yayātiś-caiva rājarṣir-vayasy-api vinirgate |
viśvācyāpsarasā sārdhaṁ reme caitra-rathe vane || 4.78
There again, the royal seer Yayāti,
Though his best years were behind him,
Enjoyed a romp in Citra-ratha's woods
With the celestial nymph Viśvāci.
The last three verses in Udāyin's list relate sexual love to aging (4.78), dying (4.79) and unspecified ruin of the loving subject (4.80). In some sense, then, they mirror the response of the prince, who points out that the gorgeous young objects of sexual love are also subject to aging, dying and ruined health.
Those equals of Indra took charge of that city with noble ardour but without arrogance; /And they thus took on forever the fragrance of honour, like the celebrated sons of Yayāti. // SN1.59 //Aśvaghoṣa again refers to Yayāti in Canto 11, seemingly affirming the clarity with which Yayāti, having used his renewed youthfulness to indulge in sensual pleasures for a thousand years, eventually recognized the fault in his own former thinking:
Bhūri-dyumna and Yayāti and other excellent kings, / Having bought heaven by their actions, gave it up again, after that karma ran out -- // SN11.46 //According to the Wikipedia entry on Yayāti, when he realized the futility of pursuing sensual pleasures, he said:
"Know this for certain, ... not all the food, wealth and women of the world can appease the lust of a single man of uncontrolled senses. Craving for sense-pleasures is not removed but aggravated by indulgence even as ghee poured into fire increases it....One who aspires for peace and happiness should instantly renounce craving and seek that which neither grows old, nor ceases even when the body ages."
Udāyin, then, seems to be suggesting that one is never too old to enjoy a romp in the woods with a heavenly young woman. But the irony in the background, which would not have been lost on anybody who knew the story of Yayāti, was that Yayāti himself came to a different conclusion – namely that one is never too old to give up craving and all the faulty habits of thought, feeling, and action that come in the train of craving.
This is why Yayāti, along with his sons, are a rare example of ancient Indian heroes who were also celebrated in the Buddha's lineage. Aśvaghoṣa saw Yayāti's four sons as having the fragrance of honour because, even if they wouldn't have minded being king and enjoying all the prestige, and wealth, and status, and power, and concubines, that went with that position, their desire was not so strong as to make them willing to give up their youth in order to get that position. They were not slaves to political craving. And Yayāti himself, even if it did take him a thousand years, finally came around to seeing the futility of craving sensual pleasures.
The ultimate teaching of the Buddha at the end of the Buddha's life, as recorded by Dogen at the end of Shobogenzo and at the end of Dogen's life, is 少欲 (Jap: SHO-YOKU) small desire and 知足 (Jap: CHI-SOKU) knowing satisfaction.
Studying Aśvaghoṣa's Sanskrit record of the Buddha's teaching, we can know that what the Buddha actually said was, or was something close to, alpecchu, having small desire, and saṁtuṣṭa, being quite satisfied or contented.
The parinirvāṇa, or complete extinction [of craving], upon which the prince will shortly set his sights (parinirvāṇa-vidhau matiṁ cakāra; BC5.25), then, does not mean having no desire. It might rather describe a state of sincerely looking forward to breakfast.
Alpecchu, having small desire.
Saṁtuṣṭa, being contented.
yayātiḥ (nom. sg.): m. (prob. fr. √ yat) N. of a celebrated monarch of the lunar race (son of king nahuṣa whom he succeeded ; from his two wives came the two lines of the lunar race)
rājarṣiḥ (nom. sg. m.): royal seer, king-seer
vayasi (loc. sg.): n. enjoyment ; energy (both bodily and mental) , strength , health , vigour , power , might; vigorous age , youth , prime of life
api: even, though
vinirgate (loc. sg. n.): mfn. gone out
vi-nir-√gam: , to go out or away , depart
viśvācyā (inst. sg.): f. (fr. viśva [all] + añc [directed towards]) universal ; N. of an apsaras
apsarasā (inst. sg.): f. apsaras, celestial nymph
sārdham: ind. jointly , together , along with , with (instr.)
reme = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ram: to play or sport , dally ; to enjoy one's self , be pleased or delighted
caitrarathe (loc. sg. n.): mfn. treating of the gandharva citra-ratha ; n. (with or without vana) the grove of kubera cultivated by the gandharva citra-ratha
vane (loc. sg.): n. a forest , wood , grove
[No corresponding Chinese]