[4/7] 南傳佛教研究中的“經典”與“理性”問題

[Bilingual, Chinese & English] 

§4.

同樣地,民族志學與文獻學在亞洲南傳佛教中能夠實現相輔相成,因為許多文化假設與民間傳統在不斷的發展中參考了書面經典:于古代文本中索尋(正確或錯誤的)解釋,與新文化形式同時發展。

簡要地提一個正面實例,試想一個無處不在,柬埔寨名為“Phra Thorni”的女神(泰國和老撾稱為“Thoranee”)。女神的形象在柬埔寨,泰國以及老撾的所有南傳佛教寺廟中都能找到,常現於佛陀造像的底座上,或在寺廟的入口處;她幾乎常在(非經典)的佛陀“自傳”裡出現,並且時而在寺廟外(世俗)的公共紀念碑上描繪成以其自我為形象的造像。 她通常被歸於土地女神,但也被稱為司水女神(掌管河流,洪水和降雨,有吐納雨水的威力)。她與佛教產生的聯繫來自一個故事中:在佛陀生活記事的民間版本裡(常見於柬埔寨,泰國和老撾等國),佛祖冥想後著地召喚這位女神,而後她通過擰起自己的頭髮釋放洪流,於魔軍前護衛佛祖(於是“沖走”佛教的敵人)。再一回,似乎沒有理由將她更多的與土地而非水聯繫起來;於是她的威力與兩者都有關聯。[參閱 Guthrie, 2004, 以獲得更多資訊]

澤普(Zepp)觀察到這個女神,“……沒有出現在三藏或東南亞以外其他佛教名錄裡,或源於古代佛教之前的當地神話人物中。” [Zepp, 第18頁] 澤普在記錄裡以一柬埔寨替代名稱她為,“Nieng Kang Hing”,但標準名稱“Thorni”和“Thoranee”僅僅是當地人為了念出巴利名Dharani(且她這樣的名字拼寫仍然存在於柬埔寨正確拼字之中)*3。賈尼(Jaini)同樣認為這位女神源自當地,儘管名字聽起來很經典:“正如Coedès指出的,Dharani的傳奇名不見經傳,而獨有於柬埔寨和暹羅。最早的Dharani形象在吳哥窟的石碑上發現。鑒於該肖像這一證據,很有可能Dharani的傳奇來自于高棉文明 [如柬埔寨人]。” [Jaini, 1965, 第 63頁] 在評價該女神于東南亞無處不在時,格斯裡(Guthrie)談到:

我開始發現我看過的地方處處都有土地女神:[描繪成一尊造像] 伴著她的鱷魚站在金邊一主要交通環路口的,紋在老兵手臂上的,君臨曼谷皇家田廣場的,拓於瑯勃拉邦[即老撾北方]佛寺牆壁上的,我沒有發現她存在的地方是巴利文大藏經中,即南傳佛教建立的基礎性文本。[Guthrie, 2004, 第1–2頁]

與這些普遍持有的假設相比,我所要指出的是,

  1. Dharani這一名稱確實出現在巴利文大藏經裡。在圖例中,我曾引用整整一段,說明文本的比較研究揭示了微小變化。
  2. 本段中,短語“Rahadopi tattha Dharani……” 緊接在一份眾神名諱後出現,該文本中主要羅列了眾多神,半神及妖魔的名稱。在這一文本中所保留的許多神靈名稱如今已不再任何文化中宣揚(也就是說,時隔幾個世紀後,許多命名的神靈,儘管並非全部,已被佛教和印度教徒所淡忘了。)
  3. 而最初的源文本,若翻譯正確的話,是把一個湖的名字稱作Dharani(顯然不是一位女神)。沒有理由認為柬埔寨人翻譯得正確:緊接在眾神名之後出現,很容易錯誤的理解成為這是名單中又一位神靈(或女神)。
  4. 對此湖(或許錯解為一位女神)的描述僅只有一句那麼長,卻說明瞭Dharani既是雨雲也是雨的起源。若該一描述用於柬埔寨女神(正如我們今日對她的理解),則再合適不過了:她掌管著洪水和降雨。
  5. 雖然讀者可能會認為我說明中引用的這段較含糊,尤其是這裡引用的經典文本(即《阿吒曩胝經》)在前現代世界裡備受重視且非常頻繁而高調地引用。在整個有記載的歷史中,這一文本據信擁有著魔幻般的保護力量;的確,在文本的序言中有說明其目的是有效的來鎮魂慰靈,且該文本的效力在中世紀的佛教世界中成為重要典範亦不足為奇。

我的結論就是,我所引自澤普(Zepp),賈尼(Jaini)和格斯裡(Guthrie)(見上)的見解嚴格地講並不準確:Dharani一名出現在經典中,且其存在的特定背景解釋了為何這位柬埔寨女神得此巴利文名稱。非是我在質疑該女神的真實來源(以及她釋放洪水的故事,等等)為柬埔寨人這一假設;然而,假若她是柬埔寨人,就意味著她的巴利文名稱一定有另一來源。剛才提到,她也擁有一些完全非巴利文的柬埔寨文名稱,但這些名稱同Dharani卻並無相似之處(而且未有提供解釋)。如果我們假設柬埔寨人確有他們自己的古代女神(源于當地),她掌控降雨和洪水,那麼應當認為他們用一句話來描述Dharani作為他們對自己女神的比擬;他們也可通過誤譯“湖泊”這個詞來實現;或以其他方式然後接受,再將湖擬人化為女神來閱讀這段。若他們這麼做了,他們自己的女神就該通過一句有創意的闡釋(或許,是通過對一句話虔誠而不恰當的曲解!),旋即出現在最古老佛典中的神廟內。

儘管這是一個推論,似乎不大可能對名為Dharani(她掌控降雨,等等)這潭充滿魔力的湖水的簡要提及會預示並啟迪出這一位柬埔寨女神及其關於她的故事。相反,似乎更有可能是這段只是提供了一位已經存在的,還有著另一稱謂的女神,而且該巴利文名稱在古印度神廟與柬埔寨當地的一位神明之間建立了一種切實的聯繫。

我提出這些,意在將之作為民族志學觀察和書面經典之間聯繫的正面例子。如果讀者能花點時間來看這一說明,他們會發現有些微妙:對由失傳語言保留下來的源文進行比較閱讀並非易事。然而,結果會具有啟示性,且(獨自)承擔這類工作的唯一替代辦法便是請一位巴利文學者代勞。


§4. By the same token, ethnography and philology can be mutually illuminating in Theravāda Asia, because so many cultural assumptions and folk traditions have developed with constant reference back to the written canon: justifications are sought in the ancient texts (rightly or wrongly), coeval with the development of new cultural forms.

To offer a positive example in brief, consider the ubiquitous goddess called “Phra Thorni” in Cambodia (“Thoranee” in Thailand and Laos). The image of this goddess is found throughout Theravāda Buddhist temples of Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, very often on the pedestal of a Buddha statue, sometimes on the gateways to temples; she almost always appears in the (non- canonical) “biography” of the Buddha, and she is sometimes depicted as a statue unto herself in (secular) public monuments, outside of the temples. She is normally classified as an earth goddess, but could also be described as a goddess of water (rivers, floods, and rainfall, including the power of withholding or releasing the rain). She is linked to Buddhism by one specific narrative: in the folklore version of the Buddha’s life story (common to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos) this goddess is summoned by the Buddha touching the ground on the completion of his meditation, and she then releases a flood by twisting her hair, protecting the Buddha from an army of demons (thus “washing away” the enemies of Buddhism). Again, there seems to be no reason to identify her with earth more than water; her powers are linked to both. [See Guthrie, 2004, for much more detail]

Zepp observes that this goddess, “…does not appear in the Tripitaka or other Buddhist accounts outside Southeast Asia, and may have roots in an ancient pre-Buddhist figure in local mythology.” [Zepp, p. 18] Zepp’s account refers to her by an alternate Cambodian name, “Nieng Kang Hing”, but the standard names “Thorni” and “Thoranee” are simply local attempts to pronounce the Pali name Dharaṇi (and her name is still spelled as such in Cambodian orthography).*3 Jaini similarly assumes that this goddess is of local origin, despite this canonical-sounding name: “The legend of Dharaṇi, as pointed out by Cœdès, is unknown to the canonical texts and is peculiar to Cambodia and Siam. The earliest image of Dharaṇi is found on a stele at Angkor Vat. It is likely, in view of this iconographical evidence, that the legend of Dharaṇi is of Khmer [i.e., Cambodian] origin.” [Jaini, 1965, p. 63] In commenting on the ubiquity of this goddess in Southeast Asia, Guthrie remarks:

I began to see the earth deity everywhere I looked: [depicted as a statue] standing with her crocodile in a main traffic roundabout in Phnom Penh [金邊], tattooed onto the arms of an old soldier, presiding over the Sanam Luang in Bangkok [曼谷], stencilled onto the walls of a wat in Luang Prabang [i.e., 老撾北方]. The one place I did not find her was in the Pāli Canon, the texts that Theravāda Buddhism is founded on. [Guthrie, 2004, p. 1–2]

In contrast to these widely-held assumptions, I would point out that,

  1. The name Dharaṇi does appear in the Pali canon. In the illustration, I have quoted a passage in full, showing the minor variations revealed by the comparative study of the text.
  2. In this passage, the phrase “Rahadopi tattha Dharaṇi…” appears immediately after a list of the names of gods, in a text that is dominated by lists of the names of numerous gods, demi-gods and demons of various kinds. Many of the gods whose names are preserved in this particular text are no longer celebrated in any culture (i.e., many of the gods named here, though not all, have been forgotten by both Buddhists and Hindus in the intervening centuries).
  3. While the primary source text, if correctly interpreted, states Dharaṇi as the name of a lake (not a goddess, apparently) there is no reason to assume that Cambodians interpreted it correctly: appearing immediately after a list of gods’ names, it would be easy to mistakenly assume that this is one further god (or goddess) in that list.
  4. The description of this lake (perhaps mistaken as a goddess) is only one sentence long, but states that Dharaṇi is the origin of both the rainclouds and the rain. If this description were applied to the Cambodian goddess (as we know her today) it would seem suitable enough: she controls the floods and the rains.
  5. Although the reader might assume this is an obscure passage that I am quoting in the illustration, the particular canonical text quoted here (namely, the Āṭānāṭiya-sutta) was considered important and very frequently recited aloud in the pre-modern world. Throughout recorded history, this text was believed to have magical protective powers; indeed, in the preamble to the text itself, its purpose is explained as useful for allaying demons, and it is not surprising that the performance of this text became an important ritual in the medieval Buddhist world.

My conclusion is simply that the opinions I have quoted from Zepp, Jaini and Guthrie (above) are not strictly accurate: the name Dharaṇi appears in the canon, and the peculiar context it appears in would offer an explanation for how this Cambodian goddess acquired her Pali name. I am not challenging the assumption that the true origin of the goddess (and the story of her releasing a flood, etc.) is Cambodian; however, if she is Cambodian, this means that her Pali name must have a separate origin. As mentioned, she also has Cambodian names that are entirely non-Pali, but these do not resemble (and do not provide an explanation for) the name Dharaṇi. If we presume that the Cambodians did have their own ancient goddess (of local origin) who controlled the rains and the floods, it would be fair to suppose that they selected this one-sentence description of Dharaṇi as an analog for their own goddess; they could do so either by misinterpreting the word “lake”, or else by accepting it, and reading the passage as a lake personified as a goddess. If they had done so, their own goddess would suddenly be included in the pantheon of the most ancient Buddhist canon simply through the creative interpretation of one sentence (or, perhaps, through the sincerely inept misinterpretation of one sentence!).

Although it is a matter of inference, it seems impossible that this brief mention of a magical lake named Dharaṇi (that controls the rains, etc.) could have prefigured and inspired the Cambodian goddess and the stories surrounding her. Instead, it seems more likely that this passage simply provided an already-existing goddess with one additional epithet, and that the Pali name created a corroborative link between the ancient Indian pantheon and one of Cambodia’s local deities.

I would offer this as a positive example of the nexus between ethnographic observation and the written canon. If the reader takes some time to stare at the illustration, they will see that this is slightly tricky work: comparative reading of sources preserved in a dead language is not easy. However, the results can be illuminating, and the only alternative to undertaking such work (for oneself) is to ask a Pali scholar to do it on your behalf.


*3. Guthrie記錄了這個名字的許多更多的變化, 她對這一女神的詳細研究超出了以上所提到的國家範圍,包括了來自印度、緬甸、印尼和其它地方的證據: “不同國家的土地神的名字都有變化,但一般是“土地”這個詞的一種形式,如 Pṛthivī, Kṣiti, Dharaṇī, Vasundharā,等等。在柬埔寨,土地神通過她的名字即可輕易瞭解(拼為‘neang kongheng’) ⋯⋯ 在泰族地區,她被稱為 Nang Thoranee 或 Mae Thoranee: ‘土地夫人’或‘土地母親’。“ [Guthrie, 2004, 第2頁, fn. 2] Many more variations on the name are noted by Guthrie, whose detailed study of this goddess goes beyond the countries mentioned above, including evidence from India, Myanmar, Indonesia and elsewhere: “The earth deity’s name changes in different countries, but is generally a form of a word for ‘earth,’ i.e. Pṛthivī, Kṣiti, Dharaṇī, Vasundharā, and so on. In Cambodia the earth deity is known simply by her title… (pronounced ‘neang kongheng’) … In the Tai regions she is known as Nang Thoranee or Mae Thoranee: ‘lady earth’ or ‘mother earth.’” [Guthrie, 2004, p 2, fn. 2]