dhruvaṃ hi saṃśrutya tava sthiraṃ mano
vadhūr-gṛhe sāpi tavānukurvatī
kariṣyate strīṣu virāgiṇīḥ kathāḥ // 18.59 //
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For, surely, when she hears of your steadfast mind
With its chariots turned back from sundry objects,
Your wife following your example will also talk,
To women at home, the talk of dispassion.
The 2nd line of today's verse can be read as referring back to Aśvaghoṣa's description of Nanda at the beginning of Canto 12:
Turning back from heaven, the chariot of his mind, whose horse was willpower, / Was like a great chariot turned back from a wrong road by an attentive charioteer. // 12.5 //
At that time, thanks to the Buddha's skillfulness, the chariot of Nanda's mind turned back from one particular desired object, namely celestial nymphs. In the interventing cantos, through learning well the backward step of turning his light and letting it shine, Nanda has turned back his mental chariots, or heart's desires, not only from one sort of object but from all sorts of objects (nānā-viṣaya).
Such is talking the talk of dispassion -- or more literally making "dispassionate mentions/overtures" (virāgiṇīḥ kathāḥ [plural]).
Dispassion means freedom from, mainly, greed and anger.
A starting point of dispassion might be to see greed as it is and anger as it is, without fear of being wrong. When I observe anger welling up in me, and observe my habitual reaction to it, I am not sure that I have even quite arrived yet at this starting point. Even if one understands in principle that it is OK to be wrong, even if one understands that being wrong is both fuel and raw material for work on the self, still in practice fear of being wrong runs deep -- it does in me, for one -- because of habit, and because of fear itself.
Voice the dharma-directions, Marjory Barlow might say, and go into movement without a care in the world. Let it come out in the wash....
My overriding response to seeing Gudo Nishijima's so-called "translation" of mūla-madhyamika-kārikā out in print has turned out to be a reaction of anger. As Gisela pointed out in a comment some time ago, to walk away from a problem is not always the same as leaving it behind, or letting go of it. And so my anger shows me that there is much I haven't let go of yet. One might argue that I haven't even walked very far away.
When I reflect on my anger, and my habitual response to it (trying to suppress it, witnessing it explode, et cetera) in light of Aśvaghoṣa's teachings, it seems appropriate and pertinent to dwell on the method by which Nanda is described in Canto 17 as shaking the tree of afflictions.
For, on those grounds, on the grounds of impermanence and emptiness, on the grounds of absence of self, and of suffering, / He, by the most discerning empirical path, caused the tree of afflictions to shake. // 17.17 //
In this verse "on the grounds of emptiness" is śūnyatas.
And exactly what Aśvaghoṣa means by this he explains in 17.20:
Since separateness is a construct, there being no-one who creates or who is made known, / But doing arises out of a totality, he realised, on that basis, that this world (lokam) is empty (śūnyam). // 17.20 //
śūnyatā, emptiness, is thus described as a condition of the world, to be investigated while the tree of afflictions is flowering and fruiting. Aśvaghoṣa does not describe emptiness as a state that is realised when the autonomic nervous system has become balanced by keeping the spine straight vertically. He describes it as an objective condition of the world which Mr. Angry, when the red taint of his passion is at its very height, can investigate. So when Sanskrit scholars foam at the mouth at Gudo's translation of śūnyatā as balanced state [of the autonomic nervous system], I am on their side. "Balanced state [of the autonomic nervous system]," is not only a terrible translation of śūnyatā; it is also a wrong interpretation of śūnyatā.
On such matters Gudo Nishijima, IMHO, encouraged his students to take sides, either with him or against him. To a man who he deemed to be on his side, even a deeply deluded man, he happily transmitted the Dharma. A bloke who told him he was wrong, like me, he treated like an enemy. For that I am eternally angry with him. And for that I am angry with those who, in awe of the Buddha-Dharma, sided with him even when it was not reasonable to do so. That kind of sectarian prejudice is the typical attitude of the religious believer, and to my nostrils it stinks -- not that I wasn't like that myself for many years.
However we understand the goal of dispassion, which thus seems to me at time of writing a very distant one, and however we understand the possible starting points for pursuing it (as described for example in 13.10 and 17.17), what is clear from today's verse and even moreso from tomorrow's verse, is that the Buddha by no means saw dispassion as an exclusively male pursuit. Rather, he saw dispassion as a virtue to be discussed among women at home, and as a virtue that a woman like Sundarī might wish to pursue by going forth from her home.
For certainly when your wife hears that your mind has become steadfast with its desire turned away from the various objects of the senses, she too will imitate you in the palace and will preach among the women of freedom from passion.
When your wife at home hears about your stability of mind, now that its desires for the various sense-objects have been turned away, she too is sure to follow your example, and speak of dispassion to her women.
dhruvam: ind. firmly , constantly , certainly , surely
saMshrutya = abs. saM- √shru: to hear
tava (gen. sg.): your
sthiram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. firm, strong; not wavering or tottering , steady ; constant , steadfast , resolute , persevering
manaH (acc. sg.): n. mind
nivRtta-naanaa-viShayaiH (inst. pl.): turned back from manifold objects
nivRtta: turned back
naanaa: ind. differently , variously , distinctly , separately , (often used as an adj. = various , different)
viShaya: object ; an object of sense ; anything perceptible by the senses , any object of affection or concern or attention , any special worldly object or aim or matter or business , (pl.) sensual enjoyments , sensuality
mano-rathaiH (inst. pl.): m. " heart's joy " , a wish , desire (also = desired object) ; fancy , illusion ; (in dram.) a wish expressed in an indirect manner , hint ; the heart compared to a car
mano = manas: mind
ratha: 1. m. (from √ ṛ, to go) " goer " chariot; 2. m. ( fom √ ram, to enjoy) pleasure , joy , delight
vadhuuH (nom. sg.): f. a bride or newly-married woman , young wife spouse any wife or woman
gRhe = loc. sg. gRha: n. a house , habitation , home; (also) domestic or family life
saa (nom. sg.): f. she
api: even, also
tava (gen. sg.): of you, your
anukurvatii = nom. sg. f. pres. participle anu-√kR: to follow in doing ; to imitate , copy
kariShyate = 3rd pers. sg. future kR: to do, make
striiShu = loc. pl. strii: f. woman
vi-raagiNiiH = acc. pl. f. vi-raagin: mfn. indifferent, without colour/passion
kathaaH = acc. pl. kathaa: f. talk, story, mention