Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.12: Māra Fails to Spot the Difference

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
spṣṭaḥ sa cānena kathaṁ-cid aiḍaḥ somasya naptāpy abhavad vicittaḥ |
sa cābhavac chantanur asvatantraḥ kṣīṇe yuge kiṁ bata durbalo 'nyaḥ || 13.12

And barely touched by it, [Purū-ravas,] the son of Iḍā,

Though he was the grandson of the the moon-god Soma,
lost his mind;

And 'Good Body' Śan-tanu also became out of control –

What will become in a degenerate age, then,
of someone other who is not so forceful? 

The ancient myth of the love of the royal seer Purū-ravas for the nymph Urvaśī is celebrated in Kālidāsa's drama Vikramorvaśī (“Urvaśī [Won] by Valour”).

Aśvaghoṣa refers to it again in SN Canto 7, where Nanda says:
As grandson of the hare-marked moon, as son of 'The Learned' Budha and the goddess Iḍā, and as one marked by personal honour and virtue, [Purū-ravas] had the special powers of the lunar and the very learned; / But thinking of the apsaras Urvaśī, this royal seer also went mad. // SN7.38 //

In the same lament, Nanda refers to Śan-tanu as follows:
And King 'Good Body' Śan-tanu, when separated from goddess Gaṅgā, shook like a śāla tree whose roots the Ganges was washing away: / The son of Pratipa and light of his family, he of the body beautiful, became uncontrollable (asvatantraḥ).// SN7.41 //

Later on, in SN Canto 10, Nanda refers again to Śan-tanu when he says to the Buddha:
For nobody bitten by this snake of love remains anything but unsettled in himself / Bewildered was the mind of Vodhyu, whose essence had been immovability, while 'Good-Body' Śan-tanu, who had been a sensible man, grew gaunt.// 10.56 //

In the first three pāda's of today's verse, then, Māra is gloating about past victories, thus providing the set-up for an ironic reversal in the 4th pāda.

The irony, as so many times before, centres on the word anya, which means different, other, alternative – and so, by extension, in its hidden meaning, transcending convention, and individual.

When Māra describes the bodhisattva as anyaḥ, in the final word of today's verse, he means somebody other than Purū-ravas and Śān-tanu (hence EHJ: How much more then would anyone else do so, who is weak with the decadence of the present age?); at the same time, he seems to mean somebody who is less powerful than those two royal heroes were (hence EBC: how much more then one of feebler powers now that the age has grown degenerate?).

The irony is that anya as Aśvaghoṣa uses it means of a different ilk, or of a whole different order.

In that case, Māra's rhetorical question takes on a whole other meaning, causing us to ask what might be the ironic hidden meaning of durbalaḥ. Ostensibly durbalaḥ is a pejorative description of the bodhisattva as being, in comparison to the mighty royals of yesteryear, a relative weakling.

But, if we understand the hidden meaning of today's verse, again, to be related to what Nāgārjuna wrote about ignorance and doing, then in this light durbalaḥ in the sense of "not being forceful" has meaning. 

One way of translating dur-balaḥ so as to bring out this meaning would be “a man of minimal force.” 

So a more explanatory and less ambiguous translation of the 4th pāda might be:
What will become in a degenerate age, then, of a man of minimal force, who is different? 

When we reflect on the history of human beings and gods, strong desire and strong anger have strongly motivated us, since the beginning of time, forcefully to do this, that and the other. This is a reflection, and at the same time, a confession.... all the wrong and stupid things I have done, since times without beginning, have all stemmed entirely from greed, anger, and delusion; I [forcefully] did them with body, speech, and mind; all of them I now [meekly] confess and repent. 

The irony of durbalaḥ and anyaḥ in today's verse might be that, when it came to this kind of forceful doing, the bodhisattva was not so strong, already being someone other. 

pṛṣṭaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. ( √ prach) asked , inquired , questioned , interrogated , demanded , wished for , desired , welcome
spṛṣṭaḥ [EHJ]: mfn. (√ spṛś) touched , felt with the hand, handled
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca and
anena (ins. sg.): by this
kathaṁ-cit: ind. some how or other , by some means or other , in any way , with some difficulty , scarcely , in a moderate degree , a little
aiḍaḥ (nom. sg.): mfn. descended from iḍā ; m. N. of purūravas RV. x , 95
iḍā: f. refreshment; the goddess iḍā or iḷā (daughter of manu or of man thinking on and worshipping the gods ; she is the wife of budha and mother of purū-ravas)

somasya (gen. sg.): m. Soma, the moon or moon-god
naptā = nom. sg. napāt: m. descendant , offspring , son ; grandson (in later lang. restricted to this sense)
api: though
abhavat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect bhū: to be
vicittaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. unconscious ; not knowing what to do , helpless

sa (nom. sg. m.): he
ca: and
abhavat = 3rd pers. sg. imperfect bhū: to be
śantanuḥ (nom. sg.): m. Śantanu; “wholesome for the body or the person”; m. (also written śaṁtanu, śāṁtanu) N. of an ancient king with the patr. kauravya (he was fourteenth descendant of kuru , son of pratīpa and younger brother of devāpi , and usurped the sovereignty whilst the latter became a hermit ; he married gaṅgā and satya-vatī ; by the former he had a son named bhīṣma , and by the latter citrāṅgada and vicitravīrya
a-svatantraḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. not self-willed , dependant , subject
sva-tantra: n. self-dependence , independence , self-will , freedom ; mfn. self-dependent , self-willed , independent , free , uncontrolled

kṣīṇe (loc. sg. n.): mfn. diminished , wasted , expended , lost , destroyed , worn away , waning (as the moon) ; poor, miserable
yuge (loc. sg.): n. an age of the world , long mundane period of years
kiṁ bata: ind. how much more?
kim: (interrogative particle) what? how? whence? wherefore? why?
bata: ind. an interjection expressing astonishment or regret , generally = ah! oh! alas!
durbalaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. of little strength , weak , feeble ; scanty , small , little ; m. an impotent man , weakling
bala: n. power , strength , might , vigour , force , validity ; military force , troops , an army
anyaḥ (nom. sg. m.): another, one who is different

罣羅月光孫 亦由我此箭
小觸如風吹 其心發狂亂 
寂靜苦行仙 聞我此箭聲
心即大恐怖 惛迷失本性 

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