Thursday, August 9, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.9: Letting Nature Work (II)

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−    Upajāti (Ārdrā)
śarīra-saṁdeha-kare 'pi kāle saṁgrāma-saṁmarda iva pravṛtte
svasthāḥ sukhaṁ caiva nirāmayaṁ ca prajajñire garbha-dharāś-ca nāryaḥ || 2.9

In dealing with that circumstance which,

Like a clash between armies,
spells danger for the body,

Remaining even then in their natural state,
with ease and without disease,

Pregnant women gave birth.

Today's verse is another one of those verses that keeps the listener on tenterhooks by not disclosing the subject until the last word of the verse, which is nāryaḥ, women.

In EB Cowell's text the subject is garbha-dharā nāryaḥ, pregnant women. In EHJ's text the subject is just nāryaḥ, women.

EHJ noted that the difference between Cowell's text and the Tibetan translation is so great in the 4th pāda that EHJ thought that the old Nepalese manuscript must have been only partly legible when Amṛtānanda copied it, causing him to insert a guess of his own. On the basis of the Tibetan translation, then, EHJ amended garbha-dharāś ca to kāla-vaśena, “in due time.”

I like the 4th pāda as per Cowell's original text. “Pregnant women gave birth” seems to me to express a fact even more striking and miraculous than it raining, or like an apple in September tasting so sweet as well as being good for the bloke who bites into it.

Pregnant women should give birth, just as a commercial bank should have to pay interest to borrow money from a central bank, and should lend that money, at a reasonable rate of interest, to businesses who need credit. When things go wrong, however, emergency intervention may be necessary – preferably by people who know what they are doing.

I can boast some first hand experience of natural childbirth, but not as a pregnant woman. Moreover, the first-hand experience in question was over 50 years ago now, and memories of it are very dim. During my second-hand experiences of natural childbirth, witnessing the birth of my two sons, my wife informs me that despite good intentions I was mainly in the way. So I shall refrain from opining further on a subject I clearly know little or nothing about.

What I have been pondering over the last 24 hours, in connection with today's verse, is the meaning of the title of the present canto, antaḥ-pura-vihāra. Ostensibly this means something along the lines of “Recreation in the Palace” or “Having Fun in the Harem” – hence EHJ's “Life in the Palace” and PO's “Life in the Ladies' Chamber.” But when we consider the content of Canto 2, not much of it relates to “the king's palace” or “the female apartments,” which are the MW dictionary's definitions of antaḥ-pura.

Antaḥ means interior, and pura, before it means female apartments, means a fortress or city. So it might be possible to understand antaḥ-pura-vihāra as having a second meaning along the lines of “Roaming in the Inner Fortress” – in which case it would suggest what?

I think it might suggest exploration of cause and effect.

In the background, the question might be this: When the prince of the Śākyas, sitting under a fig tree in the traditional yoga posture which we call “full lotus,” became the fully awakened Buddha, what were the causes that contributed to that effect?

I am talking about asking this question not as a scholar but as a practitioner, i.e. as one whose interest in the causes is more than academic.

Understood in that light antaḥ-pura-vihāra makes sense as a title for the whole of Canto 2, and not just the few verses which describe the young prince being indulged in sensual pleasures in the upper storeys of the royal palace.

I may be guilty here of over-interpretation, but as a rule religions tend to retreat to an inner fortress of belief whereas deep within the battlements of the Buddha's teaching there is recognition, and total acceptance of, cause and effect.

I must confess that I woke this morning with a headache, and am late publishing today's post, not so much because of the half a bottle of wine I drank last night, but more because of the shot of Calvados I drank afterwards.

śarīra-saṁdeha-kare (loc. sg. m.): constituting a danger to the body
śarīra: body
saṁdeha: m. a conglomeration or conglutination (of material elements); doubt ; risk, danger
kara: mfn. making
api: even
kāle (loc. sg.): m. time, season, circumstance

saṁgrāma-saṁmarda: the clashing together of armies
saṁgrāma: m. an assembly of people , host , troop , army; battle , war , fight , combat , conflict ,
saṁmarda: m. pressing or rubbing together , friction , pressure; meeting , encounter (esp. with enemies) , war , battle
sam √mṛd : to press or squeeze together , rub or grind to pieces , crush , destroy
iva: like
pravṛtte (loc. sg. m.): mfn. set out ; resulted , arisen , produced , brought about , happened ; commenced, begun; engaged in , occupied with , devoted to (loc.); acting , proceeding , dealing with (loc.)

svasthāḥ (nom. pl. f./m.): mfn. self-abiding , being in one's self, being in one's natural state , being one's self uninjured , unmolested , contented , doing well , sound well , healthy (in body and mind) , comfortable , at ease
sukham (ind.): easily , comfortably , pleasantly , joyfully , willingly
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
nirāmayam (ind.): free from illness , healthily
ca: and

prajajñire = 3rrd pers. pl. perf. pra- √ jan: to bring forth , generate , bear , procreate (acc.)
garbha-dharāḥ (nom. pl. f): bearing a foetus , pregnant
garbha: m. womb, foetus, embryo child
dhara: mfn. bearing
kāla-vaśena: in a timely manner, at the right time
kāla: time
vaśa: ifc. , " by command of , by force of , on account of , by means of , according to "
nāryaḥ (nom. pl.): f. women

諸有懷孕者 身安體和適

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