Saturday, August 18, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.18: Māyā – Gone But Not Forgotten

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−    Upajāti (Bālā)
devī tu māyā vibudharṣi-kalpaṁ dṛṣṭvā viśālaṁ tanaya-prabhāvam
jātaṁ praharṣaṁ na śaśāka soḍhuṁ tato 'vināśāya divaṁ jagāma || 2.18

But having witnessed her offspring's mighty power, 

Which could rival that of a divine seer, 

Queen Māyā could not endure 
the extreme joy that arose in her;

And so, rather than towards total oblivion, 
she 'went to heaven.'

Cowell's text has tato 'vināśāya divaṁ jagāma, which he translated “and that she might not die she went to heaven.” EHJ amended avināśāya to nivāsāya, and translated “then she went to Heaven to dwell there.” The Chinese translation supports EHJ's simplistic rendering of the text with  命終生天上“(her life ended and she was born in heaven above.")

The Wikipedia entry on Maya (mother of Buddha) states, as if it were a historical fact that,
Queen Māyā died seven days after the birth of the Buddha-to-be Bodhisatta and was reborn in the Tavatimsa Heaven, where the Buddha later preached the Abhidharma to her. Her sister Prajāpatī (Pāli: Pajāpatī or Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī) became the child's foster mother. After Prince Siddhartha had attained perfection and become the Buddha, he visited his mother in heaven for three months to pay respects and to teach the Dharma.
But did he fuck. Did the Buddha fuck go to heaven for three months to pay his respects to his dead mother. Some old Pali text very probably states that he did, but that old text is full of shit. The Buddha kept his heels on the ground, even when he seemed to be walking on air, and above all he kept his sitting bones on a sitting cushion and his knees on the floor, pointing his legs out of his hips. People who take old religious texts literally, in whatever tradition you care to cite, are a total pain in the arse, and Aśvaghoṣa, as I read him, with his pervasive use of irony, is the perfect antidote to all that fanciful and superstitious crap.

EHJ's amendment, it seems to me, is a good example of how easily Aśvaghoṣa's irony is liable to get lost. Buddhist scholars who have studied Aśvaghoṣa without grasping his irony have not understood even one iota of his teaching.

Has this got anything to do with Zen and the Alexander Technique? You fucking bet it does. Because the more one tries to have a good sitting posture, the more the defects of posture manifest themselves. And therein lies the original irony from which the whole of the Buddha's teaching derives. But Buddhist scholars and religious believers have never glimpsed this irony, even in a dream.

devī (nom. sg.): f. the queen
tu: but
māyā (nom. sg.): f. Māyā
vibudharṣi-kalpam (acc. sg. m.): equal to a very wise seer
vibudha:  mfn. very wise or learned  ; m. a god
ṛṣi: m. seer, sage
kalpa: mfn. proper , fit , able , competent , equal to

dṛṣṭvā = abs. dṛś: to see
viśālam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. spacious, large ; great , important , powerful , mighty , illustrious , eminent
tanaya-prabhāvam (acc. sg. m.): the power of her son ; n. posterity , family , race , offspring , child; mfn. propagating a family , belonging to one's own family
tanaya: m. a son
prabhāva: m. might , power , majesty , dignity , strength , efficacy;  supernatural power ; splendour , beauty
pra- √ bhū:  to come forth , spring up , arise or originate from (abl.) , appear , become visible , happen , occur  ; to be before , surpass

jātam (acc. sg. m.): born, engendered; grown , produced , arisen , caused , appeared
praharṣam (acc. sg.): m. erection of the hair , extreme joy , thrill of delight , rapture
na: not
śaśāka =  3rd pers. sg. perf. śak: to be strong or powerful , be able to or capable of
soḍhum = inf. sah: to prevail ; to bear , put up with , endure , suffer , tolerate

tataḥ: ind. thence
avināśāya = dat. sg. avināśa: m. non-destruction , non-putrefaction (of a body)
vināśa: m. utter loss , annihilation , perdition , destruction , decay , death , removal
nivāsāya = dat. sg. nivāsa: m. living , dwelling , residing , passing the night
divam (acc. sg.): n. heaven , sky
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go

時摩耶夫人 見其所生子
端正如天童 衆美悉備足
過喜不自勝 命終生天上

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