Saturday, October 5, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.45: Going Beyond Bhāva

−−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
jv-ātmanāṁ dharma-bhtāṁ munīnām-iṣṭātithitvāt-sva-janopamānām |
evaṁ-vidhair-māṁ prati bhāva-jātaiḥ prītiḥ parā me janitaś-ca mārgaḥ || 7.45

“Under dharma-upholding sages
who tend in their core towards uprightness,

And who are, in their willing hospitality, like family,

To have had shown towards me such manifestations of sincerity

Has filled me with great joy, and has opened for me a way.

The Sanskrit text of EB Cowell, published c.1895, based on three later copies of an earlier Nepalese manuscript, has for the 4th pāda of today's verse,
prītiḥ parātmā janitaś-ca mārgaḥ,
which EBC translated
affection is produced in me and the path which regards the self as supreme is revealed.

The Sanskrit text of EH Johnston, published c. 1934, based on the old Nepalese manuscript itself (whose discovery HP Shastri reported in 1909), has
prītiḥ parā me janitaś-ca mānaḥ
My joy is great / of the highest order, and in me is engendered respect.
my joy is extreme and I feel honoured. [EHJ]
I feel honoured, and my joy overflows. [PO]

The amendment from parātmā to parā me appears to be justified not only on the grounds of what sounds reasonable but also by a correction on the old Nepalese manuscript, so that, according to EHJ, the original text may have been parātmā amended to parā me, or the original may have been parā me amended to parātmā.

EHJ's changing of the last word to mānaḥ, however, is harder to justify. The old Nepalese manuscript has mārggaḥ. EHJ appears to have amended to mānaḥ on the basis of the Tibetan translation.

me janitaś-ca mānaḥ, “and respect is engendered in me,” fits on the grounds that the Buddha-to-be is now discussing the  bhāva that has been shown to him, and is expressing in response his own bhāva, what he sincerely feels. Understood like that, if the reading were true, me janitaś-ca mānaḥ would indicate that the Buddha-to-be is not only being polite towards the ascetic practitioners but he is also expressing genuine respect for their sincere efforts.

But me janitaś-ca mārgaḥ, “and a proper course is engendered in me,” or “and a forest track is assigned to me,” or “and a way is opened for me,” might fit even better – especially in view of the thoughts stimulated by yesterday's verse with regard to bhava, bhāva, and bhāvanā.

The ostensible point of today's verse is that the prince is praising the hospitality of the ascetic sages of the ashram, and expressing how their display of their bhāva (love / sincerity) for him has stimulated in him, for his part, genuine joy, and respect.

So if we follow the ostensible meaning of today's verse, then, EHJ's amendment fits well.

But if we dig below the surface, another reading presents itself which hangs on the original mārgaḥ.

Ostensibly, the sages in question are the ascetic sages of the ashram who uphold an ascetic dharma. But this is understood rather than made explicit by the original grammar, in which the relationship between (a) the sages whom the Buddha-to-be praises in the first half of the verse, and (b) the elements of the second half of the verse, is governed by the genitive munīnām – the genitive being (in Coulson's words) the case with the widest range of uses.

The alternative reading which this grammar makes possible is that in the second half of today's verse the Buddha-to-be is expressing his genuine gratitude for the bhāva (heart-felt sincerity) shown to him by the ascetics of the ashram. But he is doing so in such a way as to leave open the possibility that the credit might be due to the overarching influence of true sages, as opposed to self-punishing and deer-imitating ascetic ones.

In other words, the situation described in the second half of the verse belongs to, or is within the sphere of influence of, the true sages praised in the first half of the verse.

What, in that case, is the criterion of a true sage?

The criterion is expressed, for a start, by the Sanskrit word ṛju, which is most interestingly defined in the MW dictionary as “tending in a straight direction.”

Tending in a straight direction in one's core, or in one's essential being (ātman), might be a very different thing from sitting up straight relying on the making of a big muscular effort. The latter, when we investigate it in detail, is a kind of manifestation of human arrogance – the symptom of the big human new brain trying to usurp functions it has no business trying to usurp, and thereby throwing a spanner in the postural works. I know whereof I speak.

Speaking of arrogance, incidentally, I was mightily impressed by Brian Blessed's appearance on Piers Morgan's Life Stories which was aired on ITV last night. Asked how he would like to be remembered, BB answered to the effect that he wouldn't like to be remembered at all, since it was all vanity, but he would like people to remember ourselves. Such remembering is a first step, in Dogen's teaching, to forgetting ourselves. Though BB neglected to mention the bit about forgetting ourselves, and only spoke of remembering ourselves, I was nonetheless impressed by him and not surprised to learn on the internet that BB is chums with the Dalai Lama. I wouldn't mind getting to 76 if I could retain the zest for life that BB evidently has at 76. I wouldn't mind having that much zest now, at 53, to tell the truth. The zest and the negation of vanity are doubtless not unconnected with each other.

Understood in this light, the 2nd pāda of today's verse can be read as a confirming criterion of a true sage, the criterion being that the tending in a straight direction has nothing vain or arrogant about it, but is rather as open and hospitable as, for example, an old grandma naturally is towards her grandchild.

But finally, lest all this sounds too tangled up in human feeing and emotion, the Buddha-to-be adds me janitaś-ca mārgaḥ, "and engendered in me is a proper course," a way of action – a means of going beyond bhāva.

Bhāva in the 3rd pāda is rendered more difficult to translate since its meaning seems to have shifted from yesterday's verse, and become more ambiguous to boot. In yesterday's verse bhāva means the secret or inner feelings and thoughts of the Buddha-to-be. In today's verse bhāva seems on the surface to have a more emotional connotation, ostensibly meaning feelings of affection or love. Hence bhāva-jataiḥ: by kind feelings (EBC); a display of feelings (EHJ); display of love (PO).

In any event, bhāva means what is really going on in a person's mind and body, something – whether thought or feeling – which is genuine. And yet the suggestion, taking the last word as mārgaḥ, is that there is something that counts more than the manifestations by others of the kind of genuine and sincere bhāva that fills us with joy, and that something is the existence of a way.

What, in the end, are we here for?

“To love and to be loved,” some would say.

But quite aside from that, above and beyond that, under the influence of sages like Aśvaghoṣa and Bodhidharma who upheld the Buddha-dharma, a way has been opened for us. And the essence of it is to sit in full lotus and investigate what it might mean to tend in one's core towards uprightness.

ṛjv-ātmanām (gen. pl. m.): mfn. of straight-tending nature
ṛju: tending in a straight direction , straight (lit. and fig. ; opp. to vṛjiná) , upright , honest , right , sincere
ātman: m. self; essence , nature , character , peculiarity (often ifc. e.g. karmā*tman , &c )
dharma-bhṛtām (gen. pl. m.): mfn. dharma-upholding ; m. " law-supporter "
bhṛt: mfn. bearing , carrying , bringing , procuring , possessing , wearing , having , nourishing , supporting , maintaining (only ifc. )
munīnām (gen. pl.): m. a saint , sage , seer , ascetic , monk , devotee , hermit

iṣṭātithitvāt (abl. sg.): because of their willing hospitality
iṣṭa: mfn. sought, wished, desired ; liked , beloved ; agreeable ; regarded as good , approved
n. wish , desire ; iṣṭam: ind. voluntarily; mfn. (p.p. fr. √ yaj) sacrificed , worshipped with sacrifices ; m. sacrifice ; n. sacrificing , sacrifice ; n. sacred rite , sacrament
atithi-tva: n. state of a guest , hospitality
atithi: m. ( √ at , or said to be from a-tithi , " one who has no fixed day for coming ") , a guest , a person entitled to hospitality
sva-janopamānām (gen. pl. m.): like family / equal to my own people
sva-jana: one's own people
upamā: f. resemblance, equality ; mfn. (ifc.) equal , similar , resembling , like

evaṁ-vidhaiḥ (inst. pl.): mfn. of such a kind , in such a form or manner , such
mām (acc. sg. ): me
prati: ind. towards
bhāva-jātaiḥ = inst. pl. manifestations of bhāva
MW: bhāva-jāta = bhāva-ja: m. " heart-born " , love or the god of love
bhāva: m. being, true condition ; manner of acting ; any state of mind or body , way of thinking or feeling ; (in rhet.) passion , emotion ; love, affection, attachment
jāta: n. a multitude or collection of things forming a class (chiefly ifc. , e.g. karma- , " the whole aggregate of actions " ; sukha- , " anything or everything included under the name pleasure " ) ; n. individuality , specific condition ; n. = -karman

prītiḥ (nom. sg. f.): f. any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction ; friendly disposition , kindness , favour , grace , amity (with samam or ifc.) , affection , love (with gen. loc. , or ifc.)
parātmā [Old Nepalese manuscript (?) / EBC] (nom. sg. m.): m. the Supreme Spirit ; mfn. one who considers the body as the soul
parā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. far, beyond, extreme ; exceeding (in number or degree); best or worst , highest , supreme
ātman: m. self
me (gen. sg.): of/in me
janitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. born, engendered, begotten, produced, occasioned, occurring
jan: to generate , beget , produce , create , cause ; to cause to be born ; to assign , procure
ca: and
mārgaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the track of a wild animal , any track , road , path , way to (loc. or comp.) or through (comp.) , course (also of the wind and the stars); a way , expedient , means ; the right way , proper course
mānaḥ [EHJ] (nom. sg.): m. ( √ man) opinion , notion , conception , idea ; purpose , wish , design ; (also n.) consideration , regard , respect , honour ; m. ( √ mā) a building , house , dwelling

汝等心質直 行法亦寂默
親念於來賓 我心實愛樂

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