Sunday, July 18, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 2.39: Non-Buddhist Virtues (ctd.) -- Letting Light Shine

tejasaa ca tviShaa c'aiva
ripuun dRptaan abiibhasat
yasho-diipena diiptena
pRthiviiM ca vyabiibhasat

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

With his intense energy and his light

He showed up his enemies, the conceited;

And with the blazing lantern of his brightness,

He caused the world to shine.

The first half of this verse, as I read it, does not describe a primary wish to show up enemies (neither in the sense of throwing one's own egoistic faults into stark relief, and still less in the sense of embarrassing or humiliating external enemies), for which purpose intense energy and light are instrumental. Rather, the primary thing is the one great matter which Dogen called the backward step of turning light and letting it shine. What happens to enemies is a secondary concern. The one great matter, in other words, is not a matter of trying to defeat enemies directly, which might be a case of tail wagging dog; it is rather a matter of letting dog wag tail, and in that light allowing all benefits to accrue, or not to accrue, indirectly.

Equally, I am fairly sure that Ashvaghosha intended the second half of today's verse to be read in light of what Dogen called the backward step and transmitted as the backward step.

So this verse can be read as presaging a description of sitting-dhyana which was to come about forty generations after Ashvaghosha, as well as presaging Ashvaghosha's own glowing portrayal of the Buddha which is to come in Canto 3:

He walked over water as if on dry land,
Dug through soil as though it were water,
Rained as a cloud in the sky,
And radiated light and warmth like the newly-risen sun.

All in harness, he glowed like a fire,
Passed water like a cloud,
And radiated light like molten gold.
He shone like a cloud set aglow,
by the breaking of day, or dusk.

EH Johnston:
With the heat of his courage he reduced proud foes to ashes and with his personal splendour he abashed them; and he illumined the earth with the blazing light of his fame.

Linda Covill:
He burned up his proud enemies with his luster and splendor, and he brightened the earth with the shining lamp of his fame.

tejasaa (inst. sg.): n. sharp edge, brilliance, fire; fiery energy
ca: and
tviShaa (inst. sg.): f. violent agitation , vehemence , violence , fury , perplexity ; light , brilliance , glitter , splendour , beauty , authority ; colour ; speech
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)

ripuun (acc. pl. m.): mfn. deceitful , treacherous , false; m. a deceiver , cheat , rogue ; m. an enemy , adversary , foe
dRptaan (acc. pl. m.): mfn. (past part. dRp) mad , wild , proud , arrogant
dRp: to be mad or foolish , to rave ; to be extravagant or wild , to be arrogant or proud , to be wildly delighted. ; to light , kindle , inflame
abiibhasat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist bhaas: to make shine , illuminate ; to show , make evident , cause to appear (" by way of. " instr. of an abstract noun)
bhaas: to shine , be bright ; to appear , occur to the mind , be conceived or imagined , become clear or evident

yasho-diipena (inst. sg.): lantern of glory
yashas: n. beautiful appearance , beauty , splendour , worth; honour , glory , fame , renown
diipa: m. a light , lamp , lantern
diiptena (inst. sg.): mfn. blazing , flaming , hot , shining , bright , brilliant , splendid

pRthiviiM (acc. sg.): f. (= f. of pRithu) the earth or wide world (" the broad and extended One " , personified as devii) ; land , ground , soil
pRthu: mfn. broad , wide , expansive , extensive , spacious , large
ca: and
vyabiibhasat = 3rd pers. sg. causitive aorist vi- √ bhaas: to cause to shine , illuminate , brighten
vi- √ bhaas: to shine brightly or pleasantly , be bright

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