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4. The Essentials of Buddhism in the Ciqula kereglegci

As an insight into her forthcoming Ph.D. project Agata Bareja-Starzynska sheds light on the origin and significance of Ciqula kereglegci, a 16th century Mongolian Buddhist treatise which was probably compiled and translated into Mongolian from Tibetan sources by either Siregetü güüsi corji or perhaps Za ya Pandita. The latter wrote a text entitled Üzeqser tusatai cuxula kereqtü kemekü. Bareja-Starzynska identified 23 manuscripts in various libraries including St. Petersburg and Beijing.

The exact origin of this text is still not completely identified, and the Tibetan original itself could have been a compilation of different sources. The Ciqula kereglegci is divided in three parts (quoted from p. 4):

  1. About Buddha and his teachings (based on the Mahayana sutras and commentaries from the Canon)
  2. On the World's Origin and Destruction (including a royal genealogy of India and historical sketches of Tibet and Mongolia)
  3. Glossary of Buddhist terms

The significance attached to the three parts by western scholars varies widely. While the second part is recognized as a model for Mongolian chronicles of the 17th century, the first and third part received less attention.

Bareja-Starzynska offers a focus on the long-neglected third part. Actually the third part gave its title to the whole text: ciqula kereglegci tegüs udwasi eyin ügülesügei --- `What Is Important to be Used (by a Buddhist)'.

In analyzing the structure of the glossary based on the Abhidharmic system of questions and answers she compares the terminology with its counterparts in Tibetan and Sanskrit; it becomes obvious that only a small part of the vocabulary originated during the first propagation of Buddhism in Mongolia. In appendix 3 (p 13) the author gives a topical outline of the glossary. These 18 pages show the structure of the glossary as well as which terms could not be identified after comparison with several editions of the Mahavyutpatty and the 18th century Tibeto-Mongolian dictionary Merged garqu-yin oron.

The field of Mongolian lexicology and lexicography has found less attention than it deserves, and Bareja-Starzynska's work is an important contribution (though it may be assumed that the author had other intentions when writing her article).

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