Thursday, February 12, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 13.71: The Danger of Demonizing the Devil

¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−¦¦⏑−⏑−¦−⏑⏑¦−⏑−⏑−   Vaṁśastha
gata-praharṣā viphalī-kta-śramā praviddha-pāṣāṇa-kaḍaṅgara-drumā |
diśaḥ pradudrāva tato 'sya sā camūr hatāśrayeva dviṣatā dviṣac-camūḥ || 13.71

All exuberance gone, its effort rendered fruitless,

Its stones, straw fire-bombs, and trees, all strewn about,

That army of his fled then in all directions,

Like a hostile army when hostility itself 
has done for the chain of command.

In the 4th pāda of today's verse, the juxtaposition of dviṣatā (lit. by the hating) and dviṣac- (hating, hostile, enemy) seems designed to stimulate us to stop and think.

EBC translated the 4th pāda:
like some hostile (dviṣac-) army when its camp has been destroyed by the enemy (dviṣatā).

EHJ translated:
like a hostile (dviṣac-) army whose chief has been slain by the foe (dviṣatā).

EHJ notes:
C and T agree that āśraya here means 'leader,'; cp. BC8.23 and note. It is a well-recognized phenomenon in Indian history and literature that, when the leader is killed in battle, his army promptly disperses.

The Chinese translation to which EHJ refers is 如人殺怨主 怨黨悉摧碎, “Like when a person kills an enemy leader (怨主), the enemy army completely breaks up.”

The earlier verse in Buddha-carita to which EHJ refers I translated as follows:
Looking through tearful eyes at the destitute Chandaka-and-horse, having nothing to depend upon (nir-āśrayam), / Those beautiful women wept, with downcast faces, like cows in the woods abandoned by the bull.//BC8.23//]

EHJ translated that same verse: 
The women’s eyes flooded with tears, as they saw only Chandaka and the horse without their master (nir-āśrayam); with downcast faces they wept, like cows lowing in the midst of the jungle when deserted by the herd-bull.

The note to which EHJ refers (his note to BC8.23) was this:
My translation of nir-āśrayam may he thought surprising; but the master is the āśraya of his servants and we get the same use of the word at BC13.71, certified by T and C.

Accepting these arguments of EHJ, I agree that EHJ's “whose chief has been slain” seems more likely as a translation of hatāśryayā than EBC's “when its camp has been destroyed.”

The question remains, however, what truth Aśvaghoṣa might have been intending to suggest, in connection with hating or hostility, by the juxtaposition of dviṣatā and dviṣac-.

Prompted by yesterday's verse, the post for which I ended up titling “The Edification of Māra,” I was caused to stop and think about how we – or more to the point, how I – via the mirror principle, so easily tend to cast the other in the role of the bad guy, the evil one.

In my better moments, what I see as evil is not the other person, but his or her misguided behaviour, which is obscuring his or her true Buddha-nature. This is also in line with what Marjory Barlow taught about bringing up children – i.e. that a teacher or parent should never (except maybe in jest) criticize the child as being bad, but should focus on the behaviour deemed undesirable (undesirable, Marjory added, usually meaning inconvenient for the adult).

Māra, we might think, is big enough and bad enough to allow us to demonize him as (to borrow a phrase from David Cameron) “the embodiment of evil.” And in truth, demonizing Māra is not such a serious sin, since Māra does not exist, except in people's colourful imaginations.

But today's verse was perhaps designed to remind us that when we demonize the other and hate the other – even if the hateful other is the truly demonic Māra – our hating is liable to do for our own internal chain of command.

Isn't this why, in sporting contests of all kinds, champions are often (a) good at getting under the skin of the opponent, and (b) good at not letting the opponent get under their own skin?

If we are talking English football, then a good example might be Alex Ferguson, who so successfully got under the skin of the likes of Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez.

The further implication might be that, rather than following the herd in demonizing Māra as the evil other, a wiser strategy might be to get to know the old bugger by sitting and observing oneself.

As the Alexander teacher Patrick Macdonald used to say, “Look the bugger in the eye!”

gata-praharṣā (nom. sg. f.): its elation gone
praharṣa: m. erection (or greater erection) of the male organ ; erection of the hair , extreme joy , thrill of delight , rapture
viphalī-kṛta-śramā (nom. sg. f.): its effort rendered fruitless

praviddha-pāṣāṇa-kaḍaṅgara-drumā (nom. sg. f.): its stones, straw firebombs, and trees thrown away
praviddha: mfn. hurled , cast ; thrown asunder , spilt (as water); abandoned, given up
pra- √vyadh: to hurl , cast , throw away or down
pāṣāṇa: m. a stone
kaḍaṅgara: a partic. weapon, MBh [see 13.40]
druma: tree

diśaḥ (acc. pl.): f. direction
pradudrāva = 3rd pers. sg. perf. pra- √ dru: to flee ; to hasten towards , rush upon or against (acc.) ; to escape safely to (acc.)
tataḥ: ind. then
asya (gen. sg.): of him

sā (nom. sg. f.): that
camūḥ (nom. sg.): f. an army or army division
hatāśrayā (nom. sg. f.): mfn. one whose refuge is destroyed (others , " whose camp is destroyed ") Bcar. xiii , 70
hata: mfn. struck , beaten (also said of a drum) , smitten , killed , slain , destroyed , ended , gone , lost (often ibc. = " destitute of " , " bereft of " , " -less ")
āśraya: m. that to which anything is annexed or with which anything is closely connected or on which anything depends or rests ; authority , sanction , warrant
iva: like
dviṣatā = inst. sg. dviṣat: mfn. (pres. part. of √dviṣ) hating or detesting , hostile , unfriendly , foe , enemy
dviṣac-camūḥ (nom. sg. f.): an enemy army

魔衆悉憂慼 崩潰失威武
鬥戰諸器仗 縱横棄林野
如人殺怨主 怨黨悉摧碎

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