Thursday, April 10, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.1: To Rājagṛha (Kingsbury), Broad-Chestedly

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Kīrti)
sa rāja-vatsaḥ pthu-pīna-vakṣās-tau havya-mantrādhiktau vihāya |
uttīrya gangāṁ pracalat-taraṅgāṁ śrīmad-ghaṁ rājaghaṁ jagāma || 10.1

The king's beloved boy, whose chest was broad and full,

After he had got rid of those two,
the heads of havya and mantra, oblations and machinations,

Crossed the billowing Ganges

And went to Rāja-gṛha, “Kingsbury,” with its splendid residences.

I came across Kingsbury as an English translation of Rāja-gṛha in a book called The Historical Buddha, translated into English from the German by the late Maurice Walsh. That was nearly 30 years ago, but I liked the translation at the time and remembered it. I think I liked it because it made a Sanskrit place name sound less exotic, and more like somewhere from middle England.

Middle England is where I come from. Every day on the bus to school I used to go past Sarehole Mill, which was a childhood haunt of JRR Tolkein and supposedly part of the inspiration for his writings. 

Yes, it is a pity that none of Tolkein's literary genius rubbed off on me. I was never very good at writing English, or at appreciating literature, whether English or foreign. I preferred economics and saw myself as maybe becoming a big man of the world, a do-gooder with financial clout to back up good intentions, a major philanthropist, somebody to rival George Soros. Don't laugh. That's why I studied Accounting & Financial Management at university. After I graduated, I thought I would look first into Zen enlightenment, before beginning to make money in earnest. So here I am thirty-odd years later, starting to feel my age, and still not having arrived conclusively even at first base, let alone made any serious money. 

Along the way, however, whether for my sins or in spite of them I don't know, I have come to see the essence of sitting-Zen as getting rid of two things and coming back to four. 

I think the duality to be got rid of might be symbolized in today's verse by havya and mantra, oblations and machinations, standing for religious belief and political science. 

The Pope or Richard Dawkins? 
You can keep them both!

The four I come back to, as I have been formulating them to myself over the past few days, are namely:
1. The motivational,
2. The gravitational,
3. The having no gap in the middle,
4. This present state of being in overall command.

These, as I see them, are the four cornerstones of direction (there is no fifth). They correspond to FM Alexander's four primary directions, and at the same time to four primitive vestibular reflexes.

It is getting rid of the two and coming back to these four, I venture to submit, that causes a person's chest to become again like the chest of a healthy baby – released; not held but expansive; broad and full.

If I am ever able conclusively to master this truth, not only in principle but in practice, as FM Alexander evidently mastered it, then it might be time for me to move onto second base, in which case George Soros had better watch out. But progress to date has been very far from rapid, so please let nobody hold their breath. 

sa (nom. sg m.): he
rāja-vatsaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the young of the king, the prince
pṛthu-pīna-vakṣāḥ (nom. sg m.): with expansive and full chest
pṛthu: mfn. broad , wide , expansive , extensive , spacious , large
pīna: mfn. swelling , swollen , full , round , thick , large , fat , fleshy , corpulent muscular
vakṣas: n. breast, chest

tau (acc. dual): those two
havya-mantrādhikṛtau (acc. dual): charged with oblations and consultations
havya: n. anything to be offered as an oblation , sacrificial gift or food
mantra: m. , " instrument of thought " , speech , sacred text or speech , a prayer or song of praise ; consultation , resolution , counsel
adhikṛta: mfn. placed at the head of , appointed
adhi- √ kṛ: to place at the head , appoint ; to superintend , be at the head of (loc.)
vihāya = abs. vi- √ hā : to leave behind , relinquish , quit ; to get rid of or free from (acc.)

uttīrya = abs. ud- √tṝ: to cross (a river)
gangām (acc. sg.): f. the Ganges
pracalat-taraṅgām (acc. sg. f.): with its trembling waves
pracalat: mfn. moving , trembling , shaking
taraṁga: m. " across-goer " , a wave , billow

śrīmad-gṛham (acc. sg. n.): with its splendid houses
śrīmat: mfn. beautiful , charming , lovely , pleasant , splendid , glorious
rāja-gṛham (acc. sg.): n. a king's house , palace ; N. of the chief city in magadha
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go 

太子辭王師 及正法大臣
冒浪濟恒河 路由靈鷲巖

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