Posts written by Bill M. Mak

Baofeng Monastery, Jiangx, China. 27 — 31 July, 2023. Sanskrit Recitation and translation of Mahāyāna Buddhist text.

 

Sanskrit retreat @ Baofeng Temple, Jiangxi

Sanskrit retreat @ Baofeng Temple, Jiangxi

After the summer semester in UTSC, Mahāsiddha and I immediately headed to the Baofeng Temple in Jiangxi. Almost 15 years ago in 2007, while I was pursing my PhD in Peking University, I organized the very first Sanskrit summer camp in this temple, with the support of the Abbot Venerable Yanzhen. This time, the temple organized a Sanskrit reading seminar, with the important Mahāyāna Buddhist text, the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (“Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 verses”), a text which Mahāsiddha and I are currently editing and translating into modern Chinese. Our goal is to complete the collation and the complete Chinese translation of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra in 8000 verses in Sanskrit by the end of the 2023. The seminar lasted 5 days, with around 15 participants. It consisted activities such as Sanskrit texts reading, comparison of various translations, and proofreading the modern translation. We managed to read through the first, introductory chapter of the text, which is the core of Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā, or described by some scholars as the Urkanon of the Prajñāpāramitā. In addition, we covered also the content of Chapter 2, titled śakra. The current plan is that the seminar will continue in an online format every Sunday night from September onwards. I learned that ten, fifteen people have signed up already, all have learned some Sanskrit in the past. I would like to thank Venerable Yanzhen once again for his support!

Editing the Sanskrit recension of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā based on the historical Chinese translations

Editing the Sanskrit recension of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā based on the historical Chinese translations

5-day Sanskrit seminar in Jiangxi

5-day Sanskrit seminar in Jiangxi

 

Seminar @ Baofeng Monastery

Seminar @ Baofeng Monastery

2023-07-27 14.52.27

中國科學技術大學夏季學期研究生課:1)古代中國科技史入門; 2. Reading Ancient Indian Scientific Literature 古代印度科學文獻導讀。

中科大校園景色

中科大校園景色

七月應邀當中國科學技術大學客座教授,講授兩門研究生課程,由於夏季學期只有三星期,課程特別緊湊。兩門課程分別是《古代中國科技史入門》及《古代印度科學文獻導讀》。講授語言前者為英語,後者漢語和梵語。每門課程40學時,幾乎每天上下午都有課。雖然報讀人數每班不到10人,學生給留下的印象都十分深刻,三位學生更同時選上了兩門課。《古代中國科技史入門》的目標很簡單,就是給同學介紹李約瑟的《中國之科學與文明》,洋洋二十多分冊,一方面讓大家了解這部巨著的結構、研究特色和核心思想,另一方面也挑一些精彩段落精讀。由於涉及內容跨度極大,天文、地理、光學、力學、內丹、外丹、動植物、四大發明,包羅萬有,實際上我跟同學們一起學習,每次備課時我都學到新東西。對於許多內地學生來說,即使是博士生,英語閱讀和口語仍然是一個嚴峻的挑戰,內容倒不是困難點。學生每天提交筆記,以提高英語寫作和理解能力。第二門課《古代印度科學文獻導讀》內容比較特殊,是我個人的專業,在國內外,除了印度外,應該沒有人開過這門課。為了讓同學更深刻的了解古代印度的科學內容,課程增加了梵語學習的部分,由助教許瑞成同學擔當。同學們在不到一個月的時間裡,不但學會閱讀基本的梵文,而且並能背誦幾句梵文偈頌,都是出自一些最有代表性和科學價值的古代科學文獻,真不簡單!不過,那三位同時選修兩門課的學生,我覺得他們學得有點累。想起六月我那篇關於「苦」的論文,其實學習不一定要苦,說不定快快樂樂的學習,效果更佳。

助教许瑞成給中科大研究生提供初級梵語指導

助教许瑞成給中科大研究生提供初級梵語指導

學員學習誦讀與解讀梵語天文學文獻

學員學習誦讀與解讀梵語天文學文獻

古印度植物學

古印度植物學

梵語阿育吠陀經典

梵語阿育吠陀經典

助教大成捕獲新學員

助教大成捕獲新學員

學生期末報告(一)

學生期末報告(一)

學生期末報告(二)

學生期末報告(二)

我在合肥中國科學技術大學逗留期間,亦參加了一個名為「會通論壇」的會議,由科學史與考古系舉辦,為期兩天。本年會議,參加人數約四五十人,都是校內和國內其他院校的學者。至於明年的會議,預計擴大為國際會議,系主任兼文學部院長石雲里教授邀請我協助組織,邀請更多國際學者參與。目前的計劃是在泉州、合肥和西安三個城市連環協辦。由於泉州和西安,分別是海上與陸上絲綢之路的起點。預計這國際會議,有一大部分學者會來自劍橋。其中緣起就是2021 年的NRI-AIIT-FAMES 研討會衍生出來的。對國外和境外的學者來說,我相信這更是跟國內學者交流和見面的好機會。

中科大會通論壇

中科大會通論壇

中科大會通論壇:石雲里教授發表有關古代天文儀器的演講

中科大會通論壇:石雲里教授發表有關古代天文儀器的演講

參觀安徽博物院

參觀安徽博物院

Two post-graduate summer courses @ USTC: 1. Introduction to the history of science and technology in ancient China; 2. Reading Ancient Indian Scientific Literature.

Campus of USTC

Campus of USTC

July was a very intensive teaching month for me. I was invited to teach two post-graduate courses for the Summer Semester as Visiting Professor at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). The two courses are: 1. Introduction to the history of science and technology in ancient China (古代中國科技史入門); 2. Reading Ancient Indian Scientific Literature (古代印度科學文獻導讀). The first one was taught in English while the second in Chinese and Sanskrit. As each course is 40 hours, there were practically classes every day, both in the morning and afternoon. Although the number of students were less than 10 for each class, the Chinese students struck me as very hard-working and dedicated. Some were ambitious enough to do two courses together. The first course was essentially an introduction to Needham’s SCC. For many Mainland students, even at doctoral level, English reading and speaking remain a serious challenge. The students were asked to submit journals daily as a way to boost their English writing and understanding. The second course had an additional Sanskrit language component. I was very fortunate to have a student assistant, Mahāsiddha (許瑞成), to act as tutor to the students. In less than a month, the students went from being able to read basic devanāgarī to reciting a few verses in Sanskrit scientific texts. Quite an achievement, I must say! Notably, the two best Sanskrit students were not those who took both classes. Those who did were utterly exhausted by both the lectures and homework. During my stay at USTC in Hefei, I participated in a two-day conference called 會通論壇 organised by the Dept of History of Science. Professor Shi Yunli 石雲里教授, the Head of the Department, invited me to help to organise the conference next year, bringing in more participation from international scholars. The plan, so far, is to organise an international forum held consecutively in three cities — Quanzhou, Hefei and Xi’an. The first and last were the beginning of the Maritime and Land Silk Roads. It would be an exciting opportunity for scholars, including many from Cambridge and the ones who participated in the NRI–AIIT-FAMES workshop in 2021, as to continue our collaboration. It will be a great opportunity for them to meet their Chinese colleagues and to visit the Chinese archives and museums, as well as their custodians.

Mahāsiddha teaching introductory Sanskrit to postgraduate students at USTC

Mahāsiddha teaching introductory Sanskrit to postgraduate students at USTC

Students learning how to read and decipher Sanskrit astronomical texts

Students learning how to read and decipher Sanskrit astronomical texts

 

Learning about ancient Indian botanical tradition

Learning about ancient Indian botanical tradition

Ayurveda in Sanskrit

Ayurveda in Sanskrit

 

Mahāsiddha captured a new student

Mahāsiddha captured a new student

Student presentation (1)
Student presentation (1)

 

Student presentation (2)

Student presentation (2)

During my stay at USTC in Hefei, I participated in a two-day conference called 會通論壇 organised by the Dept of History of Science. Professor Shi Yunli 石雲里教授, the Head of the Department, invited me to help to organise the conference next year, bringing in more participation from international scholars. The plan, so far, is to organise an international forum held consecutively in three cities — Quanzhou, Hefei and Xi’an. The first and last were the beginning of the Maritime and Land Silk Roads. It would be an exciting opportunity for scholars, including many from Cambridge and the ones who participated in the NRI–AIIT-FAMES workshop in 2021, as to continue our collaboration. It will be a great opportunity for them to meet their Chinese colleagues and to visit the Chinese archives and museums, as well as their custodians.

Huitong Conference @ USTC

Huitong Conference @ USTC

2023-07-15 14.34.50
Astonishing artefacts in display at the Anhui Museum

Astonishing artefacts in display at the Anhui Museum

Prof. Shi Yunli presenting his report on Korean astronomical instruments

Prof. Shi Yunli presenting his report on Korean astronomical instruments