Monday, August 11, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.7: Nothing Out of the Ordinary

¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−−−−¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
nāścaryaṁ jīrṇa-vayaso yaj-jagmuḥ pārthivā vanam |
apatyebhyaḥ śriyaṁ dattvā bhuktocchiṣṭām-iva srajam || 12.7

No wonder is it that, in their old age,

Lords of the earth have gone to the forest,

Handing to their offspring royal power,

Like what's left of a used garland.

In today's verse and in tomorrow's, Arāḍa expresses an attitude which contrasts with the conventional wisdom, as expressed by King Bimbisāra, about when to retire to the forest.

In Brahmanism āśrama meant not only an ashram, a place like Arāḍa's ashram, but also a stage in the life of a Brahman of which there considered to be four: (1) brahmacārin, "student of the veda"; (2) gṛha-stha, "householder"; (3) vānaprastha, " anchorite " ; and (4) saṁnyāsin, "abandoner of all worldly concerns" , or sometimes bhikṣu, "religious beggar.”

So whereas King Bimbisāra's view (see BC10.34 ff) was that it is better to wait for old age before pursuing the truth as a homeless beggar, Arāḍa's attitude is more affirmative with regard to finding freedom as a bhikṣueven as a young bloke.

Looking ahead, we can see that words like samṣāra, karma, and tṛṣṇā were part of Arāḍa's vocabulary, and that he also described four dhyāna or stages of sitting-meditation. So it is evident, from Aśvaghoṣa's description of Arāda as the truest or best of sages (muni-sattamaḥ), and from the Buddha's later recognition of Arāḍa as his teacher, that there was some overlap. That said, the challenge that ultimately awaits us will be to be clear about what, in the end, the Buddha realized that Arāda didn't.

At the centre of that ultimate realization is what Aśvaghoṣa calls in SN3.13 dvādaśa-niyata-vikalpam, the statement of twelvefold linkage. In Saundarananda Aśvaghoṣa thus refers only indirectly to the teaching of pratītya-samutpāda, having covered it in full in BC Canto 14 – in that part of BC Canto 14 after the extant Sanskrit manuscripts have run out.

This posting is a bit late because I couldn't sleep well last night, and lay awake in the dark listening to the BBC World Service, then fell asleep again to the dulcit tones of John Humphreys when BBC Radio 4 got going with the Today Programme.

In general I don't feel much of a connection with world news, tending to think that it is a function of other people's ignorance, and especially that brand of ignorance which is religious belief. But today's news did cause me to reflect back to 2003 when I was not one of the ones opposing the UK following the US into Iraq. I didn't realize that the British government under Tony Blair was telling the UK electorate a pack of lies about weapons of mass destruction and all the rest of it. So that is an example in my own experience of how my own ignorance, as no. 1 in the twelvefold chain, was a factor leading to a whole lot of the sickness and dying which are now in Iraq so manifestly constituting no. 12 in the twelvefold chain. 

What was the real motivation of the powers that be in the US for invading Iraq? Some say that it had mainly to do with oil and the petrodollar. I don't know if they are right. I do know that I was wrong. I was one of the ignorant ones. One of the dumb masses. One of the ordinary blokes who was prepared to have the wool pulled over his eyes. 

na: not
āścaryam n. a wonder , miracle , marvel , prodigy; surprise
jīrṇa-vayasaḥ (nom. pl. m.): old-aged

yad: (relative pronoun) that
jagmuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. gam: to go
pārthivāḥ (nom. pl.): m. a lord of the earth, king
vanam (acc. sg.): n. forest

apatyebhyaḥ = dat. pl. apatya: n. (fr. apa) , offspring , child , descendant
śriyam (acc. sg.): f. royal power, royal insignia
dattvā = abs. dā: to give

bhuktocchiṣṭām (acc. sg. f.): used and discarded
bhuktocchiṣṭa: n. the rejected leavings or remnants of food
bhukta: mfn. enjoyed, eaten
ucchiṣṭa: mfn. left , rejected , stale; spit out of the mouth (as remnants of food)
iva: like
srajam (acc. sg.): f. a wreath of flowers , garland , chaplet worn on the head , any wreath or garland , circle , series , chain

古昔明勝王 捨位付其子
如人佩花鬘 朽故而棄捨

No comments: