Friday, December 14, 2012

BUDDHACARITA 4.13: Ironic Praise of the Ineffable Individual

tāsām-evaṁ-vidhānāṁ vo viyuktānāṁ sva-gocare |
          iyam-evaṁ-vidhā ceṣṭā na tuṣṭo 'smy-ārjavena vaḥ || 4.13

You being as you are, like this,

Each set apart in her own sphere of activity,

This action of yours is like this 

In you, I am not satisfied with innocence.

“Here I am” or “It is so” mean different things according to whether a child of four is reading the words aloud, having just become able to read, or whether a person who has grown old is saying the words as profound expressions of the truth he has struggled to live by.

Similarly, the unwise Udāyin in today's verse is complaining about the women's disinclination to do anything cunning and manipulative, but in so complaining he is using the very words by which a person who has truly grown old might praise – in four phases – the ineffable action of ineffable individuals.

In the first two pādas, according to Udāyin's intention, tāsām-evaṁ-vidhānāṁ vo viyuktānāṁ sva-gocare refers to each woman having her own particular talent, whether it be understanding male psychology, or flirting, or having a beautiful face or figure, or being deft of touch with lips or hands, and so on. Whereas in the hidden meaning the talent under discussion is only the ability to be oneself, as the individual that one is. Being oneself belongs to the first of four phases, as something that sounds subjective and abstract. To be set apart in one's own sphere of activity, at the second phase, is more individual and concrete.

In the 3rd pāda, according to Udāyin's intention, again, iyam-evaṁ-vidhā ceṣṭā is a complaint – “Yet you conduct yourselves like this!” (PO). Whereas in the hidden meaning the point of iyam-evaṁ-vidhā ceṣṭā, at the fourth phase, might be to assert, as Daikan Eno asserted, “This is something coming like this!” or, in other words, “Here it is, coming like this!” or “This is something ineffable in the ineffable state of action.” (See Shobogenzo chap. 29, Inmo, It.)

In the 4th pāda, when Udāyin says that he is not satisfied with the women's innocence, he is complaining about what he perceives to be the women's artlessness or lack of initiative in setting about the task of seduction that the king has assigned to them. Whereas the hidden meaning of the 4th pāda might relate to the fact that those who successfully transmit the Buddha's teaching are generally not so innocent but on the contrary are crafty about it, using indirect means or skillful expedients. 

When Aśvaghoṣa signs himself off at the end of Saundara-nanda, he describes himself, at least as I hear him, with self-deprecatory humour, as a mahā-kavi, or a “crafty crafter of epic poetry.” The dictionary defines mahā-kavi as “a great or classical poet,” but kavi is defined as “gifted with insight, intelligent, knowing, enlightened, wise , sensible, prudent, skilful, cunning.” In the context of today's verse, “skilful” and “cunning,” as opposed to square and innocent, might be the operative words.

If we ask ourselves why Aśvaghoṣa's writing is so suffused with irony, the answer might be hidden in the 4th pāda of today's verse, namely, because of not being satisfied with innocence.

Speaking of innocence, “Where am I?” and “How am I?” might be innocent questions. Or they might not.

“Who am I?” is less likely to be an innocent question.

“What have I done?” might be the innocent question of a child. 

Less likely to be so is “What the hell have I gone and done now?”

At the fourth phase, despite the best of intentions, human life is liable to be one mistake after another.

tāsām = gen. pl. f. tad: this, that (sometimes , for the sake of emphasis , connected with the 1st and 2nd personal pronouns , with other demonstratives and with relatives e.g. so 'ham , " I that very person , I myself " ; tāv imau , " those very two " ; tad etad ākhyānam , " that very tale ")
evaṁ-vidhānām (gen. pl. f.): mfn. of such a kind , in such a form or manner , such
evam: ind. thus , in this way , in such a manner , such
vidhā: f. division , part , portion ; form , manner , kind , sort (yayā kayā-cid vidhayā , in whatsoever way , anyhow ; often ifc. ; cf. asmad- evaṁ- , nānā-vidha &c ); fodder
vaḥ (gen. pl. f.): of/in you

viyuktānām (gen. pl. f.): mfn. disjoined , detached , separated or delivered from , deprived or destitute of (instr. or comp.)
niyuktānām (gen. pl. f.): mfn. bound on , bound , chained , fettered ; tied or fastened or attached or directed to , put or placed or fixed on (loc.) ; appointed , directed , ordered , commissioned , charged , intrusted (loc.) ; used or employed for (loc.)
sva-gocare (loc. sg.): m. one's own sphere or range
go-cara: m. pasture ground for cattle ; range , field for action; the range of the organs of sense , object of sense , anything perceptible by the senses , esp. the range of the eye

iyam (nom. sg. f.): this , this here , referring to something near the speaker
evaṁ-vidhā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. of such a kind , in such a form or manner , such
ceṣṭā (nom. sg.): f. moving any limb , gesture ; action , activity , effort , endeavour , exertion ; behaving , manner of life

na: not
tuṣṭaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. satisfied , pleased
asmi = 1st pers. sg. as: to be
āryavena (inst. sg.): n. honourable behaviour , honesty
ārjavena (inst. sg.): n. straightness , straight direction ; rectitude , propriety of act or observance; honesty , frankness , sincerity
vaḥ (gen. pl. f.): of you

[Relation to Sanskrit tenuous – may refer back to ṛṣīn in 4.11]

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