Friday, February 5, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 17.24: Seven Sword-Sharpening Limbs, One Supreme Chariot, Eight Elephants

tataH sa bodhy-aNga-shit'-aatta-shastras
maarg'-aaNga-maataNga-vataa balena
shanaiH shanaiH klesha-camuuM jagaahe

- = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = =
= = - = = - - = - = -
- = - = = - - = - = =

Then, unsheathing a sword
that the limbs of awakening had honed,

Standing in the supreme chariot of true motivation,

With an army
containing the elephants of the branches of the path,

He gradually penetrated the ranks of the afflictions.

In Shobogenzo chap. 73, Sanjushichi-bon-bodai-bunbo, Zen Master Dogen comments one by one on a traditional list of thirty-seven elements of the Buddha's enlightenment or awakening (bodhi).

Those thirty seven elements are listed in seven categories, with much duplication. Mindfulness and balance (smRti and samaadhi), for example, are included in each of the last four categories -- as Forces, Powers, Limbs of Awakening, and Branches of the Noble Path.

The seven categories in the order that Dogen lists them are as follows:

Four Abodes of Mindfulness (see 17.25)
Four True Abandonments
Four Bases of Mystical Power
Five Forces
Five Powers (17.26)
Seven Limbs of Awakening (17.24 ; 17.58)
Eight Branches of the Noble Path (17.24; 17.26 ; 17.60)

So the elements alluded to in this verse are those in the final two categories -- the seven limbs of awakening and the eight branches of the noble path.

In Sanskrit the seven limbs are:
(1) dharma-pravicaya: investigation of dharmas/things
(2) viirya: manliness, directed energy
(3) priiti: joy
(4) prashrabdhi: confidence
(5) upekShaa: detachment
(6) samaadhi: balance
(7) smRti: mindfulness

The eight branches of the path are the eight that the Buddha has just enumerated in the previous Canto (see verses 16.30 to 16.37).

Listing the seven limbs causes me to reflect that many a boy's education at a 20th century British secondary school covered very well nos. (1) through (3) -- i.e. scientific investigation of the world, manly effort, and enjoyment. But on confidence, detachment, balance and mindfulness, many of us remain in need of a lot of further work.

EH Johnston:
Then taking the sharp weapon of the constituents of enlightenment and standing on the excellent chariot of right efforts, with an army containing the elephants of the constituents of the Path, gradually he pierced the battle-line of the vices.

Linda Covill:
Holding the sharp weapon of the constituents of enlightenment, and standing on the excellent chariot of well-directed effort, with his army which consisted of the elephants of the constituents of the path, he gradually penetrated the ranks of the defilements.

tataH: ind. thence, from that
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
bodhyaNga: n. a requisite for attaining perfect knowledge (7 in number)
bodhi: m. perfect knowledge or wisdom (by which a man becomes a buddha); the illuminated or enlightened intellect (of a Buddha): m. " wakener " , a cock
aNga: n. ( √ am ), a limb of the body ; a subordinate division or department , especially of a science
√ am: to go to or towards
shita: mfn. whetted , sharp,
atta: mfn. taken , obtained ; taken away or off , withdrawn from ; seized , grasped
shastraH (nom. sg.): m. a sword

samyak: mfn. going along with or together , turned together or in one direction , combined , united ; lying in one direction , forming one line (as foot steps) ; correct , accurate , proper , true , right
pradhaana: n. a chief thing or person , the most important or essential part of anything; " the Originator " , primary germ , original source of the visible or material universe ; the first companion or attendant of a king ; an elephant-driver
uttama: highest, uppermost, best, excellent
vaahana: chariot
sthaH (nom. sg. m.): standing in

maarga: track, path
aNga: limb
maataMga: m. (fr. mataM-ga) an elephant
vataa = inst. vant (possessive suffix): with, containing
balena = inst. bala: n. strength, force; military force , troops , an army

shanaiH: ind. (originally inst. pl. shana) quietly , softly , gently , gradually
shana: quiet , calm , soft
klesha: affliction
camuum (acc. sg.): f. an army or division of an army (129 elephants , as many cars , 2187 horse , and 3645 foot)
jagaahe = 3rd pers. perfect gaah: to dive into , bathe in , plunge into (acc.) , penetrate , enter deeply into (acc.)

No comments: