Monday, October 22, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.26: Jealous Gods

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Kīrti)
puraṁ tu tat-svargam-iva prahṛṣṭaṁ śuddhādhivāsāḥ samavekṣya devāḥ |
jīrṇaṁ naraṁ nirmamire prayātuṁ saṁcodanārthaṁ kṣitipātmajasya || 3.26

But when they saw that city all buoyed up,
as if it were heaven,

The gods whose perch is purity

Elicited an old man to wander by,

For the purpose of provoking a prince
who was the fruit of the loins of a protector of the earth.

I have followed EBC (“the gods... created an old man to walk along”) in understanding prayātum to refer to the wandering by of the old man; EHJ/PO understood prayātum to refer to the prince; hence EHJ: “to incite the king's son to leave his home”; PO: “to induce the son of the king to go forth.”

The gods described in today's verse, as I read it, are gods for whom divine purity is a jealously guarded possession, and so they do not appreciate earthly kings butting in with their mundane imitations of heaven, in which impurities are swept under the carpet.

If these jealous gods spoke in words, the words might be along the lines of “Know your place, you ****ing earthlings! You are not running this firmament!”

These gods, then, for me, are not akin to those gods or angels which are the product of religious belief. They are rather the kind of gods who might walk into a bar with a Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishman. They are the product of a wry sense of humour.

My old Alexander head of training, Ray Evans, used to caution against the kind of Alexander work that was akin to sweeping problems under the carpet. The kind of problem Ray specifically had in mind were deep faults in the vestibular system.

As with Alexander work, so with other fields of endeavour in which the devotee aspires in an upward (or “spiritual”) direction. When vestibular faults are swept under the carpet, the gods who are the instigators of cosmic irony are ever liable to elicit some stimulus that provokes a reaction that brings the aspirant right back down to earth.

Hence the wisdom inherent in an activity like going on hands and knees and touching one's head to the ground. Such movements tend to be seen as expressions of spiritual humility; but more fundamentally than that they help to re-educate the vestibular sense.

puram (acc. sg.): n. the city
tu: but
tat (acc. sg. n.): that
svargam (acc. sg.): m. heaven
iva: like
prahṛṣṭam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. erect, bristling; thrilled with delight , exceedingly pleased , delighted
hṛṣ: to be excited or impatient , rejoice in the prospect of , be anxious or impatient for ; to speak or affirm falsely , lie ; to thrill with rapture , rejoice , exult , be glad or pleased ; to become sexually excited ; to become erect or stiff or rigid , bristle (said of the hairs of the body &c ) , become on edge (like the teeth)

śuddhādhivāsāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. inhabiting pure abodes
śuddha: mfn. cleansed , cleared , clean , pure , clear
adhi- √ vas: to inhabit; to settle, perch on
samavekṣya = abs. sam-ava-√īkṣ: to look at, behold; to reflect on, ponder
devāḥ (nom. pl.): m. the gods

jīrṇam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. old , worn out , withered , wasted , decayed
naram (acc. sg.): m. man
nirmamire = 3rd pers. pl. perf. nir- √ mā: to mete out , measure ; to build , form , fabricate , produce , create
prayātum = inf. pra- √ yā: to go forth , set out , progress ; to walk, roam, wander

saṁcodanārtham (acc. sg. n.): in order to incite
saṁcodana: m. urging , exciting , inflaming , arousing
saṁ- √ cud: Caus. -codayati, to impel , push on , drive , shoot off ; to inflame , arouse , animate , instigate , further
artha: mn. aim , purpose (very often artham , arthena , arthāya , and arthe ifc. or with gen. " for the sake of , on account of , in behalf of , for ")
kṣitipātmajasya (gen. sg. m.): the king's son
kṣiti-pa: m. " earth-protector " , a king
ātma-ja: m. " born from or begotten by one's self " , a son

時淨居天王 忽然在道側
變形衰老相 勸生厭離心 

1 comment:

Mike Cross said...

EHJ notes: The infinitive prayātum can only by governed by saṁcodana... In order to apply to the old man, the reading would have to be prayāntaṁ, which is how T takes it.

Confirming again how on the ball EHJ was, Weller's fragment does indeed have prayāntaṁ.