Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 7.55: To Meet the True/Fake Elephant/Dragon

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
tasmād-bhavāñ-chroṣyati tattva-mārgaṁ satyāṁ rucau saṁpratipatsyate ca |
yathā tu paśyāmi matis-tathaisā tasyāpi yāsyaty-avadhūya buddhim || 7.55

From him you will hear the method of the tattvas, 'the realities',

And will follow it as far as you like;

But since this mind of yours is such
you will, I am sure, progress on,

After shaking off the buddhi, or 'faculty of mental perception,'
of even that sage.


On those grounds you will learn the path to reality,

And will indulge in it, there being light.

But since this mind of yours is such
you will, I am sure, progress on,

After dropping off the viewpoint of even that state.

Since Aśvaghoṣa was writing for an audience who knew Sanskrit, he reasonably assumed some basic knowledge on our part of such things as Vedic legends, the grammar of Pānini (see e.g. SN12.9), and the rudiments of the ancient Indian philosphical system called sāṁkhya.

In today's verse Aśvaghoṣa makes plays on the words tattva and buddhi, which are elements of that sāṁkhya system, as Arāḍa will clarify in SN Canto 12.

In BC12.18 – 20 Arāḍa will enumerate the tattvas that were enumerated in the sāṁkhya system, whose name derives from the verb saṁ-√khyā, to enumerate. The first tattva is prakṛti, 'pre-creation,' out of which evolved other tattvas including buddhi, the Intellect, or the faculty of mental perception.

Specifically, in BC12.18, Arāḍa tells the Buddha-to-be that prakṛti (pre-creation) consists of pañca bhūtāni (the five elements), ahaṁ-karam (self-consciousness / Ego), buddhim (faculty of mental perception / Intellect), and a-vyaktam (the unseen).

In the system as Arāḍa describes it, there are thus eight tattvas (5 elements + 1 self-consciousness + 1 mental perception + 1 the unseen = 8) which fall under the heading of prakṛti.

In BC12.19, Arāḍa lists other tattvas under the heading of vikāra (transformation). These tattvas comprise viṣayān (sense objects), indriyāni (sense organs), pāṇi-pādam (hands and feet), vādam (the mouth), and pāy'-ūpastham (the anus and reproductive organs).

The early sāṁkhya system is said to have had eight tattvas under the heading of prakṛti, plus sixteen tattvas under the heading of vikāra – though Arāḍa himself neither gives the tattvas a number, nor even uses the term tattva.

What Arāḍa does do in BC Canto 12, however, is list the tattvas as above under the headings of prakṛti and vikāra. For that reason, I agree with EHJ who asserted in a footnote to his translation of today's verse that “the reference must surely be to the twenty-five Sāṁkhya tattvas, enumerated 12.18-20.” Ostensibly, at least, the ascetic in today's verse is referring to the sāṁkhya system with its enumeration of tattvas.

Ostensibly, an ascetic who looks as dubious as a skull-carrying Buddhist tantric yogin, is referring to an ancient Indian philosophical system which, from where we sit, is itself of dubious validity.

In line with this ostensible meaning, EHJ translated tattva-mārgam as “the path of the tattvas,” and PO followed suit with “the path of the ultimate principles.”

Both EHJ and PO, however, noted that tattva-mārgam could simply mean “the path to truth,” which is how EBC translated it in the first place.

In today's verse as I read it, two readings are possible not only of tattva-mārgam but of the whole of the verse – depending ultimately on how we read the mind of the ascetic who is speaking. The question, again, is: is he one of us, or is he one of them? Is he the real deal, or is he not the real deal? Is he a real dragon pointing the way to the truth of what is, or is he a fake elephant who only knows about sāṁkhya tattvas?

If we hear a real dragon speaking, and take tattva-mārgam as “the path to truth” or “the path to reality,” then, following on from yesterday's verse, tasmād which ostensibly means “from him” (i.e. from Arāḍa) really means “on those grounds” (i.e. on the grounds established yesterday, that sitting/knowing trumps living/teaching, which trumps mountains, which trump mind).

And on those grounds satyāṁ rucau saṁpratipatsyate means something other than what on the surface it seems to mean. Literally satyāṁ rucau saṁpratipatsyate means “you will go together, there being ruci,” and ostensibly ruci means “liking” so that a fake elephant is saying “you will follow [that philosophical method], insofar as it pleases you”; hence:
if thou hast a desire for it, thou wilt embrace it” [EBC];
if it pleases you, you will follow it” [EHJ];
if that pleases you, you may follow it” [PO].
But originally, before it means "liking" or "being pleased," ruci means “light” or “splendour.” So below the surface, is it possible that a real dragon might be alluding to a state of being bathed in the brightness of one bright pearl? Notwithstanding appearances, might a real dragon – though he looks on the surface like a fake non-Buddhist elephant trying to imitate a true Buddhist dragon – actually be behaving as a real dragon?

On those grounds, again, in the 4th pāda tasyāpy-avadhūya buddhim might mean more than shaking off the philosophical concept of that sage, Arāḍa: it might mean dropping off the viewpoint even of that state of being bathed in brightness.

Previously I jumped to the conclusion, from the viewpoint that I assume to be true of one who shaves his head and sits, that the ascetic now occupying centre stage cannot be the real deal. But on further investigation I am not so sure. Maybe I have been guilty of doubting the true dragon.

Did Aśvaghoṣa want us to judge the bark-clothed ascetic as good or as bad, as true or as fake?

We can waste a lot of time worrying about whether or not self and others are true – time that would be better spent knowing Aśvaghoṣa's real intention.

What, in the final analysis, was Aśvaghoṣa's intention?

Not twenty-five tattvas, that is for damn sure, or any number of sāṁkhya tattvas.

Again, in conclusion, I defer to Joshu's answer –

tasmāt (abl. sg. m.): from him ; ind. from that
bhavān (nom. sg.): you, the gentlemen present
śroṣyati = 3nd pers. sg. future śru: to hear, listen, learn
tattva-mārgam (acc. sg.): the path of that-ness, the path of the truth ; the way/method of the true principles
tattva: n. true or real state , truth , reality ; (in phil.) a true principle (in sāṁkhya phil. 25 in number , viz. a-vyakta , buddhi , ahaṁ-kāra , the 5 tan-mātras , the 5 mahā-bhūtas , the 11 organs including manas , and , lastly , puruṣa) ; the number 25 ; an element or elementary property ; the essence or substance of anything ; the being that
sāṁkhya: mfn. (fr. saṁ-khyā, to enumerate) numeral , relating to number; n. N. of one of the three great divisions of Hindu philosophy (ascribed to the sage kapila [q.v.] , and so called either from " discriminating " , in general , or , more probably , from " reckoning up " or " enumerating " twenty-five tattvas [» tattva] or true entities [twenty-three of which are evolved out of prakṛti " the primordial Essence " or " first-Producer "] , viz. buddhi , ahaṁkāra , the five tan-mātras , the five mahā-bhūtas and manas ; the twenty-fifth being puruṣa or Spirit [sometimes called Soul] which is neither a Producer nor Production [see vikāra] , but wholly distinct from the twenty-four other tattvas , and is multitudinous , each separate puruṣa by its union with prakṛti causing a separate creation out of prakṛti , the object of the philosophy being to effect the final liberation of the puruṣa or Spirit from the fetters caused by that creation ; the yoga [q.v.] branch of the sāṁkhya recognizes a Supreme Spirit dominating each separate puruṣa ; the tantras identify prakṛti with the wives of the gods , esp. with the wife of śiva ; the oldest systematic exposition of the sāṁkhya seems to have been by an author called pañca-śikha [the germ , however , being found in the ṣaṣṭi-tantra , of which only scanty fragments are extant] ; the original sūtras were superseded by the sāṁkhya-kārikā of īśvara-kṛṣṇa , the oldest manual on the sāṁkhya system that has come down to us and probably written in the 5th century A.D. , while the sāṁkhya-sūtras or śiva-pravacana and tattva-samāsa , ascribed to the sage kapila , are now thought to belong to as late a date as the 14th or 15th century or perhaps a little later)
saṁ- √ khyā: to reckon or count up , sum up , enumerate , calculate

satyām = loc. sg. f. pres. part. sat: to be
rucau (loc. sg.): f. light , lustre , splendour , beauty ; liking , taste , relish , pleasure , appetite , zest
saṁpratipatsyate = 3rd pers. sg. future: sam-prati- √ pad : to go towards together , go near to , approach , arrive at (acc.) ; to addict one's self to , indulge in (acc.) ; to attain to , obtain , recover ; to be fully agreed about , agree upon , assent to (acc. or loc.)
ca: and

yathā: ind. in which manner ; as , because , since (yathā-tathā , " as " - " therefore ")
tu: but
paśyāmi = 1st pers. sg. paś: to see ; to foresee (paśyāmi , " l am convinced " often employed parenthetically or interjectionally)
matiḥ (nom. sg.): f. thought , design , intention , resolution , determination , inclination , wish , desire ; mind
tava [old Nepalese manuscript/EBC] (gen. sg.): of yours
tathā [EHJ]: ind. (correlative of yathā) like that, in such a manner ; therefore
esā (nom. sg. f.): this

tasya (gen. sg.): his
api: even
yāsyati = 3rd pers. sg. future yā: to go , proceed , move , walk , set out , march , advance , travel ,
avadhūya = abs. ava- √ dhū: to shake off or out or down ; to shake off (as enemies or evil spirits or anything disagreeable) , frighten away
buddhim (acc. sg.): f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement; comprehension , apprehension , understanding ; (in sāṁkhya phil.) Intellect (= adhy-avasāya , the intellectual faculty or faculty of mental perception , the second of the 25 tattvas ; cf. buddhi-tattva) ; an opinion , view , notion , idea , conjecture
buddhi-tattva: n. the intellectual faculty or principle (the 2nd of the 8 prakṛtayaḥ or " producers " in the sāṁkhya , coming next to and proceeding from mūla-prakṛti or a-vyakta)

唯彼得究竟 第一増勝眼
汝當往詣彼 得聞眞實道
能使心悦者 必當行其法
我觀汝志樂 恐亦非所安
當復捨彼遊 更求餘多聞

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