Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.75: The Coracle and the Bloke Who Carries It

[No Sanskrit text]

| ji ltar gru yis mi ’dren źiṅ || de bźin rnam par śes pa daṅ | 
| miṅ gzugs phan tshun gyi rgyu’o | 

ji ltar: just as (yathā)
gru: gru: boat, ship
yis: [instrumental]
mi: person

de bzhin: so (tathā)
rnam par shes pa: consciousness

ming gzugs: name and form (nāma-rūpa)
phan tshun: mutual
gyi: [genitive particle]
rgyu: cause

EHJ's translation from the Tibetan:
75. Just as a boat conveys a man.......................,so consciousness and name-and-form are causes of each other.

75. Just as the coracle carries the bloke who carries the coracle, so divided consciousness and psycho-physicality are causes of each other.

猶人船倶進 水陸更相運 

Just as a man and ship advance together, the water and the land mutually involved; thus knowledge brings forth name and thing; (SB)

Just as a man and his boat advance together, there is mutual transportation on water and on dry land. Just as consciousness produces name-and-form... (CW)

One pāda of Aśvaghoṣa's original is missing from the Tibetan translation, as indicated by EHJ's use of dots in his translation into English. EHJ notes that “one would expect to be told that a man propels a boat, as the boat conveys the man.” 

The Chinese translation, however, speaks of carrying each other (相運) on water () and land (). 

EHJ noted this sense in the Chinese but, this sense being contrary to his expectations, he evidently didn't trust it. When I think of Welshmen going down to the river to catch salmon, however, with coracles on their back, the analogy of boat carrying man who carries boat makes good sense to me, as an example of the kind of circularity under discussion – the chicken and egg being the more usual example in English – and so I have revised EHJ's translation accordingly.

No comments: