Friday, October 10, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.67: The Ultimate Irony of Arāḍa - Different Meanings

¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−−−⏑¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
jaigīṣavyo 'tha janako vddhaś caiva parāśaraḥ |
imaṁ panthānam āsādya muktā hy anye ca mokṣiṇaḥ || 12.67

For Jaigīṣavya, 'Son of Ambition,' and Janaka, 'The Begetter',

As well as Vṛddha Parāśara, 'The Old Crusher,'

By realizing this path in their sitting,

Were liberated
– as were other liberation-seekers, being different.”

Since today's verse is the final verse of direct quotation of Arāḍa's speech, we would expect it to point somehow in the direction of the ineffable, and in so doing, to manifest a degree of inscrutability. And so it does. 

Ostensibly, today's verse is a stimulus to scurry to the library, or to the Google search engine, and find out what light ancient texts like the Mahā-bhārata can shed on the three proper names Jaigīṣavya, Janaka, and Vṛddha Parāśara.

Thus EHJ notes:
Jaigīṣavya is quoted by Vyāsa in YS. [Yogasūtras of Patañjali], ii. 55, and his colloquy with Avāṭya, reported by the same on iii. 18; M Bh, xii. 8431ff., records his conversation with Asita about śīla in the Sāṁkhya system, and he is mentioned in a list of Sāṁkhya seers, ib., 11782, which includes Vārsaganya, Kapila and Pañcaśikha. Vṛddha Parāśara is proved to be Pañcaśikha by ib., 11875, where Janaka says, Parāśara-sagotrasya vṛddhasya sumahātmanaḥ | Bhiksoḥ Pañcaśikhasyāham śisyaḥ parama-sattamaḥ.

At the same time, in seeking to dig out hidden meaning from below the surface of a verse of four pādas, it is often worth looking for a four-phased progression -- and today's verse is no exception to that rule. 

So when we read the three proper names in this light, their literal meaning might hint at some ironic significance.

Thus, in the 1st pāda, Jaigīṣavya is a strong (vṛddhi) form of jigīṣu, which is a desiderative form from the root √ji, to win, gain, conquer. The MW dictionary thus gives as one definition of jigīṣu "ambitious." So Aśvaghoṣa's choice of the name Jaigīṣavya might be intended to convey some sense of a vaulting spiritual ambition. Similarly the name Janaka (see also BC1.45), deriving from the root √jan, is pregnant with the sense of begetting or becoming.

If these two names suggest a spiritually ambitious thesis, then in the 2nd pāda I think the name Vṛddha Parāśara, The Old Crusher, might be intended to suggest the wry antithesis.

Then in the 3rd pāda imaṁ panthānam āsādya, which ostensibly simply means “by following this path” (as per the translations of EHJ and EBC) has deeper meaning on at least two counts.

First imaṁ panthānam refers to upāyaḥ in yesterday's verse – which is to say it refers to the means without necessarily worrying about the end. And this might be a supremely practical attitude to adopt, especially if the person adopting the attitude, like Arāḍa, has got a false conception of the end.

Second āsādya is from the root √sad, to sit, and so it might be intended to have connotations not only of following a path, but also of actually realizing that path by the action of sitting.

Finally in the 4th pāḍa, anye once again can be read as suggesting buddhas as true human beings, i.e. individuals of a different ilk, who tend not to conform to anybody's stereotype. Intending to convey this sense, I have therefore translated anye  twice, as "other" and as "being different." 

jaigīṣavyaḥ (nom. sg.): m. patr. fr. jigīṣú N. of an ancient ṛṣi (named along with asita devala) MBh. ii , ix , xi
jigīṣu: mfn. wishing to obtain or gain , seeking for ; striving to conquer or excel , ambitious
atha: then, and
janakaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. generative , generating , begetting ; m. N. of a king of videha or mithilā (son of mithi and father of udāvasu R. )

vṛddhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. grown up , full-grown , advanced in years , aged , old ;
ca: and
eva: (emphatic)
parāśaraḥ (nom. sg.): m. a crusher , destroyer; N. of a son of vasiṣṭha or of a son of śakti and grandson of vasiṣṭha (according to MBh. the father of vyāsa ; said to be the author of RV. i , 65-73 and part of ix , 97)
parā- √ śṝ: to crush, destroy

imam (acc. sg. m.): this
panthānam = acc. sg. pathin: m. a way , path , road , course (lit. and fig.)
āsādya = abs. ā- √ sad: to sit , sit down , sit near ; to go to , go towards , approach ; to meet with , reach , find ; to commence , undertake

muktāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. liberated
hi: for
anye (nom. pl. m.): mfn. other, different
ca: and
mokṣiṇaḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. striving after emancipation

林祇沙仙人 及與闍那伽
毘陀波羅沙 及餘求道者
悉從於此道 而得眞解脱 

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