Monday, July 15, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.33: How Not to Leave Your Wife

¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦⏑−−−¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
bāla-putrāṁ guṇavatīṁ kula-ślāghyāṁ pati-vratām |
devīm-arhasi na tyaktuṁ klība prāptām-iva śriyam || 6.33

The princess,
mother of your young son and possessor of her own virtues,

Who is laudable as a noble lady and loyal as a wife –

You should not leave her

In the way that a sissy 
abdicates a high office he has assumed.

The similes in the fourth pādas of today's and (especially) tomorrow's verse are sufficiently general to be read in a number of ways, but their point, as I read them, is to highlight that shyness about asserting oneself – and specifically about saying “that is mine” – can also be a fault. In other words, in terms of the hard / soft dichotomy alluded to in BC6.28, being too brash or hard is obviously not it; but being too shy or soft is not it either.

The simile in today's verse was rendered by EBC “as a coward the royal dignity within his reach;” by EHJ “like a coward the sovereignty he has obtained”; and by PO “like a sissy his inherited crown.”

EBC and EHJ were translating before the abdication crisis of 1936 when the British King-Emperor Edward VIII made the decision to give up his throne. In making that decision, Edward VIII was not exactly cowardly – in many ways the decision was brave and resolute. Edward was, however, somewhat effeminate, a bit of a sissy. One might say that he lacked the guts, or the balls, to do the job he was called upon to do. In any event, if we translate the 4th pāda of today's verse “in the way that a sissy abdicates his inherited crown,” or “in the way that an effeminate man abdicates the sovereignty he has assumed,” Edward VIII fits that bill.

Not enough bottle
Whether we understand śriyam to express royal sovereignty or a lesser (or a greater?) position of authority, the point might be that there are times and places when a human being is called upon, for the greater good, to step up to the plate and assert in a decisive way “My will be done.”

In sports like football and rugby, played at the highest level, nothing kills the game like a referee who wants to impose himself on the game. The best referees – Luigi Collina inevitably springs to mind – tend to stay in the background and let the game flow. And yet there will be times in most games when the best of referees is called upon to show some bottle and make a big decision. Again, that does not necessarily mean reaching brashly for the red card. It might mean calling for assistance from linesmen and/or from video technology. But the fact remains that those who get to the top of the refereeing tree are those who are accustomed, at some point in a game, to making a big decision and then owning it, as if to say, in no uncertain terms, “My will be done!”

Plenty of bottle

In conclusion, the real intent of Chandaka's words, again, can be read as opposite to their ostensible meaning, so that ostensibly Chandaka is saying “You should not leave your wife,” but the real meaning might be: You should leave your wife, but not in an unmanly, timorous, dithering, indecisive way.

bāla-putrām (acc. sg. f.): having a young son
guṇavatīm (acc. sg. f.): mfn. " furnished with a thread or string " and " endowed with good qualities " ; endowed with good qualities or virtues or merits or excellences , excellent , perfect

kula-ślāghyām (acc. sg. f.): of praiseworthy family
ślāghya = ślāghanīya: mfn. to be praised , praiseworthy , laudable , commendable
pati-vratām (acc. sg. f.): being loyal to her husband
pati-vrata: n. loyalty or fidelity to a husband

devīm (acc. sg.): f. a female deity , goddess ; queen , princess , lady (the consecrated wife or daughter of a king , but also any woman of high rank)
arhasi = 2nd pers. sg. arh: ought
na: not
tyaktum = inf. tyaj: to leave, abandon , quit ; to give up , surrender , resign , part from , renounce

klībaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. impotent , emasculated , a eunuch ; unmanly , timorous , weak , idle , a coward
prāptām (acc. sg. f.): mfn. attained to , reached , arrived at , met with , found , incurred , got , acquired , gained
iva: like

śriyam (acc. sg.): f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity

嬰兒功徳母 勝族能奉事
得勝而復棄 此則非勝人

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