Thursday, May 3, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.3: An Immaculate Conception

[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦[?]−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti
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tataś-ca vidyeva samādhi-yuktā garbhaṁ dadhe pāpa-vivarjitā sā || 1.3

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And then, like knowledge conjoined with balance,

She who was far removed from evil conceived a child.

The samādhi in this verse EHJ translated as “mental concentration,” and Patrick Olivelle translated as “trance.” These are translations born of the dictionary, not of practice.

The prefix sam means together and ādhi, from ā-√dhā, means putting. So samādhi, understood from the inside of practice, expresses the putting together, or balance and co-ordination, of... what? In the first instance, of top and bottom, left side and right side, arms and legs.

Aśvaghoṣa is warning us, as soon as it is seemly to do so, that the kind of knowledge gleaned from the Sanskrit-English dictionary, or even from reading an ancient text like the Buddhacarita, is barren, sterile, fruitless, unless it is fertilized by the kind of practice that makes demands not on the intellect but on a person's powers of balance and coordination.

Accepting and using oneself well in the act of sitting still, is the paramount example of such practice. Chopping up firewood, and carrying buckets of water from A to B, are other traditional examples. Samādhi might be taking a breather from gardening and hearing birdsong come at you from many directions. The real meaning of  samādhi is being well balanced – nothing so tiresome as mental concentration, and nothing so esoteric as a trance.

Tibetan  Translation:
| mi skyoṅ rgyal po ’di ni de daṅ thabs cig tu |
| dga’ ba ñer ldan rnam thos sras kyi dpal bźin rol |
| de nas yaṅ dag tiṅ ’dzin ldan pa’i rig ma bźin |
| sdig bral ma de mṅal ni rnam par gzuṅ bar gyur |

EHJ's translation (from the Tibetan/reconstructed Sanskrit):
3. This ruler of men, dallying with his queen enjoyed, as it were, the sovereign glory of Vaiśravaṇa. Then without defilement she received the fruit of the womb, just as knowledge united with mental concentration bears fruit.

Chinese Translation:
於彼象天后 降神而處胎
母悉離憂患 不生幻僞心

S. Beal's translation (from the Chinese):
4. On her in likeness as the heavenly queen descended the spirit and entered her womb. A mother, but free from grief or pain, (she was) without any false or illusory mind.

C. Willemen's translation (from the Chinese):
4. In that godlike queen a spirit descended and dwelled in her womb. 
The mother was completely free from sorrow. She did not have any illusory thoughts.

tataḥ: (ind.) then
ca: and
vidyā (nom. sg.): f. knowledge , science , learning
iva: like
samādhi-yuktā (nom. sg. f.): combined with co-ordination, backed by balance
sam-ādhi: m. putting together ; union, completion; setting to rights ; bringing into harmony ; intense application or fixing the mind on ; concentration of the thoughts , profound or abstract meditation , intense contemplation of any particular object (with Buddhists samādhi is the fourth and last stage of dhyāna or intense abstract meditation); intense absorption or a kind of trance
yukta: yoked; set to work , made use of , employed , occupied with , engaged in , intent upon (instr. loc. or comp.); joined , united , connected , combined ; furnished or endowed or filled or supplied or provided with , accompanied by , possessed of (instr. or comp.) ; (ifc.) added to , increased by (e.g. catur-yuktā viṁśatiḥ , twenty increased by four i.e. 24)

garbham (acc. sg.): m. ( √grabh = grah , " to conceive ") the womb ; a foetus or embryo , child , brood or offspring (of birds)
dadhe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. dhā: to put, place; to accept , obtain , conceive (esp. in the womb)
pāpa-vivarjitā (nom. sg. f.): being far removed from evil
pāpa: n. evil , misfortune , ill-luck , trouble , mischief, harm ; n. sin , vice , crime , guilt
vivarjitā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. avoided , left , abandoned by , destitute or deprived of , free or exempt from (instr. or comp.)
sā (nom. sg. f.): she

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