March 28, 2012



There seems to be an archaic meaning of sgom (almost forgotten among the general literate milieux) but still known to and used by some, and retained in some related vernacular Himalayan languages. We know that sgom pa (verb) means “to practise repeatedly” and sgom pa (bhāvanā) (noun) “repeated practice” or “meditation.” But observe the usage of sgom in the following clause (dGe.chos-1: 279.2–4): «rgya gar pa rnams sngon aryan [= āryan] gyi rigs gtsang mar yod tshe yul gang po’i skad legs sbyar yin par sgom mod | ….» “Although Indians sgom that in the ancient times when there were pure Āryan race, the language of the entire land was Sanskrit, ….” So what do you think is the meaning of sgom here? If someone who speaks or understands Kur-stod-kha, Bum-thang-kha, and Khengs-kha, it should be crystal clear. It simply means “think” and by extension also “believe” or “assume.” To those of us who are used to understanding sgom pa as meaning only “to meditate or meditation,” this should come as a surprise. Of course, as in English, “think” can have a range of nuances such as “to reflect,” “surmise,” “suppose,” and so on.


  1. It might be helpful to take into account the involuntary goms '(DM) to habituate oneself to something, to apply oneself, to get used to something, to practice something, to get acclimatized' verb as well.

  2. Yes, but sgom-goms distinction should rather be discussed in the context of the transitive-intransitive and autonomous-heteronomous distinctions of Tibetan verbs. Here I intend to show only a relatively unknown meaning of sgom pa.