Wednesday, January 7, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.35: Poking Fun at Monstrous Gossips

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Sālā)
ke cic calan-naika-vilambi-jihvās tīkṣṇogra-daṁṣṭrā hari-maṇḍalākṣāḥ |
vidāritāsyāḥ sthira-śaṅku-karṇāḥ saṁtrāsayantaḥ kila nāma tasthuḥ || 13.35

Some, with more than one tongue trembling and hanging down
[or wagging then wavering],

With acutely savage bites, and yellow-red orbs for their jaundiced eyes,

With jaws gaping apart, and ears as solid as pegs,

Stood there purporting to be terrifying.

The irony in today's verse, as I read it, is that Aśvaghoṣa is ostensibly describing terrible monsters in Māra's army, but what he really has in mind is groups of gossips in the human world.

So trembling of tongues – cause of fear, or cause of satirical laughter?

I think Aśvaghoṣa's underlying intention is that fearfulness is in the eye of the beholder.

The most important thing might be, on an individual basis, to sit like a lion, in which case the mooing of cows might be nothing to worry about.

If what we are truly after is the Buddha's true gold, who has got the time and energy to devote to malicious gossipping? Today I certainly haven't since I seem to have a touch of the flu, which my son and then wife had over Christmas and the New Year. 

In her Metaphorical Study of Saundarananda, Linda Covill explains why "gold is a peculiarly apt symbol for the enlightened mind."  And LC's study of such metaphors as the gold refining metaphor is very good as far as it goes. It is a study that proceeds from the metaphors themselves, rather than from some prejudice about what the Buddha's teaching might be. 

As suggested by the strapline of this blog, however, I rather see gold as a symbol for enlightened sitting. 

ke cit (nom. pl. m.): some
calan-naika-vilambi-jihvāḥ (nom. pl. m.): their many trembling tongues hanging down
calat: mfn. moving, trembling, flickering
cal: to be moved , stir , tremble , shake , quiver , be agitated , palpitate ; to move on or forward , proceed , go away , start off , depart ; to be moved from one's usual course , be disturbed , become confused or disordered , go astray
naika: mfn. not one, many
vilambin: mfn. hanging down , pendulous ; (ifc.) hung with , that from which anything hangs or falls down ; tarrying , delaying , slow , reluctant
vi- √ lamb: to hang on both sides to (acc.) ; to hang down , hang on , be attached to (loc.) ; to sink , set , decline ; to continue hanging , linger , delay , tarry , hesitate
jihva: m. the tongue

tīkṣṇogra-daṁṣṭrāḥ (nom. pl. m.): with savage sharp fangs
tīkṣṇa: mfn. sharp , hot , pungent , fiery , acid ;
ugra: mfn. powerful , violent , mighty , impetuous , strong , huge , formidable , terrible ; cruel , fierce , ferocious , savage ; angry , passionate , wrathful ; harsh , rough , rude ; zealous
daṁṣṭra: m. a large tooth , tusk , fang
daṁṣṭṛ́: m. a biter
daṁś: to bite
hari-maṇḍalākṣāḥ (nom. pl. m.): mfn. having eyes like the disk of the sun Bcar.
hari: fawn-coloured , reddish brown , brown , tawny , pale yellow , yellow , fallow , bay (esp. applied to horses) , green , greenish; m. yellow or reddish brown or green (the colour); m. a lion ; m. the sun
maṇḍala: m. yellow or reddish brown; n. a disk (esp. of the sun or moon); n. anything round
akṣi: n. the eye ; n. a circle (instr. " in a circle " ; also " the charmed circle of a conjuror ") , globe , orb , ring , circumference , ball , wheel

vidāritāsyāḥ (nom. pl. m.): their jaws gaping apart
vidārita: mfn. torn asunder , rent , split , broken open
āsya: n. mouth , jaws ; the face
sthira-śaṅku-karṇāḥ (nom. pl. m.): their ears as hard as spikes
sthira: mfn. firm , hard , solid , compact , strong
śaṅku: m. fear , terror ; m. a peg , nail , spike
karṇa: ear

saṁtrāsayantaḥ = nom. pl. m. pres. part. causative saṁ- √ tras: to cause to tremble , frighten , terrify
kila: ind. (a particle of asseveration or emphasis) indeed , verily , assuredly ; " so said " " so reported " , pretendedly ; (kila is preceded by the word on which it lays stress , and may be used in communicating intelligence , and may imply " probably " , " possibly " , " agreement " , " dislike " , " falsehood " , " inaccuracy " , and " reason. ")
nāma: ind. by name ; quasi , only in appearance
tasthuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. sthā: to stand

裂目而切齒 亂飛而超摧

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