Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 9.82: Higher and Lower Orders of Progress

−−−,⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑−⏑−−¦¦−−− ⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑−⏑−−   Praharṣiṇī
tau jñātuṁ parama-gater-gatiṁ tu tasya pracchannāṁś-cara-puruṣāñ-chucīn vidhāya |
rājānaṁ priya-suta-lālasaṁ nu gatvā drakṣyāvaḥ katham-iti jagmatuḥ kathaṁ-cit || 9.82

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye kumārānveṣaṇo nāma navamaḥ sargaḥ || 9 ||

In order to monitor the progress, however,
of him whose progress was of the highest order,

Those two appointed honest men to spy for them in secret.

“How on earth are we to go and see the king,
who is so devoted to his beloved son?”, they fretted,

As somehow, with difficulty, the two of them progressed.

The 9th canto, titled The Seeking of a Prince, in an epic tale of awakened action.

In this the final verse of the Canto, Aśvaghoṣa describes the bodhisattva as parama-gati, in which compound parama means “chief” or “supreme” or “highest” or “ultimate,” and gati could mean “refuge” or “way” or “path” or “progress.”

Hence EBC translated parama-gater-gatiṁ tasya as:
the actions of him who was the supreme refuge of all”;
EHJ: “the way taken by him whose way was the highest”;
PO: “the path he took who had taken to the highest path.

In describing the bodhisattva as “the supreme refuge of all,” though that translation may be literal enough, EBC was jumping the gun, in the sense that the bodhisattva had not yet become the supreme refuge of all. If the bodhisattva had already become the supreme refuge of all, he might have been a refuge for the two anxious emissaries of the king who found themselves in such a pickle that they resorted to corrupting honest men.

No, the bodhisattva was not yet the supreme refuge of all. But he was resolutely going in that direction. In that sense, I think Aśvaghoṣa wishes us to understand, the way or the path or the progress of a bodhisattva is supreme or ultimate. The bodhisattva's progress is of the highest order not because the bodhisattva has realized the supreme ultimate truth, but because the bodhisattva is going in the direction of the supreme, ultimate truth. He is going in that direction resolutely and at the same time, as exemplified by the description in BC Canto 5 of horse Kanthaka's flying hooves, he is as if being pulled along in that direction by a higher power.

The contrast, then, in today's verse, is between the higher-order progress of the bodhisattva and the faltering lower-order progress of the two emissaries. Theirs is the hit-and-miss method of the end-gainer, one who is conscious of an end in view, but who lacks a true means-whereby of getting there. In the absence of a true means-whereby, it is not certain whether the end-gainer will gain his end or not. What is certain is that, if his body-mind is faulty, in his blind grasping for his goal, he will cause harm to self and others, as a by-product or a side-effect of his selfish striving. (Hence the allusion in the 2nd pāda to causing honest men to do a dishonest job?)

To see this contrast between the bodhisattva and the two emissaries might be to see the main point of the present canto, whose title is kumārānveṣaṇaḥ, "Seeking a/the Prince." In seeking out the prince, in other words, we have been investigating the sattva of every bodhisattva; we have been investigating the essence of one whose essence is awakening.

That essence, we have seen, has mainly to do with an unshakeable resolve, even though I have not realized the supreme truth yet, to keep going in the direction of the supreme.

Such resolve, one might think, would tend to make a person's life more difficult. But today's verse as I read it, on the contrary, suggests a contrast between (a) the smooth, higher-order progress of one has established this clear resolve, and (b) the faltering, lower-order progress of two who haven't clearly established such a resolve yet.

tau (nom. dual): the two of them
jñātum = inf. jñā: to know, apprehend
parama-gateḥ (gen. sg.): f. any chief resource or refuge (as a god or protector) ; final beatitude
parama: mfn. most distant ; chief , highest , primary , most prominent or conspicuous ; best , most excellent , worst (°meṇa cetasā , with all the heart ; °ma-kaṇṭhena , " with all the throat " , roaring , speaking aloud) ; n. chief part or matter or object
gatim (acc. sg.): f. going , moving , gait ; procession , march , passage , procedure , progress , movement (daiva-gati, the course of fate) ; path, way, course ; place of issue , origin , reason ; possibility , expedient , means ; a means of success ; way or art , method of acting , stratagem ; refuge , resource
tu: but ; sometimes used as a mere expletive
tasya (gen. sg.): him

pracchannān (acc. pl. m.): mfn. hidden , concealed , unobserved , private , secret , disguised
cara-puruṣān (acc. pl.): m. spy-people, spies
cara: m. a spy , secret emissary or agent
puruṣa: m. a man, person
śucīn (acc. pl. m.): mfn. clear , clean , pure (lit. and fig.) , holy , unsullied , undefiled , innocent , honest , virtuous
vidhāya = abs. vi- √ dhā: to put in order ; to appoint

rājānam (acc. sg.): m. the king
priya-suta-lālasam (acc. sg. m.): devoted to his beloved son
lālasa: mfn. (fr. Intens. of √ las) eagerly longing for , ardently desirous of , delighting or absorbed in , devoted or totally given up to (loc. or comp.)
nu: (katham is often found in connection with the particles iva , nāma , nu , svid , which appear to generalize the interrogation (how possibly? how indeed? &c )
gatvā = abs. gam: to go

drakṣyāvaḥ = 1st person dual future dṛś: to see , to visit,
katham: how?
iti: “...,” thus
jagmatur = 3rd pers. dual perf. gam: to go
kathaṁ-cit: ind. some how or other , by some means or other , in any way , with some difficulty , scarcely

iti: thus
buddha-carite mahā-kāvye (loc. sg.): in an epic tale of Awakened Action
kumārānveṣaṇaḥ (nom. sg. n.): “The Seeking of a Prince” (see comment to BC9.2; BC9.6; BC9.10)
kumāra: m. a child , boy , youth; son ; a prince , heir-apparent associated in the kingdom with the reigning monarch (especially in theatrical language) ; n. pure gold
anveṣaṇa: f(ā)n. seeking for , searching , investigating
anv- √ iṣ: to desire , seek , seek after , search , aim , at
nāmā: ind. by name
navamaḥ sargaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the ninth canto

選擇黠慧人 審諦機悟士
隱身密伺候 然後捨而還


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