January 30, 2014


This entry is dedicated to Vanessa. I feel a bit shy to discuss such issues on fb and so I prefer to be here in my own world and to invite a few interested people like yourself. (a) Actually bden pa’i tshig (or bden tshig) does not render praṇidhāna or praṇidhi, which are rather translated as smon lam. We can debate as to how  to render smon lam in English. I personally think smon lam is a kind of “resolve,” or, “resolution” and contextually one may render it as “aspirational wish.” The verb smom lam ’debs pa would be “to make a resolve,” “to make a resolution,” or “to make an aspirational wish.” We can thus understand why bodhicittotpāda (byang chub tu sems bskyed pa), particularly, the first or initial bodhicittotpāda is identified as praṇidhi (Wangchuk 2007). By the way, Tibetan scholars such as Klong-chen-pa would insist on making a distinction between smon lam and bsngo ba (translated by Seyfort Ruegg as “dedicatory transfer”). (b) In Vanessa’s context, it seems bden pa’i tshig or bden tshig is rather satyavacana/satyavākya (Negi, s.v. bden pa’i tshig; BHSD, s.v.). Interestingly in PW and MW, we find satyakriyā and I have been trying to find a Tibetan translation but to no avail. Edgerton suspects that it is a modern Sanskritization of Pāli saccakiriyā, which is indeed = saccavacana (Pāli) = satyavacana (Skt.) = bden pa’i tshig (or bden tshig). I think Edgerton’s translation “statement of solemn truth” is not bad at all. There is no doubt that Indians (or Buddhists) believed in the power of the “truth” or “statements of truth” and that it can work miracles or change the reality. Most suitable in this context is the Tibetan verb bden pa bdar ba “to solemnly articulate a statement of truth” (cf. dmod pa bor/’dor/btsug pa “to articulate a solemn statement of curse”). Just think of the formalized text: sangs rgyas kyi bka’ bden pa dang and so on. Finally and importantly “solemn statements of truth” can be made use of “to let the aspirational wishes come true.”

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