Saturday, September 18, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.1: Devotion...

ath' aavatiiry' aashva-ratha-dvipebhyaH
shaakyaa yathaa-sva-rddhi-gRhiita-veShaaH
mah"-aapaNebhyo vyavahaariNash ca
mahaa-munau bhakti-vashaat praNemuH

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Then the Shakyas, each clothed in accordance
with his wealth and accomplishments,

Got down from their horses, chariots, and elephants,

And the traders turned away
from their great places of trade:

Compelled by their devotion,
they bowed down before the great Sage.

The opening verse of the Canto sets a scene in which, for the reasons set out in Canto 3, the Buddha is venerated by people of all stations and classes in Kapilavastu. The picture is one of social cohesion, an orderly society, in which men of both the warrior and merchant classes were devoted to the teaching of the one who had gone forth beyond all classes.

The title of this Canto is nanda-pravraajanaH, Nanda is Caused to Go Forth. pra-vraj, to go forth, meant to leave one's home and family and wander forth as an ascetic mendicant, living a life of celibacy.

The Buddha followed that tradition himself, and he caused Nanda to follow that tradition, as a royal road (nar'endra-maarga; see 5.3) to nirvana -- which is a very different thing from enforced celibacy as a grubby route to the sexual abuse of children, as so widely practised in recent times in the Catholic church.

Watching on TV the supposed past and present leaders of my country lining up to do homage to the leader of the Catholic church made me feel disgusted. A celibate bigot who is rigidly attached to outdated religious beliefs, in spite of all contrary evidence, is a celibate bigot who is wrongly attached to outdated religious beliefs. Is such a celibate bigot any better than a non-celibate bigot? I don't think so.

Here we are at the beginning of the 21st century watching our so-called leaders line up to pay respects to a German bigot, leader and protector of not a few paedophiles, who espouses belief in miracles of the divine intervention variety. Yuk.

The confidence of which the Buddha speaks in Canto 12, as I hear him, is never the same as religious faith. It is much closer to, or the same as, the confidence of a scientist who has proved by experiment that a hypothesis he formerly held was false. The confidence of which the Buddha speaks then, is based not on hopeful adherence to a view in spite of contrary evidence, but is based rather on a view having dropped off.

For this reason, along with the Shakya warriors and the merchants of ancient Kapilavastu, and along with Nagarjuna, I bow down before the one who taught the true Dharma as the dropping of all views.

Devotion to him might truly unite us, if we were truly prepared to go forth from the old habits and obsolete views that hold us all back.

EH Johnston:
Then the Shakyas, dismounting from their horses, chariots and elephants and clothed according to their wealth, devoutly made obeisance to the Great Sage, as did the merchants from their great shops.

Linda Covill:
Then the Shakyas, their clothes befitting their wealth, got down from their horses, chariots and elephants, while merchants came from their large stores, and overcome by devotion to the great sage, they bowed low.

atha: now, then, and so, etc.
avatiirya = abs. ava- √ tRR: alight from , alight (abl.) ; to take down , take off , remove , turn away from (abl.)
ashva-ratha-dvipebhyaH (abl. m. pl.): horses, chariots, elephants
ashva: horse
ratha: chariot
dvipa: elephant

shaakyaaH (nom. pl. m.): the Shakyas
yathaa-sva-rddhi-gRhiita-veShaaH (nom. m. pl.): each clothed according to his own wealth and accomplishments ; accomplishment , perfection , supernatural power
yathaa: according to, in proportion as
sva: mfn. his own, their own ; n. one's own goods , property , wealth , riches
Rddhi f. increase , growth , prosperity , success , good fortune , wealth , abundance
gRhiita: mfn. grasped , taken, laid hold of
veSha: m. dress , apparel , ornament

mah"-aapaNebhyaH (abl. m. pl.): from their great shops
mahat: great, large
aapaNa: m. a market , a shop
vyavahaariNaH = nom. pl. vyavahaarin: mfn. acting , proceeding , dealing with (ifc.); transacting , practising (any business or trade) ; m. a man of business , trader , merchant
ca: and

mahaa-munau (loc. sg.): to the great Sage
mahat: great
muni: m. a saint , sage , seer
bhakti-vashaat: on account of devotion
bhakti: f. devotion
vasha: m. will, wish, desire ; authority , power , control , dominion ; vashaat ifc. by command of , by force of , on account of , by means of , according to
praNemur = 3rd pers. pl. perfect praNam: to bend or bow down before (often with muurdhnaa , shirasaa &c ) , make obeisance to (dat gen. loc. or acc.)

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