Best Language to Learn First?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
User avatar
wisdom
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:33 am

Best Language to Learn First?

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:23 pm

What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 19403
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:26 pm

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?



Tibetan.
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity.

-- Ju Mipham

User avatar
wisdom
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:33 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:09 pm

Thanks!

User avatar
Thug4lyfe
Posts: 454
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:40 pm

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:30 pm

Image
Image

Terma
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:07 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Terma » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:13 am

Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma

dakini_boi
Posts: 683
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:02 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:30 am

Terma wrote:Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma


There's an excellent Tibetan-English, English-Tibetan dictionary for the iphone. It's FREE. You can look up full words and individual syllables too. Honestly, it would be worth investing in an Ipod touch just to be able to use this dictionary - it's actually a compilation of several Tibetan-English dictionaries that would probably cost hundreds of dollars to buy in book form. Maybe available for other smart phones too, I don't know. The only thing is, you need to know how to read Tibetan to use it. But that's not too hard to learn.

As far as a word list - what I do is take sadhanas that I practice or would like to practice, and I read through them to find the important words. I try to figure out which Tibetan word goes with which English word, using the dictionary as necessary. I'm finding that now when I see new practices, I'm familiar with more words.

User avatar
conebeckham
Posts: 3787
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby conebeckham » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:37 am

http://www.tibetanlanguage.org/Study_Aids/freestudyaids.html

If you know the popular Chenrezig practice based on Thangtong Gyalpo's Droden KaKhyabma, this should be right up your alley:

http://www.snowlionpub.com/html/product_9254.html
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.

User avatar
Huifeng
Posts: 1476
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Huifeng » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:45 am

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?


Sanskrit. Because the Chinese and Tibetan translations are from Sanskrit (or something very similar).
With Sanskrit, it will be easier to go to the others.

Depends on what you mean by "Buddhist texts": Sutra, sastra, vinaya ... commentary ... ??

~~ Huifeng

User avatar
Kare
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:48 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Kare » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:07 am

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?


If you are interested in Buddhist texts, I would recommend that you try to get as close to the source as possible. That would make Pali the logical first choice. And Pali is very close to Sanskrit, so once you know one of those, you can easily expand into the other one, and get access to a wide range of both Mahayana and Non-Mahayana literature.
Kåre A. Lie

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 5819
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:10 am

Chinese has the largest number of Buddhist texts (including tantras and modern translations). Sanskrit only has fragments and incomplete canons. So I think the question is whether you want to be a scholar-linguist or just want to read and study texts.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

Jnana
Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Jnana » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:17 pm

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?

If you're primarily practicing in the Indo-Tibetan tradition it's better to learn Tibetan. This gives you access to the entire Tibetan Canon as well as the vast commentarial & liturgical literature written by Tibetans in Tibetan over the past 1000+ years.

dakini_boi
Posts: 683
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:02 am

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:42 pm

Also, I think the Dzogchen literature is exclusively in Tibetan. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe there are no surviving Sanskrit Dzogchen texts (someone please confirm this, or correct me if I'm wrong!). So if your interest is Dzogchen, Tibetan would be best.

User avatar
Thug4lyfe
Posts: 454
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:40 pm

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:12 pm

It's probably also easier to learn Chinese since those slitty eye homeboys are everywhere!!! You certainly wouldn't have trouble finding teachers and sources.
Image

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 5819
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:30 pm

Food_Eatah wrote:It's probably also easier to learn Chinese since those slitty eye homeboys are everywhere!!! You certainly wouldn't have trouble finding teachers and sources.


Modern Mandarin/Cantonese/etc. are not the same as literary Chinese (the language of the majority of Buddhist texts) and there is also the matter of Buddhist terminology. Similarly, spoken Tibetan is not the same as the language of the sutras and tantras.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Paul
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Paul » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:23 pm

dakini_boi wrote:
Terma wrote:Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma


There's an excellent Tibetan-English, English-Tibetan dictionary for the iphone. It's FREE. You can look up full words and individual syllables too. Honestly, it would be worth investing in an Ipod touch just to be able to use this dictionary - it's actually a compilation of several Tibetan-English dictionaries that would probably cost hundreds of dollars to buy in book form. Maybe available for other smart phones too, I don't know. The only thing is, you need to know how to read Tibetan to use it. But that's not too hard to learn.

As far as a word list - what I do is take sadhanas that I practice or would like to practice, and I read through them to find the important words. I try to figure out which Tibetan word goes with which English word, using the dictionary as necessary. I'm finding that now when I see new practices, I'm familiar with more words.


Wow! That's a great app - thanks for letting us know about it!


As for websites, the Rangjung Yeshe wiki is indespensible: http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Main_Page
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell


Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests