Saturday, October 9, 2010

SAUNDARANANDA 5.43: Why Pander to Sparks that Fly from Flint?

yadaa nar'-endraash ca kuTumbinash ca
vihaaya bandhuuMsh ca parigrahaaMsh ca
yayush ca yaasyanti ca yaanti c' aiva
priyeShv a-nityeShu kuto 'nurodhaH

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

When kings and humble householders,

Leaving relations and possessions behind,

Have gone, will go, and even now are going forth,

Why pander to fleeting fondnesses?

In this verse the Buddha is exhorting Nanda to give up family and possessions in order to devote his youthful energy (vayas) to practice (yogha-vidhi; 5.49).

The cultural context is that the Buddha is advocating the way that was traditional in ancient India of the homeless wandering mendicant.

Regardless of cultural context, the timeless point is that the Buddha advocated a way that is primarily a way of practice, requiring devotion of psycho-physical energy, not just intellectual understanding.

And even though I have interpreted the gist of the verse like this, the concrete meaning of the 2nd line could not be clearer: the Buddha is talking about giving up / leaving behind / abandoning all one's friends and family along with one's property and possessions.

Dogen wrote in Fukan-zazengi:

We are maintaining the mainspring of the Buddha's awakening:
Who would wish vainly to enjoy a spark flying from flint?

Ashvaghosha: poet or monk?

Dogen wrote:
Despite ten thousand distinctions and a thousand differences,
We should just pursue awakening through the practice of dhyana.

The mainspring of the Buddha's awakening (BUTSUDO NO YOKI), and the practice of dhyana (SANZEN) mean exactly the same thing, which is the one great matter, which is the lifeblood of Ashvagosha and all the buddha-ancestors of India and China, which is only the practice of sitting with right foot on left thigh and left foot on right thigh.

If you really want to know who Ashvaghosha was, to pursue awakening like this is the only way.

If you don't really want to know who Ashvagosha, then what is the point of posing such a damn stupid question as to whether he was a poet or a monk?

He was not a fucking poet, and he was not a fucking monk.

Excuse my French, but somebody needs to wake up.

Doubtless, because the mirror principle never fails, the person who most needs to wake up is the one who is angrily observing that some other Ashvaghosha-translator needs to wake up.

EH Johnston:
Since kings and heads of houses have gone, are going and will go (to the forest), leaving their relations and possessions, why have so much regard for the fleeting union with your dear ones?

Linda Covill:
When kings and householders have gone, are going and will go forth, leaving behind their relatives and possessions, you give consideration to incidental loves!

yadaa: ind. when
nar'-endraaH (nom. pl.): m. " man-lord " , king , prince
ca: and
kuTumbinaH (nom. pl.) m. a householder ; a member of a family , any one (also a servant) belonging to a family ; a peasant
ca: and

vihaaya = abs. vi- √ haa : to leave behind , relinquish , quit , abandon
bandhuun (acc. pl.): m. connection , relation , association ; a kinsman (esp. on the mother's side) , relative
ca: and
parigrahaan (acc. pl.): m. getting , attaining , acquisition , possession , property
ca: and

yayur = 3rd pers. pl. perfect yaa: to go , proceed , move , walk , set out ; to go away
ca: and
yaasyanti = 3rd pers. pl. future yaa: to go
ca: and
yaanti = 3rd pers. pl. present yaa: to go
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)

priyeShu = loc. pl. priya: n. love , kindness , favour , pleasure
a-nityeShu (loc. pl. n.): mfn. not everlasting , transient , occasional , incidental
kutaH: ind. wherefore? why? from what cause or motive?
anurodhaH (nom. sg.): m. obliging or fulfilling the wishes (of any one) ; obligingness , compliance ; consideration , respect

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