Sunday, September 27, 2020

Historian Father Response, a Guest Blog


All the words below were written by a guest blogger Matthew Akester, translator and author of several books, including his Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's Guide to Central Tibet, recently published by Serindia.  -D

In response to the recent blogpost, Historian Father, Historian Son

With respect to the Nyang chos byung, I say there is no doubt that the section on Rva lung was written by ’Brug chen Padma dkar po. The complete title of his work, excerpted in Nyang chos byung, is gDan sa chen po Rva lung gi khyad par ’phags pa cung zad brjod pa Ngo mtshar gyi gter, and it is p.175-205 of the fourth volume of his collected works (Darjiling 1973).

Nyang chos byung is a compilation of accounts of the temples of the Nyang valley by different authors (and with some notable omissions). Whether it was compiled by Taranatha himself is in doubt, since we find no other examples of such things in his oeuvre, but I suspect the association with him is unmistaken.

This is because of a reference  (on p.203 of the TAR Publishing House edition) to the relocation of Vairocana’s birthplace to the vicinity of Zur gsang sngags gling in Nyang smad, near gZhis ka rtse. This claim, and the so-called “Nyang smad skyid sbug” hermitage there was associated with a coterie of mostly rNying ma masters, including the resident Zur lineage holders, in the patronage of the gTsang pa sde srid (it was rejected, on good authority, by rNying ma and other masters of different political persuasions - see Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s Guide to Central Tibet, Serindia 2016 p.509 and p.539). 

The passage occurs in a long eulogy of the gTsang pa sde srid’s capital bSam ’grub rtse and its environs at the end of the work, apparently composed during the reign of Karma bstan skyong dbang po (1620-42) - strong enough evidence for dating the manuscript in its present form.  Taranatha mentions visiting Nyang smad skyid sbug in that period, and was quite a historian, as well as Lama of the gTsang pa sde srid, so he may have been interested in the compilation, even contributed parts of it, but I tend to think the slapdash manuscript we know was found among his papers, rather than counted among his compositions. 

I say slapdash having compared the TAR-published edition with the manuscript collected by Charles Bell, now in the Liverpool Museum collection, of which it is a faithful copy (i.e., full of mis-spellings and lacunae).


m a t t h e w

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.

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