Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.20: Speaking Health to Power

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Buddhi)
taṁ nyāyato nyāya-vidāṁ variṣṭhaṁ sametya papraccha ca dhātu-sāmyam |
sa cāpy-avocat-sadśena sāmnā n-paṁ manaḥ-svāsthyam-an-āmayaṁ ca || 10.20

Having come, in a proper way,
into the presence of the best of knowers of a proper way,

The king asked after the balance of his bodily humours;

And he also, in a suitably equable manner, spoke

To a protector of men, 
of mental well-being and freedom from disease.

On the surface today's verse is not saying much. The bodhisattva and the king of Magadha exchanged verbal pleasantries.

PO notes:
According to Manu 2.127, the polite way to greet a kshatriya is to ask about his health (an/āmaya). Aśvaghoṣa is following this custom in his composition.

Below the surface, I suspect, Aśvaghoṣa is following a different tradition altogether.

The way to greet a man who regards himself as a kshatriya?

How about: “All right there, you snob. How are you doing? Still haven't dropped off your kshatriya body and mind yet, by the looks of it.”

No. The deeper meaning of today's verse, as I read it, might have to do with how any bodhisattva – like me or you– should speak to any protector of men, and not necessarily in words.

Our aim might be, when speaking truth to power, and not necessarily in words, always to express mental well-being and freedom from disease.

The best way of speaking like that might be to keep our mouths shut and to demonstrate in practice, with our legs crossed in the full lotus posture, the ultimate meaning of pratītya-samutpāda, or a Springing Up Together, grounded in direction.

Having said that, pratītya-samutpāda as causality (“grounded arising”?) as set out by the Buddha in a twelvefold chain, is not a thing to think light of.

There have been not a few days this year, I must admit, when my health has been such that I have been in no condition to manifest any kind of springing up, and have instead remained most of the day in bed. 

Good and bad karma makes itself felt, Dogen reminded us, in three times – over the short, medium and very long term. Now Max Clifford, for one, is well placed to know what Dogen was talking about.

tam (acc. sg. m.): him
nyāyataḥ: ind. in a fitting manner , as is fit or proper , according to right or justice
nyāya: that into which a thing goes back i.e. an original type , standard , method , rule , (esp.) a general or universal rule , model , axiom , system , plan , manner , right or fit manner or way , fitness , propriety
nyāya-vidām (gen. pl.): m. one who knows what is fit or proper
variṣṭham (acc. sg. m.): mfn. (superl. vara) the most excellent or best , most preferable among (gen. or comp.)

sametya = abs. sam-ā-√i: to come together , approach together , meet
papraccha = 3rd pers. sg. perf. prach: to ask, inquire into
ca: and
dhātu-sāmyam (acc. sg.): n. equilibrium of the bodily humours , good health ;
dhātu: a constituent element or essential ingredient of the body (distinct from the 5 mentioned above and conceived either as 3 humours [called also doṣa] phlegm , wind and bile BhP. [cf. purīṣa , māṁsa , manas , ChUp. vi , 5 , 1] ; or as the 5 organs of sense , indriyāṇi).
sāmya: n. equality , evenness , equilibrium , equipoise , equal or normal state

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca: and
api: also
avocat = 3rd pers. sg. aorist vac: to speak , say , tell , utter , announce , declare , mention , proclaim , recite , describe
sadṛśena (inst. sg. n.): mfn. like, resembling ; conformable , suitable , fit , proper , right , worthy
sāmnā = inst. sg. sāman: n. calming , tranquillizing , (esp.) kind or gentle words for winning an adversary , conciliation ( instr. sg. and pl. , " by friendly means or in a friendly way , willingly , voluntarily ")

nṛ-pam (acc. sg.): m. 'protector of men'; king
manaḥ-svāsthyam (acc. sg.): n. health of mind, Bcar.
svāsthyam: n. (fr. sva-stha) self-dependence , sound state (of body or soul) , health , ease , comfort , contentment , satisfaction
an-āmayam (acc. sg.): n. freedom from disease ; health
ca: and

歛容執禮儀 敬問彼和安
菩薩詳而動 隨順反相酬

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