Monday, December 29, 2014

BUDDHACARITA 13.26: Dealing with Individuals, One by One

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Kīrti)
nanarta kaś cid bhramayaṁs triśūlaṁ kaś cid vipusphūrja gadāṁ vikarṣan |
harṣeṇa kaś cid vṣavan nanarda kaś cit prajajvāla tanū-ruhebhyaḥ || 13.26

One, brandishing a three-pronged weapon, danced;

One, tearing a bludgeon to pieces, thundered;

One, in his aroused state, moved like a bull;

One, from the body-grown, blazed forth.

Today's verse is a classic example of Aśvaghoṣa's irony, the essence of which is a gap between the ostensible meaning of words and the reality behind them.

The ostensible meaning of today's verse is conveyed by the translations of EBC and EHJ:
One danced, shaking a trident, another made a crash, dragging a club, another bounded for joy like a bull, another blazed out flames from every hair. (EBC)
One danced about, brandishing a trident; another snorted, as he trailed a club; one roared like a bull in his excitement, another blazed fire from every hair. (EHJ)

The gap relies on the ambiguity of the following words:
  • nanarta, he danced [EBC], he danced about [EHJ], he acted on a stage, he danced [into action];
  • triśūlam, a trident [EBC/EHJ], a three-pronged weapon;
  • vikarṣan, dragging [EBC], as he trailed [EHJ], dragging apart, tearing into pieces;
  • harṣeṇa, for joy [EBC], in his excitement [EHJ], with erect [hair], in a state of arousal;
  • nanarda, he bounded [EBC], he roared [EHJ], he bellowed, he moved, he went into movement;
  • tanū-ruhebhyaḥ, from every hair [EBC/EHJ], lit. from the body-grown;

Realities that Aśvaghoṣa had in mind, then – realities to which his words offer cryptic clues – might have been like this:
  1. In the 1st pāda, three prongs might be the truths of suffering (duḥkha), aggregation (samudaya), and cessation (nirodha), and a weapon might be the truth of the way (margha) of cessation of suffering. Again, the three prongs of the three-pronged weapon might be integral wisdom (prajñā), integrity (śīla), and integration (samādhi). Again in the 1st pāda, “he danced” might mean that he danced without necessarily moving a muscle.
  2. In the 2nd pāda, a bludgeon might be the blunt instrument of the understanding of a Buddhist scholar who thinks that the Buddha's teaching is a religion which represents the culmination of Brahmanism, or who thinks that Zen belongs to a separate transmission which is different from the Buddha's original teaching. Blunt instruments in the latter category Dogen took pains to tear into many small pieces.
  3. In the 3rd pāda, arousal might be another word for the complete springing up which is the samutpāda of pratītya-samutpāda. In that case the action performed like a bull could be a vocal action like bellowing, or it could be a physical action like going directly ahead and moving a leg.
  4. And the 4th pāda might suggest directed energy flowing, through channels gradually opened up by the bodily act of sitting in full lotus.

Read like this, today's verse is an invitation to exercise our critical faculties, and to resist the temptation to follow in our ignorance wrong assumptions.

Here is a nice example of somebody betraying such ignorance, failing to pay due attention to who he was dealing with on an individual basis.

nanarta = 3rd perf. nṛt: to dance, to act on the stage , represent (acc.) ; to dance about
kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
bhramayan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. caustive bhram: to cause to wander or roam , drive or move about , agitate ; to cause to move or turn round or revolve , swing , brandish
triśūlam (acc. sg.): n. a trident (śiva's weapon)
śūla: mfn. a sharp iron pin or stake , spike , spit (on which meat is roasted); any sharp instrument or pointed dart , lance , pike , spear (esp. the trident of śiva) ; pain , grief , sorrow

kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
vipusphūrja = 3rd pers. sg. perf. vi- √ sphūrj: to resound , thunder , roar ; to snort
gadām (acc. sg.): f. a mace , club , bludgeon
vikarṣan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. vi- √ kṛṣ: to draw apart or asunder , tear to pieces , destroy ; to bend (a bow) , draw (a bowstring) ; to widen, extend ; to draw along or after ; to pull out ; to withdraw , keep back

harṣeṇa (inst. sg.): m. bristling, erection (esp. of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight); joy , pleasure , happiness ; erection of the sexual organ , sexual excitement , lustfulness
kaś cid (nom. sg. m.): somebody
vṛṣavat: ind. like a bull
nanarda = 3rd pers. sg. perf. nard: to bellow , roar , shriek , sound ; to go, move

kaś cit (nom. sg. m.): somebody
prajajvāla = 3rd pers. sg. perf. pra- √ jval: to begin to burn or blaze , be kindled (lit. and fig.) , flame or flash up , shine , gleam
tanū-ruhebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): n. " growing on the body " , a hair of the body ; a feather, wing
ruha = (ifc.) ruh: f. rising , growth , sprout , shoot ; (ifc.) shooting , sprouting , growing , produced in or on (cf. ambho- , avani- , kṣiti-r° &c )
ambho-ruh: n. " water-growing " , the lotus
avani-ruh: m. " grown from the earth " , a tree
kṣiti-ruḥ: m. " growing from the earth " , a tree

或空中旋轉 或飛騰樹間
或呼叫吼喚 惡聲震天地 

[Correspondence with Sanskrit tenuous] 

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