March 11, 2020

A Sanskrit Word for rDzogs chen?

Apropos rDzogs chen or rDzogs pa chen po. In one of my earlier blog remarks, I noted that one of the four garuḍendras in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra (Dutt 1986: 3.7) is called “Mahāpūrṇa” (rDzogs chen). But it is, of course, practically of no use for the quest of a possible Sanskrit name, if there was at all one, for what came to be known in Tibet as rDzogs chen or rDzogs pa chen po and as the “Great Perfection.” Since the great work of Samten Karmay, the English name “Great Perfection,” too, seems to have become standard. While flipping through the pages of the Tibetan translation of Vilāsavajra’s Nāmamantrārthāvalokinī, I stumbled upon this line (B, vol. 32, p. 120.7): de la mkhas pa chen po ni blo rdzogs pa chen po’o ||. It made me wonder about the Sanskrit word for rdzogs pa chen po here. Fortunately, the Sanskrit text of the Nāmamantrārthāvalokinī is extant and the pertinent line is from the portion of the text edited and studied by Anthony Tribe (i.e. Skt. Tribe 2016: 283.1–3). It turns out that the Sanskrit text here reads mahākṛtin equated with mahāpaṇḍita. That mahākṛti is not used as an abtract feminine noun but as a concrete masculine noun is confirmed by mahākṛtin’s equation with mahāpaṇḍita. Thus blo rdzogs pa chen po here is to be understood as “a great one whose intellect has become perfect/matured.” The component kṛtin is related with kṛta as in kṛtayuga, rendered into Tibetan as rdzogs ldan gyi dus (“the Golden Age”). If, and that is with a big IF, there had been a Sanskrit word for rDzogs chen or rDzogs pa chen po (“Great Perfection”), one wonders if it could have been something like “Mahākṛti.”

1 comment:

  1. •RDZOGS PA CHEN PO Occurs in a late Dunhuang text (Hackin, Formulaire 30), where it glosses this in Skt., but in Tib. transliteration: pa ri pu ru na (i.e., paripūraṇa, 'rendering complete'). See Pelliot tib. 849.143.

    I'm not familiar with literary usage of paripūraṇa, but to judge from the root form of the verb it comes from and the preface attached to it, it ought to have a sense of fullness or plenitude in all aspects, all around. Maybe like Greek pleroma. Hmm. It sounds oddly similar, not to push the connection, but what's really similar is the sense of fullness and plenitude, I am thinking. So maybe Dzogchen is gnosticism after all, all about the complete ability of knowledge to save us? Forgive my poor attempt. We don't be fooled again! (to quote the rock lyrics of The Who)