For the first time this book is translated into and published in English from German. This book opens a sealed chapter on the study in the “Religio-Sociological History of Mahayana Buddhism”. It deals with the Tantric rituals, Mudras, Chakras, exorcisms, different magic powers, miracles, Siddhis then prevalent among the Bauddha Acharyas practicing Tantricism.
The German translation of Lama Taranatha’s first book on India called The Mine of Precious Stones (Edelsteinmine) was made by Prof. Gruenwedel, the reputed Orientalist and Archaeologist on Buddhist culture in Berlin. The translation came out in 1914 A.D. from Petrograd (Leningrad).
The German translator confessed his difficulty in translating the Tibetan words on matters relating to witchcraft and sorcery. So he has used the European terms from the literature of witchcraft and magic of the middle ages viz. ‘Frozen’ and ‘Seven miles boots’.
He said that history in the modern sense could not be expected from Taranatha. The important matter with him was the reference to the traditional endorsement of certain teaching staff. Under the spiritual protection of his teacher Buddhaguptanatha, he wrote enthusiastically the biography of the predecessor of the same with all their extravagances, as well as the madness of the old Siddhas.
Taranatha’s books regarding Buddhist India. By perusing the Tibetan books translated into English and German it seems to the translator that all the Tibetan writers on India have used common source for their information regarding Inida history. And in some of these books, the authority of the Indian book Aryamanjusri-Mulakalpa (translated by K.P. Jayaswal as An Imperial History of India) is quoted viz. the age of Panini is given as contemporaneous with Mahapadmananda of Magadha.
In going through Taranatha’s books it becomes evident that he never came to India. His knowledge of Indian geography was not clear, he made mistakes about the names of persons, geographical positions of different places etc. Further, it is clear from his writings that much of what he called Siddhis were knowledge of alchemy, witchcraft and Blackmagic.
Again in perusing this book one will find out the process by which Mahayana Buddhism has gradually amalgamated itself with the Brahmanism of later days which will account for the disappearance of the former from India. Indeed the Siddhis, the Sadhanas and the beliefs mentioned in his writings are still extant amongst the Hindus of present day.
The abstract translation is presented to the public so that the research student may gather some information which may throw some further light ‘on the history and sociology of India of that t Again, the book containing some Indian words expressed by the Siddhas may help the philologist in his investigation regarding the languages of the period. As regards the sociological and other information called out from this book the following are pointed out:
(I) That India had connection with the outside world at the period dealt by Tarantha.
(2) The sorcery practised in India and Europe had common forms. (3) The nature of the story of seeing in magic-mirror was common in both the places. (4) Pa is the Tibetan contraction of the Sanskrit word Pod or Pada.
(5) Karmaru is the Tibetan contraction of the Indian name Kmarupa. (6) Odivisa is Orissa, Otantapuri is Odantapuri, Udyana or Udayana is Udyana (today’s Cabul and Swat valley). (7) Some of the Buddhist Siddhas carried Jata (long matted hair) on their heads. (8) Tarantha spoke of the existence of Citizens’ ‘Gild’ of that period. (9) The use of sun-dial existed in that period. (10) Women used to sell brandy in those days. (11) The book contains instances of inter-caste marriages. (12) The wretched condition of the field-worker (peasant) in India was notorious even in those days and known to the outside world. (13) The word ‘Dinar’, the Indian form of the Roman coin ‘Dinarius’, which was used in Sanskrit literature, still persisted in the time when Taranatha wrote this book- (14) The book mentions a Katriya-Pandita as a purohita (priest) of a king. This reminds us of the practice of the Vedic age. It lends further strength to the proof that the priesthood has not always been the sole monopoly of the Brahmanas.’ (15) The book mentions the employment of Tajik (Persian) soldiers in the service of a Raja of Maru (Rajputana). (16) From the list of the names of the Siddhas it will be found out that some of them were of so called low castes.
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