Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.14: Resplendent Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.)

viduShaH paryupaasiShTa
vyakaashiShT' aatmavattayaa
vyarociShTa ca shiShTebhyo
maas' iiShe candramaa iva

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

He stood behind and beside the intellectually bright,

He shone with his own self-containment,

And on people in the directed state he positively beamed

Like the moon in the last month of the rains.

In Dogen's Shobogenzo, where there is a list of three elements, a progression may generally be observed along the lines of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis -- for example, gold buddha, mud buddha, and wood buddha.

There is such a progression in this verse, as I read it, in the three elements which are 1. intelligent others, 2. controlled or contained self, and 3. people (going beyond others and self) whose state is ordered, directed, regulated.

A corresponding progression can be read into the three verbs
1. pary-upa- √ sthaa, which is less effusive in tone, literally meaning to stand around, and by extension to be there for, to be present to, to attend or tend to, to serve, to honour;
2. vi- √ khyaa, to look around or to shine, and
3. vi- √ ruc, to shine forth brightly, to positively beam in a particular direction.

The progression might be interpreted as suggesting a hierarchy in which self-control ranks higher than intelligence, but a truer condition still is one in which consciousness of self and others is transcended.

Can a person be a true person who, by his own admission, is too subjective? I don't know. It remains too difficult a question for me to answer. When I ask it, it seems to make my stomach hurt. And yet, for my sins, I continue to ask it.

With regard to the metaphor in the 4th line EHJ notes:
"The moon is peculiarly brilliant in an Indian October, because the atmosphere is then free from the dust which partially obscures its light in the following seven months."

To put the verse further into the context of Ashvaghosha's experience of the October moon in northern India, he would have spent 90 days every summer practising a traditional rains retreat, as described in Shobogenzo chap. 79, Ango. The moon at the end of the rains retreat, then, must have had a brilliance which, to a buddha-ancestor thoroughly soaked in sitting-dhyana, both included and went totally beyond object and subject.

So in this verse also, as I read it, Ashvaghosha is projecting buddha-virtues back in time so that the portrayal of the non-Buddhist King Shuddhodhana presages the truly full and round realization of the moon that is to come in the generation after him.

EH Johnston:
He honoured the wise and was resplendent with self-control ; like the moon in the month of Ashvian he was pleasing to the cultivated.

Linda Covill:
He honoured the wise yet radiated self-possession, and delighted the learned like the harvest moon.

viduShaH = acc. pl. vidvas: mfn. one who knows , knowing , understanding , learned , intelligent , wise , mindful of , familiar with , skilled in; m. a wise man , sage , seer
paryupaasiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist pary-upa- √ sthaa: to be or stand round (acc.) ; to attend , serve , honour with (instr.)
pari: ind. round
upa: ind. towards, near to, up to

vyakaashiShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vi- √ khyaa : to look about ; to shine , shine upon , lighten , illumine
aatmavattayaa (inst. sg.): f. self-possession , self-regard , prudence
aatman: self
vat: (possessive suffix)
taa: (abstract noun suffix)

vyarociShTa = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vi- √ ruc: , to shine forth , be bright or radiant or conspicuous or visible ; to appear as or like (nom.) ; to outshine , excel (acc.) ; to please , delight (gen.)
√ ruc: to shine , be bright or radiant or resplendent
ca: and
shiShTebhyaH = dat. pl. m./n. shiShTa: mfn. taught , directed , ordered , commanded (applied to persons and things) ; disciplined , cultured , educated , learned , wise (m. a learned or well-educated or wise man); eminent , superior

maasi = loc. sg. maas: m. the moon, a month
iShe = loc. sg. iSha: mfn. possessing sap and strength ; well-fed , strong ; sappy , juicy , fertile ; m. N. of the month aashvina (September-October)
aashvina: mfn. belonging or devoted to the ashvins ; m. N. of a month in the rainy season (during which the moon is near to the constellation ashvinii)
ashvinii: f. the head of Aries or the first of the 28 nakShatras
nakShatra: n. an asterism or constellation through which the moon passes , a lunar mansion
candramaa = nom. sg. candramas: m. the moon , deity of the moon
candra: mfn. glittering , shining (as gold) , having the brilliancy or hue of light ; m. the moon (also personified as a deity )
mas = maas: the moon
iva: like

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