Sunday, June 2, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 5.79: "It" - More Vital than Sacred

¦−⏑−⏑−−¦¦⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−−   Puṣpitāgrā
iti suhdam-ivānuśiṣya ktye turaga-varaṁ n-varo vanaṁ yiyāsuḥ |
sitam-asita-gati-dyutir-vapuṣmān ravir-iva śāradam-abhram-āruroha || 5.79

Having thus exhorted the best of horses,
as if exhorting a friend to his duty,

And desiring to ride into the forest,

The best of men with his handsome form, bright as fire,
climbed aboard the white horse,

Like the sun aboard an autumn cloud, up above.

“You've got to talk to it nicely,” said FM Alexander, and what FM meant by “it” is something akin to a horse – something which is vital and powerful and which seems to have a mind of its own.

In Alexander work one talks to it nicely, with words like “let the head go forward and up,” in order to persuade it to take one up.

Both those elements of talking to it nicely and going up, are present in today's verse with the words suhṛdam ivānuśiṣya (exhorting like a friend) and āruroha (he went up, he climbed aboard).

The change of metre in today's verse is a signal that the end of Canto is approaching, and the sense of poetry is also to the fore with the beautiful metaphor of the 4th pāda, and with the play on sitam and sita (white and black) which are juxtaposed at the beginning of the 3rd pāda.

At the beginning of the present Canto the prince climbed up onto his white horse Kanthaka but then turned his horse around and climbed down again (BC5.22). In the middle of the Canto (BC5.41 – BC5.45), when the prince ascends the heights of the palace, Aśvaghoṣa's descriptions are replete with words conveying a sense of upward direction. But then in BC5.67 the prince is described as descending, coming back down. Finally in today's verse, the prince's direction again is up – as emphasized by the final word of the verse āruroha, “he went up” – bringing to mind once again Tendo Nyojo's poem on real form which memorably ends with the Chinese character , which means upwards, to go up (see also comment to BC5.44).

There are calves on Tendo mountain tonight,
And golden-faced Gautama is manifesting real form.
If we wanted to buy it, how could we afford the impossible price?
The cry of a cuckoo above a lonely cloud.

Yesterday while I was memorizing today's verse, and allowing my sitting to be informed by today's verse (while also hoping that my translation of today's verse might be informed by sitting), Aśvaghoṣa's words caused me to want to investigate what it means to be totally down on the ground. And what does it mean to get back up on one's feet again and carry on going up?

Better than a thousand words might be a single act, more vital than sacred, of lying flat out on the ground, so that forehead, nose, palms of hands, thumb and fingers, lower arms, elbows, sternum, pubic bone, knees, thighs, front of feet, et cetera, are in contact with the earth. The idea is there, to be inhibited as long as one wishes, to get back up again onto one's feet, join hands and bow. How? Starting where? Does the head move first? Do the arms move first? Who decides? Sooner or later follows the action of standing up. 



I would like to describe it as nothing sacred but nonetheless a deep mystery. And having expressed in such mystical terms a simple everyday action that even a one-year old baby can perform, I will now go and sit in pseuds corner. Hopefully, in just sitting there, without moving anywhere, and without intending to have any nature better than my original one, I might go up.

“You've got to talk to it nicely,” FM said. 

Still working on that one, against the habit of a lifetime.

iti: thus
suhṛdam (acc. sg.): m. " good-hearted " , " kindhearted " , " well-disposed " , a friend , ally
iva: like, as if
anuśiṣya = abs. anu- √ śās: to rule ; to order ; to teach , direct
√ śās: to teach , instruct , inform (with two acc. , or with acc. of pers. and dat. or loc. of thing)
kṛtye (loc. sg.): n. what ought to be done , what is proper or fit , duty , office ; n. purpose , end , object

turaga-varam (acc. sg.): m. the best of horses
tura-ga: m. " going quickly " , a horse
vara: mfn. " select " , choicest , valuable , precious , best , most excellent or eminent among (gen. loc. abl. , or comp.); (ifc.) royal , princely
nṛ-varaḥ (nom. sg.): m. best or chief of men , sovereign , king
vanam (acc. sg.): n. forest
yiyāsuḥ (nom. sg. m.) mfn. (desid. yā) wishing to go or move or ride or drive or fly &c ; intending to set off or depart , desirous of marching or taking the field (with dat. or acc.)

sitam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. white , pale , bright , light
asita-gati-dyutiḥ (nom. sg. m.): "shining like fire"
asita-gati: "having a black course", fire
asita: mfn. 1. unbound; 2. dark-coloured , black
gati: f. going , moving , gait , deportment , motion in general ; manner or power of going ; procession , march , passage , procedure , progress , movement; path, way , course
dyuti: f. splendour (as a goddess Hariv. 14035) , brightness , lustre , majesty , dignity.
vapuṣmān (nom. sg. m.): mfn. having a body , embodied , corporeal ; having a beautiful form , handsome

raviḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sun (in general) or the sun-god
iva: like
śāradam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. produced or growing in autumn , autumnal , mature
abhram (acc. sg.): n. (sometimes spelt abbhra , according to the derivation ab-bhra , " water-bearer ") cloud , thunder-cloud , rainy weather
āruroha = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ā- √ ruh : to ascend, mount

勸已徐跨馬 理轡倏晨征
人状日殿流 馬如白雲浮 

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