Friday, May 23, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.2: Desire Sneaks In

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
nāścaryam-etad-bhavato 'bhidhānam jātasya haryaṅka-kule viśāle |
yan-mitra-pakṣe tava mitra-kāma syād-vttir-eṣā pariśuddha-vtteḥ || 11.2

“This speech of yours is no surprise,

Born as you are into the illustrious line whose emblem is the lion –

That you, O desirer of friendship, whose course of action is pure

Should show towards a friend this considerate course of action.

EHJ considered today's verse a very difficult one, for various reasons, with doubt attached to the text, the grammar, and the meaning of the reference to the lion emblem.

With respect to the text, EHJ was not sure in the 1st pāda whether the old Nepalese manuscript meant abhidhātum (as per EBC) or abdhidhātur, and so he amended to vidhānam based on the Tibetan translation. (I have followed Bohtlingk in going with abhidhānam.) 

With respect to the grammar EHJ regarded as suspicious the conjunction of bhavataḥ and tava (both of which mean “your”). Nor, EHJ added, should āścaryam etat have as predicate both a noun and a dependent clause beginning with yat.

With respect to the lion emblem, EHJ took Haryaṅka to be the same as Haryaṅga, a Bṛhad-ratha king whose name suggests the lion-legend of the Bṛhad-rathas, which is referred to a SN8.44 (as part of the striver's tirade against women):

mṛga-rājam-atho bṛhad-rathā pramadānām-agatir-na vidyate // 8.44 //
And Bṛhad-rathā, 'the Burly Heroine,' loved a lion: 
there is nothing women will not do.

EHJ adds that in the fragments of the Buddhist dramas we have what is clearly a description of Rājāgṛha, in which its foundation by Bṛhadratha is mentioned.

Consequently both EHJ and PO took Haryaṅka as a proper name. I have followed EBC (“the great family whose ensign is the lion”) in translating haryaṅka literally as “whose emblem is the lion.”

One thing that is not in doubt is the appearance of the word kāma (desire, love) in the vocative expression mitra-kāma (EBC: O lover of thy friends; EHJ/PO: so devoted to your friends).

It is easy for people to form a view, especially from the outside looking in, that the Buddha's teaching, and in particular the 3rd noble truth, is all about the annihilation of desire. People who take that view should try living without their own desire for a year or two, or a week or two, or even a single day. If they succeeded, they might have succeeded in a task that was never managed even by the Buddha, who confessed in SN Canto 18 that he had long desired to see Nanda settled into the living of a forest beggar's life.

Part of the difficulty, in English, is that desire covers such a multitude of sins and non-sins. And in Sanskrit the difficulty is increased by even more meanings encompassed by kāma.

Thus, as we saw in the previous Canto, kāma forms the third of the three ancient Indian aims of dharma, wealth, and pleasure. Again, as we shall see in BC Canto 13, kāma-deva, “the God of Love” or “the God of Desire” is synonymous with Māra, the evil one. The kāma-sutra is the Sutra of [Sexual] Love, or the Sutra of Sensuality. Moreover, kāma, like the English “desire,” can express not only the impulse of desire but also those desires which are its object.

In light of the twelve connecting statements that the Buddha made in setting forth the teaching of pratītya-samutpāda, perhaps it may be argued that what is to be eliminated, exactly speaking, is desire that is grounded in ignorance – along with everything else that is grounded in ignorance.

In any event, the seemingly inconsequential and incidental appearance of the word kāma in today's verse might not in Aśvaghoṣa's mind have been either inconsequential or incidental, considering that the title of the present canto is kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ, “Condemning Desires.”

I am intending to translate the kāma of the title in the plural since the bodhisattva many times discusses desires in the plural in the present canto, repeating the formula,
teṣu kāmeṣu kasyātmavato ratiḥ syāt
Who in possession of himself would take pleasure in those desires [which....]?

Desire is  in Chinese and Japanese, in which languages the ultimate teaching of the Buddha, given on the night before he died, expressing the essence of nirvāṇa, is recorded as 少欲知足 (Jap: SHOYOKU-CHISOKU), “desiring little, knowing satisfaction.” The original Sanskrit which these characters represent, however, is alpecchu-saṁtuṣṭa, in which compound desiring is expressed not as kāma but as icchu, from the root √iṣ, to desire.

Also from the root √iṣ is the word icchantika, which means a persons who does whatever the hell he desires to do. In my old Buddhist dictionary icchantika is defined as a sentient being who, being inherently unreceptive to the teachings of the Buddha, will never attain enlightenment. 

That could be me.

At the same time, I remember that a Zen master in ancient China described himself as an icchantika. (His words are recorded in Shobogenzo chap. 28, Butsu-kojo-ji.)

It is a puzzle.

It is a puzzle whose solution may lie in a line which struck me yesterday when I read it in an excerpt from the Lalitavistara Sūtra.

The line is:
sarva-dṛṣṭi-samucchedo dharma-cakram iti smṛtam
The utter destruction of all views is known as "the Dharma-wheel." 

In the end, as my French neighbour often asks, rhetorically, with a gallic shrug of her shoulders, “Qu'est-ce que vous voulez?”

na: not
āścaryam (nom. sg. n.): mfn. appearing rarely , curious , marvellous , astonishing , wonderful , extraordinary ; n. a wonder , miracle , marvel , prodigy ; surprise
etat (nom. sg. n.): this
bhavataḥ (gen. sg.): m. “the gentlemen present”; you

abhidhātum [EHJ] = inf. abhi- √ dhā: to set forth , explain , tell , speak to , address , say , name
abhidhātuḥ = gen. sg. m. abhidhātṛ: mfn. saying , telling
abhidhānam [Bohtlingk] (nom. sg.): n. telling , naming , speaking , speech , manifesting ; a name , title , appellation , expression , word ; putting together , bringing in close connection
vidhānam (nom. sg.): n. order , measure , disposition , arrangement , regulation , rule , precept , method , manner ; n. medical prescription or regulation ; fate, destiny ; n. taking measures

jātasya (gen. sg. m.): mfn. born
haryaṅka-kule (loc. sg.): mfn. born in the family whose emblem is the lion (i.e. the solar race) Bcar.
hari: m. yellow or reddish brown or green (the colour) ; a lion
aṅka: m. a hook ; any mark , line , stroke
viśāle (loc. sg.): mfn. spacious , extensive , broad , wide , large ; great , important , powerful , mighty , illustrious , eminent

yat: that
mitra-pakṣe (loc. sg.): towards a friend
mitra: m. a friend ; n. friendship ; n. a friend , companion
pakṣa: m. a wing; side; partisan , adherent , follower , friend (śatru- " the enemy's side " or " a partisan of the enemy ")
mitra-kāma (voc. sg.): O lover of friends / friendship; O desirer of friendship
-kāma: n. (ifc.) desirous of , desiring , having a desire or intention

syāt = 3rd pers. sg. opt. as: to be
vṛttiḥ (nom. sg.): f. rolling ; mode of life or conduct , course of action , behaviour , (esp.) moral conduct , kind or respectful behaviour or treatment
eṣā (nom. sg. f.): this
pariśuddha-vṛtteḥ (gen. sg. m.): being of pure conduct
pariśuddha: mfn. cleaned , purified , pure

善得世間宜 所説不乖理
訶梨名族胄 爲人善知識
義懷心虚盡 法應如是説


No comments: