Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.20: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Modesty in Serving Dharma

n' aasRkShad balim a-praaptaM
n' aarukShan maanam aishvaraM
aagamair buddhim aadhikShad
dharmaaya na tu kiirtaye

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

He never scattered the food offering except when due;

He never developed lordly arrogance;

Committing of the scriptures to his mind

He did for dharma, not for praise.

This verse can be read as having its echo at the end of Canto 18, where...

at ease in himself, his heart at peace, his task ended,

Nanda left the sage's side like an elephant free of rut.

At the appointed hour he entered the town,
among whose citizens some cast glances;

Impartial towards gain, loss, comfort, discomfort, and the like,
he was free of craving, the power of his senses being self-contained;

And at a suitable time, in the circumstances of that place,
he talked of liberation to people so inclined;

Never putting down others on a wrong path or raising himself up.

One reason that Ashvaghosha went to the trouble of expressing the Buddha's teaching like this, in the form of mahaa-kaavya poetry, was presumably to facilitate its memorization. To those monks whose task it was to memorize and recite out loud Nanda's story, the second half of this verse must have had a particular resonance, obliquely reminding them that, even if their audiences listened in raptures to their reciting, the original point of their effort was to serve the Buddha-Dharma and not to win for themselves the praise of appreciative listeners.

What did it mean to serve dharma, and what does it mean to serve the Buddha-Dharma?

In ancient India before the time of the Buddha, dharma seems to have meant a kind of traditional religious duty.

For the buddha-ancestors from whom Dogen received the Buddha-Dharma, as is very evident from Dogen's Shobogenzo, the Buddha-Dharma is the act of sitting upright with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh.

And what FM Alexander in our own degenerate age perceived with unrivalled clarity is that most people's sense of up is faulty, or as FM put it "debauched" -- the professed buddha-ancestors of the present being no exception to the general rule.

If one sees it like this, upholding the Buddha-Dharma in the present age is essentially the simplest task in the world.... but not an easy one. My own life is pervaded with a sense of having failed, of continuing to fail, in it. Ah well, crack on.....

EH Johnston:
He scattered the bali oblation according to the rule and did not let himself be overtaken by the pride of dominion ; it was for the sake of religion and not to gain repute that he impregnated his mind with the scriptures.

Linda Covill:
He made no untimely offering, and did not develop lordly pride; he applied his intellect to the scriptures for the sake of dharma, not for renown.

na: not
asRkShat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist sRj: to let go or fly , discharge , throw , cast
balim (acc. sg): m. tribute , offering , gift , oblation ; any offering or propitiatory oblation (esp. an offering of portions of food , such as grain , rice &c , to certain gods , semi-divine beings , household divinities , spirits , men , birds , other animals and all creatures including even lifeless objects ; it is made before the daily meal by arranging portions of food in a circle or by throwing them into the air outside the house or into the sacred fire ; it was one of the 5 mahaa-yajnas , or great devotional acts); fragments of food at a meal
a-praaptam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. unobtained ; unarrived ; not accomplished ; not yet full-grown ; not resulting (from any rule)
praapta: mfn. come to (acc.) , arrived , present (praapteShu kaaleShu , at certain periods) ; proper, right

na: not
arukShat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist ruh: to ascend , mount , climb ; to reach to , attain (a desire) ; to rise , spring up , grow , develop
maanam (acc. sg.): m. ( √ man) opinion , notion , conception , idea ; self-conceit , arrogance , pride
aishvaram (acc. sg. m.): mfn. (fr. iishvara) , relating to or coming from a mighty lord or king , mighty powerful , majestic

aagamaiH (inst. pl.): m. arrival , coming , approach ; m. reading , studying ; acquisition of knowledge , science ; m. a traditional doctrine or precept , collection of such doctrines , sacred work ; m. anything handed down and fixed by tradition (as the reading of a text or a record , title-deed , &c )
buddhim (acc. sg.): f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; comprehension , apprehension , understanding ;
aadhikShat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist: aa- √ dish: to aim at , have in view ; to threaten ; to hit ; to assign ; to determine , specify , denominate
√ dish: to point out , show , exhibit ; to produce , bring forward (as a witness in a court of justice) ; to promote , effect , accomplish ; to assign dharmaaya = dat. sg. dharma: duty, dharma
na: not
tu: but
kiirtaye = dat. sg. kiirti: f. (fr. √2. kR) mention , making mention of , speech , report ; good report , fame , renown , glory
√kR: to make mention of , praise , speak highly of

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