hitaM vipriyam apy ukto
yaH shushraava na cukShubhe
duSh-kRtaM bahv api tyaktvaa
sasmaara kRtam aNv api
- = = - - - = =
= = = - - = - =
= - = = - = = =
= = - - - = - -
When given good advice, however disagreeable,
He listened and did not react;
He let go of a wrong done to him, however great,
And remembered a service rendered, however small.
This verse brings to mind the story of how Nelson Mandela let go of the great notorious wrong that was done to him, when he was kept locked up on Robben Island. Bill Clinton, the story goes, asked Nelson Mandela if he didn't still get angry when in the company of his former jailers. Mandela said that when he felt such anger well up inside of him he realized that if he hated his jailers after he got outside the prison gate, then they would still have him. Clinton reported that Mandela smiled and said, "I wanted to be free so I let it go."
Right through to 2.46, Ashvaghosha is going to keep listing virtues of King Shuddhodhana, one after another. Why?
Standing back and looking at the whole of Saundarananda, Cantos 1 through 3 can be seen as idealized portrayals; Cantos 4 through 11 are accounts of the non-ideal behaviour of Nanda, leading him to a point where at the beginning of Canto 12 Nanda feels thoroughly ashamed of himself and, in his shame, finds the real desire to listen to the Buddha's teaching. Cantos 12 through 16 are the Buddha outlining a practical means-whereby Nanda can make 'a safe passage from idealistic theory to actual practice.' And Cantos 17 and 18 are an account of Nanda really making the teaching his own, a realization that the Buddha affirms.
So the 18 cantos of Saundarananda can be seen as falling into four sub-groups under the broad headings of:
(1) idealistic thesis,
(2) materialistic anti-thesis,
(3) practical synthesis, and
(4) actual realization.
If we agree that this four-way grouping makes sense, then we have to acknowledge that Gudo Nishijima did English-speaking students of the Buddha a service by identifying and clarifying the four-phased structure which implicitly underpins the writings of ancestors such as Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna, and Dogen.
Gudo Nishijima asked me about ten years ago, after he and Michael Luetchford found their incipient translation partnership to be unworkable, to re-write for him his translation of Nagarjuna's Muula-madhyama-kakaarikaa, Fundamental Verses from the Middle. Unable at that time to let go of what I felt was a great wrong that had been done to me, I found I was not able to do what Gudo wanted me to do. I started studying Sanskrit but woke up in the middle of one night in a cold sweat and realised that my heart was no longer in the job of working as Gudo's translation partner. In my head I wanted to keep myself pointed in the direction of serving the ancestors through translation work, but possibly due to the influence of a still-immature Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, I was not able to take the whole of me with me. In other words, the whole of my heart was not in the job, and I could not carry on with it. So there is no Nishijima-Cross translation of Nagarjuna's MMK. But if there were, the final verse would clearly show the four-phased structure which is implicit in the original Sanskrit.
The translation would go something like this:
yaH saddharmam adeshayat
taM namasyaami gautamaM
= - = = - = = -
= = = - - = - -
- - = = - = = -
= - = = - = - =
For the dropping of all views
He taught the true Dharma,
I bow to him, Gautama.
(NB. Not I bow to he, Gautama; I bow to him, Gautama.
When given advice that was useful though unpalatable, he listened and was not disturbed ; he remembered the slightest action done for his benefit, passing over injuries to himself however so many they were.
He listened even to disagreeable advice without agitation; he overlooked the greatest wrong-doing and remembered the smallest service.
hitam = acc. sg. hita: n. anything useful or salutary or suitable or proper , benefit , advantage , profit , service , good , welfare , good advice &c
vipriyam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. disagreeable , unpleasant
api: even, though
uktaH (nom. sg. m.): spoken, given [advice]
yaH (nom. sg. m.): [he] who
shushraava = 3rd pers. sg. perfect shru: to hear , listen or attend to anything (acc.) , give ear to any one (acc. or gen.) , hear or learn anything about (acc.)
cukShubhe = 3rd pers. sg. perfect kShubh: to shake , tremble , be agitated or disturbed , be unsteady , stumble (literally and metaphorically)
duSh-kRtam (acc. sg.): n. evil action , sin ; ill-done deed, disservice
bahu : great
tyaktvaa = abs. tyaj: to leave , abandon , quit ; let go
sasmaara = 3rd pers. sg. perfect smR: to remember
kRtam (acc. sg.): n. deed , work , action ; n. service done , kind action , benefit