Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.39: Has Mother Nature Been Motivated by Intimidation?

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
yadā samarthaḥ khalu soḍhum-āgatān-iṣu-prahārān-api kiṁ punaḥ kaśāḥ |
gataḥ kaśā-yāta-bhayāt kathaṁ nv-ayaṁ śriyaṁ ghītvā hdayaṁ ca me samam || 8.39

When he is well able to defy even incoming arrows,

To say nothing of whips,

How could fear of a whip's goading
have caused this [fast-goer] to go,

Snatching away, in equal measure,
my royal pomp and my heart?

Below the surface of today's verse as I read it, the ancient Horse-Whisperer Aśvaghoṣa is expressing a principle that modern horse-whisperer Monty Roberts has rediscovered for our time – which is namely that, to train a fearless warhorse, fear is not the way.

Techniques which aim  through intimidation to harness the natural power of a horse (Skt: turaṇgama, “ready-mover” or “fast-goer”) put the end before the means. They are thus what FM Alexander described as “end-gaining.” They are akin to approaches to sitting-meditation in which a practitioner wishes to make a splendid mirror but sees the polishing of a tile as a mug's game.

Below the surface of today's verse, therefore, I think Aśvaghoṣa's real intention concerns not so much horses as humans, as beings whose natural energy is to be harnessed, using such non-intimidatory techniques as awareness of breathing –  a means of allowing the natural laws of the organism to work without interference....
"When an investigation comes to be made it will be found that every single thing we do in the work is exactly what is done in Nature, where the conditions are right, the difference being that we are learning to do it consciously." 
Ostensibly, then, today's verse is the continuation of Yaśodharā's complaint directed at Kanthaka for carrying away her husband, and the mention of arrows and whips and fear thereof is incidental.

But below the surface the key word in today's verse, appearing in the 3rd pāda, is bhayāt, “because of fear” or “through intimidation.”

Then in the 4th pāda Yaśodharā is ostensibly bemoaning the loss of her śriyam (physical power, or royal pomp, or 'lustre' in the outward, superficial sense) and her hṛdayam (the heart as centre of emotional thoughts and feelings). But below the surface the snatching away of śriyam and hṛdayam, or power and heart, in equal measure, in balance (samam), can be taken as a symbol of body and mind being caused spontaneously to drop off – not something to be complained about but rather a bit of nothing to work towards, an aim of practice.

So today's verse asks a question. And the gist of the question is: As a means of causing body and mind to drop off, is intimidation valid? Or, more simply: Is mother nature amenable to being intimidated? 

In the Chinese translation, by the way, Yaśodharā addresses her words to , “you,” i.e. to Kanthaka himself.

yadā: ind. when
samarthaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. very strong or powerful , competent , capable of , able to , a match for (gen. dat. loc. inf.)
khalu: ind. (as a particle of asseveration) indeed , verily , certainly , truly
soḍhum = inf. to prevail , be victorious ; to overcome , vanquish , conquer , defeat (enemies) , gain , win (battles) ; to master , suppress , restrain ; to bear up against , resist , withstand
āgatān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. coming, arriving

iṣu-prahārān (acc. pl. m.): arrow strikes
iṣu: mf. an arrow
prahāra: m. striking , hitting , fighting ; a stroke , blow , thump , knock , kick &
pra- √ hṛ: to thrust or move forward ; to hurl , throw , discharge at (loc.) ; to strike , hit , hurt , attack , assail
api: even
kiṁ punaḥ: ind. how much more?
kaśāḥ (acc. pl.): f. a whip; a rein , bridle ; whipping , flogging

gataḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. gone , gone away , departed
kaśā-yāta-bhayāt: (abl. sg.): from fear of being goaded by a whip
yāta: n. motion , progress , gait , course , drive ; n. the guiding or driving of an elephant with a goad
bhaya: n. fear
kaśā-pāta-bhayāt [EBC/EHJ] (abl. sg.): because of fear of the fall of a whip
kaśā-pāta: m. the stroke of a whip, Bcar.
pāta: m. flying, fall; alighting , descending or causing to descend , casting or throwing upon , cast , fall (of a thunderbolt) ; a stroke (of a sword &c )
katham: ind. how? katham is often found in connection with the particles iva , nāma , nu , svid , which appear to generalize the interrogation (how possibly? how indeed? &c ) with nu it is sometimes = kimu , or kutas (e.g. katkaṁ nu , how much more!)
tu: but (sometimes expletive)
nu [EHJ]: ind. now, indeed
ayam (nom. sg. m.): this [horse]

śriyam (acc. sg.): f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory , beauty , grace , loveliness ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty , royal dignity
gṛhītvā = abs. grah: to grasp , lay hold of ; to catch , take captive , take prisoner , capture , imprison ; to take possession of , gain over , captivate ; to seize , overpower ; to eclipse ; to abstract , take away (by robbery)
hṛdayam (acc. sg.): n. the heart (or region of the heart as the seat of feelings and sensations)
ca: and
me (gen. sg.): my
samam: ind. in like manner , alike , equally , similarly ; ind. together with or at the same time

乘汝戰鬥時 刀刃鋒利箭
一切悉能堪 今有何不忍
一族之殊勝 強奪我心去

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