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Author(s): D. Seyfort Ruegg

Review by: D. Seyfort Ruegg
Source: T'oung Pao, Second Series, Vol. 56, Livr. 4/5 (1970), pp. 338-341
Published by: Brill
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Accessed: 20-06-2016 22:02 UTC

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Par son unification avec elle - aham vajravdrdhi bhutvd taddkdram

jagat sarvam karisydmi1) -, le Yogin acquiert la maitrise du
Monde, en meme temps qu'il atteint a la beatitude de l'Eveil, puis
au Nirvana.

Cette etude de Mandala est capitale pour la comprehension

d'autres textes similaires, mais moins detailles; je signalerai
simplement - me reservant d'y revenir d'une maniere plus circon-
stanciee dans un travail ulterieur- , le Sadhana n 218 2), oi une
Vajravarahi ,,blanche comme la lune d'automne" et ses quatre
assistantes sont entourees du triple kdya-vdkcitta-cakra avec ses
vingt-quatre deesses; ou encore le Mandala de Sambara dans la
Nispannayogdval 3). Dans ce dernier, cependant, le centre etant
occupe par Sambara uni a Vajravarahi, chacun des cercles contient
huit couples en maithuna; le couple central est entoure du quatuor
feminin habituel (Dakini, Lama, Khandaroha et Rufpini) et, sur le
cercle exterieur, se retrouvent les quatre deesses a tete animale, et
les quatre deesses bicolores.
La cinquieme et derniere partie (p. 298-302) contient le commen-
taire et l'explication des planches. Outre le thanka du Musee de
Leiden reproduit en couleurs, les illustrations comprennent les
images de cinq statuettes en metal s'echelonnant du XIe(?) au
XIXe siecles.

Il nous faut remercier vivement M. Meisezahl qui - sous le

pretexte d'une etude iconographique -, depasse largement son
propos en nous donnant de surcroit un aperCu de la philosophie
tantrique; surtout, il nous revele d'une part la continuite d'une
tradition qui rattache le Tantrisme au Bouddhisme pali et, d'autre
part, une extraordinaire et passionnante cosmologie ou, une fois de
plus, s'affirme le goiut indien pour l'identification du microcosme
qu'est le corps humain avec le macrocosme qu'est l'Univers.
Marie-Therese DE MALLMANN.

Helmut HOFFMANN, Symbolik der tibetischen Religionen und des

Schamanismus. Symbolik der Religionen, herausgegeben von
Ferdinand Herrmann, XII. Stuttgart, Anton Hiersemann Verlag,
1967, I73 PP.
The present volume is concerned both with the symbolism of
the Tibetan religions and of shamanism and with many of the
1) Sadhanamald, op. cit., p. 424; Finot, op. cit., p. 59.
2) Sadhanamald, op. cit., p. 426-43I.
1) Gaekwad's Oriental Series, vol. CIX, Baroda I949, p. 26-29.

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phenomenological categories in which they present themselves to

the observer, so that their symbolism forms a framework for the
author's treatment of various aspects of these religions. The first
section of the book, entitled Symbolism of Lamaism (i.e. Tibetan
Buddhism), is divided into six chapters: Introduction, Buddhas
and Bodhisattvas, the Gods, Macrocosm and Microcosm, the Myste-
ry Plays, and Ritual Symbols and Accessories. The second section,
Symbolism of the Bon religion, contains two chapters: the Old
Tibetan Religion and the Systematized Bon Religion. Finally,
the third section, Symbolism of Shamanism, comprises chapters on:
What is Shamanism, the Vocation and Initiation of the Shamans,
Extasy and Journey into the Beyond of the Shamans, and Symbo-
lism of the Shamans' Costume and Accoutrement. While it is
natural that the sources on Shamanism (listed in the bibliography)
should be limited to works in Western languages, the reader may
regret that the sources on Tibetan religions to which the author
refers are also practically exclusively secondary ones, although in
this case the number of available primary sources dealing with
symbolism and the religious aspect of iconography is very large.
Not only is no mention made of such fundamental sources for the
study of the symbolism of Tibetan Buddhism as Taranatha's
sGrub thabs Rin chen 'byuni gnas, the sGrub thabs brgya rca incorpo-
rated in Taranatha's gSun 'bum, and Pan.chen Blo . bzan . dpal.
ldan . bstan . pa'i . fiu . ma's Rin 'byuii Ihan thabs, but there is
no reference to the numerous canonical sources of these works
which are to be found in the bsTan.'gyur, starting with Abhaya-
karagupta's Vajryvalf. Even such an extensive collection of mate-
rial bearing on iconography and symbolism as Lokesh Chandra's
New Tibeto-Mongol Pantheon, of which some I3 volumes had
already appeared by the time of publication of the present book,
is not mentioned in either the text or the bibliography; since such
an omission can scarcely be due to a mere oversight, it would be
interesting to know what consideration caused the author to exclude
such an apparently useful, if secondary, source. The task of com-
pressing the material relevant to the first two sections of the book
into the necessarily limited space available is of course a difficult
one; and the author has unquestionably succeeded in condensing
a large amount of diverse information into this restricted space,
although such compression almost inevitably brings with it the
use of formulations which are ambiguous and of statements which
are occasionally controversial.

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Bon is referred to (p. I2) as the indigenous (einheimische) religion

of Tibet, a view which when it was put forward earlier by the
author in his Quellen zur Geschichte der tibetischen Bon-Religion
met with substantial criticism (see for example R. A. Stein, JA
I952, pp. 98-99; cf. La civilisation tibetaine [Paris, i962], pp.
I94-200); in another place the author defines Bon somewhat more
cautiously as 'die vorbuddhistische alttibetische Religion' (p. 68)
and the epithet 'alttibetisch' has been retained in the heading of
the first chapter of the second section; moreover the author calls
attention to the fact that the term Bon may refer to more than one
religious form (p. 68).-For the purpose of identifying some charac-
teristic features of more primitive or popular forms of Tibetan
religion comparison with documents relating to the Ch'iang and
the Nakhi (t-.'Jafi) will no doubt prove instructive; while the
Ch'iang are alluded to, the extensive Nakhi materials published
by J. Rock and others have not been mentioned, perhaps because
the author felt that they have not yet been adequately studied.
In the last section on shamanism the author is in his element, and
this part is certainly the most original in the book. To be noted in
particular is the definition (following A. Lommel) of shamanism
as a psychic technique found amongst the followers of various
religions rather than as a religion by itself (pp. I05, I08); the use
of the term is held to be appropriate only in such cases where
extasy and the journey into the beyond serve the shaman's commu-
nity as a whole (p. I03, io8, I2I, I30). Of special interest is the
attempt to delimit precisely the geographical diffusion of shama-
nism while restricting the notion in the first place to hunting com-
munities (p. io6, I08); according to the author's theory, shamanism
spread not only in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of the North
Eurasian tundra and taiga zones, but extended southwards into
the steppe areas inhabited by Mongol and Turkic peoples (without
however going as far as India or Africa) and eastwards to include
areas inhabited by the Eskimos and Amerindians as well as a part
of Northwestern Australia (as suggested by A. Lommel), traces
of its influence being found also in China and Tibet and amongst
the Himalayan peoples and the Iranian Scyths (p. ioo-ioi). When
seeking to define its incidence in Tibet and the Himalayan area
(p. 79 f., IOI, iio), the author no longer emphasizes its links with
Bon only; and he also considers the possibility of its having been
influenced by Buddhism and even Manichaeism (pp. I02, io8),
though he rightly questions the etymological connexion of the

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word shaman with Old and Middle Indian sramana/samana (p. ioo).
A trace is sought (pp. I22-I23) of the seances in which narcotics
are used, and which are characteristic of Subarctic shamanism, in
the use in Tibet and Mongolia of juniper incense, especially in the
case of oracles (pp. I26-I27); the extent to which this incense
smoke actually serves the 'medium' as a narcotic has yet to be
established medically, fumigation with incense being usually con-
sidered in Tibet as a means of purification (as the word bsanhs
indeed seems to imply in the expression Iha bsanis, and particularly
in the term bsanis s'in 'wood [of the juniper, ba lu, etc. used as in-
cense] for the fumigation ceremony, bsains kyi mchod pa'). (On
the symbolism of the juniper tree as an axis mundi cf. M. Eliade,
Shamanism, p. 444-445.)-A connexion is proposed between the
Tibetan gcod (in which one meditates on and experiences the dis-
memberment of his body and the destruction of Egoism (bdag

]jin]) and shamanism (where the symbols of the shaman's mystic

death and rebirth through the cutting up of his body and the laying
bare of the skeleton are determined by the religious conceptions of
hunting communities), and the gcod is then regarded as a combina-
tion of the Buddhist destruction of selfhood accentuated in a
Thntrik direction with the shamanistic notion of the dismember-
ment of the body (p. ii6). It should however be recalled that a
comparable idea concerning the cutting up of the psycho-somatic
Support (asTraya) of the Yogacara finds expression-perhaps as
a development of the butcher (goghdtaka) image attested in Bud-
dhist Suitras going as far back as the Pali canon-in a Sanskrit
text on Buddhist Yoga discovered in Central Asia and published
in I964 by D. Schlingloff; now this text, which belongs to an
Indian tradition probably emanating from Kasmjr, is in no way
specifically Tantrik, and it might even be best described as 'semi-
Mahayanist' inasmuch as it is as much Sravakayanist as Mahaya-
nist (cf. JAOS 87 [i967], P. i62 ff.). At all events, considerable
caution must be exercized when drawing comparisons between
shamanism and the Tibetan Buddhist gcod, the background and
specific significance of which must be kept clearly in mind; for
notwithstanding some recent hypotheses it is still far from certain
that the balance of evidence is in favour of deriving the gcod
directly from some shamanistic notion.
Despite the restrictions imposed by limited space this book displays
the author's well known erudition in a wide range of subjects 1).
D. Seyfort RUEGG.
') The statement on p. I2 to the effect that the temporary influence of the

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