Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

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Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Monday, January 29, 2007


I have never been a Star Wars fan and this video is not going to change that. The idea itself is actually not that bad, but the script didn't strike me as particularly clever (why not translate Skywalker as Khecara?) plus the intro text is all garbled and in dire need of some hefty emendation.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Klong rdol bla ma on Dreams, Omens, Women, etc.

Klong rdol, arguably the most famous man to defecate in Sera Monastery, is a goldmine when it comes to useful oddities. The "Sa" volume of his Collected Works is entitled Rmi ltas sna tshogs brtags thabs (I suspect that the title was slightly different but I haven't checked the Śatapiṭaka edition), that is: "The method to examine all kinds of [premonitory] signs [such as] dreams [and] omens." After a superficial perusal it becomes clear that it is in fact a motley collection from all kinds of sources and these few pages are rather notes and not a composed, polished work.

The first part deals mainly with dreams. We are warned that dreams during sickness, sorrow or emotional/mental distress should not be granted premonitory value. Furthermore, dreams occuring in the first two parts of the night (srod and nam) should also be dismissed since in the first case it is 'karmic residues' (bag chags, vāsanā) that dominate the scene, the second being under the influence of all kinds of demons. Dreams at dawn (tho rangs) are under two headings: favourable and unfavourable. Note that there is a special register for dreams of persons undertaking some kind of yogic practice. (The other explanation which I came across was that in the three parts of the night different bodily humours dominate. This second system also thinks that only dreams just before waking can foresay anything.) Another list in this passage is about the magical manifestations of all kinds of nice beings such as the rgyal po, the thi'u rang (also the'u rang), the btsan, etc. For example, if you dream of an old chapel or a fox, be sure that the demon class known as the 'gong po are playing tricks on you. The last list is about dreams foresaying death with an appendix of bodily and mental signs: the stuff usually seen in certain niruttara-class tantras where the practitioner then has the option of either performing a mṛtyuvañcana/'chi bslu ('cheating death') ritual or getting ready for the transfer of consciousness (utkrānti/'pho ba).

The second part is admittedly taken from Garga's work (Tōh. 4321.) which oddly appears in the sūtra section of the Stog Palace Bka' 'gyur (no. 271 in Skorupski's catalogue). Ever enjoyed seing a rainbow? Think again, it might foresay nasty things. Part two deals with thunders, part three is a miscellaneous list.

The third part draws on a work called Mi dpyad rgya mtsho (either Tōh. 4336. or 4338.) and deals with various bodily proportions, the form, shape, colour of body parts and their consequences. This particular bit reminded me of an ad in a Romanian newspaper I saw a few years ago (paraphrasing: "The renowned fortuneteller Cireşica is now in your city healing with Indian and Tibetan magic, etc."), so it is a must-read for any young Tibetanist considering career choices. Don't laugh, it's a multi-million dollar business.

The fourth part deals with... women! Besides the usual misogyny and even more bodily signs, there's a very useful list about examining the footprints of women (lack of qualities being ascertained from which toe does not touch the ground while walking), another list on the six qualities of the vulva (that might come handy for a monk), and one of the standard fourfold kāmaśāstra divisions of the fairer sex (padminī/padma can, hastinī/glang chen ma, śaṅkhinī/dung can ma and mṛginī/ri dwags can). It all wraps up with another Suhṛllekhā quote, a bit out of context, perhaps the reflection of the old monk getting a bit confused by his subject matter at the end.

The e-text can be found here.

Sken dhar bhig

It is always with a certain sense of pride that one writes or talks about his countryman, all the more so if that fellow Transylvanian, Kőrösi Csoma Sándor (a.k.a. Alexander Csoma de Koros, Siculo-Hungarian of Transylvania; a.k.a. Sken dhar bhig from the country of Rum) happens to be the founder of Tibetan Studies. This new website, a joint project of Studiolum and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is certainly the most informative and aesthetically appealing out there (with a rare glimpse into the MTA/HAS Tibetan Collection). Happy browsing.