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.)

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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.

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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.

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