In 2007 I went to Massachusetts for the second time to teach Spring Semester at the five-college consortium under the exchange program. After I finished my teachings at Smith and Hampshire colleges for the Spring Semester course, I visited the RFA Tibetan section and met my old student and friend, Mr. Yeshi Tashi and his family. While we were discussing his work at RFA, he told me that he wanted to translate the Tree- treatise, the Elegant Sayings of Gun-than Tanpai Don-mei as he could do the English translation of 'Hundred Waves', the Elegant Sayings on Water-treaties by the same author. However, I told that Ms. Tenzin Dolma of the Central University of Tibetan Studies is doing this English translation. To this, he felt great satisfaction about the students of the University taking great interest in such a valuable project initiated by Prof. S. Rinpoche, as he did under his guidance. I assured him that I would send him a copy of the reprint of his "Hundred Waves" along with "Hundred Branches" as a complete work of Gun-than Tanpai Don-mei.
When I returned, I winded up the translation of "Hundred Branches" with Ms. Tenzin Dolma. Then I met Prof. Ram Shankar Tripathi to guide us in this translation work and he suggested that it would be good to add a Hindi translation of each of these valuable texts. From then onwards, I translated these texts into Hindi under the supervision of Prof. Ram Shankar Tripathi.
Elegant Sayings have been given enormous value since the earliest days. The pre-Buddhist literature of India is greatly enriched with treasures of Elegant Sayings carrying messages of universal truth and morality, which are acceptable to diverse religious traditions and even to non-believers. Tathāgata Samyak Sambuddha Sakyamuni, after attaining enlightenment, preached unceasingly for over forty years to the disciples of all the realms, giving invaluable advice and countless teachings which are collected and classified as the eighty-four thousand Dharma-skandhas or the nine constituents of the canon. Acarya Asanga refers to all of the Buddha's words as Elegant Sayings (Subhäṣita); with ten different attributes they establish their unique status amongst the Elegant Sayings of the world. The teachings of the Buddha belonging to the constituents of Geya, Gatha, and Udana, are in the exact style of traditional Elegant Sayings. With simple similes and metaphors, easily understandable by the common person, they convey their moral and spiritual message to the hearts of the listeners in a most effective way. Thus, the canon of Buddha's words, the Tripitaka, is comprised of deep and complex teachings such as the Prajnāpāramitā sūtras, as well as very simple and short verses of Elegant Sayings like the Gathas of Udana Varga (Dhammapada).
The literatures of Subbajita or Elegant Sayings, gnomic and didactic, are as old as the human civilization. Enormously rich literatures on this subject is found all over the world, stretching from the ancient Aesop's Fables of Greeks, Arabian Nights of the Arabs and Pañcatantra, Hitopadela and so forth relating to India. In India most of these elegant sayings are composed in metrical form, sometimes belonging to the oral tradition. They were not assembled in any collections but floated freely, easily quoted at any appropriate assembly by men of wisdom. They not only contained beautiful thoughts of moral and ethical values but they were expressed in refined language, well and beautifully tuned and eloquently said. They dealt with a variety of subjects and had as their object practical wisdom or a moral thought, entertaining through the examples as well as giving precepts. They carried both mood and suggestion even when quoted out of context. All these forms of composition consist of the commonplaces of prevalent ethics, but there are acute observations, abundant and varied, expressed in skilled but often felicitous diction, and in a variety of melodious metrics, on the sorrows and joys of life, fickleness and caprices of love, follies of men and wiles of women, right livelihood, futility of pomp and power, weariness of servitude, falsehood and instability of human effort and desire, delight of solitude and tranquility, as well as witty and sometimes humorous reflections on humbug and hoax.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Language & Literature (443)
Sacred Sites (102)
Tantric Buddhism (87)
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