Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 3.55: Tears for Tears

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Mālā)
athābravīd-rāja-sutaḥ sa sūtaṁ naraiś-caturbhir-hriyate ka eṣaḥ |
dīnair-manuṣyair-anugamyamāno yo bhūṣito 'śvāsy-avarudyate ca || 3.55

Then the child of the king said to the charioteer:

“This is Who, who is being carried by four people,

Who is being followed by afflicted human beings,

Who is beautifully adorned,
and yet, as one who does not breathe, inspires tears.”

I have argued before that Aśvaghoṣa’s epic story of Beautiful Joy (Saundara-nanda), far from being a story of religious conversion, is more aptly described as a story of individual transformation. In so arguing, I pointed out that Aśvaghoṣa nowhere uses the term saṁgha as it is conventionally understood in Buddhist circles, to mean a religious congregation. That said, Saundara-nanda is not the story of Nanda going it alone as one individual in isolation. There are also the Buddha, the striver, Ānanda, and the monk who practises sitting-meditation by the waterfall. Each of these four supports or carries Nanda in some way, by teaching him or urging him on and/or inspiring him.

I remember Gudo Nishijima telling me somewhere along the way that the minimum number of members in a saṁgha, traditionally, is five.

A google search finds confirmation of this rule in the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh:
“In the Buddhist tradition the minimum number of individuals that can make up a Sangha is four; it is the strict minimum.  Five is a comfortable number.  So if you want to build a Sangha, begin with five.  If it is less than five it is not a Sangha.”
Ostensibly, then, in the 2nd pāda the prince is asking who or what this corpse is, that is being carried by four men doing the job of pallbearers. But the hidden meaning is not so much a question as the affirmation that “This is Who,” i.e. this is somebody ineffable, who is supported by a group of (at least) four other ineffable individuals.

The 3rd pāda ostensibly describes mourners trailing miserably along in a funeral procession, but the real intention may be to point to us followers of the Buddha who are happily afflicted by those faults (aka "our best friend") which are rooted in faulty sensory appreciation and end-gaining. 

I have been in two minds about how to read the 4th pāda, for which the Old Nepalese manuscript has yo bhūṣitoś cāpy avarudyate ca. EHJ amended bhūṣitoś to bhūṣitaś and expressed a doubt about yo, leaving the first syllable of his text blank, hence: * bhūṣitaś cāpy avarudyate ca.  In CSL EHJ's text is amended to [vi]bhūṣitaś cāpy avarudyate ca.

EBC's text, based on Amṛtananda's copies of the old Nepalese manuscript, has for the 4th pāda yo bhūṣito 'śvāsyavarudyate ca, with a note in which EBC says he would read aśvāsy avarudyate; hence “who is bewailed, adorned but no longer breathing.”

Following the old Nepalese manuscript with bhūṣitoś amended to bhūṣitaś makes good enough sense: yo bhūṣitaś-capy-avarudyate ca could literally and reasonably be translated as “And who is adorned, and yet wept over.”

At the same time, there is certainly a nice double-meaning in EBC's reading of aśvāsī, which means “a non-breather,” or “one who does not hiss.”

In conclusion, then, I have opted to follow EBC's reading yo bhūṣito 'śvāsy-avarudyate ca, and to translate as “Who is beautifully adorned, and yet, as one who does not breathe, inspires tears.”

Whichever reading is taken, avarudyate in the 4th pāda ostensibly describes tears that are shed during a funeral procession, but really points to the ability of a great teacher or leader to move deeply the people with whom he or she comes into contact.

One only needs to think of recent great leaders and dear leaders of that magnificent land of the free, North Korea, whose teaching was so beautiful, powerful and true that they could inspire mass spontaenous weeping even during their lifetimes. Closer to home, we Brits naturally think of our own dear leader, David Cameron, who, it is said, brought tears to the eyes, not once but twice, of an erstwhile editor of the Sun newspaper, with the uplifting power of his speech to a Conservative Party Conference.

atha: ind. then, and so
abravīt = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect brū: to speak
rāja-sutaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the son/child of the king
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
sūtam (acc. sg.): m. the charioteer

naraiḥ (inst. pl.): m. (cf. nṛ) a man , a male , a person (pl. men , people)
caturbhiḥ (inst. pl. m.): four
hriyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive hṛ: to take , bear , carry in or on (with instr.) , carry , convey , fetch , bring ; to take , bear , carry in or on (with instr.) , carry , convey , fetch , bring ; to take away , carry off , seize , deprive of , steal , rob ; A1. (older and more correct than P.) , to take to one's self , appropriate (in a legitimate way) , come into possession of (acc.) , receive (as an heir) ; to master , overpower , subdue , conquer , win , win over (also by bribing) ; to outdo , eclipse , surpass
kaḥ (nom. pl. n.): who?
eṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): this
dīnaiḥ (inst. pl. m.): mfn.scarce , scanty; depressed , afflicted , timid , sad; miserable, wretched
manuṣyaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. man, human being, person
anugamyamānaḥ = nom. sg. m. pres. part. passive anu- √ gam: to go after, follow ; to practise , observe , obey , imitate ;

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): [relative pronoun] who
bhūṣitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): striven after; adorned
bhūṣ: to strive after ; to adorn
ca: and
api: also
a-śvāsī (nom. sg. m.): a non-breather
śvāsin: mfn. hissing , breathing
ava-: (prefix) down
rudyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive rud: to weep , cry , howl , roar , lament , wail
ava-rudita: mfn. that upon which tears have fallen
ca: and

時彼淨居天 復化爲死人
四人共持輿 現於菩薩前

餘人悉不覺 菩薩御者見 
[Conflated with previous verse]
問此何等輿 幡花雜莊嚴
從者悉憂慼 散髮號哭隨 

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