yad babhaase naraiH kiirNaM
mandaraH kinnarair iva
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Thronged by men who were wealthy but not wanton,
Cultured but not conceited,
The city seemed like Mt. Mandara,
Thronged by ensembles of kinnaras.
The kinnara virtues that Ashvaghosha has in mind are probably those identified by EHJ, namely, possession of jewels, diligence in hiking the mountain, being skilled especially in the musical arts, and having charming smiles.
The picture of Kapila-vastu that is being formed, at least as I envision it, bears an increasingly strong resemblence to a modern gated community. Due to the particular historical circumstances that Ashvaghosha has been outlining, the Buddha was able to enjoy a privileged and sheltered upbringing within the walls of a special city whose development was not all higgedly-piggedly but was rather carefully centrally planned -- just like a modern gated community.
Otherwise, does this verse relate directly to the actual practice of sitting-zen itself?
Being wealthy without being wanton might be like allowing the head to release forward without pulling the head down.
Being cultured without being conceited might be like allowing the back to lengthen without making the back arch and narrow.
Incidentally, this post is late because I got the overnight ferry and cycled 70-odd miles before getting to the computer and publishing it -- there is life in the old dog, yet. (Hope the ticker holds up through the night and these do not turn out to be famous last words.)
The city, in being thronged with men who were wealthy, well-ordered, learned and without arrogance, resembled Mandara which is thronged with Kinnaras who are possessed of jewels, wander on the mountain, are skilled in the arts (of song &c.) and have charming smiles.
Crowded with wealthy, orderly, knowledgeable and modest citizens, the city seemed like Mandara filled with kinnaras.
vasumadbhiH = inst. pl. vasumat: mfn. having or possessing or containing treasures , wealthy , rich
a-vibhraantaiH = inst. pl. a-vibhraanta: mfn. not distorted , firm (as the eye-brows)
vibhraanta: mfn. wandered or wandering about &c; rolling or ogling (as the eyes); spread abroad (as fame) ; confused , bewildered
vi- √ bhram : to wander or roam or fly about , roll , hover , whirl ; to reel , quiver , shake ; to fall into disorder or confusion , be disarranged or bewildered
alaM-vidyaiH = inst. pl. alaM-vidya: knowledgeable, learned, well informed
alam: ind. enough , sufficient , adequate , equal to , competent , able
vidya = vidyaa (ifc.)
vidyaa: f. knowledge , science , learning (cf. kRta-vidya : mfn. well informed , learned)
a-vismitaiH = inst. pl. a-vismita: mfn. not proud
vismita: mfn. amazed , surprised , perplexed ; proud , arrogant
babhaase = 3rd. pers. sg. perfect bhaas: to appear (" as " or " like " nom. or instr. of an abstract noun)
naraiH = inst. pl. nara: man, person
kiirNam (nom. sg.): mfn. filled with , full of (instr.)
mandaraH (nom. sg.): m. a pearl chain consisting of 8 or 16 strings ; m. N. of a sacred mountain (the residence of various deities ; it served the gods and asuras for a churning-stick at the churning of the ocean for the recovery of the amRta and thirteen other precious things lost during the deluge); m. heaven (= svarga ; cf. meru)
kinnaraiH = inst. pl. kiM-nara: m. " what sort of man? " a mythical being with a human figure and the head of a horse (or with a horse's body and the head of a man ; originally perhaps a kind of monkey ; in later times (like the naras) reckoned among the gandharvas or celestial choristers , and celebrated as musicians )