A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

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Palzang Jangchub
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A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:33 am

It was recently pointed out to me by a grad student friend who's studied both Tibetan and Sanskrit that the syllable A (ཨ་) is often used by Tibetans in rendering Sanskrit mantras where it more properly should be Ā (ཨཱ་) or ĀH (ཨཱཿ), especially among Nyingma texts.

Does anyone here know how to tell when an A is just an A, or when it should really be an Ā, or even ĀH? Tibetanized Sanskrit has its own set of rules and exceptions...

I'm not so much worried about pronunciation, since there are several stories of mispronouncing mantras but still accomplishing the deity, but more concerned with accurate visualization (especially considering that the seed-syllable is the essence of the deity).
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

amanitamusc
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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by amanitamusc » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:40 am

The AH when vocalized has an extra bit of exhalation at the end where as the A does not.

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:56 am

this is usefull
Identities are false and not true

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by amanitamusc » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:28 am

javier.espinoza.t wrote:this is usefull
Yes I agree the distinction of the little puff of air at the end of the Ah has been a very helpful to my practice.

If I remember correctly this came from ChNNR.

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:13 am

This distinction of pronunciation is also taught when learning Tibetan language. Syllables with aspiration should be practiced with your hand a few inches from your mouth, and you should feel the breath on your palm, whereas with unaspirated syllables you don't feel your exhale much at all. The two vertically stacked circles (i.e. visarga, ཿ) seen in the ĀH (ཨཱཿ) are an indication of such an extra breathiness that comes from the original Sanskrit syllables that normally wouldn't be present.

What I meant by asking the question in the OP was how does one know when we see a simple in a mantra without either the a-chung (subscript ) or the visarga if it's really that simple A sound?

I've seen several times, for instance, where the Vajra Guru mantra begins with ཨོོཾ་ཨ་ཧཱུྃ rather than the more accurate ཨོོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾ་ཨཱཿཧཱུྃ (since the version with a-chung and visarga represents enlightened speech).

In mantras we're not so familiar with, how do we know what's proper to visualize if a simplification or typo has taken place and we don't know the mantra well enough to spot that it's occurred?

Dakini mantras that include ཨ་ཧ་རི་ནི་ས་ come to mind...
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by amanitamusc » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:31 am

Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:13 am
This distinction of pronunciation is also taught when learning Tibetan language. Syllables with aspiration should be practiced with your hand a few inches from your mouth, and you should feel the breath on your palm, whereas with unaspirated syllables you don't feel your exhale much at all. The two vertically stacked circles (i.e. visarga, ཿ) seen in the ĀH (ཨཱཿ) are an indication of such an extra breathiness that comes from the original Sanskrit syllables that normally wouldn't be present.

What I meant by asking the question in the OP was how does one know when we see a simple in a mantra without either the a-chung (subscript ) or the visarga if it's really that simple A sound?

I've seen several times, for instance, where the Vajra Guru mantra begins with ཨོོཾ་ཨ་ཧཱུྃ rather than the more accurate ཨོོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾོཾ་ཨཱཿཧཱུྃ (since the version with a-chung and visarga represents enlightened speech).

In mantras we're not so familiar with, how do we know what's proper to visualize if a simplification or typo has taken place and we don't know the mantra well enough to spot that it's occurred?

Dakini mantras that include ཨ་ཧ་རི་ནི་ས་ come to mind...
This may be a bit confusing because most Tibetan syllables with the stacked circles indicate terma and not the aspiration as with the ཨཱ .

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:36 am

amanitamusc wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:31 am
This may be a bit confusing because most Tibetan syllables with the stacked circles indicate terma and not the aspiration as with the ཨཱ .
This is a common misconception, amanitamusc. The visarga is just the two circles stacked, and denotes the breathiness i mentioned.

The symbol that is used to end lines in terma has a little crescent or line between the two circles. The crescent is more common in handwritten and woodblock printed texts, whereas the line is a simplified version used more in works that use a computer font. Here's the terma mark found on my phone's Tibetan keyboard:

These two marks look quite similar, but are used for quite different purposes and are definitely not the same.
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

amanitamusc
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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by amanitamusc » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:41 am

Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:36 am
This is a common misconception, amanitamusic. The visarga is just the two circles stacked, and denotes the breathiness i mentioned. The symbol that is used to end lines in terma has a little crescent or line between the two circles, like this:

These two marks look quite similar, but are used for quite different purposes and are definitely not the same.
Yes of coarse the line.Correct pronunciation with mantra's
is important.

Tenma
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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by Tenma » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:31 pm

amanitamusc wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:41 am
Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:36 am
This is a common misconception, amanitamusic. The visarga is just the two circles stacked, and denotes the breathiness i mentioned. The symbol that is used to end lines in terma has a little crescent or line between the two circles, like this:

These two marks look quite similar, but are used for quite different purposes and are definitely not the same.
Yes of coarse the line.Correct pronunciation with mantra's
is important.
Wait, I thought that was only Hinduism, not Buddhism. Isn't there a story of a master mispronouncing "Om Mani Padme Hum," but still reaching enlightenment anyhow?

amanitamusc
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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by amanitamusc » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:14 pm

Tenma wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:31 pm
amanitamusc wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:41 am
Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:36 am
This is a common misconception, amanitamusic. The visarga is just the two circles stacked, and denotes the breathiness i mentioned. The symbol that is used to end lines in terma has a little crescent or line between the two circles, like this:

These two marks look quite similar, but are used for quite different purposes and are definitely not the same.
Yes of coarse the line.Correct pronunciation with mantra's
is important.
Wait, I thought that was only Hinduism, not Buddhism. Isn't there a story of a master mispronouncing "Om Mani Padme Hum," but still reaching enlightenment anyhow?
Yea,like the one who prayed to a dogs tooth thinking it was Buddha's and
relics came from the tooth.
If you are ripe many things are possible otherwise it may be wise to
pronounce mantra's as you heard them from your Lama and as you said
in your second sentence,it is a story of a "Master"

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Re: A, Ā, and ĀH in Tibetanized Sanskrit

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:45 pm

Tenma wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:31 pm
Isn't there a story of a master mispronouncing "Om Mani Padme Hum," but still reaching enlightenment anyhow?
Do you mean the one where the old man walks on water to get to the learned monk to ask him one last time how to accurately pronounce the Mani?

Interestingly enough I found out from a friend i met at a Phowa retreat (who practices mostly Nembutsu) that this story exists in multiple religious traditions, not just Vajrayana. He claimed to have heard a version of it about two Sufis with otherwise the exact same details.

Then again, if one examines the history of the spread of the mala from religion to religion, it might be another case of Bodhisattva --> Josaphat...
Image

"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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