Mabbett (2012, ed.), Prācyaprajñāpradīpa

Ian W. Mabbett (ed). Prācyaprajñāpradīpa: Professor Dr Samaresh Bandyopadhyay Felicitation Volume on Early Indian History and Culture. Franklin, Tennessee: NIOS (North American Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies) and International Forum for Felicitating Professor Dr. Samaresh Bandyopadhyay. 2012. xxii+584 pp. ISBN 978-0-9848617-0-1. Rs 2500 / USD$70.

From the Preface

The volume contains (in Part 1 with 3 sections) a compendium of information about the career and scholarly achievements of Professor Dr. Samaresh Bandyopadhyay along with a large number of tributes written by people who have benefited from their association with him, and also (in Part 2) an exceptional collection of learned research articles; these have been written in his honour by many who have been impressed and inspired by his scholarship and personality, and they mirror the great depth and the diversity of his own research interests. […]


PART II: Research Papers on Early Indian History and Culture
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Yoshizaki: ‘Dr. Kulman, who taught Kawaguchi Ekai’ (2012)

Which of the nineteenth-century Kulamāna Vajrācāryas was the confrere of Ekai Kawaguchi (and of Sylvain Lévi,* et al)? Mr. Kazumi Yoshizaki digs into his Index of Personal Names in Newari Historical Materials (forthcoming) to find out:

吉崎 一美 (Yoshizaki, Kazumi). 「河口慧海に梵語文法を教授したクルマン博士」 (Dr. Kulman who Taught Sanskrit Grammar to Rev. Kawaguchi Ekai in Nepal). 『印度學佛教學研究』 第六十一巻第一号 (Journal of Indian and Buddhist studies vol.61 no.1), pp.508–504/(11)–(15), 2012-12-20. [PDF at CiNii]

* “Le vieux pandit Kulamâna, de Patan, gagne sa vie à enseigner des rudiments de catéchisme et à copier des manuscrits” (Lévi, Le Népal: étude historique d’un royaume hindou, 1905 II:27).

Nepalese Script in Unicode, 1: JTC1/WG2 N4184 Open Thread

Your comments are invited on a proposal to encode the script ‘prevalent’/’in vogue’ (pracalita) in Nepal since the late fourteenth century, and which since the Shah period has continued in use in the scribal and print culture of the Newars. The proposal under discussion was submitted a month ago by Anshuman Pandey to the international standards body for character sets, WG2 under JTC1 of the ISO. Download it here:

Anshuman Pandey. ‘Proposal to Encode the Newar Script in ISO/IEC 10646’. ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 proposal N4184 [PDF]. January 5, 2012. [Supersedes N4038, ‘Preliminary Proposal to Encode the Prachalit Nepal Script’]

Anyone can submit a proposal for consideration by WG2. However, this is not a trivial process; documents need to comply with the group’s requirements, and if I observe correctly, there are very few competing complete proposals for historic scripts. No proposal has come from the Nepalese government, Newar culture having little, if any, official status in the Shah and post-Shah nation-state. The proposal under discussion (hereafter “N4184”) is that of a private individual, in collaboration with the Script Encoding Initiative at Berkeley. Mr. Pandey has graciously agreed to consider informed feedback on his proposal, which I hope will be incorporated into future documents submitted to WG2. It is in this constructive spirit that your feedback is requested; anyone may add comments via the form the end of this post.

1. Intended scope of these comments: focus on repertoire

The present discussion should focus on the completeness and accuracy of the glyph repertoire represented in the present proposal. Matters such as the proposed name and classification of the script, the description of interaction between glyphs (e.g. conjunct formation, §4.8.1), issues related to other Nepalese or Indic scripts (except where strictly relevant) and so on should notbe discussed here. If there is sufficient interest, these matters can be addressed in separate posting(s). Here I will offer some of my own preliminary, informal feedback on the proposal, on which comments are also welcome.

N4184 aims to “encode a core set of Newar characters” (p.17). This invites the question of how “core” should be defined. I will not discuss this in depth, other to say that the standard should include those characters which are most common and most useful in this form of writing. Specifically, I propose that the characters depicted in Figs.6 and 7 below should be part of the standard. This is the repertoire proposed in N4184:

Pandey 2012:24, Fig.1

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Book of the Year: ‘Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism’

Giovanni Verardi (appendices by Federica Barba). Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 4. Delhi/Singapore: Manohar & Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. 523 pp.

Not a very catchy title, but I doubt that something more direct (say, The Hindu Extermination of Buddhism) would have been very appealing to Singapore’s Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, the book’s publisher.

This book is an extraordinary achievement, all the more so for it relying only indirectly, for the most part, on scriptural and epigraphic sources. Verardi’s contribution is based on something at least as useful: first-hand observation of the key sites and remains, clearly articulated in terms of long-term patterns. It is by far one of the most important contributions to the study of Buddhism in India published in a long time — though I don’t agree with everything in it, by any means. (Given the chance, I will expand on that later.) The omission of any discussion of the Theravādins’ catastrophic role, painstakingly explained in Peter Schalk’s 2002 Buddhism among Tamils volumes, has to be regarded as particularly puzzling — at least until one sees Peter Skilling’s name in the acknowledgements. But let me be clear: Verardi, who has pursued his line of inquiry for over three decades, has succeeded in making sense out of a slew of data in a way that is unlikely to be bettered for some time.

Meinert, ‘Buddha in der Jurte’, forthcoming (2011)

Meinert (2011), Buddha in der JurteCarmen Meinert (ed.) with contributions from Andrey Terentyev. Buddha in der Jurte: Buddhistische Kunst aus der Mongolei (Buddha in the Yurt: Buddhist Art from Mongolia). Hirmer Verlag, forthcoming (October 2011). “~750” pp., ~550 Illus. ISBN: 978-3-7774-4231-0.

Official Description
As Buddhist art reached 17th Century Mongolia, it became an established element in the life of believers. These volumes show a representative selection of exquisite objects from a singular private collection and reflect the range of influences from Tibet to the Manchurian Qing dynasty.

[Multi-volume set; to be published in English/Russian and German/Mongolian]

Milligan, ‘Inscribed Reliefs & Inscriptions at Sanchi’ (2010)

Milligan, Matthew David. ‘A Study of Inscribed Reliefs within the Context of Donative Inscriptions at Sanchi’. M. A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 2010. [official site URI / PDF]

From the abstract

Sanchi stūpa #2 & inscription (p.98)
Inscribed relief art at the early Buddhist archaeological site of Sanchi in India exhibits at least one interesting quality not found elsewhere at the site. […] Two inscribed images of stūpas found on the southern gateway record the gifts of two prominent individuals. The first is a junior monk whose teacher holds a high position in the local order. The second is the son of the foreman of the artisans of a king. Both inscribed stūpa images represent a departure from a previous donative epigraphical habit. Instead of inscribing their names on image-less architectural pieces, these two particular individuals inscribed their names on representations of stūpas, a symbol with a multiplicity of meanings. […] I suggest that these donations were recorded as part of the visual field intentionally, showing the importance of not only inscribing a name on an auspicious symbol but also the importance of inscribing a name for the purpose of being seen.

Twist, ‘Devotion and Politics’ (2008)

Twist, Rebecca L. Patronage, Devotion and Politics: A Buddhological Study of the Paṭola Śāhi Dynasty’s Visual Record. PhD diss., Ohio State University, 2008. 393 pp. [abstract/PDF]

A few lines from the abstract:

During the 6th – 8th centuries, the Paṭola Śāhi dynasty ruled the country of Bolor, which is Baltistan and Gilgit […] a number of Buddhist artworks […] can be attributed through inscriptions to a donation by members of the royal Paṭola Śāhi family. This study focuses on these inscribed works and other extant visual culture of the Paṭola Śāhi dynasty. […] the Paṭola Śāhis were devout Buddhist practitioners, some of them adherents of early Vajrayāna Buddhism.