Saturday, February 2, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 4.63: The Big Aham

ahaṁ n-patinā dattaḥ sakhā tubhyaṁ kṣamaḥ kila |
yasmāt-tvayi vivakṣā me tayā praṇaya-vat-tayā || 4.63

I am, by appointment to the King,

Fit, so he thinks, to be a friend to you;

On which grounds I am going to speak to you

As frankly as this.

In a series of twenty verses from here to 4.82 Udāyin addresses the prince as part of a pattern we examined in connection with the striver who speaks to Nanda at length in Saundara-nanda cantos 8 and 9. The pattern is essentially that a man with an agenda announces himself as having no agenda and proceeds to talk eloquent rubbish, supported by plentiful references to what modern-day scientists of a similar ilk call “the literature.”

Up is down, and back is forward. [FN: See B. Liar and C.C. del Toro; American Journal of Buddho-psychology, Jan.1995]

Udāyin is going to speak to the prince about friendship, not on the grounds of friendship, but on the grounds of wishing to please the King.

What Udāyin should speak frankly about, if we were to speak frankly about anything, would be what it is like to have an egotistical agenda which makes it difficult, or impossible, to speak to another person as a friend.

But instead of that, lying to self and others, Hurry-Up Udāyin announces himself like one of those people who preface their lies with phrases like “To be perfectly honest with you...”

I think that Aśvaghoṣa, being familiar with the ways of royal courts, might have based his portrayal of Udāyin on people like Udāyin who he had observed in action.

In the country where I live there are a couple of blokes named William and Harry who, similarly, must have met plenty of people like Udāyin – people with the agenda of befriending a prince.

In this and the coming series of verses, then, I think Aśvaghoṣa's sense of irony is again at play. He is well aware, primarily as a result of many years of practice of non-doing, how an agenda to get somewhere is liable to become the very thing that prevents us from getting anywhere. An agenda to go in the right direction, indeed, is liable to be the very thing that causes us actually to go in the wrong direction – forward when we want to stay back, and down when we want to go up.

If I seem harsh in my criticism of poor old Hurry-Up Udāyin, it is only because of using him as a mirror in which to see my inauthentic self, who has spent too much of his life rushing around with self-important consciousness of a right royal agenda. 

aham (nom. sg. m.): I
nṛ-patinā (inst. sg.): m. " lord of men " , king
dattaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. ( √ de) protected, honoured ; mfn. ( √dā) given , granted , presented ; placed , extended

sakhā = nom. sg. sakhi: m. a friend , assistant , companion
tubhyam (dat. sg. m.): for you
kṣamaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. fit , appropriate , becoming , suitable , proper for (gen. dat.)
kila: ind. (a particle of asseveration or emphasis) indeed , verily , assuredly; " so said " " so reported " , pretendedly ; (kila is preceded by the word on which it lays stress ; according to native lexicographers kila may be used in communicating intelligence , and may imply " probably " , " possibly " , " agreement " , " dislike " , " falsehood " , " inaccuracy " , and " reason. ")

yasmāt: ind. from which, wherefore
tvayi (loc. sg. m.): to you
vivakṣā (nom. sg.): f. (fr. Desid. of √ vac) the wish or desire to speak or declare or teach or express
me (gen. sg.): of/in me

tayā (inst. sg. f.): that, this
praṇaya-vat-tayā (inst. sg. f.) with frankness, with love
praṇaya-vat: mfn. possessing candour , unceremonious , frank , open , confident ; attached or devoted to , loving
pra-ṇaya: m. a leader ; guidance , conduct ; manifestation , display ; affection , confidence in (loc.) , love , attachment , friendship , favour
-tā: (feminine abstract noun suffix)

爲子作良友 今當奉誠言

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