Monday, August 13, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.13: Strong Social Fabric (IV) – Not Doing Wrong (ctd.)

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−    Upajāti (Bālā)
muktaś-ca durbhikṣa-bhayāmayebhyo hṛṣṭo janaḥ svarga ivābhireme
patnīṁ patir-vā mahiṣī patiṁ vā parasparaṁ na vyabhiceratuś-ca || 2.13

Exempt from famine, terror, and sickness,

People dwelt there as gladly as if they were in heaven;

And neither husband against wife
nor wife against husband

Did man and woman do each other wrong.

In today's verse as I read it Aśvaghoṣa is pointing to the correlation between non-occurrence of infidelity and the prospering of a strong society.

The point is paralleled in the 3rd canto of Saundara-nanda:
Even the man of money and youth with senses excited by objects of his affection -- / Even he never approached others' wives, for he deemed them to be more dangerous than a burning fire. // SN3.32 // … That the fruit of conduct, inevitably, will be realized in the future, is being realized now, and has been realized in the past; / And that thus is determined how one fares in the world: this is an insight that, again, each experienced unerringly. // 3.36 // By this most skillful and powerful tenfold means, by the means of their conduct, / Although virtue was lax in a declining age, the people there, with the Sage's help, fared well. // 3.37 //.... Neither from within the self, nor from without, did any terror arise; nor from fate. / By dint of their true happiness and material plenty and practical merits, the citizens there rejoiced as in the golden age of Manu. // 3.41 // Thus exulting in freedom from disease and calamity, that city was the equal of Kuru, Raghu and Pūru, / With the great dispassionate Seer serving there, for the good of all, as a guide to peace. // 3.42 //

A friend of mine described his first-hand experience of men and women doing each other wrong as "carnage." The metaphor I would use for my own experience of the same thing is a bad dream.

In general, the kind of bad experience that can be compared to wholesale slaughter, or a nightmare, is invariably a manifestation of cause and effect. And in accordance with the gospel of Jimmy Buffet (“Some people say there's a woman to blame, but I know, it's my own damn fault”), every wrong-doing and wrong-done bloke is required to take responsibility for initiating the causes that led to a disagreeable effect. The inherent logic in the above lines from Saundara-nanda Canto 3 follows this line of thought, whereby individuals abstained from wrong-doing and Kapilavastu subsequently prospered.

The inherent logic in today's verse is opposite: the order of elements suggests that the prosperity of Kapilavastu was causal, and individuals not doing wrong was an effect.

Overall, then, Aśvaghoṣa's description is of cause and effect working in a virtuous circle, whereby Kapilavastu caused the Buddha to be, and the Buddha enlightened Kapilavastu.

It may be that the continued turning of this virtuous circle caused Bodhidharma to go from India to China and also caused Dogen in due course to return from China to Japan.

It may be that continued turning of this virtuous circle causes wounds to heal (albeit leaving scars) and causes a bloke to wake up from a bad dream.

Because Kapilavastu caused the Buddha to be, a Chinese Zen Master observed, inductively, that “Foreigners beards are red.” And because the Buddha enlightened Kapilavastu, a Chinese Zen Master dared to assert further, deductively, that “Redbeards are foreigners.”

The first word of today's verse describes the people of Kapilavastu as muktaḥ, which literally means released or liberated [from famine, terror, and sickness], but I have translated muktaḥ here as “exempt” in order to convey a sense of something more temporary and less conclusive than the release or liberation that people might have experienced under the Buddha's influence.

Even before the Buddha, foreigners beards in Kapilavastu, as Aśvaghoṣa is portraying it, were already red; the Buddha was the bloke who worked out further that redbeards are foreigners.

muktaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. released, delivered
ca: and
durbhikṣa-bhayāmayebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): from dearth and danger, famine and terror
durbhikṣa: n. scarcity of provisions , dearth , famine , want
bhaya: n. sg. and pl. terror , dismay , danger , peril , distress
āmaya: m. sickness , disease

hṛṣṭaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. thrilling with rapture , rejoiced , pleased , glad , merry
janaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the people
svarge (loc. sg.): m. heaven
iva: like
abhireme = 3rd pers. sg. perf. abhi- √ ram: to dwell, repose ; to delight in , be delighted

patnīm (acc. sg.): f. wife
patiḥ (nom. sg.): m. husband
vā: either
mahiṣī (nom. sg.): f. a female buffalo; any woman of high rank , (esp.) the first or consecrated wife of a king (also pl.) or any queen
patim (acc. sg.): m. husband
vā: or

parasparam: (ind.) one another , each other , mutually
na: not
vyabhiceratuḥ = 3rd pers. sg. dual perfect vy-abhi- √ car: to act in an unfriendly way towards (acc. or gen.) , sin against , offend , injure
ca: and

合境無飢餓 刀兵疾疫息
國中諸人民 親族相愛敬

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