We are pleased to present the programme for the 2nd TST workshop, which will be held in Paris, in the conference centre of the Campus Condorcet, and online on 7-8 October, 2021.
The workshop will be preceded by a live, in-person event at the BnF on the evening of the 6th. Due to current health measures, we are unable to invite the broader public to the live event, but we will be posting a report, with photos, on this site, so stay tuned!
On the other hand, the presentations on the 7th and 8th of October will be streamed online. See the schedule below or in the PDF linked above.
At the end of a Tamil manuscript we are accustomed to find various paratextual materials such as colophons, verses and occasionally even indices. There are, however, other types of texts that were likely added to suit particular needs and are consequently unique or quite rare. Indien 206, a manuscript of the Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram (TA) from the collection of Edouard Ariel, is one such example. The main text unceremoniously ends on f. 198v2:
அணியதிகாாமுடிநதது முறறும – aṇiyatikāra muṭittu muṟṟum
“The Chapter on Poetic Ornaments has been completed.”
On the following and last numbered folio, f. 199r (There are two additional leaves that have no original foliation, i.e., incised and in Tamil script.), we come across a leaf with text set in a tripartite format. The first column contains five lines; the center one, six; the rightmost column, seven. The contents may be divided into three topics. Column one and the first two lines of column two provide the meaning of seven abbreviations. Thereafter are given the three classes (iṉam) of Tamil letters into hard (val), soft (mel), and middle (iṭai). Cf. Tolkāppiyam Eḻuttatikāram 1.19–21 and Naṉṉūl 1.68–70. Note that the letters given for the melliṉam and iṭaiyiṉam have been reversed, i.e., the melliṉam are ṅa ña ṇa na ma ṉa and the iṭaiyiṉam are ya ra la va ḻa. In the latter list, the final la has been mistakenly written for ḷa.
In a previous article, we discussed the Lakṣmīvyākhyāna, an 18th-century commentary on the Mitākṣarā, written by Lakṣmīdevī, and the influence it had in the law courts of colonial India. As we mentioned, this influence was greatly magnified due to Henry Thomas Colebrooke’s reliance on it in his translation of the Mitākṣarā.
One particularly divisive topic in the Lakṣmīvyākhyāna is the law of inheritance in the case of a deceased man with no male heirs. Traditional law texts, like the Mānavadharmaśāstra, allow for the brothers of the deceased to inherit in this case. The Mitākṣarā cites a key passage from it:
pitrabhāve bhrātaro dhanabhājaḥ | tathā ca manuḥ || pitā hared aputrasya rikthaṃ bhrātara eva vā || iti ||
(Mitākṣarā, quoting Mānavadharmaśāstra 9.185)
On failure of the father, brethren share the estate. Accordingly Menu says, “Of him, who leaves no son, the father shall take the inheritance or the brothers.”
(Colebrooke 1810, Two Treatises on the Hindu Law of Inheritance, 346)
Here, Lakṣmīdevī interprets the word “brothers” to include “sisters” as well, taking advantage of a Pāṇinian grammatical rule that allows for the word bhrātaraḥ, “brothers”, to be an implicit compound meaning “brothers and sisters”. This was also the opinion of Nandapaṇḍita, an earlier commentator on the Vaiṣṇavadharmaśāstra.1 Colebrooke, accordingly, translates bhrātaraḥ with the general term “brethren”.
Nevertheless, this interpretation was not generally accepted, neither by the law courts nor in other dharmaśāstra texts. In fact, apart from Lakṣmīdevī and Nandapaṇḍita, there seems to be no other legal scholar2 who argued for the right of sisters to inherit. But in a surprising find, one small manuscript at the BnF, containing a short treatise on inheritance, states simply, as a matter of fact, that sisters may inherit.
When the English East India Company seized large swathes of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century, they were forced to transform from “merchants” into administrators. They needed a new army of English civil servants, not only to deal with the considerable revenue that was being generated, but also to construct and preside over a system of law for “one of the most populous and litigious regions of the world”:
The pleadings in the several courts, and all important judicial transactions, are conducted in the native languages. The law which the Company’s judges are bound to administer throughout the country, is not the law of England, but that law to which the natives have long been accustomed under their former sovereigns…. These observations are sufficient to prove, that no more arduous or complicated duties of magistracy exist in the world, no qualifications more various or comprehensive can be imagined, than those which are required from every British subject who enters the seat of judgment within the limits of the Company’s empire in India.
(1805, The College of Fort William in Bengal, 3)
It was out of this need to train civil servants that the College of Fort William was born. During the half-century of its existence, the College accumulated a vast library of literature in many languages and became one of the intellectual centres of what has been referred to as the Bengali Renaissance. In particular, it collected numerous manuscripts of Sanskrit law treatises, commentaries, and digests which the English used to administer “Hindu” law.
The BnF possesses a copy of one of these manuscripts, of the Bālambhaṭṭī, that was acquired from the collection of Philippe-Édouard Foucaux. As the title suggests, the work is attributed to the 18th century paṇḍit Bālambhaṭṭa. However, if we turn to the end of the manuscript, the colophon gives an entirely different title — Lakṣma or Lakṣmī — and attributes its authorship to a woman, Lakṣmīdevī.
The eighth TST webinar will take place Tuesday June 22nd, 2021, 10-12 AM (CET).
Emmanuel Francis will discuss about the DHARMA and TST projects with Noëmie Lucas at Les Rendez-vous de la philologie numérique, Thursday May 27th (5 pm – 6:30 pm CET)
For further information see HERE.
Among the paratexts of Tamil manuscripts are prose benedictions or blessings, connected to the copyists rather than to the contents of the manuscripts. Some look more like credos than prose invocation to god(s).1
As it happens, there were also Tamil Muslim copyists, as attested by three manuscripts kept at the BnF, which show Muslim blessings.
The seventh TST webinar will take place Tuesday May 18th, 2021, 10-12 AM (CET).
The sixth TST webinar will take place Tuesday April 27th, 2021, 10-12 AM (CET).
As Russia pushed its borders eastward in the 17th century, it gained control of a vast, mountainous region in eastern Siberia, populated by Buddhist adherents and dotted with datsans, Mongolian Buddhist monasteries. Although both the Buddhists and their monasteries were officially acknowledged by and assimilated into the Empire, their existence remained a source of anxiety for both the political administration as well as the Russian Orthodox Church. Thus, in 1830, the foreign ministry sent Baron Pavel Lvovitch Schilling von Canstadt (1786-1837) to Kyakhta, an important Russian trading post on the Mongolian border, to report back on “oriental Siberia”.
Schilling, having long been interested in central Asia, jumped at the opportunity. His quest for knowledge took him even further east to Subulin datsan (modern-day Tsugol), 300 leagues from Kyakhta, where he became the first Westerner to obtain a complete copy of the Kangyur, the core of the Tibetan Buddhist canon. The story of how he came to acquire these texts was told in a posthumous article in 1848, and has since been retold many times, becoming a foundational myth of European Buddhology:
When Baron Schilling de Canstadt paid a visit to the temple at Subulin, in Siberia, the Lamas were just occupied with preparing 100,000,000 copies of [a] mantra to be put into a gigantic prayer-cylinder. His offer to have the necessary number executed at St. Petersburg was most readily accepted, and in return for the 150,000,000 copies he had made, printing from rollers, and sent to them, he was presented with an edition of the Kanjur (a vast compilation of “translations of the Commandments” of the Buddha), the sheets of which amounted to about forty thousand.
(As told by Edward Heron-Allen, Necromancer to ye Sette of Old Volumes, 1931, 38)
This version of the story is somewhat distorted. According to Schilling, the monks planned to print the mantra, oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ, 100 million times. With their xylographic process, they were able to print it 250 times on one page. Schilling, with his metal type, was able to print the mantra 2500 times on a single page, and so he only needed to make 40 000 copies of that page to send to Subulin. Moreover, the monks did not gift him the Kangyur in exchange for the copies, but in exchange for the mere promise that he would print them on his return to St. Petersburg, which he dutifully fulfilled; in fact, he sent an extra 20 000 copies in gratitude. But a few copies also made their way westward, and the BnF acquired one of these from the collection of Eugène Burnouf.
Philippe-Édouard Foucaux had a habit of coming in second place. Although he is described as the “first teacher of Tibetan in the Western world”, the way in which that “first” is qualified belies the fact that he was not the first Westerner to master the Tibetan language. That achievement is credited to the Transylvanian scholar Sándor Csoma de Kőrös (1784-8142), who travelled to Tibet, studied with a lama, and produced a grammar and dictionary of Tibetan in English, which is widely considered to be a foundational work in Tibetology. Csoma de Kőrös was so influential that there is a monument to him in Darjeeling — where he died — as well as in Tokyo, Japan, where he was declared a bodhisattva.
Foucaux, himself an armchair philologist who does not seem to have ever left Europe, studied Tibetan vicariously through the works of Csoma de Kőrös, which had made their way to Paris. Unusually, even the commemorative plaque dedicated to Foucaux, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, is shared with Csoma de Kőrös, a man he never met.
Foucaux’s influence has waned in the century since his death, eclipsed both by his teacher — Eugène Burnouf, whose shadow looms large — and his students — such as Léon Feer, who edited the entirety of the Pali Saṃyutta Nikāya in 5 volumes. Little remains of Foucaux’s output, and even less has been written about him — apart from his obituary, there are a series of articles by Bernard le Calloc’h, who has described Foucaux as “un Angevin oublié“. At the BnF, however, there are a handful of overlooked manuscripts from his collection from which we can tease out a few more details about what he thought and who he was.
A critical edition of a text will usually list variant readings on each page, in an apparatus beneath the text. Over time, scholars have developed a set of signs and conventions to refer to these variations in a compact way.
For example, take this page from the first chapter of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra, edited by Philipp A. Maas. The top part of the page contains the text as reconstructed by Maas. Some words are underlined with a wavy line, indicating that the reading is uncertain. Underneath, in an apparatus, he gives the variant readings from manuscripts and other printed texts. First, he indicates a line number, referring to the text above ― here the variants refer to line 12. Then, he lists each lemma ― that is, each place in the text where there is a variant reading. The first lemma here is samādhiḥ. Then he lists the sources that have this reading, by their sigla ― symbols representing manuscripts or groups of manuscripts. Finally he lists the variant readings, followed by additional sigla for manuscripts that have that variant; the first variant here is samādhin.
In Sanscrit 1397, a Bengali-script manuscript dated Śaka 1745 in the colophon (1823/1824 CE), we find a similar system for indicating variant readings. Continue reading
The fifth TST webinar will take place Tuesday February 15th, 2021, 10-12 AM (CET).
Viśākhadatta’s Mudrārākṣasa, variously translated as “Rákshasa’s Ring”, “The Signet Ring”, or “Signet Rākṣasa”, is a unique Sanskrit drama set during the reign of Candragupta Maurya, in the 4th century BCE. As G. V. Devasthali notes, it is the only work “in the whole of Sanskrit dramatic literature [to have] a mainly political theme”1 . But beyond its historical significance, it is also simply a great story, as Dániel Balogh introduces it:
A parade of secret agents, deadly poison damsels, hidden escape tunnels and tricks within tricks serve to entertain the audience or reader, and the play is as action-packed and grave as any modern cloak-and-dagger novel.2
For more than a century, the standard version of the text that scholars use has been the 1912 critical edition of Alfred Hillebrandt. And although Hillebrandt consulted dozens of sources for his edition — including manuscripts, commentaries, and previous printed editions — the most important among these is the manuscript at the BnF: Sanscrit 715, previously shelved as Bengali 117, which he calls the Codex Parisinus.
Hillebrandt describes this as the “best preserved” manuscript that he consulted, and much of his critical text is based on it. And yet, in an article from 1885, as well as in his preface to the 1912 edition, he states that the manuscript is undated. Curiously, he does not seem to have noticed the colophon at the end, which gives the date. Now, more than a hundred years later, the TST project is pleased to present to you this long-forgotten colophon.