Abhidharmakosa study group?

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Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 11, 2010 2:06 pm

I was wondering if anyone on the forum would be interesting in doing an Abhidharmakosa study group here?

I was thinking we could distribute the English translation while referring if need be to the Sanskrit as well as Chinese and Tibetan if need be. We might have a thread for each chapter where we highlight the key points and discuss the contents.

For beginners it would be good to read the Abhidharmakosa as it is a kind of foundational textbook of sorts that was read everywhere from India to Japan and is still commonly used as a reference book. It is a bit overwhelming at first perhaps, but if we have a public forum here where we can discuss the more difficult sections and people can freely ask questions, it might prove very useful. The contents of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosa are not only quite comprehensive, but also quite useful in understanding a lot of core ideas of Buddhist philosophy.

So, if there is interest I might get the ball started. Hopefully the moderators could pin the threads and keep the discussions on topic.

If there is enough interest I'll get the ball started by introducing some key background information on the text and author as well as uploading the .pdf files of an English translation for public download.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Yogicfire » Tue May 11, 2010 2:44 pm

Interesting idea. What kind of time frame do you envisage as being adequate for reading each chapter?

Off topic, are you studying at Komazawa university by any chance?
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 11, 2010 2:57 pm

Whatever amount of time is fine. I don't think all the chapters are of the same time and a lot of it gets very detailed and thick in discourse.


And yes I am at Komazawa. Where are you in Nippon? :smile:
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Tue May 11, 2010 4:48 pm

I would be very interested! It's difficult for me to make time to keep up with study groups because my days are dominated by my young child. When it's finally her bedtime practice is my priority.

But I've been wanting to study the Abhidharmakosha for years and I've been even buying books in hopes of being able to do it. So I guarantee that if nothing else I'd be very interested in following along with the group even if I wind up not being able to contribute much.

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 11, 2010 5:44 pm

I would be interested. Are we using Poussin's translation by Pruden?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Astus » Tue May 11, 2010 6:10 pm

Sounds fascinating. But I don't promise any participation except for occasionally looking at what is going on.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group!

Postby Will » Tue May 11, 2010 7:48 pm

Sounds good to me. Pruden's version will be used?
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Luke » Tue May 11, 2010 8:37 pm

This sounds interesting, but I don't think I have time to be part of a study group now.

...But I would like to get my greedy little paws on the pdf files! :jumping:
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 12, 2010 1:22 am

It would be Poussin's translation by Pruden I guess as no other translation in full exists to my knowledge.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby muni » Wed May 12, 2010 9:45 am

:namaste: It will be very interesting to read here.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 12, 2010 9:51 am

The Kosa is a large and complex text. It requires some method in studying it. One really can't just open at page one, and take it from there. (Well, okay one can, but realistically speaking, how far will that go?)

Do you have a guide to lead through the key points, so that things don't get bogged down in inessentials and difficult areas?
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 12, 2010 10:08 am

Huifeng wrote:The Kosa is a large and complex text. It requires some method in studying it. One really can't just open at page one, and take it from there. (Well, okay one can, but realistically speaking, how far will that go?)

Do you have a guide to lead through the key points, so that things don't get bogged down in inessentials and difficult areas?


I have a copy (on loan from the library :smile: but nobody else I think would ever use it but me) of Analytical Study of the Abhidharmakosa by Sukomal Chaudhuri (1983) which details and summarizes the text chapter by chapter and also provides a good introduction.

If anyone else could find materials (articles and such) and present them, that'd be welcome too.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Wed May 12, 2010 2:01 pm

Huseng wrote:I was wondering if anyone on the forum would be interesting in doing an Abhidharmakosa study group here?


Yes, definitely. :twothumbsup:

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Will » Wed May 12, 2010 7:03 pm

Huifeng wrote:The Kosa is a large and complex text. It requires some method in studying it. One really can't just open at page one, and take it from there. (Well, okay one can, but realistically speaking, how far will that go?)

Do you have a guide to lead through the key points, so that things don't get bogged down in inessentials and difficult areas?


As a Bhikshu you probably have some ideas or maybe even a text that gives a way to handle all the information. I have tried to read it from page one, but gad, what a tremendous amount of difficult-ness.

Namdrol started an online study of it, but never followed through. Wonder what he is up to now?
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Mr. G » Wed May 12, 2010 7:05 pm

Huseng wrote:It would be Poussin's translation by Pruden I guess as no other translation in full exists to my knowledge.


Unfortunately, it's too expensive for me to pick up right now. :(
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 13, 2010 1:28 am

mr. gordo wrote:Unfortunately, it's too expensive for me to pick up right now. :(



The download link for the .pdf files in a .zip file is here:


http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YHU99QTQ

It is just under 50 megabytes.

I've also included Asanga's work as another reference work one might make use of.

If you're interested please download the file. The introduction is long and will give some good background information on the text.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 13, 2010 1:36 am

Will wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The Kosa is a large and complex text. It requires some method in studying it. One really can't just open at page one, and take it from there. (Well, okay one can, but realistically speaking, how far will that go?)

Do you have a guide to lead through the key points, so that things don't get bogged down in inessentials and difficult areas?


As a Bhikshu you probably have some ideas or maybe even a text that gives a way to handle all the information. I have tried to read it from page one, but gad, what a tremendous amount of difficult-ness.

Namdrol started an online study of it, but never followed through. Wonder what he is up to now?



That's a good question...

Venerable Huifeng, is there a way students in the monastery approach the text?

At my university we just take a chapter and read it from the first page together in the Sanskrit with reference to multiple translation including Paramartha and Xuanzang. We're pretty much expected to prepare everything on our own.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 13, 2010 3:00 am

Huseng wrote:
Will wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The Kosa is a large and complex text. It requires some method in studying it. One really can't just open at page one, and take it from there. (Well, okay one can, but realistically speaking, how far will that go?)

Do you have a guide to lead through the key points, so that things don't get bogged down in inessentials and difficult areas?


As a Bhikshu you probably have some ideas or maybe even a text that gives a way to handle all the information. I have tried to read it from page one, but gad, what a tremendous amount of difficult-ness.

Namdrol started an online study of it, but never followed through. Wonder what he is up to now?



That's a good question...

Venerable Huifeng, is there a way students in the monastery approach the text?


We don't study this at my monastery, but only at post-grad level, maybe. But the way to approach any such text, is under the direct guidance of a teacher who has studied that text in depth. That's the point I was hoping to make.

At my university we just take a chapter and read it from the first page together in the Sanskrit with reference to multiple translation including Paramartha and Xuanzang. We're pretty much expected to prepare everything on our own.


Do you really think that this method is the best way to do it online? Don't mean to rain on the party, but ... for ex. how many read Skt and Chinese here?

Maybe first try to find a modern book that covers some key points. And / or, perhaps focus on just one issue (not necessarily starting from pg. 1). Chp. 9 may be good in this regard.

If you just start from pg. 1, and work from there, after a year or two, you'll still just be looking at the dhatus. That'll miss such key points as the whole structure of the text, which follows the four aryan truths.

There are some other texts earlier than the Kosa, on which it was actually modeled, such as the Amrta-rasa, etc. They are smaller, more concise, to the point, less technical arguments. Ven Prof Dhammajoti has translated one of them, Abhidharma-avatara. http://www.hku.hk/buddhism/Publication_new.html

There is also an English version of Ghosaka's Amrtarasa, La Saveur de L'Immortel, by Jose Van Den Broeck here: http://www.gampoabbey.org/translations2 ... ations.htm The actual translation is just over 100 pg, much more digestible than 4 vols!! Not as good a translation as Pruden, but still ...

Though, slightly different, but even more accessible, how about kicking into something like Vasubandhu's Pancaskandha-prakarana first of all? A short warm up, before some serious Abhidharmafication? You can Google Books for Seven works of Vasubandhu, the Buddhist psychological doctor, Vasubandhu,Stefan Anacker, pp. 49-82. There may be other copies around, too.

Oh, earlier you made the comment about using Asanga. I guess you mean the Samuccaya, right? Though this also follows a basic Abhidharma approach, keep in mind that it is an early Yogacara text. As such, it has Alayavijnana, and other different types of dharmas. I'd go for something straight Abhidharma first, then when you get the gist of that, read the Karmasiddhiprakarana, and then check out Asanga and Vasubandhu's Yogacara works. It'll make more sense that way, a gradual build up.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Will » Thu May 13, 2010 3:46 am

Ven Huifeng,

Your site has six papers on Abhidharma - http://wisdom.buddhistdoor.com/huifeng/author/huifeng/

Would one of those, with your help, help us get some basics down?

Or what do your think of the late Santina's overview? http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/s- ... abhi00.htm
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu May 13, 2010 4:25 am

I like that link Will, thanks :)
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