Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Letter Switching Codes of the Fifth Dalai Lama

Edward Brumgnach, The Lost Symbol: Magic Squares, Masonic Cipher

Years ago, a friend passed along to me color xeroxes of a 2-folio text in Tibetan, part of a very large set he had cataloged in an article of his. I’ll give you the reference to it later on.

It was laying on top of a pile for months, ever since I had taken it out of the file cupboard and wasn't sure what file to return it to. It starts with a little bit of geography, listing names of the nine islands of India. I’m sure that’s why he gave it to me, because he knew I had an interest in these kinds of geographic schemes. But that subject barely takes up two and a half lines, while all the rest has the Tibetan alphabet laid out in curious patterns. I hadn’t given it much attention, the place names were more compelling. But where to file it, under “Geography” or “Alphabet”?

It was only after watching the video that you see above, with its fascinating explanation not only of magic squares, but also an old Masonic letter substitution code. If you don’t see the video up above, just try searching the internet for “pigpen cipher.”  It is a lot more fascinating than you may imagine, and it requires no more than minimal math. Just a few days after watching the video, I happened to be straightening out my room when I picked up the pages thinking I would try again to put the text in a logical place. No sooner did I have my hands on it and have a glance at the title — Rgya gar gling phran gyi ming dang krugs yig le tshan yod [keyletter on title page: HA] — than I knew exactly what it was.* The term krugs yig in the title means disturbed letters, or more to the point, letters whose order has been mixed around.
(*The text forms a tiny section of a very lengthy collection revolving around the 17th-century sealed visionary teachings of the Great Fifth. It's listed as no. 29 on p. 56 in Uspensky’s article.)

The Tibetan systems don’t work the same way as the Masonic code, and I haven’t ever before tried to tackle the systems used in the text, not before this moment. They are like charts that come with no instructions on how they are supposed to work. Let’s just look at the last one, the four disturbed (bzhi krugs) where we see that the 30 consonants of the Tibetan alphabet are written out in the usual order, divided up into sets of 4, as is often done anyway, with a pair of consonants left over at the end. The second line reverses the order within each set, so we get something like this:

ཀ་ཁ་ག་ང་། ཅ་ཆ་ཇ་ཉ། ཏ་ཐ་ད་ན། པ་ཕ་བ་མ། ཙ་ཚ་ཛ་ཝ། ཞ་ཟ་འ་ཡ། ར་ལ་ཤ་ས། ཧ་ཨ།།
ང་ག་ཁ་ཀ། ཉ་ཇ་ཆ་ཅ། ན་ད་ཐ་ཏ། མ་བ་ཕ་བ། ཝ་ཛ་ཚ་ཙ། ཡ་འ་ཟ་ཞ། ས་ཤ་ལ་ར། ་ཨ་ཧ།།

For my readers who may not be literate (in the literal sense of the word literate) in the Tibetan language, I put the same in Wylie transcription:

ka kha ga nga / ca cha ja nya / ta tha da na / pa pha ba ma / tsa tsha dza wa / ra la sha sa / ha a //
nga ga kha ka / nya ja cha ca / na da tha ta / ma ba pha pa / wa dza tsha tsa / sa sha ra la / a ha //

My suspicion is that wherever a letter ka is used in a word one would replace it with nga, and so forth and so on. This can lead to some odd letter combinations in practice. It seems to me I’ve noticed some of these in certain sections of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s record of teachings received. I'll have to go back and look for that. Meanwhile, using TBRC’s internal search facility, I found that there is a modern article on the subject of [d]krugs yig. I haven't had a chance to study that either, but I’ll supply the complete reference down below in case you might be interested to check it out.

A couple of bibliographical references and a geographical note:

Vladimir Uspensky, “The Illustrated Manuscript of the Fifth Dalai Lama's Secret Visionary Autobiography Preserved in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies,” Manuscripta Orientalia, vol. 2, no. 1 (March 1996), pp. 54-65.

Bstan-pa'i-sgron-me, Bod-yig-gi 'Bri-srol Bye-brag Dkrugs-yig Skor Rags-tsam Bkod-pa, contained in:  Bod-kyi Rtsom-rig Sgyu-rtsal, vol. 98 in the general series or vol. no. 6 for the year 1996, pp. 61-68.

Here is a list of the nine Isles of India, according to the text in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s magical grimoire: In the east, the Isle of Shambhala. In the south, Bheta [‘Coconut’] Isle. In the west, Orgyan. In the north, Kashmir Isle. In the southeast, the Isle of Khang-bu. In the southwest, Copper Isle. In the northwest, Air Isle. In the northeast, the Isle of Kamaru. In the center, the Diamond Seat. Each of these has five different languages. I hope you can make out the text, and if there is need for it practice your Tibetan letter reading, in the photo that follows down below. Maybe if you tap on it it will expand a bit, we’ll see.

§  §  §

I did check the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Record of Teachings Received, and found an example of what is, I suppose, a type of encodement, but not of the kind that features in text number HA of our St. Petersburg manuscript. See for example vol. 3, fol. 61, where the text is 'encoded' in such a way one suspects it was purposefully designed to impede reading and to thwart digital searching, as if he knew what we would worry about in the 21st century. Here is a sample of this type of encoding in Wylie transcription:  
zur chen ng  /  ag dbang  /   phun tshogs /   mkhas grub khra tshang  /   pa chen po /   des bdag za hor bande la'o /   /   drag po'i skor gyi brgyud pa ni /   chos sku snang  /   ba mtha' yas /   long  /  s sku padma dbang  /   chen /   sprul sku padma 'byung  /   gnas man sng  /  ar bzhin no /   /
No letters have been switched here, just the punctuation marks are in all the wrong places.

What? You haven't learned the alphabet? Go directly to this video and sing it at the top of your lungs along with the kids. You get not only the alphabet, but some basics of the Tibetan spelling system along with it. 
Jg zpv xbou up lopx ipx Tijgufe Bmqibcfu Dpeft xpsl, uijt qbhf ibt b iboez boe tjnqmf fyqmbobujpo, bt xfmm bt bo fodpefs cpy tp zpv dbo dsfbuf tfdsfu nfttbhft mjlf uif pof zpv ibwf cffo efdpejoh.  
l nqrz wr vrph ri brx wklv pljkw orrn olnh wkh zbolh wudqvolwhudwlrq vbvwhp. 

Read the PS if you must:

Well, I hardly had a chance to click the "publish" button in Blogger before I received the access I needed to that article by Bstan-pa’i-sgron-me.

Now I can tell you that it has similarly named systems of encodement, but is not identical to those of the Great Fifth.

The article says that as a general rule the consonants serving as root letter, prescript, postscript, or super-postscript are the ones that get changed.  The vowels and the subscripts (subscribed 'y', 'r' and 'l') are left as is, unchanged.

Then it describes the (A) five systems of switching forward (གོ་རིམ་ལྟྟར་) and (B) the five systems of switching backward (གོ་རིམ་ལྡྡོག་པ་).

The five systems of switching forward are:  (A1) 2-switching.  Here the letter is replaced by the next letter in the alphabet.  (A2) 3-switching. Here the letter is replaced by the 3rd letter that follows it in the alphabet.  (A3) 4-switching. Here the letter is replaced by the 4th letter that follows it in the alphabet. (A4) 13-switching. Here the 13th following letter is used to replace it.  (A5) 15-switching. Here the 15th letter us the one used to make the replacement.

And then, if you have time for it, we have B1 through B5, which are quite similar to A1 through A5, except that you go searching for the replacement letter backward through the alphabet instead of forward.

It gives examples for all ten types, but I'll limit myself right now to the forward 3-switching (A2):


See if you can figure out how that would correspond to this perfect line of Tibetan verse in praise of Sarasvati, the goddess/bodhisattva of learning, literature and music.


Unlike the Fifth Dalai Lama’s system, the order of letters in the subsets of consonants are not reversed. But you know, it is in the nature of encodement systems that they require added complications if you want the result to be less crackable. The professor in the video, if you managed to watch far into it, explains some still more amazing complications that might be introduced for that enhanced sense of assurance that greater information security might bring.


Read the PPS if you must:

Friday, August 16, 2019

History Blah Blah

My theory is a theory against theory—although I am well aware of the painful irony of the fact that a profoundly theoretical book is needed for the rejection of theory.
— Frank Ankersmit as cited by Hadfield, p. 218.[1]

It’s been said that human beings are storytellers. But more to the point, we are story dwellers. We live inside stories passed down from earlier generations, and it is of these that much of human culture consists. It is perhaps as true among people who are not especially literate, as it is among those literate people who give not one fig about the conscious pursuit of historical truths. They are all victims. We all are. We should wake up to what we keep doing to ourselves, even as with feigned innocence we complain about what is happening to us, as we descend into opioid addictions of our own doing. What pain? Pain you say?

Our historical curiosity has its own rules and its own justifications that have little to do with romanticism and progressivism. It doesn’t care so much for historical restoration — the past doesn’t have to ‘come back alive’ for us or prove its profitability. And it shouldn’t force the past to serve as a measuring stick against our own times, always coming out to our advantage. In other words, we do not need to keep serving up histories that bear the heavy footprint of modernism.

So who are we, and who do we think we represent, when we try to write history? It’s been said that different occupations take different trajectories over the course of a lifetime.[2] Basketball players reach their peaks early on, and soon must think about other ways to occupy their many declining years. No need to mention professional boxers. But one occupation is practically unique in the sense that, at least until one or more of those diseases that used to be called senility takes over, its practitioners peak out at an age somewhere in their 50’s. Just consider how many dates, names, facts and impressions might have to be jumbled in your head before you would be able to say with any sense of finality something about, I don’t know, um... Patronage of ballet in New York City during the Great Depression.

Suppose you were required to explain to an audience of reasonably informed people why it was that the North American ballet companies emerged precisely during a time of severe economic crisis. Most of us would not know where to start, but a historian who has done the background studies into the economic, social, cultural and educational conditions, a historian at least virtually familiar with the physical layout of the city and its major institutions, etc., would likely have something pointed to say. I can’t be sure, since I know and care very little about ballet or about the history of New York City, being not especially fond of the former and fairly indifferent about the latter, except when I find myself there.

Still I am getting on in years, and although I’m not satisfied that I’ve made any progress worth remarking, I have to admit to myself that this is probably as good as I’ll ever get at the kind of history I’ve been working on. And, this being an important point, I have not been working on the history of American ballet, so I wonder why you would come to me with this kind of question. Why did you ask me, anyway?

I said what I just said because I want to convince you, as if you needed this convincing, that if you have an arcane historical question, you shouldn’t pop it to the person who just happened to get ticketed to the seat across from you on the weekend train out of Boston. No, you should ask a historian, and not just any historian either. Take the trouble to find a historian who does history in the specific area, time period and subject. It doesn’t especially matter what theories of history that historian may be favoring; what does matter is how familiar she is with the sources.* 
(*I hesitate to suggest it, but I’m trying to be honest with you. You’ll probably want to take the answer you receive to yet another historian of the same specific area, time period and subject for a second opinion.)

Of course the guy on the train looks alright, is likable enough, and seems quite sure of himself. But there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t trust him. If lifelong historians make mistakes, which they do of course, then how much more so amateurs? Ordinary people tend to commit various fallacies that historians are more likely to see through. One is the "great founder" idea. According to this the founder of a religion, philosophical movement, artistic trend, factory, school or whatever has the creative powers of an omniscient deity, knowing ahead of time about the future courses the created thing will take. Most people fail to notice that the founder-ship role is most often retrospectively awarded by people with strong stakes in the very thing that was supposedly founded. Experienced historians nowadays are unlikely to trust the explanatory power of founding moments. Instead they will find the actual (and generally multiple) sources of human institutions in larger socio-cultural forces outside the control of their reputed ‘founders’ and look more carefully at the lives of their earlier and latter followers. Give credit where credit is due.

There are other common fallacies in the failure to recognize implications of the well-known fact that history is written by winners. This is one among many reasons that you have to be critical of your sources in ways that inexperienced historians often are not. You have to constantly ask yourself which voices are missing. Triumphalist historians, and there are many such burrowing within our nation states, hardly ever state clearly, “Warning! What you are about to read would have been contradicted by our opponents, the losers, if we hadn't tossed their words on the bonfire so they would never be heard from again.” Perhaps the federal governments could recommend adding such warning labels in the future, now that our coffee cups warn us in very large letters that coffee can, despite all contrary possibilities, be hot. Now what will we go on to do with that knowledge? Why this need to have our needs met?

A brief apology, since I haven’t blogged much this year, the reason being that I've been working too hard on an introduction to a history book I’ve been translating for most of this decade. What you see here is a result of one basic yet harsh principle of literary self-editing called “Kill your darlings!” That means... If it’s just spinning wheels, grandstanding, or spouting blah blah, and doesn't help your plot, be merciful to your readers and mercilessly put it down, even if you lavished a lot of love and care on it. Especially if you did. I offer one of the larger scraps that fell on the editing room floor, dished up with a little added seasoning. If you don’t enjoy it it won’t matter much, and if you feel a little cheated I’ll understand.

§   §   §

Here’s some of the things U.S. citizens know, or don’t know, about Washington. Let’s see, who among the founders of things is seen as fallible or having human foibles?

          •  •  •

  • The photos, the one up front entitled Artifice and the one closer to the end called Nature, were taken in Paris about a month ago.

[1] Andrew Hadfield, “History / Historiography,” Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, vol. 15 (2007), pp. 217-239, at p. 218.

[2] Arthur C. Brooks, “Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think,” The Atlantic (July 2019). I don't want you to think I recommend reading anything as well written and depressing as this is — the writer even goes so far as to recommend Buddhist-style corpse meditations, with a hat tip to Tibetan bar-do ideas — but if you must, go ahead and look here. I cannot guarantee free access, only wish you good luck. Soon Tibeto-logic may be the only thing you get for free on the entire worldwide web. The Wheel of (Fabulous Personal) Fortune people are planning a total WWW takeover in the very near future, and we really must be doing our best to resist.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Stone Inscription from the 8th-Century Rule of Trisongdetsen Suddenly Shows Up

Samyé Temple and Monastery, founded in the era of Trisongdetsen. It has an inscribed stele of its own.

I apologize to my rare and for that reason all the more precious readers that I haven’t been exercising my writing disabilities here in this space much of late. My excuse is they are much needed elsewhere. Just yesterday I noticed something on the web that excited me so much I feel I simply must say something about it. It is what appears from its language characteristics to be a genuinely old stele inscription, what Tibetans call a ‘long stone’ (rdo-ring) that has never been studied before. I don’t propose to study it now or in the future, just to say a few words of introduction, and after that transcribe the Tibetan letters into Wylie in order to make internet searches more effective. I should emphasize that this will by no means be a scientific transcription, since I have never seen even one bad photograph of the stele, and rely entirely on the Tibetan-script version supplied on the internet (I did go over it to verify my readings), at a site called “Utsang Culture.” It was posted less than a month ago, on March 22, 2019, with the accompanying description, 
Khri srong lde btsan gyi skabs gtsang gi gro shod du btab pa'i pra dun rtse gtsug lag khang gi mdun du yod pa'i btsan po'i dus kyi rdo ring gi zhal bshus kyi ma phyi cha tshang.” 
If you will allow me a quick and rough translation: 
“A Complete Transcription of the Stele from Imperial Times that Stands in Front of the Traduntse Temple that was founded in Groshod of Tsang Province in the time of Emperor Trisongdetsen.”*  
(*If you want to know exactly where to find Traduntse (Pra-dum-rtse) on the map, look here. Or if you happen to be at this moment trekking in the ancient kingdom of Mustang, now forming a part of northern Nepal, head directly north, crossing the Brahmaputra, and you should be there in a matter of weeks, give or take a few. The name, probably Zhang-zhung in its origins, has been subjected to a Tibetanizing re-interpretation with the spelling Skra-bdun-rtse, meaning Seven Hair Tips. Contrary to what it says in my translation, Pra-dun-tse was founded by the wise emperor Songtsen somewhere near the end of the first half of the 7th century.)

As far as I am aware, there are no long stone inscriptions surviving from Tibetan history prior to the reign of Trisongdetsen, who ruled the plateau through most of the last half of the 8th century. Hugh Richardson’s well-known collection of inscriptions only has three stone stele inscriptions dating from his times, so now we have the pleasure and privilege to raise that number to four. (I haven’t counted the inscribed bell.)

Our inscription is dated to a Hare year, so it should be possible to decide its exact date once the entire document has been thoroughly studied by more competent authorities.

The gist of its content is a granting of boons and/or privileges* by the Emperor to a person of ministerial rank who evidently had been serving as a ‘governor’ (?) of some area or another in western Tibet and who had demonstrated outstanding valour in battle. The final line refers to him as the rgye-shin** of Phan-yul. The inscription gives his full personal name, a rather odd looking one if truth be told, but since it is repeated several times there can be little doubt:  Khri-dbang Gtsug-phud Rje-la Khwe.
(*Instead of me-rtags we have to read che-rtags.
**An internet search reveals that rgye-shin appears with exact same spelling in the name rGye-shin Blon-skyid found in an inscription that Francke has reproduced, evidently, in an article of his. For reference, see his Historische Dokumente von Khalatse in West-Tibet(Ladakh), published in 1907, p. 602, where he thinks it is a faulty spelling for "rgya [b]zhin." I think without good reason, even if I have no substitute explanation to offer. Perhaps the Rye-shin Khu-bul-bu that appears in Old Tibetan Annals entry for the year 677 CE is of some relevance, even if referring to a period a century earlier than our stone inscription.
To see the “original” Tibetan-script version of the inscription, look here:
If clicking on it doesn’t take you there right away, try cutting & pasting the entire line into your browser.

This surprisingly lengthy stone inscription mentions the absorption of neighbors into the territories of the expanding Tibetan state including Zhangzhung, Azha (Tuyuhun), and Dakpo already during the times of the ‘ancestor’ Khri-sta'u-snya-gzigs.* That means sometime in the middle of the 6th century.
(*Stag-bu-snya-gzigs is another spelling. It could be that this new inscription will cause modern historians to give more credence to the historicity of Songtsen the Wise's grandfather and father.)

We find here some important indications of early Tibetan religion, Tibetan paganism if you will permit the term, and Zhang-zhung language along with other things familiar in Bon religion. Notice it uses the Zhang-zhung language term dang-ra, meaning lake. I think the main action of conferring rank that happened in the winter of a Hare Year took place in the western Tibetan fort well known in Bon sources as [Gad-kyi] Byi-ba-mkhar [meaning Mouse Fort], although here called the palace (pho-brang) Gro-shod Pi-ba-mkhar.*
(*This and other western Tibetan forts as known to Bon sources are listed and discussed in footnote 18 of Namkhai Norbu's The Necklace of Gzi, Information Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama [Dharamsala 1981].)

It also has a very remarkable reference to vampire suppression (sri gnon) rituals that has to be one if not the earliest reference to this Tibetan exorcistic practice that surely predates the introduction of Buddhism if anything does. I fail to identify even a remote hint of Buddhism, per se. It mentions the royal ‘soul mountain,’ in the process using a strange word Amy Heller has noticed in an inscription on a piece of gold taken from a horse saddle, zhu-lub[s] (look here). Then we find a ‘soul lake’ using that Zhang-zhung word dang-ra, describing it as ‘having a halter of turquoise’ (g.yu mtshul can; this could conceal a more archaic way of speaking about the famous lake Dang-ra G.yu-mtsho [go here and search for Dangra Yutso, or click here for a map], since after all the Tibetan syllable mtsho for lake would have to be regarded as redundant to all who understand enough Zhang-zhung to know that dang-ra means lake). There is even a ‘soul field,’ something I don’t recall ever seeing before. We could go on and on, but let’s stop there for now, and let the Old Tibetan document experts take over, as they indubitably will. For now, I think it will be amusing to talk about what we see in it in the comments section you will notice below.

Nota bene: I’ve eliminated most of the line numbers along with the line breaks, so they will not get in the way of internet searches. I’ve marked up some of the main names in color to draw attention to them. I’ve bracketed a few of my suggested readings, where I imagine they could be helpful. I’ve added a few notes, I hope just enough to help you on your way to achieving your own understanding, but not enough to spoil your fun trying to meet the challenge.

gnam labs [~babs] kyi btsan po // sa lhund kyi mnga' mdzad // myi rje lha'i sprul pa / gnam gyi lha las 'greng myi'i rjer gshegs ste* / dud rngog chags kyi rkyen du bskyod pa'i bod kyi spu rgyal btsan po khri srong lde btsan gyi zha snga' nas pho brang gro shod pi ba mkhar [~bi ba mkhar?] na bzhugs pa'i dus su // bka' lung gsal ba'i mdo' byang gu ge'i sde rgye shin blon chen po khri dbang gtsug phud rje la khwe la yos bu'i lo rgun zla tha chung gi ngo la bkas gnang ba / 
(*Echoes words of ITJ 0751:  gnam gyi lha las myi'i rjer gshegs pa...  Other OT documents echo the words "rjer gshegs" and "mi'i rjer gshegs." This may be verified at the OTDO website. Compare also the words from the Mnga'-ris Rgyal-rabs as found in Roberto Vitali's The Kingdoms of Gu.ge Pu.hrang (Dharamsala 1996), p. 72, opening words of what is evidently a quoted document in connection with a war of 1083 CE fought in the lands north of Tibet, in Rgya Gye-sar: gnam lha babs kyi rgyal po / sa lhun grub kyi mnga' bdag / bod kyi lha btsan po rtse lde'i zhal mnga' nas... (for English translation, see the same volume, pp. 123-124.)

[11] rgye shin blon chen po khri dbang gtsug phud rje la khwe mchis na yang btsan po gdung rgyud rim par pha mes rgyud kyis sku'i nye zhing zho sha cher phul / 

mes khri sta'u snya gzigs kyi sku ring la rgye shen blon chen po 'dzam gling khri don bzher btsan nes dru gu yul du dmag pon bgyis te / myang dbas mnon dang gsum / tshe spongs 'phrin dang sgo bstun nas / rgyal phran bcu gnyis kyi' srid brlag / zhang zhung sde dang bcas pa 'a zha' 'khor dang bcas pa / dags po rgyab dang bcas pa mngar 'dus te / zhabs 'degs phul / 

mes khri gnam ri srong btsan rlung nam gyi sku ring la rgye shin blon chen po rus rgya 'dzam bus dmag pon bgyis te / sbal ti dang nol thabs mdzad pa'i sar dpa'i ya rab bgyis chab srid rgyas par bcugs pas bka' rtags kyi sgrom bu mtha' dbus su brtsan bar rmeng chags pa'i zhabs 'debs phul / 

mes srong btsan sgam po'i sku ring la rgya shin blon chen po mang rje btsan la myis rgya'i phyogs su dmag drangs te ga ram gyi rgya thang du rgya dang nom thabs [~nol thabs] mdzad pa'i dus su dpa'i ya rab bgyis /  dpa' mtshan stag gi zar chen* gsal / 'gar stong brtsan yul zung dang / da rgyal mang po rje stong nam gnyis dang sgo bstun nas bod kyi mkhar bzhi brtsegs pa dang / bod rur phye ba dang / sum pa sder bcad pa la sogs pa'i zhabs 'degs phul bas dpen yon la gser gyi yi ge chu du [~chu ngu] bkas gnang /
(*See the comments on this syllable zar in Hugh Richardson's A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, p. 19. Likely a borrowing from a late Persian language source, I think it is probably a luxury cloth woven in the design of the tiger's stripes, which would anyway be a badge of military heroism.)

[29] btsan po khri srong lde brtsan gyi sku ring la / rgye shin blon chen po khri dbang gtsug phud rje la khwes yul na gar du gnyi 'go dang nol thabs mdzad pa'i dus su / bya lo nas lo rgu'i bar du rgu khrom bgyis dpa' 'dzangs kyi phul bton te / mtha'i 'go mnan rje'i sku btsas chab srid kyi nol thabs sngar byung du sgo srog la ma 'dzems te chab srid grangs dang rim par phyag tu phul te / dpe yon la seng ge'i go lag gsal g.yu'i yi ge chu du [~chu ngu] bkas gnang / de ltar sug byad yun du bzang zhing gdung rgyud rim pa la myi rabs rgyud kyis zho sha cher bgyis pa'i rge yon dang sbyar nas bka' rtsigs gnang ba yin gyis mnga' mdzad gdung rgyud jo mo bdan zhur phyi ma rnams kyis nam nam zha zha / tshe tshe rabs rabs bu tsha mtha' rjes myi rabs rgyud mar myi bco myi bsgyur myi dbri myi bskur bkas myi bshu myi sha sman chal sma stong dang bcas pa yang gdung rgyud rim pas bkas gnang ba'i yig rtsang dang mthun bar bka' rtags 'gyur snyags dang bcas pa 'chang du gsald pa yin no //

nga'i rgye shig blon chen po khri dbang gtsug phud rje la khwe bu cha [~bu tsha] rgyud du khrag che bton chung bton ni shi ri shi thang du bkas gnang / sus bkum yang lha gnyan mchod pa dang sri gnon gyi rkyen la bran pho rus sna rgu bran mo rus sna rgu gser gyi mda' rgu hwa dar rgu / g.yu'i 'phang rgu la srin bal 'dab ma rgu btags pa / mon lug rgu / mon ra rgu / nas khal dgu / shin tog khal rgu / mar khug rgu dgu ram rgu bla snang rgu la sogs pa dang mchod pa bya'o //

bla ri spo ri rma bya mdongs gser gyi zhu lubs su g.yon / bla mtsho dang ra g.yu mthur can ni gzi mchod des gcal du bkram / bla thang g.ya' thang myir ma ris ni dar zab kyis g.yon / srad yas dar yug rgu / gser gyi sbram bu rgu / 'bri rgu / ro g.yogs la khrab mying can drgu / ro gal la sta rab rgu / snying non la gser srang brgya dang g.yu rab rgu / bar stong la rta rab rgu / g.yag rab rgu / za bog rab rgu / nas khal rgu / lug srang rgu / stong nag ni shi ri shi thang gi rkang grangs las bkas gnang /  srang rgu khri rgu stong rgu brgya rgu bcu rtsa rgu / zho rgu / nam rgu / lug rgu ting rgu bkas gnang / so sta sen gas na sgra lug ra yugs sa'i gos rin srang rgu / mchi phyis 'bri cig dang dar yug cig / spya rin la rta cig theb grib dar yug dmar pos byas te sar mar btus / mna' ma dang bu sring gi khrin srang bzhi brgya / mtshon che phyung chung phyung kheng rab kyi stong dang bsnum / myi zhing 'brog sogs gnang ba ni me nyag dang thag dar ljags dang nam pag ti 'di dang 'dre / skyu ru dang mo lcags tu rbar lasogs rus sna dgu grong brgya cu rtsa bdun / yul 'phan yul gyi rgya tshar srang / zhing rgod dor brgya bzhi bcu rtswa lnga pa / 'brog skyi thang ring mos yas bcad pa / spang ri 'brong tshang can gyis mas bcad pa / brag dmar chu mdo' lung lag gis bcad pa / na rlung 'om tshang gis bcad pa / bar gyi ro leb la shing lbag yu bkas gnang sngar chod pa'i myi zhing 'brog sogs bka' drin mdzad pa nyos zhing phru sa yan chod dbang bgyid par bkas gnang / spus lcogs pa rnams bla'i sgo gnyer chen po 'cham par bkas bsnan bka' zhang blon por bzhag cing gnya' snyom bar bkas gnang / sdos nyes che chung ci mchis kyang myi bkum myi spyug / gzhan snyan phra zhu ba byung na yang ma sbyangs par myi gsan zhing bkas chad ston myig myi mdzad par bkas gnang rtsigs zhing rtsigs 'brog 'tshal ba ma bka' skos myi mdzad par bkas gnang ba'i zhal phan gsal ba 'di sgrog rdo la than bar gyis shig /

[91] rgye shin blon chen po khri dbang gtsug phud rje la khwe nu tsha [~bu tsha] rgyud du spyan ras kyis myi btsa' re / 'khor yul blar bzhes re / gzhan du yang spyur re / snyan phra byung na yang gas re / shags khar rdzong re / 'dus 'gros ltar bkas myi bcad re / ma sbyangs par gtam slas gcod pa mdzad re / blon che khri dbang gtsug phud la bu tsha rgyud du 'di ltar bka' rtsigs 'chang du rung du brtsan bar bkas gnang ste  gzhi phyag rgya 'chang du gsald pa shang shang dum rtsen du btab pa cig las bshus pa lags s.ho //

[103] yul phan yul gyi rgye shin gyi me rtags [~che rtags] / yongs su rdzogs so //

Postscript (April 19, 2019):

Somebody kindly pointed out one of the things I neglected to mention, an article by Charles Ramble about Traduntse:  “The Demonesse's Right (or Left) Knee (or Ankle): A Pilgrim's Account of Traduntse Temple from 1898," contained in: Olaf Czaja & Guntram Hazod, eds., The Illuminating Mirror: Tibetan Studies in Honour of Per K. Sørensen on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Dr. Ludwig Reichert (Wiesbaden 2015), pp. 375-388.  I was wondering, why is this particular message worthy of a major stone monument? The privileges granted to this Khri-la Khwe were granted in perpetuity, to be passed on to his descendents until the ends of time. Well, that was the intent anyway. So tell me, how better to say this than to have it chiseled into stone?  Actually, another stele from those times also includes statements about how a minister's descendents would continue to hold his privileges and ranks and even immunity from punishment for any offenses short of treason.  See the north face of the Lhasa Zhol pillar as transcribed and translated in H. Richardson's Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions, pp. 16-23.

More postscripts to follow!

Postscript (June 7, 2019):

I received a link from K.N. (indirectly via J.M.) to yet another web publication of the edict dated March 21, 2019, and entitled Mnga'-ris-nas Rnyed-pa'i Btsan-po'i Dus-kyi Yig-rnying Zhal-bshus-ma (Copying of an old document from the time of the emperors that was found in Ngari, western Tibet.)  Try going here: http://www.tbwriters.com/?p=860.

That means it was published just one day before the webpage from "utsangculture.com" that I used as the basis for my blog.  Meanwhile, what the March 21 posting suggested about how the document is consonant with Pra-dum-tse located as it is on the border between Tibet and Zhangzhung, and also consonant with society in that particular epoch (of the imperial period). This suggestion was, in a different blog entry posted on the following day, turned into an established fact. Right now, I see reason to doubt two things I had provisionally accepted:  [1] that the document had any particular association with Traduntsé Monastery and [2] that the document is necessarily a transcription of letters carved in a Long Stone.

I'm waiting for more confirmation on this point, but it appears that an archaeological team working in a cave in the vicinity of Khyunglung Ngulkhar in the upper Sutlej River valley found the paper document, and it was presented at a conference for the first time back in 2015. Thanks to J.M. for delivering all of this new information.

For more, return to this spot again in coming weeks.

Postscript (June 10, 2019):

At this point, it appears that some statements in this blog cannot be substantiated (or were based on insubstantial authority) and ought to be erased, if that were possible. Most of my rethinking is due to discussions with J.M. and evidence supplied by him. A partial retraction is likely to appear soon as a separate blog entry. The original blog will remain as it is.

Postscript (June 20, 2019):

Well, by now I’m changing my mind about my doubts and for the time being have returned to backing the messages of the original blog entry.  It’s all because of yet another blog. Its link was again sent to me by J.M., on the basis of information supplied to him by K.T.N.  I'll put the full link here but ask you to copy-and-paste it into your own browser instead of just clicking on it:

Here you can see the complete cursive manuscript.  Evidently it is a copy of a Long Stone inscription that may not (or not any longer) be available. Whether this is the case, and whether or not it was a Long Stone located at Traduntsé Monastery is something we’ll have to take on a bit of faith until we hear all the explanations and arguments that will be made in the official report of the archaeological group that made the discovery. The document itself while old is obviously *not* a document from the 8th century, but does seem to be a careful copying of a writing from that time. I’ll let you know when I find out more.
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