 6

To continue, next is ་་་བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི་་་་ Again we need to look at bigger structures. 

བྱ་རྒོད། (bya rgod) means vulture. ཕུང་པོ། (phung po) usually means heap, but here it is actually hill, especially as the genitive particle འི binds it with རི། (ri), mountain.

All together, བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི། is Vulture's Peak, a famous mountain area near Rajagriha. You could visit that place still today.

So far,བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ་ན་བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི་་་ also has a particle ལ། that could be translated at, so we have a better translation part now available, could even be a single sentence:

The Blessed One was staying at Vulture's Peak in Rajagriha.

Now, some translators like to even translate the place names to English. I'm kind of old school, for example it would sound strange for someone to translate the Finnish capital of Helsinki to English. So I did a compromise here, one part English, the other the original name, as Vulture's Peak is very much the known name in contemporary English texts about Buddhism.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Heart Sutra - 5

Next is རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ་ན་་་་ This is where one has to be careful with translations. རྒྱལ་པོ། (rgyal po) usually means great, royal, king.  ཁབ། (khab) means court, house, residence. But here it is really part a place name,་རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ། (rgyal po'i khab) which is  Rajagriha, or present day Rajgir in India.

The astute reader might now notice that the Sanskrit raja is རྒྱལ་པོ།, so then you know that the word maharaja is the great king (maha - great.)

The particle ན། (na) is a locative particle, so later we will see how it binds the next word structure from right to left with this specific location.

So far we have translated that the Blessed One is at Rajagriha.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Heart Sutra - 4

The actual body of the sutra starts such: བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་་་་་་

བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས། (bcom ldan 'das) is Bhavagan, a title given to Buddha, the Victorious One, the Blessed One, The Conqueror, the Victorious Conqueror and so on. There are many translation of this Sanskrit title. This title is common in Sutras and other texts, so it's good to remember. 

You could see all the possible translations in the provided link to the dharmadictionary entry. But it's good to know that the root is really bhavagan.

PS: If you want to hear the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, here's an excellent link

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tibetan Unicode Text at THDL

I saw that the THDL site now also has Tibetan texts available in Unicode Tibetan. For example Longchenpa's Dispelling All Darkness Throughout the Ten Directions. (phyogs bcu mun sel)

This is good news, five years from now we will have a big collection of original Tibetan texts available in Unicode Tibetan. Even better, the search engines will index the texts so we could do very complex searches and find relevant documentation.

Heart Sutra - 3

The opening lines in sutras have the same format, this is true with the Heart Sutra, too. I've already covered this in in Sutra Opening Lines Part 1  and Sutra Opening Lines Part 2 so it's worth checking these pages out. 

We will start with the actual body of the Heart Sutra next.

PS: Here's a link to 42 different English Translations of the Heart Sutra.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heart Sutra - 2

The short name for Heart Sutra in Tibetan is ཤེས་རབ་སྙིང་པོ། shes rab snying po, or prajnaparamita hridaya in Sanskrit.

ཤེས་རབ། is wisdom, prajna. སྙིང་པོ། is essence, quintessence. Now, as part of translating the title it has become heart in English, even if the Essence of Wisdom Sutra would work fine, too.

The reason for this name is that this sutra has the essence of Buddhist wisdom teachings. If you know this short sutra inside out, you got the essence.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heart Sutra - 1

Ok, this is the next topic. We will slowly go through the translation of the whole Heart Sutra. Let's see how long that takes, but it's a noble goal. If you know how the Heart Sutra is translated and you could read it in Tibetan, you will get a huge vocabulary of words and expressions so that reading anything else will be easy. In addition, you create a lot of merit by just reading single words here and there.

I've posted some entries over time concerning sutra material, so here's a listing of postings good to check out:

I'm about to fix those pages so they use Unicode Tibetan. As part of this project I will not dwell so much into something that these parts already cover. However, this will be very suitable for beginners as well, as we will not cover huge amounts of words and sentences, they each will be a nice piece meal.

Feel free to comment below for more suggestions as we will progress along this path.