Saturday, July 7, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 1.68: Not Expecting to Know the End of Birth

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Indravajrā)
nāsyānyathātvaṁ prati vikriyā me svāṁ vañcanāṁ tu prati viklavo 'smi |
kālo hi me yātum-ayaṁ ca jāto jāti-kṣayasyāsulabhasya boddhā || 1.68

Worried I am not about a twist of fate for him;

Bothered I am, though but, about missing out myself.

For the time is nigh for me to go,
now that he is born --

The knower of the secret of putting birth to death.

On the basis of yesterday's verse, I should like not to be deluded by the stimulus of today's verse into engaging in dubious speculation.

Various interpretations are possible of what might be meant by jāti-kṣaya, the ending of birth.

I am not going to discuss any of them.

I don't know any secrets, except – on a good day -- the secret of being beyond doubt in devotion to sitting.

Such were the sentiments I wrote down after sitting yesterday evening. Thus liberated from trying to figure out what it might mean to put an end to birth, I found myself focusing on how to let Asita sound like the bloke he was, a bloke beyond doubt. That's why the second line features the expression “though but” which may not be familiar to people who didn't watch an old situation comedy titled The Likely Lads which was set in the northeast of England, and featured a cynical everyman character named Terry, played by James Bolam, who frequently said, “though but.”

As of last night, the difficulty of finding a literal translation of anyathātvam in the first line had led me to a convoluted phrase along the lines of “me not being worried about it turning out otherwise for him.”

Dissatisfaction with such an unwieldy expression caused me to think that it might be natural for a bloke beyond doubt like Asita to speak in an iambic metre, with steadfast steps, like Felix the cat, the cat who kept on walking, kept on walking still.

Felix kept on walking, kept on walking still.
With his hands behind him, you would always find him.
Blow him up with dynamite, but him you could not kill.
Felix kept on walking, kept on walking still.

My father's father, a worker in a South Wales steel mill, used to sing me this song when I was knee high to a fly. It sums up a philosophy that informed my life before I ever had any interest in Buddhism and that continues to inform my life following the giving up of any interest I ever had in Buddhism.

na: not
asya (gen. sg.): of this one, his
anyathātvam (acc. sg.): n. an opposite state of the case , difference; [ = a turning out otherwise, a twist of fate?]
anyathā: ind. otherwise , in a different manner ; inaccurately , untruly , falsely , erroneously; from another motive ; in the contrary case , otherwise
prati: ind. towards, in regard to
vikriyā (nom. sg.): f. transformation , change , modification , altered or unnatural condition; perturbation , agitation , perplexity
me (gen. sg.): of/in me

svām (acc. sg. f.): my own
vañcanām (acc. sg.): f. (fr. Caus. vañc) lost labour or time
vañcayati: to cause to go astray , deceive , cheat , defraud of
tu: but, rather
prati: ind. towards, in regard to
viklavaḥ (nom. sg.): mfn. overcome with fear or agitation , confused , perplexed , bewildered , alarmed , distressed
asmi = 1st pers. sg. as: to be

kālaḥ (nom. sg.): m. time
hi: for
me (gen. sg.): of/for me
yātum = inf. yā: to go
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this one, this child
ca: and
jātaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. born

jāti-kṣayasya (gen. sg.): ending of birth ; destruction of positions fixed by birth
jāti: f. birth, production, re-bith; the form of existence (as man , animal , &c ) fixed by birth; position assigned by birth , rank , caste , family , race , lineage
kṣaya: m. destruction, end
asulabhasya (gen. sg.): mfn. difficult of attainment , rare
boddhā = nom. sg. m. boddhṛ: m. one who perceives or comprehends ; one who knows or is versed in (loc. or comp.)

今相猶如前 不應懷異想
自惟我年暮 悲慨泣歎耳

今我臨終時 此子應世 
爲盡生故生 斯人難得遇

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