[No Sanskrit text]
| ’dod pa can rnams lhuṅ ba la | | lag pa rnams kyis braṅ brduṅ źiṅ |
| ’khrugs chen gyi ltar ñam thag pa | | lha mo’i tshogs rnams kyis bstan to |
chen: great, big (Ch.
but because one has such suffering, how base is this? What is there to covet? What is obtained through great application will not avoid the suffering of separation. (CW)
Today's verse, then, may have included the Sanskrit payo-dhara, lit. "milk-bearer," a compound which brings out the primary functional aspect of the female breast, associated with child-rearing and nutrition. At the same time, following on from the mention yesterday of ornaments, the female breast has also got its decorative and sensual aspect, associated with both male and female pleasure. But then today's verse, if the Tibetan translation is to be believed -- and experience suggests that the Tibetan is to be believed -- seems designed to remind us of the emotional aspect of the breast, the beating of which in many cultures gives vivid expression to human grief.
Perhaps it was such multiple powerful associations of female breasts that caused Aśvaghoṣa to favour them so much in his poetry .
“Through heaps of kalpas practising ascetic practice, forever distanced from love.”
This, what is called “life and death,” has actions (諸行) as its root --
Here, also from Oslo University's Bibliotecha Polyglotta, is the Tibetan translation by Jñānagarbha and Klu’i rgyal mtshan, together with Stephen Batchelor's translation from Tibetan into English:
| ’khor ba’i rtsa ba ’du byed de | | de phyir mkhas rnams ’du mi byed |
| de phyir mi mkhas byed po yin | | mkhas min de ñid mthoṅ phyir ro |
The root of life is formative impulses. Therefore, the wise do not form impulses.
Therefore, the unwise are formers, but not the wise since they see reality.
| ma rig ’gags par gyur na ni | | ’du byed rnams kyaṅ ’byuṅ mi ’gyur |
| ma rig ’gag par ’gyur ba ni | | śes pas de ñid bsgoms pas so |
When ignorance stops, formative impulses too do not occur.
The stopping of ignorance [comes] through practising that with understanding.
| de daṅ de ni ’gags gyur pas | | de daṅ de ni mṅon mi ’byuṅ |
| sdug bsṅal phuṅ po ’ba’ źig pa | | de ni de ltar yaṅ dag ’gag |
By the stopping of the former, the latter will clearly not occur.
The entire mass of anguish will likewise completely stop.
In the verses quoted above, saṁskārān in Nāgārjuna's Sanskrit was translated into Chinese by Kumārajīva as 諸行 (actions), and translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan as ’du byed rnams (SB: formative impulses).
When this is understood, Nāgārjuna's statement is crying out to be translated in only one way:
“The doings which are the root of saṁsāra, thus does the ignorant one do.”
The doings which are the root of saṁsāra, thus does the ignorant one do.
With respect to today's verse in Buddha-carita, and with respect to Buddha-carita in general, it is almost certain that the Tibetan translation, with its mention of breasts, is more reliable than the Chinese translation, which offers naught for our comfort in the breast department.
With respect to Nāgārjuna's MMK, the Chinese and the Tibetan both convey the gist and the spirit of Nāgārjuna's original Sanskrit.
But nothing beats going back to the original Sanskrit text as written by the Indian Zen patriarch himself.
Translations of translations, even if they succeed in transmitting the spirit and the gist of the original, easily become the cause of complication and confusion. (Send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance.) Whereas the direction it might behove us all to go in, on the contrary, is towards unity and simplicity. (Send reinforcements, we are going to advance.)
Let us hope that the second half of Buddhacarita, following the example of the Abhidharma-kośa, will turn up some day soon, having been preserved somewhere in some long-forgotten place. Thus reinforced, we really will advance.