Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 4.10: Inverting Snobbery

śobhayeta guṇair-ebhir-api tān-uttarān kurūn |
kuberasyāpi cākrīḍaṁ prāg-eva vasu-dhām-imām || 4.10

By the means of these graces you could cause to shine

Even that superior kingdom of the Northern Kurus,

And even the pleasure-grove of Kubera –

All the more, then, this earthly acreage.

Implicit in Udāyin's words in today's verse is the idea that the Āryan homeland above the Himālayas, and Kubera's mythical kingdom of riches and treasure, are a cut above this lowly place where productive industry goes on.

The phrase, vasu-dhām-imām, “this [earth] where stuff is produced,” seems to express a certain brahmin condescension towards industry and trade which evidently existed in India even before white colonial rulers arrived there from Britain.

A particular truth of which Udāyin in today's verse is strikingly unaware, then, is that snobbery is suffering, whereas happiness lies in totally abandoning an idea that triggers those wrong inner patterns which constitute suffering.

And a further irony in today's verse -- verbal irony on top of dramatic irony -- is that there is more wisdom than the stupid Udāyin knows in his implication that the Northern Kurus and Kubera's pleasure-garden should be difficult places to beautify whereas it might be easier to beautify this lowly acreage where diggers work in trenches. The truth that Hurry-Up Udāyin is expressing in today's verse, unbeknowns to him, is that whether in this world or in other worlds, whether in the eastern lands or in the western heavens, there has never been any better place to learn the backward step of turning one's light, and letting it shine, than a desolate patch of common or garden ground where gravity is operating with a force of 1g.

śobhayeta = causative optative 2nd pers. pl śubh: to cause to shine, beautify , ornament , decorate
guṇaiḥ (inst. pl.): m. merits, virtues, graces
ebhiḥ (inst. pl. m.): these

api: even
tān (acc. pl. m.): those
uttarān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. upper , higher , superior ; northern (because the northern part of India is high)
kurūn (acc. pl.): m. pl. name of a people of India and of their country (situated near the country of the pañcālas ; hence often connected with pañcāla or pañcāla [see kuru-pañc° below]: the uttara-kuravaḥ , or uttarāḥ kuravaḥ are the northern kurus , the most northerly of the four mahā-dvīpas or principal divisions of the known world; it was probably a country beyond the most northern range of the himālaya , often described as a country of everlasting happiness, and considered by some to be the ancient home of the Aryan race)

kuberasya (gen. sg.): m. or in later Sanskrit kuvera (originally) N. of a chief of the evil beings or spirits or darkness having the N. vaiśravaṇa ; (afterwards) the god of riches and treasure (regent of the northern quarter which is hence called kubera-guptā diś)
api: even
ca: and
ākrīḍam: mn. a playing-place , pleasure-grove , garden

prāg: (with eva) , a short while ago , recently , just ; still more so , how much more (= kim-uta)
eva: (emphatic)
vasu-dhām (acc. sg.): mfn. producing wealth , liberal; f. the earth ; country, kingdom ; f. the ground , soil
vasu: n, wealth , goods , riches , property
dhā: m. placer , bestower , holder , supporter &c
imām (acc. sg.): f. this

兼解諸世間 隱祕隨欲方
[Relation to Sanskrit tenuous] 

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