Thursday, December 26, 2013

BUDDHACARITA 8.68: Seeking Out Spontaneity

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
aho n-śaṁsaṁ su-kumāra-varcasaḥ su-dāruṇaṁ tasya manasvino manaḥ |
kala-pralāpaṁ dviṣato 'pi harṣaṇaṁ śiśuṁ sutaṁ yas-tyajatīdśaṁ svataḥ || 8.68

O how terribly hard and cruel is the mind

Of him, so full of mind, whose light is so gentle!

An infant son,
whose burbling would gladden even an enemy,

He leaves in such a manner, just as he likes.

As a general rule there is something in every verse Aśvaghoṣa wrote that stimulates and encourages a Zen practitioner's body and mind in sitting. That something, like a medicinal dose of tea or coffee, or like a needle, is generally hidden below the surface so that an extra shot of pleasure is to be derived from digging it out.

What that something is in today's verse – possibly as a result of a certain dullness of mind associated with over-indulgence on Christmas day – I have been struggling in vain to fathom.

The best candidate may be suggested by the final word of the Old Nepalese manuscript, which is vataḥ. EHJ amended this vataḥ to the emphatic bata, and translated “in sooth”:

...when in sooth he abandons such an infant son with his babbling talk, who would charm even an enemy. (EHJ)

In EBC's text the word in question is rendered as svataḥ (sva = self + taḥ = ablative suffix; hence svataḥ = from one's self, of one's own accord), translated by EBC as “of his own accord”:

...who can desert of his own accord such an infant son with his inarticulate talk, one who would charm even an enemy. (EBC)

All three professors took īdṛśam (such) as agreeing with śiśuṁ sutam (such an infant son).

But if the original reading was indeed, as per EBC's text, yas-tyajatīdṛśaṁ svataḥ, then I would like to take īdṛśam as adverbial (in such a manner, like that) and to take yas-tyajatīdṛśaṁ svataḥ as the kind of enigmatic phrase that was celebrated in Chinese Zen, along the lines of “here comes something ineffable, spontaneously coming like this,” or “there goes something ineffable, spontaneously leaving like that.”

aho: ind. a particle (implying joyful or painful surprise) Ah! (of enjoyment or satisfaction) Oh! (of fatigue , discontent , compassion , sorrow , regret) Alas! Ah!
nṛ-śaṁsam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. injuring men , mischievous , noxious , cruel , base
su-kumāra-varcasaḥ (gen. sg. m.): whose splendid form is very gentle
su-kumāra: mfn. very tender or delicate ; m. a delicate youth ; m. tenderness
varcas: n. vital power , vigour , energy , activity , (esp.) the illuminating power of fire or the sun i.e. brilliance , lustre , light; colour ; splendour , glory ; form , figure , shape

su-dāruṇam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. very cruel or dreadful or terrible (n. " something terrible " or " a partic. mythical weapon ")
dāruṇa: mfn. hard , harsh (opp. mṛdu); rough , sharp , severe , cruel , pitiless ; dreadful , frightful
tasya (gen. sg. m.): him
manasvinaḥ (gen. sg. m.): mfn. full of mind or sense , intelligent , clever , wise
manaḥ (nom. sg.): n. mind (in its widest sense as applied to all the mental powers) ; in high spirits , cheerful , glad ; fixing the mind attentive

kala-pralāpam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. speaking pleasantly, Bcar
kala: mfn. indistinct , dumb; indistinct or inarticulate (on account of tears) ; low , soft (as a tone) , emitting a soft tone , melodious (as a voice or throat) ; m. a low or soft and inarticulate tone (as humming , buzzing &c )
pralāpa: m. talk , discourse , prattling , chattering ; lamentation ; incoherent or delirious speech , raving [see BC8.59]
dviṣataḥ = gen. sg. m. dviṣat: mfn. (pres. part. of √dviṣ) hating or detesting , hostile , unfriendly , foe , enemy (with acc. or gen.)
api: even
harṣaṇam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. causing the hair of the body to stand erect , thrilling with joy or desire , gladdening , delightful , pleasant

śiśum (acc. sg. m.): m. a child , infant , the young of any animal ; a boy under eight years of age ; mfn. young , infantine
sutam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. begotten , brought forth ; m. a son
yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who
tyajati = 3rd pers. sg. tyaj: to leave, abandon
īdṛśam (acc. sg. m.): mfn. such [a son]
īdṛśam (acc. sg. n.): in such a manner
bata: (emphatic)
svataḥ [EBC]: ind. of one's own self , of one's own accord (applicable to all three persons); by nature

嗚呼不吉士 貎柔而心剛 
勝族盛光榮 怨憎猶宗仰
又子生未孩 而能永棄捨

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