The present work Dictionary of Pali Proper Names is a magnum opus of Malalasekera, in two volumes. It is a dedicated work of meticulous scholarship, which can be seen from the extensive references from the Pali cononical and non-cononical literature and the vast number of entries on the proper names.
About the Author
G.P. Malalasekera born 1899 in Sri Lanka worked under the celebrated Pali scholar Dr. (Mrs.) C.A.F. Rhys Davids on Pali Literature of Ceylon for his doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in 1925. He was appointed Professor of Pali and Buddhist Civilization in the University of Ceylon in 1942. His major works include Pali Commentary (Tika) on the great historical work Mahavamsa Pali Text Society, London, 1935; edition of English-Sinhalese Dictionary, Colombo, 1948; and the celebrated dictionary entitled Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. He took part in many national and international movements for the promotion of Buddhist teachings and founded the World Fellowship of Buddhists (1952). His passing away in 1973 was an irreparable loss to the Buddhist academic leadership.
One of my abiding memories of the days in the Nineties, when work under and with Rhys Davids became an essential part of my married life, was the foreground-presence of three interleaved volumes. These were Robert H. Childers's Pali Dictionary (a copy bequeathed by him to my husband) and the Pali Text Society's Journal for 1888, almost monopolized by an Index of Pali Names by the Swiss scholar Edward Muller Hess. Daily those interleaved pages were becoming ever more filled, to say nothing of marginal additions, so keenly did Rhys Davids record as soon as it appeared the New- or shall I say, the Newly-risen from the Once-had-been.
Even then the question of loyal collaborators in the new Dictionary and that of raising funds to print it were exercising energy and patience. The Names Dictionary, as less yet otherwise important, he consigned to a list of desirable publications worthy to be included in the programme of the Indian Texts Series, a subvention that he had persuaded Lord Curzon, at a Calcutta interview, to make. In that list, to give prior place to the works of other men, he gave it a place so low down that its publication could not come within his lifetime. Others would garner and arrange what he had reaped.
I did not find the assigning of this an easy task. For a scholar in the best sense the work was not creative enough. For the analytical scholar its range was too scattered in space and time. And the scholar is a hopeful animal who will accept work he has neither time nor serious intention to take up without delay. Meanwhile I had to nurse impatience and wait.
Dr. Stede, the illustrious editor of the Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary, having said, in his Afterword to that great work: "It will be worth the trouble to explore more thoroughly that range of civilization which lies enshrined in the Pali Canon," added in a footnote, "In connection with this I may point out that one of the greatest needs of Pali scholarship is a Dictionary of Names
the Name Dictionary will be an indispensable supplement to the Word Dictionary." That was in 1925, when I was yet a student at the School of Oriental Studies, with the privilege of having Dr. Stede as one of my teachers.
Some where in 1930 when, in the course of a letter to Dr. Stede, I casually inquired what progress had been made with the Names Dictionary, which (after the death of Rhys Davids), I knew he was keen to edit, he wrote back to say that owing to circumstances beyond the control of those most concerned, nothing further had been done since 1925, and that he had abandoned the idea of doing the work himself because he was far from being well and was very busy with his teaching at the School. He also indicated that there was much difficulty in getting someone else suitable to undertake the task. Thereupon I wrote to Mrs. Rhys Davids, as President of the Pali Text Society, offering my services in the compilation of the Names Dictioanary, if I could be of any possible use. She replied very promptly and most encouragingly. The publication of the Names Dictionary, she said, was not in the hands of the P.T.S.; the work was to be included in the Indian Text Series, issued under the aegis of the India Office in Whitehall. Now that her husband, by whom the Dictionary had been originally prepared, was no more, the choice of an Editor ultimately lay with the authorities of the India Office, though the P.T.S. would naturally have a large say in the matter. She would certainly recommend to the Council of India that the compilation be given over in my charge.
There followed the usual inevitable delays, and it was not till July, 1931, that the India Office, in consultation with the Government of India, accepted Mrs. Rhys Davids recommendation and asked me to undertake the work. Meanwhile Mrs. Rhys Davids had, with remarkable but characteristic generosity, sent me, of her own accord, her husband's copy of the P.T.S. Journal for 1888, containing Edward Muller's "Index of Pali Proper Names," interleaved with numerous additional references entered by Rhys Davids himself. I was however, at the time deeply engrossed with my critical edition of the Mahavamsa Tika (since published by the P.T.S.) for the Ceylon Government, and was therefore not able to devote much attention to the Names Dictionary till 1933.
The original suggestion was that I should limit my "Sources to the Tripitaka, the fifth century Commentaries on the Pali Canon, a few post Pitakan works, published by the P.T.S., separately or in Journals, and the Milindapanha." I was "not to compile a Lexicon, but to follow in general the method adopted by Muller in J.P.T.S., 1888, giving, only in the case of the more important names, short translation from a few specified references, the material to go into one not very bulky volume." Mrs. Rhys Davids was confident that the work could be finished in a year. I took advantage of a visit I paid to Europe in 1932 to discuss these matters with Mrs. Rhys, Davids, Dr. Stede, Professor Turner, Dr. Barnett, Dr. Sylvan Levi and other eminent Orientalists, and with the authorities of the India Office. As a result of these discussions the original scheme was considerably modified, and I was enabled to give myself greater freedom in the selection of sources and in following my own preferences in the treatment of the materials.
When I came to examine the materials at my disposal I found that I had undertaken a truly stupendous task. Muller's plan, in general, was to give a name and a description of it, followed by a series of references- e.g., "Yasa, son of Kakandaka; took a principal part at the Council of Vesali, C.xii. 1, 1 et seq.; Smp. 293, 312; Dpv. V. 23; Mah. 15-19, 42". In his bibliography he indicated that he had indexed the Vinaya Pitaka, the Majjhima, Anguttara and Samyutta Nikayas, the Mahaparinibbana and Samannaphala Suttas of the Digha Nikaya, the Sutta Nipata, the Thera-and Their-gatha, Udana, Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka, Dhammapada (text only), the Jataka, Puggalapannatti, the Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa and the Milindapanha, and of the Commentaries, the first quoted in Vol. III of Oldenberg's Vinaya, and a few extracts from the Paramatthadipani on the Udana and Thera- and Their-gatha. I soon discovered, however, that except in the case of the Vinaya Pitaka and the Dipavamsa there were numerous and serious omissions.
Rhys Davids, in his interleaved copy of Muller's Index, had inserted a very large number of fresh names and numerous additional references in the case of names already included by Muller. This lightened my task considerably, but not to the extent I should have desired. For it is a well-known fact that a scholar's collectanea, however carefully prepared, can be used, if at all, by another only after a great deal of trouble and with extreme caution. Everyone has his peculiar intentions and his peculiar methods in the handling and arrangement of scientific materials. I found, for instance, that, I could not verify numerous references because of the absence of a "key" to some of Rhys Davids' abbreviations. Of the Indexes to the volumes published by the P.T.S. only those of the Anguttara, Samyutta and Majjhima Nikayas and the Sutta Nipata Commentary were found to be at all adequate, but even in these cases I soon discovered that if I relied solely on the passages referred to in the Indexes, without knowing what went before in the context and what followed, I should miss a great deal of valuable information and run grave risk of inaccuracy. As a result of these considerations, I decided that the only safe course to adopt would be to go through the books myself and make my own indexes and notes. And this I did, except in the case of the Vinaya Pitaka, where I found Muller's Index unimpeachable. As regards the Commentaries, the indexes both of the P.T.S. volumes and those issued in the Simon Hewavitarne Bequest Series were quite unsatisfactory. It will be seen, therefore, that I hold myself entirely responsible for the accuracy (or otherwise) of the references contained in this Dictionary.
The work in its present form includes, besides other materials, information obtained from the whole of the Tipitaka and all the
Commentaries thereon. It was my intention, at first, to index the Tikas as well, but after reading through several of tem I decided that the additional material to be gleaned from them would not be sufficient recompense for the trouble and inevitable delay involved. There was also the difficulty of obtaining satisfactorily uniform editions of the Tikas, in spite of the great attention apparently devoted to these texts in Burma. Among non-Canonical works, I have included, besides the Milindapanha, the Mahavamsa, Dipavamsa, Mahabodhivmsa, Sasanavamsa, Gandhavamsa, and the Sasanavamsadipa. I have also included the Culavamsa, chiefly in order to complete the information contained in the Mahavamsa, and the Mahavamsa Tika, because it contains valuable data regarding names occurring in the Mhavamsa. It was suggested, while the work had made considerable progress, that I should not forget the many short volumes in P.T.S. Journals - e.g., the Jinacarita, Dathavamsa, etc. References to some of them are already given in the main body of the Dictionary, while others will be given in the Appendix, at the end of the second Volume. I have attempted to give the names of all Suttas and Jatakas and of Pali works of any literary important written in India, Burma and Ceylon, prior to about 1700 A.C. With regard to these works it was not my intention to do more than merely mention their names; for further details concerning them reference should be made to Bode's Pali Literature of Burma and my Pali Literature of Ceylon, both published by the R.A.S. in their Prize Publication Fund Series. In some cases doubts arose in my own mind as to the exact category of "names." Where such doubt existed, I included the name in the Dictionary. It will be seen that I have also included a few articles on what, strictly speaking, are Common and not proper names- e.g., Asura, Mara, etc. My only excuse is that detailed information on these topics is not available elsewhere without reference to numerous texts.
In order that this Dictionary might be completed within reasonable limits, both of time and space, I have deliberately avoided mention of Buddhist Sanskrit Texts, except to give very occasional references to the Mahavastu, Divyavadana, Jatakamala and the Avadanasataka, where I felt that such references would be useful. The great mass of information to be found in Buddhist Sanskrit Texts would supply more than ample material for at least one other volume of this nature. For the same reason I have refrained from any special effort to refer, for purposes of this Dictionary, to articles in various books and journals, published in Europe and India, dealing with matters discussed herein. I have satisfied myself with only such references as had already come under my notice in the course of my studies, one way or another.
Two books, that reached me after I had more or less finished the work on indexing, proved of great use; the first, A Dictionary of Buddhist Proper Names, especially in India, by Professor C. Akanuma of Nagoya, Japan; and the second, The Geography of Early Buddhism, by Dr. B.C. Law of Calcutta. Professor Akanuma's work is, unfortunately for me, in Japanese, and my ignorance of that language prevented my making full use of it, but many of the references are given in Roman script and helped me to check my own indexes. Dr. Law's book was of more immediate benefit to me. I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to both these authors.
It now remains for me to express my gratitude to come of those that helped in various ways to bring this work to its close. First and foremost is my teacher, Mrs. Rhys Davids, but for whose active sympathy, forceful assistance and kindly guidance in all its stages this Dictionary could never have been undertaken, much less completed. Throughout its progress I have been impelled by the desire to offer it to her, with deep humility, as a token of my great gurubhakti. It is a matter of intense satisfaction to me that this ambition has been fulfilled.
To the Secretary to State for India in Council I am exceedingly grateful for the honour he has done me in allowing me the privilege of continuing the work originally entrusted to a scholar of the unique distinction of the late Professor Rhys Davids. I trust I have, in some small measure at least, succeeded in justifying the confidence he thought fit to place in me.
I should like also to add my gratitude to Mr. W.T. Ottewill, O.B.E., Superintendent of Records at the India Office, for his unfailing courtesy and kindness.
To my friends and erstwhile students at the Ceylon University College, Mr. K.C. Fernando, Mr. D.E. Hettiaracchi, Mr. M.A. Perera, Mr. J.V. Fonseka, Mr. N.D. Wijesekera and Dr. O. H. de A. Wijesekera, I am indebted for their willing assistance in looking up some of the references in Buddhaghosa's Commentaries. To the Rev. A.P. Buddhadatta, whom I have had occasion to consult more than once, I am grateful for the benefit of his erudition.
Finally, to Alice de Zoete Elliot- she dislikes appellations - I owe more than I can hope to repay. When I told her about the Dictionary, she most cheerfully volunteered to revise the whole of my manuscript articles and to type them for the printer- in itself a stupendous task. This undertaking she has most scrupulously and assiduously fulfilled, in spite of great inconvenience, trouble and discomfort, making many sacrifices in order to help me. My friendship with her- which began when we were fellow-students at the School of Oriental Studies and soon ripened into deep affection- and with her versatile husband, Dr. Elliot, has been among the greatest joys and blessings of my life. It is not too much to say that the completion of this task within so short a time as four years would never have been possible but for her great assistance and heartening support.
For all deficiencies in this Dictionary- I am profoundly conscious of them - and for all error of omission and commission I sincerely apologise. It has meant very strenuous work for nearly four years without break of any sort; work undertaken in addition to the duties which devolved upon me as a full time teacher in charge of a department of studies at the Ceylon University College. In these circumstances it was inevitable that the following pages should contain numerous imperfections. The fact that printing has been going on all the time the Dictionary was in progress has also been a great drawback to its uniformity in various features. If I had been allowed ten years within which to complete the work, I might, perhaps, have made a better job of it, but everybody intimately concerned with the undertaking was anxious that it should be finished with the least possible delay. I only hope that my efforts will in some slight degree help in the exploration of that wonderful culture and civilization which lie enshrined in Pali tradition.
The second and final volume of the Dictionary will be issued in the course of this year.
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