Friday, November 15, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.27: Beautiful Sadness (Big Girls Do Cry)

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
mukhaiś-ca tāsāṁ nayanāmbu-tāḍitaiḥ rarāja tad-rāja-niveśanaṁ tadā |
navāmbu-kāle 'mbu-da-vṣṭi-tāḍitaiḥ sravaj-jalais-tāma-rasair-yathā saraḥ || 8.27

And in the presence of the tear-stricken faces of those individuals,

That lair of kings, in that moment, was bathed in splendour –

Like a lake at the time of the first rains

When clouds with their raindrops are striking its dripping lotuses.

On the surface today's verse paints the women of Kapilavastu, for all their sorrow, in a beautiful light.

But when today's verse is understood, below the surface, as painting a picture of Zen monks practising sitting-meditation (in a lair of Dharma-kings), then we are talking of beauty on a whole other level -- whether it be higher or deeper.

The former beauty is like the beauty of Sundarī, as described by Aśvaghoṣa in Canto 3 of his epic tale of Beautiful Happiness. 
For her grace and beauty, she was called Lovely Sundarī; for her headstrong pride, Sulky Māninī; / And for her sparkle and spirit, Beautiful Bhāminī. So that she was called by three names. // SN4.3 // She of smiles like the bars of a bar-headed-goose, of eyes like black bees, and swelling breasts like the upward jutting buds of a lotus, / Shimmered all the more, a lotus-pool in female form, with the rising of a kindred luminary, the sun-like Nanda. // SN4.4 //
The latter beauty is like the beauty realized by Nanda, as described by the Buddha himself  in the concluding canto of his epic tale of Beautiful Happiness:
How great it is that you have reached the deepest tranquillity, like a man making it through a wasteland and gaining possession of treasure. / For everybody in the flux of saṁsāra is afflicted by fear, just like a man in a wasteland. // SN18.32 // 'When shall I see Nanda settled, given over to the living of a forest beggar's life?', / So thinking, I had harboured from the start the desire to see you thus. What a wonderful sight you are for me to behold! // 18.33 // For even an unlovely sort is a sight to behold when he is well-adorned with his own best features. / But a man who is full of the befouling faults, strikingly beautiful man though he may be, is truly ugly. //SN18.34 //

Speaking for myself also – and I suspect it is a symptom of getting older, without necessarily having got any wiser – these days I see the epitome of beauty in a youtube clip of Monty Roberts or Cesar Millan bringing a fearful horse or an anxious dog back into a state of deep tranquillity. What I especially like is those episodes of The Dog Whisperer (like this one, from 10 minutes in) when Cesar's erstwhile sidekick, the pit bull terrier known as Daddy, enters into the frame and changes everything just by being his unworried canine self.

We human beings like to discuss peace in the abstract, just like I am doing right now. Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike lie to ourselves and others, purporting to be pursuers of peace. If we are really stupid we follow a teacher, or join an organization, whose stated aim is peace... and then get sucked into political in-fighting and bickering. “This is the true way to peace, the way of the yellow hats. Other ways, like the way of the blue hats and the red hats, are not the true way to peace.” The pit bull terrier known as Daddy, whatever deficits he may have had on the intellectual level, never made that mistake at all. Here is another clip of Daddy in action (from about 12 minutes in), demonstrating how to deal with a wolf-dog approaching him with a dominant attitude. So beautiful it could bring tears to a bloke's eyes!

mukhaiḥ (inst. pl.): n. faces
ca: and
tāsām (gen. pl. f.): of those women
nayanāmbu-tāḍitaiḥ (inst. pl. n.): pelted by eye-water
nayana: n. leading , directing , managing , conducting; n. " the leading organ " , the eye
ambu: n. water
nayanāmbu: n. “eye-water” ; tears
tāḍita: mfn. struck , beaten , chastised
taḍ: to beat , strike , knock , strike (with arrows) , wound , punish ; (in astron.) to obscure or eclipse partially

rarāja = 3rd pers. sg. perf. rāj: to reign ; to be illustrious or resplendent , shine , glitter ; to appear as or like (iva)
tad (nom. sg. n.): that
rāja-niveśanam (nom. sg. n.): dwelling place of the king ; hiding place of kings
rāja: m. king
niveśana: n. going or bringing to rest (°naṁ- √kṛ , to settle , encamp); n. hiding or dwelling-place of any kind , nest , lair , camp , house , home
tadā: ind. at that time , then

navāmbu-kāle (loc. sg.): at the time of new water, when the rains come
navāmbu: n. fresh water
kāla: m. time
ambu-da-vṛṣṭi-tāḍitaiḥ (inst. pl.):
ambu-da: m. " giving water " , a cloud
vṛṣṭi: f. (sg. and pl.) rain RV. &c (ifc. often = a shower of)
tāḍita: mfn. struck , beaten , chastised

sravaj-jalaiḥ (inst. pl.)
sravat: mfn. (pr.p.) streaming , flowing; f. a river
jala: n. (also pl.) water , any fluid
tāma-rasaiḥ (inst. pl.): n. a day-lotus ; gold
yathā: ind. as, like
saraḥ (nom. sg.): n. " anything flowing or fluid " , a lake , large sheet of water , pond , pool , tank  

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