Articles by alphabetic order
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries (from Amarakośa to Triglotte via Mahāvyutpatti) by Natalia Yakhontova

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
0602 345.jpg

The tradition of composing the dictionaries in Mongolian has the same Indian source as the origination of Buddhism. It was not only the religion that was borrowed but a lot of cultural fenomena as well.

The way of penetration lay via Tibet. The Tibetans were the first to accept Buddhism and from there it spread among the Mongols. Actually much earlier there was a short period of a strong Yugourian influence on the Mongols and their first acquaintance with Buddhism they got from the Yugours. But the period was short, it was followed by “darkness”, so little was left and this first wave of Buddhism doesn’t have a direct connection with the Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries the subject of the present presentation. Though it is well-known that not a few key words (such as bodhisattva, dharma, dharani, etc.) were borrowed from Sanskrit at the time. They were accepted by the Mongolian language and were preserved there. Well-preserved because centuries later when translations from Tibetan into Mongolian were made it were these Sanskrit words that were used to translate the Tibetan words instead of word for word translating the Tibetan ones following the word for word pattern typical for the later period. The Sanskrit epics and literature flourished long before there even was an alphabet in what is now Mongolia. The Sanskrit linguistic tradition goes back to the 5th century B.C. (the Panini grammar) and the first lexicon (Nighṇṭu by Yāska). The latter consisted of synonyms to the names of gods, their attributes, names of earth and water and so on, lists of verbs, nouns, adjectives, mainly used in praising gods and appealing to them. This tradition of composing lexicons was developed further. The best known and a real masterpiece among them is the Amarakośa dictionary written by Amarasiṁgha (8th century A.D.). This work is written in verse and it has a lot of synonyms organized as lists referring to different referents, hundreds of them. A good number of them were used in epics (such as Mahabharata). I’ll name only a few which are relevant to the further text: the first is Buddha, then gods from the Indian mythology with their attributes, natural fenomena (rain, sea, earth, mountains, etc.), plants, animals, classes of men, professions and many others. The primary interest to us here is that this lexicon was translated into Tibetan, three translations are known (one of them was published facsimile by prof. Lokesh Chandra). The translation of Amarakośa into Mongolian exists as well and at the moment it is studied by Prof.Tissa Rajapatirana. The Amarakośa lexicon had a great influence on Tibetan works of the same kind the most well-known is “The decoration of the wise man’s ears”. Not a few words and expressions originally from Sanskrit lexicons were included into some Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries. This is a specific and the most ancient layer in them. There are no special lexicons of this kind in Mongolian known so far, but one Oirat manuscript written in so called “clear script” is kept in the collection of our institute. My humble contribution to the study of this kind of lexicographical works is the publication of the manuscript facsimile accompanied by translation, commentaries and index. There is no doubt that this lexicon is a translation from Tibetan most likely using not a single Tibetan text. And translations into Tibetan in their turn were made from Sanskrit.

From the point of Buddhist terminology study these Sanskrit lexicons are of very limited use. They provide only the synonyms for a Buddha and the Buddha (some lexicons have two separate lists others one common list) which when applied to either Buddha are traditionally called “epithets” (or subnames, when applied to gods or persons from mythology). In the Tibetan texts the honorable word mtshan is used instead of an ordinary ming. The Tibetan lexicons (I refer here to the “Decoration of Wise Man’s Ears”) which was composed much later (17th century) underwent certain “upgrading” relevant to Vajrayana Buddhism. It adds list of synonyms for several other Buddhist referents such as Vajradhāra, Kālacakra, Hevajra, Samvara, Jambhala, and lists for a boddhisattva, Pratyekabuddha and Śrāvaka (in general), for individual bodhisattvas (Maitreya, Avalokiteśvara, Mañjuśrī, Vajrapani), for goddesses Tārā and Sarasvatī.

The famous Mahāvyutpatti (MP) dictionary is a well-known and the basic lexicographical work often referred to as “A dictionary of Buddhist terminology”. At least the aim of this work was to help the translation of Holy Scriptures. It was compiled in 801 or 812 in Tibet by a committee of Indian and Tibetan scholars for a special imperial order. The translation into Mongolian was made during the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia in 17th and early 18th centuries which was supported by the Qing Dynasty in China. Two translations were made into Mongolian. The first is included in Tengyur, the second is a manuscript preserved at the library of Oriental Faculty in St.Petersburg State University. The latter represents an earlier version than that from Tengyur. It was published by Alice Sárcösi with the English translation (1995). The connection between “theory” (MP) and practice (the Buddhist texts) existed which is proved e.g. by the list of names (actually phrases) of the merits of the Śrāvaka: the list from MP is the same as merits listed in the 1st chapter of the Mongolian translation of “The Sutra of Golden Light” – the famous Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtra.

Buryatia 114.jpg

The Mahāvyutpatti is often called not a dictionary but an encyclopedia, which (as Csoma de Kőrös wrote in one of the letters: “…highly interesting to understand better the whole system and principles of the Buddhist doctrine”. (I’m quoting the preface to the edition of Mongolian translation made by A.Sárcösi). Whatever we call it (a lexicon, a dictionary or an encyclopedia) the Mahāvyutpatti is a great work. The most important about it was that it represented the undisputable Tibetan terminology for translating Sanskrit texts into Tibetan. It is organized according to the traditional for that period Indian subject pattern. It is divided into paragraphs (or chapters), 277 of them, the number of words and expressions in one chapter can vary from two to hundreds and about two thirds of the dictionary is connected with Buddhism. The total number of entries is about 9500. If you compare the Amarakośa and Mahāvyutpati, you’ll see that the backbone order of the subjects is the same. The dictionary begins with the epithets of Buddha (without the division into “the” and “a”). Then subjects related to him which can be compared to the attributes of gods in AK (Śiva, Viṣnu and the like). The place of the gods is occupied by Bodhisattva, Pratyekabuddha, Śrāvaka and subjects related to them as well as other Buddhist subjects. Some Indian gods’ names (e.g. Indra and Śiva) are preserved in MP as well but on one list and without their attributes and companions. In the chapter “The names of the gods” these gods are represented not by one name but by several (Śiva is called in 11 different ways). All these names are their epithets in Amarakośa, but they are not specially marked in MP (the one who doesn’t know the background may consider that Tripuravidhaṁsaka ‘The destroyer of three cities’ and Śulapāṇi ‘Holding a javelin in his hand’ are two different gods, wile these are epithets of the god Śiva. In the same way some other words (not persons’ names) regarded as epithets in Amarakośa became just words on the list in MP (for the earth, for the mountain, for the king, for the counselor or minister).

About one third of the dictionary in its end is occupied by absolutely normal words (e.g. plants, family members, parts of the human body, classes of men, etc. – I’m naming mostly the subjects relevant to my subject) which are in the Amarakośa as well and they follow the same order. Almost all chapters in the Mahāvyutpatti use the Tibetan word ming in the title. The same word is used in the Amarakośa translation to refer to the names – subnames. The difference is that the chapter “the names of the trees” in Amarakośa has the subnames of the wordtree”, while “the names of the trees” in Mahāvyutpatti enumerates the kinds of the trees. There are two chapters “The names of Buddha” in MP. The first is the list of epithets or subnames (just the same as in AK but the list in MP is a bit longer). But the second chapter in MP has real names – the personal names of different Buddhas. Moreover the word ming is widely used in the names of the chapters in MP to denote terms (such as types of śūnyata, prajña, etc.). The difference between lists of kinds of trees and types of e.g. parāmitā is that the first one is an open set while the second is a closed set of terms and it makes them terms. There exists another Buddhist dictionary which is well-known as well. It was published facsimile in 1859 in St.Petersburg by A.Schiefner who called it “Die Buddhistische Triglotte” and it has been known under this title since, for it does not have any title of its own. One blockprint of this text is preserved at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (St.Petersburg). It is a text from the collection of baron Schilling von Canstadt (as a handwritten inscription says). This text is available on the Internet. A.Schiefner writes in the Introduction to his publication that it is the same as a Beijing edition – the Buddistishe Pentaglotte and according to Professor V.P.Vasilyev (a prominent Russian sinologist) it was composed by the famous Second Changkya Khutukhtu, Rolpay-dorjey (lCang-skya Rol-pa’i rdo-rje, 1717-1786) who is known for his activities in translation of Buddhist works into Mongolian and Manchu. A copy of the Pentaglotte dictionary is preserved in the collection of our Institute as well. Both have 71 chapters and about 1000 entries. The difference is that the Triglotte (TRG) has three languages (Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian) and Pentaglotte (PTG) has five (Manchu and Chinese are added). Sanskrit in both dictionaries is written in Tibetan letters. Neither of two texts has a colophone, so there is no information about the author and the date. As for the Second Changkya Khutukhtu he is known to be the author of another Tibetan-Mongolian dictionary: A Lexicon Resource for the Learned (Tib. Dag-yig mkhas-pa’i ‘byung-gnas, Mong. Merged γarqu-yin oron).


The PTG is a Chinese book-type xylograph which consists of two bounded volumes, printed on thin Chinese paper with pagination in Chinese. The TRG is a so-called bothi-type xylograph printed on thick greenish Russian paper most likely printed in Mongolia. (Two pictures). There is a difference between TRG and PTG in the writing (or should we say carving?) styles, the letters are different: the solid bold letters are used in TRG and delicate in PTG. (Two pictures). The first and second pages of TRG printed in red ink are decorated with an ornament used in another bothi-type xylograph namely the famous dictionary Ming gi rgya mcho printed in Beijing in 1718 (written by Brova Gungajamtso rab ‘byams pa kun dga rgya mcho). But it is clearly seen that TRG’s ornament is a copy made by a less skilled craftsman. The details of the lion masks are not so delicate as in Ming gi rgya mcho. (Two pictures). The pictures (Śākyamuni and Maitreya) decorating the first pages of both xylographs differ in the same way: delicate in ming gi rgya mcho and less skilled in TRG. (Two pictures). Those who printed the TRG dictionary knew the Ming gi rgya mcho edition. The TRG and PTG, being compared, show that their Sanskrit, Tibetan and Mongolian texts are identical. The only tiny differences are marking / not marking diacritic signs in Mongolian (e.g. in PTG they regularly don’t put two dots on the left side of letter γ). Both dictionaries have identical mistakes (not a few of them) in the Sanskrit part of the text (I’ll show some examples later). Some occasional misprints (or “miscarvings”) in Mongolian and Tibetan parts made in one text are corrected in the other and vice-versa, so it’s difficult to say which of the two (TRG or PTG) appeared the first and which is the copy. Anyway, their small differences are not important because TRG and PTG are identical enough for comparing them as a whole with Mahāvyutpatti.

Browsing the Internet I came across the site of Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taipei. They have produced the digital version of “The Pentaglott Dictionary of Buddist Terms” which consists of Sanskrit (in transliterated corrected spelling), Manchu and Mongolian (in transliteration, the Mongolian one being a bit unusual for the European way of transliteration) and Chinese (hieroglyphs) but no Tibetan (“so far” as they write). In the preface they say about PTG that it “is probably based on the Mahāvyutpatti, though the exact relationship between the two still awaits further research”. The connection between these two dictionaries (MP and TRG) is obvious. An important note here: further I’ll refer only to TRG. Which of the two (TRG or PTG) to refer to is irrelevant for comparison but I can analyze only three languages, I worked with TRG and giving examples I only refer to it. So, the TRG it is not “probably” but it is “for sure” based on the Mahāvyutpatti. In his preface A.Schiefner mentions its connection with the MP. In fact the TRG is not just “based on” but it is an abridged version of MP. Every entry included in TRG can be traced back to MP. Let’s compare TRG and MP from the three points of view:

1. the structure – the chapter level,
2. the choice of words – within the chapter level,
3. the words themselves – the word level

I). MP has 277 chapters, TRG has 71 chapters.

TRG of course is shorter and not all chapters from MP were included in it. The following table shows correspondence between the chapters in the two dictionaries (Table). Most of the chapters in TRG have one corresponding chapter in the MP, but some chapters from MP were divided to make several chapters in TRG, others, on the contrary, were united. Those united ones were always the adjacent chapters in MP. When you start reading the TRG dictionary it seems to be almost identical to MP. In the beginning it just follows the text of MP omitting some chapters. But very soon a kind of moving back and forth through the text starts: chapters are chosen from the further parts and then back and again ahead while the steady strive to the end prevails. Evidently the author chose the most important subjects from the MP, organizing the material according to his own model which follows MP on the whole but differs from it in some details. Those who are more experienced in the field of Buddhology should excuse me for rather primitive explanation. The TRG dictionary begins from the Buddha and all the subjects related to him (Chapters 1-7). Next is the bodhisattva level (Chapter 8-18) with the related subjects and Pratyekabuddha’s (Chapter 19) and Śrāvaka’s level. The chapters coming after Śrāvaka deal with subjects relevant to him (Chapter 20-38). Further on in TRG is pudgala and chapters (Chapter 39-45) which help him on his way of self-improvement (such as a chapter of four meritorious actions (puṇya), three chapters dealing with Buddha’s texts and their categories and the Chapter of 12 ascetic practices). After that nine chapters (Chapters 46-54) cover cosmology and then Chapters 55-61 enumerate four elements, colors, forms, smells, tastes and so on. Next chapters 62-68 deal with a human being (places of rebirth, classes of men, relatives, parts of a human body, eight un-free states, six basic afflictions and 20 secondary afflictions. At the end there are two chapters with the names of directions and sub-directions and some useful adjectives. The last 71th chapter has several names for happiness – its position at the end of the dictionary reminds the wish “Mangalam” at the end of many texts. Evidently the main backbone of the order of chapters is the same as in MP and earlier in Amarakośa dictionaries (Buddha, Buddhist matters, and closer to the end, less-Buddhist part: family members, parts of the human body, classes of men, etc.). The changes in removing parts that were made only touch on the Buddhist subjects.

On the whole TRG is organized in a more rigid way. The titles of the chapters are shorter and clearer. The numbers are used in the titles much more often in the places where in MP there is no numeral definition of the number of entries. There are only 12 titles out of 71 without numerals. These are either chapters which contain names (Buddha’s, Bodhisattva’s, Śrāvaka’s) or chapters containing classes of men, relatives, parts of the human body and some others, which are placed at the very end of the dictionary. The placing of the chapter with the names of happiness is a nice touching peculiarity of the dictionary. In TRG there are no “surrounding words” which often begin a chapter and which finish it in MP. The only trace of such a possibility is a particle la in the end of the Tibetan title of the chapter. Its concealed meaning is “among the names of an X the following can be mentioned” E.g. sangs rgyas kyi mtshan gyi ming la ‘among the names of Buddha

II) MP has about 9500 entries, TRG – 1071.


The set of entries within the chapters can be identical to MP when one chapter in MP with all the words is included into TRG as a whole. Obviously, if a chapter title in both dictionaries contains number of entries then there is almost 100% certainty that the entries will be the same in both dictionaries. E.g. Chapter 15 (TRG): Tib. rnam thar gsum ‘three liberations’, Mong. γurban masi tonilqu id.; in MP it is Chapter 69: Tib. rnam par thar ba’i sgo gsum ‘three doors of liberation’, Mong. masida toniluγsan γurban qaγalγ-a id. The same is in the following chapters 16-19 (TRG) – three types of knowledge (prajña), four attractive qualities (of a boddhisatva), the 18 kinds of emptiness, etc. I’ve said “almost 100%” because in one case the chapter title has a mistake: seven objects of touch are declared in the title of chapter 61 (TRG) The title is Tib. reg bya bdun gyi ming la, Mong. doloγan kürelčeküi-yin ner-e inu because in MP (within Chapter 97) there are seven objects named (No 1904-1911) while only six were included in TRG. It happened because in the Sanskrit text of MP two words with close meaning both were translated with one word into Tibetan and then with one word into Mongolian. So one Sanskrit entry was deleted. But the number in the title remained. The set of entries can be shorter in TRG than that of the corresponding chapter in MP. In this case not all or only some entries are chosen from the corresponding chapter in MP. E.g. Chapter 21 (TRG) only has 19 individual names of Śrāvaka out of 44 in Chapter 44 (MP). Chapter 9 (TRG) has 31 names of boddhisattvas while corresponding Chapter 20 (MP) has 93. A criterion for choosing this or that word is not quite clear, but those from the beginning of the chapter are more likely to be included than those at the end of the list. The preference is given to words with wide, general meaning rather than narrow. The words with the close meanings are not likely to be included – only one from the several will be. This all means that the choice wasn’t done at random. It shows a profound work of the author whose aim was to make a dictionary which, on the one hand, is much shorter and, on the other hand, gives the most important basic words and expressions. Still the chapter with the names of Śrāvaka poses a question because such well-known names as Kāśyapaḥ, Śāriputraḥ, Maudgalyāyana, Subhūtiḥ and some others were omitted.

III) The word level

1) Sanskrit words. As I have already mentioned that the Sanskrit words are written using the Tibetan letters – a pattern which is used very often in dictionaries. The Sanskrit words in TRG are often corrupted. Sanskrit visarga and anusvara letters are omitted quite often. Most common mistakes are mixing consonant letters “p” and “s”: e.g. sāṁpukulika (instead of pāṁsukulika No 1128), sraśastaḥ (instead of praśastaḥ No 2746), and letters “t” and “r”: e.g. mahartamam (instead of mahattamam 2698), nāmatūpam (instead of nāmarūpam 2245), bahutatam (instead of bahutaram 2696). Other letters are mixed up occasionally: e.g. “y” and “m” samudamaḥ (instead of samudayaḥ No 1194), “d” and “k” vekanā (instead of vedanā No 2248),”m” and “s” sahikā (instead of mahikā No 1872). Another often mistake is just omitting of letters. Usually vowel letters which are written under or above the consonants are omitted (but no mistakes of inserting extra ones!), e.g. aśaṣaḥ (instead of āśiṣaḥ No 2740), guratvam instead of gurutvam No 1906). The Tibetan letter “a chung” shows that the vowel is a long one so its absence makes the originally long vowel short: e.g. atapaḥ (instead of ātapaḥ No 1874), it may be mixed with a bottom-subscript consonant: e.g. kaṣyaya (instead of kaṣāya No 1903) (26a:2). Consonants are sometimes missed not only vowels: e.g. śotrendriyam (instead of śrotrendriyam No1853)

More complicated mistakes occur śughyam (instead of ślāghyam No 2751), drusvam (instead of hrasvam No 1879), mistakes may be combined in one word: kuruhalam (instead of kutūhalam No 2745) There may be other reasons for “miscarvings”. E.g in chapter 61 there are seven names of objects of perception (MP 1904-1911): the first four have suffix -tvam but the fifth doesn’t: ślakṣṇa-tvam karkaśa-tvam guru-tvam laghu-tvam śītam. In TRG letter “v” was added automatically to the fifth word as well and it was written as śītvam. The number of mistakes increases towards the end of the text. The mistakes show that the pattern used for TRG (or PTG) was the Sanskrit text written not in devanāgarī but in the Tibetan script. It is obvious that all these mistakes are made because of the inattentiveness of the engraver who carved wrong letters instead of similar looking right ones or just did not carve letters at all. All this causes difficulties in identifying Sanskrit words. It is not the fault of the author who seems to know Sanskrit. He made a few changes in Sanskrit words which can be considered correct (e.g. asama ‘unequal’ is written instead of viśātam id. (No 1883). Still viśātam is better because it is opposed to śātam ‘equal’ (No 1884) while asama should have had the opposition of sama.

One more example is the translation of two Sanskrit words from Chapter 58 (TRG) into Mongolian: Sansk. vṛttam ‘round’ (No 1886) and parimaṇḍalam ‘sphere’ (No 1887), they are translated into Tibetan as lham pa ‘square’ and zlum po ‘round’. The Mongolian translation in TRG differs from that from MP (which is similar to Tibetan). It seems to be made from Sanskrit: Mong. qabtaγai ‘flat’ and mögüreg ‘a ball’. These words show the opposition of the “flat-sphere”. Some changes in the Sanskrit text are rather strange. The first is replacing a pair of words: samagandhaḥ ‘constant odor’ (MP, No 1896) and viṣamagandhaḥ with the opposite meaning (MP, No 1897), by another pair in TRG: karṇagandha ‘ear+odor’ and akarṇagandhaḥ, respectfully. The Tibetan translation remains intact.


The second change is in Chapter 70 (TRG) where different adjectives are presented. In MP there is Sansk. paurvāparyam ‘former and later’ (MP, No 2702) which is translated into Tibetan as snga phyi id. In TRG it is substituted by Sansk. caramam ‘final’, while the Tibetan (and Mongolian) translation remains the same as in MP. At the same time the word paurvāparyam is used in TRG to substitute Sansk. sūkṣmam ‘small, exact’ (MP, No 2704), which is translated into Tibetan as phra mo ’am zhib mo id. while the Tibetan (and Mongolian) translation remains the same as in MP. The result should be considered a mistake. One more change is adding of the word “sen” to nine Sanskrit words out of 12 included in Chapter 44 (Names of 12 branches of Buddha’s teachings). sūtrisen geyamsen vyākaraṇamsen gāthāsen dāsenamsen nidānamsen avadānamsen ativṛttakamsen jātakamsen vaipulyam adbhūtadharmaḥ upadeśaḥ (picture) The only explanation I could think of was that sen is a corruptedly written Tibetan word sde ‘section’ which is used in all Tibetan translations of the words. The translation from Sanskrit into Tibetan in TRG doesn’t differ from that in MP. That means that the Tibetan translation for Buddhist terminology having been worked out and standardized in MP didn’t change from 9th till 18th centuries at least in the dictionaries. Mistakes in Tibetan are very few, either: e.g. Tib. thongs kyi dpon is written in TRG instead of ‘phong gi dpon ‘master in archery’ in MP (No 3744). Only occasional words are translated in a different way (mostly in less-Buddhist chapters). E.g. Sansk. mitram ‘friend’, Tib. mdza’ bshes ‘relatives’ (MP, No 3914) is translated as gnyen bshes ‘relatives and friends’ in TRG.

When the author of TRG dictionary made the Sanskrit word list for it he almost always cut off the synonyms within one entry which occur in MP. One word per entry (or one expression because some entries are expressions) was left. In the Tibetan translation respectively the corresponding translations were cut off. The Mongolian translation is a more interesting subject. Even the translations in the Buddhist part don’t remain intact, don’t duplicate those in MP. Partly because there exist two Mongolian translations of MP: the text from Tengyur and the Leningrad (present St.Petersburg) manuscript. In TRG the translation may be chosen from either of these two. There is, probably, a slight preference to the Tengyur version but “the Leningrad ones” were used as well. And in some chapters that are Leningrad ones that prevail. A lot of translations in TRG are a combination of both. The impression is that the author had both Mongolian translations of MP at hand and chose the best in his opinion often making a combination of words from the both. At the same time he was free to give his own translation. While translating into Mongolian he was rather consistent to translate entries in one chapter using one form of the word: all participles, or all verbal nouns, or all finite forms of the verb, e.g. Chapter 26 (TRG), where all Tibetan finite particles with the vowel “o” were translated into Mongolian by the verb ending in -mui. He replaces the word for word translation into Mongolian given in MP with Sanskrit loanwords (e.g. samadi, viyanggirid, maqabud, which I spoke about at the very beginning).

He uses new words (e.g. domoγ ‘legend’, šinǰilekü ‘to investigate’, tangsuγ ‘exellent’, saγad ‘obstacle’) and the new meanings of the forms. One of his favorite is suffix -γči/-gči (nomen actoris – designating mainly the person acting) which is used instead of -qui/-küi (nomen futuri – designating mainly the process or the action) in the names of three Śrāvakas(TRG, Chapter 20) E.g. Tib. shes rab kyis rnam par grol ba, Mong. (MP, No 1027) bilig-iyer teyin büged tonilqui, Mong.(TRG) bilig-yer masida toniluγči ‘completely liberated by wisdom’. Another favorite is a derivative suffix -či which designates the names of professions and which is widely used in the Chapter 63. Too widely, I would say, because the Mongolian word čindamaniči (translation of Tib. nor bu mkhan ‘jeweler’ MP, No 3789) is his own invention showing his love to Sanskrit words and suffix -či. He doesn’t like the word teyin büged ‘completely’ (which is usually the translation of the Tibetan rnam par id.) always substitutes it for masi or masida id.

The less-Buddhist part, on the one hand, is less variational. It’s not easy to find variants for translating, for example, the names of colors (blue, yellow, red and white) or parts of human body, or even relatives – these words are basic in any language. On the other hand, there is Chapter 63(classes of men) in this part which is an example of fundamental changes in the Mongolian translation in TRG if compared to MP. These changes show that the translation was made during the Manchu Qing dynasty. The fact is that some Sanskrit words denoting a king, a minister, a warrior with a list of synonyms (or epithets) in Amarakośa lexicon later were included in MP dictionary as separate entries. There they were supplied with a proper (often word for word) translations, and finally, in TRG, they were translated into Mongolian in a completely new way. Only into Mongolian! Well, actually, into Manchu as well – but this language lies out of my competence. It was not a translation at all but an adjustment of ranks of Manchu rulers, warriors and ministers of that period with their Mongolian translations to the words from MP which represent the same concepts but from the ancient India.

No 3670 rājā – qaγan ‘khan’
No 3672 rājā kṣatriyo mūrdhābhiṣiktaḥ – ulus-un eǰen erke ögtegsen ‘the ruler of the state given power
No 3674 māṇḍalikarājā – öčüken qan ‘a small khan’
No 3675 sāmantarājā – muǰi-yin qan ‘the khan of the province’
No 3677 kotṭarājā – muǰi-yin noyan ‘the govenour of the province’
No 3676 rājāmātyaḥ – terigün sayid ‘the prime minister’
No 3678 mantriparṣadadhyakṣaḥ – dotuγadu sayid ‘minister of the interior’
No 3679 mahāmātraḥ – terigülegči sayid ‘the prime minister’
No 3680 mantrī – bičig-ün sayid ‘a councellor’
No 3681 āmātyaḥ – tüsimel ‘an official’
No 3682 purohitaḥ – tuslaγči sayid ‘minister’s assistant’
No 3683 rājānakaḥ – törül-ün sayid ‘minister-relative’
No 3684 daṇḍamukhyaḥ – vang ‘van’

Some (but not all) of these words with their Tibetan and Sanskrit counterparts are included into the 3 volume Mongolian-Russian-French dictionary by O.Kovalevsky (1844) who had an opportunity to consult the TRG xylograph. To sum up I’d like to say that the old Indian tradition of lexicons was adopted and preserved in Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries of Buddhist terminology but its Mongolian part was modified to fit the new stage in the language development and even the political situation.


1. 1v burqan-u ner-e inu (Chapter 1)
1.1.sangs rgyas kyi mtshan gyi ming la
2. 4r γurban bey-e-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 3)
2.1.sku gsum gyi ming la
3. 4r γučin qoyar lakšan-u ner-e inu (Chapter 14)
3.1.mtshan so gnyis kyi ming la
4. 5r nayan nayiraγ-un ner-e inu (Chapter 15)
 4.1.dpe byad brgya cu’i ming la
5. 8v burqan-u arban küčün-ü ner-e inu (Chapter 4)
5.1.stobs bcu’i ming la
6. 9r tabun belge bilig-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 3) shes lnga’i ming la
7. 9r ilaγuγsan-u tabun čoγča-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 3)
7.1.rgyal ba’i phung po lnga’i ming la
8. 9v bodi satu-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 19)
8.1.byang chub sems dpa’i ming la
9. 10r öber-e öber-e bodhi satu-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 20)
9.1.byang sems so so’i ming la
10. 11r biširel-ün yabudal-tu tabun γaǰar-un ner-e inu (Chapter 29)
10.1.mos pa spyod pa’i sa lnga’i ming la
11. 11r arban γaǰar-un ner-e inu (Chapter 28) bcu’i ming la
12. 11v arban paramid-un ner-e inu (Chapter 31)
12.1.phar phyin bcu’i ming la
13. 12r arban nom-un yabudal-un ner-e inu (Chapter 30)
13.1.chos spyod bcu’i ming la
14. 12r dörbön čaγlasi ügei-yin ner-e (Chapter 65)
14.1.tshad med bzhi’i ming la
15. 12v γurban masi tonilqu-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 69)
15.1.rnam thar gsum gyi ming la
16. 12v γurban bilig-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 71)
16.1.shes rab gsum gyi ming la
17. 12v dörben quriyaqu boda-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 32)
17.1.bsdu dngos bzhi’i ming la
18. 13r arban naiman qoγosun-u ner-e (Chapter 34)
18.1.stong pa bco brgyad kyi ming la
19. 13v pratikabud ner-e inu (Chapter 42)
19.1.rang rgyal gyi ming la
20. 13v siravak-un ner-e inu (Chapter 43)
20.1.nyan thos kyi gang zag gyi ming la
21. 14r siravak-un arqad-un ner-e inu (Chapter 44)
21.1.nyan thos kyi ming la
22. 14v arban qoyar sitün barilduqui-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 109)
22.1.rten ‘brel bcu gnyis kyi ming la
23. 15r dörben ünen-ü arban ǰirγuγan ǰüil-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 51)
23.1.bden gyi bzhi’i rnam pa bcu drug gi ming la
24. 15v γurban surtaγun-u ner-e inu (Chapter 33)
24.1.bslab pa gsum gyi ming la
25. 15v bodi ǰüg-ün γučin doloγan nom-eče dörben duradqui oyir-a aγulqui-yin ner-e (Chapter 35)
25.1.byang chub phyogs kyi chos so bdun las dran ba nyer bzhag bzhi’i ming la
26. 16r dörben üneger tebčiküi-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 36).
26.1.yang dag par spong ba bzhi’i ming la
27. 17r dörben ridi köl-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 37)
27.1.rdzu ‘phrul gyi rkang pa bzhi’i ming la
28. 17v tabun erketen-ü ner-e (Chapter 38)
28.1.dbang po lnga’i ming la
29. 17v tabun küčün-ü ner-e inu (Chapter 39)
29.1.stobs lnga’i ming la
30. 18r doluγan bodi gesigün-ü ner-e inu (Chapter 40).
30.1.byang chub yan lag bdun gyi ming la
31. 18v qutuγtan-u naiman gesigütü mör-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 41).
31.1.’phags lam yan lag brgyad kyi ming la
32. 18v qoyar diyan-u ner-e (Chapter 86)
32.1.bsam gtan gnyis kyi ming la
33. 19r tabun čoγča-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 96)
33.1.phung po lnga’i ming la
34. 19r tabun erketen-ü ner-e (Chapter 97)
34.1.dbang po lnga’i ming la
35. 19r tabun višai-yin ner-e (Chapter 97)
35.1.yul lnga’i ming la
36. 19v tabun uqaγan-u oron ner-e inu (Chapter 72)
36.1.rig gnas lnga’i ming
37. 19v qutuγtan-u doloγan ed-un ner-e inu (Chapter 74)
37.1.’phags nor bdun gyi ming la
38. 19v dörben adistid-un ner-e inu (Chapter 76)
38.1.byin brlabs bzhi’i ming la
39. 20r budγali-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 80+81)
39.1.gang zag gi ming la
40. 20r γurban belge činar-un ner-e inu (Chapter 83)
41.1. mtshan nyid gsum gyi ming la
41. 20v dörben quriyaqu buyan-u ner-e inu (Chapter 89)
42.1. bsod nams bsdub ba bzhi’i ming la
42. 20v qoγosun činar-un ner-e inu (Chapter 90+91)
43.1. stong pa nyid kyi ming la
43. 21r sayin ǰarlig-un ner-e inu (Chapter 61)
43.1. gsung rab kyi ming la
44. 22r sayin ǰarliγ-un arban qoyar kisigün-ü ner-e inu (Chapter 59)
44.1.gsung rab yan lag bcu gnyis kyi ming la
45. 22v arban qoyar sudulqu-yin erdem-ün (Chapter 46)
45.1.sbyangs pa’i yon tan bcu gnyis kyi ming la
46. 23r yirtinčü-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 147)
46.1.’jig rten gyi ming la
47. 23r dörben tib-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 148)
47.1.gling bzhi ba’i ming la
48. 23v γurban oron-u ner-e inu (Chapter 149)
48.1.khams gsum gyi ming la
49. 23v amarmaγ-un ǰirγuγan tngri inu (Chapter 150)
49.1.’dod lha drug gi ming la
50. 24r angq-a diyan-u γurban tngri inu (Chapter 151)
50.1.bsam gtan dang po’i lha gsum ni
51. 24r qoyaduγar diyan-u γurban tngri inu (Chapter 152)
51.1.bsam gtan gnyis pa’i lha gsum ni
52. 24r γudaγar diyan-u γurban tngri inu (Chapter 153)
52.1. bsam gtan gsum pa’i lha gsum ni
53. 24v dötüger diyan-u yisün tngri inu (Chapter 154 + 155)
53.1. bsam gtan bzhi pa’i lha dgu ni
54. 24v dürsü ügei-yin dörben tngri inu (Chapter 156)
54.1.gzugs med pa bzhi ni
55. 25r dörben maqabud-un ner-e inu (Chapter 97)
55.1.’byung ba bzhi’i ming la
56. 25r ündüsün-ü dörben önggö [-yin ner-e] inu (Chapter 97)
56.1.rca ba’i kha dog bzhi’i ming la
57. 25r gesigün-ü naiman öngge-yin ner-e inu. (Chapter 97)
57.1.yan lag gi kha dog brgyad kyi ming la
58. 25v yisün keb-ün dürsü-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 97)
58.1.dbyibs kyi gzugs dgu’i ming la
59. 25v dörbön ünür-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 97)
59.1.dri bzhi’i ming la
60. 26r ǰirγuγan amtan-u ner-e inu (Chapter 97) drug gi ming la
61. 26r doloγan kürelčeküi-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 97)
61.1.reg bya bdun gyi ming la
62. 26v dörbön töröl-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 113)
62.1.skyes gnas bzhi’i ming la
63. 26v kümün-ü ǰüil-ün ner-e inu (Chapter 180)
63.1.mi’i rim pa’i ming la
64. 31r ečige eke uruγ sadun-u ner-e inu (Chapter 182)
64.1. pha ma gnyes bshes kyi ming la
65. 32r bey-e-yin ür-e kesigün-ü ner-e inu (Chapter 183)
65.1.lus kyi yan lag gi ming la
66. 34v naiman čilüge ügei-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 116)
66.1.mi khom pa brgyad kyi ming la
67. 34v ündüsün ǰirγuγan nisvanis-un ner-e inu (Chapter 100)
67.1.rtsa nyon drug gi ming la
68. qorin noyisqal nisvanis-un ner-e inu (Chapter 100)
68.1. nye nyon nyi shu’i ming la
69. 35v ǰüg ǰobkis-un ner-e inu (Chapter 247)
69.1.phyogs mtshams kyi ming la
70. 36a yeke baγ-a kiged öndür baγun-i-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 129)
70.1.che chung dang mtho dman gyi ming la
71. 37a ölǰei-yin ner-e inu (Chapter 131)
71.1.dge ba dang shis pa’i ming la


  • 1. Amarakośah, a metrical dictionary of the Sanscrit language with Tibetan version. Edited by Mahāmahopādhyāya Satis Chandra Vidyābhūsana. Calcutta, 1911.
  • 2. The Amarakosa in Tibet being a new Tibetan version by the great grammarian Si-tu edited by Dr.Lokesh Chandra. Śata-Piñaka series. Indo-Asian Literature. Volume 38. New Delhi, 1965.
  • 3. Amarakocha ou Vocabulaire d’Amarasinha publié en Sanskrit avec une traduction française des notes et un index par A.Loiseleur. DesLongchamps. Paris. 1839.
  • 4. Y.Ishihama, Y.Fukuda. A New Critical Edition of the Mahāvyutpatti. Sanscrit-Tibetan-Mongolian Dictionary of Buddhist Terminology, The Toyo Bunko 1989.
  • 5. W.Heissig. Die Pekinger lamaistischen Blockdrucke in mongolischer Sprache: Materialien zur mongolischen Literaturgeschichte. Göttinger asiatische Forschungen (Vol. 2). O. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1954
  • 6. О.Ковалевский. Монгольско-русско-французкий словарь. Т.1-3, Казань, 1844-1849.
  • 7. Mngon-brjod-kyi bstan-mkhas-pa’i rna-rgyan zhes-bya bshugs-so Tib. B 10437/1
  • 8. Pentaglot Dictionary of Buddhist Terms. Digital version: Digital Archives Section, Library and Information Center of Dharma Drum Buddhist College,
  • 9. Alice Sárközi, János Szerb. A Buddhist terminological dictionary: the Mongolian Mahāvyutpatti. Bibliotheca orientalis Hungarica (Vol. 42). Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1995.
  • 10. A.Shiefner. Buddhistische Triglotte, d. h. Sanskrit-tibetisch-mongolisches Wörterverzeichniss. St.Petersburg 1859.
  • 11. University of Oslo, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental languages, The THESAURUS LITERATURAE BUDDHICAE (TLB),
  • 12. N.S.Yahontova. Oyratskiy slovar' poeticheskih vyrajeniy. Pamyatniki pis'mennosti Vostoka (Vol. 120). Vostochnaya literatura RAN, 2010


Author: Natalia Yakhontova