Thursday, February 5, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.64: Knowing as Navigation

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−¦¦−−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−−   Upajāti (Indravajrā)
dṣṭvā ca saṁsāra-maye mahaughe magnaṁ jagat pāram avindamānam |
yaś cedam uttārayituṁ pravttaḥ kaś cintayet tasya tu pāpam āryaḥ || 13.64

Again, seeing the world sunk in the great flood of saṁsāra

And unable to find the far shore,

He has committed to ferry this world across –

What man of honour would think evil upon him?

What was it again that Nāgārjuna said about saṁsāra?
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the ignorant one do. / The ignorant one therefore is the doer; the wise one is not, because of reality making itself known. //MMK26.10// In the destruction of ignorance, there is the non-coming-into-being of doings./ The destruction of ignorance, however, is because of the bringing-into-being of just this act of knowing.//MMK26.11//

In the metaphor in today's verse, saṁsāra is a great flood and ignorance is not being able to find the far shore.

Again, then, although there is no explicit mention in today's verse of jñāna, the act of knowing, the sense is that the bodhisattva is going to ferry the world across because of the bringing-into-being of just this act of knowing.

Finding the far shore in today's verse is a metaphor for what in Nāgārjuna's words is the destruction or cessation of ignorance, and this destruction is accomplished not by an act of doing, but by an act of knowing.

What Aśvaghoṣa suggests using metaphor, Nāgārjuna spells out more drily.

A point to note in passing in connection with today's verse, as also with yesterday's verse, is that the being of distinction appeals to Māra's sense of Āryan honour. EHJ thinks this curious. Maybe Aśvaghoṣa had it in mind that, as a general rule, beings of distinction are polite -- unless they are distinguished by a tendency not to conform to general rules. 

But in conclusion, and on reflection, every bodhisattva's commitment is to see this world safely across, even before the bodhisattva himself or herself safely arrives -- whether the crossing over is assisted by a ferry or raft in Aśvaghoṣa's boathouse; or whether that destruction of ignorance in which doings are not done is realized, as an act of knowing. assisted by a dry and literal translation of Nāgārjuna, e.g.: 

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

In today's verse, Aśvaghoṣa does not speak of doings (saṁskārān).  In the part of BC Canto 14 which we don't have in Sanskrit, Aśvaghoṣa will discuss doings  (saṁskārān) as the second in the twelve links, in connection with the teaching of pratīyta-samutpāda. But in today's verse Aśvaghoṣa does not speak directly of doings. Thanks to Nāgārjuna, though, we can exactly know that when Aśvaghoṣa's being of distinction spoke of saṁsāra, he was talking, metaphorically, about a great flood of suffering that is rooted, literally, in the doings that the ignorant one does do. 

dṛṣṭvā = abs. dṛś: to see
ca: and
saṁsāra-maye (loc. sg. m.): made of saṁsāra
mahaughe (loc. sg.): m. the great flood
ogha: m. flood , stream , rapid flow of water

magnam (acc. sg. n.): mfn. sunk , plunged , immersed in (loc. or comp.)
jagat (acc. sg.): n. the world
pāram (acc. sg.): n. the further bank or shore or boundary , any bank or shore , the opposite side , the end or limit of anything , the utmost reach or fullest extent
a-: (negative prefix)
vindamānam = acc. sg. n. pres. part. vid: to find , discover , meet or fall in with , obtain , get

yaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who
ca: and
idam (acc. sg. n.): it, the world
uttārayitum = inf. causative ud- √tṝ: to deliver , assist , rescue ; to convey or transport across , land , disembark
pravṛttaḥ (nom. sg. m.): mfn. set out from (-tas) , going to , bound for (acc. loc. inf.) ; having set about or commenced to (inf.)

kaḥ (nom. sg. m.): who?
cintayet = 3rd pers. sg. optative cint: to think , have a thought or idea , reflect , consider ; to think about , reflect upon , direct the thoughts towards (acc.)
tasya (gen. sg.): of/for him
tu: but (expletive)
pāpam (acc. sg): n. evil , misfortune , ill-luck , trouble , mischief , harm
āryaḥ (nom. sg. m.): Āryan, noble person ; a respectable or honourable or faithful man 

衆生悉漂沒 生死之大海
爲脩智慧舟 云何欲令沒 

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