Shes bya rab gsal
Shes bya rab gsal, which is also known as Zhang suo zhi lun彰所知論 in Chinese, was the Abhidharma work made by ‘Phags-pa Blo-gros rgyal-mtshan (1235-1280) for teaching the Mongolian crown prince Jinggim (1243-1286,Chi. Zhen jin 真金). In order to legitimize the regime of Mongolians, Shes bya rab gsal traced the origin of Mongolians to Tibet, which had inherited Buddhist teaching from India. It is believed that Shes bya rab gsal was originally composed in Tibetan in 1278, and then translated into Mongolian and Chinese. Although past scholars have been familiar with the Chinese version of Zhang suo zhi lun collected in Chinese Tripitaka (Taisho Tripitaka Vol. T32, No. 1645), the Tibetan (in Sa skya bka' 'bum Vol. 13, pp. 13) and Mongolian versions were lately studied in 1980s and 2006 respectively (Hoog, 1983; Uspensky, 2006).

It seems that Shes bya rab gsal was not widely circulated during 13-14th century; nevertheless, it left significant legacies to later Mongolian historiographies that played big roles in making of the cosmology of early-modern Mongolians. For instance, the Buddhist cosmology in Shes bya rab gsal that suggested Mongol, Tibet and India shared a common origin was later adopted by Erderni-yin Tobči (Chi. Meng gu yuan liu蒙古源流) by Sagang Sečen in 1662. Moreover, Shes bya rab gsal did not only influence the historical writings, but also provide a theoretical antecedent for Manchu emperors that also linked their empire to the universal Buddhist origin that shared by Mongol, Tibet and India.

  • Chen, yin-ke 陳寅恪. Zhang suo zhi lun yu meng gu yuan liu (Shes bya rab gsal and Erdeni-yin Tobči). Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology Academia Sinica. 2:3, 1931, pp. 302-309.
  • Shen, weirong 沈衛榮. A Re-examination of the Shes bya rab gsal and the Erdeniyin Tobči. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology Academia Sinica. 77:4, 2006, pp. 697-727.
  • Uspensky, Vladimir. “Explanation of the Knowable” by ‘Phags-pa bla-ma Blo-gros rgyal-mtshan (1235-1280). Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, 2006.
  • Hoog, Constance. Prince Jin-Gim’s Texkbook of Tibetan Buddhism. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1983

Entry by Ling-wei Kung 10/18/14