Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “expression of driving out a peg by means of a counter-peg” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Appendix 7 - The expression of driving out a peg by means of a counter-peg

Note: This appendix was extracted from Chapter XXXIX part 2.5 (The knowledge of the aspirations of beings):

“In this way, he preaches the Dharma according to the aspirations (adhimukti) of beings. If these aspirations are good (kuśala), he preaches in accordance with the minds of the beings, like a boat going along with the current; if these aspirations are bad (akuśala), he addresses them with rough words (paruṣavacana) according to the method of driving out a peg by means of a counter-peg (āṇīpratyāṇīnirhārayogena)”.

An expression recorded in the Mahāvyutpatti (ed. Sakaki, no. 6865; ed. Wogihara, chap. 245, no. 460). The meaning presents no problem. It results from a passage in Majjhima, I, p. 119:

Seyyathā pi bhikkhave dakkho palaganḍo vā palaganḍantevāsi vā sukhumāyaāṇiyā oḷārikaṃ āṇIṃ abhinīhaneyya abhinīhareyya abhinivarajjeyya

“Jut as, O monks, a skillful carpenter or his apprentice, by means of a small peg, is able to take out, drive out, tear out, a big peg… .”

But the corresponding passage in Madhyamāgama (T 26, k. 25, p. 588a14–15) is completely different:

“Just as a master carpenter or his apprentice, taking a line (kālasūtra), places it on a piece of wood, then with a sharp axe, hacks along it and smoothes it out to make it straight.”

Chinese scholars have always rendered the expression āṇīpratyāṇīnirhārayogena by means of the characters jou yi sie tch’ou sie fang pien “a way of taking out a wedge by means of a wedge”. This is the phrase used by Bodhisuci (T 675, k. 3, p. 679a8), by Paramārtha (T 1593, k. 3, p. 127a29; T 1595, k. 11, p. 235b6), by Dharmagupta (T 1596, k. 8, p. 305c6) and by Hiuan-tsang (T 676, k. 3, p. 702b11;T 1594, k. 3, p. 146c18; T 1597, k. 8, p. 361c27–28; T 1598, k. 8, p. 427b10–11).

On the other hand, the Tibetan translations present difficulties: here are some differences:

Mahāvyut., ed. Sakaki, no. 6865: khye ḥus khye ḥu ḥbyun baḥI tshul du.

Transl of the Saṃdhinirmocana ed. in Explication des Mysteres, 1935, p. 115, l. 28–30: khye ḥus khye ḥu dbyun tshul du.

Transl of the Mahāyanasaṃgraha ed. in Somme du Grand Véhicule. I, 1938, p. 70, l. 26–27: khe ḥus khye ḥu dbyun baḥI tshul du, with the variant khyi ḥus khyi ḥu sbyun haḥi tshul du.

But khye ḥu means a boy and khyi ḥu a little dog, which would give the expression an unsatisfying meaning: “As one drives out a boy by means of a boy” or “As one drives out little dog by means of a little dog”. See Tibetan-English Dictionary, S. C. Das, p. 160, v. khiḥuḥi-khyiḥu.

My [Lamotte] respected colleague, Walter Simon, has examined the question and proposes to correct khye ḥu by ke ḥu, “wedge”, a word mentioned in the Manual of Colloquial Tibetan by Sir Charles Bell, 1905, p. 438. The phrase would then mean: “As one drives out a peg by means of a peg”, in perfect agreement with the original Sanskrit and the Chinese translation.

Consulted in turn by W. Simon, Prof. J. Brough comes to the following conclusion: [In English] As an alternative for consideration, I would like to suggest that khye ḥu might be the correct reading, but that the word is used as a technical term in ‘carpenter’s language’ for ‘peg’ or ‘pin’. The semantic situation would then be similar to that of English ‘male screw’.

Information gathered in the Tibetan culture would confirm Prof. Simon’s conjecture.

In a letter dated July 3, 1967, P. Denwood writes from Kathmandu: [In English]

“I have been asking my Tibetan friends about your ke ḥu. Both Tashi and Pasang Khambache know the word. Tashi knows it as a piece of ‘carpenter’s language’, Pasang as a word in Sherpa language, and both agree that it means a wedge of hard wood or metal used for splitting wood. First an axe cut is made, then the wedge driven in with a hammer. A wedge for holding open a door or other static use is known to all Tibetans I have asked as ‘tsab’ This word is given as rtsabs on pg. 957 of Lama Dawa Ssamdup Kazi’s English-Tibetan Dictionary which also has ka-ru and skyeg-bu for ‘wedge’. Tashi pronounces ‘kiu’ (unaspirated) and Pasang “khiu” (aspirated). Other Tibetans have not heard the word. The shape seems to be normal wedge-shape.”

This digression may perhaps be of some use to many readers of Buddhist-Hybrid Dictionary by Edgerton where the innocent phrase āṇīpratyāṇīnirhārayogena which appears on p. 91 is interpreted as ‘by homosexual procedure’.