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“The dead and their stories: preliminary remarks on the place of narrative in Tibetan religion”

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“The dead and their stories: preliminary remarks on the place of narrative in Tibetan religion”
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   77 ZAS 45 (2016)   randon Dotson The Dead and Their Stories: Preliminary Remars on the Pla!e o" #arrati$e in Ti%etan Reli&ion An e'li!it "o!s on an *intermediate eriod+ !alls one,s attention to !ontinities %et-een the *earlier+ and the *later+ eriods. 1  Parado'i!ally/ it also "or!es one to aroa!h indi$idal ro%lems "rom more o" a longue durée  erse!ti$e in order to de"ine -here/ e'a!tly/ the di""eren!es %et-een *early/+ *intermediate/+ and *later+ lie. This is one reason that the !on!eit o" the bar dar   re!ommends itsel"/ alon&side other rod!ti$e and sti"ia%le eriodiations o" Ti%et,s history/ as a heristi! de$i!e "or e'lorin& histori!al isses. This arti!le aroa!hes one s!h isse  that o" the la!e o" narrati$e in Ti%etan reli&ion. As 3athy 3ant-ell and Ro% ayer (200) ha$e ointed ot in their dis!ssion o" $ery similar isses in !onne!tion -ith Dnhan& materials !on!ernin& Padmasam%ha$a/ the narrati$e element that aears to %e so !r!ial in early Ti%etan nonddhist rital te'ts is "ar less imortant  tho&h %y no means a%sent  in the 8ndian ddhist ritals that Ti%et assimilated. The &eneral i!tre that emer&es is one o" a ro!ess %y -hi!h the narrati$e element de!reased in imortan!e as ddhism !ame to dominate Ti%etan rital ra!ti!es. 3ant-ell and ayer ha$e des!ri%ed one ase!t o" this ro!ess that -as arti!larly rele$ant to the !ltral trans"ormation and so!ial hea$al o" the *intermediate eriod/+ namely/ the indi&eniation o" ddhism %y/ amon& other thin&s/ in"sin& ddhist rital -ith narrati$es resem%lin& those that o"ten a!!omany nonddhist Ti%etan ritals. These latter narrati$es o"ten tae the "orm o" tales/ -hi!h are then related to a !on!rrent or s%se9ent rital er"orman!e. 8t is "or this reason that 8 re"er to them as *rital ante!edent tales+ (Dotson 200). Rital ante!edent tales enoyed a !entral role in a i$otal arena "or rital !ometition in early Ti%et: "neral rites. Thro&h "neral rites and the 1  8 tae this oortnity to e'ress my &ratitde to the !on"eren!e or&aniers "or arran&in& s!h a s!!ess"l !on"eren!e and "or indly hostin& the arti!iants. 8 &rate"lly a!no-led&e the sort o" the Ale'ander $on m%oldt ;ondation and the <erman ;ederal inistry o" =d!ation and Resear!h/ -ho sort my !rrent resear!h roe!t/ *>in&shi and Reli&ion in Ti%et.+ 8 am &rate"l to en leer/ ?e-is Doney/ <eor&e ;iter%ert/ and Ro% ayer "or their hel"l !omments to dra"ts o" this !hater.   7 ZAS 45 (2016)   olemi!s srrondin& them -e see that the lines o" de%ate are dra-n not only on the ey isse o" animal sa!ri"i!e/ %t also on the role o" narrati$e. To "lly nderstand the narrati$e "orms at -or in this dis!ssion/ this arti!le %e&ins %y introd!in& t-o se!i"i! rital narrati$e "orms: the rital ante!edent tale and the !atalo&e o" rital ante!edent tales. The tooi and "ormlae o" these narrati$e "orms are deta!ha%le/ and are shared %y te'ts %elon&in& to searate/ er"ormati$e settin&s/ s!h as the *A!!ont o" the inor >in&s+ -hi!h "orms a art o" Ti%et,s !hroni!leei!/ the Old Tibetan   Chronicle . The arti!le then e'amines ddhist "neral rites/ and their di""erent modes o" intera!tion -ith traditional Ti%etan "neral rites. The trans"ormation o" one traditional rite %y the ddhist *S%stittion Te't/+ "or e'amle/ !ontrasts -ith the strate&y o" the *Story o" the 3y!le o" irth and Death+ ( Skye shi’i lo rgyus )/ an ao!ryhal Ti%etan ddhist te't that dra-s on the Gaṇḍavyūha sūtra  to ro$ide a !harter myth "or the er"orman!e o" ddhist "neral rites. oth o" these te'ts !ome "rom 3a$e 17 at Dnhan&/ and are &enerally (tho&h not athoritati$ely) dated to the ninth !entry. The third and "inal art o" the arti!le analyes the rhetori!al strate&y o" a later te't/ the *A!!ont o" the ;ood Pro$isionin& @"or the Dead+ ( as gtad kyi lo rgyus ). This is also a !harter myth "or the er"orman!e o" ddhist "nerals/ %t one that aears to intentionally dis"i&re and s%$ert traditional nonddhist rital narrati$e "orms. This latter olemi! aears to %e in dialo&e -ith/ or a reoinder to antiddhist olemi!s/ s!h as those "ond in the Bsgrags !a gling grags / -hi!h a!!se the ddhists o" la&iariin& on o -ors and stealin& rorietary rital narrati$e te!hnolo&y. The e'amination o" the !han&in& modes o" intera!tion %et-een ddhists and their !ometitors thro&h an analysis o" the la!e o" narrati$e in "neral rites re$eals a !han&ed !onte't that mas an ideolo&i!al shi"t tain& la!e "rom the "all o" the emire to the sel"!ons!ios a$o-al o" ne- Ti%etan identities s!h as Rnyin& ma and on in the !entries that "ollo-ed. 8n the end/ the ddhist assimilation and s%$ersion o" these rital narrati$es also nderinned the !omosition o" ne- ddhist master narrati$es that -old re"i&re Ti%et,s history "rom this time on-ard. "# Tibetan $itual %ntecedent Tales and &on' uddhist (unerary Te)ts Amon& the Dnhan& mans!rits one "inds o$er a doen interrelated "nerary te'ts. To&ether -ith te'ts !on!ernin& healin&/ ransom rites/ and di$ination/ and alon&side a $ast !ors o" ddhist materials/ these are some o" or most imortant sor!es "or the stdy o" early Ti%etan reli&ion. The Dnhan& rital te'ts are rimarily "o!sed on ro$idin& a mythi!al ante!edent "or a &i$en rital or "or some "eatre o" a rital. The narrati$es sta&e s!h ante!edents in a heroi!/ mythi!al settin& that !an in$ol$e in&s/   7B ZAS 45 (2016)   9eens/ ne"arios %ein&s (e.&./ srin / bdud )/ &ods/ and rital se!ialists. They e'lain the ori&ins o" a rite/ its ne!essity/ and the roer methods "or its er"orman!e. These tales/ similarly to the in$o!ation o" a linea&e tree in the !onte't o" a ddhist tea!hin&/ ser$e to emo-er the rital and the o""i!iant %y asso!iatin& him or her -ith the re$ios s!!esses o" illstrios rede!essors. ='aminin& the !ors o" or earliest e'tant rital ante!edent tales reser$ed in 3a$e 17 in Dnhan&/ -e !an demonstrate the str!tre o" the narrati$es and !an %e&in to nderstand ho- they -ere sed. ost o" these tales/ almost all o" -hi!h !on!ern "neral rites/ "ollo- a %asi! lot o" !risis and resoltion. They also in!ororate !ertain re!rrin& tooi/ moti"s/ and "ormlae. These elements !an %e e'anded or !ontra!ted in the deli$ery/ and they !an also !ir!late %eyond the !on"ines o" the rital &enre. As s!h/ they !onstitte some o" the %asi! nits o" narrati$e in Ti%et/ and -e en!onter the same "ormlae and tooi in later on and ddhist rital te'ts/ in histori!al -ritin&s/ and in "ol tales. A rital ante!edent tale !an %e !alled s*rang / rabs / or lo rgyus . The "ormer term is &enerally a &enre desi&nation/ and nlie the latter t-o terms/ it seems not to %e "ond in the titles o" te'ts or tales. +o rgyus  is the !ommon -ord "or *history/+ %t it is also sed "or !harter myths and rital ante!edent tales. 2  The same is tre o" rabs / -hi!h/ %esides desi&natin& rital ante!edent tales/ !an re"er to nonrital *a!!onts+ o" e$ents. C  e'in& "rom the erse!ti$e o" &enre desi&nations that asire to re!ise distin!tions/ rabs  re"ers to narrati$es that are mytholo&i!al/ and -hi!h o"ten la!e themsel$es in a time o" ori&ins. This is tre/ "or e'amle/ o" the *Tale o" the Searation o" orse and >ian&+ (8TE 7C1)/ an ante!edent tale "or the se o" the horse as a sy!hoom &ide to the land 2  As noted %y elmt =imer/ the !orre!t etymolo&y o" lo rgyus  is a *!ontinm o" tidin&s+ or *series o" reorts+F a *s!!ession o" years+ is a se!ondary meanin& (=imer 1B7B: 10110C). C  Des!ri%in& the oly$alen!e o" the term rabs  in an arti!le that remains the locus classicus  "or the stdy o" early Ti%etan rital narrati$es/ Rol" Stein demonstrated that the term has t-o &eneral meanin&s: 1) *s!!ession+ or *series+F and 2) *tye+ or *ra!e+ (Stein 1B71: 5C7C). The etymolo&y o" rabs  as a *tale+ or *a!!ont+ mi&ht deri$e "rom the "ormer/ in -hi!h !ase a *s!!ession @o" -ords+ -old %e $ery similar to the etymolo&y o" lo rgyus . Stein also relates rabs  to olar 8ndian and 3hinese narrati$e &enres %y ointin& ot that in the ,ah-vyut!atti / sngon gyi rabs  translates the Sansrit  !ur-ṇa* / meanin& *tales o" ast @e$ents/+ and that rabs  seems to %e the e9i$alent o" the 3hinese bian   變 / as in the bian.en  or *trans"ormation te't+ &enre o" Tan& olar literatre. Stein maes this latter oint %ased not on dire!t translation %et-een 3hinese and Ti%etan/ %t on rese!ti$e Ti%etan and 3hinese translations o" a assa&e "rom the Glasar$asti$adin /0udrakavastu .   0 ZAS 45 (2016)   o" the dead. 4  t rabs  is also sed in the titles o" narrati$es lie the *A!!ont o" Those -ho Ser$ed as 3hie" 3on!ilors+ ( blon che bgyis !a ’" rabs F PT 127/ l. 6C)/ -hi!h "orms the se!ond !hater o" the Old Tibetan Chronicle / and !onstittes a series o" short $i&nettes o" the !areers o" Ti%et,s !hie" !on!ilors that has %een and !ontines to %e sed as a histori!al sor!e. 5  There are se$eral !hara!teristi!s that set rital ante!edent tales aart "rom other narrati$e "orms. Hne is their se o" a se!i"i!/ "ormalied re&ister o" rital lan&a&e. 8t !an %e distin&ished "rom normal rose %y its se!ialied le'i!on and %y its la!in& o" synonymos terms or hrases in aosition. This/ and other "orms o" arallelism/ is a ey "eatre o" rital ante!edent tales/ %t one that -e shall not e'lore in detail here. Rather/ -e shall %rie"ly introd!e the %road otlines o" rital ante!edent tales "or "nerals/ and in arti!lar the *Tale o" ?he, Ian& a re+ ( +he’u yang ka r1e’i rabs )/ -hi!h -ill ser$e as a oint o" deartre "or e'aminin& ddhist "nerary te'ts. The tale %e&ins -ith a "ormlai! statement o" temoral settin& that sets its a!tion in an!ient times. The satial settin& o" the tale is introd!ed alon&side the dra*atis !ersonae : J a%o$e the sy/  ato the hea$ens/ a !ertain ,<on tsn hy$a had no -i"e or %ride. e sear!hed "or a -i"e and %ride/ and too a !ertain Tan& n&a dd mo tan&/ da&hter o" dd re (*?ord o" bdud  demons+) tsan to& syold/ as his -i"e and %ride. The o""srin& they %e&at and !on!ei$ed -as %orn as a son/ -as %irthed as a s!ion. They &a$e the %oy a name/ they &a$e the s!ion an aellation/ ?he, Ian& a re.  gna* gyi ya’ bla na 2 dgung g" ya stengs na’ 2 ’gon tsun !hyva 3hig khab dang  2 dbyal *a *cis kab dang dbyal btsald !a 2 bdud r1e btsan tog skyold gyi sras *o tang nga bdud *o tang 3h"g kab dang 2 dbyal du blangs te bshos tang 2 4  See the smmary and analysis in Stein 1B71: 45B1 and that in ellea 200: 52BC7. The Ti%etan Dnhan& mans!rits are !ited a!!ordin& to their a%%re$iated shel"mars. *PT+ a%%re$iates Pelliot ti%Ktain/ and these do!ments are held at the i%liothL9e nationale de ;ran!e in Paris. *8T+ a%%re$iates *8ndia H""i!e ?i%rary/ Ti%etan !olle!tion/+ and these do!ments are hosed in the ritish ?i%rary in ?ondon. The !om%ination o" letter and nm%er "ollo-in& *8H? Ti%+ !onstittes the "ll shel"mar/ e.&. *8TE 7C4.+ Mhere ossi%le/ 8 ha$e in!lded the title &i$en in the te't. 8n some !ases/ ho-e$er/ a sin&le s!roll -ill !ontain more than one named tale/ and in other !ases the tale -ill ha$e no name. 5  #ote that the * blon rabs +  a!tally a blon che bgyis !a ’" rabs   in the Old Tibetan Chronic'le  is not a *&enealo&y o" !on!ilors/+ a "a!t that also s&&ests that -hile a rgyal rabs  may %e a *royal &enealo&y+  as it has %een traditionally translated and &eneri!ally desi&nated  it is also a *story a%ot in&s+F see $an der >i 1BB6: 4C.   1 ZAS 45 (2016)   na*s 2 gyi sras 2 bu !o ru 2 byung 2 sras dral du blta* bu’i *ying btags 2 sras  g" *tsan btags !a 2 lhe’u yang ka r1e F PT 11C4/ ll. 671F !". Stein 1B71: 4B2. Tyi!ally/ the tales %e&in -ith a mother and a "ather/ -ho !on!ei$e one or more !hildren. This "amilial settin& is an imortant !hara!teristi! o" these rital ante!edent tales. The %i9ity o" this introd!tory toos also lends itsel" to "ormaliation/ and to the se o" non airs and aositional synonym hrases/ as -e see a%o$e -ith the non airs khab and  dbyal / and the aired $er%s in the hrase *the o""srin& they %e&at and !on!ei$ed+ ( bshos dang na*s  gyi sras ). 6  H"ten the manner in -hi!h the !hara!ters are introd!ed is eno&h to set o"" an ine'ora%le series o" e$ents that leads to the illness or death o" one o" the rin!ial !hara!ters. The most !ommon and most adata%le troe "or death in these tales is the *matrimonial narrati$e troe+ (Dotson 200: 47F Dotson 201C!). This/ lie the other troes "or death in rital ante!edent tales/ is a troe in the literal sense o" the -ord: it trns a-ay "rom the denotati$e sense o" the n"oldin& o" e$ents/ and oints to-ards death. This is de not ne!essarily to any %elie" in an inherent lin %et-een marria&e and dan&er (tho&h s!h a lin !annot %e dismissed)/ %t rather to the "a!t that these tales mst *ill o""+ a rota&onist so that his or her "neral may %e er"ormed. The *Tale o" ?he, Ian& a re+ %e&ins -ith a marria&e/ and then rod!es the death o" the title !hara!ter thro&h the introd!tion o" another troe "or death/ the *!ometition troe/+ -hen ?he, Ian& a re !hallen&es his maternal relati$es/ the bdud  demons/ to a !ontest and to a ra!e that/ ine$ita%ly/ reslt in his death (PT 11C4/ ll. 717CF Stein 1B71: 4B2BC). The death itsel" !an either %e simly stated or attended %y a nm%er o" moti"s or "ormlae. 8n the !ase o" ?he, Ian& a re -e "ind the "ollo-in& !ommon "ormla "or a rota&onist,s death: *the bdud  demons !ame "rom the sy/ the sri  demons rose  "rom the earth/ and they illed him and he -as no more+ (  gna* las 2 ni bdud bcad sa las ni sri langste grongs gyis 2 *yed F PT 11C4/ l. 74F Stein 1B71: 4BC). There are other/ more detailed ima&es/ in!ldin& the oeti! e$o!ation o" the de!omosin& !orse (8TE 7C1r6F Stein 1B71: 47)/ the moti" o" 6  ere the meanin& o" bshos / *to !olate or %e&et/+ &i$es s the meanin& o" na*s / -hi!h stands in relation to it as an aositional synonym. The latter term is other-ise o%s!re. These "orms o" e'ression o%$iosly ose some ro%lems "or the translator. At the same time/ they are a &reat %oon "or the le'i!o&raher: i" one no-s the meanin& o" one term in s!h an aositional !onstr!tion/ this re$eals the &eneral meanin& o" the arallel term/ shold it %e nno-n.
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