ABOUT THE BOOK:
The text entitled Prajnadanda [Tib. Sherab Dong-bu; Wy1. shes rab sdong bu; Eng. The Staff of Wisdom or The Tree of Wisdom] is one of the very important works is attributed to Nagarjuna-the most venerated Indian Buddhist philosopher, popularly known as ‘The Pioneer of Madhyamika Philosophy'. The text contains two hundred and sixty verses based on 'Manners'. It is a type of anthology of elegant sayings. The work is available only in its Tibetan translation in its complete form which has several editions too. The work in Sanskrit original is apparently lost. The original verses were written in variety of metres among which anushtupa is predominant. It was composed most probably in the 8th century AD.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born in a middle class in West Bengal, Dr. Sanjib Kumar Das was educated at Chandpara Nimna Buniyadi Vidyalaya (Amtala) and then in Gobardanga Khantura High School. Meanwhile, due to some family problems, he fled away from his home and worked as a waiter in several hotels and sweet shops for about two years in Kolkata. Later, he went to Darjeeling and took shelter in a Buddhist Monastery where he also worked as a helper of mason for about a year. Here, an auspicious co incidence came upon in his life that totally changed his life too. On account of the kindness of the Thupten Sanga Ch ling Monastery, he was admitted in its branch school where he studied upto standard VIII. Subsequently, he was sent to Varanasi in 1989 in order to get admission in the then CIHTS, Sarnath for higher studies. Getting admission, he obtained M.A., pursuing upon Buddhist Philosophy, Tibetan Language and other prescribed subjects. In 1998, he was awarded with the Kashi Naresh Gold Medal for being the best student of 1998. After completing M.A, he started doing his Ph.D. which he completed in 2002. In 1999, he was invited as a Translator from TIbetan into English to Taiwan where he stayed for about five months. In 2002, he got a temporary job in the Translation Department in CIHTS, Sarnath and simultaneously a permanent job in CIBS, Leh where he worked for about six years. In 2008, he got a new job in Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan where he is working now on the post of Associate Professor in the Department of Indo-Tibetan Studies. Dr. Das translated, edited, restored, compiled and composed more than fifteen books which have been published by different universities, institutions and reputed publishers in India. Apart from translation, compilation, restoration and editing work, Dr. Das attended number of Local, National and International seminars, and presented papers.
It is indeed a matter of great joy for me to be able to bring out successfully this present work entitled 'Prajnadanda [Tib. Sherab Dong-bu; Wyllie. shes rab sdong bu; Eng. The Staff of Wisdom or The Tree of Wisdom] for the readers which is attributed to Nagarjuna- the most venerated Indian Buddhist philosopher, popularly known as 'The Pioneer of Madhyamika Philosophy', in tri-lingual versions- Tibetan, Hindi and English together with its transliteration. It gives me immense satisfaction as I could finish the entire work of editing, translation, transliteration and typing within a very short span of time. There is another personal reason of happiness which I would like to share with my readers, i.e., during my student life at the present-day Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath I used to memorize a good number verses containing elegant sayings from the text entitled Sanskrit Baladarsa, Ratnadvali, Jatakamdla, Pancatantra and Subhasitaratnanidhi as part of my syllabus. While working on this text I found a few of those verses available in other sources even in Indian sources in Sanskrit. First I was taken aback but then it dawned upon me the common practice in ancient times on the part of scholars or manuscript writers to incorporate favourite verses from other texts while compiling them. It brings to my mind the whole question of ascertaining the authorship and difficulty of editing a text.
Actually the idea of translating and editing the text arose in my mind about eight-nine years ago when I had just joined the Department of Indo- Tibetan Studies, Visva-Bharati and found that a few verses of the text were prescribed for M.A. syllabus. But due to some of other commitments I could not take up the work at that time. Later, when I finished the compilation work, I immediately took up this work. It was possible to finish the work within a very short span of time only with the cooperation of my friend-cum-colleague Dr. Norbu Gyaltsen Negi and my student Sh. Debajit Chatterjee to whom I extend my grateful thanks.
As mentioned above, the Prajnadanda is a work that contains a number of 260 verses based on 'Manners.' It is a type of anthology of elegant sayings. The work is available only in its Tibetan translation in its complete form which has several editions too. The work in Sanskrit original is apparently lost. The original verses were written in variety of metres among which anustupa is predominant. It was composed most probably in the 8th century A.D. The present work is based on the Peking Edition.
Comparison has also been made with other 2-3 leading editions, e.g., Narthang and Derge.
So far my opinion is concerned, some sort of typo-mistake is found in both the Derge and Peking Editions of the text. It is because as per these two editions, verse nos. 101 and 102 are found joined together and is made one instead of two. Besides, some other uniqueness of the metrical form of verses of the text is that atleast two verses are found having three lines each [sloka nos. 144 & 148] and one has six lines. Similarly, regarding the number of words in a verse, some have seven, some have eight, some have nine, some have eleven and some have more than eleven. Another interesting thing is that the author is found using the term 'Chapter II of the text' at the end of the text. I don't understand why such term has been used. I doubt whether the remaining of portion of the work is available in Tengyur. Similarly in quite a few places there is some additional information, e.g. familiarity with the story it is taken from compared to the original Tibetan.
Before this, W.L. Cambell, Prof. Michael Hahn, Prof. Vidhusekhar Shastri, Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Das worked on this text in more or less extensively. But this is the first time in history that such work has ever been done- the Hindi and English translations along with the English transliteration. Prof. Michael Hahn, a German scholar, had been trying hard to restore the entire texts in its original form tracing its verses in other extant Sanskrit sources. Further, Dharma Library has also uploaded the English translation of the text which has also helped me to complete the work within a very short time. I feel extremely grateful to those scholastic personalities and sources to have got help from their works.
Earlier, this text was used as one of the text books for the Higher Proficiency Examination in Tibetan and the text in Tibetan version was edited by Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Das and printed in a continuous line as is done in Tibet. It made the students concerned difficult to understand the beginning and end of every individual sloka. It was even introduced in the M.A. syllabus of the Department of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan about eight years back and so I got the opportunity to study the text to some extent.
I feel extremely grateful to Buddhist World Press, Delhi for giving their consent to publish the text in tri-lingual versions on behalf of their esteemed press. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Ven. Geshe Dakpa Kalsang, Reader in Buddhist Philosophy, Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Choglamsar, Leh; Prof. Jamyang Gyaltsen, Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Choglamsar, Leh; Prof. Harish Chandra Mishra, Hindi-Bhavana, Visva-Bharati; Prof. Somdatta Mandal, HOD, DEOMEL, Visva-Bharati; and Dr. Norbu Gyaltsen Negi, Assistant Professor, Department of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan for their enthusiasm and effort in correcting the translation of this text within a very short span of time.
Hope, this translated and edited text will prove helpful to those Tibetan, Hindi and English speaking students and readers who are very much interested to study the text containing a vast number of elegant sayings.
By the merits accrued from translating, editing and transliterating this text, may the nectar-like doctrine of the Buddha spread in the whole world and may peace prevail on earth!