Friday, January 16, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.44: Bad Views Travel Fast (Except When Spellbound)

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Ārdrā)
athāpare nirjigilur mukhebhyaḥ sarpān vijīrṇebhya iva drumebhyaḥ |
te mantra-baddhā iva tat-samīpe na śaśvasur notsaspur na celuḥ || 13.44

Others, meanwhile, spat snakes out from their mouths

As from rotten tree trunks.

Those snakes, as if spellbound in his presence,

Neither hissed nor reared up nor travelled around.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but snakes....? 
Integrity (śīla) no more propagates the shoots of affliction than a bygone spring propagates shoots from seeds. / The faults, as long as a man's integrity is untainted, venture only timidly to attack his mind. // SN16.34 // But balance (samādhi) casts off the afflictions like a mountain casts off the mighty torrents of rivers. / The faults do not attack a man who is standing firm in balanced stillness: like charmed snakes, they are spellbound. // 16.35 // And wisdom (prajñā) destroys the faults without trace, as a mountain stream in the monsoon destroys the trees on its banks. / Faults consumed by it do not stand a chance, like trees in the fiery wake of a thunderbolt. // SN16.36 //

With its reference to charmed snakes, today's verse seems to want to be read in light of the above passage from Saundarananda Canto 16, which I quoted several times already in connection with the previous series of six verses (BC13.35-40).

Just as the first verse in that series, BC13.35, can be read as a parody of monstrous gossips with wagging tongues and gaping jaws, so too does today's verse seem to use snakes as a metaphor for speech born of ignorance.

The theme of the previous series of six verses (BC13.35-40), I have suggested, was neutralization, whereas the theme of the present series of five verses (BC13.41-45) is transformation.

Read in light of this progression, today's verse seems at first glance to be out of place, since it does not describe transformation of snakes into something else. 

In this way, I guess, Aśvaghoṣa was encouraging us to exercise our grey matter and think for ourselves what the implicit point might be. 

The implicit point might be that for ill-will there is an antidote that should be applied, which is namely maitrī-vihāra, the exercise of good-will or friendliness. And by this antidote, figuratively speaking, the fiery dross of an erupting volcano is transformed into a rain of lovely petals. But when it comes to speech born of ignorance, Aśvaghoṣa might be suggesting, the best thing is simply to ignore it.

And ignoring it, in this case, ironically, seems to mean -- judging from the bodhisattva's example -- devoting oneself to the act of knowing by which ignorance is destroyed. 

atha: and so, then
apare (nom. pl. m.): others, different ones
nirjigilur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. nir-gṝ: to spit out
[EHJ notes: The form nirjigiluḥ is remarkable; Pāṇ viii. 2, 21allows the present
stem gil for gṛ when compounded with a preposition ending in a vowel and the
preceding rule authorises the intensive jegilyate. But a perfect formation
from this stem appears to have no parallel.]
gṝ: to swallow , devour , eat ; to emit or eject from the mouth

sarpān (acc. pl.): m. snake
vijīrṇebhyaḥ (abl. pl. m.): mfn. rotten
jīrṇa: mfn. old , worn out , withered , wasted , decayed
iva: like
drumebhyaḥ (abl. pl.): m. a tree

te (nom. pl. m.): they
mantra-baddhāḥ (nom. pl. m.): spell-bound
iva: like, as if
tat-samīpe (loc.): in his presence
samīpa: n. nearness , proximity , vicinity , presence , imminence

na: not
śaśvasur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. śvas: , to blow , hiss , pant , snort
na: not
utsasṛpur = 3rd pers. pl. perf. ut- √ sṛp: to creep out or upwards ; to rise up , glide or soar upwards ; to glide along , move on slowly
na: not
celuḥ = 3rd pers. pl. perf. car: to move one's self , go , walk , move , stir , roam about , wander

惡龍蛇噀毒 化成香風氣 

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