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Books > Art and Architecture > Stupa - Art, Architectonics and Symbolism (Indo-Tibetica I)
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Stupa - Art, Architectonics and Symbolism (Indo-Tibetica I)
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Preface

The present volume begins a series of studies which will be dedicated to the publication, investigation and elaboration of a vast archaeological, scriptural and literary material, collected during my long permanence in India and during my Tibetan expeditions. To this will be added the contribution of direct experiences which often are valuable in order to understand the meaning of a ritual, the ideal motif of an art work, the inner sense of a doctrine, in a much deeper way than that suggested by the simple .sequence of texts.

The title of this series indicates the fields of study which I intend, If not uniquely certainly especially, to turn my attention on: India and Tibet. For both of them, there is not only the question of geographical proximity, but rather of strict connection and cultural dependence. Except for minor Chinese influences and for rather large demonological survivals preceding the penetration of Buddhism, the Tibetan civilization and its creations may very well be considered as inspired by the great Indian experience specially by the Buddhistic. The Tibetan masters, both in solitary hermitages and in the immense and vastly populated convents, have maintained with wonderful fidelity the exegesis to the sacred texts; they have trod the ways traced by great Buddhist doctors in the famous universities of Nalanda, Vikramasila and Odantapuri, with conscience stricken operosity, and they have deepened the mystical experiences of the anchorites.

Upto our time, the attention of us orientalists has been engaged preferably in the investigation of historical and chronological problems. This work has been certainly useful, even necessary, but this should never let us lose sight of what should be the essential aim of our researches, namely the intimate understanding of the studied doctrines, rather than their juxtaposition in time.. This will partly explain the preference given to Chinese sources in the investigation on Buddhism. They give a lot of references and chronological data which would be lacking otherwise, and which have a great value especially when one thinks that they are concerned especially with die most glorious periods of Buddhism. But if we want to understand in all their values and meanings. those doctrines, maintained by the eloquent, but often inefficacious, dress of the word in the texts, and if we want to evaluate adequately their inner spiritual content, then, the Tibetan sources are of precious help to us. Certainly in Tibet there are many historical. and chronological works. They constitute invaluable documents for reconstructing the vicissitudes and the affiliations of the schools in the period of late Buddhism and in that of Lamaism .Moreover, they shed indirect light on one of the most obscure periods of Indian history. But the value of the immense Tibetan literature is of a much higher standard. An infinite cohort of exegctes belonging to all sects, from the Bka-dam-pa to the Dge-lugs-pa, from the Rnin-ma-pa to the Bkah-rgyud-pa, has commented upon, analysed, interpreted, clarified the enormous mass of Buddhist texts. Although this literature has scarce originality, because it follows Indian traditions, nevertheless it has subtlety and depth. It is, in any case, of great help not only to comprehend in a philological way the doctrinal and mystical treatises, but specially to get their actual meaning in order to translate them in our terms, so that we may have an adequate idea of the described experiences which have dominated and directed the spiritual life of great men both in India and in Tibet.

It will shed light for a better understanding of Buddhism, and therefore--since all manifestations of Indian theosophical thought are intimately connected and since the religion of the Buddha has greatly influenced the whole of the East-we shall prepare ourselves to understand deeper and better the Indian soul and the stern in general. This world by now should no longer interest us merely as a vast field for philological exercises, it is a world which lives an intense and multiform life of its own and which is called by the historical vicissitudes of our times to enter into a eater and more direct collaboration with us.

The complexity and the vastness of such a research will not low perhaps great works of synthesis as yet. Besides, there are still many difficulties in this, as for instance the many literatures which one needs to master fairly well and the difficulties to consult all the literary and archaeological sources. Moreover, there are many connections between civilizations and experiences which we do not know as yet, because, although such civilizations and experiences apparently seem to be quite apart from one another, nevertheless they have been linked by hidden and unforeseen currents. Therefore, we can .conduct special researches as complete

possible only on particular problems, and the synthesis of such aspects of the life, thought and art of eastern peoples which, we can manage to achieve with some possibilities of success through the present state of our knowledge.

Only in this way we can shed definitive light on many dark points which are still obscure in the history of oriental civilization.

As a general rule we quote the documentation in appendix, Id we will always translate the texts we use. In this manner the non-specialist as well can follow our researches. This will certainly be a useful thing to our culture in a moment in which stances are disappearing, people coming nearer and trying to understand one another, and the renewing spirit wants to understand all experience and tries again all ways.

 

Contents

 

  Introduction V-XXXV
  Preface 7
 
First Part
 
 
Stupa and Votive Stupa
 
 
(mchod-rten and tsha-tsha)
 
1 Tibetan literature about the stupa (Mchod-rten) 13
2 Its Connections with the Indian architectonic literature 18
3 The supposed Indian patterns of the eight types of stupa (mchod-rten) 21
4 Why the Stupas (mchod-rten) are built 24
5 The Stupa (mchod-rten) engraved or in miniature 32
6 Ritual for the building of a stupa (mchod-rten) 34
7 The Stupa (mchod-rten)as repositiory of sacred things 38
8 Symbolism attributed to the stupa (mchod-rten) according to hinayana and Mahayana 39
9 Diffusion of the various types of stupas Imchod-rten) in Indian and eastern Tibet 51
10 What is the meaning of tsha-tsha 53
11 Origin and meaning of tsha-tsha 55
12 Ceremonial for the preparation of the tsha-tsha 57
13 Various types of tsha-tsha and their chronological order 60
14 Iconographic types represented on the tsha-tsha 62
 
Second Part
 
 
Description of the principal types of tsha-tsha
 
  Collection in Ladakh, Spiti, Kunuvar, Guge  
I Group of signillary impressions 73
  (a) Impressed with figures (s) of a stupa (mchod-rten)  
  (b) with figures of divinities  
II Group of the stamped 79
  (a) Simple divinities  
  (b) Grouped Divinities 99
  (c) Guru and siddha 102
III In the shape of stupa (mchod-rten) 106
IV Bon-po tsha-tsha 108
  Appendices  
I The Tibetan texts on Stupa (mchod-rten)  
  First Text 113
  Second text 118
  Translation of the first Text 121
  Translation of the second text 127
II The fight between Vajrapani and Mahadeva  
  Text 135
  Translation 140
  Index 147

 













Stupa - Art, Architectonics and Symbolism (Indo-Tibetica I)

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1988
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Preface

The present volume begins a series of studies which will be dedicated to the publication, investigation and elaboration of a vast archaeological, scriptural and literary material, collected during my long permanence in India and during my Tibetan expeditions. To this will be added the contribution of direct experiences which often are valuable in order to understand the meaning of a ritual, the ideal motif of an art work, the inner sense of a doctrine, in a much deeper way than that suggested by the simple .sequence of texts.

The title of this series indicates the fields of study which I intend, If not uniquely certainly especially, to turn my attention on: India and Tibet. For both of them, there is not only the question of geographical proximity, but rather of strict connection and cultural dependence. Except for minor Chinese influences and for rather large demonological survivals preceding the penetration of Buddhism, the Tibetan civilization and its creations may very well be considered as inspired by the great Indian experience specially by the Buddhistic. The Tibetan masters, both in solitary hermitages and in the immense and vastly populated convents, have maintained with wonderful fidelity the exegesis to the sacred texts; they have trod the ways traced by great Buddhist doctors in the famous universities of Nalanda, Vikramasila and Odantapuri, with conscience stricken operosity, and they have deepened the mystical experiences of the anchorites.

Upto our time, the attention of us orientalists has been engaged preferably in the investigation of historical and chronological problems. This work has been certainly useful, even necessary, but this should never let us lose sight of what should be the essential aim of our researches, namely the intimate understanding of the studied doctrines, rather than their juxtaposition in time.. This will partly explain the preference given to Chinese sources in the investigation on Buddhism. They give a lot of references and chronological data which would be lacking otherwise, and which have a great value especially when one thinks that they are concerned especially with die most glorious periods of Buddhism. But if we want to understand in all their values and meanings. those doctrines, maintained by the eloquent, but often inefficacious, dress of the word in the texts, and if we want to evaluate adequately their inner spiritual content, then, the Tibetan sources are of precious help to us. Certainly in Tibet there are many historical. and chronological works. They constitute invaluable documents for reconstructing the vicissitudes and the affiliations of the schools in the period of late Buddhism and in that of Lamaism .Moreover, they shed indirect light on one of the most obscure periods of Indian history. But the value of the immense Tibetan literature is of a much higher standard. An infinite cohort of exegctes belonging to all sects, from the Bka-dam-pa to the Dge-lugs-pa, from the Rnin-ma-pa to the Bkah-rgyud-pa, has commented upon, analysed, interpreted, clarified the enormous mass of Buddhist texts. Although this literature has scarce originality, because it follows Indian traditions, nevertheless it has subtlety and depth. It is, in any case, of great help not only to comprehend in a philological way the doctrinal and mystical treatises, but specially to get their actual meaning in order to translate them in our terms, so that we may have an adequate idea of the described experiences which have dominated and directed the spiritual life of great men both in India and in Tibet.

It will shed light for a better understanding of Buddhism, and therefore--since all manifestations of Indian theosophical thought are intimately connected and since the religion of the Buddha has greatly influenced the whole of the East-we shall prepare ourselves to understand deeper and better the Indian soul and the stern in general. This world by now should no longer interest us merely as a vast field for philological exercises, it is a world which lives an intense and multiform life of its own and which is called by the historical vicissitudes of our times to enter into a eater and more direct collaboration with us.

The complexity and the vastness of such a research will not low perhaps great works of synthesis as yet. Besides, there are still many difficulties in this, as for instance the many literatures which one needs to master fairly well and the difficulties to consult all the literary and archaeological sources. Moreover, there are many connections between civilizations and experiences which we do not know as yet, because, although such civilizations and experiences apparently seem to be quite apart from one another, nevertheless they have been linked by hidden and unforeseen currents. Therefore, we can .conduct special researches as complete

possible only on particular problems, and the synthesis of such aspects of the life, thought and art of eastern peoples which, we can manage to achieve with some possibilities of success through the present state of our knowledge.

Only in this way we can shed definitive light on many dark points which are still obscure in the history of oriental civilization.

As a general rule we quote the documentation in appendix, Id we will always translate the texts we use. In this manner the non-specialist as well can follow our researches. This will certainly be a useful thing to our culture in a moment in which stances are disappearing, people coming nearer and trying to understand one another, and the renewing spirit wants to understand all experience and tries again all ways.

 

Contents

 

  Introduction V-XXXV
  Preface 7
 
First Part
 
 
Stupa and Votive Stupa
 
 
(mchod-rten and tsha-tsha)
 
1 Tibetan literature about the stupa (Mchod-rten) 13
2 Its Connections with the Indian architectonic literature 18
3 The supposed Indian patterns of the eight types of stupa (mchod-rten) 21
4 Why the Stupas (mchod-rten) are built 24
5 The Stupa (mchod-rten) engraved or in miniature 32
6 Ritual for the building of a stupa (mchod-rten) 34
7 The Stupa (mchod-rten)as repositiory of sacred things 38
8 Symbolism attributed to the stupa (mchod-rten) according to hinayana and Mahayana 39
9 Diffusion of the various types of stupas Imchod-rten) in Indian and eastern Tibet 51
10 What is the meaning of tsha-tsha 53
11 Origin and meaning of tsha-tsha 55
12 Ceremonial for the preparation of the tsha-tsha 57
13 Various types of tsha-tsha and their chronological order 60
14 Iconographic types represented on the tsha-tsha 62
 
Second Part
 
 
Description of the principal types of tsha-tsha
 
  Collection in Ladakh, Spiti, Kunuvar, Guge  
I Group of signillary impressions 73
  (a) Impressed with figures (s) of a stupa (mchod-rten)  
  (b) with figures of divinities  
II Group of the stamped 79
  (a) Simple divinities  
  (b) Grouped Divinities 99
  (c) Guru and siddha 102
III In the shape of stupa (mchod-rten) 106
IV Bon-po tsha-tsha 108
  Appendices  
I The Tibetan texts on Stupa (mchod-rten)  
  First Text 113
  Second text 118
  Translation of the first Text 121
  Translation of the second text 127
II The fight between Vajrapani and Mahadeva  
  Text 135
  Translation 140
  Index 147

 













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