Sunday, April 17, 2011

SAUNDARANANDA 9.18: More Vedic Corroboration, of a False Premise

kva tad balaM kaMsa-vikarShiNo hares
turaMga-raajasya puT-aavabhedinaH
yam eka-baaNena nijaghnivaan jaraaH
kram'-aagata ruupam iv' ottamaM jaraa

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Where is the strength
of Hari 'Kamsa-tormentor' Krishna,

Who broke the Horse-King's jaw?

With one arrow from Jaras he was brought down,

Like utmost beauty brought down,
in due order, by old age.

In line 3, jaraaH in the masculine is the name of a hunter who wounded Krishna. In line 4 the same word in the feminine means old age. I meddled a bit with the grammar of the second half in order to preserve the word order, so that old age comes, in due order, at the end.

EHJ notes that the story of how Krishna broke the jaw of the horse Keshin is recorded in the Bhagavata Purana.

In this verse, again, the striver looks to the vedas for corroboration of his view that strength (balam) is nothing to be proud of.

These are the words of an eloquent Buddhist monk who went forth at the time of the Buddha. What power do they have to inform us who are seeking to understand what the Buddha really intended? I think they do not have any such power. And that is precisely Ashvaghosha's point. The basis of the striver's words is his own faulty view, corroborated by revered texts.

If the striver had, with more integrity, looked not to the vedas but instead to the teaching of the Buddha whom he purports to follow, he might have found cause to doubt his view in the teaching of the five noble powers, namely: (1) shraddhaa: confidence; (2) viirya: directed energy; (3) smRti: mindfulness; (4) samaadhi: balance; (5) prajNaa: intuitive wisdom.

In Canto 17 Ashvaghosha describes these powers as a-pratima, unequalled, incomparable, without a match:

With the five incomparable noble powers (aaryair balaiH paNcabhir a-pratimaiH), he broke five uncultivated areas of mental ground [17.26].

Confidence, directed energy, mindfulness, balance, intuitive wisdom:

Because the great matter is only one, Dogen said, ZA-DAN SUBESHI. Cut them by sitting. Sit them away.

But never mind what Dogen said. The striver is here, as I hear him, to remind us by his false example that we are here primarily to make the nectar of deathlessness our own. Seeking corroboration of our views in texts -- be they religious, scientific, or Buddhist -- is not it.

EH Johnston:
Where is the strength of Krishna who slew Kamsa and broke the jaw of the lord of horses? Jaras struck him down with a single arrow, just as old age strikes down in due course beauty however great.

Linda Covill:
Where is the strength of Hari who tore apart Kansa and split the jaw of the Horse-King? Jaras struck him down with a single arrow, just as old age eventually strikes down even the rarest beauty.

kva: ind. where
tat (nom. sg. n.): that
balam (nom. sg.): n. strength
kaMsa-vikarShiNaH (gen. sg. m.): causer of violent pain in the limbs to Kansa
kaMsa: m. N. of a king of mathuraa (son of ugra-sena and cousin of the devakii who was mother of kRShNa [ugra-sena being brother of devaka , who was father of devakii] ; he is usually called the uncle , but was really a cousin of kRShNa , and became his implacable enemy because it had been prophesied to kaMsa that he would be killed by a child of devakii ; as the foe of the deity he is identified with the asura kaalanemi ; and , as he was ultimately slain by kRShNa , the latter receives epithets like kaMsa-jit , conqueror of kaMsa , &c )
vikarShin: mfn. causing violent and acute pain in the limbs
hareH = gen. sg. hari: m. (esp.) N. of viShNu-kRShNa (in this sense thought by some to be derived from √ hR , " to take away or remove evil or sin ")

turaMga-raajasya (gen. sg.): the king of horses
turaM-ga: m. " going quickly " , a horse
raajan: m. a king , sovereign , prince , chief
puT-aavabhedinaH (gen. sg.): who split the hollow space [= jaw?]
puTa: mn. a fold , pocket , hollow space , slit
avabhedin: mfn. splitting , dividing
ava- √ bhid: to split , pierce
puTa-bhid: mfn. burst or cleft asunder
puTa-bheda: " parting of the eye-lids " , opening

yam (acc. sg. m.): whom
eka-baaNena (inst. sg.): with a single arrow
eka: one, a single
baaNa: m. a reed-shaft , shaft made of a reed , an arrow
ni-jaghnivaan = nom. sg. m. perfect active participle ni- √ han: to strike or hew down
jaraaH = nom. sg. m. jaras: N. of a hunter who wounded kRShNa

kram'-aagataa (nom. sg. f.): mfn. descended or inherited lineally , (anything) coming from one's ancestors in regular succession; successive , in due order
krama: m. step, course ; uninterrupted or regular progress , order , series , regular arrangement , succession
aagata: mfn. come, arrived, happened; n. anything that has taken place
krama-gata : mfn. descended or inherited lineally , (anything) coming from one's ancestors in regular succession ; successive , in due order
ruupam (acc. sg.): n. handsome form , loveliness , grace , beauty
iva: like
uttamam (acc. sg.): mfn. uppermost, best
jaraa = nom. sg. f. jaras: the becoming old , decay , old age

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