BALYSA- (Khotan Saka), bārza- (Tumšuq Saka), a word adapted to Buddhist use for the transcendental Buddha. In pronunciation, b was bilabial v and ys was voiced sibilant z, for which Tumšuq Saka had a new sign za. The Tumšuq Saka, older bārsa- and later bārza-, has kept the older rz, replaced in Khotan Saka by lys /lz/.

The base alternates in ablaut barz-: braz-. In Old Persian braz- is represented by brazmaniya of which the precise meaning is not assured (see AṦA). Outside Iranian, Old Indian has brah- alternating with bṛh- (with h from IE. gh) in the words brahmán (masc.), bráhman (neut.), brāhmaṇa-, bṛh-, bṛhas-pati- with still unsettled meaning. The later Buddhist Sanskrit has brahma- in a good sense (as in brahma-svara- of the Buddha’s voice) and the name of a supernatural being mahā-brahmāṇa-.

In Khotan Saka texts balysa- translates Buddhist Sanskrit buddha- (often gyasta- balysa- “deva Buddha” or gyastānu gyasta- balysa- “Buddha, deva of devas”), but balysa- also renders brahman-, bhagavant- “lord,” tathāgata, sarvajña- “omniscient,” epithets of the Buddha. The compound balysa-bajāṣṣa- translates brahma-svara- “the Buddha voice.” To balysa- the adjectives are balysāna- and balysūña-. The abstract balysūsti- renders bodhi- “transcendental knowledge” and sarvajña-tattva- “the essence of all knowledge.” The compound balysūñavūysaa- “seeker after bodhi” renders the Buddhist bodhisattva.

The religion of Khotan was therefore Barzaic (as Zoroastrian mazdayazna- was Mazdaic). The word balysa- was not an isolated relic from the Old Iranian Mazdaic religion. Other older Iranian religious terms were carried over into the Buddhist vocabulary of Khotan as well. Thus the Zoroastrian Avestan spəntaĀrmaitiš was kept in the dialectal śśandrāmatā-, but equated with Buddhist śrī- “fortune” and the goddess Śrī. The world mountain Buddhist Sumeru is replaced by ttaira haraysa near to the Avestan taēra- “peak” and harā bərəz “lofty Harā,” modern Alborz. The word phārra-, older farnah- (Av. xᵛarnah-, So. prn-), is used of the stages of the Buddhist religious career. (From Sogdian it was borrowed into Tokhara of Kuci as perne, rendering Buddhist Sanskrit lakṣmī “fortune.”) Further urmaysdān-, nom. urmaysde, from older ahura-mazdān- is used for the sun. The old daiva- “demon” and yazata- “worshiped being” became dyūva- and gyasta- (Tumšuq jezda-) “god,” with balysa- as title of the Buddha.



H. W. Bailey, Khotanese Texts VI, Cambridge, 1967, pp. 225-30.

Idem, Dictionary of Khotan Saka, 1978, pp. 133, 272, 467.

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 بلیسه balyse    


(H. W. Bailey)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988