Monday, April 14, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.5: Showing Reverence (Or Not)

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
kaś-cit-tam-ānarca janaḥ karābhyāṁ sat-ktya kaś-cic-chirasā vavande |
snigdhena kaś-cid-vacasābhyananda-naivaṁ jagāmāpratipūjya kaś-cit || 10.5

Some people honoured him with joined hands;

Some properly paid homage, using their head;

Some sang his praises with devoted words.

Nobody, in this way, went without showing religious reverence.

Today's verse can be read, in parallel with yesterday's verse, as presenting a thesis in the 1st pāda, an antithesis in the 2nd pāda, a synthesis in the 3rd pāda – and an ironic suggestion of springing up in sitting in the 4th pāda.

In those terms, joining the palms together is habitual religious behaviour; in many cases, it might be a cursory gesture that expresses a person's devotional sentiment – without requiring much in the way of true devotion.

If such a perfunctory gesture is the thesis, then the antithesis might be something requiring more psycho-physical effort, like a full body prostration, or like a lesson in the FM Alexander Technique, learning in practice the principle that “the head leads and the body follows.”

But what we are dealing with here and now is a verse of Sanskrit kāvya poetry, devoted words, which an Indian Zen patriarch took pains to write.

In the 4th pāda, EHJ amended naivam (na + evam) to nainam (na + enam), and translated “none passed on without doing him reverence.” Keeping evam, however, as per the original text, seems to me to open up a hidden meaning which is once again suggestive of just sitting.

We saw in yesterday's verse how the 4th pāda on the surface meant that anybody who was sitting down, suddenly stood up. Below the surface, however, the 4th pāda was a punch-line suggesting that anybody who was sitting, sprang up in sitting – i.e. they dropped off body and mind.

Similarly in today's verse the 4th pāda means on the surface that everybody showed the bodhisattva religious reverence – e.g. by joining hands, bowing, reciting verses, burning incense, lighting candles, jingling bells, blowing whistles, and all the rest of it. But below the surface Aśvaghoṣa's ironic suggestion might be that there was nobody who sat as Aśvaghoṣa himself sat – hence evam, in this way.  There was nobody who just sat, without necessarily bothering about burning incense, bowing, contemplating, confessing, reading sutras, or doing any of the other practises that Tendo Nyojo called unnecessary...
Zen practice is body and mind dropping off, and just sitting has got it from the beginning. It is not necessary to burn incense, to perform prostrations, to contemplate the Buddha, to practise confession, or to read sutras.

kaś-cit (nom. sg. m.): someone
tam (acc. sg. m.): him
ānarca = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ṛc: to praise = arc: to praise; to honour or treat with respect
janaḥ (nom. sg.): m. person, people
karābhyām (inst. dual): m. 'doer', hand

sat-kṛtya: ind. (ind.p.) having treated with respect , having hospitably entertained ; devotedly , piously , zealously , eagerly
sat-√kṛ: to set right , put in order , arrange , prepare , adorn , garnish; to treat well or with respect , honour , treat or receive hospitably ; to pay the last honours to (acc.) , cremate
kaś-cit (nom. sg. m.): someone
śirasā (inst. sg.): n. the head
vavande = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vand: to praise , celebrate , laud , extol ; to show honour , do homage , salute respectfully or deferentially , venerate , worship , adore

snigdhena (inst. sg. n.): mfn. stickly, slippery, smooth ; adhesive , attached , affectionate , tender , friendly ; soft , mild , bland , gentle ; lovely , agreeable , charming
kaś-cit (nom. sg. m.): someone
vacasā (inst. sg.): n. speech, words
abhyananda = 3rd pers. sg. perf. abhi- √ nand: to rejoice at , salute , welcome , greet , hail ; to praise , applaud , approve

na: not
evam: ind. thus , in this way ; sometimes evam is merely an expletive
enam [EHJ] (acc. sg. m.): him
jagāma = 3rd pers. sg. perf. gam: to go
apratipūjya (a + abs. prati- √ pūj): without honouring
prati- √ pūj: to return a salutation , reverence , salute respectfully , honour , praise , commend , approve
prati: towards, in the direction of ; back , again , in return
√ pūj: to honour , worship , revere , respect , regard
kaś-cit (nom. sg. m.): anyone

四體諸相好 隨見目不移
恭敬來奉迎 合掌禮問訊

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