Monday, February 10, 2014

Tibetan Buddhist Hierographology

I have noted this term “Buddhist hierographology” for myself in one of our entries and is meant to express “study of Buddhist sacred scriptures.” Now, I wish to be more specific and talk about only “Tibetan Buddhist hierographology.” To begin with, the following has been said with regard to  the term “Hierographology” (

“Hierographology (Ancient Greek: ἱερός, hieros, ‘sacred’ or ‘holy,’ + γραφή, graphe, ‘writing,’ + λόγος, logos, ‘word’ or ‘reason’) (archaically also ‘hierology’) is the study of sacred texts. Increasingly, sacred texts of many cultures are studied within academic contexts, primarily to increase understanding of other cultures, whether ancient or contemporary. Sometimes this involves the extension of the principles of higher criticism to the texts of many faiths. It may also involve a comparative study of religious texts.”

For my purpose here, I wish to define “Tibetan Buddhist hierographology” as the study or theory of the ideas of sacred Buddhist scriptures that one finds primarily in textual sources in Tibetan language. Although we cannot always isolate the three layers of sacred scriptures, namely, of buddhavacana (sangs rgyas kyi bka’) in the sense of the Buddha’s doctrine or teaching, pravacana (gsung rab) in the sense of scriptures that contain those doctrines, and pustaka (glegs bam) in the sense of tangible and physical books, I think, we have to be very clear about the distinction. I would think that “Buddhist hierographology” would mainly concern pravacana.

Some of the venues of explorations are: (1) nature of Buddhist scriptures, (2) types, (3) functions, (4) formation, (5) translation, (6) transmission, (7) reception, and so on.


No comments:

Post a Comment