Tuesday, January 22, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 4.52: Spring, the Strong Deliverer?

api nāma vihaṅ-gānāṁ vasantenāhṛto madaḥ |
na tu cintayataś cittam janasya prājña-māninaḥ || 4.52

Can spring deliver exuberant joy,

To those that fly the skies,

But not the mind of a thinking man

Who thinks that he is wise?”

Today's verse is the concluding verse in the series of nine verses spoken by the girl with the agile eyes and her nose in a blue lotus.

On the surface today's verse continues in the same light-hearted vein as the preceding several verses, with an ostensible gist along the lines of: Lighten up. You think too much. All striving and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You ought to get out more. In short, Get over yourself! 

But below the surface today's verse might be posing a question that is deadly serious, about the fault which is conceit. About the pride which comes before a fall. 

I am afraid that EHJ committed the cardinal sin of the translator/editor when he changed the 3rd pāda to na tu cintayato 'cintyaṁ, preferring words of his own that he could understand to the original words that he could not understand. (As a matter of fact, EHJ did the same thing to yesterday's verse; probably because he could not understand why a cuckoo might be described as lacking scruples, he changed anuktaḥ to anvakṣaṁ.) In EHJ's defense, however, he is always careful to annotate fully any such change that he dares to make – generously facilitating the job of any future thinker who thinks that he knows better. 

FM Alexander said that fixing is our worst evil. Can spring deliver us from it? Not so long, today's verse seems to suggest, as we retain a lofty opinion of ourselves.

Again, Marjory Barlow said that (1) work on the self is the most serious thing in the world, but (2) we are not to take it seriously. In other words, to put it the other way around, in the imperative: (1) Lighten up! and (2)  Watch out, as you tread knowingly through spring undergrowth, that the snowdrops are not   totally unbeknowns to you – concealing a deadly snake. 

PO, accepting EHJ's amendment to the text, translated today's verse: 

How could it be that spring has brought
the passion of love to the birds; 
Not to this man who thinks he's wise,
thinking what is beyond all thought? 

As a translation of EHJ's na tu cintayato 'cintyaṁ, "thinking what is beyond all thought" is good enough, and when I first read it in the autumn of 2008, I underlined both the Sanskrit and the English, thinking that there might be gold to be dug in them there words. But it turned out I was wrong. na tu cintayato 'cintyaṁ turns out not to be a Zen gold mine, but an elephant trap containing deadly snakes. 

FM Alexander said, "To know when we are wrong is all that we shall ever know in this world." 

Whether we know what it is to be deluded by desire, or whether we believe ourselves to be enlightened about it, when snowdrops open and birds can't stop singing, spring has sprung. And spring might be a stage upon which to practise wisdom. 

api nāma: ind. at the beginning of a sentence = perhaps , I dare say
vihaṅ-gānām (gen. pl.): m. 'sky-going'; a bird

vasantena (inst. sg.): m. " brilliant (season) " , spring
vas: to shine , grow bright (esp. applied to the dawn)
āhṛtaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. brought near , fetched , procured
ā- √ hṛ: to fetch , bring , bring near ; to offer , reach forth , deliver , give ; to fetch for one's self , take away , take , receive , get ; to take for one's self , use , enjoy ; to manifest , utter , speak
madaḥ (nom. sg.): m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication

na: not
tu: but
cintayataḥ = gen. sg. m. pres. part. cint: to think
cittam (nom. sg.): n. thinking , reflecting , imagining , thought ; n. intention , aim , wish ; the heart , mind
cintyam [EHJ] (nom. sg. n.): mfn. to be thought about or imagined ; to be considered or reflected or meditated upon ; n. the necessity of thinking about (gen.)

janasya (gen. sg.): m. person
prājña-māninaḥ (gen. sg. m.): thinking himself to be wise
prājña: mfn. (fr. jñā) intellectual (opp. to śārīra , taijasa) ; intelligent , wise , clever ; m. a wise or learned man ; m. a kind of parrot with red stripes on the neck and wings
mānin: (ifc.) thinking (esp. one's self) to be or have , appearing as or passing for

[No corresponding Chinese]

1 comment:

an3drew said...

"the girl with the agile eyes and her nose in a blue lotus"

lol, good description !