Monday, November 10, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 12.98: Shining, Not Like Full Sun on Blue Lotuses

kśo 'py akśa-kīrti-śrīr hlādaṁ cakre 'nya-cakṣuṣām |
¦⏑⏑⏑−¦¦−⏑−−¦⏑−⏑−   navipulā
kumudānām iva śarac-chukla-pakṣādi-candramāḥ || 12.98 

Diminished as he was,
yet with his glory and majesty undiminished,

He gladdened other eyes,

As the hairy moon-lilies are gladdened,

At the beginning of the bright fortnight,
by the autumn moon.

Today's verse as a whole is a poem in its own right. Still, let us pull out a metaphorical scalpel to dissect it, grab a metaphorical spade to dig out any hidden meaning in it, and grasp metaphorical scissors to unpick the metaphor it uses.

The general point, as in yesterday's verse and tomorrow's, is that even during the six years of his harsh ascetic practice the bodhisattva, as Aśvaghoṣa is painting the picture, never lost his mojo. Rather, motivated by the bodhi-mind, he continued to shine like the moon and to sparkle like the sea.

For hidden meaning in today's verse I look as many times before to the word anya, which Aśvaghoṣa so often uses to suggest that wild-fox tendency within the ironic cosmos which confounds expectation and defies convention. Thus anya-cakṣuṣām in the 2nd pāda ostensibly means “to the eyes of others,” but below the surface it can be read as meaning “to eyes which were other” – i.e. to contrarian eyes, to the eyes in the state which is different, to eyes in the state which is beyond thinking and feeling.

The flowers referred to in the 3rd pāda are classed in this Sanskrit Literature blog as white water lilies. The blog contains the following description of the kumuda, which, because of its close connection with the moon, I have taken to mean "moon-lily." 
Like the kairava it lends its name to the moonlight, kaumudī, and is perhaps the water lily most attached to the moon.  The moon is the kumuda’s lord and husband (kumuda-nātha/pati), her kith and kin (kumuda-bandhu/bāndhava) and her friend (kumuda-suhṛd).  The king in the Vikramorvāśīya will only revive at the touch of Urvāśī’s hand just as the kumuda blooms only under the moon’s rays.

The Wikipedia entry on Nymphaea pubescens  says that the white water lily is otherwise known as the hairy water lily. 

EBC translated kumadānām as “the lotuses” while EHJ and PO went with “night lotuses.” But in keeping with my reading of anya-cakṣuṣām I have gone for a translation -- "hairy moon-lilies" --  that might make the reader stop and think.

I for one am caused to think, for example, that when hairy moon-lilies (as opposed to the idealized lotuses of romantic poetry) are illuminated by the moon, they are bathed, indirectly, in the reflected light of the moon.

For a bloke who sits, so what?

I think the connection has to do with the principle of indirectness, the point being that the direction which is inherent in upright sitting is, primarily, up. The aspiring I cannot establish this upward direction directly, by doing something...

And yet... 
saṁsāra-mūlaṁ saṁskārān avidvān saṁskaroty ataḥ
the doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the dopey one do.

kṛśaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. lean , emaciated , thin , spare , weak , feeble
api: though
akṛśa-kīrti-śrīḥ (nom. sg. m.): his glory and majesty unimpaired
akṛśa: mfn. not emaciated, unimpaired
kīrti: f. good report , fame , renown , glory ; lustre
śrī: f. light , lustre , radiance , splendour , glory , beauty , grace , loveliness ; prosperity , welfare , good fortune , success , auspiciousness , wealth , treasure , riches ; high rank , power , might , majesty

hlādam (acc. sg.): m. refreshment , pleasure , gladness , joy , delight
cakre = 3rd pers. sg. perf. kṛ: to do, make
anya-cakṣuṣām (gen. pl. n.): to the eyes of others, to alternative eyes

ku-mudānām = gen. pl. ku-muda: n. " exciting what joy " , the esculent white water-lily (Nymphaea esculenta); the red lotus ; n. silver
kaumudī: f. moonlight , moonshine (from its causing the kumudas to blossom)
iva: like, as
śarat-śukla-pakṣādi-candramāḥ (nom. sg. m.): the autumn moon on the first day of the bright half of the month
śarad: f. (prob. fr. √ śrā , śṝ) autumn (as the " time of ripening ") , the autumnal season (the sultry season of two months succeeding the rains ; in some parts of India comprising the months bhādra and āśvina , in other places āśvina and kārttika , fluctuating thus from August to November)
śukla: mfn. bright, light ; m. the bright half of a lunar month or any day in it
śuklá-pakṣa: m. the light half , of a month , the 15 days of the moon's increase ; the rightful side of two contending parties
ādi: m. beginning
pakṣādi: m. the first day of a half month
candramas: m. the moon , deity of the moon

神虚體輕微 名徳普流聞
猶如月初生 鳩牟頭華敷
溢國勝名流 士女競來觀 

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