February 03, 2014

སེམས་ཀྱི་དབང་པོ། གྱི་ལིང་ཅང་ཤེས།

Just a random note: The history of Anuyoga cycle of rNying-ma Tantric teachings, in my view, is still shrouded in mysteries. gNubs-chen is seen as a key figure associated with this cycle. In his bSam gtan mig sgron (p. 14), he cites (I did not check how accurately) the rDo rje bkod pa. I think this is an Anuyoga scripture. He cites a verse, which compares our mind or rather mental faculty to a “wonder horse,” called gyi ling cang shes. If the “wonder horse” is set free of its bridle it would gallop freely. If our mental faculty is set free of its bridle of ignorance, it would move without any restriction.

bsTan-pa-rab-brtan in his Bris bur gnyis kyi ’byung ba mdo tsam brjod pa (p. 34) quotes verses from the bKa’ thang chen mo, describing the celebration of the completion of the bSam-yas temple:

mgo nag mi yis sa gzhi gang ||

gyi ling rta la rgyug sa med ||

The black-headed humans filled the place,

[Leaving] no place for the “wonder” horses to gallop.


  1. I recently encountered this horse in the Dohākoṣa-nāma of Virūpa (PK3130/DG2280)

    de ltar skyong zhing nyams rtogs mthar phyin spyod pa ste/
    gyi ling dag la lcag gis bskul ba ji bzhin no/
    gal te rtogs ldan nyams bzang spyod pa'i grogs med na/
    ji ltar mig ldan skyes bu rkang pa med dang mtshungs/

    1. Dear HA, thank you for the reference. D.

  2. Hi D,

    Gyi-ling (or Kyi-ling) is the normal spelling for this kind of horse, for sure. I have collected an example where the spelling is Ge-ling (Ger-ling also occurs, but more rarely). It seems to be saying a similar thing as your Gnubs-chen's quotation. It's in the Zhijé Collection, vol. 1, p. 314:

    ge ling sgrog dang bral nas kun tu rgyug par rigs.

    It's surely a superior breed of horse, but some (like D. Berounsky) have wanted to connect it to the Chinese mythical creature the Qilin. I think it needs more thought and more examples of usage.

    Cang-shes just means it's a thoroughbred ('known in every which way').

    I think your translation "wonder horse" wonderfully catches the spirit of it. It's like the best of all possible horses.

    Gotta jump on my horse and go. Been nice chatting.

  3. Dear D, I already suspected that you would have something up your sleeve. Thank you. But I am just a bit uneased (not necessarily unpleased) by the way you render cang shes (i.e. “known in every which way”). Why would you construe the word passively, unless you are influenced by the English word “thoroughbred”? I would have thought that the most natural way to interpret the compound would have been “one who or that which knows every sort [of things]” (very colloquial) or “one who or that which is skilled/expert/knowledgeable in every [kind of art].” By the way, I understand cang as ci yang. What do you say (in your defense)? D.

  4. Dear D.,

    You know me. Nothing in defense. Except that the shes is probably past, and so with a passive meaning, or possibly a future, how would I know? There's no negative there to give you a clue about the tense.

    The Sanskrit behind it ought to be ājāneya ('of noble birth, good breed' as in Monier-Williams), but in Buddhist Sanskrit they spelled it differently and so etymologized it with a word for 'knowledge' instead of a word for 'birth.' For more along these lines, see the entry in Edgerton's Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary. I guess the Sanskrit form is a future passive participle, isn't it? Technically speaking, it probably isn't right to translate it as thoroughbred, but that's sure what it looks like it means in the Tibetan, and the Sanskrit of whichever form only helps that idea. Is there some need to be technical? Is this the source of unease? My grandfather used to always say to his horse whenever it started getting skittish, "Easy does it! Easy does it!"


  5. Berthold Laufer, Loan-words in Tibetan, p. 508 (his italics disappear here, and I don't try to give the two Chinese characters, replaced here by "X X"):

    "222. gi-liṅ, listed by Jäschke as "a fabulous animal" after Klaproth's Description du Tubet (p. 157). We further have the transcriptions gi-liṅ ("strong-bodied, durable horse) and gyi-liṅ mentioned in rGyal-rabs as an excellent breed of horses. In the Pol.D. the names of the eight famous steeds of Mu Wang and other designations of horses are rendered into Tibetan by means of the word gyi-liṅ. The French Dict. (p. 152) notes also a variant ger-liṅ. Transcription of Chinese *gi-lin (k'i-lin) X X. In the Hua i yi yü, Tibetan gi-lin is identified with this Chinese term."