Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.2: Like Mother Earth

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦ [?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti
tasyendra-kalpasya babhūva patnī * * * * * * * * * * * |
padmeva lakṣmīḥ pṛthivīva dhīrā māyeti nāmnānupameva māyā || 1.2

That Indra-like king had a queen:

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Like lotus-hued Padmā in her beauty
and self-possessed as Mother Earth,

She was Māyā by name and was like Māyā,
the peerless goddess of beauty.

Such were the parents of the Buddha: a moon-like father, a man steeped in well-cleansed conduct; and an earth-like mother, a beautiful woman, self-possessed as maybe only mothers can be, when coccooned in their own clouds of oxytocin.

So far so beautiful. Later we will hear about a sick man, an old man and a corpse, but the starting point is the birth of something beautiful.

A parallel can be drawn with Dogen's instructions for sitting, whose starting point is the assertion that enlightenment is all around, so who needs to haul a weary body up onto the tiptoes of training?

Instead of being in a big rush to plant our arses on a round black cushion, then, why not have a wash, burn some incense, and put a flower or two in some water? Not that such faffing about is necessary... but why not, in the spirit of wishing to partake in the start of something beautiful?

The reference to the goddess Māyā, whose aliases include Padmā (“The Lotus-Hued One”) and Lakṣmī (“Beauty”), is echoed in Saundarananda Canto 2:

That man-god at that time had a goddess, a queen whose name was Māyā; /
She was as devoid of anger, darkness and the māyā which is deceit as was the goddess Māyā in heaven. // 2.49 //

The latter verse, it might be obseved in passing, seems to be more focused on Māyā's inner beauty. Evidence of a kind of maturation in Aśvaghoṣa's thinking?

In the Chinese translation, the 3rd pāda of the opening Sanskrit verse (priyaḥ śarac-candra iva prajābhyaḥ) has been transposed so that the comparison of King and moon carries over into the comparison of King and 天帝釋 (lit. “Heaven-Ruler Śakra” = Mighty Indra).

The eight pādas of verses 1.1 and 1.2 combined (each pāda having eleven syllables), correspond to twelve lines of the Chinese translation (each line having five characters). The Tibetan translation appears to mirror the Sanskrit much more closely, each line of the Tibetan corresponding to one Sanskrit pāda.

Tibetan Translation:
| dbaṅ po daṅ mtshuṅs de yi bdag po ldan ma yin |
| nus mthu rjes mtshuṅs gzi brjid lha mo bde sogs daṅ |
| padmo can ’dra phun sum tshogs pas bźin brtan |
| sgyu ma chen mo źes bya dpe med sgyu ’dra byuṅ |

EHJ's translation (from the Tibetan/reconstructed Sanskrit):
2. That counterpart of Indra had a queen, a very Śacī, whose splendour corresponded to his might. In beauty like Padmā, in steadfastness like the earth, she was called Mahāmāyā, from her resemblance to the incomparable Māyā.

Chinese Translation:
群生樂瞻仰 猶如初生月
王如天帝釋 夫人猶舍脂
執志安如地 心淨若蓮花
假譬名摩耶 其實無倫比

S. Beal's translation (from the Chinese):
2. Joyously reverenced by all men (or, 'beings'), as the new moon (is welcomed by the world), the king indeed (was) like the heaven-ruler Śakra, his queen like (the divine) Śakī.
3. Strong and calm of purpose as the earth, pure in mind as the water-lily, her name, figuratively assumed, Mâyâ, she was in truth incapable of class-comparison.

C. Willemen's translation (from the Chinese):
2. Living beings happily looked up to him, as to the moon which had just risen. The king was like Śakra, ruler of the gods, and his wife was like Śacī.
3. Her steadfastness was as solid as the earth, and her thoughts were as pure as a lotus flower. By way of comparison she was called Māyā, but she was beyond compare.

tasya (gen. sg. m.): of that, of him
indra-kalpasya (gen. sg. m.): the Indra-like king, the equal of Indra
kalpa: m. (ifc.) having the manner or form of anything , similar to , resembling , like but with a degree of inferiority , almost
babhūva (3rd pers. sg. perf. bhū): there was, he had
patnī (nom. sg.): f. a female possessor , mistress; a wife
padmā (nom. sg.): f. " the lotus-hued one " , N. of śrī = N. of lakṣmī (as goddess of prosperity or beauty and wife of viṣṇu)
iva: like
lakṣmīḥ (nom. sg.): f. beauty , loveliness , grace , charm , splendour , lustre; N. of the goddess of fortune and beauty (frequently in the later mythology identified with śrī)
pṛthivī (nom. sg.): f. (= pṛthvī f. of pṛthu) the earth or wide world (" the broad and extended One " , personified as devī and often invoked together with the sky)
iva: like
dhīrā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. steady , constant , firm , resolute , brave , energetic , courageous , self-possessed , composed , calm , grave ; deep , low , dull (as sound) ; gentle , soft ; well-conducted , well-bred

māyā (nom. sg.): f. art , wisdom , extraordinary or supernatural power (only in the earlier language); name of the mother of gautama buddha ; name of lakṣmī
iti: “.....,” thus
nāmnā: ind. by name
an-upamā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. incomparable , matchless
iva: like
māyā: name of lakṣmī

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