I am thankful to Jason Birch for his valuable comments and suggestions about this blog post.In his 2014 article, Kengo Harimoto determined that although the Nepalese manuscripts of the Suśrutasaṃhitā KL 699 (K), NAK 1-1079 (N) and NAK 5-333 (H) are closely related, none of them is a direct copy of another. K and H are dated to 878 AD and 1543 AD respectively. Based on palaeographical traits, Harimoto opines that N is younger than K but older than H (op. cit. p. 1087). Nonetheless, N and H are more closely related to each other than to K.
To support the argument that none of these manuscripts is a direct descendant of another, Harimoto provides the following evidence from Sūtrasthāna 1.12 (op. cit. 1089):
K (2r1) reads : suśruto bhagavantam prakṣyaty asyopadiśyamānaṃ
N (1v7-2r1) and H (2v2-3) read: suśruto bhagavantam pratyakṣasyopadiśyamānaṃ
K consists of the correct reading …prakṣyaty asyo… while the conjunctive error of N and H suggest that N and H descend from a hyparchetype that is different from K.
As N is considered to be older than H, one can surmise that N was directly copied from K, and H was directly copied from N. But Harimoto gives another example, where the correct reading ta ete (Sūtrasthāna 1.26) is found in both K and H but N consists of a corrupt reading ete in which the pronoun ta (<te) is omitted. He, therefore, concludes that H was not copied from N. Another possibility, according to Harimoto, is that both N and H were copied from a hyparchetype which was a direct copy of K.
Harimoto’s preliminary remarks are based on his examination of “a very limited portion of the Suśrutasaṃhitā” (op. cit. 1091). However, as we have already transcribed a great part of the text from all these three manuscripts we now have more evidence that backs Harimoto’s preliminary observations. In this blog post, I am giving a few more examples from the manuscripts K and H which suggest that the scribe of H did not have access to the manuscript K or at least to its main codicological unit. We, however, need to keep in mind that the codex K, as Klebanov points out, consists of at least four different codicological units. So, what is true for one codicological unit is not necessarily true for all others. However, the section examined here (Uttaratantra 18 and 19 The chapter and verse numbers used here are according to the vulgate edition. Chapters 18 and 19 of the Uttaratantra are actually chapters 17 and 18 respectively in the Nepalese manuscripts. ) belongs to the largest codicological unit of K which even consists of the final colophon of the manuscript (op. cit. 12-13).
In the following examples from Uttaratantra 18 and 19, the bold characters are omitted in H even though K contains them.
Uttaratantra19.4: uktaṃ purā kṣatajapittajaśūlapathyaṃ (uktā… in H)
Uttaratantra 19.9: stanyapradoṣajanitaḥ (stanyapra<space/>yajanitaḥ in H)
Uttaratantra 19.16: śukratadañjanan tu |
Evidently, these are not examples of scribal errors because the scribe of H leaves space for the omitted characters. It is obvious that the manuscript or manuscripts that the scribe of H used for his copy consisted of either lacunae or glyphs illegible to the scribe in these places. These characters are quite clearly written in K. Therefore, H is not a direct copy of K.
Harimoto, Kengo. 2014. “Nepalese Manuscripts of the Suśrutasaṃhitā.” Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, Vol. 62, No. 3 62 (3): 23--29 (1087-1093). https://www.academia.edu/6695321/.
Klebanov, Andrey. 2021. “On the Textual History of the Suśrutasaṃhitā, (2): An AnonymousCommentary and Its Identified Citations.” In Body and Cosmos: Studies in Early Indian Medical and Astral Sciences in Honor of Kenneth G. Zysk, 110--139. Leiden, Boston: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004438224_008.