Sunday, June 20, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.11: Putting Non-Buddhist Virtues in the Bank

praayeNa viShaye tasya
tac-chiilam anuvartinaH
arjayanto dadRshire
dhanaan' iiva guNaan api

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

As the general rule in his dominion

Those influenced by his integrity

Seemed to take possession,

As if securing treasures, of virtues.

The rule that Ashvaghosha might have in mind is that integrity spreads out from the centre, resulting in establishment of virtues.

This rule, Ashvaghosha is saying in this verse and in this Canto as I read it, is a general rule; it is a universal. It is not something that originated with Gautama Buddha. It pre-existed him.

The centre that integrity spreads out from might be the king of an ancient city-state, or it might be a person's use of his head in relation to his back.

Integrity in the use of head, neck and back, or lack of it, FM Alexander discovered, exerts a constant indirect influence on all functions of the human organism. So ease in upright sitting, for example, indirectly results in the establishment of the virtue of healthy breathing habits.

When I first began to understood the importance of the principle of conscious control of use of head, neck and back that FM Alexander discovered, my first instinct was to endeavour, in a direct and unskillful way, to let fellow sitting-zen practitioners know about it. I seemed to run up against the manifestation of a distinctly religious tendency; i.e. a tendency to be more interested in some limited way than in the general rule, the universal truth.

But what the buddha-ancestor Ashvaghosha, 12th in line from the Buddha, is portraying in this Canto, as I hear him, is the great universal virtues of a non-Buddhist king, a paragon whose non-Buddhist virtues pre-existed "Buddhism."

The real gold buried in this Canto, if we are prepared to dig for it, might be liberation from a certain parochial tendency. Because what Ashvaghosha is describing here is the universal principle of establishment, as exemplified by a non-Buddhist king and his non-Buddhist subjects, of virtues.

EH Johnston:
In general in his dominion men, by imitating his conduct, were seen to accumulate virtue, as if it were wealth.

Linda Covill:
Those within his realm generally followed his moral self-restraint; they looked as though they were earning virtues like money.

praayeNa: ind. mostly , generally , as a rule
praaya: m. going forth; anything prominent , chief part , largest portion , plenty , majority , general rule
viShaye (loc. sg.): m. sphere (of influence or activity) , dominion , kingdom , territory , region , district , country , abode
tasya (gen. sg.): his

tac-ciilam (acc. sg.): his integrity
tat: that, his
shiila: n. moral conduct, discipline, integrity etc.
anuvartinaH = nom. pl. m. anuvartin: mfn. following , compliant , obedient , resembling
anu- √vRt: to go after ; to follow , pursue ; to follow from a previous rule , be supplied from a previous sentence ; to attend ; to obey , respect , imitate

arjayantaH = nom. pl. m. causitive pres. part. Rj: to go ; to stand or be firm ; to obtain , acquire ; to be strong or healthy: Caus. arjayati , to obtain , get , acquire
dadRshire = 3rd pers. pl. perfect (aatmane-pada) dRsh: to see

dhanaani (acc. pl.): any valued object , (esp.) wealth , riches , (movable) property , money , treasure , gift
iva: like
guNaan (acc. pl.): virtues, merits
api: even, also (emphatic)

No comments: