Sunday, December 2, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 4.1: Gorgeous Women WLTM Majestic Suitor

−−¦−−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑−    pathyā Śloka 
tatas-tasmāt purodyānāt kautūhala-calekṣaṇāḥ |
−−−−¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−−⏑⏑¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
pratyujjagmur-nṛpa-suta prāptaṁ varam-iva striyaḥ || 4.1

Then, out of that royal plot,

Their interested eyes darting,

The women advanced to meet the son of the king

As if he were an arriving suitor.

A four phased progression can be observed in today's verse, in which the 1st pāda describes mental motivation, the 2nd pāda describes physical signs, the 3rd pāda describes actual action, and the 4th pāda summarizes the whole by means of indirect suggestion, or metaphor.

Understood like this purodyānāt, which ostensibly means “out of the city's royal garden,” is a play on udyāna (from ud-√yā, to go out) which literally means “going out” but whose derivative meanings include “royal garden” and “motive.” If udyāna is taken to mean a park or royal garden, then pura is naturally understood to mean "of the city" or civic. But if udyāna is taken to mean motive, then pura might better be understood as meaning the female apartments of a royal palace, and as pointing particularly to the kind of courtly intrigue that is liable to go on within such royal battlements, as women compete for the attentions of the best of men.

Women competing for the attentions of the best of men are probably a factor in the sex scandals that seem to bedevil “Buddhist” groups in which a bloke regarded as “the best of men,” or monkey number one in the Buddhist troop, confounds peoples expectations that he is above the pursuit of women for his own sensual gratification.

In such situations, where does the fault lie? I think the fault lies in all concerned, but especially in those fake elephants in whom there is a gap between what they practise and what they preach.

When a man does not see a fault as a fault, who is able to restrain him from it? (SN16.75)

Equally, when a woman does not see a fault as a fault, who is able to restrain her from it?

The statement by a Sanskrit scholar quoted a couple of days ago that  “Aśvaghoṣa's poems, as Buddhist texts, are necessarily anti-beauty,” is so spectacularly wrong that I cannot get it out of my head.

Aśvaghoṣa's poems are necessarily anti-hedonism, but they are never anti-beauty.
Aśvaghoṣa's poems are necessarily anti-asceticism, but they are never anti-pain.

The striver in Saundara-nanda is both anti-beauty and anti-women, but the striver is being held up as a perfect example of a man who holds wrong views.

Aśvaghoṣa's poems, as I read them, are never anti-women. But they might be anti-feminism.

The distinction is not a fine or subtle one. There is no razor's edge on which to walk along, no pin-head on which to dance. A woman is a real individual person -- I think of the Alexander teacher Marjory Barlow, or my fellow Shobogenzo translator Gabriele Linnebach, as two outstanding examples. Feminism, in contrast, is an -ism. 

tataḥ: ind. then
tasmāt (abl. sg.): from that
purodyānāt (abl. sg.): n. " city garden " , a pleasure-garden belonging to a town , park ; a place of civic/palatial design
pura: n. a fortress , castle , city , town ; the female apartments , gynaeceum
udyāna: n. the act of going out ; walking out; a park , garden , royal garden ; purpose , motive

kautūhala-calekṣaṇāḥ (nom. pl. f.): their eyes moving out of curiosity
kautūhala: n. curiosity , interest in anything , vehement desire
cala: mfn. moving , trembling ; unsteady
īkṣaṇa: n. a look , view , aspect sight ; eye

pratyujjagmur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. praty-ud- √ gam: to go out towards , advance to meet (a friend or an enemy)
nṛpa-sutam (acc. sg. m.): m. a king's son , prince

prāptam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. come to (acc.) , arrived , present ; accomplished , complete , mature , full-grown
varam (acc. sg.): m. " chooser " , one who solicits a girl in marriage , suitor , lover , bridegroom , husband
iva: like
striyaḥ (nom. pl.): f. woman

太子入園林 衆女來奉迎
並生希遇想 競媚進幽誠

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