Thursday, June 28, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.59: What Put a Spring in the King's Step

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Vāṇī)
ity-etad-evaṁ vacanaṁ niśamya praharṣa-saṁbhrānta-gatir-narendraḥ |
ādāya dhātry-aṅka-gataṁ kumāraṁ saṁdarśayām-āsa tapo-dhanāya || 1.59

Thus discerning this direction,

The king, with a joyful spring in his step,

Took the prince, who was sitting on a nurse's lap,

And showed him to austerity-rich Asita.

Asita was, with his whole being, devoted to sitting. And so through Asita the king was able to observe, perceive, hear and learn something that was a word, an instruction, a direction, and/or an order, which caused the king to have a spring in his step.

That direction which put a spring in the king's step, I venture to suggest, was a lengthening and widening direction. As an order, it might be expressed “Let the head go forward and up in such a way that the spine lengthens and the back widens!” If vacanam is understood to mean “a word,” the word might be up.

The Chinese translator's treatment of the 2nd pāda is interesting:
王聞仙人説 決定離疑網
“The king, hearing the seer's assertion, decisively quit the net of doubt.”

Compare EHJ's “When the king heard him speak thus, his bearing was disordered with delight,”

EHJ's translation has the virtue, as always, of his effort to mirror Aśvaghoṣa's original Sanskrit as closely as he can. But on this occasion the spirit of the original, as I read it, is better captured by the Chinese translation. The king's bearing was not disordered; on the contrary, thanks to Asita, the king's whole being was informed and ordered by a direction that freed him from all disordered mental states like intellectual doubt.

iti: “...,” thus
etat (acc. sg. n.): this , this here ; ind. in this manner , thus , so , here , at this time , now
evam: ind. thus, such
vacanam (acc. sg.): n. the act of speaking , utterance ; n. statement , declaration , express mention ; n. speech , sentence , word ; n. advice , instruction , direction , order , command
niśamya = abs. ni- √ śam: to observe , perceive , hear , learn

praharṣa-saṁbhrānta-gatiḥ (nom. sg. m.): going with a lively gait in his extreme joy
praharṣa: m. erection ; erection of the hair , extreme joy , thrill of delight , rapture
saṁbhrānta: mfn. whirled about , flurried , confused , perplexed , agitated , excited ; quickened , brisk , lively (gait)
gati: f. going , moving , gait ,
narendraḥ (nom. sg.): m. " man-lord " , king

ādāya = abs. ā- √ dā : to take
dhātry-aṅka-gatam (acc. sg. m.): sitting on his nursing mother's curve
dhātrī: f. " female supporter " , a nurse; midwife; mother; the earth
dhātṛ: m. establisher , founder , creator , bearer , supporter
aṅka: m. a hook; a curve ; the curve in the human , especially the female , figure above the hip (where infants sitting , astride are carried by mothers hence often = " breast " or " lap ")
gata: mfn. being in
kumāram (acc. sg.): m. prince

saṁdarśayām-āsa = 3rd pers. sg. periphrastic perf. causative saṁ- √ dṛś: to cause to be seen , display , show
tapo-dhanāya (dat. sg. m.): mfn. rich in religious austerities , (m.) a great ascetic
tapas: n. warmth , heat ; pain , suffering ; religious austerity , bodily mortification , penance , severe meditation
dhana: any valued object , (esp.) wealth , riches , (movable) property , money , treasure , gift

王聞仙人説 決定離疑網
命持太子出 以示於仙人

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