Saturday, December 21, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.63: What the Buddha Left Behind

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
makheṣu vā veda-vidhāna-saṁsktau na daṁpatī paśyati dīkṣitāv-ubhau |
samaṁ bubhukṣū parato 'pi tat-phalaṁ tato 'sya jāto mayi dharma-matsaraḥ || 8.63

Or else he fails to see that, during sacrificial oblations,

Both husband and wife are consecrated,
both being sanctified through Vedic rites,

And both wishing thereafter to enjoy together
the fruit of that sanctification –

Out of such blindness is born
the besotted stinginess with dharma that he has shown towards me.

Freedom can exist inside and outside of a house or a temple and inside and outside of marriage. But religious dharma as a rule is all about the opposite of freedom; namely, fixing.

That being so, Yaśodharā as I hear her  is expressing in her lament the very thing that the Buddha-to-be wishes to get the hell away from.

Similarly when Dogen asserted that the Buddha-dharma is just to sit and just to sit is the Buddha-dharma, what he was pointing to, as I hear him, is not necessarily a religious dharma, but quite possibly a totally irreligious dharma.

Because what has the act of sitting got to do with religion? And what has the direction “Let the head go forward and up, while letting the back lengthen and widen” got to do with religion?

That act and that dharma-direction, in my book, are the essence of the Buddha-dharma whose relation to the dharma of religious rites is like the relation between the sun and darkness.

Still, the 4th pāda of today's verse remains a difficult one to translate. A literal translation would be something like:
“Thence is born in him towards me this dharma-selfishness/stinginess.”

EBC translated: he therefore grudges me a share in his merit.”
EHJ: “therefore he has become miserly of dharma towards me.”
PO: “That's the reason why he acts selfishly with respect to dharma concerning me.”

Matsaraḥ is given in the dictionary as selfishness, envy, jealousy, but it probably derives from the root  mad, and therefore has connotations of exhilaration or intoxication, so dharma-matsaraḥ might be translated “besotted stinginess with dharma” – or, more simply, “selfishness about dharma.” At time of writing this comment, I still haven't decided which translation to opt for. 

“Besotted stinginess with dharma” might have the advantage of bringing out the irony in Yaśodharā's words, since she might truly be the blindly besotted one, who would like to bind her husband to herself using the mouldy old rope of a religious conception of dharma.

The main point of today's verse, then, as I read it, is to cause us to reflect further on the Venn diagram wherein there might be some superficial overlap between two conceptions of dharma, but also, more importantly, a vast area that Yaśodharā hasn't glimpsed even in her dreams.

Thus, if we substitute for “dharma” the English words Nature or Direction, EBC's translation could become he therefore grudges me a share in Nature” and EHJ's could become something like “therefore he has become miserly  towards me in the matter of the Direction of the Universe.”

Insofar as the Buddha-dharma might be wider still than even Nature, or Direction, to represent it with a closed circle in a Venn diagram, on reflection, might be to insult it. Many arrows pointing away from the old conception of dharma might be more like it. 

The point, in conclusion, is that Yaśodharā's lament is rooted in a very limited appreciation of dharma which is all bound up with ancient Indian thinking. 

A prevailing current in the ocean of Buddhist studies is that Aśvaghoṣa sought to portray the Buddha-dharma as a teaching that evolved out of the ancient Indian conception of dharma. I think Yaśodharā, on the evidence of the present series of verses, would have found herself in agreement with that line of thought. But the dharma of the Buddha himself and of Aśvaghoṣa himself might be to abandon that idea -- to cut that conception out, by the dharma of directed sitting.

makheṣu (loc. pl. m.): mfn. jocund , cheerful , sprightly , vigorous ; m. jocund , cheerful , sprightly , vigorous ; m. a sacrifice , sacrificial oblation
vā: or
veda-vidhāna-saṁskṛtau (acc. dual): initiated into the performance of Vedic rites
veda: m. (fr. √vid, to know) knowledge , true or sacred knowledge or lore , knowledge of ritual ; N. of certain celebrated works which constitute the basis of the first period of the Hindu religion (these works were primarily three , viz. 1. the ṛg-veda , 2. the yajur-veda 3. the sāma-veda)
vidhāna: n. order , measure , disposition , arrangement , regulation , rule , precept , method , manner ; n. performance (esp. of prescribed acts or rites) , execution , making , doing , accomplishing
saṁskṛta: mfn. put together , constructed , well or completely formed , perfected; made ready , prepared , completed , finished ; purified , consecrated , sanctified , hallowed , initiated

na: not
dampatī (acc. dual): " the two masters " , husband and wife
dampati: the lord of the house
paśyati = 3rd pers. sg. paś: to see (with na " to be blind ")
dīkṣitau (acc. dual): mfn. consecrated
ubhau (acc. dual): both

samam: ind. in like manner , alike , equally , similarly ; ind. together with or at the same time with
bubhukṣū (acc. dual): mfn. (fr. Desid. of √bhuj) desirous of enjoying
bubhukṣu: mfn. wishing to eat , hungry ; desirous of worldly enjoyment (opp. to mumukṣu)
bhuj: to enjoy , use , possess , (esp.) enjoy a meal
parataḥ: ind. farther , far off , afterwards
api: also
tat-phalam (acc. sg.): the fruit of that
phala: n. fruit (met.) , consequence , effect , result , retribution (good or bad) , gain or loss , reward or punishment , advantage or disadvantage ; benefit

tataḥ: ind. thence, from that
asya (gen. sg.): of this one, in him
jātaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. born
mayi (loc. sg.): towards me
dharma-matsaraḥ (nom. sg. m.): selfishness in relation to dharma
matsara: mfn. (prob. fr. √ mad) , exhilarating , intoxicating ; selfish , greedy ; m. the exhilarater , gladdener (soma) ; m. selfishness , envy , jealousy , hostility

梵志祠祀典 夫妻必同行
同行法爲因 終則同受報
汝何獨法慳 棄我而隻遊

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