Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.13: Upstairs, Downstairs

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Ṛddhi)
tataḥ kumāraḥ khalu gacchatīti śrutvā striyaḥ preṣya-janāt-pravṛttim |
didṛkṣayā harmya-talāni jagmur-janena mānyena kṛtābhyanujñāḥ || 3.13

Then the women, hearing from their servants

The news that the prince was on his way,

Went, wishing to see him, onto the roofs and balconies

-- With assent from their masters.

The four elements in today's verse are the prince, the women, their servants, and their masters. But who represents who?

The prince, the main protagonist, is the Buddha.

The women who wish to see the prince are, following on from yesterday's verse, those individual practitioners (whose sex or family background is of no consequence) who wish to realize the state of buddha.

But who are the information-transmitting scivvies (preṣya-jana, lit. “people to be summoned”), and who are the authorization-conferring powers that be (jana mānya, lit. “people to be esteemed”)?

The phrase kṛtābhyanujña, “having been given assent,” also appeared in 3.6, followed by ājñāpayati sma, "issued his command," (another phrase from the root √jñā) in 3.7:
And so in majestic action on the royal road, a majesty-possessing heir-apparent with an amenable assembly in his train, / Having alighted at the proper time from atop his elevated perch, approached, with his assent (kṛtābhyanujñaḥ), a protector of men. // BC3.6 // Then the king, tears welling, gazed long upon his son, kissed his head,/ And issued his command (ājñāpayati sma), with the word “Go!” But with his heart, because of attachment, he did not let him go. // BC3.7 //
These uses of abhy-anu-jña and ā-√jñā bring back to mind the title of Saundara-nanda Canto 18, ājñā-vyākaraṇaḥ, which I found so difficult to translate. Eventually I went for “Knowing Affirmation,” but the title could equally be translated as “Declaration of Assent.”

In Saundara-nanda Canto 4  ājñā is used in the sense of “permission,"  in the context, as in today's verse, of a woman seeking the permission of the master of her house (who in this case was Nanda):
Thinking in that moment of the importance of the Worthy One to the master of the house, and through her own devotion to the Worthy One, / She stood before Nanda, intending to speak. And then, with his permission (tad-ājñayā), up she spoke: // SN4.29 //

Today's verse makes me wonder what Aśvaghoṣa meant by a servant and a master, and makes me wonder how he saw himself? As a servant? As a master? As one of the powers that be? 

Looking for clues in Saundara-nanda mahā-kāvya, Aśvaghoṣa's Epic Story of Beautiful Joy, I think Nanda is portrayed as one whose wish to realize the state of buddha causes him, through the making of constant effort, eventually to succeed in that aim;  whereupon the Buddha affirms that his enlightenment is genuine and therefore authorizes him to be a servant -- a lamp-carrying scivvy. Hence: 
Therefore forgetting the work that needs to be done in this world on the self, do now, stout soul, what can be done for others. / Among beings who are wandering in the night, their minds shrouded in darkness, let the lamp of this transmission be carried. //SN 18.57 //

tataḥ: ind. from that, then, thence
kumāraḥ (nom. sg.): m. the prince
khalu: ind. indeed!
gacchati = 3rd pers. sg. gam: to go
iti: “....,” thus

śrutvā = abs. śru: to hear, learn of
striyaḥ (nom. pl.): f. woman
preṣya-janāt (abl. sg.): m. servants (collectively) , household
preṣya: mfn. to be sent or dispatched ; m. a servant , menial , slave
pra- √iṣ: to drive on , urge , impel , send forth ; to invite , summon , call upon
jana: m. person, people; often ifc. denoting one person or a number of persons collectively , e.g.
pravṛttim (acc. sg.): f. moving onwards ; coming forth; news , tidings

didṛkṣayā (inst. sg.): f. ( √ dṛś Desid.) desire of seeing
harmya-talāni (acc. pl.): n. the flat roof or upper room of any mansion or palace
jagmur = 3rd pers. pl. perfect gam: to go

janena (inst. sg.): m. people
mānyena (inst. sg. m.): mfn. to be respected or honoured , worthy of honour , respectable , venerable
kṛtābhyanujñāḥ (nom. pl. f.): having received permission
abhyanujñā: f. assent , approval ; authorization

郭邑及田里 聞太子當出
尊卑不待辭 寤寐不相告

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