Sunday, July 14, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.32: How Not to Forget Your Mother

saṁvardhana-pariśrāntāṁ dvitīyāṁ tāṁ ca mātaram |
devīṁ nārhasi vismartuṁ kta-ghna iva sat-kriyām || 6.32

And the queen who exhausted herself bringing you up,

Your second mother –

You should not forget her

In the way that an ingrate forgets the rendering of kindness.

On the surface Chandaka is appealing to the prince's human emotion and his sense of pity, but below the surface Aśvaghoṣa might be appealing to our reason and sense of balance – not to mention our sense of humour.

The humour depends on taking Chandaka's words to mean:  Forget your mother! (But not in the way that an ingrate forgets good treatment or good service that has been rendered to him.)

I see the balance as again relating to the the question of how active or passive to be, or how self-assertive or self-effacing, or how wilful or flexible, how hard or soft.

Thus if there is a sliding scale of self-assertiveness with “Thy will be done” at one end and “My will be done” at the other end....

THY WILL BE DONE         <--->          <--->          <--->           MY WILL BE DONE

today's verse and yesterday's verse are as if pointing to the right and saying “Not that.” (Not too selfish, please) Tomorrow's verse and the following verse will point to the extreme left and say “Not that either" (Not too self-effacing, either.) 

Speaking of balance, my teacher Gudo Nishijima saw balance as primarily a function of the autonomic nervous system. If that was Gudo's thesis in the area he called “science and Buddhism,” my anti-thesis is that balance in human beings is primarily a function of the vestibular system.

With the autonomic nervous system in mind, Gudo said “action makes us balanced.” With the vestibular system in mind, I would say, conversely, that balance enables action. 

saṁvardhana-pariśrāntām (acc. sg. f.): who wore herself out bringing you up
saṁvardhana: n. rearing up , fostering ; n. causing to thrive , furthering , promoting
pariśrānta: mfn. thoroughly fatigued or worn out , (ifc.) tired of , disgusted with

dvitīyām (acc. sg. f.): second
tām (acc. sg. f.): her
ca: and
mātaram (acc. sg.): f. mother

devīm (acc. sg.): the queen
na: not
arhasi = 2nd pers. sg. arh: to ought
vismartum = inf. vi- √ smṛ : to forget, to be unmindful of

kṛta-ghnaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. " destroying past services or benefits " , unmindful of (services) rendered , ungrateful
kṛta: n. service done , kind action , benefit
ghna: ifc. striking with ; killing , killer , murderer ; destroying
iva: like
sat-kriyām (acc. sg.): f. a good action , charity , virtue ; f. (sg. or pl.) kind or respectful treatment , hospitable reception , hospitality

瞿曇彌長養 乳哺形枯

慈愛難可忘 莫作背恩人 

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