Saturday, August 4, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 2.4: Politics & Economics (IV) - Means of Rapid Transit

−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−− Upajāti (Bhadrā)
saṁcukṣubhe cāsya puraṁ turaṅgair-balena maitryā ca dhanena cāptaiḥ || 2.4

[Traversed] by fast movers
of different strokes and distinctive characters,
rigged out in new gold gear,

And by other types too,
adorned with long braided manes,

His city shook with [the stomping of] horses

Obtained by force,
through friendship, and with money.

The first three lines of today's verse present the translator with a considerable hurdle, since Aśvaghoṣa is ostensibly talking about horses (turaṁga; lit. “fast movers”), but beneath the surface he is returning to a distinction he caused us repeatedly to make in reading his Epic Tale of Beautiful Joy (Saundara-nanda) – namely, the distinction between beautiful individuals who work consciously and joyously to make the Buddha's teaching their own, and ascetic strivers who with grim determination follow the unconscious end-gaining principle.

Following the surface meaning, the 1st pāda might be translated “[His city shook with horses] having various distinctive marks, and new golden trappings...” But bhāṇḍa, before it means a horse's harness or trappings, means a tool or instrument. So the first meaning of nava-hema-bhāṇḍaiḥ which suggests itself to me is “having tools for [digging] new gold.” And so“rigged out in new gold gear” is the nearest I have been able to get to a literal translation that preserves the ostensible meaning while hinting at something more practical than decorative.

The 2nd pāda is less problematic, as a literal translation allows us to understand either that Aśvaghoṣa is describing as “other types” either horses with long manes or ascetics with dreadlocks. In the latter case, their otherness might be the lack of individuality which the unconscious masses invariably exhibit in their attachment to assorted ends. And this, ironically, would be a reversal of the meaning of anya (other, different, odd, individual) that emerges in Saundara-nanda, especially Canto 10.

In the 4th pāda, following on from the allusion in yesterday's verse to the maṇḍala conception in statecraft, the three methods of obtaining horses seem to fit the three-way classification of neighbouring states as (1) enemy, (2) ally or (3) neutral – the implication being that (1) enemies take each other's resources by force;(2)  friends and allies share each other's resources freely; and (3) for those who are neither deadly enemies nor bosom buddies, money comes in very handy as a medium of exchange.

Today's verse, then, seems to express a view of money which is nothing if not realistic.

I read somewhere on the internet that the Dalai Lama said that his philosophy is, in a word, kindness. My teacher Gudo Nishijima also summed up his philosophy in a word, and that word was realism. I am sure he would have enjoyed today's verse.

I wouldn't claim that my philosophy is kindness or realism. What I practice is sitting in full lotus letting the head go forward and up to let the back lengthen and widen while sending the legs out of the pelvis. Last year after I fell while cycling and hurt my knee, I sat in half lotus letting the head go forward and up to let the back lengthen and widen while sending the legs out of the pelvis.

My teacher, Gudo Nishijima, taught his students a conception of right posture that was false. And my way of paying him back for his years of effort to teach me, has been to let anybody know, who has ears to listen, what this wrong conception of right posture is. People don't like to hear it. Celestial demons feel afraid. Even a big strong bloke like Jordan winces to hear my criticism of the buddha-ancestor who transmitted to me the Buddha's dharma.

Equipped with the false, end-gaining conception of going directly for lengthening of the spine, I was like a bloke setting out to dig for hitherto unmined gold, rigged out in totally the wrong gear.

What lies behind this metaphor of the bloke who set out to dig for gold with the wrong king of equipment, is not my understanding of realism, but rather my own real experience of a sometimes acutely painful reality.

nānāṅka-cihnaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): having various marks and emblems ; being of different strokes
nānā: ind. differently , variously , distinctly , separately
aṅka: m. a hook; curve, curved line; any mark , line , stroke , ornament , stigma
cihna: n. a mark , spot , stamp , sign , characteristic , symptom; a banner, insignia; a zodiacal sign
nava-hema-bhāṇḍaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): having new gold harnesses ; having tools for new/unmined gold ; having the treasure of new golden ornaments
nava: mfn. new, fresh , recent , young
heman: n. gold; a gold piece; (pl.) golden ornaments
bhāṇḍa: n. any vessel , pot , dish , pail , vat , box , case ; n. any implement , tool , instrument; n. horse-trappings , harness; any ornament ; n. goods , wares , merchandise ; n. treasure

vibhūṣitaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn. adorned , decorated
lamba-saṭaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): with dangling braids, with long manes
lamba: mfn. hanging down , pendent , dangling ; long, spacious
saṭā: f. an ascetic's matted or clotted hair , a braid of hair (in general) ; the mane (of a lion or horse)
tathā: ind. so also, in like manner
anyaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): others, other horses

saṁcukṣubhe = 3rd pers. sg. perf saṁ- √ kṣubh: to shake about violently
ca: and
asya (gen. sg.): his
puram (nom. sg.): n. city
tura-ṁ-gaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. " going quickly " , a fast mover, a horse,
tura: quick, willing, prompt
ga: only ifc. going , moving

balena (inst. sg.): n. power , strength , might , vigour , force
maitryā (inst. sg.): f. friendship , friendliness , benevolence , good will; close contact or union
ca: and
dhanena (inst. sg.): n. any valued object , (esp.) wealth , riches , (movable) property , money
ca: and
āptaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn. reached , overtaken , met ; received , got , gained , obtained

種種雜色馬 形體極端嚴
朱髦纖長尾 超騰駿若飛
又野之所生 應時自然至 

No comments: