Tuesday, January 13, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.41: Towards Transformation

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
kaś cij jvalann arka ivoditaḥ khād aṅgāra-varṣaṁ mahad utsasarja |
cūrṇāni cāmīkara-kandarāṇāṁ kalpātyaye merur iva pradīptaḥ || 13.41

One of them, burning brightly as the risen sun,

Unloosed from the sky a great shower of embers,

Like blazing Meru at the end of a kalpa

Spewing clouds of ash out of golden vents.

The eruption of Mount Meru at the end of a kalpa sounds like the ultimate climactic event. In fact, however, today's verse as I read it is unusual in having its resolution not in its own 4th pāda, with Meru's explosion, but rather in the 4th pāda of tomorrow's verse.

The effect is to mark a transition into a new phase. Up to here, by the sheer act of sitting, the bodhisattva has stopped the angry monsters in Māra's army in their tracks, causing them to become immobile (13.37), to fall down (13.38), to evaporate (13.39), and to explode into a hundred bits (13.40). In other words, by sitting in the state of zero, the bodhisattva has neutralized all attacks.

In the section that is beginning now, which seems to comprise the five verses from here to BC13.45, the principle is not so much neutralization as transformation.

And the principle of transforming negativity into positivity is all very well. But when we look for corroborating examples they are not always easy to find. 

Contrary examples of professed positivity turning into negativity spring more easily to my mind. I think for example of the Altamont Festival of 6th December 1969 which, as this article records, brought the decade of Love to a violent end.

But one good example that does spring to mind is Nelson Mandela's taking an interest in rugby, as a skillful means of befriending, in the first instance, a hostile Afrikaans-speaking jailer who was a big fan of the game. Mandela thereby procured the hotplate he wanted to warm up his prison food, and he also came to realize that he could use rugby as a tool more broadly in South Africa to defuse distrust and transform it into friendship. 

kaś cit (nom. sg. m.): somebody
jvalan = nom. sg. m. pres. part. jval: to burn brightly , blaze , glow , shine
arkaḥ (nom. sg.): m. the sun
iva: like
ud-itaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. risen , ascended
khāt (abl. sg.): n. vacuity , empty space , air , ether , sky

aṅgāra-varṣam (nom. sg. n.): a shower of coals
aṅgāra: m. charcoal , either heated or not heated
mahat (nom. sg. n.): mfn. great, large, vast
utsasarja = 3rd pers. sg. perf. ut- √ sṛj: to let loose ; to pour out , emit , send forth

cūrṇāni (acc. pl.): n. powder flour , aromatic powder , pounded sandal ; chalk, lime
cūrṇ: to reduce to powder or flour , pulverise , grind , pound , crush , bruise
cāmīkara-kandarāṇām (gen. pl. f.): golden rifts
cāmīkara: n. gold
kandarā: f. " great cliff " , an artificial or natural cave , glen , defile , valley

kalpātyaye (loc. sg.): m. the end of a kalpa, Bcar.
aty-aya: m. (fr. √ i with ati) , passing , lapse , passage ; passing away , perishing , death
meruḥ (nom. sg.): m. N. of a fabulous mountain (regarded as the Olympus of Hindu mythology
iva: like
pradīptaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. kindled , inflamed , burning , shining ; excited , stimulated

[No corresponding Chinese translation]

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