Monday, September 8, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.35: Is Love the Big One?

yasmād-atra ca bhūtāni pramuhyanti mahānty-api |
tasmād-eṣa mahā-bāho mahā-moha iti smtaḥ || 12.35

And since in Love

Even mighty beings swoon,

Therefore, O man of mighty arm!,

It is known as the Big Delusion.

As a translation of mahā (great/mighty/big) in bhutāni mahanti (great/mighty/big beings) and in mahā-bāho (O [hero] of great/mighty arms!), mighty seems to fit better than great.

Giving Arāḍa the benefit of the doubt, then, I think he might be referring in today's verse to big beasts – mighty kings and eminent ascetics – who, when it came to inhibit their instinctive reactions to lovely women and sexy nymphs, showed themselves to be not so great.

On reflection, then, I thought it might be better 
(a) to translate mahā in every case as “mighty” so that mahā-moha is “the mighty delusion,” and 
(b) to translate kāma in yesterday's verse as “Love” rather than the broader “desire.”

In that case atra (“in this”, “in this matter”) in the 1st pāda of today's verse is naturally understood as meaning “in love.”

On further reflection, if Arāḍa is indeed talking about love, and especially sexual love, it occurred to me that “big” might fit better as a translation of mahā in mahā-moha – the Big Delusion.

Overall, as yesterday, I remain unsure how to read the present series of four verses. And that could be Aśvaghoṣa's point.

What in the end is at the centre of the ignorance which is no. 1 in the twelvefold chain?

Is there a definite answer?

For a celibate mendicant, which is the way Arāḍa advocated, the Big One might well be love, and especially sexual love.

For a happily married man, or woman, who is pursuing the truth on more of a part-time basis while bringing up a family, the Big One is more liable to be worrying about money.

In the end, when my head pulls back and down onto a stiffened neck, I don't know what kind of ignorance it is.

What, in conclusion, is this ignorance?

I don't know.

If I expressed a definitive view on ignorance, Aśvaghoṣa's joke might be on me. 

yasmād: ind. since
atra: ind. in this matter , in this respect ; in this place , here at this time , there , then
ca: and
bhūtāni (nom. pl. n.): n. that which is or exists , any living being (divine , human , animal , and even vegetable) , the world (in these senses also m.) ; n. a spirit (good or evil) , the ghost of a deceased person , a demon , imp , goblin
m. a great devotee or ascetic

pramuhyanti = 3rd pers. pl. ) pra- √ muh: to become bewildered or infatuated ; to faint , swoon
mahānti (nom. pl. n. ): mfn. great (in space , time , quantity or degree) i.e. large , big , huge , ample , extensive , long , abundant , numerous , considerable , important , high , eminent
api: even

tasmād: ind. therefore
eṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): this
mahā-bāho (voc. sg. m.): O one of long arms! O great-armed hero!

mahā-mohaḥ (nom. sg. m.): the great delusion
iti: “..., thus
smṛtaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. remembered , recollected , called to mind , thought of ; handed down , taught , prescribed , (esp.) enjoined by smṛti or traditional law , declared or propounded in the law-books ; termed , styled , named (nom. with or without iti)

懷恨名瞋恚 心懼名恐怖

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