Monday, August 12, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.61: Detached Give & Take

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Mālā)
śivaṁ ca kāṣāyam-ṣi-dhvajas-te na yujyate hiṁsram-idaṁ dhanuś-ca |
tat-saumya yady-asti na saktir-atra mahyaṁ prayacchedam-idaṁ ghāṇa || 6.61

“Your propitious ochre robe, the banner of a seer,

Does not go with this pernicious bow.

Therefore, my friend, should there be no attachment in this matter,

Give me that and you take this.”

What distinguishes today's verse in terms of its hidden meaning – and the same could have been said for yesterday's verse – is that there doesn't seem on first and second reading to be any hidden meaning. The same could be said again for the description, in SN Canto 17, of Nanda's progress through the four stages of sitting-meditation. The general rule might be that the further Aśvaghoṣa appears to be straying from the essence – for example in describing the end-gaining of the bustling big-breasted women in BC Canto 3, or the playful tricks of the seductive girls in BC Canto 4, or the various attitudes of the sleeping beauties in BC Canto 5 – the more teaching of the essence he tends to bury below the surface. Conversely, in descriptions of essential matters like receiving a kaṣāya, there seems to be a dearth of hidden meaning: all the meaning seems to be on the surface.

That said, one can still observe in a verse like today's verse an underlying philosophical progression so that the 1st pāda represents a kind of benign thesis which is opposed in the 2nd pāda by a murderous anti-thesis – sort of like the idealistic thesis of French revolutionary liberty, fraternity, and equality which, as Hegel keenly observed, gave rise, on the slaughter-bench of history, to the antithesis of Napoleonic despotism. The 3rd pāda, then, represents the Buddha's truth of cessation, and the 4th pāda the realization of mutual interaction between subject and object.

Thinking further along these lines, atra in the 3rd pāda ostensibly means “in this matter of my clothing and yours,” but it could also be read as meaning “in this matter of propitious and pernicious, of benign and murderous, of good and bad” – in which case the 3rd and 4th pādas can be understood as an oblique expression of the central imperative of sitting-meditation itself, in which idam (this) means the self. 

Not being interested in good and bad, realize the samādhi of accepting and using this!

mahyaṁ prayacchedam-idaṁ gṛhāṇa
For me, extend this and accept this!

Perhaps we shouldn't be too quick to conclude that, in any verse that Aśvaghoṣa wrote, all the meaning is on the surface.

Beyond right
And wrong,
The big bell
Goes BONG.

śivam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign , kind , benevolent , friendly , dear ; happy, fortunate
ca: and
kāṣāyam (nom. sg.): n. a brown-red cloth or garment
ṛṣi-dhvajaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the emblem of a sage
dhvaja: m. a banner , flag , standard ; mark , emblem , ensign , characteristic , sign
te (gen. sg.): your

na: not
yujyate = 3rd pers. sg. passive yuj: to be fit or proper or suitable or right , suit anything (instr.) , be fitted for (loc.) , belong to or suit any one (loc. or gen.) , deserve to be (nom.)
hiṁsram (nom. sg. n.): mfn. injurious , mischievous , hurtful , destructive , murderous , cruel , fierce , savage
idam (nom. sg. n.): this
dhanuḥ (nom. sg.): n. a bow
ca: and

tad: ind. therefore
saumya (voc. sg.): O mild man of the soma
yadi: if
asti (3rd pers. sg. as): there is
na: not
śaktiḥ: f. power , ability , strength , might , effort , energy , capability
saktiḥ (nom. sg.): f. connexion , entwinement (of creepers) ; clinging or adhering to (loc. or comp.) , attachment , addiction (esp. to worldly objects)
atra: ind. in this matter

mahyam (dat. sg.): to me
prayaccha = 2nd pers. sg. imperative pra- √ yam: to hold out towards , stretch forth , extend ; to offer , present , give , grant , bestow
idam (acc. sg. n.): this
idam (acc. sg. n.): this

gṛhāṇa = 2nd pers. sg. imperative grah: to take, grasp

太子念此衣 染色清淨服
仙人上標飾 獵者非所應
即呼獵師前 軟語而告曰
汝於此衣服 貪愛似不深
以我身上服 與汝相貿易

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