Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 10.41: The Bodhisattva Is Not Swayed – Epic Stuff

−−−,⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑−⏑−−¦¦−−−,⏑⏑⏑⏑−⏑−⏑−−    Praharṣiṇī
ity-evaṁ magadha-patir vaco babhāṣe yaḥ samyag-valabhid-iva dhruvam babhāṣe |
tac-chrutvā na sa vicacāla rāja-sūnuḥ kailāso girir-iva naika-citra-sānuḥ || 10.41

iti buddha-carite mahākāvye 'śvaghoṣa-kte śreṇyābhigamano nāma daśamaḥ sargaḥ || 10 ||

Thus spoke the ruler of the Magadhas,

Who talked straight,
like “Force-destroying” Indra addressing “Immovable” Brahmā.

Having heard that speech, the son of the king was not moved,

Like Mount Kailāsa with its many conspicuous summits.

The 10th canto, titled Śreṇya / Drawing Near, 
in this epic tale of awakened action composed by Aśvaghoṣa. 

EBC translated the first half of today's verse:
Thus spoke (babhāṣe) the monarch of the Magadhas, who spoke (babhāṣe) well and strongly like Indra.

In his Sanskrit text, EHJ amended dhruvam in the 2nd pāda to bruvan (speaking), and translated:
Such was the speech of the king of Magadha, who in speaking rightly resembled Valabhid. 
EHJ thus took the 2nd babhāṣe to mean “resembled” rather than “spoke.”

I have followed EBC in taking babhāṣe in both instances as meaning “he spoke” or “he talked.”

Initially I also followed EBC in taking dhruvam as adverbial:

Thus spoke the ruler of the Magadhas,
Who talked as straight as “Force-destroying” Indra, and as firmly.

Having slept on it, however, and on further reflection, I have allowed myself to be swayed by EHJ's argument that Dhruva (“The Firm” “The Immovable”) is best understood as a name of Brahmā.

EHJ makes this argument in a footnote to his English translation:
The use of the name Valabhid for Indra, when comparing Bimbisāra to him, suggests that it is to be understood as Balabhid, 'the router of armies,' in relation to the king. Alternatively, if we read as is perhaps better, dhruvaṁ babhāṣe with A [the old Nepalese manuscript], I would take dhruva as a proper name, 'who spoke rightly to him, as Valabhid to Dhruva.' In that case Dhruva means Brahmā, repeating the comparison of BC10.2 and 17 [sic], and we should no doubt see a suggestion that Bimbisāra ranked as an anuja [younger brother] of the Buddha.

There is a typo in EHJ's footnote – the bodhisattva is actually compared to Svayam-bhū, i.e. 'Self-Existing' Brahmā, in BC10.2 and 10.19. But EHJ's intuition that Dhruva in today's verse echoes Svayam-bhū in the two earlier verses does seem reasonable: such a closing reference to Brahmā not only gives a sense of loose ends being tied up but also adds to the sense of something epic going on. Aśvaghoṣa often seems to emphasize this epic sense in the closing verse of a canto, with references to ancient Indian gods, and with metrical flourishes like the 13-syllable praharṣiṇī metre used for today's verse.

The coming three cantos are titled:
kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ, Repudiation of Desires
arāḍa-darśanaḥ, Meeting with Arāḍa
māra-vijayaḥ,  Victory over Māra.

The titles seem to hold out the promise of something philosophical (the bodhisattva's consideration of the dangers of desires), something biographical (a record of his visit to Arāḍa), and something epic (a description of his epic struggle against the evil Māra, God of Desire). And those three elements seem to be mirrored in today's verse.

The epic connotation is there in the reference to Indra, Brahmā, and Mount Kailāsa.

The biographical or historical point is there in the reference to King Śreṇya, aka King Bimbisāra, as ruler of the Magadhas.

And the main teaching point, philosophically, in today's verse might have to do with affirmation of non-movement. 

In an impermanent world, non-movement – in the form of fixing,  playing statues, getting stuck – might be unhealthiest thing a person can do. And yet non-movement, sitting still as a mountain, is the fundamental means by which the bodhisattva is going, in due course, to give Māra's arse an epic kicking.

iti: thus
evam: ind. thus
magadha-patiḥ (nom. sg. m.): the ruler of Magadha
pati: m. a master , owner , possessor , lord , ruler , sovereign
vacaḥ (acc. sg.): n. speech, words
babhāṣe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhāṣ: to speak, talk, say

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who
samyak: ind. in one or the same direction ; in one line , straight ; correctly , truly , properly , fitly , in the right way or manner , well , duly
valabhid = balabhid: mfn. breaking or routing an arm ; m. " slayer of bala " , N. of indra
bala: n. power, force ; military force , troops , an army ; m. N. of a demon conquered by indra (the brother of vṛtra , in older texts vala)
bhid: mfn. (ifc.) breaking , splitting , piercing , destroying
iva: like
dhruvam: mfn. fixed , firm , immovable , unchangeable , constant , lasting , permanent , eternal RV. &c (e.g. the earth , a mountain , a pillar , a vow &c; ind. firmly , constantly , certainly , surely; mfn. fixed , firm , immovable , unchangeable , constant , lasting , permanent , eternal ; m. name of brahmā ; of viṣṇu ; of śiva
babhāṣe = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhāṣ: to speak, talk, say
bruvan [EHJ] = nom. sg. m. pres. part. brū: to speak, say, tell
babhāṣe [EHJ] = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhās: to appear (" as " or " like " nom. or instr. of an abstract noun)

tat (acc. sg. n.): that
śrutvā = abs. śru: to hear, listen to
na: not
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
vicacāla = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vi- √ cal : to move about ; to go astray , fail , be agitated or disturbed or destroyed
rāja-sūnuḥ (nom. sg.): m. the son of the king, prince

kailāsaḥ (nom. sg.): m. N. of a mountain (fabulous residence of kubera and paradise of śiva ; placed in the himā*laya range and regarded as one of the loftiest peaks to the north of the mānasa lake)
giriḥ (nom. sg.): m. mountain
iva: like
naika-citra-sānuḥ (nom. sg. m.):
naika: mfn. not one, many
citra: n. anything bright or coloured which strikes the eyes ; n. a bright or extraordinary appearance , wonder
sānu: mn. a summit , ridge , surface , top of a mountain , (in later language generally) mountain-ridge , table-land

iti: thus
buddha-carite mahā-kāvye (loc. sg.): in an epic tale of awakened action
aśvaghoṣa-kṛte (loc. sg.): composed by Aśvaghoṣa
śreṇyābhigamanaḥ (nom. sg. m.): Śreṇya Drawing Near 
abhigamana: n. approaching, visiting
abhi- √ gam: to go near to , approach (with acc.); to meet with, find
nāma: ind. by name
daśamaḥ sargaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the 10th canto

如是瓶沙王 種種方便説
太子志堅固 不動如須彌


No comments: