November 17, 2017

རྨིག་པ་སྐམ་པོ།

I have suspended my speculations in my Philologia Tibetica for a while mainly owing to a sea of activities. I see the wisdom of śrāvaka mendicant expected to be of “few objectives and of few activities” (don nyung ba bya ba nyung ba). They were “of few objectives and of few activities” but were obviously more efficient and more successful in their aspirations. This must have been the wisdom of the Buddha. My actual point is not this. I am being distracted. My colleague, Dr. Heimbel, is confronted with a problem while pursuing his current research. That is, one of his sources allude to the expression rmig pa skam po. If we are dishonest and wish to smuggle in our “non-translation” as “translation,” we would say that of course it means “dry hoof/hooves” and would not dwell on it any more. But contextually, it would not make any sense to leave it at “dry hoof/hooves.” Perhaps “a dry-hoof animal” is an animal whose hooves are not split, like those of a horse.” There must be a Sanskrit word behind it because it is found in the Vinaya. If we look for khura in MW, we find that one of the meanings is “a sort of perfume (dried shellfish shaped like a hoof).” ”Perfume” is out of question but I wonder if it means here “dried shellfish shaped like a hoof.” The hooves of horses may be considered “dry” as they are not split (and thus can even be nailed for mounting horse-shoes) as opposed to the hooves of cows. But possibly here rmig pa skam po may have simply been a metaphorical word for “dried shellfish.” This is a pure speculation. Sanskritists might be able come to our rescue. Any insight on this would be appreciated by me as well as by Dr. Heimbel.



4 comments:

  1. Howdy partner, good to see yer back in the saddle again! I was just checking out that amazing beta website you were working on since forever, and it sure looks good. I'm definitely going to use it. (For people listening in, it's here: http://www.itlr.net/). I didn't see much if any context for that phrase rmig-pa skam-po, but my first (and possibly best) idea is just that it means "dried lizard," a more than possible ingredient in a medicinal preparation of some kind or another. It's a little complicated to go into the details, but that syllable rmig is sometimes spelled dmig. Also, rmig-pa just might be the 'sand tiger' (bye stag), which could be a lizard, or it could be a lizard, or some or another type of those same... There was recently a flurry of sensationalist internet stories about people caught selling desiccated penises of endangered lizards in India, although I question if this could be relevant here. You say it's in Vinaya, so perhaps it's one of the meats monks are forbidden to eat? Just thinking aloud and getting myself into trouble, as always. I understand if you don't have time to blog these days, so it's all the more of a pleasure to see you slip one into your busy schedule. Yours as always, D

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  2. Read in place of "could be a lizard, or it could be a lizard" "could be a lizard, or it could be a butterfly." Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, they fly by so fast.

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  3. Dear Dan, thank you for the comments which are, as always, insightful. The context is indeed meat-eating (perhaps not in the Vinaya as I stated above but in the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra?) and your “dried lizard” for rmig pa skam po (then to be understood not as karmadhāraya but as bahuvrīhi) seems to make sense and would also fit the context. The question that remains is what would be the Sanskrit term (if there was one behind the Tibetan term). Let us keep our eyes open. Warmest, D.

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  4. Oh my, D, if the Blessed one had to forbid it to the monks, that means somebody must have been snacking on it. I've never heard how delicious lizard jerkey oughta be, but it sure does sound like genuine cowboy chow. Maybe next time I'm on the trail. Well, I've got a heap of horse feathers to pluck before I'm buzzard bait. Ha ha... so see yuh! -D

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