March 10, 2012


 rim gro:

The word rim gro does seem to have an etymology, but what could it be? The first syllable may (but need not) be derived from rim gyis “gradually, sequentially, in a series of subsequent steps” but what about gro? It cannot mean “wheat” here, can it? Or, could it be derived from ’gro ba “to go” (i.e. in the sense of “to go near, approach someone so as to pay respect, to tend to, and so on)? Any sources of inspiration out there? 


  1. I can't predict whether we will find it useful for analyzing the syllables, but there is a discussion of this term (as well as sku-rim, =sku'i rim-gro) by Michael Walter in that book edited by Christoph Cüppers, The Relationship between Religion & State (chos srid zung 'brel) in Traditional Tibet, Lumbini Int'l Res. Inst. (Lumbini 2004), in the first part of the article. Should also look in the index to Mike's book Buddhism and Empire, where it's possible to locate a dozen pages devoted to rim-gro (but especially p. 166 ff.).

  2. I am not so optimistic that Walter’s book would help us clarify the etymology of rim gro. But it is, at any rate, worth reading. Just like rten ’brel, which has developed a new secondary meaning in Tibet, that is, in addition to its technical meaning, rim gro (sku rim being merely its honorific), too, has developed an additional meaning in Tibet. The primary meaning of rim gro bya ba would be in the sense of paricaraṇa (“serving, attending to, waiting upon”) or in the sense of upasthāna (“coming into the presence of, going near to (in order to worship), worshipping, waiting on”) and the like. In a purely Tibetan indigenous context, however, when one speaks of rim gro or sku rim, one would not think of this primary meaning although Tibetans are well aware of it. In the indigenous Tibetan context, which seems to be the point of departure for Walter’s study, rim gro or sku rim must necessarily be some kind of “longevity ritual or practice” meant to cause the recovery of a sick person or a master who is ill. Thus Walter’s work may be contextually too far from our present concern.