Monday, June 24, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.12: Speaking, Preventing, Unloosening, Giving

ity-uktvā sa mahā-bāhur-ānṛśaṁsa-cikīrṣayā |
bhūṣaṇāny-avamucyāsmai saṁtapta-manase dadau || 6.12

Thus having spoken, he of heroic arm,

Desiring by his action to prevent what injures a man,

Unloosened ornaments

And gave [them] to him whose mind was inflamed with grief.

Today's verse can be read as mirroring the four phases identified in the closing verse of the prince's speech, so that the 1st pāda has to do with speaking, the 2nd with the doing of a preventive act, the 3rd with a process of coming undone or letting go, and the 4th with compassionate non-doing, or spontaneous giving, realized in the state of buddha.

In the 1st pāda, then, mahā-bāhur ("of great/long arm") ostensibly describes the prince's genetic inheritance as a mighty-armed royal, but it might also suggest the lengthening and widening that takes place throughout a person's musculature (including that of the arm) when, in the state of buddha, his or her mind is free. 

The 2nd pāda might be more simply and elegantly translated "Desiring to do an act of kindness," but ānṛśaṁsa (kindness) is originally negative, from a-nṛ-śaṁsa (not man-injuring), and so the compound ānṛśaṁsa-cikīrṣayā is interesting, bringing to mind in juxtaposition with each other (1) the preventive principle and (2) the desire to do. 

Yesterday I asked the question what the Buddha meant by that step or stage (padam) that we sometimes call (regardless of not knowing what we really mean by the word) “enlightenment.” And in looking for clues in Aśvaghoṣa's epic story of Beautiful Happiness, I was struck afresh (having been initially struck five years ago by exactly the same thing) by the strong emphasis on eradication of faults.

For that reason, I take the 3rd pāda of today's verse as a metaphor for letting go of what originally does not belong to us. In Zen parlance, the metaphor corresponds to letting body and mind fall away so that one's original features may shine through. In terms of the most ancient record of what the Buddha actually said, as recorded in Pali, the metaphor corresponds to sacitta paryodapanam, “cleansing one's own mind.”

sabba papassa akaranam
kusalassa upasampada
sacitta paryodapanam
etam buddhanusasanam

Not to do any evil.
To practise good.
To cleanse one's own mind.
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Finally with regard to the 4th pāda, the indirect object of the prince's giving ("[them]") is understood to be the ornaments, or items of jewellery, mentioned in the 3rd pāda. Originally, however, asmai saṁtapta-manase dadau simply means "he gave to the one whose mind was inflamed with grief," with no indirect object specified. As such it might work better as a metaphor for the Buddha's giving. 

What, in the end, did the Buddha give? Did he give ornaments? Some sūtras, come to think of it, do have "ornament" in their title. But it might be more to the point to acknowledge that the Buddha gave us a means, centred on sitting-meditation, to be practised on an individual basis (each cleansing his or her own mind), for eradicating faults. 

iti: “...,” thus
uktvā = abs. vac: to speak
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
mahā-bāhuḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. long-armed

ānṛśaṁsa-cikīrṣayā (inst. sg. f.): with the desire to do an absence of harm
anuśaṁsa-cikīrṣayā [EHJ] (inst. sg. f.): with the desire to confer comfort
ānṛśaṁsa: n. (fr. a-nṛ-śaṁsa) absence of cruelty or harm , absence of injury , mildness , kindness , benevolence
nṛ-śaṁsa: mfn. injuring men , mischievous , noxious , cruel , base
anuśaṁsa: m. speaking ill ; comfort, privilege
cikīrṣā: f. intention or desire to make or do or perform (generally ifc.)

bhūṣaṇāni (acc. pl.): n. ornament
avamucya = abs. ava- √ muc : to loosen , let go, unharness
asmai (dat. sg.): to him

saṁtapta-manase (dat. sg.) with a grief-tormented mind
saṁtapta: mfn. greatly heated or inflamed , burnt up &c ; oppressed , pained , tormented , distressed , wearied , fatigued ; n. pain , grief , sorrow
dadau = 3rd pers. sg. perf. dā: to give

即脱寶瓔珞 以授於車匿
具持是賜汝 以慰汝憂悲

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