Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Historian Father Historian Son


Today I just wanted to apologize for my silence and try to make up for it by telling you a little bit about what I’ve been doing to keep myself occupied during these difficult times.

It’s been a few months now since I’ve done anything besides work on revising a book written over two decades ago entitled Tibetan Histories. The idea didn’t pop into my head yesterday, I had planned on doing a revision of it ever since I signed the contract. The publisher at the time was kind enough to put an expiration date on his copyright of 2017, so the obvious time to begin would have been then. I already had a 15-page list of corrections and revisions when the book came out back in 1997, and have been circulating that expanding list ever since to anyone interested, thinking to eventually incorporate them into a second revised edition. 

Tibetan Histories, as you haven't been told yet, is a listing of Tibetan-language books belonging to historical genres. The entries are placed in the order of their dates of composition as far as this is possible.

It has been a laborious process, all this checking and double-checking of articles, books and internet sites. Of the internet sites none deserves more credit than TBRC > BDRC > BUDA. I do check every single entry with TBRC, and add in their numbers. Very often one finds new listings of publications or manuscripts, in many cases things one would likely be unaware of otherwise — and not least of all, things often available for free download. It would be so wrong in so many ways to understate the utility and general reliability of TBRC. Still, I do make use of a lot of other sources as well, I’m blessed with a very good library for Tibetan studies that keeps improving as time goes by until now when my shelves reach up to the ceiling. I’ve also developed Tibetological reference works of my own, like TibSchol and TibProp (TPNI), TibVocab and Tibskrit. These do come in useful in the making of Tibetan Histories, and I make constant reference to them, adding bits and pieces to these reference works every day.

But far be it from me to bother the sentient beings of our blogosphere with a report on the drudgery of my everyday existence under the deathly pall of CoViD-19 — oh my goodness no — I’d like to convey some of the pleasure of newly or recently found mistakes and the thrill of correction. These corrections may seem so small in the general scheme of things, yet they give glints of hope that some improvements are taking place in the course of Tibetological evolution after all, that our efforts are not entirely fruitless. Progress is usually incremental, not like lightning from the sky, don’t you agree?

I didn’t mention direct person-to-person communications when I listed my sources, because I was saving it for special emphasis. Tibetan Histories already was a product of close collaboration, particularly with E. Gene Smith and Michael Aris to give two of the main contributors. But now whenever I have see a problem, dig myself into a corner, get confused or whatever, I get in contact with an expert in that area who could help me out.

I can’t claim credit for recognizing the problem with authorship of two histories of south-central Tibet. Erberto Lo Bue was the one who pointed out both on published page and in an 8-year-old email that Târanâtha and Bodongpa could not have written these two works, one about Gyantsé royalty and the other about the broader region of Myang. Ron Davidson even uncovered and underlined the passage in the Myang history that gives away the name of its author.* More specifically, it was Lo Bue’s rejection of Bodongpa as the author of the Gyantsé royal history that placed me on the way to finding out who did write it. And another remarkable thing: As it turns out, the author of the Gyantsé royal history was father of the author of the Myang history. As surprising as this might seem, when we think about it it really isn’t any shock at all. Apples never, or hardly ever, fall very far or all that far from the tree.

(*Or perhaps author only of the first part of the text on Ralung Monastery? It's hard to be sure without intensive study and research.)

Now the author of the Myang history is named Pema Karpo (Padma-dkar-po’i-sde to be precise) in a passage buried closer to the beginning of the text. It says “I, Pema Karpoi De.” This is very clear. The author of the work (or this part of the work) is telling us who he is. Anyone who sees or hears this name is 100% guaranteed to think immediately of the fourth incarnate of the Drugchen by that name. Mistakenly, however. There were not just one, but three Pema Karpos active within the same time frame and within the same circles. One was the eldest brother of Jigmé Dragpa author of the Gyantsé royal history. Jigmé Dragpa’s elder brother died tragically at a tender age, and I think the likelihood high that it was in his memory that Jigmé Dragpa went on to give the same name to one of his two sons. This son also died tragically in an internal uprising (could we call it a coup?) within the ranks of the Rinpungpa ruling house in around 1565. I’m not sure how best to explain the fact that the 4th Drugchen Rinpoche has the name Pema Karpo as well, but he, too, could have gotten his name in homage to the earlier-born prince.

So it appears that two members of the ruling Rinpungpas wrote the two most important histories of Myang in southern Tibet. Like father like son, I suppose. But Jigmé Dragpa is far better remembered until today in Tibetan literary circles not as a historian, but as an outstanding theoretician/practitioner of the strain of fine literature that Dandin's Mirror of Poetics inspired so many Tibetan poets to write. Jigmé Dragpa wrote one of the most highly regarded commentaries on Dandin’s classic. 

So we are finished for today if you just casually dropped by because you were in the neighborhood. That goes especially if your eyelids have gotten heavy. You know where I've been, and no telling when things will be back to normal. It's been nice seeing a friendly face. Hope to see you again soon.

But if you are one of those dyed-in-the-wool Tibetologists, I ask you to keep going further on into the heart of things. Because I’d like to show you the colophonic evidence that helps to test whether or not the Rinpungpa named Jigmé Dragpa was indeed the author of the Gyantsé royal history. After that I will paste in the two entries for Tibetan Histories on the father’s and son’s histories. There you will find all the bibliographical minutiae you are likely to need to come to decisions of your own. And when you do I'd beg you to get ahold of me by ‘comment’ or via email if you know it, and help me make more perfect and correct entries. If I use your information I’ll directly credit you by using your full name or (if you request it) your initials in the forthcoming book.

Works Known to be by Jigmé Dragpa of the Rinpungpa Royal House (based on Tibskrit)

 —       Byang chub sems dpa'i rtogs pa brjod pa dpag bsam 'khri shing gi brjod bya'i don gyi snying po gsal ba byed pa'i bstan bcos dpag bsam 'bras bu. This exists in a cursive ms., but I don't immediately find any author statement in the colophon.

  —       Byang chub sems dpa'i rtogs pa brjod pa dpag bsam 'khri shing gi dka' gnad rgya skyegs kyi mchan bus gsal bar btab pa'i sbyar byang.

—        I believe this is none other than the following highly annotated text with the title Rtogs brjod dpag bsam 'khri shing gi don bsdu tshangs sras mgrin brgya bsdebs pa'i ngag gi me long.  The cursive ms. has this colophon: lha sger rigs kyi thig le'i snyan ngag mkhan chen po ngag dbang 'jig rten dbang phyug grags pa'i rdo rje dpal bzang po'am ming gzhan dbyangs can dga' ba'i blo gros snying stobs mchog gi sdes / ang lo nyi shu rtsa lnga'i dus me pho 'brug gi lo gro bzhin can gyi gral tshes brgyad la lugs gnyis kyi 'dun sa chen po rin chen spungs pa'i pho brang du sbyar ba'o

        Chos dang srid kyi 'dren pa bla na bskur ba la zhu 'phrin lung dang rig pa smra ba khams kyi rgyal phran mang rigs dang bcas pa rnams la springs yig tu bya ba dbyangs can rig pa'i rgya mtsho. This appears to be a collection of minor works and epistles. I will look into it more.

 —       'Jam dbyangs mi'i srid pa 'dzin pa sa skya paṇḍi ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po'i rtogs pa brjod pa bskal pa bzang po'i legs lam.  In 12 chapters.

        Colophon based on cursive ms.: sa la spyod pa'i mtho ris kyi rgyal po ngag dbang 'jig rten dbang phyug grags pa phyogs thams cad las rnam pa rgyal bas myos ldan nam / sa mo yos bu'i lo mgo dzogs ldan gyi mgor rdzogs ldan gyi sgo 'phar rnam bzhi bye ba rin chen spungs pa'i pho brang du legs par bkod pa'o. [dedication verse in tiny letters appended:] 'di bris dge bas 'di nas dus kun tu / 'jam dbyangs bla ma rje btsun sa skya pa'i / bstan pa mchog la mi phyed dad thob nas / gsung gi bdud rtsis smin grol mthar phyin shog.

         'Jig rten dang 'jig rten las 'das pa'i lha rnams la mchod pas bsnyes pa dang shis pa brjod pa'i rim pa dge legs kyi rgya mtsho. This is a collection of protector rites, with a mention of the author's name at the end simply as Ngag-dbang-'jig-rten-dbang-phyug.

 —       Mngon brjod kyi bstan bcos mkhas pa'i rna rgyan, Grangs kyi mngon brjod.  Composed in 1521 or 1581.

—         From modern publication based on the Zhol printery’s reprint: lha sger rigs kyi snyan dngags mkhan chen po ngag dbang 'jig rten dbang phyug grags pa'i rdo rje'i [~rjes] khyu mchog gi lor legs byas kyi sgo 'phar brgya phye ba rin chen spungs pa'i pho brang du bgyis pa'o.

 —       Rig 'dzin pho nya (long title: Chos kyi rgyal po ngag dbang rnam par rgyal ba la phul ba'i zhu 'phrin rig 'dzin pho nya).

—    A letter mostly in verse addressed to his father. It is supposed to emulate the famous Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta). It does indeed seem to belong to the “messenger poem” genre of kāvya, as argued in Epperson's dissertation. As Rabsal shows, it is not only quite densely poetic, but full of unusual vocabulary and technical terms of tantra, of the Kâlacakra tantra in particular. Its contents have been summarized in Edwin Bernbaum, The Way to Shambhala: A Search for the Mythical Kingdom beyond the Himalayas, Anchor Books (Garden City 1980), pp. 220‑228, but see also pp. 182, 261, 299. Thupten Kunga Chashab, Guide to Shambhala in an Unique Manuscript by the Sixteenth Century Tibetan Ruler of Rin spungs (Extract from His Letter to His Father Ngag bang rnam rgyal), Rocznik Orientalistyczny, vol. 68, no. 2 (2015), pp. 47-65.  Thupten Kunga Chashab, The Life of Ngag Dbang 'Jig Grags, the Last Ruler of Rin Spungs Based on the Text Rig Pa 'Dzin Pa'i Pho Nya, or "A Messenger of a Yogi," Rocznik Orientalistyczny, vol. 70, no. 2 (2017), pp. 97-127. Quote from Epperson's dissertation, p. 183: "Edwin Bernbaum, in his 1985 dissertation writes in various sections about the Shambala myth-based aspects of this poem, comparing these elements with those present in various other Tibetan Buddhist works, including the Vimalaprabhā and the Kālacakratantrarāja. See Edwin Marshall Bernbaum, The Mythic Journey and its Symbolism: A Study of the Development of Buddhist Guidebooks to Sambhala in Relation to their Antecedents in Hindu Mythology, University of California (Berkeley, 1985), 34-35, 109-154, 165, 177."

—        Colophon (based on cursive ms.): lha sger dkar po'i rigs kyi thig le ngag dbang 'jig rten dbang phyug grags pa rdo rje dpal bzang pos dmar ser can me mo sbrul gyi lo 'dod pa'i zla bar grags pa nag pa can gyi rgyal ba gnyis pa'i tshes la / dpal 'byor lugs brgya'i chu bo kun nas 'du ba'i rgya mtshor rin chen spungs pa'i lhun po phyogs las rnam par rgyal ba'i pho brang chen por sbyor ba'o.

 —       Snyan ngag me long gi rgya cher 'grel pa mi 'jigs pa seng ge'i rgyud kyi nga ro'i dbyangs, Tsondu Senghe (Bir 1983). This is a detailed commentary on all three chapters of the Indian poet Daṇḍin's KāvyādarśaThe colophon contains a historical sketch of translations and studies of Daṇḍin. Composed in 1526 or 1586, at Rin spungs Palace (Rin chen dpungs pa'i pho brang).

—        Colophon (Bir 1983: 525.1):  slob dpon dbyug pa can gyis mdzad pa'i snyan ngag gi bstan bcos chen po 'di nyid 'phags pa'i yul kun tu grags shing rnam bshad mkhan po mang ba las / bod du slob dpon ratna shrī [Ratnaśrī] dang / ngag gi dbang phyug [Vāgīśvara] gi 'grel par gyur zhing / gzhung thog mar bsgyur ba po bal po'i sanggha shrī [Saṅghaśrī] dang / 'jam pa'i dbyangs pa lo tsā ba kun dga' rgyal mtshan gyis bsgyur / de la bod 'grel du snga ba mkhas pa 'jug pa'i sgo mdzad pa shar / phyis su paṇḍi ta lakṣiṃ ka ra [Lakṣmīṃkara] dang / zhu chen gyi lo tsā ba 'jig rten gyi mig cig pu shong ston rdo rje rgyal mtshan gyis legs par bsgyur cing gtan la phab pa'i rgyal 'grel spang lo [~dpang lo] chen po blo gros brtan pas phye ba dang / de'i rjes thogs su 'jam dbyangs kha che dang / snar thang lo tsā ba sangha shrīs [Saṅghaśrī] bkral ba sogs rgya 'grel bod 'grel rnams dang / de bas gzhan pa bsdus don dang dper brjod gsar byung gi rigs mtha' yas par snang ba las / blo gros blun po'i khur gyi lci ba'i ngag 'khyal gyi smra ba kun la legs nyes kyi rtogs pa brjod ma dgos / mkhas pas sbyar ba rnams la legs par brtags shing dpyad [526] pa'i tshe / de la yang 'ga' zhig 'phrugs pa'i lam du 'phyan pa dang / la lar 'gyur 'phrugs pa'i dbang dang / kha cig brjod 'dod tsam la / sgrub bya sgrub byed kyi ma 'brel ba la sogs pa mang dag mthong ba la mngon pa nga rgyal spangs nas gzhung gi dgongs pa la ri mor bgyi ba dang / gzhan la phan pa 'jebs par lhag pa'i bsam pa bod pas / dri ma ni rnam par sbyangs / mdud pa ni bkrol / ji lta ba'i gnas lugs mngon du bsrangs te thun mong dang thun mong ma yin pa'i rgyan rnam par bcad le'u gsum pa'i bdag nyid shu lo ka lnga brgya dang ldan pa snyan ngag me long gi rgya cher 'grel pa mi 'jigs pa seng ge'i rgyud kyi nga ro'i dbyangs shes bya ba 'di ni / mi rje lha'i rgyal po ngag dbang 'jig rten dbang phyug grags pa / phyogs thams cad las rnam par rgyal ba / mi zad pa'am / me pho khyi'i lo smin drug gi nya ba glu dbyangs kyi zla ba yar gyi ngor 'phyar ba la / rdzogs ldan gyi rnam thar / sgo bzhi phye ba rin chen dpungs pa'i pho brang du grub pa yang dag par bkod pa'o [Indian publisher's colophon follows on folio 527].


Now, for comparison, the authorship statements from the rather long colophon of the Gyantsé royal history:  

shâkya'i dge slong mang du thos pa 'jigs med grags pa phyogs thams cad las rnam par rgyal ba zhes mtshan yongs su grags pa de nyid kyi ched du brjod pa mdzad pa so bzhag la bkod...  ... ... zhes pa 'di nyid sa mo phag gi lo la pho brang gnyis pa nor bu khyung rtse dbu brtsams te / skye dgu rnams la nad dang 'khrug sogs nye bar 'tshe ba ma mchis pa / lcags mo glang gi lo hor zla brgyad pa rtsi shing lo thog thams cad smin zhing rgyas pa khrums kyi nya ba'i dus tshes bco lnga bzang po la bkod tshar bar bgyis pa'i yi ge pa ni rdo rje tshe brtan dang bsod nams bkra shis kyis bgyis so

It is true that this colophon is not so typical of the colophons to his other known works. For one thing, two scribes are named, and for another his name isn’t prefaced by an expression of his rulership, but instead by “Shâkya'i Dge-slong,” indicating him as a fully ordained monk, with the “mang du thos pa” meaning he was of broad learning. The place of composition is not the Rin-spungs Palace, but rather the "second palace" Nor-bu-khyung-rtse. It could be synonymous with the "Fortress of Panam" (Pa-snam Rdzong, also name of a modern district named after the fortress) or at least close by. The second palace seems to have been traded back and forth more than once by the competing ruling houses, and played a role in the internal revolt we've mentioned. It controlled the main route between the major towns of Gyantsé and Shigatsé. You get an impression of just how imposing a fortress it was in a photo taken by one of Tucci's photographers in Tibet in 1947 or 1948, Pietro Francesco Mele — Tibet, Snow Lion (Ithaca 1969), p. 71. It seems to me that Jigmé Dragpa could have survived the revolt of 1565, and if so, becoming a monk would have been a natural transition ... to renounce the world as a monk would entail renouncing any right to rule, considerably reducing the threat that he might otherwise pose to the new rulers. There may be some indication here that we should date the Gyantsé royal history later in the 16th century instead of early in it. But the Iron Ox year of its completion almost has to be 1541, so this part of the puzzle doesn’t seem to fit well. No reason to compound speculations with further speculations when we are nowhere near having all the information we need to achieve certitude.

The two entries for Tibetan Histories in question:




’Jigs-med-grags-pa aka ’Jigs-med-grags-pa-phyogs-las-rnam-rgyal etc., Rab-brtan-kun-bzang-’phags-kyi Rnam-thar (=Rgyal-rtse Chos-rgyal-gyi Rnam-par Thar-pa Dad-pa’i Lo-thog Dngos-grub-kyi Char-’bebs). A. Bod-ljongs Mi-dmangs Dpe-skrun-khang (Lhasa 1987), in 379 pages. B. Rgyal-rtse Chos-rgyal-gyi Rnam-par Thar-pa Dad-pa’i Lo-thog Dngos-grub-kyi Char-’bebs. A cursive manuscript in the library of the IsMEO (Rome). For details, see de Rossi Filibeck, Catalogue, vol. 2, p. 338 (no. 694). According to Erberto Lo Bue (email of September 13, 2012), this manuscript is not the one used by Tucci in making his partial translation mentioned below. Bio.: Authorship has hitherto been mistakenly ascribed to Bo-dong Paṇ-chen Phyogs-las-rnam-rgyal (1375-1451), on the assumption that ’Jigs-med-grags-pa is among his names, and that Phyogs-las-rnam-rgyal (or variant of same) must indicate him. But Bo-dong Paṇ-chen’s dates are too early, as this history records events into the 1470s. The author as given in the colophon is, to give the full expression, “Shâkya’i Dge-slong Mang-du-thos-pa ’Jigs-med-grags-pa-phyogs-las-rnam-par-rgyal-ba.” I now think we must identity the author ’Jigs-med-grags-pa as the member of the Rin-spungs-pa ruling house by the name of Ngag-dbang-’jigs-med-grags-pa aka Ngag-dbang-’jigs-grags aka Ngag-dbang-’jig-rten-dbang-phyug-grags-pa’i-rdo-rje, as it makes sense that he would have been located at the place mentioned as the place of initial composition, ‘the second palace’ Nor-bu-khyung-rtse, and his known names do in fact include both the elements ’Jigs-med-grags-pa and Phyogs-las-rnam-rgyal (or variant of the same). A comparison of our work’s colophon with colophons of the poet’s known works might help our case, although this work will not be done here in this context. There is a brief paragraph about him in Shakabpa, vol. 1, p. 279, where it says he, being the youngest son of the Rin-spungs-pa ruler Ngag-dbang-rnam-rgyal, was “accomplished in all the sciences,” that he composed poetic treatises, and “was much respected by virtue of his discriminative knowledge of both religion and politics.” For more on him, including discussion of his problematic dates, see Olaf Czaja, Medieval Rule in Tibet, vol. 1, p. 489-490. Dates: The dates of the Rin-spungs-pa author are a problem, and have been discussed before, especially by Dge-’dun-rab-gsal and Czaja (full references below). I believe that his date of birth in 1482, as found in the chronology to Chang Yisun dictionary, is the most likely one, and it in fact suits Tucci’s dates of 1482-1565 (Tibetan Painted Scrolls, Table V following p. 706). This is rejected by Czaja (vol. 1, p. 489, note 201). As Czaja says, “One can document that he died in 1597,” and if he had been born in 1482 it would award him with an unlikely longevity. Dge-’dun-rab-gsal accepts his 1482 birthdate and goes on to give dates to three of his main works of and about fine literature (kâvya) between the years 1519 and 1526. This new identification of the author will in any case necessitate changing the previous dating of his work. The colophon’s stated years of composition are the Earth Pig through Iron Ox years, which Tucci took as 1479-1481, but must now be taken as meaning 1539-1541. See Czaja’s book, vol. 1, p. 278-279, note 133, for an account drawn from the biography of ’Brug-chen IV Padma-dkar-po (1527‑1596) of the internal revolt of 1565, in which one of our author’s two sons was killed, the other later on taken prisoner. The one killed was the son named Padma-dkar-po, author of our entry no. 000. Lit.: Partial translation in Giuseppe Tucci, Tibetan Painted Scrolls (Kyoto 1980), pp. 662-670. This work is utilized in the following works: Erberto Lo Bue, ‘The Princes of Gyantse and Their Role as Builders and Patrons of Arts,’ contained in: S. Ihara and Z. Yamaguchi, eds., Tibetan Studies, Naritasan Shinshoji (Narita 1992), vol. 2, pp. 559-573. Frequently cited in Franco Ricca and Erberto Lo Bue, The Great Stupa of Gyantse: A Complete Tibetan Pantheon of the Fifteenth Century, Serindia Publications (London 1993). Erberto Lo Bue and Franco Ricca, Gyantse Revisited, Casa Editrice Le Lettere (Florence 1990). Ref.: De Rossi Filibeck, Catalogue, vol. 2, p. 338 (no. 694), describes a cursive ms. in 462 fols. in the Tucci collection in Rome. See Erberto Lo Bue, ‘Tibetan Literature on Art,’ contained in: José I. Cabezón and Roger Jackson, eds., Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, Snow Lion (Ithaca 1996), pp. 470-484, at pp. 480 (note 8) and 482.


before 1565

Padma-dkar-po’i-sde, and not Tāranātha (see discussion below), Myang-yul Stod Smad Bar Gsum-gyi Ngo-mtshar Gtam Legs-bshad Mkhas-pa’i ’Jug-ngogs (= Myang Chos-’byung). A. Ed. by Lhag-pa-tshe-ring, Bod-ljongs Mi-dmangs Dpe-skrun-khang (Lhasa 1983). TBRC no. W2724. B. A photocopy of the Liverpool Museum ms., no. 50.31.108, marked “Bell coll. 7,” was seen in the library of E. Gene Smith. The original manuscript is described (no. 50.31.108) in the website of the Liverpool Museum where it is now kept (it has a scribal colophon by Tshe-brtan-rdo-rje giving date of scribing as Fire Dragon year of the 15th rab-byung, i.e. 1916). TBRC no. W1CZ689. C. One (or two?) versions in the Tucci collection (Rome), see below. D. Myang-yul Stod Smad Bar Gsum-gyi Ngo-mtshar Gtam-gyi Legs-bshad Mkhas-pa’i ’Jug-ngog, contained in: Tâ-ra-nâ-tha, Gsung-’bum, ’Dzam-thang woodblock print in 23 vols., in vol. 23, entire volume. TBRC no. W22276. This is a highly descriptive gazetteer, covering the natural features and cultural monuments of the Myang Valley including the town of Gyantsé (Rgyal-rtse) and important personages who were active there, usually attributed to Tāranātha, although this is very much in question. It is of particular interest for those interested in the artistic and architectural history of the area. It comes to an abrupt ending (likely a sign it was left uncompleted by the author), and so there is no colophon information. Note also that the Lhasa 1983 edition is based on a manuscript version, and this work might not have ever existed in the form of a woodblock print (prior to the new ’Dzam-thang edition just mentioned). Bio.: On the person I think is the actual author, Padma-dkar-po of the Rin-spungs-pa ruling house, see below, and see TBRC no. P4291. There were actualy two Rin-spungs-pas by the name of Padma-dkar-po. The first was the eldest brother of the Ngag-dbang-’jigs-med-grags-pa (the author of our entry no. 000), and the second the author of our history. The first one died young, which could have been the motive for using the name once again for his nephew. Neither of them ought to be confused with their contemporary ’Brug-chen IV Padma-dkar-po. Lit.: Erberto Lo Bue, ‘The Princes of Gyantse and Their Role as Builders and Patrons of Arts,’ contained in: S. Ihara and Z. Yamaguchi, eds., Tibetan Studies, Naritasan Shinshoji (Narita 1992), vol. 2, pp. 559-573. Frequently cited in Franco Ricca and Erberto Lo Bue, The Great Stupa of Gyantse: A Complete Tibetan Pantheon of the Fifteenth Century, Serindia Publications (London 1993). For information on manuscripts and contents of this work, see Giuseppe Tucci, Gyantse and Its Monasteries: Part 1, Aditya Prakashan (New Delhi 1989), pp. 41-44, where he surmises that it must date from a time later than the first half of the seventeenth century. See Erberto Lo Bue, ‘Tibetan Literature on Art,’ contained in: José I. Cabezón and Roger Jackson, eds., Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, Snow Lion (Ithaca 1996), pp. 470-484, at pp. 480-481 (note 9). On the same subject, see Ho-tsung-dbying, “Dpal-’khor Chos-sde Phyag-’debs-pa-po Su Yin dang | Btab-pa’i Lo-rabs-kyi Gnad Don Skor,” contained in: Bod-kyi Shes-rig Zhib-’jug Ched-rtsom Bdam-bsgrigs, Mi-rigs Dpe-skrun-khang (Beijing 1991), vol. 2, pp. 433-445. Ref.: Mdo-smad Chos-’byung: “Myang Stod Smad Bar Gsum-gyi Chos-’byung dang Myang-yul Stod Smad-kyi Gnas-bshad.” Eimer, Berichte, pp. 130-132. Kuijp, ‘Introduction,’ p. 30. Shakabpa, vol. 2, p. 615. THL, pp. 171-172. CLTWA II, no. 188. Bell, Religion, p. 214. Unfortunately, we know of no detailed analysis of the contents. See the comments in Luciano Petech, “Duṅ-reṅ,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica, vol. 44 (1990), pp. 103-111, at p. 104, note 5. According to oral information from E. Gene Smith, two different manuscript versions exist in the Tucci collection. Das would seem to be referring to this history — “Ugyen also heard at Gyantse that much was to be learnt concerning the ancient history of that place in a work called ‘Nyang choi jung Nyimai odser’” — in Sarat Chandra Das, Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet, Manjusri Publishing House (Delhi 1970), reprint of 1902 edition, p. 94. On p. 88 of the same work: “He told him, furthermore, that there existed two printed volumes about Choigyal rabtan, the famous king who had founded the Palkhor choide of Gyantse, but that these works and the history of Gyantse were now kept as sealed works (terchoi) by the Lhasa Government.” Roberto Vitali, ‘Sa skya and the mNga’ ris skor gsum Legacy: The Case of Rin chen bzang po’s Flying Mask,’ Lungta, no. 14 (2001), p. 24-25, discusses the dating of this history, noting that ’Brug-chen IV Padma-dkar-po (1527-1592) is mentioned in it. Ronald Davidson (‘Gsar-ma Apocrypha: The Creation of Orthodoxy, Gray texts, and the New Revelation,’ in H. Eimer & D. Germano, eds., The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism, E.J. Brill [Leiden 2002], pp. 203-224 at p. 223) says that the author, on p. 20, line 4, of the 1983 Lhasa edition, is identified as ‘myself, Dge-slong Padma-dkar-po.’ The context is a description of the holy objects kept at Rwa-lung Monastery, hence the identification of this Padma-dkar-po with the ’Brug-chen IV Padma-dkar-po (born in Kong-po, son of Jo-sras Klu’i-dbang-po) would seem perfectly logical. Note in this connection that one named Padma-dkar-po’i-sde is author of a guidebook to Rwa-lung Monastery (reference to a copy in the National Library of Bhutan in Tsering Gyalbo, et al., Civilization at the Foot of Mount Sham-po, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften [Vienna 2000], p. 270). However, I believe that the author of both works should be another Padma-dkar-po, a son of Rin-spungs-pa Ngag-dbang-rnam-rgyal. This Padma-dkar-po evidently was slain by the forces of Zhing-shag-pa Tshe-brtan-rdo-rje, who would then become ruler (Rdzong-dpon) of Bsam-grub-rtse, in about 1565 (see Gangs-can Mkhas-grub, pp. 1479, 1610; Shakabpa, pp. 356-7 or its English tr., vol 1, pp. 280-281), which could explain why the Myang Chos-’byung remained unfinished. It seems more likely to me that this work is by the Rin-spungs-pa named Padma-dkar-po, and may date somewhere near the time of his death in ca. 1565. BLP no. 1641.

• The drawing in the frontispiece is the most famous of the Gyantsé kings by the name of Rabten Kunsang Pag (1389‑1442). Still, based on appearance alone there seems no reason it could not be our father historian or his historian son. One sign it is a royal portrait is the wheel. Its symbolism relates to the myth of the Wheel Turning King, just as does the expression ‘victorious over the directions’ (phyogs-las-rnam-rgyal).


PS (Sept. 10, 2020): There is one piece of evidence that might give us pause and reconsider the possibility that Bodongpa could be author of the Gyantsé history. Bodongpa composed a praise to the Gyantse king Rabten Kunsang Pag. I located it in Tibskit.  The details follow:

Bo dong Paṇ chen Phyogs las rnam rgyal (1375‑1451)

 —       Phun tshogs bcwo brgyad (Rta'i Si stu [i.e. Tā'i Si tu] chen po rabs brtan kun bzang 'phags kyi phyag tu slangs pa'i mdzad pa ya mtshan can / khyad par du 'phags pa phun sum tshogs pa'i bkod pa bcwo brgyad kyi rnam par thar pa rin po che'i phreng ba skye dgu mdzes par byed pa'i 'gul rgyan, contained in: Literary Arts in Ladakh, vol. 1, pp. 91‑106.  This is a kāvya eulogizing the ruler Rab brtan kun bzang 'phags (1389‑1442), the Shar kha ba ruler of Rgyal rtse.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Giuseppe’s Jeep

A screen shot from the Swat Museum’s virtual tour website

Now that the Crown Virus lockdown seems doomed to be forever, we need to find more productive ways of wasting our time indoors. Not wasting it might mean doing what a lot of the world’s museums want us to do, which is to visit them virtually, online. It may be because their employees have nothing else to do but primp up their online incarnations. If you don’t believe me just go here, and get lost in a universe of awesome art. But if you are like me you know that big metropolitan museums are not always the best, and even when they are they can be simply overwhelming, not to mention exhausting. So today I’d like to invite you to take a tour in a smaller place without much-too-much space, and with collections especially interesting to us.

By now every Tibeto-logic reader has heard the news that the Swat Valley in modern-day Pakistan is the homeland of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, known to Tibetans as O-rgyan or U-rgyan. If your memory is dim, as mine tends to be, try to recall that old blog, “Swat’s Good Feng Shui.”  Many know that a 13th-century Tibetan actually visited the place, and for this was rewarded with the name O-rgyan-pa.  But  besides yourself of course, few are aware that a study of O-rgyan-pa’s life was done by Giuseppe Tucci back in the ’40s already, and even fewer that Tucci involved himself in the archaeological excavations in the Swat Valley itself, excavations that continued over many decades. But I can hardly imagine how miniscule the number who could conceivably be aware that Tucci’s Jeep has been made into a museum display in the newly furnished Swat Museum. Well, that’s why I’m putting out this brief blog-ette, to let everyone in on this amazing fact. That would probably be the first ever Tibetologist’s motor vehicle valued highly enough to be placed on display. Not that it has a price tag on it, it was a gift from Italy.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Tucci (1894-1985) was a man who packed a pistol wherever he went, it’s true. But that was common in those days in all parts of Central Asia, not just in Tibet. And he received financing for his expeditions from Fascist labor organizations, something we might tend to forget when we witness the poetic paeans to transcendence wresting control over his prose writings that tend at times to soar just a little too high. I’m not here to praise or condemn Tucci, not today. His super-deluxe publication called Tibetan Painted Scrolls, grandiose as it is, is still something we cannot live without, since so much of what we can find there (if we can master the alphabetic system used in the index!) has never been covered in the 80 years since. Academic Tibetan Studies has supposedly made such great strides in the mean time, but has it really?

One thing Tibetanists will be thankful for in aeons ahead is his employment of photographers, some of them what we would call multi-taskers. One was Eugenio Ghersi (1904-1997) who also served as physician on some of Tucci’s expeditions.* One of them, Francesca Bonardi, had the additional role of wife. Perhaps the most famous among them was Fosco Maraini (1912-2004), who accepted the job in 1937. He went on to write quite a lot of books and articles, some of them famously critical of Tucci, not an easy person to work with or for, no doubt about that. He published his own first book already in 1939, entitled Il Dren-Giong. Appunti di un viaggio nell’Imalaia.** Another photographer was Felice Boffa, who also made maps. For more on Tucci expedition photographs, see Nalesini’s essay listed below, or the articles by Deborah Klimburg-Salter. 

(*Subject of an obituary by D. Klimburg-Salter & D. Bellatalla, see East and West, n.s. vol. 47 [1997], pp. 435-437. **Dren-Giong is an Italian way of spelling the Tibetan name of Sikkim, ’Bras-ljongs.)


In closing I’ll just say this, in a spirit of constructive criticism. If the Italian people would like to make a nice gift to the Tibetan people, one worth much more than any jeep, I’d suggest open access digitization for the entire Tucci archive of not only photographs of Tibet, but also woodblock prints and manuscripts of works composed in Tibetan language. It’s high time this kind of cultural restitution became the new normal. I hesitate to use this sometimes overused word, but it surely smacks of fascism to maintain exclusive control over these cultural assets, withholding them from the endangered culture in question, for such a long, long time. Something needs to be done about this as soon as possible.*

(*And since I promised to be constructive it's clear what models ought to be followed. For supplying digital scans of Tibetan texts, nobody does it better than TBRC/BDRC recently upgraded to BUDA, to ensure they will be available to the interested public. For photographs of Tibetan and Himalayan subjects, follow the pattern of The Tibet Album and their collection of British photographs from the early 20th century.)

Tucci Having Tea

Tucci enjoying high Tibetan tea

Books and Articles in Print (or Printable, or Readable On-Screen)

I’ve mostly listed here scholastic publications put out in his honor, or in order to criticize him, obituaries, and some literature concerned with his photographers. Some of these things I mention just because they can be damnedly difficult to locate in a library, let alone online. For much more bibliography than I will provide here, see East and West, n.s. vol. 34, nos. 1-3 (Sept. 1984), pp. 23-42, or most recently Oscar Nalesini, Giuseppe Tucci’s Chronological Bibliography, Scienze e Lettere (Rome 2018).

Atti del convegno internazionale di studi in onore di Giuseppe Tucci (Macerata 1998).

Gustavo Benavides, “Giuseppe Tucci, or Buddhology in the Age of Fascism,” contained in: Donald S. Lopez Jr., ed., Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, University of Chicago Press (Chicago 1995), pp. 161-196.

A.A. Di Castro and David Templeman, Asian Horizons: Giuseppe Tucci’s Buddhist, Indian, Himalayan and Cental Asian Studies, Serie Orientale Roma CVI, Monash University Publishing (Melbourne 2015). Quite a diverse set of essays by various authors as we expect from conference-based publications.

Gururâjamañjarikâ: Studi in onore di Giuseppe Tuccivol. 1 (Naples 1974).

Felice Boffa, “La spedizione italiana al Tibet (1939),” Bollettino del Club Alpina Italiano, vol. 45 (1946), pp. 126-152. Felice Boffa-Ballaran (1897-1994) was Tucci’s map maker and photographer.

Alice Crisanti, “Il memoriale di Giuseppe Tucci,” Quaderni di Storia, vol. 41, no. 81 (Jan. 2015), pp. 267-276.  Starting in July 1944, Tucci was about to be purged from the academy because of his commitments to the fascist regime. Here can be found transcribed a document Tucci wrote in his own defense, dated Nov. 20, 1944.

Mircea Eliade, “Giuseppe Tucci (1895-1984),” History of Religions, vol. 24, no. 2 (Nov. 1984), p. 157 ff.

Enrica Garzilli, Mussolini's Explorer: The Adventures of Giuseppe Tucci and Italian Policy in the Orient from Mussolini to Andreotti — With the Correspondence of Giulio Andreotti. This book is on my list of things to read, but I don't have any access to it yet.
Raniero Gnoli, Ricordo di Giuseppe Tucci, Con contributi di Luciano Petech, Fabio Scialpi, Giovanna Galluppi Vallauri, ISMEO (Rome 1985), 79 pp.

R. Hadl, “Zu Giuseppe Tuccis Bericht über seine Expedition nach West-Tibet, MCMXXXIII (1933),” Artibus Asiae, vol. 5 (1935), pp. 278-287.  PDF.  On Tucci’s expedition in western Tibet in 1933.

Deborah E. Klimburg-Salter, Oscar Nalesini, and Talamo Giulia, Inventory of the Tucci Photographic Archives, 1926-1936 (Western Himalayas, Nepal, Tibet), Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (Rome 1994).

Simeon Koole, “Photography as Event: Power, the Kodak Camera & Territoriality in Early Twentieth-Century Tibet,” Comparative Studies in Society & History, vol. 59, no. 2 (2017), pp. 310-345.

Rob Mayer, “Uḍḍiyāna, the North West, and Treasure: Another Piece in the Jigsaw?” posted at Kîla Kîlaya blog (July 15, 2020).  Look for it here.  Uḍḍiyāna is U-rgyan is Swat Valley, it seems fairly sure to us.

Oscar Nalesini, “Pictures from the Roof of the World: Reorganization of the Giuseppe Tucci Photographic Archives,” East and West,  vol. 44, no. 1 (March 1994), pp. 185-210.

Bhikkhu Nanajivako, “The Technicalisation of Buddhism: Fascism and Buddhism in Italy, Giuseppe Tucci - Julius Evola,” Buddhist Studies Review, vol. 6, no. 1 (1989), pp. 27-38; vol. 6, no. 2 (1989), pp. 102-115; vol. 7, no. 1-2 (1990), pp. 3-17.

Luciano Petech, “Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984),” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol. 7, no. 2 (1984), pp. 137-142.

Ramon Prats, “Giuseppe Tucci e il Tibet,” contained in: F. D’Arelli, ed., Le Marche e l’Oriente: Una tradizione ininterrotta da Matteo Ricci a Giuseppe Tucci, Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (Rome 1998), pp. 306-316.

Giuseppe Tucci, Cronaca della missione scientifica Tucci nel Tibet occidentale (1933), Reale Academia d’Italia (Roma 1934).  Coauthored with Eugenio Ghersi. English tr. published as Secrets of Tibet, Being the Chronicle of the Tucci Scientific Expedition to Western Tibet (1933), Blackie (London 1935), in 210 pp.  

Giuseppe Tucci, Travels of Tibetan Pilgrims in the Swat Valley, The Greater India Society  (Calcutta 1940). Unless you’re a total vegan I recommend the leather-bound versions available in India even now. It is really Tucci’s most enduringly fascinating accomplishment if you were to ask me.

I almost forgot what I set out to do, but I do much recommend visiting the Swat Museum’s website.  Just go here:

then aim a click at the middle of the screen and see where it takes you.  See you later, don’t get lost, have a nice trip!

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Tibetan Histories, a New Website

I was struggling with it until just a few minutes ago, but now I believe it is all there. I opened one of those new websites that Google supplies for free. As today is the eve of Saga Dawa I wanted to release it on this most auspicious day celebrating the Buddha. The website is the same kind I used for Tibetan Vocabulary, so there weren’t many surprises. Only this time I believe I succeeded in getting it all in one piece, without dividing it up.

What did surprise me on the day I first initiated the website was a visit from a very colorful bird with a distinctive song that descends like it’s running down a long staircase of sound, a Bee Eater. I had scarcely seen this rara avis before, and never outside my window. At first I thought I was seeing a Kingfisher, so I had to hit the reference books. Since then I’ve been hearing its song from time to time, unable to see where the sound is coming from. This could answer a question some people are bound to ask about the header photo you will see if you go to visit the new website.

While everything is already there, there are some more cosmetic types of formatting fixes that still need doing. So you might come back and have a look later on. I plan to work on it from now on online, rather than offline, so it’s likely to evolve by starts and jumps over the years that remain to me. I especially hope to integrate the add-in sections (marked off by bullets as you will see) into the main entries. That will take some time and effort.

Meanwhile I trust I can trust you to pass along the link to anyone you might think is interested in this kind of thing. I have a hope that non-specialists will read the newly added introductory survey of Tibetan historical literature, aimed at anyone who is curious enough to want an overview of what’s out there. I should have written this for the published book that came out over two decades ago. The late Anthony Aris wrote a clause in the contract so that the ownership of the copyright returned to my own hands in 2017, so no problems there. I don’t imagine the introduction by his brother Michael Aris was part of the bargain, so I haven’t included it.

Well, here it is. If you have comments and suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them in the comments section. If you don’t want your comment to be posted, just say so and I won’t post it. Or, if you know my email address you can write to me that way. So, anyway, here you go, just tap on it a time or two for quick results.

Tibetan Histories

  • I've sometimes dreamed about making available a Tibetan-letter version of it — that would make it simpler for many Tibetans to use — and had a few nibbles from interested persons. I'm physically no longer able to do all the keyboard work it would entail, so if you have any ideas let me know. An unrelated dream: I've thought to make this into a website with links directly to online resources, in particular texts of the works that are cataloged in it.

PS: I've stopped trying to edit online, but I do commit myself to 
making it into a real book (or e-book) during the year 2020.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Not a Padampa

As we’re prone to do when trapped in our rooms with nowhere to go, I was wearing out my eyesight for a good cause browsing through some recently posted photos of Tibetan art works at Himalayan Art Resources website. If you are reading Tibeto-logic you no doubt already know that HAR is the best place in the whole universe to see Tibetan art. No museum can compete with it, not even the Newark Museum. I was thrilled to see what did at first seem to me to be a brassy image of our hero Padampa. Have a look at it yourself by tapping on those purple colored words (or are they orange, you decide). I mean, it has one hand raised above the head, the other holding what could very well be a bag, and we know that Padampa’s “Interdependence Bag” does at times occur as part of his iconography, even in his left hand as we see here. And Padampa was well known for practicing yogic gazes out into space, something perhaps indicated by the way the right hand is raised above the head. But when I looked at the back side of the lotus throne, I soon changed my mind. There we can read a inscription very clearly: 
grub thob gling la na mo, or Praise to the Siddha Ling 
That means Lingrepa Pema Dorjé. On him have a look at the biographical sketch at Treasury of Lives. He may be regarded as the founder of the Drukpa Kagyü order, even if there has been some equivocation on that point. And that means the school affiliation of the image supplied on the website requires emending, too. Lingrepa is normally depicted in his untamable Siddha aspect, and the presence of a bag may just be telling us he was a wandering yogi, one who packed a bit of food for along the way, as yogis had been doing in India and Tibet all along, not just Padampa. I should look into this question, but right off the top of my head I just don’t know of any affinities Lingrepa may have had for Padampa or the Zhijé School. I do know that Lingrepa was often compared to the Indian Mahâsiddha Saraha, the one who made arrows.

§   §   §

Read more

A fine new essay about Lingrepa has appeared. You may be able to locate a free copy of it on the internet, if not right at this moment in the near future. Here are the details: Marco Walther, “The Development of the Biographies of Gling ras pa Padma rdo rje (1128-1188),” Bulletin of Tibetology, vol. 51 nos. 1-2 (2015), pp. 99-113. It has a bibliography that includes earlier writings you may want to look into.

I guess I had a point to make about iconography here, and never actually made it. Padampa appears in many forms besides the better known ones (try looking here). There are quite a few un-inscribed portrait images that I would regard — because of a cluster of traits associated with him — to be what I call possible Padampas. This image could at first glance qualify as one of them, no doubt, but when we turn it over and find the label we realize our mistake.*
(*We might want to make an argument that labels carved in stone or etched in metal are always correct, but nowadays with the stakes high there is really no limit to the things business people might do to increase the value of their pieces. That said, I hasten to add that there is not any reason to think that is happening in this instance. After all, those particular iconographic features could just as well apply to Lingrepa as far as we can know, and anyway no particular advantage could be expected by altering the identity of the person portrayed. If anything, a depiction of Padampa would have more, and not less, value than one of Lingrepa.)

PS (March 24, 2020)

Since posting this I thought to take a closer look at other Padampa images that are featured on this HAR webpage. I was surprised to see a special category of Padampas in the [right hand] “salute gesture.” This does of course include the very image that contains the inscription identifying it as Lingrepa, and to me this casts in doubt the inclusion of this entire group among the Padampas. Why not call them all Lingrepas on the strength of the inscriptional evidence? Still, there are one or two examples in this group that have enough Padampa characteristics I would still want to call them possible Padampas, this one in particular, although the right hand really isn’t raised high enough to be in the salute gesture. This same one has been published a few times, as for example in D. Weldon & J.C. Singer, The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet, Laurence King (London 1999), plate 31 on pp. 154-55, where it is labelled as “Yogin.” This yogin, along with the nude image that once belonged to  R. H. Ellsworth, I regard as possible or possibly even probable Padampas, as I’ve argued before in the case of the Ellsworth.

PPS (March 26, 2020)

Just to add perplexity to complication, try this experiment. Go to the HAR website’s page about a thangka with Pemakarpo as its central figure. Scroll down the page until you find a detail with the added label “Ling Repa.” Tap it for a closer view (or go here). If it didn’t hit you like a hammer right away, let me tell you, this is a perfectly normal Zhijé form of Padampa, with the mirroring hand gestures unique to Padampa, the loose blanket around the lower part of the body, the earrings, everything. In my mind this is not just a possible Padampa, it’s a definite one. If you would like to have a closer look at the painting as a whole, you can see what I believe are biographical scenes from the life of Pemakarpo, the Fourth Drukchen showing his meditations and visionary experiences. One of these scenes shows what I imagine is the Drukchen himself in a posture of veneration beneath what would have to be a vision of Padampa's presence. Unless there is a label saying Lingrepa somewhere there, and I couldn’t find one, I think that is what we are seeing. Oh, and one more thing, unlike Lingrepa, we know that Pemakarpo had Zhijé teachings, and he composed a respectably lengthy text on the subject (details here).

HAR 65368, detail

PPPS (April 11, 2020)

Here’s another bit of fun with iconography I’d like to share and discuss if you have time for it. Have a look at this all-too-short video that informs us that the thangka, while bearing characteristic marks of an old (perhaps pre-Mongol period) painting, nevertheless has to be dated two centuries later because the curator identified a figure in its upper register as being Pema Lingpa (1450-1521 CE). It’s true that Pema Lingpa is often depicted this way, with an Orgyan hat like that of Guru Rinpoche and the longlife vase held in the palms of hands in meditation gesture, just as you see here. But notice right away in the first seconds of the video the arrow pointing to something the unnamed scholars supposedly missed, an inscription that indeed reads when we standardize the Tibskrit spellings Puṇyamaṅgalaṃ. Okay, but this is a Sanskritized 'name mantra' of a Tibetan (as we can see in the portrait itself) who would have been named Bsod-nams-bkra-shis.  The name Bsod-nams-bkra-shis does not as far as anyone seems to know belong to any set of names given to Pema Lingpa.  We know it *does* belong to a number of other people. So answer this puzzle: Given the fact that it fits the iconography and looks like Pema Lingpa, the label tells us it must be someone else. Is someone overlooking something?*
*(Just now I noticed that HAR has posted a version of this same painting with added English identifications. Have a look.)

Finally, if you went to HAR and liked what you saw there, you might consider a donation by looking at its Go Fund Me page. It's just a suggestion, I mean it's no business of mine what you do with your hard earned money or your ill-gotten gains. Whichever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Short Survey of the Stages of the Bodhisattva Path

I found this going though old papers I hadn’t had access to for a few decades. I was initially a little puzzled what it was. I did recognize it as a draft translation. I worked on a lot of those back in the days. But nowadays with such easy ways of searching things out on the internet, it wasn’t long before I was able to tell you it is the beginning of a translation of a work by Śākyaśrībhadra.*

I submit it to your critical eye with the hope that humanity will take advantage of their involuntary isolation to reconsider the wrong paths that have been taken in recent years and contemplate ways to achieve a better future for every last sentient suffering being.

(*Apart from the title itself, the most important clue was the name Byams-dpal. That’s a slightly shortened version of the name of Khro-phu Lo-tsā-ba Byams-pa-dpal (1173‑1225 or 1236?). He was the one responsible for inviting Śākyaśrī to Tibet in the first place.)

§   §   §

For a biography of Śākyaśrī by Alex Gardner, see this page in Treasury of Lives. When he died in 1225 or 1226 or 1227 his age was either 64 or 99, it isn’t sure which. I hope you can enlighten us.

For a comparative edition of the Tibetan text, see this TBRC link.  This was not the version used for the translation you see here, something that at this point I have no easy way of knowing. Śākyaśrī arrived in Tibet in the company of nine or so “lesser pundits,” among them the famous Vibhūticandra, and he departed via western Tibet to Kashmir in 1218. Here are perhaps the main works written in languages other than Tibetan about his life, in case you are interested to learn more.

•     H. Hadano, Kāśmīra‑mahāpaṇḍita "Śākyaśrībhadra," Tibetto Kinsei Bukkyôshi Josetsu, Hadano Hakuyū Tibetto Indogaku Shūsei (Kyoto 1986), pp. 239‑258.  Originally published in Bunka, vol. 20, no. 5 (1957).
•   David Jackson, Two Biographies of Śākyaśrībhadra: The Eulogy by Khro‑phu Lo‑tsā‑ba and its "Commentary" by Bsod‑nams‑dpal‑bzang‑po, Franz Steiner Verlag (Stuttgart 1990). Not meant for easy popular consumption, this is one of the great works of late 20th-century Tibetology. Seriously, don’t let the thinness fool you.
•     Leonard van der Kuijp, On the Lives of Śākyaśrībhadra (?‑?1225), Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 114, no. 4 (1994), pp. 599‑616. At p. 603, LvdK promised a study on the dates of Śākyaśrī, something we anticipate with ever decreasing patience.

For a published example of the work itself, 
see Śākyaśrībhadra, Bodhisattvamārgakramasaṅgraha (Byang chub sems dpa'i lam gyi rim pa mdor bsdus pa).  Tôh. no. 3962.  Dergé Tanjur, vol. GI, folios 198v.1‑199v.5.  Translated by the author and Byams-pa'i-dpal.  Or just cut-&-paste the entire Tibetan title into the search box at TBRC.

For a resumé of its content, you might look at the entry in Malalasekera's Encyclopedia of Buddhism,  vol. 3, p. 240, or see Dölpa, Gampopa and Sakya Paṇḍita, Stages of the Buddha's Teachings: Three Key Texts, translated by Ulrike Roesler, Ken Holmes and David P. Jackson, Library of Tibetan Classics series no. 10, Wisdom (Somerville 2015), pp. 635-636. If I knew of a complete translation, I would have told you about it.

§  §  §

Postscript (April 7, 2020): I hardly believe it myself, but I actually did find a translation at BOOTL, an internet resource that will be of special interest to translators and people who read translations. I recommend to have a look at it here.

Follow me on