May 11, 2017

ཉོན་མོངས་པ། = སྐོར་བ།?

I have been trying to translate kleśa as “intellectual-emotional defilement.” Translation is perhaps like food. We would inevitably end up arguing about it. But I think it is not just about taste. It is about driving home the point. Some kleśas such as avidyā and moha are intellectual defilements. Some like dveṣa and rāga are emotional defilements. And kleśas are defilements insofar they are often considered pollutants. Of course, occasionally, especially in narrative literature, if one becomes kliṣṭa, one is “perturbed, troubled, or tormented.” So “afflicted” may be fine for kliṣṭa. We may also have to consider upakleśa and saṃkleśa. Why am I talking about all these actually? There is a whole dissertation on the Buddhist concept of kleśa. I am thinking of Prof. Ahn Sungdoo’s dissertation. Actually the reason I am writing this piece is because of some other Sanskrit words (i.e. aṅgaṇa and raṇa) that have been rendered into Tibetan as nyon mongs pa. These are not used in the regular classical Sanskrit senses. Because Edgerton records them in his BHSD, these words can be considered Buddhist-Hybrid Sanskrit. The Mahāvyutpatti (no. 2157) states: nyon mongs pa’i ming ste ’dom na skor ba. This is my trouble. That aṅgaṇa is a designation for kleśa is clear. It has also been made clear by Edgerton. What does skor ba here mean? Not in a usual known sense but in a sense that could explain kleśa. No dictionary seems to record skor ba in the sense of intellectual-emotional defilement. Not as aṅgaṇa but aṅga, as an indeclinable particle, it implies “attention, assent or desire, and sometimes impatience” (MW). Perhaps Tibetan translation reflects this nuance, especially of “impatience”? Does skor ba here mean “perambulation” or “roaming around (restlessly)” and thus a “disturbing factor,” and hence equatable with nyon mongs pa?


1 comment:

  1. I'd understand the Mahāvyutpatti simply as "circling-if-bound": [That which,] if [one is] bound [by it, one] circles [in Samsāra].

    However, interestingly, the BHSD doesn't refer to aṅgaṇa as meaning circling, wandering, going, or anything like that: apparently it means "spot, blemish, depravity, evil".

    An explanation of why kleśa is called raṇa is given in the bhāṣya to Abhidharmakośa I-8: "The defilements are of battle because they injure oneself and others."