Sunday, December 1, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.43: Digging for Blamelessness

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
vigarhituṁ nārhasi devi kanthakaṁ na cāpi roṣaṁ mayi kartum-arhasi |
anāgasau svaḥ samavehi sarvaśo gato n-devaḥ sa hi devi devavat || 8.43

“Please do not blame Kanthaka, O godly queen,

Nor show anger towards me.

Know us both as blameless in every way,

For that god among men, O royal goddess, departed like a god.

In yesterday's verse, on further reflection, the master of the horse and the emotional woman are in some sense resonating on the same frequency, in their shared tearfulness. So there may be something there, after all, for a bloke who sits to study.

In today's verse, the master of the horse is counselling the emotional woman not to blame the horse ( = instinct?) and not to show anger towards the master of the horse ( = what governs instinct?). Rather, he is telling her, samavehi (lit. “be united in”; EBC/EHJ/PO: “know”) that duality, or unity of two factors, which is anāgasau (sinless/blameless). 

For simplicity's sake, I also have translated the imperative samavehi as "know," but this fails to convey the hidding meaning of sam-ava-√i, which Aśvaghoṣa may have intended to convey, along the lines of "coming together" or "being united in." 

The duality in question may be assumed to be Kanthaka and Chandaka, the horse ( = instinct?) and the master of the horse ( = what governs instinct?). But the original word used in all the texts (old Nepalese manuscript, EBC, EHJ) is svaḥ, which is difficult to understand.

EHJ noted that samavehi demands an object, so that we must take svaḥ as equivalent to nau [acc. dual. aham], presumably to avoid the ugly combination anāgasau nau.

Speaking from my lowly perch as a dirt-washing donkey, I have no idea why the combination anāgasau nau deserves to be avoided as ugly, but neither do I have any better explanation to offer for why Aśvaghoṣa might have preferred svaḥ to nau. I suppose his intention might have been to suggest the dual object as united in a single self. I am not sure how choosing the word svaḥ would have served this purpose, but I do strongly suspect that this was Aśvaghoṣa's purpose. 

So I think the master of the horse might be hinting, for the benefit of the emotional woman that, rather than blaming the horse and hating the master of the horse, she would be better off coming together or being united in (sam-ava-√i) the knowing of master-and-horse. 

In any event, it is not in doubt, with the dual reference to vigarhituṁ nārhasi (you should not blame) and an-āgasau ([both] being blameless), that today's verse is designed to cause us to reflect on the matter of blaming and blame.

Vigarhituṁ nārhasi strikes me as a simple injunction -- do not blame -- like do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, and so on; in short, like SHOAKU-MAKUSA taken as an imperative: do not do any evil.

But an-āgasu, as one of those enigmatic compounds prefixed by a negative (like SHOAKU-MAKUSA taken as a kind of realization:  the not-doing of wrongs), can be read as an invitation for further digging.

For example, in what sense are intelligence ( = master) and natural instinct (= horse) blameless, or without sin?

Is it that a human being, as a unity/duality of intelligence-and-instinct is originally blameless or without sin? Is that why Dogen describes the essence of sitting-meditation as body and mind naturally dropping away and our original features emerging?

Is it that a human being, through being mindful of his actions, can cause himself or herself to live blamelessly or without sin -- to live in such a way as not to attract blame, whether from without or from within? Is that why the Buddha tells Nanda: In order to get to the nectar of deathlessness you should watch the manner of your action (amṛtasyāptaye saumya vṛttaṃ rakṣitum-arhasi // SN13.10 //)? 

There again, whether people blame me is up to them, and not in my power to control. But what I can do, here and now, is to inhibit the tendency in myself, when something seems to have gone wrong, to seek to apportion blame. Is this the hidden meaning of an-āgasau, the two (my own body and my own mind)  being free of blame? Is this a hidden meaning of blamelessness which we are being encouraged, by the word sarvaśaḥ (in every way), to dig for?

And are we are being encouraged, by the word sarvaśaḥ (in every way), to know other ways too of truly being an-āgas (without sin, free of blame, not injuring [self or others]).

My tentative conclusion about today's verse, at least for my own benefit, is that when the Buddha spoke of bhāvanā (cultivating [the mind]; work [on the self]), the digging out of the pesky weeds of blame might be part of that effort.

For me, for one, it is effort primarily to be made while sitting on a round black cushion, naturally becoming, in Dogen's words, all of one piece.


vigarhitum = inf. vi- √ garh: to blame , abuse , revile , reproach , despise , contemn
na: not
arhasi (2nd pers. sg. arh): you should
devi = voc. sg. devī: f. a female deity , goddess ; queen , princess lady (the consecrated wife or daughter of a king , but also any woman of high rank)
kanthakam (acc. sg.): m. Kanthaka

na: not
ca: and
api: aslo
roṣam (acc. sg.): m. anger , rage , wrath , passion , fury (roṣaṁ- √kṛ with prati , " to be angry with ") .
mayi (loc. sg.): to me
kartum = inf. kṛ: to do, make
arhasi (2nd pers. sg. arh): you should

an-āgasau = acc. dual an-āgas: mfn. sinless , blameless ; not injuring
āgas: n. transgression , offence , injury , sin , fault
svaḥ according to EHJ's conjecture = nau (acc. dual aham): we two
svau = acc. dual sva: m. a man of one's own people or tribe , a kinsman , relative , relation , friend
nau (acc. dual aham): the two of us
ubhau (acc. dual ubha): both of us
samavehi = 2nd pers. sg. imperative sam-ava-√i: to come or meet or mix or assemble together , be united in (acc.) ; to regard , consider (with iva , " to regard as ")
sarvaśaḥ: ind. wholly , completely , entirely , thoroughly , collectively , altogether , in general , universally ; in every way

gataḥ (nom. sg. m.): gone
nṛ-devaḥ (nom. sg. m.): god among men
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
hi: for
devi = voc. sg. devī: f. a female deity , goddess ; queen , princess lady (the consecrated wife or daughter of a king , but also any woman of high rank)
devavat: ind. like a god

莫嫌責白馬 亦莫恚於我
我等悉無過 天神之所爲

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