Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 6.62: The Kaṣāya as a Means-Whereby (for Deceiving Wild Creatures Who Are Game)

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Vāṇī)
vyādho 'bravīt-kāmada kāmam-ārād-anena viśvāsya mgān nihatya |
arthas-tu śakropama yady-anena hanta pratīcchānaya śuklam-etat || 6.62

The hunter spoke:
“This, O granter of desires, is the means whereby,
from as far away as desired,

I inspire trust in wild creatures,
only to shoot them down....

But if you have a use for this means,
O man as mighty as Indra,

Here, accept it, and render here the white.”

The final word of the 2nd pāda is nihatya. This is the absolutive form of ni-√han which in context means to kill and so nihatya would normally be translated as “having killed,” or “I kill, and then...”

EBC left nihatya as it was and translated as if the Sanskrit were ni-jaghana, “I killed”; hence: “I have inspired animals with confidence and then killed them.”

EHJ considered nihanmi (“I kill”) and nihanyām (“I can kill”), the latter EHJ noted being perhaps closer paleographically to the original text. But on the basis of the Tibetan translation, he opted to change nihatya to nihanmi.

So the first thing to decide is whether to accept EHJ's proposed amendment or not.

The first reason not to change nihatya is that we should never be too ready, as EHJ sometimes appears to be, to take it on ourselves to amend the original text. In EHJ's defence, he always makes it very clear when he makes such an amendment, thereby facilitating the work of the likes of us.

A second reason is that nihatya may be a pointer to hidden meaning in which the kaṣāya is part of the means, the skillful means, whereby the Buddha – albeit from distant ancient India – continues to inspire belief, trust, or confidence in the likes of gullible us. Inspiring trust is viśvāsya, also an absolutive form, indicating that the inspiring belief, trust, or confidence is not the end of the story. So the Buddha / the hunter inspires belief, trust or confidence in us who are game, and then.... then what? And then the Buddha's teaching causes our confidence to be shaken, our trust to be undermined, our beliefs to be uprooted, and in short leaves us totally deflated, shot down.... and then what?

And then, there being nothing esle for it, do we just sit?

And then, beyond right and wrong, does the church bell in the distance go BONG?

And then, as night draws in, is it that all the colour drains out of the garden? Except that some roses look redder than ever.

Many such possibilities might be hinted at by the dangling absolutive nihatya.

When we think about it, wasn't Nanda caused in Aśvaghoṣa's epic tale of Beautiful Happiness to trust in the existence of gorgeous nymphs waiting in heaven to satisfy his every sexual desire? And wasn't this trust shot down? More than that, did not the Buddha's teaching, as embodied by Ānanda, shoot down, along with Nanda's belief in the desirability of nymphs in heaven, the whole edifice of the end-gaining mind? By this and other means was not energy comparable to that of a wild elephant in rut transformed into that of a heroic war elephant?

When we read today's verse in this light, the choice of the imperative ānaya in the 4th pāda calls for attention. From the root √nī (to lead) with the prefix ā- (near), ānaya means “lead near” or “bring here” or “fetch.” It is not the most obvious choice of verb to convey the ostensible meaning of “give me,” as per the translation of each of the three professors. With words that literally mean “lead the white near” could Aśvaghoṣa be suggesting a hidden meaning along the lines of “deliver into the sphere of my wisdom the gullible, the innocent, the believing”?

Even if we read such meaning into the words of the hunter / Buddha, we are not talking about a religious conversion, because deliverance in the Buddha's teaching is not a matter of subscribing to a set of beliefs. On the contrary, as alluded to in the 2nd pāda, as I read it, deliverance is more a matter of having all one's beliefs shot down...

And then what?

And then we might still be sitting in an ochre robe, on which are traditionally marked a number of round dots. These dots are called in Japanese 浄点 JO-TEN, pure dots. They are called pure dots but they are made in ink whose colour is black, in which tradition an irony is maintained of which Aśvaghoṣa would surely have approved.

Ostensibly the hunter is referring to two items of clothing, ochre and white, and so it is a question of to swop or not to swop one limited quantity for the other. But below the surface the ochre might be as abundant as the gravity of the earth, and the white might be as limitless as our gullibility.

Speaking of which, though I am evidently no expert, I can see that we are living in interesting times financially, and most of us are too gullible and too trusting to be bothered to think too much about it for ourselves, as individuals. The global monetary system is broken and so desperate emergency measures are being taken by the powers that be... and yet the whole thing is too difficult for us ordinary folk to understand and so we just cheerfully carry on hoping for the best and not minding that our governments are piling up more and more debt and creating money out of nothing.

What the hell is my country, the United Kingdom, when we are up to our necks in debt, doing borrowing and creating more and more money in order to transfer money to countries like India and Nigeria in the form of foreign aid? What are we doing borrowing money on the international bond market in order to subsidize India's building of nuclear submarines and Nigeria's space programme? It might seem reasonable now, but if or when the bond markets turn against Britain, sterling crashes, and we go towards hyper-inflation, then where will we turn? 

So what if the country's finances are buggered, we seem to think, so far so good. There is still food in the shops. Sport is still on TV. Everything seems to be going OK... and then.... and then something happens like has happened in Greece and in Cyprus, when the government is no longer able to write the cheques, and like happened in the US the other week when it was quietly announced that Detroit had gone bankrupt. 

Why has the British government given pensioners a triple-locked guarantee that their pensions will keep on rising by more than the rate of consumer price inflation? Financially, it does not make any sense. Politically, however, it makes sense – at least as long as the unthinking mass of the electorate remains gullible, trusting, innocent, believing that everything will be OK.

vyādhaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the hunter
abravīt = 1st pers. sg. aorist brū: to speak, say
kāma-da (voc. sg.): m. "gracious lord"; mfn. giving what is wished , granting desires
kāmam: ind. (acc. of kā́ma) according to wish or desire , according to inclination , agreeably to desire , at will , freely , willingly ; with pleasure , readily , gladly ; (as a particle of assent) well , very well , granted , admitted that , indeed , really , surely ; granted that ; though, although
ārāt: ind. (abl. of an ideal base āra fr. ā- √ṛ ; cf. āré) from a distant place

anena (inst. sg.): by this means
an-ena: mfn. without stags RV. vi , 66 , 7
viśvāsya = abs. vi- √ śvas : to draw breath freely , be free from fear or apprehension , be trustful or confident , trust or confide in , rely or depend on (acc. gen. , or loc.) ; Caus. -śvāsayati , to cause to trust , inspire with confidence
mṛgān (acc. pl.): m. (prob. " ranger " , " rover ") a forest animal or wild beast , game of any kind , (esp.) a deer , fawn , gazelle , antelope , stag
nihatya = abs. ni- √ han: to strike or fix in , hurl in or upon or against (loc.) ; to make an attempt upon , attack , assail (acc. loc. or gen.) ; to strike or hew down (also -mow L. ), kill , overwhelm , destroy
nihanmi = 1st pers. sg. pres. ni- √ han: ibid

arthaḥ (nom. sg.): m. aim, purpose, cause ; having to do with (instr.) , wanting , needing anything (instr.)
tu: but
śakropama (voc. sg.): O equal of Indra!
śakra: mfn. strong , powerful , mighty (applied to various gods , but esp. to indra); m. name of Indra
upama: mfn. equal
yadi: if
anena (inst. sg. n.): this

hanta: ind. an exclamation or inceptive particle (expressive of an exhortation to do anything or asking attention , and often translatable by " come on! " " here! " " look! " " see! " in later language also expressive of grief , joy , pity , haste , benediction &c)
pratīccha = 2nd pers. sg. imperative prati- √iṣ: to receive , accept from
ānaya = 2nd pers. sg. imperative ā- √ nī : to lead towards or near ; to bring , carry to a place (acc. or loc.) ; fetch
śuklam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. bright, light ; white ; pure , spotless , unsullied n. brightness , light ; n. a white spot , white substance , anything white
etat (acc. sg. n.): this , this here , here (especially as pointing to what is nearest to the speaker)

獵師白太子 非不惜此衣
用謀諸群鹿 誘之令見趣
苟是汝所須 今當與交易

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