Sunday, May 25, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.4: True vs Fair-Weather Friendship

⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Vāṇī)
ye cārtha-kcchreṣu bhavanti loke samāna-kāryāḥ suhdāṁ manuṣyāḥ |
mitrāṇi tānīti paraimi buddhyā sva-sthasya vddhiṣv-iha ko hi na syāt || 11.4

Those in the world who, for the good-hearted in hard times

Are there as human beings, helping with work to be done –

Those friends I esteem, advisedly, as friends indeed.

For who would not be present around one going well
in times of robust prosperity?

The ostensible point of today's verse is that the bodhisattva is recognizing that King Bimbisāra's speech was spoken out of friendship, and that his own reply to King Bimbisāra will similarly be spoken out of friendship.

So ostensibly the bodhisattva is using the opportunity to make a general point about true friends, as opposed to fair-weather friends and hangers-on. The ostensible point of today's verse, then, is something along the lines sang by Bob Dylan...

You've got a lot of nerve, to say you are my friend.
When I was down, you just stood there grinning.
You've got a lot of nerve, to say you've got a helping hand to lend.
You just want to be on the side that's winning.

If this was as far as today's verse went, it would be easier to translate. In the 2nd pāda, for example, suhṛdām could simply be translated as “for friends” rather than the more unwieldy “for the good-hearted.”

Sadly, however, hidden meanings always make translating Aśvaghoṣa a losing game.

Thus below the surface I think today's verse is saying something more particular, not only about how friends help each other, but how buddhas make themselves available and accessible to people who have the will to the truth, and about how people with the will to the truth are attracted to being around buddhas. 

In that case, samāna-kāryāḥ, which literally means “having the same work to be done” and ostensibly means something like “rolling up one's sleeves in a crisis and joining in to help friends with work that needs doing,” really describes buddhas' efforts to teach, encourage and inspire people with the will to the truth to do that same work which the buddhas have done (on themselves) already.

A clue to this hidden meaning, linking today's verse to the hidden meaning of yesterday's verse is the locative plural vṛddhiṣu which ostensibly means something like “in good times” or “in times of plenty” or “during a period of strong economic growth” (EBC: in the enjoyment of prosperity; EHJ: in his times of abundance). But what the bodhisattva described in yesterday's verse was not so much growth in the economy as the blossoming of benevolence in the heart. That being so, one who is svastha (at ease, well in himself, going well) in [psychophysical] circumstances of vigorous growth might be nobody but a buddha. And times of robust growth, or a period of vigorous prosperity, might mean, for example, the nearly half a century that the Buddha spent teaching others following his awakening at the age of 35.

The verse in Saundarananda, in that case, which throws light on today's verse comes towards the end of SN Canto 18 when the Buddha says to Nanda:

vihāya tasmād-iha kāryam-ātmanaḥ kuru sthirātman para-kāryam-apy-atho /
Therefore forgetting the work that needs to be done in this world on the self,
do now, stout soul, what can be done for others.
bhramatsu sattveṣu tamo-vṛtātmasu śruta-pradīpo niśi dhāryatām-ayam//18.57
Among beings who are wandering in the night,
their minds shrouded in darkness,
let the lamp of this transmission be carried.

ye (nom. pl. m.): [those] who
ca: and
artha-kṛcchreṣu (loc. pl.): n. a difficult matter
kṛcchra: mfn. causing trouble or pain , painful , attended with pain or labour ; being in a difficult or painful situation ; mn. difficulty , trouble , labour , hardship , calamity , pain , danger (often ifc. e.g. vana-vāsak° , the difficulties of living in a forest ; mūtra-k° q.v. ; artha-kṛcchreṣu , in difficulties , in a miserable situation)
bhavanti = 3rd pers. pl. bhū: to be
loke (loc. sg.): m. the world (loke either " in ordinary life " , " in worldly matters " ; or , " in common language , in popular speech ")

samāna-kāryāḥ (nom. pl. m.): sharing the same task, having the same work to be done
samāna: mfn. same
kāryā: n. work or business to be done , duty , affair
suhṛdām (gen. pl.): m. 'good-hearted', friend
manuṣyāḥ (nom. pl.): m. a man , human being

mitrāṇi (acc. pl.): n. friendship ; n. a friend , companion
tāni (acc. pl. n.): those
iti: thus
paraimi = 1st pers. sg. parā- √i: to go or run away , go along , go towards (acc.) ; to depart , die ; to reach , attain , partake of (acc.)
buddhyā (inst. sg.): f. the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions , intelligence , reason , intellect , mind , discernment , judgement ; perception thought about or meditation on (loc. or comp.) , intention , purpose , design ib. (buddhyā , with the intention of. designedly , deliberately)

sva-sthasya (gen. sg. m.): mfn. self-abiding , being in one's self (or " in the self " Sarvad. ), being in one's natural state , being one's self uninjured , unmolested , contented , doing well , sound well , healthy (in body and mind) , comfortable , at ease ; relying upon one's self , confident , resolute , composed
vṛddhiṣu (loc. pl.): f. growth , increase , augmentation , rise , advancement , extension , welfare , prosperity , success , fortune , happiness
iha: ind. here, in this world
kaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who?
hi: for
na: not
syāt = 3rd pers. sg. as: to be

能於苦難中 周濟不相棄
是則爲世間 眞善知識相

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