12 April 2011

Chinese Arapacana Alphabet

This is the Arapacana Alphabet that appears in Kumārajīva's Chinese translation of the Large Perfection of Wisdom Text (CBETA T. 223 - 0256a).
阿 羅 波 遮 那 邏 陀 婆 荼 沙 和 多 夜 [口*宅] 迦 娑 磨 伽 他 闍 [其*皮] 馱 賒 呿 叉 哆 若 拖 婆 車 摩 火 嗟 伽 他 拏 頗 歌 醝 遮 [口*宅] 荼
Google offers the following transliterations:
Ā luó bō zhē nà luó tuó pó tú shā hé duō yè [kǒu*zhái] jiā suō mó jiā tā dū [qí*pí] tuó shē qū cha duō ruò tuō pó chē mó huǒ jiē jiā tā ná pō gē cuó zhē [kǒu *Zhái] tú.
I'm looking at the Sanskrit version and got interested enough to track this down. This version has 42 syllables which fits the number mentioned in the text. Conze's translation has 43 letters, and the two Sanskrit editions online at the Gretil Archive (Dutt and Takayasu) both have 41.

Ideally I'd like to get more info about the fragment from the Bajaur collection to compare the versions. We know it has 42 letters and what a few of the key words are, but the conservators of the collection are occupied with other texts at present (and have been for some years now!)

BTW The reason I'm looking at this is because I am doing my own translation for the book. I could use Conze's but it is covered by copyright and I'm trying to minimize the amount of copyright material in the book (hopefully I'll eliminate it altogether because applying for permission is slow and time consuming, and potentially expensive!). But as I go I find I am not at all satisfied with Conze's translations any way - at times I am none the wiser about what the Sanskrit means for having read his translation. Unlike translating Pāli texts in which one can usually see quite easily what is meant, the Perfection of Wisdom texts are esoteric in the sense of requiring a commentary that I lack access to if it exists!


  1. thanks for sharing information,i rally like it and i find it very help full
    hope that you will keep it up

  2. I found this tweet that contain a link to the Bajaur fragment: https://twitter.com/Jayarava/status/1144145165155819520?s=20

  3. On page 6 jayarava has added chinese translation here: http://www.jayarava.org/texts/Arapacana%20Alphabet%20translation.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0o5VyTTNnNTgaKLglkXmbbDQ3XiJiFPhbcbJ1hLbxHgaxaC3E6iBJPcEg