Monday, June 11, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.42: In Praise of Creativity, Originality & Innovation

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Bālā)
sārasvataś-cāpi jagāda naṣṭaṁ vedaṁ punar-yaṁ dadṛśur-na pūrve |
vyāsas-tathainaṁ bahudhā cakāra na yaṁ vasiṣṭhaḥ kṛtavān-aśaktiḥ || 1.42

And Sārasvata articulated again a lost Veda

Which forebears had never seen;

Vyāsa, 'the Compiler,' likewise, 

arranged it into many sections,

Which Vasiṣṭha, for lack of Capability, had not done.

Sārasvata and Vyāsa are referred to in SN7.29 – SN7.31. Vyāsa, because his birthplace was a small island in the Ganges, was also known as Dvaipāyana, “island-born,” by which name he is referred to below:
So too did the seer Parāśara, user of curses as arrows, have intercourse with Kālī, who was born from the womb of a fish; The son he conceived in her was the illustrious Dvaipāyana, classifier of the Vedas. //7.29 // Dvaipāyana, equally, while having dharma as his primary object, enjoyed a woman at a brothel in Kāśi; Struck by her foot, with its trembling ankle bracelet, he was like a cloud being struck by a twist of lightning.// 7.30 // So too did brahma-begotten Aṅgiras, when his mind was seized by passion, have sex with Sarasvatī; To her was born his son Sarasvata, who gave voice again to missing Vedas. // 7.31 //
EHJ notes that the Chinese translator misunderstood pūrve (“forebears”) in the 2nd line as a proper name, which he attempted to render phonetically by 婆羅婆 (pa/po-la/lo-sa). The Chinese translator evidently struggled with this series of verses, neither he nor his prospective audience being familiar with the ancient Indian legends they refer to.

EHJ also notes that the last line is a play on the word śakti, “ability” or “capability,” which was the name of a son of Vasiṣṭha (the latter being the owner of the cow of plenty mentioned in SN1.3).

As regards the content of the verse, again I understand it as expressing a view which was present among Brahmins of ancient India and which can also be heard today in fields such as Buddhism and Alexander Technique where innovators challenge the stick-in-the-mud standpoint of traditionalists.

Aśvaghoṣa as I read this opening chapter of Buddhacarita was no fan of Brahmanism, or of any group within Brahmanism, but he was not prejudiced against an individual Brahmin like Asita, who we will meet shortly.

Seen from the outside, mindfulness of breathing is an authentic tradition that goes back to the original teaching of the Buddha. Creativity, originality and innovation do not come into it. At the same time when one individual actually practises it, from the inside, mindfulness of breathing is an integral act of allowing, and even traditionalism is an idea that has dropped off already.

Speaking of the individual, Jordan Fountain has kindly posted onto the internet the audio files of me reading aloud the English translation of Saundarananda which I prepared in a 2-line format for ease of reading. Thanks Jordan. Thanks are also due to Ānandajoti Bhikku who encouraged me to make the audio files and showed me what software to use.

sārasvataḥ (nom. sg.): m. 'springing from sarasvatī (the river or the goddess)'; N. of a ṛṣi (fabled to have sprung from the personified sarasvatī river)
ca: and
api: also
jagāda = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gad: to speak articulately , speak , say , relate ,
naṣṭam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. lost

vedam (acc. sg.): m. knowledge, the Vedas ; N. of certain celebrated works which constitute the basis of the first period of the Hindu religion
punar: ind. again
yam (acc. sg. m.): [relative pronoun] that which
dadṛśur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. dṛś: to see ; to notice
na: not

pūrve (nom. pl.): m. an ancestor , forefather (pl. the ancients , ancestors)
vyāsaḥ (nom. sg.): m. " arranger , compiler " , N. of a celebrated mythical sage and author (often calledveda-vyāsa and regarded as the original compiler and arranger of the vedas ,vedā*nta-sūtras &c ; he was the son of the sage parāśara and satyavatī , and half-brother of vicitra-vīrya and bhīṣma ; he was also called vādarāyaṇa or bādarāyaṇa , and kṛṣṇa from his dark complexion , and dvaipāyana because he was brought forth by satyavatī on a dvīpa or island in the Jumna)

tathā: ind. likewise
enam (acc. sg. m.) : it
bahudhā: ind. in many ways or parts or forms or directions , variously , manifoldly , much , repeatedly (with √ kṛ , to make manifold , multiply MBh. ; to make public , divulge ib.)
cakāra = 3rd pers. sg. perf. kṛ: to do, make

na: not
yam (acc. sg. m.): [relative pronoun] that which
vasiṣṭhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. " the most wealthy " , N. of a celebrated Vedic ṛṣi or sage (owner of the " cow of plenty ")
kṛtavān = nom. sg. m. past. part. kṛ: to do, make
aśaktiḥ (nom. sg.): f. inability , incapability
śakti: f. power, ability ; m. N. of a muni or sage (the eldest of vasiṣṭha's hundred sons)

薩羅薩仙人 經論久斷絶
而生婆羅婆 續復明經論
現在知見生 不必由先胄
毘耶娑仙人 多造諸經論


Jordan said...

You are welcome. I will be playing with the formatting for a while. The iWeb program I am using don't allow for anchors for the footnotes. So I am experimenting with work arounds and codes. A work in progress…

Semper Fi,

Happi said...

Mike -

Thanks for the phenomenal effort these recordings must represent. Even just the names in Canto 1 must have been a mouthful.

And thanks Jordan for getting the recordings posted.

I'm looking forward to many hours of happy listening.

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Gisela, If I had made the recordings here in France, sitting in lotus with a decent microphone, my voice might have sounded fuller. Or, again, if I had been less concerned about how I sounded my voice might have sounded freer. I wasn't really happy with the recordings, but if you are, that is good to hear.

Happi said...

You're welcome. I don't think too many people are comfortable with the sound of their own voice, so I guess a little self-consciousness is to be expected. Relax, it's great.