Secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Louis De La Vallee Poussin
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain And Ireland

p.189 The news that Pandit Haraprasad Sastri was printing the Catalogue of the Nepal Durbar Library,(l) and that Professor Cecil Bendall had agreed to write, as an introduction to this Catalogue,(2) an essay on the history of Nepal and surrounding kingdoms, has given me the greatest satisfaction. By the recent explorations of such scholars as S. Levi, C. Bendall and Haraprasad, our knowledge of the older Buddhist Sanskrit documents has increased. For years we were obliged to confine our researches to the MSS. sent to Europe by Hodgson. Then the Cambridge Catalogue of the Wright Collection marked a new stage of progress. But now our hopes are better to-day, as Khotan will not conceal its treasures for ever; and the time may be coming when, in that field of Indian philology, the number of our texts promises to prove a positive embarras de richesse. We will endeavour to indicate the more interesting amongst the large number of MSS. hitherto noticed by Haraprasad, partly in the Proceedings and in the Journal of the Society of Bengal, partly in his Report, 1895-1900. ------------------------ 1 See the pamphlet published so early as 1868 by the Resident, Mr. Lawrence; the Cambridge Catalogue; the account of the Library by Haraprasad in the Journal of Bengal (lxvi, pt. 1), 1897; S. Levi, Acad. des Inscriptions, Seance du 27 Janvier 1899; and C. Bendall, J.R.A.S., 1900, PP. 163 and 345-7. 2 Also published as article, J.A.S.B. p.190 The Nisvasatattvasamhita(1) seems to be a work of real interest. The MS. is written in a form of Gupta which can be at latest referred to the beginning of the ninth or to the end of the eighth century. It deals with Tantric matters, but in a very extraordinary way, the interlocutors being Rsis, men of the 'old school' of Tantrism! The very subject of the discourses, according to Haraprasad, is the non-vaidic initiation or diksa. The Rsis wonder how there can be such a thing as diksa without any reference to the Vedas. But the oldest among them explains that even the great gods like Brahma, Visnu, and others-not Civa, who is siddha by birth--received non-vaidic dlksa at the very spot they were sitting upon, namely, in the celebrated Naimisaranya. The book is complete, divided into two parts, Crautasutra, Guhyasutra(? ). Attention must be paid to the designation 'samhita.' But I do not know if it deserves to be called "an important original tantric work"; I feel rather sceptical when Haraprasad says, " The composition of this work must go back to the early centuries of the Christian era"; because, so far as we are entitled to make any conjecture on the original form of the Tantras, it seems that the very mention of Rsis and such a doubt on the orthodoxy of rites are rather marks of posteriority. Not to the ninth, but at latest to the seventh century belongs the Kulikamnaya MS., acquired for the Society of Bengal by their Secretary. "The character is Gupta. I have carefully compared the letters with charts of the Gupta alphabet.... The shape of letters agrees more with those of the Horiuzi palm-leaves than with any other....; the proportion of open tops (which, as is well known, are an index of antiquity) appears to be much larger than in the ninth century palm-leaves in Professor Bendall's Cambridge Catalogue." This Tantra, actually incomplete (77 leaves from about 261), is said to have an extent of 6,000 slokas, being a resume of the Kubjikamata ----------------------- 1 See " Proceedings" and "Report" of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1900. p.191 in 24,000 slokas; four MSS. of the Kubjikamata do exist, and Haraprasad has ascertained the corelation of both books. The pagination, with the rather surprising letters: Sri, below the figure, below Ma and Sa, refers more probably to the following title: Clrimate Satsahasre = "page so and so in the compilation running through 6,000 verses of the school of the goddess Cri."(1) The interlocutors being Bhairava and Devi, there is no doubt about the intimate relation between the Kubjikamata and the Tantra of the same name, known by Catalogues (see P.W., sub voc.) and often quoted in Tantrasara, Anandalahari, and elsewhere (see Oxford Cat.). This book, therefore, is common and unreadable literature; but it gives me occasion to quote Haraprasad: "The Tantras are regarded as very recent works. Some distinguished Orientalists have pronounced them to belong to the fourteenth century. The appearance of these MSS. disproves that assertion " (Proceedings, April, 1900). So does the date of the colophon of the MS. of the Lankavatara, 28th year of the Newar era (908 A.D.). This Lanka "is a work on the treatment of fever and other diseases by medicine, incantation, and charms." But I am afraid Haraprasad does not exactly realize the meaning of some distinguished Orientalists as concerns the age of the Tantras. That the Tantras are older than the fourteenth century nobody will deny; the dispute, if there is any dispute, bears first on a considerably older date for the books, secondly on the rather difficult problem of the influence of the Tantric ideas in civilized Buddhist or Brahmanic circles. I have read with curiosity another note on a very similar subject. How can we settle this puzzle "that the pure metaphysical religion of Buddha could be made the medium of practising immoral and obscene rites"? "On entering the Svambhu Ksetra [Nepal], I was, says Harapraead, -------------------- 1 I have seen this 'Sri' in other MSS; but i don't think it means more than a kind of lucky mark made by a scribe. It is speciall common in first leaves of MSS.--Bendall. p.192 struck with a female figure labelled or inscribed as Namo-Dharmaya. I at once enquired from the Residency Pandit. He coolly said Dharma is nothing else but Prajna," "I know, explains Haraprasad, that Buddha is never an object of worship. His image is kept in monasteries simply for the purpose of keeping his noble example always present before the aspirers to Nirvana, and so he is the Upaya or means to Nirvana. I also knew that Prajna or true knowledge is the great goal..... But none ever suspected that Dharma and Prajna are identical. This identification introduced a female deity into the Buddhist Trinity, and she at once became the mother of all Bodhisattvas, being [taken as] representing the Samgha. ...." This hypothesis is clever indeed, and well deserves notice; nevertheless, one will observe that the deification of the pantheistic and idealistic Prajna in the shape of a feminine body is an altogether Tantric idea; and that the identification of Dharma with Prajna, parallel to the identification of Dharma with pratityasamutpada, known from Pali sources, has not been of any moment in the development of this idea. Upaya in some cases is Karuna opposed to Prajna; in Tantric texts of the Kalacakra school it is synonymous with linga. Haraprasad has acquired a manuscript of the Astasahasrika, copied at Nalanda in the sixth year of the reign of Mahipala (first part of the eleventh century), and curiously inscribed as written "in the year indicated in the page mark. This page mark is 303." The era is difficult to ascertain. The MS., as many other Prajnaparamitas, is enriched with many illuminations. (Proceedings, March, 1899.) Four leaves from an old MS. in Bengali characters, "in fact, intermediate between Gupta and Bengali," contain fragments of a supplement to the Amarakosa. The author is a Buddhist; he adds many synonyms to the Buddhist words--for instance, Gopesa for Buddha. I do not know if these curious identifications have been, as it was the intention of the Pandit, "published in the Journal" (Proceedings, April, 1900). A MS. of the Amaraku'sa, p.193 dated 1185, has been noticed by Haraprasad in 1893 (J.A.S.B., p. 250), and should prove useful for the critic of the text. Very old is the MS. of the Skandhapurana, in Gupta hand, to which so early a date as the middle of the seventh century can be assigned on palaographical grounds. As concerns the Buddhist Darcanas, there are discoveries of first-rate importance. There are, besides, two MSS. purporting to be works of Ratnakirti, entitled Apohasiddhi (eight leaves only) and Ksanabhangasiddhi. A full description of both occurs in the Report, p. 12, and Haraprasad rightly insists on their evident importance. "These are the first treatises written in a philosophical style and on philosophical topics." This statement is not perfectly accurate, as the Bodhicaryavatara, the Madhyamakavrtti, the Abhidharmakosa deserve the same appreciation. Nyayabindu--I agree with Haraprasad--is more a treatise on Buddhist logic than on philosophy, but the whole of the pariccheda on pratyaksa is a dissertation on the theory of knowledge. The theory of Apoha is " very important in Buddhist philosophy." As the nominalism of the school objects to any idea of genus, the difficulty is got over by a rather subtle artifice. An asva is not asva by asvatva, but because he is not a go or anything different from asva. The asva is atad-vyavytta, different (vyavrtta) from what is not that (a-tad). We know the doctrine fairly well, if we do not realize it (of course! ), by the discussion of Kumarila (Clokavatrtika). The celebrated Mimamsist, or his commentator, quotes on the matter, as it has been said in the Journal (1902, p. 365), a large number of slokas from the Pramanasamuccaya by Dignaga. Ratnakirti wrote the Kalyanakanda, the Dharmaviniccaya (Tanj. Mdo, lxi), a commentary to the Madhyamakavatara. Being son of the king, he had been converted by the "Epistle to a pupil" of his friend Candragomin (Wassilieff). So he was the contemporary of Candrakirti and of several acaryas of reputation. The second treatise, Ksanabhangasiddhi, in two parts, proves "that no entity exists for more than one ksana." p.194 The first part, complete in eleven leaves, proceeds by anvayayvapti (where is existence there is momentaneity); the second one, incomplete, nine leaves, by vyatirekavyapti (where is not momentaneity, there cannot be existence). I do not believe, as does Haraprasad, that "the author of the Sarvadarcana probably had Ratnakirti's book before him, when writing the portion of the work concerned with Bauddhadarcana, " but in noticing parallel sentences in both works, also in Udayana's Bauddhadhikara, Haraprasad shows us that he knows the right method to follow in editing the book. Ratnakirti mentions Samkara and Nyayabhusana, an ancient writer on Mimamsa: "he gives a summary of Samkar's arguments against the Buddhists in a few words, and refutes them;.... he shows a mastery over the Sanskrit language and the philosophical style which is unique." A new recension of the Prajnaparamita has been found, called Sualpaksara, Prajnaparamita in a few words, three leaves only. " The authorship of the Prajna is a question involved in obscurity.... There is one clue to the solution of this question obtained from the MSS. under notice: they profess to have been brought from the nether worlds by Nagarjuna: aryanagarjunapadaih patalad uddhrta. That Nagarjuna and his learned followers had a hand in the composition of these works appears to be certain from this passage." Observe the curious character of this shortest recension: according to Haraprasad there is no metaphysic in it, but only common practical formulas: bodhisattvena mahasattvena samacittena bhavitavyam, maitricittena..., krtajnena..., krtavedina..., The Kavivacanasamuccaya and the Dohakosapanjika are important books. The first is a Sanskrit anthology divided into vrajyas (sugatavrajya, lokecvara, surya....), well furnished with stanzas of Asvaghosa, Jetari, Ratnakirti ...; the second a commentary on a Prakrit anthology in the interests of Buddhism. Professor Bendall is studying p.195 the last-named, full indeed of difficulties of several kinds, but well deserving time and labour. This review must now come to an end; were I to make it complete, I should merely be giving a new edition of the Report. My main object has been to call attention to the achievements of the Pandit Haraprasad, and to pay to him a tribute of friendship and of admiration.