April 23, 2017

རྗེས་ཐོབ་རྒྱ་ཡན་པ།


After wasting much time trying to trace some notes that I have taken many years ago in the monastic seminary about something called rjes thob rgya yan pa, I gave up looking for it. My “notebook” seems to have been swallowed up by the mother earth or it has simply vanished into the thin air. It is inexplicable! Nothing can substitute physical books. But the practicability of books presupposes that one has the luxury of space and privacy, especially if one is working on a theme and wishes to refer to a dozen of them. Every time one has visitors, one has to hastily put away the books that one is just working on. But I detest to do this. I want my books to be there where I left them. But alas, it is a wishful thinking! With the ever increasing mobility of researchers, physical books are becoming ever more impractical. The same also applies to taking down notes. Notes on blogs seems to be so convenient. Had I put on my notes on rjes thob rgya yan pa in a blog article, I would have already saved some time. But back then, there were no such thing as blogs. But digital sources, though never to be trusted naively, are a wonder! 

I have told a doctoral student of mine that rjes thob rgya yan pa is an interesting and important term and that she should investigate and devote a footnote to it. But she says she did not find anything worthwhile. I tried to look up myself what I wrote in my old tattered notebook. It has disappeared. I looked for it for quite sometime and wasted a great deal of time. So I am trying to piece back together some bits and pieces of information by looking up the BDRC (previously TBRC). So to begin with, what the hell is rgya yan pa? Let us first take a look at what a common Tibetan dictionary says about it. The Tshig mdzod chen mo (s.v. rgya yan) simply equates it with lhod yengs (“slackness,” “inattentiveness,” “absentmindedness”) and provides some examples. It seems to refer to what one would nowadays say in a slang, namely, “the state of being spaced-out.” But if we consider the usage nyon mongs rgya yan pargya yan pa seems to mean “rampant, reckless, unchecked, uncontrolled.” Of course, being inattentive and being reckless are related, aren’t they? 

But what about rjes thob rgya yan pa? To be sure, rjes thob (abbreviation of rjes las thob pa = pṛṣṭhalabdha), seems to be used in the sense of “post-meditative state.” The kind of (trans-phenomenal) gnosis or insight that occurs or is present after a noble awakened being (’phags pa: ārya) has gained direct cognitive access into the true reality in his or her composed or poised state of meditation (mnyam par bzhag pa or mnyam bzhag: samāhita) is called “(trans-phenomenal) insight or gnosis obtained subsequent to it (i.e. gnostic event in the samāhita state)” (de’i rjes las thob pa’i ye shes: tatpṛṣṭhalabdhaṃ jñānam). Expressions such as “meditative state” and “post-meditative state” may be misleading here because strictly speaking one who has once been in a samāhita state must be by definition a noble awakened being (’phags pa’i gang zag), that is, in the Mahāyāna case, at least one who has reached the level of the “path of seeing” (mthong ba’i lam: darśanamārga). Those of us who are soteriologically still “ordinary people” (so so’i skye bo: pṛṭhagjana) may attempt or pretend to meditate but for us, the very distinction between “meditative state” and “post-meditative state” is actually superfluous because we have never been in a samāhita state. We have actually always been in a “non-meditative state.” We have fallen into a state of deep sleep, coma, or swoon, but such a state is not a samāhita state. Those of us who try or claim to meditate without blinking our eyes or with closed eyes and who participate in scientific experiments as meditators cannot really claim that we have been in a samāhita state (presupposed by the Bodhisattva sotoeriology). A bit of śamatha meditation or so-called “mindfulness” meditation, too, has nothing to do a samāhita state. Importantly, also the state of so-called “analytical meditation” (dpyad sgom) is essentially disconnect with a samāhita state. “Analytical meditation” (dpyad sgom) is actually “analytical reflection or contemplation.” It can be a pre-meditative or post-meditative praxis, but not really meditation. We shall not go into the issue of whether there is a samāhita–post-samāhita distinction for a buddha. In short, to avoid confusion, let me use the term “post-samāhita state” for rjes thob instead of “post-meditative state.” 

Now let us return to our rjes thob rgya yan pa. If we consider various usages of the expression, we would find out that it is a kind of “spaced out post-samāhita state,” in which the non-conceptual sensorial perceptions are still functional or efficient whereas conceptions are stupefacient. The question is whether every post-samāhita state is a rjes thob rgya yan pa or it is one of the two possible types of post-samāhita state. Some rNying-ma sources use the expression zang thal dmigs med rgya yan pa, where the rgya yan pa is qualified or glossed by zang thal (“[subjectively/objectively] transparent”) and dmigs med (“free from subject/object of appropriation”). If to follow one Tibetan commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, not every post-samāhita state is a rjes thob rgya yan pa. There are two kinds of post-samāhita state, namely, (a) “post-samāhita state, which is infused/suffused by [insight experienced during] the samāhita state” (mnyam bzhag gis zin pa’i rjes thob) and (b) “stupefacient post-samāhita state (rjes thob rgya yan pa), a state in which mental perception (yid shes: manovijñāna) is stupefacient (rgya yan pa) in that “objective/cognitive image [experienced] during the samāhita state has been forgotten” (mnyam bzhag gi dmigs rnam). In other words, two types of tatpṛṣṭhalabdha state have been presupposed here, namely, (a) a tatpṛṣṭhalabdha state infused by the certainty (nges shes) caused by the samāhita insight/gnosis, and (b) a tatpṛṣṭhalabdha state that is not infused by the certainty caused by the samāhita insight/gnosis. According to this explanation, the latter, rjes thob rgya yan pa, is certainly evaluated as inferior to the former. While we know that not pratyakṣa event, for several reasons, may give rise to a niścaya, no explanation seems to be given as to why certain samāhita gnostic events give rise to a niścaya in the post-samāhita state and why others do not. rDo-grub bsTan-pa’i-nyi-ma also seems to suggest that there are two kinds of noble awakened beings, namely, one with stupefacient post-samāhita state and one without it. He also seems to imply that the higher one ascends the staircase of the Bodhisattva spiritual development, the lesser does the stupefacient post-samāhita state become. This in turn seems to imply that once the manovijñāna has been transformed, there no longer remain the basis for the stupefacient post-samāhita state (i.e. perhaps at the last three, that is, eight, ninth, and tenth, bodhisattva stages).




December 22, 2016

གོ་འདུན།


A small word such as go ’dun can cause some problems. The Tshig mdzod chen mo (s.v.) notes that it is an old (rnying) word (i.e. archaic or obsolete). It provides four meanings: (1) “whatever desired” (gang mos) (as a noun?), (2) “various” (sna tshogs), (3) “cleansing substance (i.e. soap?)” (’dag rdzas), and (4) “gathering” (tshogs pa) or “assembly” (’du ba). The word is found in the Mahāvyutpatti (no. 6262): skad go ’dun gyi ming. Sakaki seems to have misunderstood the word go ’dun for he has rendered it into Chinese as ninety-seven (i.e. as if go bdun). Jäschke correctly understood the word where he renders it as “of different sorts” and provides sna ’dun as its equivalence (Jäschke 1881: s.v. go). Etymologically, I wonder how we should understand? Perhaps go should be understood as in the case of go skabs and go ’phang and hence something like “situation” or “occasion” and ’dun as “wish.” Thus: “as occasioned by one’s wish” and hence “various” (i.e. all that can be considered according to one’s wish)?

August 24, 2016

སྐུ་ཚབ། ཞལ་སྐྱིན།

The very purpose of this blog has been to speculate about etymologies of Tibetan words. I haven’t done this for a while. So to prevent myself from drifting away from the initial goal, I am here again, speculating. This time it is the Tibetan words zhal skyin and sku tshab. If I may recall, my concern here is not their known dictionary meanings. To begin with, I must say these are pretty elegant words. The components zhal and sku suggest that the words are honorifics. Apropos, I wonder if I have already made this claim. If not, here it is. In my view, “honorific forms” (in Tibetan) are not to be equated or confused with “polite forms” (in German, for example). Normally human beings everywhere, I would assume, would prefer “polite content” to “polite form.” This is true also in Germany. But sometimes, “polite content” remains abstract and “polite form” seems relatively concrete. That is, we can, we believe, get away by being “impolite in content” but by being “polite in form.” The difference between the two is somewhat comparable to “being correct” and “being politically correct.” In German, the use of the verb siezen (i.e. to address someone formally with a Sie = Thou) and duzen (i.e. to address someone formally with a Du = You) is a good example. Here, too, it is safer to be “formally correct” than to be “correct.” But it seems formal correctness according to any given culture is important specially if one lives in that culture. But it seems to be quite safe so long as we encounter or interact with a person (formally or informally) with a basic sense of warmth and respect. Apologies for this needless deviation. Both zhal skyin and sku tshab mean something like “worthy representative.” We could understand sku tshab as literally meaning something like a “substitute/replacement of the body [of a worthy person missing/absent].” The component skyin in the word zhal skyin is actually from the verb skyi ba (“to borrow, to take a loan”). It has been nominalized to the form skyin pa or skyin ma, and it is the “loan” or “debt” that one owes the person from whom one has borrowed (e.g. money). In other words, skyin pa or skyin ma is the “substitute” or “replacement” for what one has borrowed. Thus zhal skyin literally means something like a “substitute/replacement of the face [of a worthy person missing/absent].” I think one’s virtuous master or teacher is said to be a zhal skyin of the Buddha. Historically, it seems significant because, as my German professor has once stated, a greater part of the development of Buddhist ideas can be explained as outcomes of attempts made by the Buddhists to psychologically compensate the physical loss of the historical Buddha.

July 14, 2016

ཤོག་བུའི་ངེས་ཚིག །

Has anyone ever thought of the etymology of the Tibetan word for paper? I have a suspicion, no one and never before. But recently, like a bolt from the blue, I think I had a flash of insight! No, I do not claim to be a “treasure revealer” (gter bton/ston). The Tibetan word for paper is shog bu or shog gu, and of course, one can come across numerous disyllabic words with shog either as the first syllable (e.g. shog ser) or shog as the second syllable (e.g. bod shog). But what could be the etymology of shog bu or shog gu? First, let us put aside bu and gu, which are certainly diminutive particles. But what about shog? I think shog expresses the “rustling sound” made by the movement of dry paper. This would sound particularly sound if we consider the older Tibetan word for paper, namely, shog shog. That shog shog is an old word for shog bu has been made clear, for example, by rGyal-mo-’brug-pa in his Shog bzo’i lag len (163.7–8).

July 03, 2016

བམ་པ། བམ། བམ་པོ། གླེགས་བམ།

Our world is already reeling under the weight of conceptual constructions and thus there is not much point in adding one more conceptual construction. Nonetheless, I wish to add one speculation here. This concerns the word bam po. Over the decades, several prominent scholars have reflected on the term. The latest one is by van der Kuijp (i.e. Leonard W. J. van der Kuijp, “Some Remarks on the Meaning and Use of the Tibetan Word bam po.” Journal of Tibetology (Bod rig pa’i dus deb) 5, 2010, pp. 115–132). As usual, his contribution is rich and loaded with fascinating material and information. There is nothing much to add really. My interest, however, is a minor one, namely, the syllable bam. The question is whether bam in the sense of a “corpse,” bam in bam po, and bam in glegs bam are in any way related or they happen to be simply coincidentally identical. And what about the verb bam pa “to undergo fermentation” (as in the case of  cheese)? Perhaps “to rot” would be too strong a rendering of bam pa. We shall disregard bam (as an interrogative or alternative particle after the preceding b postscript, e.g. thub bam). Supposing that bam is not a loanword, could it be that bam in the sense of a “corpse” is somehow connected with the verb bam pa “to decay”? That is, a corporeal body that is destined to eventually bam (“decay”) is a bam (“corpse”)? It is a bit macabre, but when we think of bam in the sense of a “corpse,” let us imagine a body wrapped up in white sheet of cotton cloth and tied with straps or strings, somewhat like an Egyptian mummy. To be noted is that in Tibetan, phung po can not only mean skandha (in an Abhidharmic sense) but also “corpse.” I have not seen “corpse” referred to as *bam po but theoretically both *bam po (or bam) and phung po can refer to a “corpse.” Practically, however, bam po is used only in the sense discussed by van der Kuijp. Leaving aside the question of what quantity of text or manuscript is indicated by the unit of bam po, I wish to concentrate on the question of how the word bam po came to be used as a textual or manuscriptural unit or mass. The Chos ’byung gi yi ge zhib mo (i.e. one version of the sBa/rBa/dBa’ bzhed) contains an expression bam po re la shog dril re byas nas (p. 205.1). This seems to offer a small but an important clue and it also supports our previous understanding that bam po refers to a “scroll.” That is, the amount of text contained in a reasonable size of a scroll of manuscript is called a bam po. The possible variation in the size of the scroll would explain why the size of a bam po, too, can be variable. Tibetans may have adopted the tradition of keeping manuscripts in the form of scrolls from non-Indic traditions (e.g. Central Asia or China) and this might also explain why bam po may not have an Indic origin. But how is bam po related with glegs bam? My supposition is that bam in bam po and bam in glegs bam were initially related and that both referred to a textual or manuscriptural unit. The word bam in the both case may mean a “portion” or a “chunk.” The size of one bam po or one shog dril and one glegs bam can but need not to be equal. The key differences between a bam po of shog dril and a glegs bam can be said to lie in the form and format of the physical medium (i.e. paper or cloth or palm leaf) and also their origin. A shog dril is a single long sheet of paper or cloth manuscript rolled up as one scroll, whereas a glegs bam is a pile of loose folios held together with strings (as in palm-leaf manuscripts in India) or bound between two slabs of wooden boards (glegs shing) and bound with a binding strap (glegs thag). The tradition of glegs bam (pustaka) must be Indic in its origin. The relative chronology of the introduction of shog dril tradition and glegs bam tradition is unclear to me. Possibly, after the two traditions have been introduced, they could have persisted for sometime parallel, but after the introduction of the xylograph tradition, the shog dril tradition gradually receded. If to return to my initial question, what is the commonality in a “scroll,” “corpse,” and “volume”? Perhaps it is the meaning of “bundle” expressed by the syllable bam. One can try to visualise a “bundle” consisting of a scroll, a bundle of corpse (like a mummy), and bundle or volume of a bound Tibetan book, and see if we can see some component of similarity. In my view, they are all “bundles.” One last point here. I suggested above that in addition to the Abhidharmic phung po (“aggregate”), Tibetans also used phung po in the sense of a “corpse,” which is also called bam (thought never *bam po). In other words, phung po not only refers to (a) physical-psychical “bundle” (i.e. skandha) but also to (b) a “bundle” of lifeless body (i.e. a corpse). Similarly, I wish to speculate that bam po (analogous to phung po) not only refers to (a) “bundle” of lifeless body (i.e. a corpse), though admittedly only called bam, but also a “bundle,” in the sense of a textual or manuscriptural unit. The punch-line here is whether skandha in India, too, has this Double entendre. Apparently it does! That is, in addition to its usual Abhidharmic technical meaning of physical-psychical “bundle,” skandha (or khaṇḍa) can also have the meaning of “piece, part, fragment, portion” and “a chapter, section (of a book, system, etc.).” In such a context, khaṇḍa is rendered into Tibetan as dum bu (“part” or “piece”). Thus, at least ad sensum, both skandha (or khaṇḍa) in Sanskrit and phung po (or dum bu = bam po) in Tibetan can refer to a unit or portion of texts or manuscripts. All of these, as usual, is pure speculation.

June 29, 2016

ཨ་ཕ་ཨ་མ་སོགས་ཀྱི་ཨ།

In a big conference, one often misses some interesting papers just because one cannot multiply oneself. One of the many papers I missed in the recent IATS conference in Bergen (Norway) is a paper on Tibetan linguistics by a Tibetan scholar in Tibetan language. I think it was the paper by Chung Tshering. So I asked Lopen Lungtaen (Royal University of Bhutan), who happened to attend his talk, for some important points he made. Here is what I learnt. In Tibetan language, the first syllable of many disyllabic names of kinship is a, for example, a pha (“father”), a ma (“mother”), a zhang (“maternal uncle”), a khu (“paternal uncle”), and so on. Have we, however, asked ourselves what a in these words mean? You may have and even found an explanation, but I have not. According to the paper, I am told, a is an honorific (zhe sa) element. Thus, khu bo, for example is a normal form, whereas a khu is an honorific form. This has been an eye-opener for me! This might also explain why names of family members younger than oneself can hardly be construed with an (e.g. in gcung po and sring mo) because one normally does not employ zhe sa for those junior to or younger than oneself. But this position need not presuppose that all disyllabic words with a as the first syllable are honorific forms. Nor would it imply that honorific forms must necessarily have an a as the first syllable. But having said that, many non-Tibetic languages, too, have a or i as the first syllable. Consider, for example, a ba (“father”) and i ma (“mother”) in Hebrew. I thus personally speculate that vowels in such cases are vocative particles (’bod sgra). In this connection, one should by all means consider words such kye ma and e ma, where ma is clearly “mother” and kye and e are vocative particles.    

June 16, 2016

Lokāyatika = འཇིག་རྟེན་རྒྱང་འཕེན་པ།

Although Tibetan rendering of Lokāyatika is often spelled as ’Jig-rten-rgyang-phan-pa (e.g. TSD, s.v. mi bsten), the correct spelling seems to be ’Jig-rten-rgyang-’phen-pa (as recorded, for example, in the Tshig mdzod chen mo (s.v. ’jig rten rgyang ’phen pa). This is because Tibetan translators seem to have taken for granted that āyatika in lokāyatika is derived from āyati, that is, in the sense of “stretching,” “extending,” or “extension” (MW, s.v. āyati). Thus ’jig rten rgyang ’phen pa is to be probably interpreted as “one whose [philosophical] extensional scope (rgyang ’phen) is [confined to this material] world (’jig rten).” That is, why a lokāyatika can be called a “materialist.”

June 12, 2016

Adhīśa = ཇོ་བོ་རྗེ།

What is nice about scientific approach (as opposed to rigid and religious dogmatic approach) is that enquirers can keep on correcting or enhancing our hitherto knowledge or hypotheses. Recently our esteemed colleagues Harunaga Isaacson and Francesco Sferra came up with a brilliant suggestion regarding the byname *Atiśa (or *Atīśa). Lest I distort their nuanced position, I plead the readers to read Isaacson & Sferra 2014: pp. 70–71, n. 51. Here is the full bibliographical detail: Harunaga Isaacson & Francesco Sferra, The Sekanirdeśa of Maitreyanātha (Advayavajra) with the Sekanirdeśapañjikā of Rāmapāla: Critical Edition of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Texts with English Translation and Reproduction of the MSS. With Contributions by Klaus-Dieter Mathes and Marco Passavanti. Naples: Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale,” 2014. To begin with, the byname *Atiśa (or *Atīśa), though very popular in Tibetan and secondary sources, is not attested in Sanskrit sources. Assuming that there indeed was a genuine Sanskrit byname of respect and recognition, Helmut Eimer has suggested that *Atiśa could have been a corrupted derivation from Atiśaya. Isaacson and Sferra, however, voice their doubts with the probability of the name *Atiśa and its derivation and speculated that the underlying epithet in Sanskrit (i.e. if it indeed existed) could have been Adhīśa, which, unlike Atiśaya, has the merit of being attested as a name and epithet. In addition, I wish to point out that also the pertinent byname in Tibetan “Jo-bo-rje” seems to support the Adhīśa hypothesis. In other words, it is very likely that Tibetan jo bo rje has been a rendering of the Sanskrit adhīśa. This would also precisely tally with the English rendering of adhīśa as “lord or master over (others)” (MWs.v.). The orthographic and phonetic imprecision or similarity between adhīśa and atīśa/atiśa could have easily caused the confusion between the two. The Tibetan rendering phul du byung ba (e.g. Tshig mdzod chen mos.v. a ti sha), like Helmut Eimer, of course, presupposes atiśaya. We shall have to see since when we start seeing the Tibetan rendering phul tu byung ba (as a byname). The only disadvantage is that, as pointed out by Isaacson and Sferra, it is not attested as a byname. Negi’s dictionary, too, does not seem to contain any entry phul tu byung ba in the sense of a byname. I think we should start using Adhīśa (instead of *Atīśa/*Atiśa).

June 02, 2016

འོ་བྱེད་པ།

Experts in historical linguistics or diachronic linguistics may have their own idea of the etymology of the Tibetan word for “kiss.” Here I wish to speculate about the possible etymology of the Tibetan word for “kiss” (as a philologist who uses Tibetan language and not as a linguist who theorizes Tibetan language). I do so at the encouragement of Dan Martin. First, it is clear that two common verbs can be traced in Tibetan language that mean “to kiss,” namely, (a) kha skyel ba, which simply means “to put [one’s] mouth [on someone else’s]” and explained as “to unite [one’s] lips with [those of] others” (gzhan dang mchu sbyor ba), and (b) ’o byed pa (“to kiss or to plant a kiss”). Of course, we can also find some other expressions such as kha sbyor ba “to unite mouths” (and contextually also “to embrace” (as in a coitus), kha gtugs pa (“to bring mouths into contact”), kha snol ba (perhaps “to cause the mouths to intersect”), and the like. Thus kha la ’o byed pa may be understood as “to kiss on the mouth” and kha la ’o gtugs pa (somewhat freely “to plant a kiss on the mouth”). Jäschke also records um rgyag pa in the sense of “to kiss.” Second, let us consider the Tibetan word for the noun “kiss.” It seems that the noun “kiss” is expressed by the Tibetan word ’o and its variants such as ’u and um. The orthographic discrepancy between ’o and ’u is easily explainable and hence it should not surprise us at all. It is like the orthographic discrepancy between O-rgyan and U-rgyan. No big deal! The component um in um rgyag pa is not easily explainable. Third, the question now is what should be the literal (or etymological) meaning of ’o’u or um. As wild as it might sound, I wish to make two points here. First, I speculate that ’o in the sense of “kiss” and ’o in ’o ma (“milk”) are somehow related. That is, the act of “kissing” and the act of “suckling” (without the accusative object) both describe an action that involves some kind of intimate emotion. When one “kisses,” one puts one’s lips on someone’s lips, for example, and when a baby “suckles,” it also puts its lips on its mother’s nipples. I thus also think that ma in ’o ma (“milk”) and in nu ma (“breasts”) should refer to “mother.” Second, I think that the Tibetan word for “kiss,” namely, ’o’u, or um, is not really an “onomatopoeic” or “onomatopoetic” word in the sense that it phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes, but rather that it tries to imitate and form a shape of the mouth that would be formed in an act of kissing.

May 15, 2016

ཁྱིམ།

I would have never thought that the Tibetan word khyim (“house”) has something to with the verb “to encircle.” William Woodville Rockhill (i.e. The Life of the Buddha and the Early History of His Order. Derived from Tibetan Works in the Bkah-Hgyur and Bstan-Hgyur. Followed by Notices on the Early History of Tibet and Khoten. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1884 [= 1907], p. 5, n. 1), has, however, precisely suggested that. That is, khyim has been probably derived from ’khyims pa, which means skor ba (Tshig mdzod chen mo, s.v.) “to encircle.” He also points out its connection with gṛha, the Sanskrit word for “house” or “home,” which is said to derived from its root grah (“to embrace”). We should also perhaps think of the English words “grab”  or “grasp” or “grip.” This, according to him, would lead us to suppose that khyim was coined only after the introduction of Buddhism. But should this be necessarily the case? I personally do not think so. I also see that khyim can be found in OTDO.

May 13, 2016

སྔགས།

Those of us dealing with Tibetan texts and ideas may have, at one point in time, wondered what the Tibetan word sngags literally means. In other words, what could be its etymology, should there be one. Ben Joffe recently wrote me asking if I have any thoughts on it. I wish to speculate here a little about the etymology of the Tibetan word sngags. For a moment let us forget about the etymology of mantra, often rendered as gsang sngags. Apropos the English translation of gsang sngags! In course of time, I happen to have developed some allergy to its translation “secret mantra.” Unless there is something like guhya preceding it, “secret mantra” seems to be a hyper-translation. Often the word gsang sngags is a rendering of mantra although for metrical reasons one might also encounter just sngags. Thus mantranyāna and mantranaya would be rendered respectively as sngags sngags kyi theg pa and sngags sngags kyi tshul. To be noted is that mantra (gsang sngags), dhāraṇī (gzungs sngags), and vidyā (rig sngags) may occur together as a set, in which case, I attempt to make a distinction by rendering them respectively as “magical formula,” “mnemonic formula,” and “cognitive formula.” We also encounter words such as mantrapada, dhāraṇīpada, and vidyāpada. Let us now turn to the Tibetan word sngags. We have a host of Tibetan words that seem to be based on the root ngag “speech/utterance.” First, we encounter several disyllabic words, where ngag appear as the second syllable. (a) We all know man ngag (for upadeśa). Its etymology seems to “medicinal/beneficial speech.” (b) We have snyan ngag (for kāvya). Its etymology “melodious/pleasing speech” may be self-explanatory. Some Tibetan scholars spell it as snyan dngags, which is said to be an archaic form of snyan ngag. (c) The word gdam/s ngag seems to literally mean “admonishing/counseling speech.” (d) The etymology of smre ngag seems to be “lamenting/wailing speech.” In all of these, it is clear that ngag means a certain kind of verbal articulation. Second, let us consider the verb mngag pa (its perfect form being mngags pa) “to commission, charge, delegate, send.” Also in modern or colloquial Tibetan, one would say that one has “ordered” (mngags) a plate of mo mo. Although its etymology may not be obvious, it seems that the act of “commissioning or ordering” is also a particular kind of “utterance” (ngag). One could theoretically order something or someone with one’s body or mind but the actual act of ordering is a verbal act and hence mngag is a special act or kind of ngag. Third, how about the Tibetan verb sngag/s pa (and its forms bsngag, bsngags, sngog) “to praise, eulogize, or extoll”? Here, too, one could express one’s praise with one’s body and mind but eulogy is primarily seen as verbal articulation and hence bsngags, too, is related with ngag. Third and finally, in which ever way one may decide to translate it, sngags (as in gsang sngags, gzungs sngags, and rig sngags) seems to have the primary meaning of a certain formula or spell, which has something to do with incantation, invocation, conjuration, or recitation. Therefore, sngags, too, seems to be a special kind of ngag. In short, sngags may be seen as a special kind of ngag in which a great deal of power and information has been encapsulated and encoded.