Sunday, May 10, 2009

SAUNDARANANDA 16.87: Kaundinya to Pilinda-vatsa

tiShy-opasenau vimalo 'tha raadhaH
vaaShp-ottarau dhautaki-moharaajau

Kaundinya, Nanda, Krimila, Aniruddha,

Tishya, Upasena, Vimala and Radha,

Vashpa, Uttara, Dhautaki, Moha-raja,

Katyayana, Dravya, Pilinda-vatsa

Here are the first fifteen names in a list of sixty-two individuals, including both men and women, beginning with Kaundinya -- he of the Kaundina clan mentioned in verse 3.13.

What is the significance of these individual names being listed one by one?

Following on from the preceding verses, I think the Buddha is saying to Nanda: Don't take my word for it. Make the noble truths your own. Cut a path for yourself, as did Kaundinya, Nanda, Krimila, Aniruddha, Tishya, Upasena, Vimala and Radha, Vashpa, Uttara, Dhautaki, Moha-raja, Katyayana, Dravya, and Pilinda-vatsa.

The Nanda in this list is not the hero of Saundarananda to whom the Buddha is speaking but another Nanda, who was (according to the Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary) a cowherd before becoming a disciple of the Buddha.

Kaundinya, Aniruddha, and Katyayana are conventionally included in a list of ten great disciples.

Of the fifteeen individuals listed in this verse, then, history regarded three as particularly eminent. The Buddha did not nominate any of these fifteen as his successor, his Number One, and twelve of the fifteeen didn't even make it into the Top Ten.

Still, the Buddha cited these individuals as examples in encouraging his younger half-brother Nanda to be a true man of action, one in whose sitting a certain unshakability is expressed.

A deep sense in sitting of not being susceptible to being shaken by anything, is what I most treasure. I don't always have it, but those moments when I do have it, helped along by quiet circumstances and Mother Nature, I would not swap for anything. And without having experienced those moments, I certainly wouldn't dare to try to clarify Ashvaghosha's words like this.

To quote again from the passage I quoted yesterday in which Marjory Barlow described her uncle FM Alexander:

I'm not trying to make him out to be a Saint, because he was like all of us, but there was a certain integrity (and that is the exact word) and he was absolutely true to what he had discovered. Nothing could shake him on that. He knew. That was F.M.

What did FM know, with such unshakeable confidence? What unshakeable confidence is the Buddha exhorting Nanda to discover for himself? I think the essence of what the Buddha discovered for himself, and what FM discovered for himself, was that if a person is truly able just to sit, not doing the wrong thing, then the right thing has a strong tendency to do itself. This, I submit, is not "Alexander theory" any more than it is "true Buddhism." It is a discovery of a noble truth that is available for every individual to make for himself or for herself, in his or her own way.

Marjory Barlow records as follows how her uncle encouraged her to find her own truth, just as the Buddha encouraged Nanda more than 2,400 years before:

He used to say, "You've got to find your own way. Nobody can help you. You've got to find your own truth and follow it."

One of the most shaking things he ever said to me, early on, and which I've never forgotten, was, "You know there's nothing that you believe that is your own. There's nothing that you think that is your own. Everything you say and do is because of other people, the way you've been brought up. What you've got to do," he said, "is find out what is really yours in the way of what you think and what you believe."

What a task. I had no clue how to set about it, as I was very young of course, but I've never forgotten that. He was so inspiring, he really was. And he was wonderful to me because he never refused to answer my very immature questions. He knew I was so passionate to find out and we used to talk shop all the time when I was with him. But he would never tell me what to do. If I asked him his advice about something, that was different, but he would never say you shouldn't do this or that. Never. Because he really believed in the individual. He knew it was the only hope for real change -- the individual person.

EH Johnston:
Kaundinya, Nanda, Krimila and Aniruddha, Tisya and Upasena, Vimala and Radha, Vaspa, Uttara, Dhautaki and Moharaja, Katyayana, Dravya and Pilindavatsa

Linda Covill:
Kaundinya, Nanda, Krimila and Aniruddha, Tishya and Upasena, Vimala and Radha, Vashpa, Uttara, Dhautaki and Moha-raja, Katyayana, Dravya and Pilinda-vatsa

1 comment:

Antique Buddhas said...

Kaundinya was among the first five disciples that Lord Buddha gave his first preaching and he was the first among them to enter to stream enterers.
And Assaji, who was also one of the five first disciples was the sole reason that Sariputra and Moggallana became the disciples of Lord Buddha.