Saturday, May 5, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.5: A Question of Weariness

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti
sā tasya deva-pratimasya devī garbheṇa vaṁśa-śriyam udvahantī |
* * * vīta-śrama-śoka-māyā * * * * * * * * * * * ] || 1.5

She, the queen of that god-like king,

Bearing in her womb the light of his royal line,

And being devoid of weariness, sorrow, 
and the māyā which is deceit,

- - - - - - - - - - -

The 4th pāda begins in the Tibetan text with gtsaṅ la, “in purity.” EHJ noted that it was not clear whether this referred to Māyā or to the forest where she is headed, but in his translation he understood it to refer to Māyā.

The Chinese translation does not offer any clues one way or the other; indeed, as with the translation into Chinese of verses 1.3 and 1.4, elements of the two Sanskrit verses 1.5 and 1.6 seem to be mixed up in one stanza (four lines of five characters each) of Chinese translation.

EHJ's conjecture vīta-śrama-śoka-māyā (which I have placed in the 3rd pāda, but which EHJ only conjectured to be contained somewhere in the 2nd half of the verse) parallels the expression vīta-krodha-tamo-māyā in the 3rd pāda of SN2.49:

tasya devī ndevasya māyā nāma tad-ābhavat /
That man-god at that time had a goddess, a queen whose name was Māyā;
vīta-krodha-tamo-māyā māyeva divi devatā // 2.49 //
She was as devoid of anger, darkness and the māyā which is deceit as was the goddess Māyā in heaven.

Whereas vīta-śrama means devoid of weariness, (weariness) in the Chinese translation seems to describe Māyā as positively weary or averse. (In Willemen's translation = “in her weariness”; in Beal's translation 厭惡 = “disliking”.)

Again, this all serves to underline the undesirability of relying on secondary sources.

To clarify what I may have failed to clarify in my comments so far (judging from Jordan's comment yesterday), Aśvaghoṣa's original Sanskrit is missing for verses 1.1 through 1.7 -- as also for verses 1.25 through 1.40, and for the entire second half of Buddhacarita. So I am translating in these early posts what EHJ conjectured might have been the original Sanskrit, and at the same time showing the corresponding Tibetan and Chinese translations – both of which were presumably done from a complete Sanskrit text. EHJ's Sanskrit conjectures were mainly based on the Tibetan translation.

Working through these early verses in this way (1) has  served to convince me that the Chinese translation is not a reliable guide to Aśvaghoṣa's original Sanskrit; and (2) has not inspired me, at least so far, to study Tibetan.

I want to focus my efforts on translating into English what are accepted, with reasonable certainty, to be Aśvaghoṣa's own words. That effort might include giving due attention to what cannot be accepted -- somewhat in the manner of a beggar diligently sorting through discarded rags in order to make a robe. This in fact is an argument in favour of studying the Tibetan translation, because unless I study it how can I ascertain for myself how reliable or unreliable the Tibetan translation is as a guide to Aśvaghoṣa's original words? 

The counter argument, which seems to me at present to be the stronger one, is that any secondary source is unreliable. 

In sum, while I am not inspired yet to study Tibetan, the wise course might be, for the present, to decide not to decide. 

Tibetan Translation:
| lha daṅ rab tu mtshuṅs pa de yi lha mo de |
| mṅal gyis rigs kyi dpal ni rab tu ’dren byed ciṅ |
| sgyu ma ṅal ba daṅ ni mya ṅan sgyu med par |
| gtsaṅ la ñon moṅs med pa’i dgon par blo gros mdzad |

EHJ's translation (from the Tibetan/reconstructed Sanskrit):
5. Māyā, the queen of that god-like king, bore in her womb the glory of her race and, being in her purity free from weariness, sorrow and illusion, she set her mind on the sin-free forest.

Chinese Translation:
厭惡彼諠俗 樂處空閑林
藍毘尼勝園 流泉花果茂

S. Beal's translation (from the Chinese):
5. Disliking the clamorous ways of the world, (she remembered) the excellent garden of Lumbinî, a pleasant spot, a quiet forest retreat, (with its) trickling fountains, and blooming flowers and fruits.

C. Willemen's translation (from the Chinese):
5. In her weariness she railed at the commonplace and longed to stay in a secluded forest, in the excellent garden of Lumbinī, where springs flowed and flowers and fruits were luxuriant.

sā (nom. sg. f.): she
tasya (gen. sg.): of him, of that
deva-pratimasya (gen. sg. m.): the equal of the gods
deva: m. a deity , god
pratima: (ifc. like , similar , resembling , equal to)
devī: f. a female deity , goddess ; queen

garbheṇa (inst. sg.): m. the womb
vaṁśa-śriyam (acc. sg. f.): the glory of the royal line
vaṁśa: m. a bamboo cane; the line of a pedigree or genealogy (from its resemblance to the succession of joints in a bamboo) , lineage, race , family , stock (esp. a noble race , a dynasty of kings , a list of teachers &c)
śrī: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory
udvahantī = nom. sg. f. pres. part. ud- √ vah: to bear up , lift up , elevate ; to bear (a weight or burden)

vīta-śrama-śoka-māyā (nom. sg. f.): being devoid of fatigue, sorrow, and the māyā which is deceit
vīta: mfn. gone away (ibc. = free or exempt from , without , -less)
śrama: m. fatigue , weariness , exhaustion
śoka: m. sorrow , affliction , anguish , pain , trouble
māyā: f. illusion , unreality , deception , fraud , trick , sorcery ; duplicity

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