Friday, November 28, 2008



From Buddhacarita Canto 12, The Meeting with Arada

atha kaSHTa-tapah-spaSHTa
vyartha-kliSHTa-tanur munih
bhava-bhiirur imaam cakre
buddhim buddhatva-kaankSHayaa,

Harsh ascetic practice, it was clear,
Was torturing his figure to no purpose, and so the sage,
Wary of this cycle of becoming,
Resolved, in his longing for buddhahood:

[[n' ayam dharmo viraagaaya,
na bodhaaya, na muktaye;
jambu-muule mayaa praapto
yas tadaa, sa vidhir dhruvah

"This is not a way to detachment,
Or to awakening, or to release;
The state I realized at the foot of the rose apple tree:
How I was then is surely the way to be.

na c'aasau dur-balen' aaptum
shakyam]] ity aagat'-aadarah
sharira-bala vRddhy artham
idam bhuuyo 'nvacintayat:

And that mode of being, for one who is weak,
Is unattainable." So, soberly,
With a view to increasing his bodily strength,
On this, more deeply still, he reflected:

shramaad a-svastha-maanasah
phalam katham a-nirvRtah?

"Clapped-out by hunger, thirst, and fatigue,
A mind that, through fatigue, is not itself,
Is reaching for the fruit that is for a mind to enjoy:
But how, if the mind is uneasy, can it enjoy that fruit?

nirvRtih praapyate samyak
manah-svaasthyam avaapyate

The joy of effortless ease is properly gained
From constant appeasement of the senses;
From senses that are well integrated and content,
The mind recovers its health.

samaadhir upapadyate,
dhyaana-yogah pravartate

When the mind is well and serene,
Physical balance asserts itself;
And when balance is in the harness of intelligence,
Zen practice gets going.

dhyaana-pravartanaad dharmaah
praapyante yair avaapyate
dur-labham shaantam a-jaram
param tad a-mRtam padam]]

Teachings, through zen practice,
Are realised; and by those means is gained
The hard-won state of peace and agelessness --
That supreme, deathless state."

tasmaad aahaara-muulo 'yam
upaaya iti nishcayah
aahaara-karane dhiirah
kRtv' aa-mita-matir matim

Food, therefore, is the foundation of this process,
A means-whereby. Having decided so,
He was steadfast in his taking of food --
He of unbounded mind had made up his mind.



atha: [connective particle] then
kaSHTa: harsh
tapah: austerity, ascetic practice
spaSHTA: clear, distinct, evident

vyartha: useless, unprofitable, vain
kliSHTa: tormented, afflicted, damaged, worn out
tanur: body, person, form, one's self
munih: sage

bhava: becoming, being, existence
bhiiru: timid, fearful
imaam = accusative (f) of ayam: this
cakra: wheel

buddhim: one's mind, resolution, resolve
buddhatva: buddhahood
kaankSHayaa = instrumental case of kaankSHa: desire, long for, strive after

na: not
ayam: this
dharma: method, law, way of practising, etc.
viraagaaya = dative case of viraaga: loss of colour, indifference, absence of passion, DETACHMENT

na: not
bodhaaya = dative case of bodhi: awakening, enlightenment
na: not
muktaye = dative case of mukti: setting or becoming free, release, liberation

jambu: the rose apple tree [sitting under which the young Gautama had experienced samadhi spontaneously gripping him]
muule: locative case of muula: root, foot, base, low part
mayaa: instrumental case of aham: I
praapta: gotten, gained, attained

yat: [relative pronoun] that, what, that which
tadaa: then, at that time
sa: [pronoun] that, the
vidhi: method, manner or way of acting, mode of being, conduct or behaviour
dhruvah: firmly, constantly, certainly, surely

na: not
ca: and
asau: that, that state
dur-balena = instrumental case of dur-bala: one who is weak
aapta: reached, obtained

shakya: possible
iti: thus, so
aagata: entered into [a state of mind]
aadara: care, trouble, attention, sober consideration

sharira-bala: bodily strength
vrddhi: increase
artham: purpose, in order to

idam: this
bhuuyah: further
anvacintayat: pondered, reflected, considered

kSHut: hunger
pipaashaa: thirst
shrama:fatigue, exhaustion, weariness
klaantah: fatigued, exhausted, withered, emaciated, worn out

shramaad = ablative case of shrama: fatigue
a: not
svastha: self-abiding, being in oneself, being in one's natural state, contented, sound, well, healthy, at ease, confident, composed
maanasa: mental; mental faculty, mind

praap: to attain to, reach, arrive at, meet with, find
manasa: mind
avaap: to reach, attain, obtain, gain, get
avaapya: (1) having obtained; (2) to be obtained

phalam: fruit, result, reward
katham: how?
a: not
nirvRtah: satisfied, happy, tranquil, at ease

nirvRti: complete satisfaction or happiness, bliss
praapyate: reached, attained, got
samyak: properly, fully, out and out

satata: constantly
indriya: faculty of sense, sense, organ of sense
tarpaNaat = ablative case of tarpana: satiety, refreshment, satisfaction

saMtarpita: satiated, satisfied
indriyatayaa = ablative case (?) of indriya: sense

manah: mind
svaasthya: self-dependence, sound state, health, ease, comfort, contentment, satisfaction
avaapya: to be obtained, to be got

svastha: being in its natural state
prasanna: clear, bright, pure; distinct, true, plain; placid, tranquil, soothed; spirituous licquor made of rice.
manasah: mind

samaadhi: samadhi, physical stillness, physical balance, physiological balance encompassing the integrative fucntion of the vestibular system and balance of the autonomic nervous system.
upapadyate: go towards, approach; come forth, happen; spring into action

samaadhi: balance, stillness
yukta: [MW853] yoked or joined or fastened or attached or harnessed to;
(in compounds) joined, united, connected, combined; furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with, accompanied by, possessed of.
Thus, Johnston translates samaadhi-yukta-cittasya as "when the mind is possessed of concentrated meditation" i.e. when citta is possessed of samadhi, i.e. when citta possesses samadhi, i.e. when samadhi is in the harness of citta.
cittasya = genitive case of citta: thinking, intelligence, reason.
citta [MAC94]: observation; thought, purpose, will; mind, heart, intellect, reason.
citta [MW395]: 'noticed'; attending, observing; thinking, reflecting, imagining, thought; intention, aim, wish; memory, intelligence, reason.

dhyaana-yoga:[MW520] profound meditation, or meditation and abstraction
dhyaana: meditation, thought, reflection; Zen meditation, meditative action
yoga: [MW856] the act of yoking, joining, harnessing; use, performance, practice; a means, expedient, way, manner, method; undertaking, business, work; any junction, union, combination; fitting together; exertion, endeavor.
pravartate: to roll or go onwards, be set in motion, proceed, commence

dhyaana: Zen
pravartanaad = ablative case of pravartana: being in motion, rolling forth; walking, roaming, wandering; activity, procedure, engaging in; going on.
dharmaah: dharmas, teachings

praapyante: get, obtain
yair = instrumental, plural of yah: [relative pronoun] those which
avaapyate: to be got, to be obtained

dur-labham: hard-won
shaanta: composed, calm, peaceful
a-jara: ageless

param: highest
tad: that
a-mRtam: deathless
padam: step; footing, place, abode; station, office; rank

tasmaad: accordingly, therefore
aahaara: food, sustenance
muula: root, foundation, basis
ayam: this

upaaya: method, means-whereby
iti: thus
nishcaya: decision; conclusion, resolve

aahaara-kri: take food
dhiirah: lasting, steady, firm; resolute, courageous; steadfast; firmly adhering to

kRtva = past participle of kri: make
a-mita: boundless, unbounded, immeasurable
mati: intention, purpose, determination; understanding, mind, wit, judgement
matim-kri: resolve upon, make up one's mind


Previous translations, for reference:

Thereon dreading existence the sage, whose body was clearly tormented to no purpose by pernicious austerities, thus resolved in his longing for Buddhahood:--

"This is not the way of life for passionlessness, for enlightenment, for liberation. That is the sure procedure which I won that time beneath the jambu tree.

Nor can that be obtained by one who is weak." So in all seriousness he pondered further on this point in order to increase his bodily strength.

How can the result to be attained by the mind be reached by a man, who is not calmly at ease and who is so worn out with the exhaustion of hunger and thirst that his mind is unbalanced with the exhaustion?

Inward tranquility is rightly gained by constant appeasement of the senses, and from full appeasement of the senses the mind becomes well-balanced.

The man whose mind is well-balanced and serene develops concentrated meditation; when the mind is possessed of concentrated meditation, the practice of trance begins.

By the practice of trance those dharmas are obtained, through which is won that highest, peaceful stage, so hard to reach, which is ageless and deathless."

Accordingly the steadfast seer of unbounded wisdom concluded that this method was based on the eating of food and made up his mind to take food

-- E. H. Johnston, 1936

Then, the sage, his body clearly tortured
for no purpose by vile austerities,
and afraid of continued existence,
made this resolve, longing for Buddhahood:

"This dharma will not lead to detachment,
to Awakening or release;
The path I attained at that time
under the rose apple tree
was indeed the certain path.

But that path cannot be traversed
by a man who is weak."

Thus, with a sense of urgency
he reflected on this again
to increase his bodily strength:

"When a man is worn out
by hunger, thirst, and fatigue,
his mind unwell with fatigue,
How will he, who is not tranquil, attain
the fruit that the mind alone can attain?

Tranquility is properly attained
by always making the senses content;
when the senses are well content,
wellness of the mind is attained.

Mental concentration springs up
when one's mind is well and serene,
And practice of trance advances
when concentration grips one's mind.

And by the advancement of trance,
one attains the dharmas by which
Is attained that supreme state hard to obtain,
a state that is unaging, immortal, and calm."

Having concluded, therefore, that
this process was rooted in food,
steadfast, and with boundless wisdom,
he resolved to partake of food.

-- Patrick Olivelle, 2008


It seems to me that Johnston's translation is tremendously useful as an aid to understand the literal meaning of the original Sanskrit, whereas Olivelle's translation reads more easily, especially to a modern ear.

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