Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.1: A Moon with Form

¦⏑−−−¦¦⏑−−−¦⏑−⏑−    pathyā Śloka
tataḥ śama-vihārasya muner-ikṣvāku-candramāḥ |
arāḍasyāśramaṁ bheje vapuṣā pūrayann-iva || 12.1

Then to the vihāra of a sage
whose recreation ground was peace

The moon of the Ikṣvākus betook himself –

To the ashram of Arāḍa he went,

As if filling it with his shining form.

In the 1st phase, the aim is peace (śama);
In the 2nd phase, a conspicuously concrete thing is the moon (candrama);
In the 3rd phase, the action was the act of going (√bhaj);
And the 4th phase brings the whole together.

So the four pādas of today's verse can thus be analysed according to the system that my teacher called “the four philosophies” or “three philosophies and one reality.” So what?

So what?, a bloke who sits might ask, with some justification. So %^&*ing what?

For a bloke who sits, with the present Canto things begin to get more obviously interesting, since the Canto ends with the bodhisattva -- having been left unsatisfied by the philosophies of Arāda and Udraka, and having seen that asceticism also was not it -- devoting himself just to sitting.

And that simple devotion to sitting is described in the present Canto, as I read it, as the fourth phase in a four-phase process.

In the 1st phase, Arāḍa identifies the aim, which is to get off the merry-go-round of saṁsāra.
In the 2nd phase, the bodhisattva wants to know the concrete means of making that exit.
In the 3rd phase, in his practical search for a means that works, the bodhisattva looks at various approaches, philosophical and ascetic, and repeatedly decides “It is not that.
In the 4th phase, having rejected everything but sitting, and having made due practical preparations, the bodhisattva places a grass sitting-cushion on some grassy ground under a fig tree, and resolves to just keep sitting until the realization of the aim.

Thus, as usual, I have done my best in my own wordy way to make Aśvaghoṣa's words more easily understandable, writing as ignorant one to ignorant one. At the same time, in a verse like today's verse, what might be more to the point is TS Eliot's observation that “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

tataḥ: ind. then
śama-vihārasya (gen. sg. m.): whose place of recreation was tranquillity
śama: m. tranquillity , calmness , rest , equanimity; peace
vihāra: m. a place of recreation , pleasure-ground ; (with Buddhists or jainas) a monastery or temple (originally a hall where the monks met or walked about ; afterwards these halls were used as temples)

muneḥ (gen. sg.): m. the sage
ikṣvāku-candramāḥ (nom. sg. m.): the moon of the Ikṣvākus
ikṣvāku: m. name of a son of manu vaivasvata (father of kukṣi and first king of the solar dynasty in ayodhyā); a descendant of ikṣvāku

arāḍasya (gen. sg.): m. Arāḍa
āśramam (acc. sg.): mn. a hermitage , the abode of ascetics
bheje = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhaj: to turn or resort to , engage in , assume (as a form) , put on (garments) , experience , incur , undergo , feel , go or fall into

vapuṣā (inst. sg.): n. form , figure , (esp.) a beautiful form or figure , wonderful appearance , beauty ; the body
pūrayan = nom. sg. m. causative pres. part. pṝ: to fill, make full ; to cover completely , overspread , bestrew , surround ; to load or enrich or present with (instr.)
iva: like

甘蔗月光胄 到彼寂靜林
敬詣於牟尼 大仙阿羅藍

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