Saturday, December 20, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.16: Humans 1, Gods 0 - Māra Baffled

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
śailendra-putrīṁ prati yena viddho devo 'pi śambhuś calito babhūva |
na cintayaty eṣa tam eva bāṇaṁ kiṁ syād acitto na śaraḥ sa eṣaḥ || 13.16

“When – god though he was – he was pierced by the arrow,

'The Beneficial' Śiva 
was toppled into the lap of the Mountain-King's daughter.

This man gives not a second thought to the very same arrow!

Does he maybe not have a heart? Or is it maybe not the same arrow?

Śambhu, rendered here as “The Beneficial,” and given in the dictionary as “ being or existing (bhu) for happiness or welfare (śam)” is a name of Śiva. And the Mountain-King's daughter means Pārvatī.

The story of Kāma-deva (aka Māra), Pārvatī and Śiva would later be turned by Kalidaśa into the epic poem Kumāra-saṁbhava (“Birth of the Prince [Kārttikeya]”).

According to the Wikipedia entry on Pārvatī, Kalidaśa's epic describes the story of the maiden Pārvatī who has made up her mind to marry Śiva and get him out of his recluse, intellectual, austere world of aloofness, the major elements of the story being:
  • her devotions aimed at gaining the favour of Śiva;
  • the subsequent annihilation of Kāma-deva (aka Māra);
  • the consequent fall of the universe into barren lifelessness;
  • regeneration of life;
  • the subsequent marriage of Pārvatī and Śiva;
  • the birth of Kārttikeya;
  • the eventual resurrection of Kāma-deva after Pārvatī intercedes for him to Śiva.

EHJ discusses in a footnote to today's verse, and also in his Introduction, how today's verse shows that Aśvaghoṣa knew a different version of the story. In the popular version of the story, Śiva annihilates Kāma-deva by opening the third eye in his forehead and burning Kāma-deva to ashes. But in the story to which Aśvaghoṣa is referring, it is evidently Kāma-deva (= Māra) who brings down Śiva.

EHJ notes further that the first half of today's verse implies the Buddha's superiority to Śiva. 

This would seem to be true whichever version of the story is followed – since even in the version in which the beam from Śiva's third eye frazzles Māra, Māra's arrow still ends up doing its work... resulting in due course in the birth of the prince Kārttikeya.

This causes us to ask: what was it about the human bodhisattva (who kept his vow all the way to Buddhahood), that made him superior to the god Śiva  (who allowed himself in the end to be won over by Pārvati)?

I think the answer, once again, is distilled in the four verses from BC12.103 – 106. In these verses the bodhisattva rejects asceticism and chooses instead, as his means-whereby, the more moderate and compromising middle way. Thus:
And so the sage whose body was evidently being tormented, to no avail, by pernicious austerities, /Formed – while being wary of becoming – the following resolve, in his longing for buddhahood. //12.100// “This dharma is good neither for detachment, nor for awakening, nor for liberation./ What I realized back then, at the foot of the rose-apple tree – that is a sure method. //12.101// But that cannot be realized by one who is weak.” Thus did he reflect./ Still more, with a view to increasing his bodily strength, on this did he meditate further: // 12.102// "Worn out by hunger, thirst and fatigue, with a mind that, from fatigue, is not well in itself, / How can one obtain the result which is to be realized by the mind – when one is not contented?//12.103// Contentment is properly obtained through keeping the senses constantly appeased; / By full appeasement of the senses, wellness of the mind is realized.//12.104// In one whose mind is well and tranquil, samādhi, balanced stillness, sets in. / In one whose mind is possessed of samādhi, dhyāna, meditative practice, progresses. //12.105// Through meditation's progress are obtained dharmas, timeless teachings, by which is realized the deathless – / That hard-won, quieted, unaging, ultimate immortal step.”//12.106// Having therefore decided that eating food is the foundation of this means to an end, / He, the firm and constant one, whose resolve was beyond measure, resolving to take food... //12.107// … had got out of the water –

In his effort to teach this means-whereby, I heard my teacher many times give an introductory talk on Zazen in which he would say: 
We need not think anything. 
We need not feel anything....
Our life is just action. 
Action is reality. 
In Zazen we can discover what action is.

What was missing from this talk was the sentence “We need not do anything.”

We can think what we like, and feel what we like... so long as we don't do anything.
We need not do anything. 
We need not do anything, because the right thing does itself.
In not doing anything, on a good day, we can witness the right thing doing itself.

This understanding belongs to what my teacher called “the second enlightenment.” 

When I look back on it now, the whole situation seems too bitterly ironic for words.

There again, doings take many and various forms, some very crude, and some more deep and subtle. 

Pulling in the chin is a very crude form of doing, rooted in that grossest of misconceptions which is "correct posture." I suppose I should be grateful to my teacher for giving me such a big target to hit. Even confronted with such a glaring target as that, it still took me so many years to hit it. But hitting that target, at least, has been a start. 

Hitting that target, like hitting a barn door with a banjo, has been a key to unlock Nāgārjuna's statement

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

śailendra-putrīm (acc. sg. f.): the daughter of the lord of mountains = Pārvatī
śailendra: m. the chief or lord of mountain (esp. as N. of the himālaya)
pārvatī: f. coming from the mountains ; a mountain stream; N. of the god śiva's wife (as daughter of hima-vat , king of the snowy mountains)
prati: ind. towards , down upon ; or as a prep. with usually preceding acc. , in the sense of towards , against , to , upon , in the direction of
yena (inst. sg.): by which
viddhaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. pierced

devah (nom. sg.): m. god
api: even, though
śambhuḥ (nom. sg.): m. Śambhu; mfn. being or existing for happiness or welfare , granting or causing happiness , beneficent , benevolent , helpful , kind ; m. N. of śiva
śam: ind. auspiciously , fortunately , happily , well
bhu: if. becoming, bei
ng, existing , produced
calitaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. shaking , tremulous , unfixed ; moved from one's usual course , disturbed , disordered
babhūva = 3rd pers. sg. perf. bhū: to be, become

na: not
cintayati = 3rd pers. sg.: to think , have a thought or idea , reflect , consider ; to think about , reflect upon , direct the thoughts towards , care for ; to take into consideration
eṣah (nom. sg. m.): he
tam (acc. sg. m.): him
eva: (emphatic)
bāṇaṁ (acc. sg.): m. arrow

kim: (interrogative pronoun) what?
syāt (3rd pers. sg. as): it might be
acittaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. destitute of intellect or sense
na: not
śaraḥ (nom. sg.): m. arrow
sa (nom. sg. m.): he
eṣaḥ (nom. sg. m.): this

曾爲雪山女 射魔醯首羅
能令其心變 而不動菩薩 

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