Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.57: The Cosmic Word that Asita Heard

−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Kīrti)
prayojanaṁ yat-tu mamopayāne tan-me śṛṇu prītim-upehi ca tvam |
divyā mayāditya-pathe śrutā vāg-bodhāya jātas-tanayas-taveti || 1.57

But as to my own motive in coming here,

Hear it from me and be glad:

The cosmic word, I have heard
-- on Āditi's way, on the path of the sun --

Is that your son has been born for the sake of awakening.

The tu (“But”) in the first pāda has meaning. Yesterday's verse was a sort of digression on good governance of a sovereign nation. But that for Asita was not the primary thing. What Asita himself was primarily interested in, what gave him the motive for coming, was something cosmic or universal, something on the path of the sun – something that far transcended the dual concerns of the brahmins, who were interested in Aryo-centric spiritual religion and in earthly advancement.

In Asita's expression, as I hear it, is the confidence of an individual who, with no fish to fry, is telling the truth in the first person singular. Unlike the brahmins, Asita is not inclined to tell the king what he necessarily wants to hear. Also unlike the brahmins he does not seek dubious corroboration for his assertions in ancient Brahmanical myths. He simply says what he has intuited, through being devoted to sitting, with his whole being, on the path of the sun, and then he buggers off again, the same way he came, on the path of the wind.

EBC translated divyā vak as “a heavenly voice,” EHJ as “a divine voice” and PO as “a voice divine.” These translations look like they might have drawn their inspiration from the Old Testament. The Chinese translator went with  空中天説 “a god in the sky preached...”

But that's not the cosmic word that I have heard. I drew the inspiration for my translation from a less ancient, less mystical, and altogether less religious source.

prayojanam (acc. sg.): n. occasion , object , cause , motive , opportunity , purpose , design , aim , end
yat (acc. sg. n.): [that] which
tu: but
mama (gen. sg.): my
upayāne (loc. sg.): n. the act of coming near , approach

tat (acc. sg. n.): that
me (gen./dat. sg.): to me
śṛṇu = 2nd pers. sg. imperative śru: to hear , listen or attend to anything (acc.) ; to hear (from a teacher) , study , learn; to be attentive , be obedient , obey
prītim (acc. sg.): f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction (with loc.)
upehi = 2nd pers. sg. upa- √i: betake one's self to , enter into any state
ca: and
tvam (nom. sg.): you

divyā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. divine , heavenly , celestial ; supernatural , wonderful , magical ; charming , beautiful , agreeable
mayā (inst. sg.): by me
āditya-pathe (loc. sg.): on Āditi's way, on the sun's path
āditya: mfn. belonging to or coming from aditi ; m. pl. N. of seven deities of the heavenly sphere (the chief is varuṇa , to whom the N. āditya is especially applicable); m. N. of a god in general , especially of sūrya (the sun)
patha: m. a way , path , road , course , reach (generally ifc. for pathin)
śrutā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. heard
vāk (nom. sg.): f. speech , voice , talk ; a word , saying , phrase , sentence , statement

bodhāya = dat. sg. bodha: m. waking , becoming or being awake , consciousness
jātaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. born
tanayaḥ (nom. sg.): m. a son
tava (gen. sg.): your, to you
iti: “....,” thus

我從日道來 聞空中天説
言王生太子 當成正覺道

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