Monday, October 14, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.54: Mind, Mountains, Living, Knowing

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
tad-buddhir-eṣā yadi niścitā te tūrṇaṁ bhavān gacchatu vindhya-koṣṭham |
asau munis-tatra vasaty-arāḍo yo naiṣṭhike śreyasi labdha-cakṣuḥ || 7.54

Therefore if this is your settled purpose,

Go quickly to the region of the Vindhya Hills;

There lives the sage Arāḍa,

Who has gained insight into the ultimate good.

Today's verse is one of those verses which looks head to an essential element of the historical narrative, namely the meeting of the Buddha-to-be with Arāḍa. This will be picked up in BC Canto 12, titled arāḍa-darśana, Meeting Arāḍa.

So the thrust is more informative than philosophical. Still, a progression can be observed through four phases, so that the 1st pāda relates to mind, the 2nd to a geographical regionthe 3rd to the life of an individual historical person, and the 4th to realization.

In Aśvaghoṣa's world then, characters that we are free to see as real dragons or as fake elephants, speak effortlessly in four phases and impeccable upajāti metre.

A Chinese Zen master pointed out in ancient times that in matters of the human heart and mind, all things are impermanent, apart from one universal constant – our tendency to judge all things as good and bad.

In the poetry of Aśvaghoṣa, in contrast, even blokes in bark clothing who wear their hair in a bun and lie in ash speak beautiful words in four phases, so that each phase negates what went before, thereby reminding us what the Buddha taught Nanda: to know the path as a turning back (nivartakaṁ cāpy-avagaccha mārgam; SN16.42).

In the beginning there is mind. Mountains trump mind. The act of living trumps mountains. What the Buddha knew by sitting in lotus trumps everything. 

The operative word, in the final analysis, might be not so much to judge as to know.

tad: ind. therefore
buddhiḥ (nom. sg.): f. mind ; thought about or meditation on (loc. or comp.) , intention , purpose
eṣā (nom. sg. f.): this
yadi: if
niścitā (nom. sg. f.): ascertained , determined , settled , decided
te (gen. sg.): your, of you

tūrṇam: ind. quickly , speedily
bhavān (nom. sg.): your honour, you
gacchatu = 3rd pers. sg. imperative gam: to go
vindhya-koṣṭham (acc. sg.): the Vindhya-koṣṭha
vindhya: m. (of doubtful derivation) N. of a low range of hills connecting the Northern extremities of the Western and Eastern Ghauts , and separating Hindustan proper from the Dekhan
koṣṭha: m. a granary , store-room; n. a surrounding wall ; n. any enclosed space or area

asau (nom. sg. m.): that, a certain
munih (nom. sg.): m. a sage
tatra: ind. there
vasati = 3rd pers. sg. vas: to live, dwell
arāḍaḥ (nom. sg.): m. Arāḍa, N. of a muni, Bcar. ; mfn. (= ucchrita-śṛṅga) having high horns

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who
naiṣṭhike (loc. sg. n.): mfn. forming the end , final , last ; highest , perfect , complete
śreyasi (loc. sg.): n. the better state , the better fortune or condition (sometimes used when the subject of a sentence would seem to require the masc. form) ; m. good (as opp. to " evil ") , welfare , bliss , fortune , happiness ; m. the bliss of final emancipation , felicity
labdha-cakṣuḥ (nom. sg. m.): having obtained the eye
labh: to take , seize , catch ; to gain possession of , obtain , receive , conceive , get , receive

斯處不足留 當至頻陀山
彼有大牟尼 名曰阿羅藍 

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