Sunday, August 3, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 11.73: Going Separate Ways

⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
sthiraṁ pratijñāya tatheti pārthive tataḥ sa vaiśvaṁtaram-āśramaṁ yayau |
parivrajantaṁ tam-udīkṣya vismito npo 'pi vavrāja purim girivrajam || 11.73

iti buddha-carite mahā-kāvye kāma-vigarhaṇo nāmaikā-daśaḥ sargaḥ || 11 || 

Having steadfastly promised to a lord of the earth, “So be it!”,

The bodhisattva then proceeded to the ashram
of an 'all-conquering' Viśvaṁtara.

After watching him with amazement as he went wandering off,

The protector of men also went on his way,
to his 'mountain-fenced' fortress, Giri-vraja.

The 11th canto, titled Blaming Desires, in an epic tale of awakened action.

The key to any hidden meaning in today's verse might be in the two proper names, Vaiśvaṁtara and Giri-vraja.

With regard to Vaiśvaṁtara, EHJ notes: I can find no other references to the Vaiśvaṁtara hermitage, unless the scene of the Viśvaṁtara Jataka is meant, about whose situation the authorities differ.

The MW dictionary gives viśva-ṁ-tara as “all-subduing,” and vaiśva as the strong form of viśva. So does Vaiśvaṁtara literally mean something like “belonging to the all-subduing”?

In that case is some kind of ironic contrast intended between Arāḍa's ashram as a place of to head for in a quest for victory, and Bimbisāra's fortified seat in the protective lee of its surrounding mountains as a place to retire to in self-defence? 

The city called in today's verse Giri-vraja, “Enfolded by Mountains,” is more often called Rāja-grḥa (“King's Home”). As the capital of Magadha it was a place of both architectural and natural grandeur. Since most Cantos finish with a kind of flourish, conjuring up some grand and often mythical scene, using the name Giri-vraja, “Enfolded by Mountains,” fits with that custom. 

One question I have asked myself but failed so far to answer, is why EHJ's text for today's verse ends with puriṁ girivrajam. The old Nepalese manuscript has, at the end of today's verse, puriṅ girivrajam, which EHJ amended to puriṁ girivrajam – in which purim appears to be accusative singular masculine agreeing with girivrajam. But is there any other example of purī (fortress, city), which is feminine, being used in this way in the masculine? I have followed EHJ's text and translation (“to the city of Girivraja”) even though I don't understand the grammar of it.

The final question that remains unanswered in this Canto is the title, which the Chinese translation gives as 答瓶沙王, “Responding to King Bimbisāra.” This, on the face of it, is a truer description of the content of the Canto than is the Sanskrit title kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ, which means “Condemning Pleasures” or “Blaming Desires” or “The Maligning of Desire.” So if we accept that kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ was Aśvaghoṣa's own title, I think the only explanation is that Aśvaghoṣa's intention was ironic.

If I am on the right track with the above readings of what Vaiśvaṁtara and Giri-vraja represent, then today's verse describes the bodhisattva and the king going ways which were separate not only geographically but also in terms of what the two men fundamentally desired

The bodhisattva is wandering off in the direction of coming un-done, the direction of undoing, the direction of non-doing (nivṛtti). The king is going back to the Magadhan capital of Rāgagṛha to get on with doing (pravṛtti) his dharma-duty as a ruler and protector of men.

To practise non-doing (nivṛtti), the bodhisattva had to allow himself space and time, and this required a certain strength of mind, a certain steadfastness, a certain stubbornness, a certain constancy (sthiram), in which desire has to play a role -- except that it is not so much a desire to do, as a desire not to do.

In the next Canto the bodhisattva will meet Arāḍa who will describe the first stage of sitting-meditation as kamair viviktam, "distanced from desires," but at the same time as viveka-jam "born of separateness/seclusion" (BC12.49). And separateness/seclusion, as was the case when the young prince naturally found peace under the rose-apple tree, generally follows from the arising of a desire to be alone. 

So being distanced from desires is a starting point. But the starting point of non-doing might be nothing but desire. 

The Alexander teacher Walter Carrington expressed it like this, using the word wish. (Note that the MW dictionary defines kāma as wish, desire, longing).
"Non-doing is, above all, an attitude of mind. It's a wish. It's a decision to leave everything alone and see what goes on, see what happens. Your breathing and your circulation and your postural mechanisms are all working and taking over. The organism is functioning in its automatic way, and you are doing nothing. If you're going to succeed in doing nothing, you must exercise control over your thinking processes. You must really wish to do nothing. If you're thinking anxious, worried thoughts, if you're thinking exciting thoughts that are irrelevant to the situation at hand, you stir up responses in your body that are not consistent with doing nothing. It's not a matter of just not moving--that can lead to fixing or freezing--it's a matter of really leaving yourself alone and letting everything just happen and take over." 

sthiram (acc. sg. n.): mfn. firm ; fixed , immovable , motionless , still , calm ; constant , steadfast , resolute , persevering n. steadfastness , stubbornness , resistance
pratijñāya = abs. prati- √ jñā: to promise
tathā: ind. yes , so be it , so it shall be (particle of assent , agreement , or promise ; generally followed by iti)
iti: “...,” thus
pārthive (loc. sg.): m. a lord of the earth , king

tataḥ: ind. then, thereon
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
vaiśvantaram (acc. sg.): N. of a hermitage, Bcar.
vaiśva: mfn. (fr. viśva , of which it is also the vṛddhi form in comp.) , relating to or presided over by the viśve devāḥ
viśva: mfn. all , whole
tara: mfn. ( √ tṛṛ) carrying across or beyond , saving (? , said of śiva); ifc. passing over or beyond ; " surpassing , conquering "
viśva-ṁ-tara: mfn. all-subduing (Buddha); m. N. of a king ; m. name of a former state of existence of the buddha.
āśramam (acc. sg.): mn. ( √śram) , a hermitage , the abode of ascetics , the cell of a hermit or of retired saints or sages
yayau = 3rd pers. sg. yā: to go

parivrajantam = acc. sg. m. pres. part. pari- √ vraj: to go or wander about; to wander about as a religious mendicant
samudīkṣya = abs. sam-ud- √ īkṣ: to look up at , look at attentively , perceive , observe ; to have regard or respect for (acc.)
tam [EHJ] (acc. sg. m.): him
udīkṣya [EHJ] = abs. ud- √ īkṣ: to look at, behold
vismitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. amazed , surprised , perplexed

nṛpaḥ (nom. sg.): m. protector of men, king
api: also
vavrāja = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vraj: to go, walk, proceed, travel ; to go away. depart from (abl.) , go abroad , retire , withdraw , pass away (as time)
purim = acc. sg. m. (?) puri = purī: f. a fortress , castle , town
girivrajam (acc. sg.): m. " mountain-fenced " N. of the capital of magadha
vraja: m. (n. only RV. v , 6 , 7 ; ifc. f(ā). ; fr. √ vṛj) a fold , stall , cow-pen , cattle-shed , enclosure or station of herdsmen
vṛj: to bend , turn ; to keep anything from ; to withhold

iti: thus
buddha-carite mahā-kāvye (loc. sg.): in the epic poem 'Buddha-carita'; in an epic tale of awakened action
kāma-vigarhaṇaḥ (nom. sg. m.): blaming desires
kāma: m. love, desire, pleasure
vigarhaṇa: the act of blaming , censure , reproach
vi- √ garh: to blame , abuse , revile , reproach , despise , contemn
nāma: ind. by n ame
ekā-daśaḥ sargaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the 11th canto

菩薩心内許 要令隨汝願
交辭而隨路 往詣阿羅藍
王與諸群屬 合掌自隨送
咸起奇特想 而還王舍城



Malcolm M said...

"...The old Nepalese manuscript has, at the end of today's verse, puriṅ girivrajam, which EHJ amended to puriṁ girivrajam – in which purim appears to be accusative singular masculine agreeing with girivrajam. But is there any other example of purī (fortress, city), which is feminine, being used in this way in the masculine?

I really don't know, Mike, but...

In addition to purī (and the nueter pura) MW also lists puri as meaning 'town'(etc) - so the accusative would be purim, whether masc or fem. MW does list puri as fem, but I do believe I've come across instances of context rendering the gender distinction ambiguous, particularly with mas/fem substantives in short i. Can't recall/cite any I'm afraid, and may possibly have mis-remembered.

Not much use, huh?

Mike Cross said...

Thanks Malcolm. Your input is always much appreciated.