The Tibetan Alphabet
A mission to Kashmir for the purpose of procuring an alphabet figures prominently in all accounts of the measures of the first great Tibetan king, Sroli-btsan Sgam-po (c. 617–650 A. D.). In European writings the first mention of it is perhaps that contained in the Georgi’s Alphabetum Tibetanum, (1762 A. D.) (pp. 290–1), a work based upon the reports of the Capuchin Mission in Lha-sa. In 1829 was published, under the title Geschichte der Ost-Mongolen and ihres Fürstenhauses, I. J. Schmidt’s edition and translation of the Mongol work of Ssanang Ssetsen, with extensive annotations, consisting largely of quotations from a Bodhimör and other Mongol writings: Ssanang Ssetsen’s narrative is given on pp. 29, 31 of the work (with date = 632 A. D.), and other Mongol accounts, including that in the Bodhimör,on pp. 325–8. The narratives, all derived from Tibetan sources, record in their several spellings the name of the missioner, who was Thon-mi Sambhota, cSambhota of Thon’, also often (after his mother) Thon-mi ’A-nuhi-bu, a minister of the king, and the names of his teachers, the Brāhman grammarian pandit Devavidyā-simha and the scribe Li-byin; but in place of Kashmir they give merely India. Kashmir was certainly mentioned in the Tibetan tradition, being specified by Bu-ston (1290–1364 A. D.) in his History of Buddhism (Chos-byun, trans. Obermiller, II, pp. 183 –4) and by the somewhat later Tibetan chronicle Rgyal-rabs-gsal-bahì-me-lon, of which a Ladak recension was translated by A. H. Francke in Antiquities of Indian Tibet, II, pp. 82–3. But it seems that in regard to this point there was some difference of opinion.
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