|The name had never been an issue. I heard order
members say it privately and in public, giving talks. It
even went so far as to appear in FWBO publications, e.g.
in "Peace is a Fire" on page 13 where
it says that Dennis Lingwood "was given the name
Sangharakshita, which means 'Protector of the Order'."
Then I quite coincidentally tripped over what is called the "FWBO-Files". Reading my way through these I also found the following assertion that "Sangharakshita"
"is a Sanskrit rendering of the Pali 'Sangharakkhita', the actual name he received at his ordination. The name means 'Protected by the Sangha' as anyone with a basic knowledge of either Sanskrit or Pali would know."
Now since I myself did not even have such "basic knowledge" but was still curious as to who was right, I simply turned to the Internet and started to search for someone having such knowledge and asked about the name. It was astounding.
I was so lucking as to meet Arti Dhand. He introduced himself as "a professor of Asian Religions at Mount Allison University." He said, "I therefore teach both Buddhism and Hinduism, and I therefore also have studied Sanskrit and use it in my own work." I told him about my question and his first answer was that:
"The word Sangharakkhita (Pali) and Sangharakshita (Sanskrit) means 'one who is protected by the sangha (the community of Buddhist monks and nuns)'.
Hope that helps."
For me, it surely did. Yet, some order members did not seem to be too happy with this. I forwarded my findings to several FWBO-centres and order members. All I got was ... silence. After some time order member Sarathi phoned me, offering a meeting. It took place on May 22, 1999. In a manner that a very close friend of mine likes to describe as 'talkative', Sarathi really tried to explain to me why language in general can never be unequivocal. It was sometimes so funny to me that I just couldn't help smiling. When we parted after almost two hours of talking, I felt like nothing had been said at all.
This could be the end of a rather dull story if not out of the blue and without being asked for it order member Prasadavati wrote a letter dated June 11, 1999 to my above-mentioned close friend. In this letter Prasadavati says that she had contacted "2 Pali + Sanskrit scholars" and that according to those (namely unmentioned) both translations would be possible - "protected" and "protector". As an explanation for this she quotes Andrew Skilton (alias order member Sthiramati), stating that...
"... in English it is ambiguous. If we are dealing with nominative singular terms - Rakshita (spelt with a short final 'a') is a past participle meaning 'protected'. Rakshita (long final 'a') is an agent noun meaning 'protector'."
This rather surprised me, yet I was open to any new information. Just to check this with someone outside the FWBO, I forwarded the above lines to Mr. Dhand who once more was so kind as to agree to have a look at them. His answer was yet another surprise:
"Sangharakshita with a long 'a' refers to a female.
Sangharakshita with a short 'a' refers to a male.
In both cases, if the word is a name, it can be used as a nominal agent.
In both cases, it means 'protected by the sangha'.
The word for 'protector of the sangha' would be 'sangharakshaka'."
So, what is right? If you really want to know I would suggest you do the same as I: try to find out for yourself. However, maybe it is up to the man who bears the name "Sangharakshita", Dennis Lingwood, to give the decisive solution to the puzzle. According to Prasadavati , in his book "The Rainbow Road" he writes on page 401 that...
"... in this unceremonious manner I was placed under the special protection of the Sangha."
If so, not only would it settle the whole matter but also bring up another interesting question:
Why does anybody even need special
protection of the sangha...?
|back to the fwbo-files|