Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.69: Strong Subject, Clear Object, Sincere Action, Harsh Reality

⏑−¦⏑−¦¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
ihāgataś-cāham-ito didkṣayā muner-arāḍasya vimokṣa-vādinaḥ |
prayāmi cādyaiva npāstu te śivaṁ vacaḥ kṣamethāḥ mama-tattva-niṣṭhuram || 11.69

And so here I am, having come desiring to see

The sage Arāḍa, who speaks of liberation,

And there I shall go this very day.
O protector of men, may you be well!

Bear with words of mine which were harsh as reality.

In SN Canto 3, Aśvaghoṣa tells us:

atha mokṣa-vādinam-arāḍam-upaśama-matiṁ tathoḍrakaṁ /
Then Ārāḍa, who spoke of freedom,
and likewise Uḍraka, who inclined towards quietness,
tattva-kṛta-matir-upāsya jahāv-ayam-apy-amārga iti mārga-kovidhaḥ // 3.3 //
He sat beside, his heart set on truth, and he left.
He who intuited the path intuited: "This also is not it."

Recent research by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu indicates that, whereas the Buddha is generally regarded as having had two teachers, Arāḍa and Uḍraka, the Buddha's own words in the Noble Search Sutta (MN26) indicate that he regarded only Arāḍa (Pali: Āḷāra) as having been his teacher. While the Buddha refers to Arāḍa in Pali as ācariyo me (Sanskrit: ācāryo me), “my teacher,” he refers to Uḍraka as sa-brahmacārī, “a fellow-student.”

The bodhisattva's meeting with Arāḍa is thus an important element in the Buddha's life story, and today's verse forms a segue from the present Canto to the next Canto whose title is Meeting with Arāḍa.

As well as performing this narrative function, however, today's verse shows a readily discernible progression through four phases:

1. The 1st pāda as I read it contains a strong expression of a self-confident subject, following on from the bodhisattva's clear rejection of end-gaining in yesterday's verse. Ihāgataś-cāham can be read as akin to Abraham's “Here I am, Lord” – everyday words which some Jewish, Christian, and Islaamic mystics see as imbued with the most profound meaning.
2. In the 2nd pāda the bodhisattva is very clear about his object.
3. The 3rd pāda has two halves. In the first half the bodhisattva boldly asserts that subject and object are going to be joined by his action here and now. Prayāmi cādyaiva means “I shall go this very day” or “I am going right now.” In the second half of the pāda the bodhisattva expresses his sincere wish for the well-being of the other.
4. The allusion in 4th pāda as I read it to harsh reality brings to mind the conclusion of the famous opening paragraph of Shobogenzo chap. 3, Genjo-koan, in which Dogen observes that, even though they are loved, beautiful flowers wither and fall, and even though they are a pain, pesky weeds keep pushing up.

EHJ translated the 4th pāda “and bear patiently with my words, which sound harsh in their truth.” PO translated: “and bear with my words speaking a harsh truth.” (EBC's translation is different due to a textual discrepancy: “forgive my words which may seem harsh through their absolute freedom from passion.”)

Literally, however, I think the bodhisattva described his words as “reality-harsh,” and this phrase not only says something about how harsh his words may have seeemed to King Bimbisāra's ears; tattva-niṣṭhuram also says something about reality, which is namely that reality is harsh.

George Soros favours the phrase "harsh reality," which in Sanskrit would be tattvam tiṣṭhuram. But I would like to claim for the Buddha and Aśvaghoṣa the descriptive compound phrase "harsh as reality" or "reality-harsh" -- tattva-tiṣṭhuram. 

iha: ind. here
āgataḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. come, arrived
ca: and
aham (nom. sg. m.): I
itaḥ: from here; now ; from this, therefore
ataḥ: from this; from this or that cause or reason
didṛkṣayā (inst. sg.): f. the desire to see

muneḥ (gen. sg.): m. sage
arāḍasya (gen. sg.): m. Arāḍa
vimokṣa-vādinaḥ (gen. sg. m.): speaking of liberation
vi- √ muc: to unloose ; to release , set free , liberate ; to leave , abandon , quit , desert , give up , relinquish
vādin: mfn. saying , discoursing , speaking , talking , speaking or talking about (often ifc. or sometimes with acc. of object) , declaring , proclaiming ,

prayāmi = 1st pers. sg. pra- √ yā: to go forth, set out
ca: and
adya: ind. today, now
eva: (emphatic)
nṛpa (voc. sg.): m. O protector of men!
astu: let there be!
te (gen. sg.): of/for you
śivam (acc. sg.): n. welfare , prosperity , bliss

vacaḥ (acc. sg.): n. speech, voice, word; advice
kṣamethāḥ = 2nd pers. opt. sg. kṣam: to bear patiently , endure , put up with (acc.) , suffer ; to pardon , forgive anything (acc.) to (gen. or dat.)
mama (gen. sg.): my, of me
tattva-niṣṭhuram (acc. sg. n.): reality-harsh, speaking harsh truth
niṣṭhura: mfn. hard , rough , harsh , severe , cruel (said of persons and things , esp. words)

是故我遠來 爲求眞解脱
聞有阿羅善 善説解脱道
今當往詣彼 大仙牟尼所
誠言苦抑斷 我今誨謝汝

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