Thank you, Vajraprajnakhadga, Tingdzin, and Muni!
As someone who's more familiar with East Asian Buddhism, I only know so much about the Tibetan tradition/language. It's been quite instructive!
Sino-Japanese Esoteric Buddhism has taken great care over the centuries to try and preserve the Sanskrit bijas in sound and appearance -- they've been handed down over generations not only "from mouth to ear", but also in Siddham script with accompanying Chinese characters with the approximate pronunciation. The Sanskrit a
is very important in Mikkyo (Jap. Esoteric Buddhism) for its "threefold meaning" -- "primal origin, the universal ground of phenomena, and the ultimately inexpressible nature of reality."
Apparently the transmission of sound hasn't worked out very well, though, as Mikkyo practitioners seem to be mostly visualizing a
("another") but saying ā
I assumed something similar was happening with Tibetan Buddhism. I thought they were (unsuccessfully) trying to pronounce the Sanskrit a
, while depicting it in their native script to make it easier to visualize.
tingdzin wrote:It is the upper of the two which is used as a seed syllable in Tibetan, and pronounced AH (father) [...] The seed syllable is never pronounced 'a' as in 'another'.
So I guess I was making the wrong assumption, huh?
From what you say, I take it that the Tibetans haven't
been trying to pronounce the Sanskrit a
, then. Instead, they're simply pronouncing the Tibetan a
, pronounced "ah"!
That would mean that, at some point, they decided to "make the switch" to their own language, and leave the Sanskrit behind -- at least as far as the bija "a
" goes! (Though I guess that means the "threefold meaning" is probably lost, since it only works in Sanskrit.)
Is that correct?