Friday, April 30, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 1.23: A Historical Precedent

eka-pitror yathaa bhraatroH
raama ev' aabhavad gaargyo
vaasubhadro 'pi gautamaH

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

Just as, though they were brothers born of one father,

Because they had different gurus

Rama became a Gargya

And Vasubhadra a Gautama.

In this verse Ashvaghosha cites the historical precedent of the brothers Rama and Vasubhadra who gave up their original surname and adopted the surname of their respective gurus -- Rama becoming a Gargya and Vasubhadra (like the Buddha's ancestors) becoming a Gautama.

Is there any philosophical meaning to be found in such a historical reference? There might be, if you see history too as a kind of search for the truth -- the truth of what really happened.

There are those who form a view of what happened, and tend to want to hold onto that view, maybe seeking and finding evidence to support their view. There are those who desire to find out and understand what really happened, and on that basis are required constantly to see the shortcomings of their former view.

What really happened to cause my life, on at least a couple of occasions, to seem to become dislocated, like a train derailment? I don't know. What I do know is that my own view of personal events, and memory of personal events, tends to be faulty.

That being so, reference to objective historical events, and other people's view of them, has meaning.

It might be like using a staff well to walk up and down in the garden -- in which case it is not that one necessarily uses the staff to support one's weight, but rather it might be that information flows up as if from the ground into one's hand, feeding into one's overall sense of earth/sky/space.

EH Johnston:
Just as, though brothers and sons of the same father, Rama became a Gargya and Vasubhadra a Gautama through being pupils of different gurus.

Linda Covill:
just as Rama had become a Gargya and Vasubhadra a Gautama because of their attendance on different gurus, though the two were brothers and had the same father.

eka-pitroH (gen. dual): having the same father
eka: mfn. one, the same , one and the same
pitR: m. a father
yathaa: just as
bhraatroH (gen. dual): brothers

pRthag-guru-parigrahaat (abl.): because of having/serving different gurus
pRthag: ind. separately , differently
guru: guru, venerable person, teacher
parigraha: m. laying hold of on all sides , surrounding ; getting , attaining , acquisition , possession , property (ifc. " being possessed of or furnished with "); homage , reverence , grace , favour , help , assistance ; claim on , relation to , concern with (loc.)

raama: mfn. dark , dark-coloured , black ; Rama m. N. of various mythical personages, one being the supposed author of the Rg Veda.
eva: (emphatic)
abhavat: he became
gaargyaH (nom. sg. m.): a Gargya

vaasubhadraH (nom. sg.): m. Vasubhadra; N. of kRShNa
kRShNa: mfn. black , dark , dark-blue; wicked, evil; N. of one of the poets of the Rg Veda. (descended from aNgiras)
api: also
gautamaH (nom. sg.): a Gautama

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