Sunday, August 25, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.4: Ashram-Dwellers (2) – Inspired Brahmins

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
viprāś-ca gatvā bahir-idhma-hetoḥ prāptāḥ samit-puṣpa-pavitra-hastāḥ |
tapaḥ-pradhānāḥ kta-buddhayo 'pi taṁ draṣṭum-īyur-na maṭhān-abhīyuḥ || 7.4

And inspired brahmins –
having gone out for fuel to feed the sacred fire

And returned holding in their hands
kindling, flowers, and kuśa grass
[or the means of purification which is a flower of war] –

Though they were men of formed minds
for whom ascetic practice was paramount,

Went to see him. They did not go towards their huts.

If we follow the hidden meaning of the 2nd pāda, could today's verse contain an autobiographical element?

Was Aśvaghoṣa himself, in a past life, an inspired brahmin who when he first went out to seek and destroy the Buddha's teaching thought that, for such an excellent poet and philosopher as he naturally was, the Buddha's teaching might all be grist to his Brahminist mill? Is this how Aśvaghoṣa himself was in a past life as an “inspired” or “excited” (vipra) brahmin, before he ended up – after battling greed, anger and faulty sensory appreciation in himself  in full possession of a means of purification of his own mind (pavitra)?  

If so, then taṁ draṣṭum √i (going to see him) suggests the act of meeting buddha and, equally, na maṭhān abhi-√i (not entering huts) suggests not reverting to one's habitual way of being.

Reviewing yesterday's verse in this light, moreover, oxen or donkeys ardhāvanataiḥ śirobhiḥ (with their heads half bowed) might be read as a metaphor for sitting Zen practitioners who are not pulling their heads back and down but who are on the contrary allowing their heads to go forward and up. Easier said than realized – never done. 

viprāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. stirred or excited (inwardly) , inspired , wise (said of men and gods ; m. a sage , seer , singer , poet , learned theologian ; a Brahman ; a priest, domestic priest
ca: and
gatvā = abs. gam: to go
bahir: ind. outside
idhma-hetoḥ (gen. sg.): for the sake of fuel
idhma: m. fuel in general ; fuel as used for the sacred fire

prāptāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. attained to ; come to (acc.) , arrived , present
samit-puṣpa-pavitra-hastāḥ (nom. pl. m.): holding in their hands firewood, flowers, and kuśa grass
samit: f. hostile encounter , conflict , battle , war ; in comp. for samidh ; f. firewood , fuel , a log of wood , faggot , grass &c employed as fuel ; f. kindling , flaming
puṣpa: n. flower
pavitra: n. a means of purification , filter , strainer , straining-cloth &c (made of thread or hair or straw , for clarifying fruits , esp. the soma) ; kuśa grass (esp. two kuśa leaves for holding offerings or for sprinkling and purifying ghee &c ) ; a purifying prayer or mantra ; a means of purifying or clearing the mind
pava: m. ( √ pū) purification , winnowing corn
pavā: f. purification
hasta: m. the hand (ifc. = " holding in or by the hand ")

tapaḥ-pradhānāḥ (nom. pl. m.): asceticism being their paramount concern
pradhāna: n. a chief thing or person , the most important or essential part of anything; (ibc.) the principal or first , chief , head of ; ([often also ifc. (f(ā).) e.g. indra-pradhāna , (a hymn) having indra as the chief object or person addressed )
kṛta-buddhayaḥ = nom. pl. m. kṛta-buddhi: mfn. of formed mind , learned , wise ; one who has made a resolution , resolved; informed of one's duty , one who knows how religious rites ought to be conducted ; “proficients in wisdom” (EBC); “had their minds fully trained” (EHJ); “their minds were well trained” (PO)
api: though

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
draṣṭum = inf. dṛṣ: to see
īyur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. √i: to go , walk
na: not
maṭhān (acc. pl.): m. a hut , cottage , (esp.) the retired hut (or cell) of an ascetic (or student)
abhīyuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. abhi-√i: to come near , approach , go up to or towards (acc.) ; to go along or after (acc.) ; to enter, join, go over to

任重手執作 瞻敬不釋事
如牛在轅軛 形來而心依
倶學神仙者 咸説未曾見

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