adhyaiShTa yaH paraM brahma
na vyaiShTa satatam dhRteH
daanaany adita paatrebhyaH
paapaM n'aakRta kiM cana
= = - = - = = -
= = - - - = - =
= = - - - = = =
= = = - - = - -
He minded the supreme sacred word;
In holding firm, he never failed;
He gave fitting gifts to deserving recipients;
No evil did he do at all.
By paraM brahma, "the supreme pious utterance," Ashvaghosha might have in mind the monosyllable that yogis minded before the time of Gautama Buddha, placing it at the commencement of their sacred texts, the same monosyllable that Ashvaghosha himself placed at the commencement of Saundarananda. I am referring to the first word of the invocation oM namo buddhaaya, namely: om. Minding of this sacred word, evidently, Ashvaghosha is portraying as a virtue, though it is equally evidently not an exclusively Buddhist virtue.
Line 2 might also be read, literally as "In fortitude he was never beheld." If that is so, then I think the line could mean that the king's fortitude was out of sight, eternally imponderable. Either way, the line is an emphatic description of another in the long list of the non-Buddhist king's virtues, namely, his great fortitude.
In line 3 adita evidently means "he gave," presumable from the root √daa, to give, but again exact understanding of the grammar has eluded me. In any event, the principle is included in line 3, as I read it, that what constitutes a good gift depends very much on individual differences and circumstances. A big ice-cream might be a very fitting gift for a little girl by the sea-side on a hot summer's day, but not necessarily for her diabetic grandma.
Line 4, as I read it, clinches the argument that what Ashvaghosha is thinking about in this part is universal virtue -- because not to do any evil is not the personal teaching of Gautama Buddha; it is the universal precept of the Seven Buddhas.
He studied the supreme religious lore, he never failed in fortitude, he gave gifts to the deserving, he committed no sin.
He studied high religious knowledge, his resolution never ceased, he was generous to worthy recipients, and he did no evil.
adhyaiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist dhyai: to think of , imagine , contemplate , meditate on , call to mind , recollect
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
param (acc. sg. n.): mfn. far, distant, beyond , on the other or farther side of , extreme ; highest , supreme , chief
brahma= acc. sg. brahman: n. (lit. " growth " , " expansion " , " evolution " , " development " " swelling of the spirit or soul " , from √bRh) pious effusion or utterance , outpouring of the heart in worshipping the gods , prayer ; the sacred word (as opp. to vaach , the word of man) , the veda , a sacred text , a text or mantra used as a spell ; the sacred syllable Om ; religious or spiritual knowledge (opp. to religious observances and bodily mortification such as tapas &c ); holy life (esp. continence , chastity ; cf. brahma-charya)
vyaiShTa (1) = 3rd pers. sg. aorist (aatmane-pada) vi- √iikSh: to look at , see , behold ; to consider , observe , discern , ascertain , understand ; to think fit or proper ; to look over , peruse , study
vyaiShTa (2) = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect (aatmana-pada) vi- √iish: to be invalid or ineffective, to fail
vi: (negative or privatory prefix)
√iish: to own , possess ; to belong to ; to dispose of , be valid or powerful;
satatam: ind. ever ; with na = never
dhRteH = gen. sg. dhRti: f. holding , seizing , keeping , supporting ; firmness , constancy , resolution , will
daanaani (acc. pl.): n. the act of giving ; donation, gift
adita = (?) adiShTa: 3rd pers. sg. (aatmane-pada) aorist √daa: to give
paatrebhyaH = dat. pl. paatra: n. any vessel or receptacle; (met.) a capable or competent person
paapam (acc. sg.): n. evil , misfortune , ill-luck , trouble , mischief, harm
akRta = 3rd pers. sg. (aatmane-pada) aorist kR: to do
kiM cana: at all